Monday, February 8, 2010

February 8

Department of Bizarre Artifacts: A 1988 Alejandro Jodorowsky-esque spaghetti western music video directed by James Cameron (!) and featuring Bill Paxton and his punk cowboy band Martini Ranch, Kathryn Bigelow as the leader of a girl gang (!), Judge Reinhold, Paul Reiser, Lance Henriksen, and Adrian Pasdar. I kid you not:

This epic interview with screenwriter Lem Dobbs (The Limey, Dark City) is as long as a short book, and I'm only part-way into it, but it's exciting enough to share immediately. I learned of the interview through Vince Keenan's blog, and I'm grateful:

Here's a choice bit (and timely, in light of Robin Wood's recent passing):

Only individuals matter, and a critical response is only as interesting as the responder. In the hands of a Robin Wood, auteurism, Marxism, feminism, sexual politics -- are less important as critical apparatus than as personal autobiography. He doesn’t just dish up cold theory; it’s all filtered through his voice. PERSONAL VIEWS, the title of one of his books, could serve for all of them. The view is what moves us, whether it’s the filmmaker’s or the critic’s, whatever theories may have informed it. And you do want an informed view, one born of deep knowledge and experience: a complete view. That’s what an auteur -- and auteurism -- provide.

It’s true of all theories of art, isn’t it? Theories of acting … Plenty of anonymous people have studied “the Method.” So what? Where did it get them? Marlon Brando would still be sui generis. Steve McQueen may have trained at the Neighborhood Playhouse -- you can see how much more mannered he is in early TV performances -- but later learned not to worry about what his “character” would do, only what Steve McQueen would do. Robin Wood could be writing about RED RIVER from a gay perspective or a Freudian perspective -- we only care that it’s Robin Wood’s perspective, committed as he always was to the Leavisian tradition, a criticism of evaluation, of personal taste and judgment, not establishment pieties or party dogmas...

Katie Caron's "multi-media sculptural environment" Dominium looks fascinating: "Much like the Cabinets of Curiosities from the 1700’s, Dominium is an encapsulated space containing the whole world within."

I am a great enthusiast for Scandinavian painting, having been schooled in that interest by Kirk Varnedoe's wonderful book Northern Light. So I am very excited to learn about this Edinburgh exhibition of the Danish master Christen Kobke:

Even though I can't get to many (or any) major worldwide art exhibitions, they invariably give rise to excellent catalogues, and those I can ultimately see and enjoy.

The UC Santa Barbara Art Museum has acquired the archive of the important California architect Rex Lotery:

Among notables born on this date are novelists Jules Verne and Kate Chopin, poets Elizabeth Bishop and Samuel Butler (the 17th century author of Hudibras, not the later novelist of the same name), Anatomy of Melancholy author Robert Burton, philosophers Martin Buber and Ludwig Marcuse, Beat icon Neal Cassady, critic John Ruskin, economist Joseph Schumpeter, broadcaster Ted Koppel, soprano Elly Ameling, folksinger Tom Rush, Brazilian photographer Sebastiao Salgado, painter Franz Marc, film director King Vidor, film composer John Williams, and actors Nick Nolte, Lana Turner, Jack Lemmon, Edith Evans, James Dean, and Mary Steenburgen. This list recalls a couple of firsts for me. The first adult novel I read, the summer after second grade, was Jules Verne's Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea, in a translation that left out little or none of the scientific detail. So Captain Nemo will always be with me. The first silent film I ever saw, in a screening on PBS when I was 12 or 13, was King Vidor's The Crowd (and it blew me away).