Saturday, August 9, 2008

Mieux qu'une momie au Met, un moment au MOMA






A touch of blatant self-promotion, without drum roll. At the MoMA, visit the exhibition "Dreamland: Architectural Experiments since the 1970s", in the Architecture and Design Galleries, third floor, through October 27. A film of mine, "Flagrant Délit", which I did ages ago with Madelon Vriesendorp and Teri Wehn-Damisch, is part of the exhibit...

Monday, June 30, 2008

What to do in NY this summer? Suggestion from the Village Voice...


Best in Show
Edward Hopper, Lonely Guy
Etchings from this Yankee existentialist come to Craig F. Starr
by R.C. Baker
June 24th, 2008 12:00 AM


Edward Hopper conveyed the disjointed loneliness of modernity more acutely than any other American artist (or novelist or filmmaker) of his time. In these 13 etchings from 1918 to 1923, a number of which have become icons of Yankee existentialism, individuals are surrounded by shadowy force fields that turn viewer into voyeur. These are not portraits of people presenting themselves to us, but glimpsed scenes of enigmatic characters: a woman in a slip sits at a sewing machine, her thoughts somewhere far beyond the open window she faces; a nude woman, hair obscuring her face, climbs into bed while gazing out between fluttering curtains. In 1921's House Tops, a lass on an elevated train stares wistfully at the metropolis of chimneys, roof hatches, and cornices passing by—the viewer is across the car, noticing, perhaps, that something other than the sights is on the girl's mind. In Night Shadows, a famous, vertiginous view of a man walking a darkened city street, the broad sidewalk is bisected by the stark shadow of a lamppost that stands outside the frame. All the powerful abstract geometries of Hopper's later masterpieces are foreshadowed in these small works—the sweeping curves and sharp triangles of his boating scenes, a processional of telegraph poles contrasted against sinuous train tracks. But unlike those magnificent paintings, in which people often act as mere vessels of light and shade, here they are supple human beings. In Night on the El Train (1918), a man and woman huddled in the corner of an otherwise empty car are literally twisted in knots—heads bent toward each other, ankles tightly crossed, her body uncomfortably torqued. Are they planning a wedding or plotting a murder? Perhaps both, though not necessarily in that order

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Intéressant le dernier blog de Philippe Bilger

Justice au singulier
Barack et Obama !
Posted: 28 Jun 2008 06:05 AM CDT
J'aime que les Etats-Unis échappent à tous ceux qui voudraient les réduire.

Sur tous les plans, ils surprennent. Un cinéma exceptionnel mais aussi de très mauvais films. Dieu mis à toutes les sauces mais également un culte de la liberté d'expression qui devrait faire honte à nos démocraties frileuses. Un président dont il convient de se gausser, d'autant plus qu'il approche de la fin de son mandat, mais un monde politique qui vaut largement le nôtre, si on sort de la caricature, revanche habituelle des petits face aux grands.

Cette complexité rend absurde tout anti-américanisme puisque chacun peut puiser dans cet immense vivier de quoi nourrir ses passions et ses espérances. L'Amérique est une auberge espagnole.

Quel exemple plus éclatant de cette richesse et de cette ambiguïté que les récentes décisions de la Cour suprême et le point de vue exprimé par le candidat démocrate, Barack Obama, sur la peine de mort !

En effet, la Cour suprême vient à la fois de légitimer le port d'arme, en refusant de valider certaines interdictions absolues, et de prohiber la peine capitale pour les violeurs d'enfants (le site du Nouvel Observateur et le Figaro).

Barack Obama, quant à lui, a déclaré en substance que "la peine de mort devrait être autorisée pour les crimes les plus extrêmes. Je pense que le viol d'un petit enfant de 6 ou 8 ans est un crime hideux".

La Cour suprême, on le constate, ne s'attache pas à une sorte de ciel théorique, à l'abstraction de principes mais, de manière empirique, cherche à définir pour une société donnée l'injustifiable ou le tolérable. Aussi est-elle capable d'adopter une position moins éthique que pragmatique, en réservant la peine de mort pour les crimes au plus haut de l'échelle pénale - ce qui exclut les viols d'enfants -, et de ne pas bouleverser l'espace privé de chaque Américan en le prétendant incompatible avec tout port d'arme.

Barack Obama, quoique de gauche selon les critères américains, s'engouffre à sa manière dans cette voie et n'hésite pas à afficher une opinion sur la peine de mort qui devrait faire hurler ses partisans français. Ayant l'impression, parfois, que mon blog est pillé sans délicatesse, je me garderais bien d'omettre le fait que Philippe Cohen est le premier, dans Marianne 2, qui a soulevé cette contradiction.

Le comité de soutien français à Obama est en effet composé d'Olivier Duhamel, de Bernard-Henri Lévy (où n'est-il pas !), de Frédéric Mitterrand, de Bertrand Delanoë et de Jack Lang qui semble plus à gauche pour les USA qu'en France. Excusez du peu. Aucun, pour l'instant, n'a bronché, protesté ou répliqué. Manifestement, cette imprévisible séquence de la vie intellectuelle et politique d'Obama les a pris de court. Je suis curieux aussi de savoir ce qu'en pensera un formidable chanteur, son récent soutien américain, Bruce Springsteen.

Je devine la condescendance avec laquelle beaucoup vont accueillir ces incohérences, ces contradictions, ces brèches entamant des blocs qu'on aurait désirés inaltérables, implacablement solides. Je perçois déjà les regards attristés ou ironiques avec lesquels seront observées les foucades de ces grands enfants que seraient les Américains, jamais capables de fixité ni de monolithisme.

Ce que d'aucuns pourraient leur reprocher, c'est précisément ce que j'aime. De la même manière que les défauts prétendus de Lionel Jospin étaient en réalité, pour une démocratie, ses plus grandes qualités, l'apparente fluctuation de la vision juridique, des options politiques américaines représentent la certitude d'une réflexion qui ne prétend pas avoir raison à tout coup contre la réalité. La capacité de mêler sans honte et avec courage, dans une parole, des facettes contrastées, voire antagonistes, révèle plus d'intelligence que d'aveuglement, plus de souplesse que de rectitude, plus de liberté que d'incohérence.

Ce qui mérite d'être loué dans la position de Barack Obama, ce n'est évidemment pas le fond avec lequel je suis en désaccord mais le droit qu'il s'est assigné de l'exprimer, le risque assumé de contredire l'officiel Obama par la spontanéité et la saine indignation de Barack. Ce qui me semble remarquable, c'est que l'être privé n'accepte jamais d'être étouffé et que la chape de plomb qui pèse sur le discours politique laisse encore place, chez eux, à autre chose que de la bienséance et du conformisme.

Son comité de soutien devrait en prendre de la graine. Pour la France.

A lire sur les plages


A new book by an author with a most improbable last name.Here's the blurb found in Salon on-line magazine.

"Napoleon's Privates" by Tony Perrottet
So did Catherine the Great really fuck a horse? Of course, she didn't. Any more than the Romans of Caligula's time indulged in nightly orgies or J. Edgar Hoover wore dresses or Adolf Hitler soldiered through life with one testicle. On the other hand, Alexander the Great really did get it on with his childhood buddy, Hephestaion, and castrati really could keep it up during sex (provided they'd been neutered after age 10), and T.E. Lawrence truly did hire rough trade to whack him on the ass. If any of these factoids swell your loins, then by all means wallow in Tony Perrottet's sinfully entertaining survey of perversion. "Napoleon's Privates," as you might have gathered, refers to the Great Man's maybe-not-so-great stick, which was allegedly hacked off upon his death and may have ended up in a suitcase beneath the bed of America's leading urologist. It is currently the size of a baby's finger. Sic transit gloria mundi. -- Louis Bayard

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Quote du jour

All the world's ills could be corrected by a three-day open
season on people (Hemingway)

Friday, May 2, 2008

Le look BHL en goguette


Un smoking avec noeud paps, c'est déjà duraille, mais un smok col ouvert, puuulllliiiizzze!!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Libido minérale

Teintures


Hier soir à NY; les observateurs (sexistes) n'ont pas manqué de noter dans leurs journaux que Mia Farrow avait la boucle platinée et virevoltante. Ils n'ont pas noté la teinture el cheapo de chez Clairol de la mane de BHL.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Golden Age of Pulp Fiction

In the mid-1920s, the magazine Black Mask turned to stories favoring
characters and atmosphere over intricate puzzle-plotting. Led by
Dashiell Hammett, the monthly magazine inaugurated a golden age of
American crime fiction. On the Leonard Lopate show of this past
tuesday (WNYC)Otto Penzler talks about the stories he chose for The
Black Lizard Big Book of Pulps: The Best Crime Stories from the Pulps
During Their Golden Age--The '20s, '30s & '40s. Here is the link to
download a podcast:

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

From the NY Times: " The Spirit of '68"

The Spirit of ’68
By A. O. SCOTT
Published: April 27, 2008 http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/27/movies/27scot.html?pagewanted=2&_r=1

AT least according to legend, the “events of May” — the strikes and disturbances that convulsed France in the spring of 1968 — began at the movies. On Feb. 9 Henri Langlois, president of the National Cinémathèque Française in Paris and a shambling, revered godfather of the French New Wave, was removed from his post by André Malraux, the minister of culture in Charles de Gaulle’s government. Young cinephiles reacted with outrage, and their angry protests flowed into a tide of political and social discontent that quickly reached the flood stage.

Three months later the country was engulfed in riots, work stoppages and mass demonstrations. Some of France’s most venerable traditions and institutions seemed to be under assault, and the Cannes Film Festival, the nation’s glamorous and exalted cinematic rite of spring, was hardly immune. The festival came to a halt on May 19, after a group of filmmakers, including Jean-Luc Godard and François Truffaut, professing solidarity with insurgent students and workers, rushed the stage at the Palais des Festivals and held down the curtain, preventing the scheduled screening from taking place.

Next month some of the entries from that aborted 21st Cannes festival will be shown, belatedly, at the 61st. This is just one of many film-world commemorations of the 40th anniversary of a singularly tumultuous year.

New Yorkers can mark the occasion with two rich and wide-ranging programs that aim to capture, on screen, the spirit of that bygone age. One, at Film Forum (Friday through June 5), is devoted to Mr. Godard in the 1960s, when he was at the height of his influence, productivity and creative power. The other, at Lincoln Center (Tuesday through May 14), stretches across geography, time and genre: from Paris and Chicago to Hungary, Japan and Brazil; from journalistic documentaries to agitprop and experimental theater; from defiant in-the-moment statements of revolutionary zeal to somber post-mortem contemplations of ideological exhaustion and political defeat.

Such commemorations offer an opportunity to brush up on history and revive perennial debates: about Western imperialism and third world resistance; about the counterculture and consumer capitalism; about sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll. But there is more going on than a global “Big Chill” moment. To rediscover 40 years later some of the cinematic experiments of 1968 is to be amazed at how raw, how urgent, how disarmingly alive these films are.

More than any other art form, cinema captured the energy, the truth, of the times. To an extent rarely matched before or since, filmmakers did not simply record the upheavals and crises of the time; they were participants and catalysts. None more so than Mr. Godard. It seems apt that the Film Forum and Lincoln Center programs share “La Chinoise,” one of a flurry of films he began, completed or released in 1968, and one in which he indulges his fondness for epigrams and proverbs. One of his slogans proclaims that with vague ideas, we need clear images.

Contemplating 1968 after 40 years, it seems we have plenty of both: an increasingly blurry and sentimental (if also sometimes cautionary) notion of “the ’60s” accompanied by sharp and dramatic images of exemplary events. Start with the Tet offensive at the end of January; segue into the assassinations of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in April and Senator Robert F. Kennedy in June. Between them, the French événements and the student uprising at Columbia University.

In the summer, a glimpse of the massacre of student demonstrators by Mexican soldiers at the Tlatelolco Plaza, a bloody prelude to the Mexico City Olympics where Tommie Smith and John Carlos offered black power salutes from the medal stand. August brings the Democratic convention in Chicago, overwhelmed by anti-war demonstrations and a police riot.

In the fall, Soviet tanks arrive in Prague to smash the human face of Czech socialism. And in November, the “silent majority,” recoiling from the spectacle of anarchy and disorder in the streets, elects Richard M. Nixon president of the United States. Swirl it all together with a soundtrack of slogans and classic rock songs. The whole world is watching! Be realistic: Demand the impossible! There’s something happening here; what it is ain’t exactly clear.

And neither is “La Chinoise.” By turns heady, charming, infuriating and impenetrable — a Godard film, in other words — it represents its moment with an authenticity that is both undeniable and hard to specify. The political passions of the young characters contribute to this feeling, of course, but Mr. Godard is not simply dramatizing a chapter in the lives of good-looking people in the throes of militancy.

To the extent that a narrative can be discerned, it is fractured and oblique. The cast members — including the exquisitely pouty Juliet Berto, a fixture of Godard’s universe at the time, and Jean-Pierre Léaud, the perpetual male ingénue of the nouvelle vague — quote from literary texts and declaim didactic speeches, their exchanges interrupted by archival and contemporary documentary footage of war and disturbance. Moments of unvarnished, appropriated reality alternate with sequences of arch and self-conscious theater. (The same methods inform “Le Gai Savoir,” which also stars Mr. Léaud and Ms. Berto, and “Un Film Commes les Autres.”)

The series at Film Forum is called “Godard’s 60s,” and the possessive seems entirely appropriate. Mr. Godard, now 77, was surely the most widely imitated and ferociously debated filmmaker of the decade, and a strong case can be made that he was the era’s single most influential artist in any medium. From “Breathless” in 1960 to “Le Gai Savoir” in 1969, Mr. Godard was a cinematic perpetual-motion machine, completing 23 features and contributing to a number of omnibus and anthology films. This rate of production was not just a result of a uniquely accelerated artistic metabolism but also, and more decisively, the enactment of an aesthetic principle. Cinema, for Godard in the ’60s, was an art of the present tense, which meant that an individual film was not a framed and finished work but rather something more like an essay: provisional, disjunctive and almost by definition incomplete.

Mr. Godard was hardly the only filmmaker of the era who embraced an open-ended, experimental conception of the medium. A speech at the end of “Le Gai Savoir” suggests that he saw himself as part of a loose international fraternity of iconoclastic filmmakers, including Bernardo Bertolucci in Italy and Glauber Rocha, the father of Latin American cinema novo, in Brazil. A strong cumulative impression left by the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s “1968: An International Perspective” is that the political and cultural paroxysms of the time were accompanied by and refracted through a revolution in cinematic form and technique, one that leapt over boundaries of language and nation and fed on similar impulses in the other arts.

In the avant-garde theater, for instance, the distinctions between spectacle and audience, between ritual and performance, were coming under sustained and lively assault. In the world of letters, books like Norman Mailer’s “Armies of the Night” trampled conventional distinctions between fiction and reportage, as well as those between subjective exploration and the objective analysis of events.

American movies, partly because of the conservatism of the Hollywood studios, lagged behind their counterparts in other countries. Perhaps the most famous collision between life and art in an American film is Haskell Wexler’s “Medium Cool,” in which the unscripted violence of Chicago during the convention erupts into the fictional tale of a journalist chasing down breaking news. As the billy clubs and tear-gas canisters start to fly, the microphone picks up a warning from off camera: “Watch out, Haskell. It’s real.”

But in Chicago and elsewhere, real events frequently contained elements of spectacle and performance. Some organizers of the antiwar protests, Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin in particular, explicitly conceived of their actions as a kind of self-conscious improvisational theater. This traffic between politics and theatrical performance is explored from the other direction in “Dionysus in 69,” Brian De Palma’s split-screen filmed record of the Performance Group’s production of “The Bacchae” by Euripides. Some of the audience is pulled into a mock orgy with members of the cast, who periodically shed their roles along with their clothes. At the end everyone bursts out of the theater into the street in a travesty of political ardor, proclaiming Dionysus, god of wine and mischief (played by William Finley, Mr. De Palma’s future Phantom of the Paradise), to be their standard-bearer in the 1968 presidential election. (In Chicago, the Yippies would try to nominate a pig.)

What is most striking in retrospect — what seems oddest and in a way most touching about these evocations of revelry and riot — is the spirit of asceticism, of earnest and passionate seriousness, driving the wanton experimentation. To return to Mr. Godard for a moment: His ’68-vintage films are playful, to be sure (“Weekend” in particular is full of barbed jokes and apocalyptic satire), but they are also a lot of work to watch. And the same can be said of many other films in the Lincoln Center program, from “WR: Mysteries of the Organism,” Dusan Makavejev’s anarchic sexual-political tour de force (inspired by the maverick psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich), to “Antonio das Mortes,” Glauber Rocha’s ferocious populist folk epic, to “It Is Not the Homosexual Who Is Perverse, but the Society in Which He Lives,” Rosa von Praunheim’s deliriously campy, painfully serious critique of gay life in bourgeois society.

To watch these films requires a kind of focused, self-denying, active attention that might best be described as revolutionary discipline. The experience is a rigorous and sometimes punishing one that seems meant to put the viewer in the position of sharing, rather than merely witnessing, what is happening on the screen. Watching “La Chinoise,’’ “Un Film Commes les Autres” and “Le Gai Savoir” in sequence is like sitting through an endless series of cell meetings whose agendas are as inscrutable as they are pressing.

A lot of the action in these movies turns out to be talk. Mr. von Praunheim’s movie, an educational documentary in the guise of a sexploitation picture (or vice versa), ends with a scene that seems at once to celebrate and to parody the radical politics of the time. A bunch of men sit around naked, chain-smoking and patiently criticizing both traditional morality and homosexual behavior, proposing alliances between gay activists and factory workers as a substitute for the pursuit of pleasure and declaring an ideal of being “erotically free and socially engaged.”

A laudable goal, and one that, it might be argued, its proponents achieved since the ’60s to some degree in spite of themselves. Many of the idealistic impulses of the time, that is, bore fruit even though the larger utopian schemes to which they attached themselves failed. And some of the most moving films in the Lincoln Center series (as well as some of Mr. Godard’s recent work, which falls outside the purview of the current Film Forum retrospective) reckon with that failure, with the letdown that followed the stillborn revolutions of 1968.

One of these is Alain Tanner’s “Jonah Who Will Be 25 in the Year 2000” (1976), which captures a pastoral moment in the lives of former radicals. In Geneva and the surrounding countryside, they teach school, work the land, make love, drink wine and argue, all the while clinging to the conviction that another way of life is possible. And the characters in “Milestones” (1975), made by Robert Kramer and John Douglas at around the same time, find themselves in similar situations, trying to navigate between political commitments and personal desires and to figure out which is which.

Being European, the characters in “Jonah” express their subjective longings in a Marxist (or at least Hegelian) language of impersonal historical forces and dialectical movements. The Americans in “Milestones,” by contrast, use the Emersonian idiom of the self to give voice to their understanding of history. And both films demand, from present-day audiences, a degree of indulgence. They are long, slow and full of heavy conversation. “Milestones” in particular, with nonprofessional actors alternating between scripted scenes and real-life moments (including a long scene of natural childbirth), can feel endless and sometimes pointless.

But that is what history can feel like too, and I have the sense that any attempt to grasp the essence of the ’60s will have to pass through “Milestones,” as sad and compassionate a movie as I have ever seen. And also as difficult, because it doesn’t seem to want to be a movie at all, but rather an attempt to keep alive one of the noble, impossible promises of its time, which was to abolish the distinction between art and life.

Théologie

"Si Dieu n'est pas marié, pourquoi parle-t-on de sa grande Clémence ?"
Raymond Devos

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Anniversaires...


Nous célébrons le vingtième anniversaire de la mort de Pierre Desproges et les 40 ans de la naissance du féminisme militant en France; histoire de faire des économies, je joins les deux événements, avec la complicité d'un dessin de l'ami Lionel Koechlin.

«Dépourvue d'âme, la femme est dans l'incapacité de s'élever vers Dieu. En revanche, elle est en général pourvue d'un escabeau qui lui permet de s'élever vers le plafond pour faire les carreaux. C'est tout ce qu'on lui demande.»
[ Pierre Desproges ] - Dictionnaire du superflu

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Diet anyone?

As I am embarking on my yearly efforts to shed my winter fat, I seize this opportunity to quote something I just got in a chain e-mail:

1. The Japanese eat very little fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.

2. The Mexicans eat a lot of fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.

3. The Chinese drink very little red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.

4. The Italians drink a lot of red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.

5. The Germans drink a lot of beers and eat lots of sausages and fats and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.

CONCLUSION

Eat and drink what you like.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Shark Philosophy

If you are chased by a shark in the ocean, you don't have to swim faster than the shark; you only need to swim faster than your friends. One can use this principle in other everyday life situations.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Blanc Bonnet et Bonnet Blanc: election time!

video

Shoe time!

De l'art ou du cochon.

As I was visiting the Gustave Courbet retrospective at the Metropolitan Museum in NY, I was once again shocked by the number of bad paintings this type of show inflics upon us public at large. These marketing-driven high masses where the public supposedly connects or reconnects with an artist are generally pathetic insofar as every piece of art, the good, the bad and the ugly, is treated with the same phony respect. Why is it that say, 300.000 people, prompted by the usual mass media shepherds, flock like sheep to the Grand Palais, the Metropolitan, Beaubourg, to see an "incontournable" exhibit and yet have absolutely zero contact with art in general or in particular on any of their boring given day? Education of the masses? Bull! Some will buy the odd postcard at the exit of the museum and go home and put in the same mental basket Manet-Monet-Gauguin-Van Gogh-Cézanne-Lautrec-Renoir-Matisse-Picasso. With possibly one or two representations of their most famous pieces.
What if the masses, in their flockish hebetude, have it right? A painter's good work can be counted on one hand. The rest is shlock, repetitious, commissioned.

Je méditais, il y a peu, sur Degas, Edgar pour les intimes: son penchant pour l'instantané, la proverbiale tranche de vie, le mouvement en suspens. Et je me répète que c'est là qu'il faut aller: une peinture où le spectateur est voyeur par inadvertence, témoin involontaire. Le regard du spectateur fait partie du tableau, mais les protagonistes du tableau ne croisent pas le regard du spectateur.Tout le reste est de la poudre aux yeux. J'ai tout compris. Plus facile à dire qu'à faire.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Ze new Greenwich bitch?

Cécilia ex-Sarkozy ex première dame de France s'installe à Greenwich. A un petit 1/4 d'heure de chez moi. Peut-être vais-je la croiser dans l'un de mes estaminets favoris.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Creative juices: a recipe from Michael Connelly

This is a remark by Michael Connelly (yes, THE Michael Connelly crime writer extraordinaire), which one should apply to all artistic endeavours: " For the series (the Harry Bosch novels) to sustain it has to evolve. That goes for the character and the writer. So I am always looking to throw the change up. I think its the only way to be able to take this thing the distance."

au cul, la vieille, c'est le printemps! Welcome springtime...

Sunday, February 17, 2008

A.M Philosophy

At a dinner party last night, someone evoked George Steiner's reflexion that God refers to eternity, whereas the Devil refers to infinity. Which is why, IMHO, God can be boring.