Archive for July 27th, 2007

Jennifer left this morning for her month of research in Boston.  I’ll visit for almost a week in the middle of August, thanks to the miracle of flight, but the practical upshot of the whole thing is that I’m suddenly going to be inundated with free time for the next couple weeks.  So the blog should become a rather heavily populated area for a while.


Something I never got a chance to mention – on my birthday, one of the things that we did was go to the High Museum and look at paintings and such.  As is usually the case with art museums, it was decidedly hit or miss.  A lot of things in there just didn’t strike my fancy.  Also as per usual, the things that I found the most mind-blowing were the abstract splatter jobs…  Funny thing about abstract art is that it walks such a tightrope.  The fact that these paintings aren’t really pictures of anything means that if they aren’t really powerful, then they are absolutely terrible.  This is probably the reason why abstraction gets so much shit – there’s an awful lot of crappy splatter paintings out there.  The evidence is right there on the wall in the High; one perfectly mundane Mark Rothko (from his ‘windowpane’ era – the very model of an art sequence that, when it’s not really good, is really bad) sits right next to an absolutely brilliant piece from his earlier ‘mythology’ period.

I wanted to find some pictures of these things to post on the blog, even though paintings such as these only really work full scale.  However, I could only find one – Adolph Gottlieb’s “Duet” from 1962.  (Gottlieb is another artist who also had a really terrible painting on display.)

Gottlieb - Duet - 1962

Imagine that five feet wide…


Just finished watching a strange mockumentary called “Brothers of the Head.”  It was the first fiction film from Terry Gilliam documenters Keith Fulton and Louis Pepe.  Scripted by Tony Grisoni (another name familiar from Gilliam documentaries).

I’m not sure how I feel about it.

For starters, one has to get past the fact that it is not a comedy in the slightest, despite the fact that it is a mock-rockumentary about conjoined twin rock stars.  This film has virtually nothing to do with humor.

It also, unfortunately, has a great deal of difficulty sustaining one’s interest.  This is a problem endemic to mockumentaries – the biggest reason why realism is interesting is that it’s real.  When one knows that what is on the screen is scripted, documentary style can become tedious and boring really quickly.

However, I really want to like it, and that’s where the problem is.  I can’t think of a single thing that it doesn’t do brilliantly.  The concept is a bizarre mash-up of “Freaks,” teen-angst drama, and the Sex Pistols, filmed with more than a few direct nods to Orson Welles, and a brilliant closing image taken directly (and yet somehow made the more profound for the theft) from Ingmar Bergman’s persona — and, in case the wording there wasn’t clear, I intend to sound positive in saying all those things.  This is not rip-off; this is scholarly citation.  The directorial execution here is quite brilliant.

The acting is also top notch.  Combine the completely believable performances from everyone in the cast with music that is actually a very close approximation of all the things that made the Sex Pistols so engrossing, and you are left with a film that could easily be mistaken for real if one didn’t know better.

Even bad parts of the films can be explained away as intentional elements in the artistry.  For example, the song lyrics, though they occasionally stumble into trite teen-angst, or repetitions of slightly silly refrains (i.e. “we got Nelson’s blood in our veins), can be explained away; either that’s how angsty teen boys sound when they write songs, so why should it be more polished than that, or that’s how the Sex Pistols sounded, and further polish would’ve deflated their sense of ‘life being strangled’ urgency.  Another example, the rather garishly over-the-top choice of actual ‘freaks’ to represent the ‘side show’ that is rock-stardom is perfectly fine, because the fact that the comparison between self-imposed freakery through stardom and biological freakery is silly is actually a vital part of the power of the film – it is the very silliness of the concept that keeps the pathos from being overwhelming.

There’s truly very little here to criticize.

And yet, somehow it was just a difficult film to like.

If anyone else gets a chance to see it, I’d like to hear other reactions.  I’m not sure I’ve ever had quite such an aversion to a film that I really have trouble criticizing.


Oh, and someone is filming something up the street – film or television episode or something.  They had commandeered a house for nearly a week.  Now they’re shooting in an abandoned gas station redressed as a bar called “Beer Today Gone Tomorrow” (yes, it’s a terrible joke…hopefully the filmmakers know that).

I don’t really know anything about what’s going on, but it appears to have a budget.  And, if my landlord’s information is correct, Luke Perry is involved.

I’m sure you’re all very concerned, so I’ll let you know if I find out anything else.

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