Tuesday, October 26, 2010

To the First Person Ever to Appear in a Photograph

It’s amazing to think that of all the people on the Boulevard du Temple that day, you were the only one standing still long enough for Daguerre’s machine to catch you.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Who's Paying Attention to Iran?

Well, everyone is these days, politically. But Iranian cinema doesn't seem to be getting the attention it once did.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

"1945-1998" by Isao Hashimoto

Artist Isao Hashimoto has created haunting yet austere video art work mapping the 2,053 nuclear explosions that happened between 1945 and 1998. See it after the jump.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Proximity to Power

Although I will never watch a TV show with the words "Real" and "Housewives" in the title, Dahlia Lithwick's review of the new season made an interesting point about one of the most pervasive and annoying facets of life in DC.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

How to Deal With Rejection

Dear Mr. X----,
Thank you for your email rejecting my story, "Y----," for publication in your magazine, Z------. Unfortunately, your rejection letter does not suit my needs at this time. I must therefore insist that you publish my story.

I wish I could respond to your submission in a more personal way than this form letter, but I receive many rejections, and it is, unfortunately, impossible to personally respond to all of them.

Best of luck in your rejection-letter writing endeavors. I look forward to seeing my story in print.

T-- V---

Monday, June 21, 2010

Bada Shanren

In the current Freer exhibition Masterpieces of Chinese Painting, one artist stands out, as he always has for me. Bada Shanren and his wild, almost abstract brushstrokes seem to fly in the face of of the more controlled work of his contemporaries, at least to this untrained eye. See more here.

Thomas Chimes

Since I was a kid I've run across this mysterious portrait of Alfred Jarry whenever I've visited the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The painting was made long after Jarry's death by Thomas Chimes (1921 - 2009), a somewhat mysterious figure who studied at the Art Students League, then abandoned New York to spend his life painting in Philadelphia.

They call her Special K

Kuzhali Manickavel (Special K to her fans)is a talented young Indian writer with a fantastic - and very funny - blog. She is one of those rare talents who seem to have no filters between her creativity and the page. For people like me, who find writing a slow slog, and often find ourselves self-editing perhaps a bit too much, she is a breath of fresh air, and someone to be admired.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Samira Makhmalbaf's Cinema of Cruelty

A boy missing parts of both legs hires a developmentally disabled older boy to carry him around like a horse. The actors playing the characters are nonprofessionals who actually suffer from the maladies we see on screen. The legless boy turns out to be such a sadist that by the end of the film he has his "horse" trussed up in a saddle and bridle, with a bit between his teeth and horseshoes nailed to his feet, and is renting him out to the local kids so they can ride him around for kicks.

Friday, February 26, 2010

In Praise of Lam Suet

Let's take a moment to praise the long-suffering Lam Suet. Round of body, square of head, Lam has has been reliably typecast as the fat guy in some 116 movies since 1982. If someone is going to take a bullet in the butt, or have to be dragged away from a bowl of noodles, it's Lam. Among the names his characters have been given over the years are: Piggy King, Fatty, Fat Lok, Fat Lo, Fat Ball, Big Mouth, Fat Tong, Fat Bo, Big Head (twice), Fat Seven, Fatty (at least twice), Bun Man, and, early in his career, Pudgy Triad Member.

Johnnie To's Vengeance

When I saw Hong Sang-soo's latest film, Like You Know it All, it immediately put me in mind of the Italian still-life painter Giorgio Morandi, who's been painting the same arrangement of bottles for decades. You can look at a painting from the 50s and one from the 90s and see very little variation. It's the meditative attention to this small set of objects, and the subtle differences in the way he arranges and paints them, that mesmerizes. Hong, I realized, is becoming like that. He essentially makes the same film year after year, with slight variations. It just so happens that I don't mind watching that film over and over again.

If Hong is a still life painter, Johnnie To is more like a chef at a restaurant you frequent.