One of the great disappointments availed to film lovers is the circumstance of hearing a director talk about his work. Too often (not mentioning names here) a director’s conception of his own work jars inharmoniously with a viewer’s, especially if the film is dear to the latter. The result can be crushing.
What to do, what to do? Start by procuring a copy of Robert Bresson’s wee volume on filmmaking, Notes on the Cinematographer. Comprised of the great director’s memos to himself, the book is full of accessible, elegant epigrams that illuminate (rather than cloud) Bresson’s films–and, in their own way, whole swaths of cinema outside the director’s ouevre.
Godard said that “Bresson is the French cinema, as Dostoevsky is the Russian novel and Mozart is German music.” Whether you agree or not, it is undeniable that the director of Pickpocket and Diary of a Country Priest has a way with the written word as well as the moving image. Makes a fitting antidote to all those Fresh Air interviews that you wish you could delete from your brain’s hard drive.
The hardest part of writing a blog post about multimedia artist Carl Kleiner is choosing which pictures to share. Since nearly everything he makes is stunningly beautiful, it’s difficult to determine which images best highlight his genius. Should I post his photographs of everyday objects arranged to produce mind-melting geometric shapes? What about his graceful and stirring series of paper airplane photos? And then there’s the creepy life-size Barbie dolls haunting the uncanny valley with their human faces, and the cute series of self-portraits that features Kleiner trimming his Parent Trap-style imaginary twin’s moustache. And his playfully odd yet classy fashion photography! It’s all so brilliant– so stop reading my gushing hyperbole and go see for yourself.
Molly sent me the above picture a few days ago with the note “A couple of antique book cover scans, no reason, somewhat blurry, but charming nonetheless.” It reminded me of this Flickr page dedicated to classic Penguin & Pelican book covers. Amazing things. Like the best book pile of the best online rummage sale you could ever imagine. And for those of you looking for something a little more tangible: “Penguin By Design” is also a must have book for any lonely coffee table.
As the opening page of Selma G. Lanes’ definitive resource, The Art of Maurice Sendak, makes exceedingly clear, Sendak’s life has been entwined with Mickey Mouse’s since the very beginning. Born one month after Walt Disney’s radical rodent first flew onto silver screens, the artist grew up enthralled by Mickey. Serving as the source material for his first color illustration (completed at age six, and far more impressive than the work of most adult illustrators) and, much later, inspiration for In the Night Kitchen’s euonymous plane-flying hero, Mickey Mouse is described by Lanes as a dominant force in Sendak’s childhood.
The young Maurice, like countless other children from coast to coast, chewed Mickey Mouse chewing gum, brushed his teeth with a Mickey Mouse toothbrush, played with Mickey in a seemingly endless variety of games, and read about his adventures in all shapes and sizes of comic strips and storybooks. “Best of all,” Sendak says, “was seeing him on the movie screen. In the darkened theater, the sudden flash of his brilliant, wild, joyful face–radiating great golden beams–filled me with an intoxicating unalloyed pleasure.”
While it may lack the atmospheric magic of a golden age picture house, YouTube provides us with instant access to the classic Disney cartoons of which Maurice was so fond. Check out the 1929 film Mickey’s Choo Choo below, an early black and white short that seems to run on the same punchdrunk surrealism that personified Betty Boop, rather than the character-based humor that took hold after the advent of Donald Duck and Goofy.
We are still finishing post in London. Got to see Karen (our gifted co-composer) today who as you can see from the cover of The Guardian, played Glastonbury last night with a spectacular Christian Joy created headdress. Here are their summer dates. If they are playing near you, I highly recommend catching the show. The new songs sound epic live.
Royal De Luxe recently released their latest massive performance in Nantes, France as part of the Estuary Arts Festival. It’s the story of a two and a half ton giant deep sea diver who goes looking for his giant sister who drown in the wreckage of the Titanic. Bonkers.
In case you are not familiar Royal De Luxe is the French street marionette company known for using tremendous puppets to blow your mind apart. Their most famous work The Sultan’s Elephant (The Little Girl Giant) was an internet sensation a few years back and watching it again I am still pretty astounded.
Brooklyn-based artist Edith Zimmerman is the Tom Friedman of snacks. Working with materials lifted from the veg bin and pantry, she crafts ingenious sculptures and catalogs the results on her blog. The results are instantly enjoyable and devilishly clever. Herewith, a teeny questionnaire with the artist herself:
Why do you work with food?
Because when I see a piece of food art there’s some super straightforward part of my brain that just goes, “that’s a fish made out of lettuce, haha!” or “that’s a cat made out of a carrot, haha!” Also because I’ve seen some really great food art by a bunch of other people and it looked like a lot of fun to make.
What are your favorite things about working with food?
Looking at a piece of food until it reminds me of something. That part is fun. Although sometimes it’s frustrating because everything looks the same to me. Like–nectarine: it looks like a head. Potato: it looks like a head. Grape: it looks like a head. Celery: I could turn that into a head.
Do you nosh your creations after making them?
Sometimes! But usually not. Which I know is a waste, but usually by that point my fingers have been all over them and they’re cut up into weird pieces. But I did chop that scallion praying mantis over a bowl of soup, and I ate the hard-boiled egg for sure.
If you had all the materials of the supermarket at your disposal…what would you make?
A full dinosaur skeleton. Or a human skeleton. I could use parsnips for the bones, probably. Or a full-size vampire that I kept in the closet like he was sleeping standing up. I might make him out of all sorts of things.
Saw Dead Weather last night. Amazing live show and songs. The band is Jack White and Allison form The Kills. They are electric together. Wild Things musicians Jack Lawrence (Raconteurs and Greenhornes) and Dean Fertita (Queens of the Stone Age) are in the band also. They worked with Karen on the soundtrack. Good men and great musicians. Karen put together the perfect batch of people to make the music. We will have to do something more on this band she assembled but here is the full list: