Gone South

Hellman Wyler Festival, where they're celebrating Lillian Hellman's plays and William Wyler's Hollywood film versions. South means Birmingham, Alabama, and the town of Demopolis in Marengo County not far from there. Why there? If you ever saw The festival will be staging "The Little Foxes" and screening the film, along with three other Wyler-Hellman pairings: "Dead End" (based on a Sidney Kingsley play that Hellman adapted). As a Wyler biographer, I've been invited to take part in panel discussions with Deborah Martinson, Hellman's latest … [Read more...]

Hersh Abbreviated

Don't have time this ayem to read Seymour Hersh's short analysis by Ian Black in The Guardian. No time to read that, either? Here's the lede of The Guardian's Surging With Chomsky. Right? Postscript: On a separate issue, … [Read more...]

‘Just Get to the Verb’

Five little words of wisdom. Robert Altman's words. Words cited earlier this week in a tribute to the late director at the Majestic Theatre in New York. Smarter words than the old Hollywood cliché cut to the chase, which of course is what he meant. Fitting, too, given the paradox of a filmmaker who loved words, especially words that overlapped. AP's in USA Today and Reuters' in the NY Times -- give a pretty good account of what was said, including Balaban's remark and others I took down in my notes. (Tim Robbins: "He would not only not … [Read more...]

Boris on the Bill

Are you ready for three nights of NO!-artist Boris Lurie? I am. Screenings begin this evening in Manhattan. The first one, at Hunter College, is free (followed by a Q&A with the filmmakers). The second screening, on Thursday, is at Makor ($15); the third, on Friday, is at Anthology Film Archives ($8). "Most of the film's protagonists will be at the AFA screening," Matthias Reichelt, the curator and art historian who collaborated on the film with the director Reinhild Dettmer-Finke, tells me. Appearing at the AFA "makes sense," he adds. "It's a … [Read more...]

Cloud Nine

Norwegian master photographer Tom Sandberg's first That's my groundling's take on what one expert, Yngve Kvistad, describes as the "ambiguous surfaces that do not quite reveal themselves" in Sandberg's large-format, often painterly, black & white photographs. It's not just in the "titanic, almost monochrome skyscapes" that there's "an invigorating presence of visual paradoxes" or a "tangible absence revealed." It's in the portraits, too. They show what Derrida called the "invisible interior of poetic freedom," Kvistad notes. I'll leave the … [Read more...]

Apocalypse When

Chris Hedges was way ahead of the curve. Back in October Prez Huha's] administration. It could begin in as little as three weeks. Probable? Was he nuts? Three weeks? Really nuts? Well, his timing may have been off, but the clock is still running. … [Read more...]

Emmett Williams, RIP

Another old friend is gone. We spent many a winter night together in Vermont's Northeast Kingdom, keeping ourselves entertained over a bottle or two. He died in Berlin. He was 81. interview worth reading that fills in lots of details about him. And here's an excerpt from "THE VOY AGE," which "started out," he once explained, "as a long kinetic poem celebrating the travels and exploits of Two Buk Tim in Tim Buc Too." The format is based on a mathematical progression, the words a mere taste of Emmett's playfulness. During our time in northern … [Read more...]

John Bryan, RIP

JOHN BRYAN in 1981 [photo by Frederic Larson, from the San Francisco Chronicle photo file]

They left 12 roses on his doorstep along with half of their kidnap victim's California driver's license. He was grateful for the roses. "They could have been 12 bullets," he said. The kidnappers were the Symbionese Liberation Army. The license belonged to Patty Hearst. The year was 1974. The roses were both a warning and an invitation. He'd done an "interview" with the SLA and printed it in his newspaper. This was their response. The interview was faked -- nobody knew where to find them -- but their statements were real. He'd cobbled them … [Read more...]

Blogs Are Personal (in Case You Hadn’t Noticed)

Been gone. Now back. Why gone? Flew out west to see an old friend and collaborator, "Century," a massive volume of photos from London's Sunday Times Magazine chronicling the years 1899 to 1999. The main point of interest, however, is the partial view of Mustill's large collage from the mid-1960s on the wall behind me. It's one of several I used to see decades ago on visits to his former home in northern California. And there he is -- l'artiste lui-même -- standing next to another of his large collages. Care for a further taste of his … [Read more...]

Molly Ivins, RIP

Molly Ivins, who "Stand Up Against the Surge," it was a sober, even solemn commentary without so much as a hint of the satirical wit for which she was famous. She called it part of an "old-fashioned newspaper crusade to stop the war." President With His Head Up His Ass as often as possible. For good reason. (See "Iraq Exit is Up to Us," was more typical of her downhome style. "The president of the United States does not have the sense God gave a duck -- so it's up to us," it began. "You and me, Bubba." There are many tributes to Ivins being … [Read more...]