On July 4th: The art of decency

Contributed by Jonathan Stevenson / Leave No Trace, Debra Granik’s first dramatic movie since her Winter’s Bone ushered in Jennifer Lawrence eight years ago, is among the best and most resonant films to appear this year. The movie, beautifully filmed mainly in Oregon, involves a disaffected and widowed Marine veteran aptly named Will, played by a brilliantly constrained Ben … read more… “On July 4th: The art of decency”

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Art and Film: The beautifully unlovely Nancy

Contributed by Jonathan Stevenson / The artistic process comes up quite a bit in cinema. This month alone, three new movies feature protagonists who are artists struggling against various worldly impediments to make their way. At the agreeable end of the spectrum, in Brett Haley’s comforting Hearts Beat Loud, there’s the irrepressibly winning Nick Offerman’s … read more… “Art and Film: The beautifully unlovely Nancy”

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A strong, dark six-pack at Edward Thorp

Contributed by Jonathan Stevenson / Edward Thorp Gallery’s “Turn of Thought,” which unfortunately just closed, was an especially good group show worthy of even retrospective note. Styled as “contemporary narrative painting,” the exhibition featured work by six broadly representational painters, all eminently capable of summoning discomfiting storylines from seemingly naive images with great evocative efficiency … read more… “A strong, dark six-pack at Edward Thorp”

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Art and Film: Paul Schrader’s risky business

Contributed by Jonathan Stevenson / Like an opaque work of conceptual art, writer-director Paul Schrader’s First Reformed is a high-risk venture, laden with the potential for artistic failure and embarrassment. But sometimes you just gotta say what the fuck. The risk paid off. The urgent nihilism of Scorsese’s Taxi Driver, which Schrader wrote, is on full … read more… “Art and Film: Paul Schrader’s risky business”

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Art and Film: Juliette Binoche is a painter on the prowl

Contributed by Jonathan Stevenson / In Let the Sunshine In (an awkward translation of the original title, Un Beau Soleil Interieur), French director Claire Denis’ gently flaying romantic comedy, Juliette Binoche plays Isabelle, a fiftyish divorced painter on the prowl, with her signature blend of obduracy and vulnerability. As an artist, she seems to live … read more… “Art and Film: Juliette Binoche is a painter on the prowl”

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Art and Film: Giacometti’s petulant eye

Contributed by Jonathan Stevenson /  Swiss artist Alberto Giacometti was renowned for his inability to finish artwork. It’s tempting to caricature that kind of chronic dissatisfaction as precious narcissism and feigned perfectionism. But it’s also too easy, and in Final Portrait, writer and director Stanley Tucci – better known as an elite character actor specializing in … read more… “Art and Film: Giacometti’s petulant eye”

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Art and Film: Red scares

Contributed by Jonathan Stevenson / Two current movies about Russia, both gloriously snide but in different ways, open with discrete artistic performances. In Armando Iannucci’s impeccably sardonic and irreverent The Death of Stalin, it’s a Mozart piano concerto, going out live on radio. The producers of the broadcast have neglected to record it, and, implicitly … read more… “Art and Film: Red scares”

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Art and Film: Amy Jenkins hosts death

Contributed by Jonathan Stevenson / During and after the AIDS epidemic, gay artists like Carlos Alfonzo, Ross Bleckner, Robert Gober, and Keith Haring used visual art to convey the tragedy of mass premature death that gutted the art world, as well as the political injustice of the U.S. government’s refusal to recognize the gravity of the disease. … read more… “Art and Film: Amy Jenkins hosts death”

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Robin Lowe’s exquisitely eerie paintings

Contributed by Jonathan Stevenson / It goes almost without saying that paintings of people need to bring more to the table than faithful visual representations of what the people look like. But what, exactly? There is of course a range of options as to the kinds of enhancements a painter can incorporate. Natural environment, social milieu, and personal activity are some … read more… “Robin Lowe’s exquisitely eerie paintings”

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Eddie Martinez: Hard-earned cool

Contributed by Jonathan Stevenson / An Eddie Martinez painting exudes casual and effervescent esprit, from the comic-book energy of jangled shape and line, to the optic colors applied with a smart brand of aggressive sloppiness, right down to the often occluded header and footer on the canvas identifying it as his. The printed information says, insouciantly, … read more… “Eddie Martinez: Hard-earned cool”

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