Saturday, July 11, 2009





de Chirico v Magritte

One - One - One

Michael Jackson|Black or White

Barnabus Collins

Everlasting Moments
The Trailer

Everlasting Moments


"Not everyone is endowed with the gift of seeing," a photographer confides to his promising student in "Everlasting Moments." But not only does Swedish director-writer-cinematographer Jan Troell possess this gift in overwhelming abundance, he has the talent to allow the viewer to see the souls of his characters and the salient details of the world they inhabit. Artistically on a plane with or near the vet filmmaker's best work, this period drama about a woman slowly discovering her metier is an artisanal creation par excellence that will be appreciated by discerning arthouse patrons worldwide.

Set across the period of about a decade beginning in 1907, this episodic, true-life-inspired story examines a cultural, political and artistic crossroads in intensely personal terms, specifically through a husband and wife whose many conflicts don't prevent them from producing seven children.

Aesthetically, "Everlasting Moments" could scarcely be more at odds with contemporary fashion; in a time when cinematic images are manipulated, degraded or altered, Troell's continued use of mostly natural light seems like a bracing rediscovery of a style that was fairly commonplace, and highly valued, in the '60s and '70s. Beholding Troell's exquisite images is like having your eyes washed, the better to behold moving pictures of uncorrupted purity and clarity. Troell's style has never changed, yet witnessing it again, or for the first time, has the power of a revelation.

Narrated judiciously by oldest daughter Maja (Callin Ohrvall), yarn is centered on her mother, Maria Larsson (Maria Heiskanen), a Finnish-born woman whose every thought is of her family. Posing a perennial problem, however, is her husband, Sigge (Mikael Persbrandt), a handsome, bull-like dockworker who's often drunk and abusive.

Happening upon a Contessa camera she won in a lottery but never used, Maria tries to pawn it when the dockworkers go on strike, but instead is shown how to use it by solicitous storeowner Sebastian Pedersen (Jesper Christensen). Slowly, and with no consciousness of "art," Maria discovers her natural bent for taking insightful, haunting pictures, helped along by lessons in the darkroom from Sebastian, who, due to reticence and perhaps their notable age difference, refrains from acting on his growing feelings for his protegee.

For Maria, daily life is always throwing things at her that keep her from her photography. When British scabs arrive to fill the jobs of the socialist-inspired strikers, Sigge, who's taken up with a barmaid, becomes identified with a fatal dynamiting of an English ship, ending his boat-loading days. But, much as she might like to be rid of Sigge, Maria can't bring herself to cut the cord.

At the midway point, action jumps ahead to 1914. When Sigge is called up for military service, Maria begins making money by taking group pictures and Christmas portraits; she even photographs the three Scandinavian kings when they meet to discuss policy, while Sebastian takes newsreel footage. Things only get worse again when Sigge returns, and to the very end, life has a way of giving with one hand and taking with the other.

Maria's gradual comprehension of her photographic gifts comes in direct opposition to her estrangement from her husband. Gently in the background are felt the larger movements of history, from the war to the socialist-capitalist showdowns to the continued emigration of Swedes to the United States.

Heiskanen carries the film as Maria, a modest woman who quietly absorbs most adversity except when it comes to her husband's drinking. It's not a showy role per se, and Heiskanen doesn't possess movie star-type radiance, but Maria's durability and embodiment of common-woman virtues draw one in. By contrast, Sigge is both a big man and a huge personality, thanks to Persbrandt's grand performance. One of Sweden's most popular stars, he will certainly boost his international profile with his outsized turn.

Production details transport the viewer back a century with utter credibility, and the camerawork makes every second an intense pleasure.

A correction was made to this review on Oct. 1, 2008.

Italy. v02

Italy. v01

De mortuis nil nisi bonum.

Depeche Mode + Dave Gahan
Cancellations of the Universe

Friday, July 10, 2009

This Day in Art History
Giorgio de Chirico (1888 - 1978)

From Robert Hughes
"Nothing If Not Critical: Selected Essays on Art and Artists"

"The case of Giorgio de Chirico is one of the most curious in art history. An Italian, born in 1888 and raised partly in Greece - where his father, an engineer, planned and built railroads - he led a productive life, almost Picassoan in length; he died in 1978. He had studied in Munich, and in his early twenties, under the spell of the Symbolist painter Arnold Böcklin, he began to produce a series of strange, oneiric cityscapes. When they were seen in Paris after 1911, they were ecstatically hailed by painters and poets from Picasso to Paul Éluard; before long de Chirico became one of the heroes of Surrealism.

"This phase of his work - the so-called pittura metafisica - lasted until about 1918. Thereafter, de Chirico changed. He wanted to become, and almost succeeded in becoming, a classicist. He imagined himself to be the heir of Titian. Rejected by the French avant-garde, he struck back with disputatious critiques of modernist degeneracy; for the next sixty years of his life, he remained an obdurate though not very skillful academic painter. He even took to signing his work "Pictor Optimus" ("the best painter"). The sheer scale of his failure - if that is the word for it - is almost as fascinating as the brilliance of his early talent. Naturally, a great deal of both has been hidden by the polemical dust, and last week [note - this essay was originally published in 1982] New York's Museum of Modern Art unveiled its effort to stabilize and make sense of de Chirico's reputation with a show organized by William Rubin, the museum's director of painting and sculpture.

"For the past seventy years, de Chirico's city has been one of the capitals of the modernist imagination. It is a fantasy town, a state of mind, signifying alienation, dreaming and loss. Its elements are so well known by now that they fall into place as soon as they are named, like jigsaw pieces worn by being assembled over and over again: the arcades, the tower, the piazza, the shadows, the statue, the train, the mannequin.

"Many of its traits are drawn from real places in which de Chirico lived. Volos, the Greek town where he grew up, was bisected by a railway, and the glimpse of a train among the houses - which look so strange in de Chirico's paintings - must have been a fact of his childhood memory. But the richest sources of imagery were Turin, which de Chirico visited briefly as a young man, and Ferrara, where he lived from 1911 to 1918. Turin's towers, including the eccentric nineteenth-century Mole Antonelliana, regularly appear in his paintings. Another favorite site there, piazza Vittorio Veneto, is surrounded on three sides by plain, deep-shadowed arcades; these serried slots of darkness are the recurrent motif of de Chirico's cityscapes. He may have grasped their poetic opportunities through looking at Böcklin's paintings of Italian arcades, but no painter ever made an architectural feature more his own.

"That de Chirico was a poet, and a great one, is not in dispute. He could condense voluminous feeling through metaphor and association. One can try to dissect these magical nodes of experience, yet not find what makes them cohere. In The Joy of Return, 1915, de Chirico's train has once more entered the city; its black silhouette is plumb in the center of the looming gray facades; a bright ball of vapor hovers directly above its smokestack. Perhaps it comes from the train and is near us. Or possibly it is a cloud on the horizon, lit by the sun that never penetrates the buildings, in the last electric blue silence of dusk. It contracts the near and the far, enchanting one's sense of space. Early de Chiricos are full of such effects. Et quid amabo nisi quod aenigma est? ("What shall I love if not the enigma?") - this question, inscribed by the young artist on his self-portrait in 1911, is their subtext.

"Morbid, introspective and peevish, de Chirico belonged to the company of the convalescents: Cavafy, Leopardi, Proust. The city was his sanatorium, and as a fabricator of images that spoke of frustration, tension and ritualized memory, he had no equal. No wonder the Surrealists adored his early work and adopted its strategies wholesale. The "illusionist" painters among them, Dali, Ernst, Tanguy and Magritte all came out of early de Chirico, and in the 1920s George Grosz and other German painters used de Chirican motifs to express their vision of an estranged urban world.

"But to treat de Chirico solely as a dream merchant, precursor of Surrealism, does his early work some injustice. The show's argument is that he survives as a painter within a specifically modernist framework, whose values and standards were generated in the thirty years before 1914 in Paris. That was "the city par excellence of art and the intellect," as de Chirico wrote, where "any man worthy of the name of artist must exact the recognition of his merit." Paris took young de Chirico, as it took young Chagall, and turned him from a naive provincial fabulist into a major painter. His "metaphysical" constructions, such as The Jewish Angel, 1916, certainly influenced Max Ernst. just as certainly, they came out of the Cubist sculpture de Chirico saw all over Paris studios after 1912.

"De Chirico is often said to have used Renaissance space in his pictures, but as Rubin points out, this is a myth. De Chirican perspective was not meant to set the viewer in a secure, measurable space. It was a means of distorting the view and disquieting the eye. Instead of one vanishing point in his architectonic masterpiece, The Melancholy of Departure, 1914 there are six, none "correct." This cloning of viewpoints acts in a way analogous to Cubism. It jams the sense of illusionary depth and delivers the surface to the rule of the flat shape, which was the quintessential modernist strategy. In color, in tonal structure and in its contradictory lighting, Rubin argues, de Chirico's style up to 1918 "was as alien to its supposed classical, fifteenth-century models as it was dependent on the Parisian painting of its own moment."

"This view of de Chirico as formalist fits the evidence and rids the artist of a great deal of accumulated "poetic" waffle. It also helps one distinguish, in a way that makes sense, between de Chirico's real achievements and the long slide into mediocrity after 1918. Authentic pre-1918 de Chiricos are few, and most of them are on the Museum of Modern Art's walls. On the other hand, copies and "later" versions - a euphemism for self-forgeries - are everywhere. (One of them, from the Cleveland Museum of Art, dubiously identified as a 1917 Metaphysical Interior, has crept into the show and should creep out.) Italian art dealers used to say the Maestro's bed was six feet off the ground, to hold all the "early work" he kept "discovering" beneath it. In a spirit of pardonable malice, Rubin reprints in the catalogue eighteen versions of The Disquieting Muses, 1917, all done between 1945 and 1962. Many of these facsimiles, backdated, were sold as original pittura metafisica.

"What made him do it? In part, revenge; if modernist critics and the collectors they influenced were going to make capital from his youth while insulting his maturity, then let them eat fake. Why should he not profit from the fact that early de Chiricos fetched ten or twenty times the price of late ones? He believed he got better as he got older. He would have had to be a saint of humility not to think so. The worst insult you can offer an artist is to tell him how good he used to be. No wonder de Chirico rejected everything that was written about his early work and refused to agree that it had any fundamental connection with modernism. Only thus could he rationalize his belief that he was the same artist after 1918 as before: the difference between him and other members of that stupendous generation of the 1880s was that he alone had stepped out into the light of classicism, leaving Picasso and the rest behind in their "primitive" darkness and willful modernist regression.

"A constant theme of de Chirico's early work is the loss of his father, the railroad engineer commemorated in those white statues, phallic smokestacks, cannons, towers and trains. Perhaps he consoled himself by embracing the most paternal of all styles - the ultimate authority of Greco-Roman archaeology as transmitted by the Renaissance, a classicism one could approach only from outside. Waking this sleeping father became another obsessive project: after 1920 de Chirico is always quoting classical models, allegories, iconographies. The one thing he could not do was paint with the measure and certainty appropriate to classical art. He could invoke, but never convincingly evoke, that great still frame of agreement. Consequently his paintings after 1920 teeter on the edge of an absurd defensiveness; they mean less than they seem to. They are not about nostalgia, as the early work was. They are nostalgic, and flatly so.

"Today, determined efforts are being made - though not by the Museum of Modern Art - to rehabilitate late de Chirico. Dealers need product, of course, but there is more to it than that. De Chirico's queer, starved relationship to the classical past closely resembles the way many young painters now look back on the prime energies of modern art; his "postclassicism," unconsciously camp, is uncle to the pastiches of "postmodernism." Of course, that does not make the late paintings much more interesting; they are still not bad enough to look good. The Pictor Optimus could only stump about like a man at a masquerade, tangled in the mantle of Titian. The de Chirico this show gives back to us was so much less encumbered, so precise and knowing in his hard-won awkwardness."

Thursday, July 09, 2009


Take my life.

Time has been twisting the knife.

Shamus Ian Fatzinger, Photographer.

View this compelling multi-media presentation ONE THING AT A TIME here.

View Photo District News' interview with Shamus Ian Fatzinger here.

The Boulevard of Broken Dreams.
The Michael Jackson Dancers' Auditions

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Man in the Mirror. 1988.

300 days to go until

I'm 50.

Better get off my ass,
and get "all those projects done."

And dominating the headlines...
Michael Joseph Jackson

In other news: Iraq + Afghanistan

In other news: Iraq
Deployed dad wants to see missing daughter

Got $25,000 to spare?
Michael Jackson's coffin

Priceless Product Placement
Michael Jackson & Magic Johnson
Kentucky Fried Chicken!!!

In other news: Washington, D.C.
District of Columbia recognizes same-sex unions

WASHINGTON (CNN) — A new District of Columbia law recognizing same-sex marriages performed elsewhere took effect Tuesday.

The measure, which does not allow gay or lesbian couples to be married in the district itself, was initially approved on May 5.

Currently four states recognize same-sex marriages — Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts and Iowa. Vermont and New Hampshire will soon join their company when same-sex marriages become legal later this year and early next year.

In other news: Pakistan
Taliban buying children for suicide attacks

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (CNN) -- A top Taliban leader in Pakistan is buying and selling children for suicide bombings, Pakistani and U.S. officials said.

Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud has been increasingly using the children in attacks, the officials said. A video released by Pakistan's military shows the children training for the task.

In the video of a training camp, children can be seen killing and going through exercises.

Mehsud has been selling the children, once trained, to other Taliban officials for $6,000 to $12,000, Pakistani military officials said.

Some of the children are as young as 11, the officials said.

"He has been been admitting he holds a training center for young boys, for preparing them for suicide bombing. So he is on record saying all this, accepting these crimes," said Major General Akhtar Abbas, spokesman for the Pakistani army.

In other news:
11 NATO troops killed in 2 days in Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan (CNN) -- International troops in Afghanistan endured another deadly attack Tuesday, a day after 10 NATO-led troops were killed in that country.

A U.S. coalition service member "died as a result of injuries" on Tuesday afternoon in a roadside bombing attack on a convoy in western Afghanistan, the U.S. military said.

This follows 10 NATO-led deaths on Monday, the highest single-day total in Afghanistan in nearly a year, according to NATO and U.S.-led coalition numbers.

Seven Americans, two Canadians and one Briton died in four separate incidents Monday.

On August 18, 2008, 10 French soldiers were killed when about 100 insurgents attacked a patrol in Kabul Province, and a British soldier was killed in southern Afghanistan when insurgents attacked a patrol with a roadside bomb.

A month before that, 10 American troops were killed in two separate incidents on July 13, 2008.

The latest deaths came as U.S. troops cranked up their fight against the Taliban, a push that includes a major Marine-led offensive against the militants in the southern province of Helmand.

Roadside bombs Monday killed four Americans in the northern province of Kunduz and two in southern Afghanistan, NATO's International Security Assistance Force said.

A seventh American died in an insurgent attack in eastern Afghanistan, ISAF confirmed.

Two Canadian air crew members and a British soldier were killed when a helicopter crashed during takeoff in Zabul province, the Canadian and British defense ministries said.

Reporting LIVE from LA!
The Michael Jackson Memorial Service

Monday, July 06, 2009

The 14th Dalai Lama at 74

Nancy Reagan at 88

Queen Rocks Houston
The Legendary 1977 Concert

Arriving soon on the heels of the complete audio soundtrack released on DQA as A Night A The Summit and on Wardour as Houston 1977, DQA has now made available, for the first time, the complete videotape of Queen’s legendary show at The Summit in Houston at the beginning of the News Of The World tour. This comes from an in house, closed circuit television broadcast which was commonly done by this venue. A forty-minute fragment had circulated before but this is the first release of the complete show. It looks exactly like what it is: an almost thirty-year-old videotape not intended for public broadcast or release. The colors are faded and there is significant bleeding in dark areas, and there are several lines through the picture which never disappear. It is watchable despite the flaws however. Whenever a tape surfaces that comes from a venue’s broadcast on large screens or close circuit broadcast there is the concern that the picture will be dominated by extreme close ups. It’s understandable they’d want those shots so people in the nose bleeds can see the performers, but at home on television we don’t need to count Freddie Mercury’s nose hairs and see the dirt under Brian May’s fingernails.

Luckily the cameras capture mid level shots of the band and give generous views of the entire stage. The very beginning of the tape is cut off and the label compensates by playing the sound track over a shot of their audio cd release until Freddie comes in singing “We Will Rock You”. He’s dressed in the harlequin leotard underneath his black leather jacket just like the DVD cover artwork. What follows in a great show. Perhaps I was too harsh in my review of the audio soundtrack, but Brian’s guitar problems aren’t that noticeable on video. The pause in “Liar” gives Freddie an excuse to affect a very dramatic, Queen-style pose under a single spotlight. This also gives us probably the only video documentation of a live “Melancholy Blues”, a song played only on this tour. In general this title is a no brainer for Queen fans. Its existence and availability has been discussed ad infinitum for years and it’s finally here. Unless a true master surfaces this is the best we’ll have.

Born this day in 1935|The Dalai Lama

©remains with the original photographer