Sunday, November 21, 2010

Talking Pictures...

Goodness. It's been a busy week with screenings and assignments. In an extended Claire Denis orgy staged by IFC to excite for the release of the fabulous White Material, I attended Wednesday's screening of No Fear No Die with artist, Jake Davidson. The film, one of Denis few unavailable on domestic shores, is a sparse account of two brothers from Benin, Africa, who preen and coach roosters in the basement of a restaurant for rounds of suburban Paris cockfighting. No-Fear-No-Die is the name of one such cock who doesn't heed this message for long. While there's a mildly precious air to the manner in which Denis treats the special relationship that brother Jocelyn (Denis' constant collaborator, Alex Descas, from Trouble Every Day, 35 Shots of Rum) has with his preferred cocks, by keeping her camera trained solely on the bare-bones narrative, there's an ugly and tortured heart at the center of the package, and its not easily explained away by narrative circumstance of individualism. The movie mounts to a claustrophobic confrontation in the cockfighting ring, between Jocelyn and the men that swarm the abandoned building of this distant banlieue. There is, of course, far more at stake than the life of his beautiful white cock. And the drunken venom that he spews, addressing the crowd as pigs, while swaying in this makeshift circle, ends in the only way it ever seems able.

We were in the wrong theater, it seemed, since downstairs, Yony Leser, a kid who Jake and I knew from undergrad art school, was presenting his documentary on William Burroughs: A Man Within. Genesis Breyer P-Orridge was also there to talk about her experiences with Burroughs. After our screening, we ran into the curator of NP Contemporary Art Center, Wesley Stokes and his partner in crime, Pamela Tietze, in the lobby who were headed over to the Jane hotel. But my tired ass headed home.

I was on assignment for a review of Robyn's new Body Talk album, which will post on The Fanzine in the next couple days. Such an amazing album. Between edits, at the suggestion of poet Nathan Austin, I watched this lovely (if not somewhat bleak) Christmas-themed film, Remember That Night (1940). The film was the first pairing of Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurry who would get all teary in Douglas Sirk's There's Always Tomorrow (the poster of which hangs over my computer) and all bloody in Double Indemnity. A very stirring film, though I'm increasingly offended by non-Hollywood endings, and the moral ramifications of this one were admirably messy for a studio picture.

It was a slightly quiet weekend, even given my reading at Brother, My Lover. In truth, I was surprised at the lack of boisterousness exhibited by the crowd. The piece, "Schooled," is a gabby farce, only intended to be taken half-seriously. Perhaps, as D suggested, it was too much an indictment of Southern California culture, too pointed. Whatever.

Oh, and we saw the New Photography show at MOMA (D's parents were back in town for a 24-hour stint). Elad Lassry exhibited some lovely images, works that uncannily recall advertising photos but each isolated image seems encrusted in its own aesthetic hermeticism. The work is funny; extremely self conscious in terms of coloration, the individual images seem to close in on themselves with frames to match their vibrant colors, but it is in the cluster of their small frames that they gain in meaning. The works are sized as magazine spreads, with obvious gay references and aesthetics, reformulating slightly random images in a strangely accumulative space. Amanda Ross-Ho, rather ineptly included in this photography show, has taken her aesthetic as far as it can go. I championed her earlier work, in which she brought the studio wall, itself, into the gallery, smeared with paints, thumb tack holes, and gold leaf. Exhibited as a secondary wall for context or even as art objects themselves, this early model had a fascinating charge, an indexical quality that worked. But now, in her art superstar role, these gestures only evince a hyper-aesthetic, are antiseptic and moot. Her work stood out here as incredibly banal. I would like to like Alex Prager's work cause, on the surface, what's not to like? These images are juicy, colorful and pretty. A wall text describes her devotion to Hitchcock, Douglas Sirk and The Red Shoes, but reiterations are dull unless they bring something to the table. The MOMA installation crew slyly delivers the death blow by allowing Prager's immaculately staged pop pulp to be spied from the adjacent gallery where a Cindy Sherman centerfold can be visually compared in the same sightline to these Pragers, showing, ultimately, who's boss.

And finally, Kelis is trotting out a new single from Flesh Tone with a quite-classy video, so, of course, I'll post that here...

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Blogger Marcus Pinn said...

i was at that screening too. i really loved that movie. it was a nice surprise to hear the rare song from lakim shabazz (the hip-hop song that alex descas plays when training the cocks). also, they werent brothers. alex descas was from the carribiean. issach debankole was from africa (cant remember which country he said tho)

3:08 PM  

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