Whether or not this is staged (performance art?) it’s hard to tell. But it does show what it’s like to have your work shit on during a crit by a bunch of assholes (and why so many people say “fuck it” to art degrees).
For some reason this whole freak-out reminds me of an episode of Girls.
Guardian film critic Peter Bradshaw called La Danza de la Realidad (“The Dance Of Reality”), Chilean cinematic trickster Alejandro Jodorowsky’s first film in 23 years, “a triumphant return, which mixes autobiography, politics, torture and fantasy to exuberant, moving effect.”
La Danza de la Realidad was shot in Jodorowsky’s hometown of Tocopilla, deep in the Chilean desert. The film, which premiered at Cannes tells the story, sort of, of the his Communist father, Jaime Jodorowsky, with whom the director obviously had a very complex relationship:
Of course, the entire story is swathed in surreal mythology, dream logic and instant day-glo legend, resembling Fellini, Tod Browning, Emir Kusturica, and many more. You can’t be sure how to extract conventional autobiography from this. Despite the title, there is more “dance” than “reality” — and that is the point. Or part of the point. For the first time, Jodorowsky is coming close to telling us how personal evasiveness has governed his film-making style; his flights of fancy are flights of pain, flights from childhood and flights from reality. And now he is using his transformative style to come to terms with and change the past and to confer on his father some of the heroism that he never attained in real life.
As a child, young Alejandro is played by Jeremias Herskowits, and as an old man by the director himself, who cuts a distinguished, Haneke-like figure with his white hair and trimmed beard. His father Jaime is played by the director’s son Brontis Jodorowsky, which lends the project an intriguingly Freudian flavour. (Until this moment, I thought the scene in Michael Powell’s Peeping Tom in which the director dropped creepy-crawlies on his son’s pillow was the roughest father-son moment in cinema. But here Jodorowsky films a scene in which Jaime is tortured by the state police, and a naked Brontis Jodorowsky has electrodes attached to his testicles in full camera view. Ouch.)
Cannes 2013: La Danza de la Realidad (The Dance Of Reality) - first look review (The Guardian)
This beautiful 1944 silent film from husband-and-wife team Maya Deren and Alexander Hammid is quite possibly the only evidence we need that cats are the ultimate well-spring of creativity.
Deren and Hammid were both staples of the 1940s Greenwich Village avant-garde art scene. Deren, in particular, is considered a pioneer of film (and about 1,000 other artistic pursuits). Using their own cats in their own apartment, they chronicle the interior world of a cat “family,” and it’s just insanely compelling, even outside of the cat-lady milieu! A few short title cards loosely structure the trials and challenges of (and for) the new kittens. The tightness of the shots and attention to movement creates an intimacy with the viewer and the “performers.” While Deren and Hammid are most known for their first avant-garde film, Meshes in the Afternoon (which David Lynch cited as a major influence for Lost Highway), this lovely and weird little short is not to be overlooked.
Although credited solely to Hammid, it’s thought that Deren was more the director of the film, while Hammid did the shooting and the editing.
Ken Russell had thought about making a film on Debussy for some time. He was ‘hovering on the feature film fringe,’ having just made his first movie French Dressing, in 1964. But it had sadly flopped and he had returned to work as a producer and director for the BBC’s arts series Monitor.
Making a feature film had encouraged Russell’s ambitions, and he now had a revolutionary idea for a new kind of documentary arts film, but he wasn’t quite sure how best to achieve it. This was when Russell met Melvyn Bragg, a young Northern writer, who was also working in the Monitor office.
At twenty, Bragg had decided to become a writer, but thought ‘quite rightly as it turned out,’ that he wouldn’t be able to make a living from it. So, he got a job, to support his literary ambitions.
‘I got a BBC traineeship when I was twenty-one,’ Bragg told me in 1984. ‘Went into radio, which I liked an awful lot. Worked in Newcastle. Worked in the World Service, Bush House. Then I worked in Broadcasting House, in the Features Department. I was going to stay there—I didn’t like television, except for Monitor—and I said I’d only go into television if I could get an attachment onto Monitor. Eventually, one came up, and I got it.’
Russell wanted to share his idea with Bragg. He met him in a cafe, and told Bragg about Debussy and his plan for a new kind of arts documentary—a film-within-a-film. Together they wrote a script, and Bragg turned it into a screenplay.
‘When I did Debussy, Ken’s first talkie on television, nobody had done that before I did that as a screenplay as a way to make it work. The real problem you’ve got with biopics about people is that there is no structured drama in anybody’s life. You’ve got to make it.
‘What you’ve got are pits, which are very good, all over the fucking shop, and you’ve got to have that bit because [they’re] terrific, and you’ve got to have that bit because there’s hardly any relationship between them. Where, if you write a play, or write a book, there is a relationship because you’ve written it like that. But in people’s lives, something happens there, and 7 years later, something else happens. This enables us to dip in-and-out.’
It was a lunchtime in May, and I was interviewing Bragg in his office, at London Weekend Television, where he worked as editor and presenter of the (now legendary) arts series, The South Bank Show. Bragg sat behind his desk, dressed as usual in a suit (‘Another way to get people to forget about me and concentrate on the person that I am talking to’), eating an apple for his lunch.
Bragg said he thought Russell ‘a very brilliant, eccentric and erratic talent, he can be marvelous.’
The Debussy Film was the first of several highly successful collaborations between Russell and Bragg—as director and writer. A partnership that lasted until The Music Lovers (‘I had a big row with [Ken] on that which is fairly public. I hated it.’) The pair later worked together again on several documentaries for The South Bank Show .
It was also Russell’s first collaboration with actor Oliver Reed, who later described the director as:
Jesus is not Christ, only Russell.
Reed was a rare talent, who had been slightly over-looked by film producers because of a scar on his face, which he had received on a drunken night out. But Reed was more than just a feared Hell-raiser, he was a brilliant actor who brought an incredibly complex and emotional depth to the role of Debussy.
‘Debussy was an ambiguous character,’ Russell told one of his biographers, John Baxter in 1973.
...and I always let the character of the person or his work dictate the way a film goes. Also, one was a bit critical of artists like Debussy and I thought the time had come to ask questions, and the natural way for me to ask questions was to have a film director [Vladek Sheybal] talking to an actor [Oliver Reed], because an actor always asks questions about the character he’s playing and the director usually had to answer them, or try to, often to keep him happy. And when I found Debussy was friendly with an intellectual named Pierre Louys from whom he derived a lot, it seemed an analogous relationship to that of a film director and an actor. There are some points in the film, I think, where it doesn’t matter if it’s the director talking to the actor or Louys talking to Debussy—passages of intentional ambiguity.
Born in his music and his life, Debussy was a great sensualist. There’s a line of his in the film: “Music should express things that can’t be said,” which simply means to me that music is something which, the moment you talk about it, disintegrates and becomes meaningless. That’s what I mean by sensuality—something that’s felt rather than reasoned.
Ken Russell directing ‘The Debussy Film’ (1965)
While The Debussy Film may at first appear a film that is “felt rather than reasoned,” it has to be understood that every element of it is based on fact, taken from letters and personal details of the main characters. Also, by presenting inter-linking narratives, Russell was able to question, examine and comment on Debussy’s creative life, and the damage it caused him to those he loved.
With Debussy I felt it was important to say something about his music and attitudes to it as well as relevant facts of his life. A good example of this is his relationship with his mistress Gaby, and her inability to understand either him or his art. There’s a scene where the actor playing Debussy goes to a party with his girlfriend (playing Gaby) and puts on a record of Danse Sacre et Danse Profane. He wants to listen to it, to be immersed completely; he sees in it images of art nouveau. But everyone else in the room, instead of carrying on talking, or dancing to it, or giving it half an ear, all become silent and listen to the music with a mixture of duty and piety, which is all too often the case. His girlfriend, who just sees him as being perverse, does a strip-tease to it and ridicules both the man and his music. People are very wary of the heightening of experience, and want to knock it down. It’s fear as much as anything that makes her do the strip dance, fear of something she doesn’t understand and so can only get level with by ridiculing. A lot of people still do that, not just with art but with life.
I wasn’t totally on Debussy’s side; in a sense he had no right to disrupt the party. But artists are dogmatic and pig-headed, and they over-ride people. Most of the people I’ve dealt with in films have quite dispassionately sacrificed someone in their way who understood them. It’s not nice but that’s how it works. The end of the film, the music from his unfinished opera The Fall of the House of Usher, with Debussy alone in the castle and his ghostly mistress—whom he drove to attempted suicide—rising up, was an analogy of the lost romantic ideal he had destroyed by his disregard for people. You can be an egomaniac up to a point but in the end it can destroy you, or your work, or both.
The Debussy Film is Russell developing the style and technique that would make him internationally recognized as one of the greatest directors of the twentieth century. His approach was revolutionary and brilliant, and The Debussy Film changed television and cinematic biography for good. It also revealed another side to Oliver Reed (who is quite brilliant) and Vladek Sheybal, who was usually typecast as KGB agents. The film also contains cameos form artists Duggie Fields and Pauline Boty.
By now, I’m sure you’ve all read about the “controversial” 1991 painting “Bea Arthur Naked” by artist John Currin that sold for $1.9 million at Christie’s yesterday. It’s been all over the blogsphere.
Well, if you linked to Currin’s now infamous image on your Facebook page and featured Bea Arthur’s naked breasts, for all to see, you might have received a notice from Facebook implementing a 24-hour ban from posting on your page.
The Daily Beast is reporting this happened to them and so are a few other websites and journalists.
According to The Daily Beast when they contacted Facebook they were told by a spokesperson, “Our policy prohibits photos of actual nude people, not paintings or sculptures.”
The spokesperson laid the blame on the company’s “dedicated User Operations Team,” and reviewers in “several offices around the globe,” who look at “millions of pieces of this content a day.”
“As you might expect,” she concluded, “occasionally, we make a mistake and block a piece of content we shouldn’t have.” She said Facebook has an appeals process in place for anyone who thinks they’ve been wrongly banned, and directed me here.
The Daily Beast’s Facebook page was back to normal as of 2pm Tuesday.
“Bon Anniversaire” to Brian Peter George St. John le Baptiste de la Salle Eno. The polymath musician, intellectual, visual artist and noted pornography enthusiast was born on this day in 1948, making him now officially a senior citizen.
Below, Brian Eno interviewed recently in New York as part of the Red Bull Music Academy. Of special note, his notion of “scenious” or the special kind of creativity that happens when there are large numbers of collaborators in a particular “scene.”
Francis Bacon indulged the myths about his life. All those tales of Bacchanalia were always far more preferable to the hushed reality of his rising at 6am and working till early afternoon, while his drinking buddies slept-off hang-overs in the watery, morning light. Bacon was no slacker, but he tended to hide his industry and discipline behind endless tales of excess. As for the drinking, well, I have been told that often while out boozing Bacon would pay a visit to the gents, where he would tip the contents of his glass down a sink. Bacon preferred to watch others disintegrate, rather than fall apart himself.
That’s not to say he wasn’t reckless, no, Bacon was often debt to casinos, and painted pictures at express speed to pay off his losses. His studies of Vincent Van Gogh in the late 1950s, were rushed out to help pay his massive gambling debts. The canvases were still wet when first exhibited, and it was claimed by Bacon’s friend and biographer, Dan Farson, that at the exhibition’s preview, as the drink flowed and the legs stumbled, some became so drunk that they leant against the canvases and left with fresh Bacon’s imprinted on the back’s of their jackets.
It’s worth pointing out that most of Bacon’s canvases are exhibited behind glass, though this may have only started after he joined the Marlborough Gallery in the 1960s. Whether true or not, it’s the kind of tale Bacon would have enjoyed. Yet, Bacon was incredibly serious about his art, which can be seen from this documentary Francis Bacon: Fragments of a Portrait, from 1966, which gives an excellent insight into Bacon’s working processes, obsessions and influences, as discussed by the artist with writer and critic, David Sylvester.
Simply sublime. If you haven’t seen Japanese dance artist Miyoko Shida’s hypnotic performance on the Spanish TV program Tú Sí Que Vales—it’s been making the rounds for a while now—it’s well-worth the seven minutes you’ll spend on it.
You’ll feel like you took a Xanax afterwards, trust me…
As someone points out in the YouTube comments, “I would not like to play this woman in Jenga.”
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Dangerous Minds is a compendium of oddities, pop culture treasures, high weirdness, punk rock and politics drawn from the outer reaches of pop culture. Our editorial policy, such that it is, reflects the interests, whimsies and peculiarities of the individual writers. And sometimes it doesn't. Very often the idea is just "Here's what so and so said, take a look and see what you think."
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