Vivre Utopié

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Louise Bourgeois in Jonas Mekas’s new “Sleepless Nights Stories.” Image courtesy Jonas Mekas.

By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2011, 2017 Paul Ben-Itzak

Halfway through “La Commune,” Peter Watkins’s 5-hour, 45-minute tour de force which simultaneously resurrects the insurrectional barricades Parisians erected around their city to stave off a new monarchist-leaning government and tears down the barricades between documentary and fiction, I had to stop and e-mail a Parisian friend to ask if she’d seen the film. My friend — an artist denizen of Belleville, one of the quarters which lead the rebellion — had not even heard of it. This vindicated Watkins as far as the one reservation I have about “La Commune,” that the otherwise educative inter-titles, filling in the basic historical timeline around the events of March – May 1871, sometimes cede to the film-maker’s rants about the obstacles to getting his film distributed in France — even its co-producer the German-French television network Arté screened “La Commune” from 11 at night to 4 in the morning — and claims that the Commune is under-taught in French schools. The media blockade is not incidental, indeed validates the pertinence of a film which resurrects a utopian societal ideal which directly menaces the financial elites.

To receive the rest of this article from the Arts Voyager Archives, first published December 13, 2011, including more images and, in addition to “La Commune,” reviews of Alain Tanner’s “Charles, Dead or Alive” and Jonas Mekas’s “Sleepless Nights,” Arts Voyager & Dance Insider subscribers can contact publisher Paul Ben-Itzak at paulbenitzak@gmail.com. Not a subscriber? Subscribe to the Arts Voyager & Dance Insider for just $29.95/year ($99 for institutions gets full access for all your teachers, students, employees, company, association and collective members, etc.) and receive full access to our Archive of 2,000 articles by 150 leading critics on performances, film, and art and culture from five continents published from 1998 through 2017. Just designate your PayPal payment in that amount to paulbenitzak@gmail.com, or write us at that address to learn how to pay by check or in Euros. Contact Paul at paulbenitzak@gmail.com .

 

New York Gallery Hop-o-thermia: Fear & loathing in Chelsea

By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2011, 2017 Paul Ben-Itzak

NEW YORK — Only a true art fanatic with a death wish would walk 50 blocks downtown from his digs on the Upper West Side to the Chelsea Art Valley on a polar night in Manhattan, when the towering buildings on the seemingly interminable blocks between 10th and 11th Avenue make the art voyager feel particularly naked in the Naked City. So there I was — oui, moi — with a scribbled list of a dozen galleries hosting openings Thursday night, in search of high middle-brow art ‘arrosed’ by red, red, wine. What I found was middle-concept middling art watered down by tepid white wine (doesn’t stain like red), with only one artist worth remarking among the 12, this defeated art voyager treading wearily home in his Fort Worth Mexican flea market tan cowboy boots, only to be saved by Joel McCrea riding out of the high country with Randolph Scott riding herd.

To get the rest of the article, first published on February 12, 2011, subscribers can contact publisher Paul Ben-Itzak at paulbenitzak@gmail.com. Not a subscriber? Subscribe to the Arts Voyager for just $49.95/year ($25 for students and unemployed artists) and receive full access to all Arts Voyager stories and art, including stories archived since 2011. To subscribe via PayPal, just designate your payment to paulbenitzak@gmail.com, or write us at that address to learn how to pay by check, Euros, or British pounds. Subscribe by January 31, 2017 and receive a second, gift subscription for free.

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moma-marlene-smallFrom the festival Making Faces: Images of Exploitation and Empowerment in Cinema, on view at the Museum of Modern Art through April 30: Marlene Dietrich in “Blonde Venus,” 1932. Directed by Josef von Sternberg (Austrian, born Austria–Hungary. 1894–1969). Paramount Pictures. Film Study Center Special Collections, The Museum of Modern Art.

Carrie Fisher: Author, screenwriter, actress, and post-Feminist trailblazer (Updated, 12/29)

“This will really, really impress you. I am in the abnormal psychology textbook. How cool is that? Now, keep in mind, I am a Pez dispenser, and I’m in the abnormal psychology textbook. Who says you can’t have it all?”

— Carrie Fisher, 2006, from her one-woman show “Wishful Drinking,”  cited December 28 on Democracy Now.

By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2016 Paul Ben-Itzak

The appalling level of ignorance and lack of enterprise of much cultural journalism on French public radio, particularly when it comes to reporting on American culture, has once again revealed itself in this morning’s shallow coverage of the death yesterday at the age of 60, following a heart attack Friday (fittingly, while descending from the stratosphere), of Carrie Fisher, reduced to her portrayal of Princess Leia in the 1977 “Star Wars” and its sequels. Simply posing the essential five Ws of journalism (Who, Where, Why, What, and When) would have yielded a much deeper — and more accurate and just — portrait of this pivotal figure in the Women’s Liberation Movement.

To access the rest of the article, including more images, subscribers please e-mail paulbenitzak@gmail.com . Not a subscriber? 1-year subscriptions are just $49, or $25 for students and unemployed artists. Just designate your PayPal payment in that amount to paulbenitzak@gmail.com , or write us at that address for information on how to pay by check or in Euros or British pounds.

You Belong to Me: Keith Haring Sketches Penises in front of Tiffany’s, and other dreamquests

haring-penises

Keith Haring. Manhattan Penis Drawings for Ken Hicks, 1978. Graphite on paper. 8 1/2 x 5 1/2 inches (21.6 x 14 cm). ©Keith Haring Foundation. Courtesy Gladstone Gallery, New York. First published on the Arts Voyager in 2012.

By Paul Ben-Itzak
Text copyright 2016 Paul Ben-Itzak

Today my  DVD deck on my more or less brand new lap-top broke down just after I’d popped in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” for my annual refresher course in pursuing one’s dreams and fleeing one’s disappointments with panache. Every year Blake Edwards’s film of Truman Capote (note to French media: It’s CA-POE-TEE not CA-POHT)’s novel teaches me something new. Two years ago, I finally understood why George Peppard’s insisting, “You belong to me, Holly” is not misogynistic. (If I told you there would be no need for you to view the film.)

To access the rest of the article, including more images, subscribers please e-mail paulbenitzak@gmail.com . Not a subscriber? 1-year subscriptions are just $49, or $25 for students and unemployed artists. Just designate your PayPal payment in that amount to paulbenitzak@gmail.com , or write us at that address for information on how to pay by check or in Euros or British pounds.

moma-coburn-smallAmong the films being screened this month by the Museum of Modern Art for the series Modern Matinees: The Body Politic is, above, “The President’s Analyst,” featuring, left, James Coburn, and directed by Theodore J. Flicker in 1967. (USA). Courtesy Photofest.