SPOTLIGHT: Sweeping Culture Daily
Jane Campion, president of the main competition jury at the Cannes Film Festival this year and the first and only woman to win the Palme d’Or, spoke of the film industry’s “inherent sexism” during the press conference opening the festival this morning. She added, of course, that 20-percent of the films chosen for Cannes this year were made by women (although, as many others have pointed out, those numbers might not be true). But she wasn’t completely letting the festival off the hook. “But nevertheless it does feel very undemocratic and women do notice, you know,” Campion added. “Time and time again we don’t get our share of representation.” Sofia Coppola, along with the actresses Carole Bouquet, Leila Hatami, and Jeon Do-yeon join Campion on the main jury. Which means there are almost as many women on one jury as there are who directed films at Cannes this year. Continue Reading
It’s being reported that Swiss artist H.R. Giger, famous for his sinewy designs used in Ridley Scott’s landmark sci-fi film “Alien,” for which he won an Academy Award, passed away on Monday from injuries he obtained after suffering a fall at his home in Zurich. He was 74 years old. The news was confirmed by the H.R. Giger Museum, a converted château in Gruyères, Switzerland, that that artist purchased in 1998.
In just a few days, a small stretch of West 77 street between West End Avenue and Riverside Drive in Manhattan will be renamed Miles Davis Way. The bill was signed by former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg in what might prove to be the only good thing he did during his time in office. The jazz trumpeter, who died in 1991, lived in an expensive brownstone on the block for over 25 years, where he reportedly enjoyed hanging out on the stoop and greeting neighbors and passerby. The spot also marks a nice halfway spot between the landmarks of Davis’s early career — the legendary jazz clubs on 52 street and the Harlem jazz sessions hosted at Minton’s Playhouse and Monroe’s. Continue Reading
It’s been awhile since we’ve heard anything from or about Sergei Filin, the former artistic director of the Bolshoi Ballet, since his recovery from an acid attack in January 2013. After an investigation, it was discovered that the man behind the attack was a dancer in the company, reportedly scorned over his girlfriend, another dancer in the company, not getting the lead role in one of the Bolshoi’s productions.
I haven’t found the time to sink my teeth into the gritty charms of AMC’s “The Walking Dead” — but I do have friends who are hooked on the post-apocalyptic zombie franchise. In a recent episode titled “The Grove,” an acquaintance described to me the emotional violence that accompanied the mental instability of a little girl that drove her to kill her younger sister — a baby would have been the next to go if the adults didn’t arrive on the scene. Because of distrust an adult took little Lizzie outside, told her to look at the flower, and shot her in the back of the head.
RZA, sage figurehead of the Wu-Tang Clan, is nothing if not ambitious. In addition to being the glue that keeps the often-feuding members together (even if the music has been on an increasingly mediocre slope for over a decade), he scores, directs, and acts in films, writes books, and keeps an absurd number of aliases. And if everything goes according to plan, soon you’ll be thinking of him and the rest of the group as artists.
It’s hard to feel wishy-washy about floppy-haired slack rocker Mac DeMarco. You either love the guy (and all that gum-cracking, lewd-spewing, lovably crass style he’s got going for him), or you don’t get what he’s all about and don’t care. Either way, after having found reasonable success with 2012’s “Rock and Roll Night Club” and “2,” DeMarco returns with his album “Salad Days,” currently streaming over at NPR. Even at first glance, the track titles (“Chamber of Reflection,” “Goodbye Weekend,” “Let Her Go,”), suggest that DeMarco is finding himself feeling a little less Steely Dan these days, and a little more Kurt Vile. The results are quietly beautiful in their lo-fi, off-kilter way. “Let My Baby Stay,” for instance, is a slow-churning proclamation of love to an unseen partner. Made up of very simple orchestrations (a few reserved guitar strums aided by tropical percussion knocks), the lyrics weigh heavy: “I’ve been an addict, and she’s been good to me. As far as I can tell, she’s happy living with a monkey, so please don’t take my love away.” The four-minute track never picks up speed, but as it draws to a close and DeMarco croons out a couple of uncharacteristic wails (seemingly sounds of a very particular type of despondence that kisses the youth), you can’t help but wish the song away from fading into obscurity.
Now that the mystery behind the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 is seemingly closer to reaching its tragic conclusion (and no, it wasn’t a black hole), what is the next step? Do we support the families who’ve lost loved ones? Do we investigate how this happened, and what could have been done to prevent it? Do we examine our own tabloid-crazy obsession with the entire thing, and look at how it might have made the situation worse?
Benedict Cumberbatch, like many an actor before him, will take to the stage this fall in a new production of William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” at the Barbican Theatre in London. Lyndsey Turner, who was recently at the helm of the the Broadway run of “Machinal” (which we reviewed here), will direct. Cumberbatch was last seen on the stage in the National Theatre’s 2011 production of “Frankenstein,” directed by Danny Boyle, and will next he heard on screen in a trio of what are sure to be shining examples of cinéma de merde — “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” “Magik,” and “The Penguins of Madagascar” — all set to appear in theater over the next year. Continue Reading