Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Blogspot no more?

I'll just be updating the Tumblr, at least for a while.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Monday, May 17, 2010

Friday, May 07, 2010

Exit Through The Gift Shop (2010)

What kind of transgressive anarchist bitches about less-talented copycats? Though most critics profess admiration for Banksy's directorial debut, Exit Through The Gift Shop, the film ultimately seems as embarrassing and mystique-destroying a venture as Metallica: Some Kind Of Monster. Exit initially consists of footage shot by Thierry Guetta, an obsessive filmographer who followed street artists like Invader and Shepard Fiery as they plastered and spray-painted their insignias throughout urban areas. Eventually serving as a lookout for the enigmatic antihero Banksy himself, Guetta is commissioned to make a doc from his massive archive. After he turns in an incoherent montage, Banksy relives Guetta of his responsibilities (and tapes), flippantly advising him to become an artist himself. Mass-producing a stream of derivative works and using quotes from his artist pals to stir hype, the former accomplice quickly makes a mint as Mister Brainwash, disgusting the old guard of street art.

While it's easy to be skeptical of the movie's veracity, I have to believe the film is mostly honest, if only because of how petty Banksy makes himself look. Attempting to paint Guetta as both a fool and a huckster, the copyright-infringing, unrepentant vandal proves rather protective of his own brand. You'd think someone who painted cracks in the West Bank wall would enjoy his faithful accomplice bilking LA's impressionable out of a million dollars in a week, but Guetta's success has Banksy and Fiery stuttering in dismay, the former even saying he no longer suggests friends make their own art. Though Banksy hints at comprehending the irony (whining Guetta "didn't follow the rules" while admitting "there aren't supposed to any rules"), their professional jealousy shows how much these art-terrorists hold their hip cachet and market value sacred (why show celebs at Banksy's showing and idiot trendoids at Guetta's otherwise?). By suggesting their financial success is merited by years of hard work, they reduce the political implications of street art to "paying dues." (It's also worth noting that while Banksy uses Guetta's own footage to out him as a charlatan, Guetta has never revealed his former friend's true identity).

As with Some Kind Of Monster, the pathetic truths revealed certainly don't make the film any less fascinating or entertaining. But where Metallica simply funded their own humiliation, Banksy (assuming the film is not a hoax) crafted his own while lashing out at an associate too naive to realize he wasn't as remarkable an artist. That so few seem to be realize what he's doing makes the aftertaste even more sour.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Browning Version (1951)

Ben Mankiewicz cracked this movie could be called Living Poets Society or Don't Lean On Me or Why Did I Expect To Learn Anything From A Ben Mankiewicz Intro on TCM, due to its supposed irreverence towards its lead compared to most films about tragic teachers. This ignores that The Browning Version still ends with rapturous applause and small, symbolic gestures of admiration towards the deposed educator in question. Though Crocker-Harris is a mediocre, unliked teacher, he sees the nobility in the profession and is hailed for it.

What's truly striking is that, unlike most films about broken spirits, there's no railing at the institutions that break them. We're shown the crimes committed against him by his indifferent peers and resentful wife - and the filmmakers never pretend these aren't crimes - but we aren't treated to any tantrums or finger-waving on the part of Crocker-Harris himself. Forced to confront his tragic situation, he's disappointed only in himself, realizing his own complicity in his soul-death before finding dignity in genuine, self-pitiless regret. I don't want to dismiss the valid, serious criticisms of social structures that drives the usual self-righteous fury in most works of this type, but to see a character accept any accountability is remarkably rare - maybe Nurse Ratched's story would have been more enlightening than McMurphy's.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Adam Resurrected (2009)

The only people who've reviewed this movie without bringing up The Day The Clown Cried are presumably people who've never heard of The Day The Clown Cried. The story - crazed holocaust survivor finds redemption by restoring the well-being of others - screams "Oscar bait," and Jeff Goldblum's camera-owning performance certainly could have been a Crazy Heart "comeback," especially considering his sudden descent to obscurity following The Lost World (which I'd assume was intentional if he wasn't currently on a Law & Order spin-off). Thankfully (at least for me and you), director Paul Schrader doesn't do uplift. Lots of mercifully unexplained magical realism and schmaltz-cutting perversity that never feels like weirdness for weirdness' sake; when Schrader's inscrutable, he's truly inscrutable. And at this point I've accepted he'll never outgrow closing narration.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Monday, February 01, 2010

The Decade Wrap-Up That Wasn't

For the last few months of 2009, the staff at Anthony Is Right were planning a major decade-wrap up, celebrating 100 Artists Who Released More Than 20 Songs In The 2000s That I'm Bothering To Keep On My iPod with a Trouser Press-style summation of their work over the last decade. Pre-production was mighty nifty, but these ambitions were scuttled by a non-crippling but totally annoying ear infection that lasted well over a month, soon followed by an obnoxious cold that lingers on today. Combined with moving plans, wedding plans, work and nitrome.com, you should be able to see why it didn't happen.

Thankfully, my buddy Keith Harris (who probably shouldn't write more and move back to NY, but I wouldn't stop him if he did), is doing a very different, but possibly even more awesome decade overview on his revived Useful Noise blog. This space should get more active as soon as sinuses permit - at least until that damned wedding - but I feel like the oh-those-aughties train has passed. So go ride his, if you're not already.

P.S., please check out One Star Music, a tumblr I'm curating of YouTubes from albums that received one star or less in a published music guide. If I'm doing it for my health, it hasn't been working.

Sunday, January 24, 2010


Review at Tiny Mix Tapes.