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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Art and Film: Dedicated followers of fashion

Contributed by Jonathan Stevenson / In the brilliantly obtuse Phantom Thread, a paradoxically epic chamber piece, Paul Thomas Anderson explores the way in which romantic union constrains and energizes creativity. Reynolds Woodcock (Daniel Day-Lewis, archly perfect in his purported swan song) is a creepily narcissistic and unctuous haute-couture dressmaker. The House of Woodcock caters to … read more… “Art and Film: Dedicated followers of fashion”

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Art & Film: Liquid asset in The Shape of Water

Contributed by Jonathan Stevenson / Cult film auteur Guillermo del Toro, director and co-writer of the triumphant The Shape of Water, sees 1962, in which it is set, as a historical hinge point. It was the first (and last) full year of Kennedy’s Camelot and the final year of America’s perceived (if delusional) postwar idyll … read more… “Art & Film: Liquid asset in The Shape of Water”

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Art and film: Billboard as political provocation

Contributed by Jonathan Stevenson / During the pre-Mad Men golden age of roadside America, advertising billboards set a tone of warm and friendly commercialism. Perhaps the most notable and culturally durable ones were those of Burma-Shave, a then-novel brushless shaving cream. The ads were picture-free and strictly verbal: they consisted of short, whimsically sardonic poems … read more… “Art and film: Billboard as political provocation”

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