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DAS BLOG of SHAMELESS SELF-PROMOTION!!!

Jack Smith in Star Spangled to Death (ca 1958)

 NOT TO MENTION DOGGED SELF-AGGREGATION!!!

Although sporadic updates may be found in “Events” and necessary modifications (plus relevant new material) will accrue to “Biography,” Das Blog mainly serves to link to material published in other venues, with new stuff featured on “The Home Page” [see below]

On Maps to the Stars and The Congress [Tablet] Some weeks ago, during the course of a televised discussion on Selma and the Oscars, an old colleague of mine explained that the reason the Motion Picture Academy appeared so oblivious to movies by or about women and people of color was that the Academy members “all look like me,” which he clarified as “over 50” and Jewish (adding, “I would quit if I were a member”).

How responsible should Jews feel for Hollywood? Read more…

On Batman and Pop Art [Artforum] Loved and loathed beyond measure, the televised Batman (ABC, 1966–68) arrived sufficiently late in the day to recognize itself as a manufactured craze. The show, initially broadcast cliff-hanger style on successive evenings, Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7:30 PM, lasted only two and a half seasons—just a speed bump in Batman’s nearly eight-decade career—but its goofy lèse-majesté besmirched the durable icon forever. Read more…

On Jean-Luc Godard [The Nation] “I’m always surprised to see what I do,” Jean-Luc Godard admits at the beginning of a talk delivered, nearly four decades ago, at Concordia University in Montreal. Could the single most influential filmmaker of his generation, who is still a provocateur at age 84, possibly be as baffled as we? Read more…

On American Sniper [NYRBlog] A country boy, who is a fabulous natural shot, goes to war and neutralizes an unprecedented number of enemy combatants. Books are written. A respected Hollywood director makes the movie that will be the biggest hit of his career: it’s received with near-unanimous praise, an Oscar nomination for Best Picture, and no small amount of controversy. Read more…

On “The Left Front: Radical Art in the ‘Red Decade,’ 1929-40″ [Tablet] Entering “The Left Front,” the exhibition of political art from the 1930s, currently at NYU’s Grey Art Gallery through April 4, is to enter a foreign—but not completely unfamiliar world. Read more…

On Tomi Ungerer [NYRBlog Gallery] It may be that everyone has their own Tomi Ungerer. The eighty-three-year-old graphic artist and illustrator’s work has been part of many people’s childhoods, others’ countercultures, still others’ outrage, and, at one point in his career, every straphanger’s New York. Read more…

On Alexei German [New York Times] Aleksei German, who died last February at the age of 74 while putting the finishing touches on his most ambitious film, the long-awaited “Hard to Be a God,” was regarded by some as Russia’s greatest living director — despite, or perhaps because of, the fact that he managed to complete but a handful of features in a nearly half-century career. Read more…

On Two Days, One Night [NYRBlog] A thirty-something factory worker in a Belgian rustbelt town returns from medical leave to discover she’s become redundant. She has a weekend in which to persuade a majority of her sixteen colleagues to sacrifice their thousand-euro bonuses so that she can get back her job. Such is the situation dramatized by the Belgian filmmaker-brothers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne. Read more… 

On Inherent Vice [Artforum] It is obvious by now that Paul Thomas Anderson isn’t making individual movies so much as building an oeuvre block by block—the sturdiest, most resilient body of work by a big-time American director since Stanley Kubrick died and Martin Scorsese ran out of steam. Read more…

On David Lynch’s paintings [NYRBlog Gallery] Like Andy Warhol and Salvador Dali, David Lynch is a name-brand artist who confounds conventional categories. Read more…

On Peter Forgacs’s installation [Tablet] “Last night I was in the Kingdom of Shadows,” reported Maxim Gorky after attending a program of “Living Photography” at the Nizhny Novgorod Fair during the summer of 1896. “The extraordinary impression it creates is so unique and complex that I doubt my ability to describe it with all its nuances.” You may feel the same way after an hour spent with the video installation Letters to Afar. Read more…

On “What Nerve!” [NYRBlog] “What Nerve! Alternative Figures in American Art, 1960 to the Present,” the provocatively titled exhibit at the RISD Museum in Providence, presents a bracing counter to one prevailing way of telling the story of postwar American art. Read more…

On the 1968 New York Film Festival (written in 1968) [Film Comment Blog] Yes, I know. I was a teenaged know-it-all, as well as a rabid soixante-huitard, a serious pothead, occasional speed freak, and fanatical cinephile. Read more…

On Georgian cinema [New York Times] Squeezed between the Black and Caspian Seas, as it was among the Roman and Persian, and Ottoman and Russian empires, Georgia is a small realm with a spectacular natural setting and a proud past. Read more…

On Hou Hsiao-hsien [NYRBlog] Although the Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao-hsien has been making movies since the early 1980s, I first became convinced of his genius when I saw The Puppetmaster(1993) some twenty years ago. Read more…

On Tabu, People on Sunday, and the lost paradise of silent film [Artforum] The doors of Eden banged shut. Even so, during the summer of 1929, facing the clamorous inevitability of the talking picture and only months before the crash that would announce the Great Depression, a handful of filmmakers sought refuge in the “natural world” of the soundless movie. Read more…

On the films of the Hollywood blacklisted [New York Times] The close-up, the big screen, the eternal klieg light of unending media coverage: Motion pictures, especially those made in Hollywood, are a technology of magnification. How else to explain that the tale of the 300 or so movie studio employees whose political associations cost them their jobs has come to dramatize the repressive hysteria of the McCarthy era? Read more…

On Snowpiercer [NYRBlog] Bong Joon Ho’s Snowpiercer is a madcap addition to the comic-book-derived movies that have dominated cinematic summer fare for much of the twenty-first century. At once streamlined and ramshackle, it doesn’t have a plot so much as a premise—or rather, a ruling metaphor. Read more… 

On The Immigrant & The Grand Budapest Hotel [Tablet] “The Jew is the one whom other men consider a Jew,” according to Jean-Paul Sartre’s existential reasoning. Thus anti-Semitism can exist without Jews. So can philo-Semitism, and so can the nebulous category known as Jewish-themed films. Read more… 

On Ida [Tablet] “So. You are a Jewish nun,” a cynical Polish Communist greets her teenaged niece with just a touch of sarcasm. Read more…

On Sigmar Polke’s films [Artforum] Great film installations—Douglas Gordon’s 24 Hour Psycho, 1993, say, or Christian Marclay’s The Clock, 2010—use the fact of motion pictures to hypostatize time. Lesser ones raise questions about narrative and intention. The 16-mm films and extended segments of 16-mm footage incorporated into the Museum of Modern Art’s current retrospective of Sigmar Polke’s work do both. Read more…

On Manakama and Harvard’s Sensory Ethnography Lab [NYRBlog] Manakamana, the new documentary by anthropologist Stephanie Spray and filmmaker Pacho Velez, is a motion picture that transports the viewer to a mountaintop Hindu temple, as well as back in time to the medium’s dawn. Read more…

On Sholem Aleichem and Fiddler on the Roof [The Guardian] The Russian-speaking Yiddish author Sholem Aleichem (1859-1916) was, in his lifetime, a prolific popular writer and a failed playwright. In death, he defined a culture. Read more…

NEW YORK TIMES DVD/BLU-RAY REVIEWS

2015:  Syncopation plus The Connection . In the Land of the Headhunters plus Panzerkreuzer Potemkin . Liliana Cavani: The Night Porter and SkinBoyhood plus My Winnipeg . Otto Preminger: Bunny Lake is Missing plus Skidoo . Safe plus The Americans (season 2) . Mood Indigo plus A Summer’s Tale .

2014: … Il Sorpasso plus Stranger on the Prowl . Mr Magoo & Father Brown . Riot in Cellblock 11 plus The Big House . Alice plus Black Jack . Friedkin’s Sorcerer & The People vs Paul Crump .  Persona plus The Master of the House . The King of Comedy plus Ms.45 . Men in War plus The Boy From Stalingrad . Lon Chaney in The Hunchback of Notre Dame Samson and Delilah plus The Miracle Woman . Buster & Fatty Talk . Crimes and Misdemeanors plus The Front . Foreign Correspondent . Come Back Africa & Zulu .  The Jungle Book The Miami Story with other Kefauver policiers . It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World plus Khartoum .  I Cannibali plus . Nostalghia .

NEW PUBLICATIONS!

“Freed to Love? Movies and the Sexual Revolution,” Free to Love: The Cinema of the Sexual Revolution (International House Philadelphia)

“‘Like Canyons and Rivers': Performance for Its own Sake,” Rituals of Rented Island: Object Theater, Loft Performance and the New Psychodrama, Jay Sanders with J. Hoberman (Whitney Museum/Yale)

“The Gremlins Franchise: Standing Spielberg on His Head,” Joe Dante, ed. Nil Baskar & Gabe Klinger (Osterreichisches Filmmuseum)

“Drawing His Own Conclusions: The Art of Spiegelman,” Co-Mix: A Retrospective of Comics, Graphics, and Scraps, Art Spiegelman (Drawn + Quarterly)

PRINT ONLY: On Batman and Pop Art, Artforum (March 2015); On Andy Warhol’s Poor Little Rich Girl, Film Comment (Sept-Oct 2014); review of  Decades Never Start on Time: A Richard Roud Anthology, Film Comment (July-Aug 2014); On Ad Reinhardt’s Art Comics, Bookforum (Feb 2014); On The Collaboration and Hollywood and Hitler, London Review of Books (12/19/13); On Eleanor Antin’s memoir Conversations with Stalin, Bookforum (Dec 2013); On reviewing Eraserhead and Killer of Sheep back in the day, Film Comment (September-October 2013)

2015 MOVIE REVIEWS: Two Days, One Night [NYRBlog] . American Sniper [NYRBlog] . Maps to the Stars & The Congress  [Tablet] .

2014 MOVIE REVIEWS: The Last of the Unjust [Tablet] . 12 Years a Slave [Harper’s]. Nymphomaniac [NYRBlog] . Noah [Tablet]. Manakamana [NYRBlog] . Ida [Tablet] . The Immigrant & The Grand Budapest Hotel [Tablet] . Snowpiercer [NYRBlog] . Inherent Vice [Artforum]

2013 MOVIE REVIEWS: Inside Llewyn Davis [Tablet]. Nebraska . The Wind Rises . At Berkeley . The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology [Artforum]Blue is the Warmest Color . The Fifth Estate . Gravity [NYRBlog] . Captain Phillips . A Touch of Sin . Enough Said . Newly Weeds .  Le joli mai . Shark . KatzelmacherOur Nixon [Artforum] . The Grandmaster Ain’t Them Bodies Saints  The Act of Killing [Tablet]Computer Chess . Viola . Crystal Fairy Museum Hours . I’m So Excited! . The Bling Ring . Behind the Candelabra Hannah Arendt [Tablet] Old Dog . The Great Gatsby . Something in the Air Post Tenebras Lux . Spring Breakers [NYRBlog] . Room 237  [Tablet] . Portrait of Jason . Un Flic . This Ain’t California.To the Wonder . Blancanieves . Le Pont du Nord . Beyond the Hills . Caesar Must DieThe Gatekeepers . Hors Satan . Gangster Squad . San Diego Sunset [New York Times] .