Art and Film: Kelly Reichardt’s eye for grace

Contributed by Jonathan Stevenson / In the 1820s, not long after Lewis and Clark blazed the Oregon Trail, Otis “Cookie” Figowitz, a white orphan from Maryland who had been indentured to a Boston baker and is now a cook, and King-Lu, an itinerant Chinese dreamer on the run, are en route to Fort Tillicum, a … read more… “Art and Film: Kelly Reichardt’s eye for grace”

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Art and Film: Dimitri de Clercq’s dark idyll

Contributed by Jonathan Stevenson / Not every filmmaker can emulate Alfred Hitchcock and cue Chet Baker in a feature debut shot on a shoestring budget and avoid appearing shamelessly trite or derivative, but Belgian director and co-writer Dimitri de Clercq pulls it off with his captivatingly twisted, noirish romance You Go To My Head. The … read more… “Art and Film: Dimitri de Clercq’s dark idyll”

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Art and Film: Surviving the Oscars

Contributed by Jonathan Stevenson / Martin Scorsese directed what was probably the best American movie of the year – The Irishman – and it garnered not a single Academy Award despite ten nominations. The film’s Netflix backing and correspondingly enervated theater release annoyed key players in the Academy and appeared to doom its prospects. Despite those exogenous … read more… “Art and Film: Surviving the Oscars”

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The political power of art

Contributed by Jonathan Stevenson / In a typically penetrating New York Times column earlier this month, David Leonhardt pointed out that one of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s many insights was the need to showcase as well as merely extend government largesse in order to impress upon its beneficiaries the ongoing value of the federal government’s involvement in their … read more… “The political power of art”

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Art and Film: 2019 Top Ten

Contributed by Jonathan Stevenson / It’s been a fine year for movies, their demise due to streaming having been greatly exaggerated notwithstanding awkward episodes like the theatrical release of Netflix-backed The Irishman. Here is my inexorably subjective and eminently debatable list of the Top Ten dramatic films of 2019. The Irishman. Still the king of the … read more… “Art and Film: 2019 Top Ten”

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Art and Film: Rogue plant

Contributed by Jonathan Stevenson / The political ascent of Donald Trump and others like him has produced a glut of ominous allegories, and Austrian director Jessica Hausner’s mesmerizing film Little Joe may be the richest yet. With an unabashed nod to Invasion of the Body Snatchers (all three versions), the story’s contours are obvious, but … read more… “Art and Film: Rogue plant”

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Art and Film: Merchants of nostalgia

Contributed by Jonathan Stevenson / If bad times increase the demand for nostalgia, the current bull market is going to persist for at least another year. But Donald Trump, the ultimate stimulus for that demand, is himself a product of a certain toxic brand of nostalgia – one for a time of white male domination, … read more… “Art and Film: Merchants of nostalgia”

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Hermine Ford’s exquisite poise

Contributed by Jonathan Stevenson / Any painter is eclectic to a greater or lesser degree, drawing inspiration from other painters, but it’s a rarer one who successfully processes multiple discrete influences into distinctive art all her own. Hermine Ford is emphatically such a painter. Her discursively shaped paintings currently on view at the New York … read more… “Hermine Ford’s exquisite poise”

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Hans Haacke’s ethical snark

Contributed by Jonathan Stevenson / If mid-century art lovers had thought Robert Rauschenberg’s cheeky erasure of Willem de Kooning’s drawing in 1953 was irreverent, they might have revised their definition of the term twenty years later, when Hans Haacke tendered them detailed questionnaires about their backgrounds and attitudes as they entered the John Weber Gallery, … read more… “Hans Haacke’s ethical snark”

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Art and Film: Joker is the wrong movie

Contributed by Jonathan Stevenson / Joker, Todd Phillips’ tensely anticipated origin story of the Batman villain that grossed $96 million in its first weekend, self-consciously presents as Taxi Driver meets The King of Comedy, and a kind of atavistic essay on the perils of inequality and the dominance of the one percent. Like many high-concept films, however, … read more… “Art and Film: Joker is the wrong movie”