Sunday, March 19, 2006

New York Journal 2.

I’m not Catholic—or even Christian—but I’ve always had the special gift of guilt. Having given sixty grad midterms last week, I brought them on vacation with me, resolving to grade for an hour or two each day. On Wednesday I discovered that the tests were still untouched at the bottom of my suitcase, so I dusted them off and spent half the day making a good bit of headway.

Feeling a bit lighter, I headed to the Guggenheim in the afternoon to see the exhibit by sculptor David Smith. Here’s one cool idea I picked up that's probably common knowledge but was new to me: Apparently, one of Picasso’s great contributions to sculpture was to envision it as an “open construction”—meaning, a sculpture didn’t have to imply a central mass of solidity which was then “carved” to create the work. Instead, a sculpture could be open and airy, without leading us to think of an “absence” at its center. Pretty neat notion.

That night, I fully intended to head uptown to a jazz club called Smoke for “Hammond B-3 Night”. But I found myself tucked in at 9 pm, knocked out from the recent flurry of recreational exertions. Thursday morning, Aaron and I went to a New Directors/New Films press screening of Quinceanera, a Sundance award winner that turned out to be a modest but conventional Latino teen-focused drama that didn’t make a huge impression.

Since the screening was conveniently at the MoMA—the first time I’ve been there since the museum moved back to Manhattan from Queens over a year ago—I spent the rest of the day seeing the Edvard Munch exhibit and an interesting contemporary art show called Take Two: Worlds And Views. In the latter, one piece remains hard to shake: a nine-minute animated film called Felix In Exile by South African artist William Kentridge. Here’s how he made the film: he drew with charcoal, positioned a camera at the other end of the room, snapped an image or two, then walked over to the drawing, erased part of it and drew over it, and walked back to photograph it once again. Hundreds of times. So, the single drawing he was left with at the end of the process of making the film was…the very last image of the film.

In the evening, I met up with Zach and his friend Ryan at Anthology Film Archives to catch Alexander Kluge’s The Middle Of The Road Is A Very Dead End (1974). Afterwards, we went out to a Japanese restaurant in the vicinity of Kim’s Video. Inebriated by all the movie-talk (Blake Edwards, Robert Mulligan and Andre de Toth swirled in the air)—not to mention plain inebriated—I took the train uptown instead, ending up in strange and unfamiliar territory in the middle of the night. Back to Brooklyn without incident.

Friday, to the IFC Center to see the excellent documentary Darwin’s Nightmare. (Planes carry hundreds of tons of fish caught in Lake Victoria daily to Europe. Meanwhile, the people who live all around the lake die of famine, disease and poverty. The most pointed and intelligently made documentary on the ill effects of globalization that I've seen; I need to order the DVD for my college library as soon as it comes out.) In the evening, Filmbrain and I went to a press screening of the new Matthew Barney film with Björk, Drawing Restraint 9. Afterwards, I mentioned that I’d never tasted Korean food, and soon we were in the heart of the Korean district on 32nd Street, at a barbecue table with soju and a large spread of small dishes, including kimchi. Thanks to the 'Brain for this unforgettably delectable rite of initiation.


Blogger girish said...

Flickhead and Dennis Cozzalio announce an Angie Dickinson blog-a-thon.

March 19, 2006 9:39 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Brian Darr's SFIAFF preview, part 2.

March 19, 2006 9:42 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Ah, Zach sees Au Hasard, Balthazar.

March 19, 2006 9:54 AM  
Blogger Peter Nellhaus said...

As far as Angie goes, I already have Cast a Giant Shadow in my queue. Not a great movie, or as I understand it, even a good movie. But I think she's perfectly cast as a Jewish boy's dream wife in reel life (Kirk Douglas) and real life (Burt Bacharach).

March 19, 2006 12:11 PM  
Blogger phil said...

ah, girish, that sounds like the life...

March 19, 2006 3:30 PM  
Blogger David Lowery said...

What did you think of the Barney film? I can't wait to see it; I'm a huge fan of The Cremaster Cycle.

March 20, 2006 2:03 AM  
Blogger David Lowery said...

Oh, and don't feel bad about not getting the papers done - I had about 800 pages of reading to do over the week, and how much did I get through? About 20.

March 20, 2006 2:06 AM  
Blogger HarryTuttle said...

This William Kentridge's short animation remind me of a short shown at Cannes 2005: Trilogy about Clouds by Naoyuki Tsuji. Same process apparently. The charcoal cloud moves through the city leaving behind the trace of the previous frames on the same page, like a ghost motion. So in the end the white page turned grey. A funny trick, and also a cheap an easy way to make animation.

March 20, 2006 3:00 AM  
Blogger Mubarak Ali said...

I'm also very curious about the new Matthew Barney. I long to see it whenever I play the soundtrack (which, for the sake of my sanity, I don't too often). I really liked Cremaster 3, the only one that I managed to catch last year when the entire cycle came to town.

March 20, 2006 3:58 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Thanks for the comments, guys...

Hey, Phil--Good to hear from you. Love that Tokyoblog link you sent. What an awesome idea--to draw a blog post every day....

Peter, I never knew Burt Bacharach made any films. I'm a fan of his music, especially a 3-CD box set that came out a few years ago and features some of the best interpreters of his work like Dusty Springfield, Jerry Butler, and yes, Herb Alpert's great (vocal) version of "This Guy's In Love With You".

David & Mubarak--I liked the Barney/Bjork, and hope to blog about it later this week after I've wound up my New York journal entries (one more to come).
And David--I can't wait to read your SXSW write-ups.

I've still got some grading left but I can do it at La Guardia and on the plane later this morning. Or tonight at home even. My guilt is under control (for now).

The wi-fi cafe in Brooklyn where I've been blogging is pretty cool. (Filmbrain told me it used to be the bakery where Nick Cage worked in Moonstruck.) The people who work here have gotten to know me since I've come here every day for a week. This girl asked me just now why I was in New York, and when I told her that I was here to meet and hang out with blogger friends, she looked a bit taken aback and then said sincerely, "That's so....modern of you."

March 20, 2006 7:48 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Harry--Thanks for that link; I just took a look at it. Thanks also for the recommendations and comments you sent on the French films that were playing here. I caught two of them with Acquarello yesterday (the Rouan and "Ben Barka") and missed the one I most wanted to see (Gentille) earlier in the week. Hope to scribble a few words on the 2 films soon.

March 20, 2006 8:03 AM  
Anonymous Peter Nellhaus said...

Sorry if I made it sound like Bacharach made films. I was refering to the marriage of Burt and Angie. Many Jewish guys I knew growing up thought that having a blonde non-Jewish girlfriend (and possibly wife) was a sort of holy grail.

March 20, 2006 8:56 AM  
Blogger Maya said...

Sigh. I love reading your posts. A vicarious thrill!

March 20, 2006 12:58 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Hey thanks, fellas.
Off the plane. Now to don the shirt & tie and take off to go teach my 3-hr grad night class...

March 20, 2006 4:35 PM  
Blogger Maya said...

Ugh. Now I'm no longer envious....

March 20, 2006 6:35 PM  
Blogger Ed Garrity said...

With all those great places to go in NYC, it's a wonder you've stayed in Buffalo (the suburbs of NYC) this long!
But, the Canisius folks are glad you did. :-)

March 20, 2006 6:46 PM  
Anonymous Peter Nellhaus said...

Girish: As you expressed interest, here is info on the Zurlini DVDs.

March 21, 2006 12:49 AM  
Blogger HarryTuttle said...

You're welcomed Girish. I'm looking forward to your reviews, and Drawing Restraint 9! (It's opening next week over here)
I've seen only Cremaster 3 too. Matthew Barney's work looks really interesting, a bridge between pure art and cinema, that has a true cinematic value (unlike most experimental cinema that is too abstract).

March 21, 2006 4:30 AM  
Blogger Shasta said...

i anxiously await your review of Drawing Restraint 9! :D

March 21, 2006 5:04 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Thanks, Ed. I'm not sure if you know, but my original plan was to move to San Francisco after my PhD. (My only relative in the States, my sister, used to live there. She's moved back to India since.)
But it was the good working environment at the college, plus the convenient proximity to Toronto, that made me decide to stay here in Buffalo.
I think of this city as my home now.

Oh, and Matthew Barney. I had seen just a few bits and pieces and clips from Cremaster; this was my first real introduction to his work.

March 21, 2006 8:11 AM  
Blogger girish said...

And I really hope those Zurlini films show up at Netflix.
Or Greencine, which I'm planning to join.

March 21, 2006 8:12 AM  
Blogger girish said...

David on the films he saw at SXSW.

March 21, 2006 8:13 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Until yesterday, I didn't know what "tilt-shift photography" meant.

March 21, 2006 8:15 AM  
Blogger John said...

Hey man, if you're still in town I'd love to hang out and maybe see a show... care to come out to Joe's Pub?

March 21, 2006 5:53 PM  
Blogger phil said...

hey big G, you check out today's Tokyoblog? brilliant installment. i love that guy. i'm going to be sad when he moves out of japan.

March 21, 2006 6:54 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Phil, that Tokyoblog is somethin' else, ain't it?

Hey, John. Long long time no see.
So glad to witness the glorious Return Of Tofu Hut.
Alas, I'm back home and can't take you up on your Joe's Pub offer.
So, Mr. Music Biz Man--too busy to blog, eh?
Shall surely call you the next time I'm in NYC. Would love to hang out...

March 21, 2006 11:27 PM  
Blogger John said...

Please do; I'd love to meetcha!

March 26, 2006 9:29 PM  

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