Category: Film

The L.A. of the near-future and serial killer books.

Joaquin Phoenix in
Joaquin Phoenix in “Her.” Director Spike Jonze’s meeting with architects Diller Scofidio helped inspire the feel of the movie.

For my latest in ARCHITECT, I talk to Elizabeth Diller about future L.A., deconstructed operas and serial killers. Find the Q&A here.

Calendar. 11.01.13.

A still from the film Lions Love (…and lies), 1968, by Agnès Varda. From the exhibition Agnès Varda in Californialand, at the L.A. County Museum of Art.
A scene from Agnès Varda’s 1968 film Lions Love (…and lies) pays tribute to Magritte. From the exhibition Agnès Varda in Californialand, at the L.A. County Museum of Art. Opens Sunday, in Mid-Wilshire. (Image courtesy of Max Raab and Agnès Varda.)

Calendar. 09.18.13.

Film still from Una dia De Vida, directed by Emilio 'El Indio' Fernandez, 1950, at LACMA. (Copyright Televisa Foundation)
Film still from Una dia De Vida, directed by Emilio ‘El Indio’ Fernandez, 1950. From the exhibit Under the Mexican Sky: Gabriel Figueroa — Art and Film, at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Opens on Sunday. Saw this show at the preview, by the way, and it’s all kinds of wonderful. Do not miss. (Image courtesy of the Televisa Foundation.)

Photo Diary: Stanley Kubrick retrospective at LACMA.


Two screens playing clips from various Kubrick films flank the entrance to the show. I watched ‘em all.


A vitnage Adler typewriter, an original prop from The Shining. Wanted so desperately to touch it.


A reproduction model of the war room for Doctor Strangelove. Very Frank Lloyd Wright.

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“Apart from drugs, art is the biggest unregulated market in the world.”

Man, I LOVE Robert Hughes when he’s railing against money!!! And this short documentary series about how money has come to rule the world of contemporary art is so good, I’ve posted posted all six episodes here. Not only is the message (and the historical footage) all kinds of amazing, the scenes that show Hughes staring dramatically into space are straight out of Masterpiece Theatre. There are many fantabulous moments in this doc (footage of Robert Rauschenberg crashing Robert Scull’s auction of his work is one of them), but my most favorite comes in Episode 6, in which Hughes interrogates collector Alberto Mugrabi about art. IT IS FUCKING SUBLIME (even if Hughes conveniently overlooks the fact that Rauschenberg was kind of phoning it in at the end).

Seriously, light a fattie and watch this. It is sooooo good on so many levels.

Double hat-tip to Jörg Colberg for pointing the way on this. The additional five episodes can be found below.

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Why Andy Warhol’s ‘Empire’ looks janky.


A still from Andy Warhol’s Empire. (Image courtesy of MoMA. © 2011 Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.)

Last month, when Liz Arnold (the damsel behind @WNYCculture) and I spent the day live Tweeting all eight hours of Andy Warhol’s static shot of the Empire State Building at the Museum of Modern Art, a number of folks brought up the issue of the film’s quality. Though originally shot on 16mm film, Empire was being shown as a digital transfer (as was the rest of the Andy Warhol: Motion Pictures exhibit — except for a single screen test, featuring Ethel Scull). Now, I’m no film geek (I know more about rainforest ecosystems than I do about film), but the picture did look pretty darn blurry in a non-16mm kind of way, and if you sat in the front rows, you could literally see the pixels.

Which is why I read Amy Taubin’s review of the exhibit in the March issue of Artforum with great interest. (Yes, I was reading Artforum. It was a moment of weakness.) In it, she addresses the poor quality of the transfers and asks the very good question, “What, in fact, is being shown?” After poking around, this is what she came up with:

MoMA then referred me to the source of those transfers, the Warhol Museum, and I discovered that the latter had relied on one-inch and Betacam SP tape ‘masters’ made from the 16mm films. These crude, outdated analog video formats were used as the intermediates for the digital files…

In other words, what we were gazing on at MoMA wasn’t just a copy — but a copy of a copy. (Crazy!) Or as Taubin puts it: “garbage in, garbage out.” For the record: I verified this directly with a spokesperson from the Warhol Museum — who also told me that the 16mm-to-Beta transfer took place back in the ’90s. In other words, for eight hours, we stared at a copy of an old copy.

So, there you go, film nerds: question answered. And if you happen to be within reaching distance of the March Artforum, you’ll find Taubin’s worthwhile (if nuclear) review on p. 260.

Andy Warhol: Motion Pictures is up at the Museum of Modern Art through Monday.