Saturday, January 31, 2015

"The Quiet" by Chelou

Exquisite pensive melancholy.
"The Quiet" by Chelou.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Just watched...

..."Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives" written and directed by Apichatpong Weerasethakul.

This magical, original film won the Palme d'Or at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival for good reason. It is unlike most anything else that has been put on film; there might be only a handful of creations like this in cinema history but I am hard pressed to name them.

The film follows the story of a man, Uncle Boonmee, who is dying of kidney failure in the wild jungle area of northeast Thailand. Relatives arrive to visit, to comfort, to try to help. But so do a few other non-corporeal and non-human visitors. As usual, I do not want to say too much since I believe in seeing a film for the first time as the director intended: the story and events should come at you fresh. I will say though, that we do get some glimpses of Boonmee's past lives, as well as a glimpse--possibly--of how life is perceived after death.

The pace of the film is meditative and quite deliberate, reminding me of the work of the great Russian filmmaker Tarkovsky (previously here and here). This affords us the time for our minds to wander into the film, to contemplate with the characters and director, and it increases the psychological space around the story. It is an expansive, transcendent film that, while rooted in a physical place that has its own history (culturally, politically, socially), ultimately moves beyond the physical aspects of the story. There are some puzzling events that happen without any explanation; mysterious, otherworldly phenomena exist comfortably alongside our physical world.

"But that's life, no?" said writer and director Weerasethakul. "Sometimes you don't need to understand everything to appreciate a certain beauty. And I think the film operates in the same way. It's like tapping into someone's mind. The thinking pattern is quite random, jumping here and there like a monkey."

Recommend? Yes. It is, as I said, something quite unique. If you are a fan of cinema, (you don't have to be a fan of world cinema to appreciate this), this certainly deserves to be experienced.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Welcome, Joel!

After a very long and insanely successful career on stage, screen, and television (winning an Academy Award, a Tony Award, and a Golden Globe Award), 82 year old Joel Grey has come out. Better late than never!

Congratulations, Joel!

BEAUTY: Illustration--Chris Dunn

Chris Dunn's illustrations are enchanting. Part Peter Rabbit, part "Wind In The Willows," his very human-like creatures go about their lives with a sweet naiveté (and humor!) that makes me smile, and makes my heart ache a little (sixth image down)...I am not sure if it is for them or for me.

Top to bottom: A Maths Lesson; A Quarter Past One On Platform Ten; Bedtime Story; Catching Butterflies; Cheese Delivery; His First Train Ride; King Louie; Knitting Circle; Masterchef; On The Footplate

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

BEAUTY: Soft Sculpture--Tasha Lewis

Tasha Lewis creates soft sculpture animals caught in mid-flight, mid-jump, mid-fall, mid-pounce. The individual pieces are held together by magnets so they seem to be breaking through a clear plane, suspended in impossibility. She uses a process called cyanotype to create pieces of each animals which she then stitches together around an armature of wood, paper, and glue. The results are lyrical yet slightly ominous.

For her gallery show "Moments of Thaw," she collected many of these fascinating animal pieces and brought them together in a fantastical, paralyzed menagerie. Her large installation "The Herd" ran through the center of the space...

..while her "Fox" lounged a few feet above the floor.

Lewis says she imagines that when time picks back up again, the "Falling Jaguar" will right itself.

The "Octopus" has its tentacles penetrating the glass of the bell jar...

...while the "Snake" pokes its head into its jar.

And only the "Sparrow"s wings are outside of this bell jar.

Monday, January 26, 2015

"This Is The Thing" by Fink


"This Is The Thing" by Fink.

Oh my gods, I love this man.

I don't know if you notice anything different
It's getting dark and it's getting cold and the nights are getting long
And I don't know if you even notice at all
That I'm long gone

And the things that keep us apart
Keep me alive
And the things that keep me alive
Keep me alone
This is the thing

I don't know if you notice anything missing
Like the leaves on the trees or my clothes all over the floor
And I don't know if you even notice at all
'Cause I was real quiet when I closed the door

And the things that keep us apart
Keep me alive
And the things that keep me alive
Keep me alone
This is the thing

And I don't know if you notice anything different
I don't know if you even notice at all

This is the thing

Sunday, January 25, 2015

BEAUTY: Clothing--Misc. Men's Paris Fashion Week, FW '15-'16

Here are some odds, ends, oddities, and notable side notes at Paris Fashion Week for FW '15-'16

Rope seems to be an unlikely motif for clothing, but somehow it managed to pop up in at least three different collections at three different houses.

3.1 Phillip Lim
Notice the rock climbing D-rings as a belt, and the rope netting as shirts, over shirts, and coats. The general idea of rappeling was certainly present.

Off White
Here we have the same rock climbing suggestion inspired by designer Virgil Abloh's trips to Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

And finally, Kim Jones created a tribute to influential English cult fashion designer Christopher Nemeth (1959 - 2010) by using some of the the late designer's rope imagery and motifs from the Nemeth archives...

...and the collection was topped off with amazing jewelry of buttons and old keys made by the consistently amazing Judy Blame.

Gender was a huge issue this season with most designers sending out women along with their menswear collections. But it seems that many designers were interested in not just putting a man in a skirt--because the shock value of that wore off a decade ago or more--but to question the ideas of gender and equality, what it means to be a man or woman, through the narratives that we tell the world and how we portray ourselves. Miuccia Prada spoke about gender being a context in her show notes, Rick Owens styled a few models without pants thus giving us a glimpse of some cute uncut penises, and Gucci put men in full-on blouses, the kind my sixth grade teacher would have worn. This is all just a necessary loosening up and a shedding of anxiety associated with gender. And it does seem to be a truly anxious-making topic for a great many people. Where there is anxiety and nervousness, there are definitely issues to be found...

At Acne, gender equality was spelled out, literally, on scarves, along with the phrases "RADICAL FEMINIST" and  "WOMAN POWER." In some circles, the word "feminist" has taken on an ugly meaning that has nothing to do with the true meaning of the word. Something that was meant to be empowering and uplifting has, unfortunately, been hijacked and politicized. But those of us in the arts know better...

Loose, flowing trousers are the thing now. The silhouette pendulum always swings between large and small, tight and flowing, long and short, and we have been in a narrow, skinny trouser valley for a while. Here are some sexy, wide pants at Maison Martin Margiela...

...and at Lanvin (I love the 1940s feel of the higher-waisted cut here)...

...and some extreme examples from Juun J.

Great shoes from Kenzo! Creative Directors Carol Lim and Humberto Leon created a collection based on the lore of UFOs and Nazca drawings supposedly of UFOs and their ancient landing sites. But it was the shoes, either alien ribbed or deconstructed and sewn back together like some kind of alien experiment, that stood out.

BEAUTY: Clothing--Thom Browne

For his Fall-Winter '15-'16 collection for his own label, Thom Browne showed us the death of a man named Michael, all in white and alone in a white room...which he turned completely black for his demise and the funeral that immediately followed. Of this fictitious character created for the show, Browne commented, "He just was very singular and he was a very independent person, who...he didn't realize that everybody recognized who has was because he was so comfortable being on his own." Mourners came to pay respects to the recently departed wearing traditional black for mourning. But not just black...they wore black. I mean BLACK. Inky black, impenetrable black, light-sucking black, Manet black. The collection was BLACK.

We know from past collections that Browne is a highly cerebral designer. Like Rei Kawakubo at Comme des Garçon, Browne's mind is a labyrinthine place with concepts and ideas coming from darkness into light, colliding, and creating unlikely and surprising inspirations (1920s Flappers for men, and Amish and Pennsylvania Dutch quilts as coats). And for this exact reason, this collection, while on the surface resembling Edward Gorey, "Dark Shadows," The Addams Family, and possibly a few Hammer Horror films, is actually a reverential meditation on death, loss, and grief, and the traditional ritual that death entails. The slow, stately pace of each model stopped only to face the "body in repose" for a moment of respect while a steady fall of black ash fell like snow from above. An ominous bass drum kept time. The pale-faced mourners wore top or cloche hats with veils of wide netting or tight tulle. Browne's "short suits" were present but so were Edwardian breeches, and Browne's now standard skirts, wraps, and aprons. It all gave the impression of a widow or a dowager in a Tim Burton film.

But there were some light touches like the jacquards that featured the little whales and tortoises Browne has used in the past for his SS '13 collection. There was even a satchel/backpack in the shape of a tortoise--in black, naturally. Another woven fabric featured a tight layer of argyle and geometrics reminiscent of not only his solo work but some of the argyle collections he has created for Moncler Gamme Bleu. But the palette saw a tiny bit of relief with a few midnight blue jackets and overcoats.

Despite his theatricality, Browne really does manage to make collections that are wearable. Isolate any one of these pieces and you can see it stands on its own.