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Hamish Fulton – Turner Contemporary

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Hamish Fulton

catalogue published on occasion of the exhibition Hamish Fulton: Walk at Turner Contemporary, Margate (17 January – 6 May 2012) and Ikon Gallery, Birmingham (15 February – 22 April 2012)

card published by Turner Contemporary (Hamish Fulton – From Gravesend To Eastbourne, 2010, Wall text: 259 x 259,4 cm)

Peter Liversidge – 28 January 2012

Post from Peter Liversidge, 28 January 2012

Sundance 2012: Final Thoughts

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Sundance 2012: The Words Q&A

Sundance Review: The Words

Plagiarism is something that all writers struggle with, whether it be the urge to pass off somebody else's work as your own, or when someone does it to you. It's never a good feeling either way. If you get stolen from, you feel wronged that something you created is being taken credit for. If you do the stealing, you feel the guilt that comes with being a reasonable human being. This is the central dilemma in The Words, the star studded, closing night premiere at Sundance 2012. Unfortunately, The Words never rises above being more than a mildly compelling examination of the artistic ambition.

Rory Jansen is a struggling author who has good things to say, but lacks the talent or draw that is needed to get a manuscript published. While on holiday with his wife in Paris, he comes across a forgotten manuscript in a weathered attaché case, and immediately realizes he has stumbled on to something special. Since there is not author on the pages, he decides to pass it off as his own creation. He is hit with instant stardom in the literary world, and seems to be riding high. That is, until the true author of the book presents himself to Rory, plunging him into a moral quandary that forces him to seriously examine the man he has become.

The story is framed like this. Rory's story is the subject of a novel that is being read before a crowd by the novel's author. It's easy to follow, but it's kneecaps the movie where it shouldn't. This sort of multi narrative structure is usually the setup for a big reveal, and, unfortunately, the big reveal in this one is painfully obvious from when the first character steps onto screen.

This is a loaded movie for a independent film festival. Bradley Cooper plays Rory with all the same smarmy charm that we associate with him, but he does dial it back a bit in the more serious moments, and flexes some dramatic muscles that we haven't seen from him. Dennis Quaid is pretty blah as the author of Rory's story, though he does deliver some great line readings. Zoe Saldana is just ok as Rory's wife, and Olivia Wilde doesn't fair much better as a college student who puts the moves on Quaid's character.

The real stand out here is Jeremy Irons as the aged man who is the real author of the manuscript. A hefty portion of the movie is him telling the story of how he came to write the book, and it's the only time that the movie transcends it's lazy premise and becomes something truly memorable and heartbreaking. Irons is bloody fantastic here, and leaves all other floundering in his wake.

The direction by Brian Klugman and Lee Sternthal is well done; it's clear these guys care about this material. They've only been working on it for ten years. And the score by The MARCelo Zarvos is very well implemented, giving off a sense of tension and stakes that the movie would be sorely lacking without.

Though it does pick up some steam as it hurtles towards its big reveal, the fact remains that The Words just didn't do enough new things with the material to warrant any sort of overwhelming praise. Irons singlehandedly elevates the movie into a higher class; the whole thing is worth seeing just for him.

Sundance 2012: Sleepwalk With Me Q&A

Sundance Review: Sleepwalk With Me

Sometimes, all you need is a good comedy. I picked up tickets to Sleepwalk With Me sort of my accident. A woman had a bunch of different tickets to a bunch of different movies, and hawked this one off to me. And I'm very glad she did. Sleepwalk With Me is a very funny and occasionally touching film about stand-up, marriage, and sleep disorders. Like a good night's rest, it leaves you feeling satiated and happy.

Matt is a struggling stnad-up comedian who is enjoying his 8+ year relationship with his girlfriend Abby. When is sister goes the distance and gets married, it's all to clear that Abby wants to follow them, but Matt isn't so sure. When he gets a break and starts doing stand-up gigs around the country, his relationship is strained further. Throw in a sleeping disorder that sees him acting out his dreams as he experiences them, and it's safe to say that Matt has issues.

It's nothing new, but its done very well. The script by Mike Birbiglia, who also directed and starred, and three other dudes is consistently clever, but always finds time for some more serious stuff. With the help of a talented cast that includes Lauren Ambrose, James Rebhorn, and a delightful Carol Kane, Birbiglia offers up a surprisingly intimate look at a relationship tested by things you wouldn't expect.

Did I mention it's hilarious? A good amount of the time is devoted to Birbiglia, as Matt, talking directly to the camera, which is always amusing, and provides great and biting commentary on the events that have transpired. The dialogue is just as good, with zingers coming a mile a minute.

The serious stuff on the other hand isn't handled quite as well. The relationship drama between Matt and his girlfriend is just the same, rote thing we've seen countless times, where a couple finally asks the question, "Where are we going with this?" And not enough is done to make it stand out from it. Indeed, the times where we feel the most sympathy for Matt are the times when he is sleepwalking. Those at least display a different and darker side of the material that wouldn't have been seen otherwise.

But, if you're looking for solid laughs and some decent drama, you could do a lot worse than Sleepwalk With Me. This is a well written, well acted piece of comedy that strives to achieve something a bit more substantial. It's doesn't quite make it, but we appreciate the effort, and enjoy the film all the more for it.

Sundance 2012; Day 9

Friday, January 27, 2012

Sundance 2012: hitRECord

Courtesy of @areyouthatguy

And for posterity's sake, here's the whole show. Skip ahead to 12:00 for my time on the stage.

Watch live streaming video from sundancefest at livestream.com

Sundance Review: Shorts Program II

Shorts are interesting little buggers aren't they. In a way they are the more challenging movie to make, but they are also, in a way, easier to talk about. It's not easy to condense a full story into a 10 minute film, but when it comes time to discuss it, everything you saw is easier to pick out. Shorts Program II had seven films attached to it, and all followed the theme of searching for connection. Some were great, some good.

'92 Skybox Alonzo Mourning Rookie Card
This one was one of my two favorites. It deals with two brothers who bicker and squabble at their father's funeral, mostly due to the one brother's childish antics. It's absolutely hysterical and presents a very honest  look at a brotherhood that has been tested by distance and absence. Top shelf!

The Arm
I liked this one too, but it has it's problems. It presents the story of two teens who enter into a relationship, as far as we know, solely through texting. And then, the girl dies in a car accident, and the boy is expected to make some grand speech at her funeral because she was sooooo in love with him, and he doesn't really know what to do. It has a delightfully offbeat and twisted sense of humor; I found myself laughing when I know I shouldn't have been. But it ends very abruptly, right when it seemed like the message was about to be revealed. Maybe that was sort of the point.

The Black Balloon
Fun Fact: This just won the Grand Jury Prize for Best Short.
Amongst a cluster of multi-colored balloons, there is one black one. When it is separated from the group, this black balloon wanders New York City, looking for something. This one is probably my favorite. It's absolutely beautiful. The balloon is a real character, and an emotional one at that, and all the people it interacts with are varied and interesting. And this ending is very touching.

A 30 something year old woman is invited to party with a group of 20 something boys. That's all. Nothing really happens in this one, and it ends very suddenly. Nothing much to say here.

A weird but lucrative premise is, again, squandered by a sudden ending. A small boy spends his days luring woodland animals into the street by the motel he and his dad run, so that they will be hit by cars. After that, he scrapes up the corpse, and his dad gives him a quarter, which goes to his Florida fund. It sounds cool, but there's nothing more to it. It's kinda funny, but it's not enough.

Ok Breathe Auralee
Once again with the abrupt ending. Auralee is a New York woman who wants to have a baby, but her boyfriend isn't all that keen on it. Then there's a man who she keeps running into who seems interesting, and then there's this weird thing where she seems to turn invisible. There's a lot in this thing, but since it's only 16 minutes long it's not explored all that much. And it ends with no resolution at all. Infuriating.

The Return
A soldier who has spent many of the last couple of years in a prison in some far off land finally returns home to his wife and the child he barely knows. That night, revelations are presented that shake both him and his wife to the core. This one is not bad at all, and at 21 minutes, it's more than capable of fleshing everything out.

Did you notice a theme? A lot of the movies ended too soon for me, losing out on opportunities to explore some interesting subject matter. Just because it's classified as a Short doesn't mean it needs to be shorter than a yawn. A twenty five minute film can still be considered a short. But, it was a interesting and lively collection of films that entertained and touched, so... job well done!

Sundance 2012: Day 8 Line 1

Thursday, January 26, 2012

T-minus one hour and fifty minutes!

Sundance 2012: Thoughts On Moving the Masses

I woke up way later than intended to this morning and had to rush out the door, so some of my clothes might be on the wrong way today.

But I made it to my panel with plenty of time to spare. The panel dealt with the movements, activists, and protests that have become common place in the last year. On the panel was Lois Gibbs (a subject in A Fierce Green Fire), Peter Staley (a subject of Hoe To Survive a Plague), Omar Shargawi ( director of 1/2 Revolution), and author Naomi Wolf. All of them have been active in movements before, from the uprising in Cairo a year ago, to the Love Canal controversy in 1980.

Everyone had very interesting points, but there was a big gap with how Gibbs, Staley, and Shargawi viewed the matter from Wolf, especially when it came to journalism and documentaries. Shargawi, whose film deals with he and his friend's personal story in the Egyptian revolt, said change won't come unless you seduce people into doing it, and cinema is a way of doing that.

Wolf, on the other hand said that documentaries needs to become part of the news industry and distance itself from the film industry. She also took quite a lot of jabs at the Occupy movement, saying that since they weren't talking to the media, their message wasn't getting heard, and that's why they haven't really accomplished anything.

In addition to drawing some heated heckling from an audience member, it caused Gibbs to bring up a good point. Even though the Occupy movement isn't talking to anyone, they are still getting tons of press, which can only help. Wolf retaliated that their protest would accomplish more of they would appoint a spokesperson, and that government wouldn't be resorting to certain measures, like the British government threatening to use baton rounds on Occupy London.

Personally, I think the Occupy movement has its heart in the right place, but is completely aimless. And, to that end, I happen to agree with Wolf on the matter.

But that's a discussion for another day. Right now, I'm sitting pretty at lunch, and then it's off to the Holiday for a shorts program, and then… tonight …hitRECord!!! I'm shaking from anticipation… though that could just be from hunger. No way to know.

Sundance 2012: Day 8

Sundance 2012: California Solo Q&A

Sundance 2012: The Other Dream Team Q&A

Sundance 2012: Shadow Dancer Q&A

Sundance Review: California Solo

It seems that every actor has that chance to break back into the limelight with a small, character driven film, that sees him or her in the central role. Jeff Bridges had it with Crazy Heart, and it won him an Oscar. Gary Oldman had it with Tinker Tailor Solider Spy, and it better win him an Oscar. And now Robert Carlyle has is with California Solo, and his performance deserves and Oscar. Movie ain't all that bad either.

Lachlan is a former Britpop rocker who has fallen on hard times, and now finds himself working on an organic farm in California. Every night, he proceeds to drink himself into a stupor whilst recording his podcast, a dedication to music stars who died too young. One night, he is caught drunk driving, and with a previous charge of drug possession from way back when, Lachlan is facing deportation back to the UK, something he is all too keen to avoid. As his situation becomes more dire, he is forced to confront his demons and try to make amends with the people he has hurt.

So, yeah. You've seen this movie before. The aged rocker who was kind of a big deal, isn't really anything now, who finds a chance at some form of redemption? Yeah, you've seen it. And though California Solo's core story is something very familiar, some of the things it does are not. For example, the scenes set on the farm, that deal with the day to day process, are very unique and given great care. Also, Lachlan isn't trying to break back into the music business. He's given up on it completely, and has no interest in going back, which is also a fresh take.

And Robert Carlyle, man, Robert Carlyle! He is on a-whole-nother lever here! This is easily the best performance of the festival that I've seen so far, one with humor, emotion, and energy. As the movie progresses, Lachlan keeps digging a bigger and bigger hole for himself, but Carlyle always makes us sympathize with him. It's marvelous.

Supporting cast is strong as well, with special mention going to A. Martinez as Lachlan's increasingly irritated boss. But they are merely window dressing for the powerhouse that is Carlyle. The movie is his, and his alone!

The soundtrack is awesome, with melodic, twangy guitars fitting beautifully with the rustic, desert landscape that most of the movie takes place in, and the licensed tracks are an eclectic mix of all things Britpop. The direction by Marshall Lewy is confident and precise. This one to watch out for.

Sundance Review: The Other Dream Team

So, my dad has this shirt. It's kinda far out, and I'm pretty sure if I saw it whilst under the influence of some psychotropic drug (maybe "Soy Sauce"), that my head would explode. The shirt is tie-dye, for one, but that's not the crazy part. The crazy part is the skeleton dunking a basketball with LITHUANIA projected behind it in big block letters.

Ok, you probably know exactly what shirt I'm talking about. What I'm getting at is this. My dad attended the screening of The Other Dream Team with me and my mother. He told me that Sarunas Marciulionis was his favorite player of that era. And he's a HUGE fan of the Grateful Dead. So, of course he leaves the shirt at home. It was disappointing.

In 1992, it was all about The Dream Team, and rightfully so. The US had put together, quite possibly, the finest basketball team in the history of the sport, and it showed, if their domination of the medal race is anything to go on. But, they weren't the only "Dream" team in Barcelona that year. While the US might have made the team you dream of, Lithuania made a team that was chasing a dream. Having just gained independence from the rapidly collapsing USSR, the small nation of only three million people was ready and anxious to set itself apart from its neighbor. And while the US would go on to face Croatia in the final, the big game was Lithuania vs. Russia, a game that Lithuania ultimately won.

The Other Dream Team is just as much the story of a sports team triumph, as it is the story of Lithuania's fight for independence. While the sport of basketball and the members of the 1992 Olympic team are the focus, an equal amount of time is dedicated to exploring the political climate of the time. The film offers what amounts to, more or less, a crash course in USSR occupied Lithuania, with a focus on how the sport of basketball became a the thing that Lithuania could use to set itself apart from the rest of the Soviet nations.

And it's really engrossing. I had just come out of another movie, and got right back in line for this one, so I was afraid I was gonna be dozing off. Never! Even! Came! Close! I was glued to the edge of my seat as I witnessed Sarunas Marciulionis' first foray into the NBA, the atrocities committed in Lithuania during the fight for independence, and, of course, how the Grateful Dead got involved.

You really get a sense of the gravity of the whole situation. Lithuania was the first country to declare independence from the USSR, and then to face them in their national sport not long after, fighting for the bronze at the Olympics. I mean, those guys had a lot on their shoulders. Not only were they competing for a medal, but they were setting the example for all the other nations still under Soviet control. If a small nation could beat the biggest super power in the world, anyone can. And that moment of triumph in the end is glorious! Absolutely glorious!!!

Sundance Review: Shadow Dancer

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Remember a while back when I said that you should all check out the Red Riding Trilogy, and how it was a steely, cool slice of seedy, British crime. One of the directors that gave us that awesome series is James Marsh, who is more well known the Oscar winning documentary Man On Wire. He returns to the realm of middle class, British Isle based criminals and terrorists, and it's a return that could not have been more welcome.

Colette McVeigh saw her brother killed at a young age by the British, and has been a member of the IRA ever since. On a mission to bomb the London Underground, she is blown and taken into custody. In order to protect her young son, she strikes up a deal with and MI5 agent, Mac, and agrees to become an informer. She returns to Belfast and all seems well. But as suspicion for her mounts, she feels the net starting to close in around her. So does Mac, who goes to great lengths to protect her and her son, and soon discovers that there's more to this apparent deal than initially meets the eye.

Based on the novel by Tom Bradby, Shadow Dancer is a slow-burn crime thriller of grace and method. Suspense is the name of the game, and the film has that in spades. And there's not a whole lot of violence either. The bloodiest scene comes at the very beginning, and after that, there's only two or three scenes of quick, blink-and-you'll-miss-it bloodshed. The rest is all sprinting to hide a piece of incriminating evidence just in time, telling looks from across a bar, and conversations where what's being said isn't ever the point.

The cast is all superb, with a good bevy of strong, British character actors. Clive Owen gets top billing (naturally) as Mac, and he's very good. To be fair, an MI5 agent is a role he could play in sleep, but he does a good job regardless. Andrea Riseborough is equally adept as Colette, painting an elegant portrait of maternal drive. Aiden Gillen, Domhnall Gleeson, and Gillian Anderson also show up in meaty supporting roles, and shine just a bright.

Though it is a little slow at points, but the story really picks up as the tension rackets. And the ending is unexpected and quite shocking. Shadow Dancer could have benefitted from some edits and maybe a few more scenes where the suspense is paramount, but as it stands, it's one mighty fine piece of middle class, British crime.

Dick Cassée – Grafiek

Two Kingfishers – Hans Waanders

Hans Waanders

two kingfishers from Stamp Book, 1995

Sundance 2012: Day 7

Sundance 2012: Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie Q&A

Sundance Review: Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie


Tim and Eric are given a billion dollars by the shady Schlaaang Corporation to make a movie. Unfortunately, the dynamic duo are very irresponsible when it comes to spending that money, due to expenses regarding a suit made of actual diamonds and a Johnny Depp impersonator, among other things. And now the corporation is out for their blood, so they decide to skip town. Along the way they discover a way to get the billion dollars back; renovate and run the derelict Swallow Valley Mall. Thsi proves to be harder than they thought, as they have to contend with a sword salesmen who wants them gone, a man eating wolf, and Eric's desires to bed a mall employee. And then the Schlaaang Corporation comes after them, and more crazy shit happens.

WHAT!!! THE!!! HELL!!! IS!!! GOING!!! ON!!! IN!!! THIS!!! MOVIE!!!?

Oh, who cares? Tim and Eric are known for their incredibly odd sense of humor, and this movie is packed to the seams with that. It's pretty much a episode of the show, stretched out to an hour and twenty minutes. I was laughing consistently throughout this whole thing, from a montage in the beginning that see's Tim and Eric out on the town for a wild night of debauchery, to the most disturbing sex/defecation mashup scene you'll ever lay eyes on, to one of the more clever attempts at breaking the fourth wall in a long while.

It's not for everyone. Oh, hell no! My screening had at least ten walkouts, but woe to them. I sort of loved it!

Sundance Review: Mosquita Y Mari

While I can't call it a full on failure, Mosquita Y Mari represents, for me, the first real dud of Sundance 2012. While I applaud the director's efforts to tell a story which is clearly meaningful to her, the story is nothing that hasn't been seen before, and isn't performed all that well by the actors involved. It is not a bad movie by any stretch of the imagination, but it lacks the imagination and ambition that sets the films from Sundance apart.

Yolanda is a young, Chicana girl living with her parents in Los Angeles. They have instilled in her the mindset that if you she focuses on nothing but school, that she will have an easy future. To that end, Yolanda doesn't get out much, her only "friends" being two, prissy bitches who treat Yolanda as more of an object for them to dominate. Then one day, Mari moves into the house across the street, and by chance is assigned as Yolanda's classroom partner. They strike up a legitimate friendship as Yolanda helps Mari become a better student, and Mari helps Yolanda learn to start living instead of being the shut in she is.


The director, Aurora Guerrero, touts this as a semi-autobiographical film that's based on how she came to discover her first love. That certainly comes across, but the rest of the movie needs work. We are clued into what makes Yolanda and Mari tick, but not anyone else. Their relationships with everyone except each other, and that includes their parents, aren't developed as much, and it hurts the overall package. On top of that, not enough is resolved. The film ends ambiguously, but you are left completely unsure if you are supposed to be feeling emotionally drained, or hopeful, or if you're supposed to be feeling anything at all.

The actors are alright, but it's clear that a lot of them don't do this for a living. The two main girls are, at times, surprisingly wooden, and there are some supporting players who never rise above simple line reading. The only one to consistently display some sort of real charm and wit is the actress playing Yolanda's mother.

Near the end, it gets into more interesting territory and begins to improve, but it's too little, too late. Mosquita Y Mari has its heart in the right place. It just didn't bring enough of a spark to start the fire.

Peter Liversidge – Scale Wooden Ruler and Object

Received a Scale Wooden Ruler and another object from Peter Liversidge, 25 January 2012

Laurie Clark / Thomas a Clark – Water Cresses

Laurie Clark / Thomas a Clark
Water Cresses
Moschatel Press, 1978
letterpress, 15,2 x 10,1 cm

Sundance 2012: Day 6: Line 2

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

- Thoughts on Mosquita y Mari tomorrow. In a nutshell: eh.

Now I'm standing in line for Tim and Eric's BILLION DOLLAR MOVIE!!! I'm fourth in line, so that's pretty same good.


Laurie Clark

Laurie Clark
Folded card, Moschatel Press, 2011
7,4 x 8,9 cm (folded)

Sundance 2012: Day 6: Line 1

Christ, I am tired!

But getting to the Redstone was fairly pain free, and now I'm sitting pretty in line for Mosquita y Mari.

After this, it's right back to the Egyptian to get in line for Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie. Hopeful, I am, but… my luck has to run out sometime.

'knock on wood'

Laurie & Thomas A Clark – Anemone

Laurie Clark / Thomas A Clark
Anemone, 1975
Moschatel Press
folded card, letterpress, 10,1 x 11,5 cm (folded)

Sundance 2012: Day 6

Sundance 2012: John Dies at the End Q&A

Sundance 2012: Red Lights Q&A

Sundance Review: John Dies at the End

Where to begin...

My friend told me about the book, John Dies at the End awhile back. From what he told me, it sounded absolutely ridiculous, with other dimensions, psychotropic drugs, and two swell dudes who destroy demons by playing Guns n' Roses' "Sweet Child of Mine" really loud. And when I heard that Don Coscarelli, the director behind the positively loony Bubba Ho-Tep, was helming it, and he'd have the help of Paul Giamatti, I was in for the long run. And it was so worth the wait.

It's an awesome new drug that promises intense out of body experiences. On the street, they call it "Soy Sauce", and it will mess you up faster than whatever the dudes from The Hangover take. Unfortunately, this drug is the catalyst for a full bore demonic invasion. The world needs a hero to stop the onslaught. What it gets instead is John and Dave, two losers who "specialize" in this kind of field, or, they would, if they weren't so confused by everything going on around them. Can these two save the world and drive back the legions of hell? The odds are not good.

This movie is... strange. It's out of whack. It's unapologetically batshit crazy! The script, also by Coscarelli, is loopy, hilarious, fast paced, and very well written. So much insane shit happens, you can't even believe that some it is real.

Picture this...

John and Dave investigate a house, looking for a zombie. The girl who called them dissolves into snakes, trapping them in the basement. When they try to get out, the doorknob turns into a penis. Then, meat from the freezer animates and forms some sort of abomination. So, John and Dave call a world renowned paranormal showman and have him kill the monster over the phone.

That's only the first five minutes. The whole movie is that, but even nuttier!

The cast, comprised of mostly unknowns with a few big names thrown in, all performs great. Chase Williamson is fantastic as Dave, as is Rob Mayes as his best friend John. Glynn Turner is an inspired lunatic as Detective Lawrence "Morgan Freeman" Appleton, and Clancy Brown channels the most egotistical stage performer like a champ.

Paul Giamatti, for all the press he's been getting, only has a small percentage of screen time, but it's a memorable percentage. And Doug Jones is supremely creepy as a dude that can only be seen when tripping on "Soy Sauce".

The direction is all kinds of all over the place, making you really feel as if you're tripping yourself. The script is witty and hilarious. The acting is awesome. Midnight was made for movies like this!

Peter Liversidge – 24 January 2012

object received with the post from Peter Liversidge on 24 January 2012

Hamish Fulton at Turner Contemporary, Margate

Hamish Fulton: Walk

17 January – 7 May 2012

Turner Contemporary
Kent CT9 1HG

photographs © 2012, David Grandorge, Turner Contemporary

Sundance 2012: Day 5: Line 2

Monday, January 23, 2012

Midnight Movie! Midnight Movie! Midnight Movie!

Pleasant dinner with the folks, and now I have my number for the midnight premiere of John Dies At the End.

Number 17, which is good. I check in on the box office earlier, and it was sold out, but my luck has been pretty much impeccable so far, so… we'll see.

I have about two hours before I get back in line so, shacking up in Cows for the time being and seeing what Lisbeth Salander is getting up to.

Chapin, I'd you're reading this, it's ok to be jealous.

Sundance Review: Red Lights

One of my biggest... I wouldn't say fears, but concerns with our world is the fact that there, in fact, might be other forces at work other than what we know to be true. Like it or not, there are some things that just cannot be explained... and that sort of terrifies me. I got into Rodrigo Cotrés' Red Lights sort of by accident. The ticket was purchased when the screening was still listed as TBA, but I must say, I am very glad things worked out the way they did. Red Lights is rock solid, with superb performances, a gripping sense of suspense, and sublime direction. Though it does go off the rails in the final five minutes, it's still a tense and thrilling ride.

Tom Buckley makes a living off debunking paranormal occurrences, revealing them to be nothing more than an elaborate hoax. In tandem with his boss, Margaret Matheson, they travel the country, putting to bed myths of ghosts and demons, while teaching a course on paranormal investigation at an upscale university. When Simon Silver, an enigmatic psychic, reappears after a 30 year absence however, things start to get weird. Tom soon develops an obsession with outing Silver as a hoax, which proves to be increasingly difficult as the strange, unexplainable events start to ramp up.

It's Paranormal Activity with a brain. Director Cortés said in the Q&A that he didn't want to answer any questions, rather provide occurrences that have more than one explanation, and he succeeds admirably. Everything that happens in this movie disproves previous theories and stirs up new ones, keeping the audience invested in what's going on at all times.

This is helped by a stellar cast. Cillian Murphy is superb as Tom, and Sirgourney Weaver is just as good as his level headed boss. Elizabeth Olsen is also wonderful as a student who assists Tom in more ways than one, and Toby Jones is good as a fellow professor.

The real standout, though, is Robert De Niro, once again showing that films like Killer Elite and New Years Eve are just not enough to squash his talent. He is fascinating as Silver, delivering a complex and scary performance.

Rodrigo Cortés is great at creating suspense and keeping the audience on the edge of their seat. Right from the beginning scene, which see's Tom and Margaret traveling to a remote house to "deal with it's demon problem", Cortés ratchets up the tension. Followed by an opening credits sequence that would be right at home in a Fincher film, the rest of the movie doesn't slow down at all. This is helped by some brilliant cinematography, courtesy of Xavi Giménez, and some chilling sound work. There were dozens of times where people in the audience gasped or jumped. One woman actually screamed.

And though the final five minutes don't really do it for me, the rest of Red Lights is top shelf. The performances all resonate, and the direction is impeccable. This is one the most entertaining films I've seen during the festival, and one of the most successful in terms of what it said out to do. It's a mind trip of the highest order, and it's one that leaves you breathless.

Sundance 2012: Day 5: Line 1

Having tickets before hand is such a luxury. I'm already seated for Red Lights. Super excited.

Review will probably go up later today, so keep a sharp eye.

And later, it's waiting again for John Dies At The End. Ridiculousness is sure to in abundance.


Sundance 2012: Day 5

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Sundance Review: The Invisible War

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Rape is the most despicable crime that can be committed! You can argue against that, but you will never convince me otherwise. I don't care who you are, or what your relationship to me is. If you've done it, I have nothing to say to you. I can't fathom how anyone can say "Oh, it's the woman's fault", or whatever. It's awful. So, I was particularly interested in seeing The Invisible War, which deals with the epidemic of uninvestigated and unresolved sexual assault cases in the military. Director Kirby Dirk has excelled at exposing the bullshit permeating american society, whether it's with the MPAA or closeted politicians lobbying for anit-gay legislation. He busts open this particular problem with unflinching accounts from survivors struggling with the trauma and the men and women who have seen how careless the military commanders are. If you care, even remotely, about this issue, see this movie!

It's impossible to not be affected in some way throughout this movie. You'll either walk out of the theatre incredibly moved and in tears, or walk out incredibly moved and furious. I walked out feeling some sort of combination of both. 

It's really harrowing seeing all these victims talking about their experiences, and being so open about it. All these people, both men and women, wanted to do was serve their country and something that they could be proud of. But, because they were assaulted, and because their superiors didn't act, they were forced out of the thing that they always wanted to do. 

There are tons of stats and facts that are presented that drew sharp intakes of breath and incredulous remarks from the audience. Foremost in my mind was a blurb that came at the end. The military will not hear the lawsuits from victims of rape, because they deem rape an occupational hazard when serving in the military. 


If you responded in a similar fashion to me, you should see this movie. Everyone should see this movie. This thing needs to get picked up like crazy and get screened everywhere it can. 

And if you can't catch the film, you can still help. Go to www.invisiblewarmovie.com to sign the petition and find out ways you can contribute. 

Anyway, there's not much I can say as to the quality of the film. It's all very well done, but if there are any flaws, you won't notice, because the purpose of the movie is too important. It's a very difficult movie to watch, but it's one that needs to be seen by anyone and everyone. 

Sundance 2012: Day 4: Line 1

Changed my mind again. I decided not to wait in line for Arbitrage. It would require getting up earlier, and I'm tired.

So now, I'm in line at The MARC again. I am third in the wait list for The Invisible War, which jumped onto must see list after hearing Barbara Boxer talk about it during the Power of Story panel.

I'm really confident about my chances. If 74 can make it into to an evening premiere, 3 can make it into a morning screening of a film that's been shown twice already.

Merci beaucoup!

Sundance 2012: Day 4

Sundance 2012: Something From Nothing Q&A

Sundance Review: Something From Nothing: The Art of Rap

I don't usually dig on rap music or hip-hop all that often. Look at my iTunes library, and you'll see an abundance of elaborate guitar solos, lyrical melodies, and pounding drums. Rock music is what I was bred on, and it's what I prefer, but every so often, I do get the urge to indulge in some heavy beats and creative lyrics. And because of that, I found Something From Nothing: The Art of Rap kind of fascinating. Directed by hip-hop legend Ice-T, this stylish and entertaining documentary offers great insight into the world and industry of hip-hop.

One thing that sets this examination of beats and rhymes apart for others is Ice-T's refusal to use archival footage. Instead, he puts each interviewee on the spot, and has them spit a rhyme right then and there. Not only does this provide an interesting perspective on how each MC differs from the other (Immortal Technique has a great flair for words, while Eminem can rap a mile a minute), but it provides a completely unique experience. You are hearing rhymes and lyrics that these guys have never spoken and never will speak again. It's a testament to each rapper's talent that they can come up with something like that at the drop of a hat, and never even flinch.

And man, I wish I could do that. Like I said, rap is not my favorite genre, but if I had the talent that these men and women have, I would do everything I could to take advantage of that. These guys are really something special, and are integral in an American art form that doesn't get the respect it deserves. Yeah, these guys rap about crime, sex, violence, and use vulgar language, but it's all informed by the experiences they went through, and reinforced by the passion and love for the art that each rapper has.

As a director, Ice-T knows what he's doing. This is one of the most visually sumptuous docs I've seen in a while. It's bright and lively, and those shots of from the sky of New York or Los Angeles are some of the best I've seen in any movie.

Even if you don't like rap or hip-hop, you'll still get a kick out of Something From Nothing. The rhymes that each MC comes up with are all interesting and compelling in their own way, and the soundtrack, which comprises of licensed tracks from a wide variety of influential hip-hop artists, is all kinds of spectacular. The crowd I was with was clapping every five minutes and cheering non-stop. And let me tell ya, I was joining in.

Sundance 2012: Celeste and Jesse Forever Q&A

Sundance Review: Celeste and Jesse Forever

Like the indie (and personal) darling from 2009, 500 Days of Summer, Celeste and Jesse Forever is quirky and comedic, but at the end of the day, honest and relatable look at an offbeat relationship. And while it's going to take a lot to trump Tom and Summer in my mind, Celeste and Jesse are quite the charming couple, despite their supremely unusual situation. The new film, which had its world premiere at this year's Sundance, is a touching, sweet, and absolutely hilarious dramedy that fulfills all the requirements of the genre. Relatable characters, smart dialogue, and genuine emotion. This one scores with flying colors. 

Celeste and Jesse are the perfect couple. They complete each other's sentences. They have a delicious rapport. They have this little thing that they do where they pretend to masturbate a small tube of cream, resulting in… well, you get the idea. They spend all their time together. So why are all their friend's creeped out? No reason, just that Celeste and Jesse are getting a divorce. 

Now that's a clever premise if I ever did see one. We aren't clued into the fact that marital problems have arisen until about 15 minutes in, and it's a genuine surprise, because the two of them are so frigid' good together. The script, written by Rashida Jones and Will McCormack, finds the perfect balance between raunch and pathos, creating something that seems familiar, but ultimately transforms into something special and refreshing. 

And damn, do the cast members knock it out of the park! Jones plays Celeste, and utilizes her impeccable comedic timing, as well her strong dramatic chops, to great effect. Her counterpart is Andy Samberg, playing Jesse like the most complex SNL character ever. Samberg hasn't really ever had a chance to flex his dramatic muscles, but he displays a confident touch, and creates a character worth celebrating. McCormack is hilarious as Celeste and Jesse's pot dealing friend, and Emma Roberts offers up some inspired lunacy as an obvious parody of all things Ke$ha. And Elijah Wood is pitch perfect as Celeste's business partner who is trying way too hard to advertise that he is gay. 

Under the watchful eye of director Lee Toland Krieger, Celeste and Jesse Forever is something really wonderful. At times gut bustingly funny, thanks in no small part to Jones and Samberg's infectious chemistry, and at times very difficult to watch, it perfectly walks the tight rope between full on comedy and full on drama. 

This is one you shouldn't miss! Also, the soundtrack is awwwwesooooome!

Sundance 2012: Day 3: Line 2

Saturday, January 21, 2012

-Thoughts on Celeste and Jesse Forever will come tomorrow.

And now I'm back at The Marc, waiting to see if I'll get a ticket to Something From Nothing: The Art of Rap. Ice-T directed it.

Sounds cool, but I have apprehensions. I'm number 74, and it is the premiere of the film, so that means a lot of heavy hitters will probably show up.

The Volunteer in charge of waitlist said, "the filmmaker might show up with a large party". I'm really hoping that my, likely dumb, delusions of how big rapper's entourages are prove to be false.

Peace up! A Town Down!!!

Abstractions – Laure Genillard


Juergen Albrecht
Tom Benson
Svenja Deininger
Lesley Foxcroft
Selma Parlour
Philomene Pirecki
Gunter Umberg
Pieter Vermeesch

28 January – 24 March 2012
Private View Friday 27 January 6-8pm

Open by appointment

Laure Genillard
2 Hanway Place
London W1T 1HB

Sundance 2012: Day 3: Line 1

Well, thank you Park City transportation! The theatre loop shuttle was 30+ minutes late. So I get Eccles at around 8, and what do you know? Wait list line is closed because they were already at capacity.


Luckily, there was an elderly woman who was selling two tickets. Comped!! Now I'm near the front of the ticket holder line.

Boo-yah!! Another check in will come later.

Sundance 2012: Day 3

Sundance Review: West of Memphis

I am sad to inform you that I, a young, impressionable, American youth with some interest in what goes on in this country had next to no knowledge of The West Memphis 3 or the efforts to get them out of prison. I know. It's bad. If you see me on the street, feel free to throw rocks.

But, that in no way hindered my experience when watching West of Memphis, the new documentary directed by Amy Berg and produced by Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh. Put simply, this is one of the most engrossing and well made documentaries I've seen in a long time.

In 1993, three 8 year old boys are discovered murdered in what appears to be a cult killing. Shortly after, three teenagers, Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin, and Jessie Misskelley, are arrested and convicted for this heinous crime. At the time, everybody was fired up and screaming for blood, but as the years progressed and new evidence arose, it became abundantly clear that these three kids had nothing to do with the murders, but the Arkansas courts refused to overturn the sentence. This leads to movements, foundations, you name it, to get the three teenagers, dubbed The West Memphis 3, out of jail and to get them exonerated.

Amy Berg, Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, Lorri Davis, Damien Echols

The film focuses it's first hour on a recap of all the stuff that most people already know. It's your standard play by play. After that, it veers off into it's own territory as it presents the investigations that Jackson and Walsh funded themselves. And it is incredible! It's a documentary, but it played out like a police procedural. I was glued to my seat, and couldn't look away.

Everything that Berg does just works. Her editing is clever and interesting. Her use of sound is surprising and effective. She uses all the best clips from her interviews so that no one is ever saying something unimportant. The movie never loses track of it's point, and sends it flying home like an arrow to a bullseye.

The film is not subtle about its opinions. It presents hard evidence that Echols, Baldwin, and Misskelley are completely innocent, and presents even harder evidence that Terry Hobbs, the stepfather of one of the murdered boys, is responsible. Whether or not it is the truth remains to be seen. If the movie proves anything, it's that the justice system in this country is in serious need of an overhaul, and that the guilty party may still be out there. But, Berg and Jackson left me, someone who knew next to nothing of this event, entirely convinced in the end. I believe that Echols, Baldwin, and Misskelley are innocent and deserve compensation for the time they spent in jail.

But, luckily, they don't seem to think all that badly about it. At the end of the film, when the director and producers got up for the Q&A, Echols was with them. And he looked fine. He was standing tall, holding his head up high. That standing ovation was well deserved!

Sundance 2012: Wish You Were Here Q&A

Sundance Review: Wish You Were Here

Often times, what isn't being said makes all the difference. We go through something traumatic, but don't speak about it, because to speak about it would be to invite said trauma back into your life. Such is the conceit of Wish You Were Here, the new film by director Kieran Darcy-Smith, which saw it's premiere at this year's Sundance Film Festival. The movie tells two stories; one about a relationship slowly unraveling in the wake of a moment of infidelity, and a mystery revolving around the disappearance of a man. One is significantly better than the other.

Joel Edgerton and Felicity Price play Dave and Alice Flannery, a married couple with two kids and a third on the way. On a whim, they decide to join Alice's sister Steph (Teresa Palmer) on a soirée to Cambodia with her new boyfriend Jeremy (Anthony Starr). Upon their return however, something foul has transpired. Jeremy has disappeared, leaving Dave, Alice, and Steph clueless as to his whereabouts. As if things weren't bad enough, Steph and Dave guiltily reveal to Alice that they slept together during a night of booze drenched, drug fueled partying. Soon, Alice and Dave are at each other's throats as the fate of Jeremy is slowly revealed.

Kieran Darcy-Smith

It's told in that non-linear sort of way. You know, the way Tarantino perfected with Reservoir Dogs? It's not just a style gimmick. The way Darcy-Smith chooses to tell his story really heightens the suspense. The mystery surrounding Jeremy's disappearance is really well handled.

I wish the same could be said of the romantic troubles of Dave and Alice. While it does fit within the framework of the story, and Edgerton and Price are really good, I just found myself wanting to revisit Jeremy and what befell him. It's a much more interesting story, and the romantic stuff just distracts from that. I mean, the romantic stuff is good, and the script by Darcy-Smith and Price (they're married in real life) is very genuine. I just couldn't help but wonder what sort of bomb they were about to drop on us in regard to Jeremy.

Joel Edgerton

The cast, and especially Edgerton and Price, are all uniformy excellent, and do a great job handling the dramatic stuff within the family, as well as the more surreal aspects of the film. As the plot thickens, we are offered insight into just what went down on that crazy night in Cambodia, and it's pretty shocking. I sort of guessed as to how Jeremy would end up, but I did not expect that it would be like that. Kudos to Darcy-Smith and Price, who no doubt used some of the tools learned from Animal Kingdom. 

It's a well done movie that deserves your attention. All the actors perform admirably, especially Edgerton and Price, and Darcy-Smith is a confident and clever director. Worth checking out, to be sure.

Sundance 2012: Day 2: Line 2/Thoughts On The Power of Story Panel

Friday, January 20, 2012

-Thoughts on Wish You Were Here will come tomorrow.

I'm now in line for West of Memphis, the Peter Jackson produced documentary about The West Memphis Three. I know. You're faith in me is shattered; me changing my plan like this.

I'm the worst.

But, no. Memphis sounded much more interesting than Simon Killer, and by switching my priorities, it meant I could attend a panel that interested me.

The panel, moderated by New York Times columnist and Emory professor Drew Westen, was all about how a story can affect people and bring about change far more effectively than simple statistics. On the panel were author Margaret Atwood, Senator Barbara Boxer (I know, right?), and documentary filmmaker Mark Kitchell. Each one was behind, either by producing, providing inspiration, or directing, one of the documentaries that are screening this year.

While the panel didn't really change my views in anything, it reaffirmed what I already believed. Stories, especially ones about real people, are the best way to bring about change. One of the points that Westen made was that we need to stop referring to Americans without jobs as "The Unemployed", because it groups them all into one, faceless entity, rather than the eclectic mix of struggle, sacrifice and heartbreak that they actually are.

To that end, I really hope Boxer's film, The Invisible War, does very well. It deals with rape in the military, and how such cases are generally overlooked and ignored. I'm not gonna go into my personal views on rape and sexual assault, but I do think it's something that needs to be addressed.

Anyway, I'm 47 in line for Memphis, so… who knows. Oh well. Laters!!!

Sundance 2012: Day 2: Line 1

Well, here I am. It's currently 7:30, Park City time, and I am standing outside in the snow, in the waitlist line for Wish You Were Here. About 25th in line, and Eccles is huge, so... chances are good. Wish me luck!

- Posted from my phone. Ain't technology grand?

Sundance 2012: Day 2

The Grace of the Birch

The Grace of the Birch: Art, Nature, Healing

A catalogue of the collection of artworks for the Ward Block, New Stobhill Hospital, Glasgow, 2011.
The New Stobhill Hospital was designed by Reiach and Hall Architects and opened in 2009. Thomas A Clark was commissioned to lead a group of artists to install artworks in the New Stobhill Hospital. There are permanent installations of works by Olwen Shone, Andreas Karl Schulze, Kenneth Dingwall, Donald Urquhart and Thomas A Clark. For the Ward Block of NSH a collection of artworks from Scottish artists was chosen by the curator Lindsay Blair.

Mark Eischeid – Icebergs, Disko Bay, Greenland, 7 May 2010, 2011, print, 54 x 73 cm
Thomas A Clark, with Peter Foolen – Dusk, print, 54 x 72 cm


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