SPOTLIGHT: Sweeping Culture Daily
This is the ARTINFO weekly mixtape, a new semi-regular column where we pick our favorite songs we want to share. What tracks have been running through our iPod all week? What random song will get a million plays on Spotify when we’re in the office? Here are our choices this week. Share comments and suggestions below. We’d love to hear what you’ve been listening to.
As you may be aware, Pussy Riot is at the Winter Olympics. Since they’ve been in Sochi, where they’ve attempted to “carry out Pussy Riot action” in the Olympic Village, they’ve been detained and beaten with whips by the local militia. At a press conference yesterday, held in the street after the hotel that originally agreed to host cancelled the event due to “plumbing problems,” Pussy Riot showed their new video. “Putin Will Teach You to Love the Motherland,” shot in Sochi, features footage from the trip as well as repeated abuse against the group from authorities. Watch below:
Edgar G. Ulmer could make something out of nothing. Houdini of the poverty-row filmmakers, he cranked out remarkable B-pictures in the best sense of the term, economical and bristling with caustic energy. His best films — the dark as night “Detour” or horror-classic “The Black Cat” — are far better than most Hollywood productions of the period, with little of the puffery and half the budget. According to legend, Ulmer shot some of his films in as little as six days, a remarkable achievement. Some of those later cheapo films — “Murder is My Beat” and “Ruthless” specifically, from what I’ve seen — have been ignored for too long and are in need of critical reconsideration.
Andrzej Zulawski’s “Possession,” a movie about love if your idea of love is being so consumed by your partner that you spew blood out of your mouth, will screen this weekend as part of a three-film program at Anthology Film Archives dedicated to literal amour fou. I’m not even going to pretend I know what’s happening during most of “Possession,” but here’s a quick breakdown: Mark (Sam Neill), a spy of mysterious origins who returns home to his wife Anna (Isabelle Adjani), who wants a divorce. When she leaves, he starts to go crazy with jealousy. Then he finds out the man she is having an affair with isn’t actually a man, but some creature pulled deep from the trenches of her subconsciousness. In between there are doppelgangers, bodily fluids, and Adjani’s long freakout in an underground tunnel that resembles an exorcism choreographed by Pina Bausch. The camera, spinning more and more wildly, often through the empty streets of Berlin, as the movie becomes unhinged, adds to the delirious feeling. You won’t leave the movie feeling good, but you can safely walk away knowing that, as bad as it gets, it will never get this bad. Or will it? Continue Reading
“Vengeance is Hers,” one of the strongest and most exciting film programs of the year, runs at the Brooklyn Academy of Music from February 7-18. Focusing on female revenge films (quite a few made by female filmmakers), the series displays the varied cinematic forms that theme has taken — from low budget trash to melodrama to screwball comedy. The series begins tonight with a newly restored 35mm print of Pier Paolo Pasolini’s “Medea” (1969), starring opera legend Maria Callas, a brilliant moment of casting. Continue Reading
A new song from Steve McBean is cause for celebration. “North Hollywood Microwaves,” which you can listen to below, is a new song from McBean’s Pink Mountaintops project. The group, which originally featured a lineup consisting of members of McBean’s other band, heavy psych-rock outfit Black Mountain, has had a constantly rotating cast of characters ever since — members of Godspeed You! Black Emperor, The Warlocks, and more have been part of the band at some point. “North Hollywood” is the first single off the new Pink Mountaintops album, “Get Back,” which is set to be released on April 29 via Jagjaguwar. The track, which features sleazy saxophone lines (think Iggy & The Stooges‘ “Fun House”) wrapped around a fuzzy guitar attack, boasts a guest appearance from Annie Hardy of Giant Drag, who raps at the end of track. Yep, you read that right.
Yesterday, I wrote about the films of artist Isaac Julien, which are screening at the Museum of Modern Art in conjunction with “Ten Thousand Waves,” his nine-channel installation that hangs over the atrium of the museum, immersing the viewer in a panoramic meditation on Chinese culture. Today, we have trailer for Julien’s new project, a seven-screen installation called “PLAYTIME.” Currently on view across both Victoria Miro gallery spaces in London (one has the installation, the other photographs from the project), “PLAYTIME” features actors James Franco and Maggie Cheung, auctioneer Simon de Pury, and more, dealing with questions of migration and capital. Watch the trailer below:
At the end of Michael Snow’s “Wavelength” (1967), the artist’s epochal work of experimental cinema, the camera, engaged in a gradual zoom across a loft in downtown New York, lands on a photograph of the calm waves of the sea. Much has been written about the film and its influence, but I’ve always been intrigued by that unsettling final image. Why a photograph?
Yesterday, just as men in helmets and shoulder pads dug their cleats into the dirt in preparation for destroying their bodies in front of thousands of screaming fans, in the stadium and gazing through a screen, an unexpected guest arrived at the Super Bowl: Opera legend Renée Fleming. She stepped out to the center of the field at MetLife Stadium, located in the swamps of East Rutherford, New Jersey, to sign the National Anthem — and sing she did. Fleming was joined by the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra (who knew such a thing even existed?), backed by a military chorus. Typically, the National Anthem is sung by a pop star, and usually not very well. The choice of Fleming this year made sense — she’s currently performing on the stage of the Met Opera, and she can actually sing. Watch the video below.