Time once again to upend the bag and pour out a pile of v. cool and/or amusing links.
– Michael Blowhard on the mysterious profession:
Actors generally don’t know who they really are. They find a center only when they pour themselves into the container of a “character”; they become most fully who they are when they turn themselves into someone else. Actors are often charming and gifted creatures, but they’ll drive you crazy too. An actress might say one thing at 8 a.m. and then say something completely contradictory at 4 p.m. She wouldn’t be bothered by this because in both cases she’s been true to her feelings of the moment–and because being “true to the moment,” whatever it happens to be, is what being an actor is all about. Men in romantic relationships with actresses often find these women a terrific turn-on–the passion! The excitement! The responsiveness! Yet the men often spend a lot of time scratching their heads in bewilderment too, wondering if anyone’s truly home….
This has not been my experience with actors, but I know plenty of people who beg to differ. Maybe I’ve just been lucky. (Or not.)
So what’s good? Mostly stuff that (forgive me) ripens over the course of the film. The dramaturgy is wicked smart. For example, throughout most of Sideways I wondered, what do these two guys see in each other? They spend most of the movie savagely attacking each other’s actions and motivations. Good friends may do that, of course, but underneath it all you expect to see traces at least of the ties that bind.
Payne was subtle about this–maybe over-subtle. The big clues came late: the attack at the golf course, and especially Miles’ reclamation of Jack’s wallet. After these the rest of their relationship, and the whole movie, made more sense. Jack may seem like a heedless horndog and Miles a volatile lush, but each has a strain of madness that the other can enjoy, if only because it’s different and thereby more exciting to him than his own….
– Mr. Thinking About Art has had it up to here, or maybe there, with theory:
What in the world does it add to the art viewing experience of 99.9% of the general public? Not much, I think. Certainly there is a place for theory in our academic institutions and surely contextualizing art among all the various -ism’s is valuable. But Jerry Saltz’s piece blasting Damien Hirst is a perfect example of why theory in art criticism and reviews in mostly useless. Give me Saltz’s 885 words without theory any day of the week. Saltz’s article actually means something to me. I can feel his experience of Hirst’s work. I can connect to his opinion. I can sense Saltz’s emotional response to the work.
Anyone can learn art theory if they wish. I’d venture a guess that if you took 100 art historians and asked them to write a theory-based critique of Hirst’s show, you’d get 100 very similar writing samples. It’s not unique like economic theory isn’t unique. We can all learn it. For me, econometrics is much more exciting and insightful. You can use some theory and techniques, but without some creativity and a personal approach, you’ll get stale results. Art for me is the same way and it’s why I write my reviews from a personal, opinionated viewpoint. Some may say, “We’ve all got opinions!” And my response would be, “That’s the point!” We don’t all have knowledge of theory….
– Guess who?
Confession time: We’ve never been able to finish, or even get half of the way through, a novel by Saul Bellow. Maybe it’s the language, which seems a bit overdone to us. Maybe it’s how discursive and repetitive the books are. Maybe the alleged revolution that he brought to the writing of the American novel has already been so thoroughly absorbed that we’re unable to appreciate how groundbreaking it truly is. In any event, we’re prepared to admit that the fault must lie with us: Enough of the people we admire and respect claim him as a genius; perhaps he’s the sort of writer that demands more attention be paid than our usual reading style (naked on the couch, a flask of bourbon at our side, Motorhead’s Orgasmatron blasting from the hi-fi) allows….
– Admirers (and non-admirers) of Truman Capote will have a field day with the Lawrence Journal-World‘s elaborate package of freshly reported stories commemorating the 40th anniversary of the publication of In Cold Blood. Here’s the beauty part: they were all written by college students. Print-media journalism may not be dead after all….
– Supermaud stumbles across a copy of another of my beloved books, the Viking Portable F. Scott Fitzgerald. (I wonder why it went out of print?)
– “Heather,” the semi-anonymous California pianist who blogs at in the wings, one of my current faves, describes what it feels like to turn pages for another pianist:
The requirements for this duty are straightforward enough: make yourself invisible, make sure you never turn too early or too late, make sure you never turn two pages at once, make sure to turn back pages when repeats are taken, and make sure to turn ahead to codas. Considering how long I’ve been reading music, page turning ought to allow me the lucky opportunity to study the pianist’s technique, from fingering to pedaling to words muttered under the breath, but really, my levels of attention and perception rise near to performance level when I take that seat. And damn but I forgot how fast the second and fourth movements of Faur