April 4, 2013 |
What to make of "Silver Circle," with its low-rent animation, blunt antigovernment jabs and robotic dialogue? Directed by Pasha Roberts from a script by Steven Schwartz, this eccentric diatribe set in a dystopic near-future has a lot on its Ron Paul-esque mind but lacks the means or finesse to present an even remotely persuasive case. Call it echo chamber filmmaking. It's 2019 in Washington, D.C., and the Federal Reserve ("the ultimate secret society!") is running the show. There's explosive inflation (a beer costs $110)
February 7, 2013 |
Llyn Foulkes is a crank. That's a good thing, because we need cranks. I might not want to sit next to one on the subway or listen to one give a floor-speech in Congress. But popular culture and institutional art have a way of smoothing out or even debasing life's often painful rawness. Works of art offer contemplative distance, which can make zealous eccentricity especially riveting. Take "The Corporate Kiss" (2001), a bracing bit of strangeness that is on view in the sprawling, 50-year retrospective exhibition of Foulkes' art newly opened at the UCLA Hammer Museum.
November 15, 2012 |
"Silver Linings Playbook" is rich in life's complications. It will make you laugh, but don't expect it to fit in any snug genre pigeonhole. Dramatic, emotional, even heartbreaking, as well as wickedly funny, it has the gift of going its own way, a complete success from a singular talent. That would be the gifted writer-director David O. Russell, whose triumph with "The Fighter" two years ago marked a return to form after a spate of lean years. Russell, whose early successes include "Three Kings" and "Flirting With Disaster," always brings intensity and passion to the proceedings: We aren't coolly observing life in his films, we are compelled to live it full-bore along with his characters.
October 26, 2012 |
Twelve years after his death on tax day 2000, Edward Gorey - writer, illustrator, Victorian aesthete born half a century too late - has earned an adjective all his own: "Goreyesque. " The word is used, increasingly, to refer to anything that manages to be amusingly lugubrious, in an arch sort of way. In recent years, Gorey's eccentric shadow has only lengthened across pop culture, his influence apparent in Tim Burton's gothic whimsies; the Lemony Snicket books by Daniel Handler; the emergence of the Gorey tattoo as a hipster fad; crowds thronging to the traveling exhibition of his work, "Elegant Enigmas"; and the resurrection of out-of-print Gorey tales Three Gorey titles have just landed on bookstore shelves.
October 7, 2012 |
Panorama City A Novel Antoine Wilson Houghton Mifflin Harcourt: 292 pp., $24 In fiction, when country naifs ship off to the big city to reinvent themselves, they go to New York or Paris. On the off chance they end up in Los Angeles, they usually skulk around muggy corners in Hollywood hawking scripts. They do not often go to the outer San Fernando Valley, unless they are perhaps looking for employment in the field of cinematic sexual stamina. That's where Oppen Porter, the 28-year-old narrator of Antoine Wilson's second novel, "Panorama City," winds up on a quest to become a "man of the world.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
September 23, 2012 |
SACRAMENTO - Gov. Jerry Brown had been plowing through the hundreds of bills on his desk, many involving what he calls the "vast tracts of unknown" in state bureaucracy, when one caught his eye. It was the "Google Car" bill to regulate driverless vehicles. "I said, 'Wow. This sounds kind of Moonbeam," Brown recalled. "I want to look at this a little more carefully.'" These days, the man tagged "Gov. Moonbeam" nearly four decades ago for his plan to launch state satellites doesn't have the luxury of playing the wide-eyed futurist.
July 28, 2012 |
Olympic opening ceremonies tend to be orgies of nationalistic sentiment, choreographed with the propagandizing artistry of a Las Vegas-styled Leni Riefenstahl. “Marvel at our unparalleled history,” said the Greeks at the 2004 games in Athens. “Stand in awe of our multitudinous might,” said the Chinese at the 2008 competition in Beijing. The British pageant had to tread more carefully given the country's imperial history and modern self-consciousness. Too much muscle-flexing in this post-colonial era wouldn't have advanced Britain's 21st century image as a deluxe global marketplace, welcoming to all who have the financial wherewithal to get past security.
July 2, 2012 |
All the best stories are told in the kitchen - even the darkest ones. Think of Hélène Cixous' “Oy!,” now at the Actors' Gang, as the rise and fall of the Third Reich as told by your eccentric aunts, who happen to be whipping up liver pâté and a little gossip. Octogenarian sisters Selma (Mary Eileen O'Donnell) and Jenny (Jeanette Horn) have just returned from their hometown in Germany, where they were asked to speak about the Nazi era. Cooking up some nosh, they admit to each other that they didn't exactly tell the whole truth in public.
June 29, 2012 |
"The Matchmaker" is a surprise. It sounds like a throwback to an earlier, more traditional style of Israeli filmmaking but it instead provides a view of that country that's as satisfyingly eccentric and unexpected as anything we've seen. Written and directed by the veteran Avi Nesher, nominated for seven Israeli academy awards and winner of the lead actor and actress prize, "The Matchmaker" is set largely in 1968 and presents itself as the familiar coming-of-age story of a 16-year-old boy. But, as it turns out, the boy's story is only a part of a larger, more compelling dramatic mosaic and what he learns about the vagaries and perplexities of the human heart is only interesting because of the complex, unusual adults he learns it from.
June 8, 2012 |
It is one of the great classified ads of our time, and it leads to an unexpected and endearing film that is as deliciously off-center as the words that ignite it: "WANTED: Someone to go back in time with me. This is not a joke. You'll get paid after we get back. Must bring your own weapons. Safety not guaranteed. I have only done this once before. " The film is"Safety Not Guaranteed,"and its success is both delightful and unlikely. As sweet as it is eccentric - and it is wildly eccentric - this is a warm movie in cynical disguise, a story that takes a handful of thoroughly modern characters, places them in a classic screwball comedy plot, and lets nature take its course.