Author Archive

Superman in Bryant Park: An Exercise in Suffering

Movie Madness

Blankets and sheets separate the lawn into camps full of barefoot people, picnic baskets, and small children. Tonight is the last night of HBO Bryant Park Summer Film Festival,an outdoor event held behind the New York Public Library June through August. The focus is on classics from the 30’s all the way to the 70’s—but no later—and tonight’s feature is the 1978 rendition of “Superman” starring Christopher Reeve, Marlon Brando, and Gene Hackman.

The lawn is opened to picnickers at 5pm and the movie begins at dusk, sometime between 8 and 9pm. A large screen and powerful speakers are set up at the front of the lawn and people position themselves all around it. Blankets on the lawn itself, and all around the lawn are chairs borrowed from the front of the library and the Bryant Park Grill and Cafe. Although it looks pretty packed at 6pm, when d42 and I get there, turns out hundreds more people will pack themselves in during the next two and a half hours, and then some. Continue reading

The Kite Runner vs. Maus

The Kite Runner, a fictional account of the lives of two Afghani boys, by Khaled Hosseini left a bad taste in mouth. It is a dark book, sometimes unnerving, but there is more to it. I hated the narrator; I hated how he wallowed in every little bit of misery that he could find, how he milked his background for every tiny bit of sellable ethnic exotica. I felt the narrator, who is also a writer (if not THE writer; the book reads like a memoir but is not one) was selling his past and his people. The Kite Runner is a well-written piece of literature that I wanted to rid myself of upon finishing.

Without a break from literary gloom, I went straight for Art Spiegelman’s Maus. As I’ve mentioned before, comic books haven’t been comic in some time, and this story of the Holocaust as told by a father to a son, was no exception. Initially, I had the same feeling. I thought to myself, what a fuckhead this Spiegelman is (in this case, the narrator is a writer and in fact, THE writer). He is hungry for this sellable story that he is almost battering his ailing father, Vladek, for. But then an amazing thing happened, Arty the mouse–the Jews in the story are mice, the Germas are cats, the Poles are pigs, the Americans are dogs, and so on–was talking to his wife about how much of a fuckhead he is. Ah! He KNOWS. He is aware! In fact, the whole book is hyperaware of itself. The reader is brought along for Vladek’s story of his survival, and for Arty’s story of getting the story, as well as how he struggled for a decade to finally get himself together enough to put together this book, this book you are reading. Continue reading

The Fall: A Movie to Take You Out of Your Blockbuster Daze

Eye candy meets quality plot in The Fall. A small child from a war-torn country meets an American stuntman hospitalized due to a death wish. This is Los Angeles, California, 1915. Alexandria’s (Catinca Untaru) broken English and childish concepts of priority as well as her seriousness and self-reliance win admiration. Roy Walker’s (Lee Pace) desperate desire to befriend the child loved by the hospital through a promise of a story win our hearts in his favor as well. And then everything is torn to shreds.

The movie is the brain child of Tarsem Singh Dhandwar. It was self-financed to assure that his creative vision (obsession?) is not tampered with. The outcome is breathtaking, jaw-dropping, heart-rending. The film was shot on location all over the world, conveniently enough as Tarsem’s full-time job as a music video and commercial director required travel. The pay-off is astonishing. Whatever short-falls the movie may have, it is never in the visual realm.

The plot is of a story within a story within the less obvious context of the world of film-making as well as the world at large. Somewhere there are homes being burned, somewhere else a stuntman falls in love with a leading lady and agrees to perform an extremely dangerous jump from a bridge. It is never clear if she loved him back, and if he agreed to this life-threatening stunt when she scorned him, in fact, we hardly see her in the movie. And little is known of that country where it is enough to defend what is yours to earn death. The details are fed to us through the story Roy tells Alexandria. The child’s background is even more vague. She divulges bits and pieces as if everything should already be a known fact; the egotism of a five-year old. Continue reading

Goth Rage at Rebel

For better or for worse, I’ll admit that I enjoyed the occasional outing to the the Batcave/Albion on the Goth/Industrial nights. Just wear something black, get a mildly overpriced Redbull and Coke in ya and then stomp around while punching at shit that isn’t there to fast remixes of your favorite songs by Rob Zombie, Nine Inch Nails and Marilyn Manson. And then they closed it.

It was a slow progression from moving the Goth night to a crappier day in favor of Hip Hop, to eventually canceling the whole thing. I lost track of it then, but last night I attended a show at some exciting “new” venue called Rebel. And seriously, up to the very moment I finally walked in to be confronted by chandeliers and cathedral ceilings, I had no idea where I was. And then it hit me! Oh crap, they just renamed the friggin Batcave again!

This is the place where I once fell in love with Combichrist (just to quickly fall out of love upon listening to ther actual albums–live performances can be deceiving) and this was the place I was hoping to reexperience Hanzel und Gretyl whom I saw a few years ago when they were touring with Ministry. Continue reading

I messed with The Zohan, but I don’t recommend you do it

Dennis Dugan created another comedy characteristic of his previous efforts such as Big Daddy, as well as the more disappointing Adam Sandler movies like I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry. Disgustingly hilarious for the first hour or so You Don’t Mess with the Zohan deteriorated into tedium the moment Adam Sandler (playing Zohan) was allowed to, yet again, focus on a hot chick (Dalia, played by Emmanuelle Chriqui) with whom he was to have his sticky happy ending.

The Waterboy, Little Nicky, and The Wedding Singer are among my favorite movies. I appreciate Sandler’s stupid accents, sudden rages, and other tomfoolery. I like toilet humor, and can always do with a cast of quirky characters. All of these Zohan has, and yet, not quite half-way through, it still stops being funny. The jokes get too long, milked for all they’re worth. Yes, he becomes a sucessful hairdresser because he is also in part a gigolo, but that’s only funny for a little while. The plot stagnates and other characters are overshadowed by Sandler. Continue reading

The Fiery Pit Called Hamlet

Crammed in plastic chairs with hundreds of people inhaling what should have been my fiery oxygen, I prepared to watch this year’s production of Shakespeare in the Park as presented by The Public Theater: Hamlet.

The morning went by more pleasantly. A few of us, hungry for culture, camped out and picnicked for a grand total of a workday, from 6am-1pm, to make sure we got tickets to that evening’s performance. This year was going to be extra exciting as both Hamlet and Hair (playing during the second half of the summer) were put on in 1967, during The Public ‘s first season.

Rivulets of sweat ran down my back into the already formidable puddle by my ass. Gnats and mosquitoes bathed in my perspiration. The air was still. This is Saturday, June 7th, and we are in the Delacorte Theater–an open-air arena–in the middle of a heat wave. Continue reading

The Telectroscope: It’s done with mirrors

Or at least that’s the story Paul St George, a London-based artist, tells when asked about his latest art installation in both New York and London, the Telectroscope (which is sure to attract Steam Punk enthusiasts). According to him, the device is stationed at each end of a transatlantic tunnel connecting the two cities and through ingenious mirror manipulation, allows folks to view each other across continents. From the looks of the obviously planted gravel and broken boards that is surely true. Continue reading