Back to the Future

With art in the veins, Ryan Bock produces a prolific body of work across a gamut of mediums ranging from painting through puppetry to experimental film with found objects and materials often thrown into the mix. Working in Brooklyn, Bock’s artistic endeavours, though abstract in their conception are socially conscious – considering the future and current predicaments of our race. We had a chat about his methods and madness – whether technology is making us stupid, living in an inherently visual world and painting as therapy.

Art by Ryan Bock. Photo by Roman Dean

Art by Ryan Bock. Photo by Roman Dean.

Tell us about yourself as an artist and what you did before you came one…

I don’t think there’s ever been a time in my life when I wasn’t an artist. However it may have just taken some time for me to realize it for myself. I was born and bred into this lifestyle. I’ve been drawing since I could hold a pencil… way before I could read or write. It was never a specific decision I made, it’s just occurred very naturally and was augmented with creative development and hard work.

 

Describe your working space…

Where I work doesn’t matter to me. The focus is always on the work – not its place of conception. It’s more important to me where my work is seen, within the context of a gallery or exhibit, then where the work is created.

Photo by Andrea Zalkin.

Photo by Andrea Zalkin.

…And your creative process from conception to execution

I have visions (some people call them ideas) and then I bring them into the world. The materials available to me at the time will greatly affect how my vision is actualized. I have to be resourceful – this is often why I work on found objects. Every idea/object is different and deserves its own process so I guess it’s hard to pinpoint a generalized creative process. I do sketch my ideas but often as a mere formality or to remind myself not to forget the idea. Often even sketching is unnecessary.

 

A common denominator of your work is the unique mishmash of geometric shapes and grotesque forms, often in monochromatic tones. How does this relate to your personality, emotions, and beliefs?

What you’ve described here is the common denominator of the aesthetic of my work- the visual language I use – not the concepts and ideas inherent within my work, though they are related. My beliefs are very personal and I don’t feel the need to share them in conjunction with my work in this way. I don’t like to press my beliefs on anyone anymore – that’s something I openly avoid. I think that if one were to take the time to look at my work – my personality, emotions and beliefs should be somewhat apparent… or as apparent as they need to be. The work should speak and stand on its own.

 

Your work emanates a healthy skepticism of technologies, can you tell us a bit more about the threat you think tech poses… to art, society and psychology?

My main fear is that we become entirely reliant on technology as a species – in all aspects of life. An example being, if someone is asked a question in 2016 that they do not know the answer too, they can merely look it up on their smart phone. I believe this is phasing out immensely important brain functions including memory, the ability to absorb and retain information, and the significance of information in general. What is information worth if it is constantly at our fingertips and we take it for granted? Of course one can argue that more information for a larger demographic of people is constructive and, in some instances, of course I agree with this. But at the same time, are we as people more informed in 2016? Are people better off or smarter? Here in the States Trump is about to be our president, so probably not.

 

Talk to us about your concept of ‘dusty futurism’

Dusty futurism serves as a platform for musings on our ‘not so distant’ future. By creating an aesthetic that is both relatable to past and present my aim is to shed light on our current times and on occasion to predict times to come. I am a firm practitioner of studying our histories in order to inform our present and future decisions.

Photo by Roman Dean.

Photo by Roman Dean.

How does does your approach to making films and making paintings differ?

Painting is therapeutic for me. I can paint by myself and I don’t need anyone else’s input or help. Film and animation is entirely different because it’s collaborative by nature. I can’t make a film entirely on my own – I need a team. This can complicate things sometimes. Film and animation in particular is very time consuming. I could finish a painting in a day, but this is not true for moving image. There’s more to consider and plan for. Besides that, I try and approach my film work and animation exactly the same as any painting or body of work. My aim is always to create projects which entirely meld film/animation and painting all together into one cohesive artifact. I try and film like a painter and paint like a film maker. I let the two acts inform each other and vice versa.

 

We love your music videos. Tell us a little more about how you go about creating an aesthetic around sound.

Thank you – glad you enjoy them! Thus far I pick a song that resonates with me and listen too it enough to feel and understand it in its entirety. Then I create a loose proposal for what I would like to make. I am very, very particular as to what projects I work on. If I don’t feel the song or the artist I can’t make something that will resonate and that’s not worth my time. Every video I do, I try to approach entirely differently from anything I’ve done before, in order to not be pigeon holed and to challenge myself. Out of the handful of offers and opportunities for music videos I get every year I turn down 95%. I haven’t actually made a new music video since 2014. I am in the middle of one now actually, though it’s been on hold for a while. It’s for a group effort from my friends Lionel Elsound and Lonely Band. I’ve done a decent amount of work with Lionel before – he wrote and composed ‘Quest’ my first music video featuring Salomon Faye – and it’s my first time working with Marty (Lonely Band). Beyond being very talented musicians, they’re both from Paris and I love working with international artists. So I’m pretty stoked on that.

Which artists, dead or living, do you look up to and how do they influence your art?

Too many to name. The most difficult and most important aspect of being inspired by any other artist is learning to step back and stop looking at their work. This is the only way to create your own voice. Learn and respect the influence. Then throw it away and kill those artists (metaphorically).

 

What inspires you from outside the world of visual art?

To me the world is inherently visual art. My information is absorbed visually. I am more inspired by daily observations from my life or others more than what I see in a gallery.

 

So do you take inspiration from film and music too? What are you listening to at the moment?

I’ve been listening to the new Radiohead album and the new James Blake most recently. And yes I am very much influenced by cinema.

 

What projects are you currently working on right now? Any upcoming shows soon?

I unfortunately can’t speak on this, as of right now! I’m in transition at the moment. You can find out about upcoming shows by following me on social media: Facebook or Instagram.

Wanderers From Here to Infinity

Isolation is a powerful and underestimated state of being. While, on the surface, it may have a negative connotation and seem unwanted in society, Jean Rollin’s Les deux Orphelines Vampires glorifies this condition. It also allows those watching the unique perspective of two bloodthirsty sisters, fueled by the perverse and violent desires that come each night with the darkness. Delivering a powerful message while keeping to the most simplistic cinematic qualities, Les Deux Orphelines Vampires is based on Rollin’s novel of the same name. It’s a classic dedication to the avant-garde style.

Blind by day, sisters Louise and Henriette live in the care of nun at Les Glycines orphanage, unable to visually interact with the world around them. Those who care for them are held in a seemingly hypnotic state of affection for the girls, showing clear favoritism and a genuine interest in finding a home for them. “Dear Lord I beg of you, make it so that the good doctor Dennery adopts our little martyrs. They are so dear, so patient, so innocent, so gentle.” The aforementioned Dr. Dennery, an eye specialist, is convinced he can heal the girls, and after meeting and having also been entranced by their beauty and innocence, he adopts them. So begins a new chapter in the lives of the undead sisters as they are given the opportunity to leave in hopes of starting a better life.

2-orphelines-vampires-01-g

It is only when the sun sets and the sky turns the screen into a fluorescent blue hue, that our two heroines become their true selves, taking to the streets to kill, feed, and quench their endless thirst. “The day for us is blue, the light for us is black, and other people’s sun has made us blind, but when it is hidden, our dream begins. They’ll never know the two blind orphans can see at night.” Plagued also by the memory of several past lives that have ended in violent and traumatic deaths, the girls take constant refuge in cemeteries, which provide them with the cover and solace needed for them to reminisce and recover their strength, referred to fondly as their “true homes.” Uncertain of whether they themselves are alive or dead, they seem not to care for long before their carnal nature seems to grasp strongly onto any sense of morality they may be known for by day. Still, there is a constant and ominous sense of curiosity expressed by Louise and Henriette throughout the film to try and discover their original identities. Frequent repressed memories reveal their nature as Aztec goddesses who were ritually sacrificed in the 15th century to satisfy their gods.

A simple film with simple qualities, there are no special effects here; rather it’s classic storytelling, and one with carefully chosen dialogue. They’re vampires, after all, and as such it is not difficult to determine what the premise will be, which is essentially the two travelling the streets of New York and Paris, feeding on every animal and human who is unfortunate enough to cross their paths. It is not so much the plot that makes this movie, but it’s ability to effectively deliver. It is delicate and refined, much in the same way that the two sisters are, being able to captivate both viewers and characters alike. The film would not have been the same was it not for the chemistry between Isabelle Taboul and Alexandra Pic, after all. It is rumored, in fact, that Rollin chose Isabelle Teboul, the actress who plays Henriette, specifically for her beautiful hair.

Although the scenes seem to drag on very slowly, it coincides with the films lower budget as well as the pace of other French films, especially seen in Rollin’s earlier work. The occasional dust mite or flaws in the shots also add to its authenticity as the viewer is forced to step outside the realm of what we know cinema to be today into one of raw imperfection. The soundtrack is appropriate and consistent with the mood of the film overall, having been compiled by noted composers Phillipe d’Aram de Valada and Ars Antigua.

Though alone at first, they meet several other creatures of the night throughout their journey, those who find an equivalent level of pleasure from this time of day. While some of these characters are more like themselves, such as the midnight lady, a stunning and powerful vampire who resides in the catacombs of an old church and saves them from a potential mishap, another is discovered to be a ghoul and feed on the flesh of cadavers, sympathizing with their struggle to find a home to call their own.

Unable to effectively harness their desire to kill and feed, both sisters are compelled to keep their secret hidden whilst fighting their unyielding urges. Although they receive assistance throughout their escapades from other creatures, it is unsatisfactory as their identities are constantly threatened through either carelessness or chance. What begins as a mostly quiet and somber film quickly develops into a thrilling rush of anticipation as the immortal sisters cling to their desires and identities, hoping that this life will not come to end as countless others have. Coming through on the style and delivery he is so often attributed to, Jean Brolin’s Les deux orphellines vampires is avant-guarde storytelling at it’s finest.

 

Get the Queen What She Wants!

Jackie and her children, Orlando, Florida ©Lauren Greenfield 2011/INSTITUTE

Jackie and her children, Orlando, Florida
©Lauren Greenfield 2011/INSTITUTE

Schadenfreude – pleasure derived from the misfortunes of others. One can’t seem to escape this feeling about the Siegel family when watching the documentary The Queen of Versailles. The film was supposed to be about conspicuous consumption, and what it’s like to be able to build the palace of your dreams, but instead the film began as a portrait of a timeshare billionaire, his ditzy wife, and their grotesque quest to build the largest house in the United States of America; The 90,000 square foot “Versailles” imitation — “kitsch” is perhaps the best descriptor. It ended as perhaps the single best film on what happens when those pleasures are taken away from you in an instant.

In 2008, the Siegel family was at the top of the heap with the wealthy and politically influential David Siegel running the successful Westgate Resorts timeshare business. The documentarians wanted to see what kind of people would build such an unnecessarily large house so they embedded themselves into the Siegel family. That’s when things took a turn for the unthinkable (at that time); the financial crisis hit, credit dried up, Siegel’s business began to flounder, Versailles fell into disrepair and the family began to crack. “This is almost like a riches-to-rags story,” Siegel tells the camera. For this overprivileged family, accepting that situation proved a dispiriting struggle even as their unfinished dream home became a monument of their superficial values.

As in any good documentary, the players do all the heavy satirical lifting, in this case Jackie redefines white trash and the much older David clarifies the role men play who indulge their wives as long as they are hot and attentive. “Foolish old man” is an apt cliché for a decent guy who was smart enough to make billions, but not smart enough to avoid an indulgent wife. As the documentary glides to its conclusion, we are left with the impression of a decent man who couldn’t control his appetites and an optimistic wife who couldn’t control her spending.

An exterior view of construction of the Versailles mansion being built by Westgate Resorts founder & CEO David Siegel and his wife Jackie Siegel, photographed during an exclusive Orlando Sentinel interview Monday, August 26, 2013. The Siegels starred in the 2012 documentary 'Queen of Versailles,' The famous Versailles mansion they are building, when completed, will be the largest house in America at 90,000 square feet. (Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel) B583090129Z.1

An exterior view of construction of the Versailles mansion being built by Westgate Resorts founder & CEO David Siegel and his wife Jackie Siegel, photographed during an exclusive Orlando Sentinel interview Monday, August 26, 2013. The Siegels starred in the 2012 documentary ‘Queen of Versailles,’ The famous Versailles mansion they are building, when completed, will be the largest house in America at 90,000 square feet. (Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel)

Other than the Michael Moore type of documentaries which have a stated agenda, filmmakers are thought to be neutral arbiters. One of the best qualities of this film is how non-judgmental it is. They film the action, interview the subjects, and edit it in a way fair to all the players. However, no matter how one edits the footage, the Siegels are going to come off looking like some horrible people. It is in the best documentary tradition: truth will out. David is 30 years Jackie’s senior and now that their funds are rapidly dwindling away, he is starting to get tired of his third wife. He hides in his office (a couch in front of a flat screen surrounded by papers and food scraps) to enjoy being away from the chaos which his house has become. It shows its characters being both thoughtless and thoughtful and it gives them a chance to represent themselves to the camera; it’s a movie that has no interest in being a hatchet job. At the same time, it juxtaposes their problems with those of one of their nanny’s, whose situation is far sadder; it also has no interest in being a whitewash.

These folks are poster children for the worst extremes of our materialistic, narcissistic culture. Their values are money, ostentation, self-aggrandizement, acquisition and mindless hedonism. They are venomous leeches on society. Yet, I felt pity for them as well, particularly Jackie. She’s something of an enigma. She boasts about getting an engineering degree so she wouldn’t have to work as someone’s assistant, yet she mostly devotes herself to keeping herself young-looking and voluptuous (those breasts of hers deserve some sort of special effects award) so she can snag and keep a rich hubby. As her world starts to fall apart around her, she begins to have some insights about what life is really about (hint: not building the world’s biggest house), yet still can’t abandon her out-of-control shopping sprees or tortuous visits to the beauty clinic. The children, seem to be far more aware than their parents of the emptiness and ridiculousness of their lifestyle.

The Siegels aren’t an object of envy and even though they still have more money than you do, you would never switch places with them. The film shows laughable yet slightly shocking scenes of people who equate things with happiness and excess with success. “Versailles” is never finished (the house plays a bit part in the movie) but the home they live in is ridiculous in its own way: It’s luxurious, but also filthy.

There’s no good news in this film, it ends before the recession does. “The Queen of Versailles” is unremittingly gloomy probably because a part of us all is hidden amongst that greed. Everyone is susceptible to covetousness and an inflated sense of self. This film shows what happens when that proceeds unchecked and fueled by obscene wealth. Jobs come and go, physical beauty fades, markets rise and fall. Even close relationships can end, but true happiness lasts a lifetime.

FQ’s Guide to Northside Festival

Photography courtesy of Northside Media Group

 

On June 8th, the Northside Festival will kick off in Williamsburg, promising a week of art, music, film and innovation. The excitement is R E A L.

Featuring 450 bands, more than 150 speakers, and over 50 film screenings, it’ll be difficult to manage your time at Northside. With all these events to go to, we know that it can get a little overwhelming, but don’t worry! We’ve written up this practical guide to give you a hand.

 

FILM

Northside has expanded this year’s competition exploring new territory by adding music videos and episodics (web series and pilots) to the lineup of features and shorts the festival usually hosts. This years festival includes a handful of talented, and fresh, filmmakers like Sophia Takal, an actress most recently seen in Wild Canaries and writer/director who took home 2011’s Chicken and Egg Emergent Narrative Woman Director prize at SXSW for her big screen debut, Green; Crystal Moselle is the director behind The Wolfpack which debuted at Sundance this year; Alex Ross Perry is the director of Impolex, The Color Wheel (named the best undistributed film of 2011 by Indiewire and Village Voice) and last year’s Listen Up Philip.

Here are three indie features you should be sure to keep an eye (or both, preferably) on:

Eden
An affecting trip into the ’90s Parisian electronic dance movement through the eyes of the DJ credited with inventing French house music, and whose friends, Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter, went on to become Daft Punk. Complete with sex, drugs, and a killer soundtrack.

 

 

Aspie Seeks Love
Heartwarming doc about artist David Matthews, who has spent the past 20 years posting quirky personal ad-fliers to telephone poles in an attempt to find love. The twist: Matthews finds out at age 41 that he has Asperger’s, the diagnosis of which changes his entire life.

MUSIC

Northside is known for its celebration of music discovery, creativity and culture, and this year they’ve added over 150 bands to the lineup. Attendees will have access to 400 of the hottest and emerging bands, curated to provide a unique festival experience for the avid music fan.

Consequently, Northside is about the BK experience. It spreads across 20 local music venues and three outdoor spaces within a walkable radius: McCarren Park, an annual staple of the festival for its free shows; Brooklyn Live at the Inlet, at 50 Kent Avenue; and a pop-up stage on main drag, Bedford Avenue. This year, Northside is expanding free programming at McCarren Park to all four days of Northside Music.

Entry to all McCarren shows is guaranteed with a Music or Premium festival badge. Non badge-holders must RSVP. Admission is first-come, first-served. Free RSVPs for select McCarren show is open via northsidefestival.com.

Here are five acts you should carve some time out of your summer schedule for — individual show tickets are available, but if you’re planning on catching a few, you might want to grab a badge:

Run the Jewels
This heart-stopping combo of NYC producer El-P and Atlanta rapper Killer Mike deliver aggressive bars like a modern-day Rage Against the Machine (which is why Zach de la Rocha came out from hiding to guest on their latest LP).
Sunday, June 14th
50 Kent Ave.

 

Rhye 
When Rhye released the appropriately named Woman, it was hard to imagine that the vocalist, Milosh, is a dude. But he, alongside his musical partner Robin Hannibal, have crafted an R&B debut masterpiece with an agenda, appropriately titled Woman. This duo is way too “smoove.”
Friday, June 12th
50 Kent Ave.

 

Against Me!
From self aware folk-punks to wary arena rockers (opening for the likes of Silversun Pickups and Foo Fighters) to their current, best state: as rockers who deliver scorching sing-along anthems that unite more than divide. You will clap along and start class warfare.
Saturday, June 13th
McCarren Park

 

Best Coast
Singer Bethany Cosentino spends most of her new album exploring the dark side of Los Angeles, but filling her dourness with hooky pop and huge guitars straight out of the alt-rock ’90s playbook.
Saturday, June 13th
50 Kent Ave.

 

Ryan Hemsworth
Is it hip-hop? Electro? House? These are questions you will ask yourself — in vain — while listening to Hemsworth, who has remixed everyone from Cat Power to Frank Ocean. Heed not concerns over genre, but rather your feet, which will move instinctively and with great vigor for the duration of his bass-heavy set.
Friday, June 12th
Palisades
906 Broadway
Brooklyn, NY

 

Also, in keeping with Northside tradition of shining light on Brooklyn-bred talent, they’ve added acts like Beach Fossils, Frankie Cosmos, Nude Beach, YVETTE, Beverly, and Sannhet.

Grab your tickets as soon as you can.

 

Incomparable Commitment

Max Fischer is the publisher of “Yankee Review,” president of the French club, the Rushmore Beekeepers, and calligraphy club, represents Russia in the model United Nations, is Vice President of the Stamp and Coin club, Captain of the Debate team and fencing team, Lacrosse Team Manager, 2nd Chorale Choirmaster, founder of the Astronomy Society, the Bombardment Society, the Yankee Racers and the Track & Skeet club, Yellow belt in the Kung Fu club, JV Decathlon for Track & Field, Director of Max Fischer Players, and 4.5 Hours logged in the Piper Cub club. Max Fischer is an activity jock, one of those kids too bright and restless to color inside the lines.

Jason Schwartzman plays Max Fischer, Rushmore Academy’s most enthusiastic and least scholarly student. Max’s secret shame is that he attends Rushmore on a scholarship. Like Charlie Brown, his father is a barber; unlike Charlie Brown, he tells everyone that his father is a neurosurgeon. Always dressed in a tie and blazer, unless in costume for one of his activities, he speaks with maturity and is barely able to conceal his feelings of superiority for every adult he interacts with, who enforce their stuffy rules because they are not, and never were, able to work without a net the way Max can.

It seems to be Max against the world, until he catches the attention of Herman Blume. Blume, a depressed industrialist played by Bill Murray, doesn’t have much in common with Max, but they fascinate each other. Herman sees Max as someone who hasn’t yet lost enthusiasm for the world around him, even if he’s mostly enthusiastic about a fantasy world he’s creating. They eventually become interested in the same woman, a second grade teacher named Rosemary Cross — and that’s where their paths diverge. The movie turns into a strategic duel for Ms. Cross’ heart between Max and Blume, that is funny up until it gets mean with Max spilling the beans to Blume’s wife.

The heart of the movie is not how charming or quirky Max is, but rather his dedication. If you’re paying attention, it’s clear that Max’s manias are fueled as much by unhappiness as they are by narcissism. When he tells Ms. Cross that Harvard is his safety school if he doesn’t get into Oxford or the Sorbonne, he’s not just trying to impress her; that’s really the standard he holds himself to. It is revealed that he does this because his mother, who encouraged him to write plays and got him into Rushmore Academy, died of cancer. It’s ingenious the way Max uses his political and organizational abilities to get his way with people; how he enlists a younger student as his gofer, how he reasons patiently with the headmaster, and thinks he can talk Miss Cross into being his girlfriend.

The culmination of Max’s dedication all builds to this film’s satisfying ending. Max puts on a play at his new school about the Vietnam War and invites everyone from the rest of the film; no villain is excluded as a condition of the heroes’ happiness. At the afterparty, they all get along wonderfully. In the first play of Max’s we see, it’s apparent that he’s interested in the acclaim it can bring him. In the last play, he has discovered the more rewarding purpose that art and dedication can serve. He has created an environment in which all injuries can be healed, all sorrows forgotten. It takes heroic efforts (and in Max’s case, flamethrowers, dynamite, and a wildly inaccurate understanding of the Vietnam War), and it never lasts long, but it’s what dedicated art can do at its very best.
“..at least nobody got hurt” Says Max.
“Except you” Responds Miss Cross.
“Nah, I didn’t get hurt that bad”

In the final shot, as if in recognition of how fleeting happiness and reconciliation like this always are, Anderson uses more frames per second to stretch the moment out as long as possible. Those moments in life always playback in our memories that way.


Seen in our #Dedication issue

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Transitional Gravity

When the topic of transition came up, the first thing that sprung to mind, most likely because it was already there, was Gravity. Director Alfonso Cuaron’s latest film does such a beautiful job of portraying this thematic element. Add this to the incredible filmmaking and it makes for an experience viewers will not soon forget. Many films attempt and succeed at depicting the idea of transition in a characters life, but none do so as masterfully as Gravity. 

Throughout the course of the film we learn that Sandra Bullock’s character Dr. Ryan Stone, who is a medical engineer on her first space mission, had her only child die at the age of four from a school yard “accident”. Through dialogue and actions we begin to understand she clearly has not moved on from this, and who can blame her? Stone nearly gives in several times, she begins to accept her fate and waits for the end to come, which almost seems inevitable at some points. However, about two thirds through the film she has a pivotal moment alone with her thoughts where she tells herself she needs to live for her daughter and try to move on, and begins, from that moment on, a new part of her life. Sandra Bullock is incredible in this moment showing us this transitional point in her character’s life. Cuaron adds to these key scenes by visually showing us these thematic elements. At one point in the film, Bullock falls asleep and in the process curls up, almost like an embryo. Cuaron is trying to get across the idea that she is being reborn and moving in a different direction in her life when she wakes up from this position and its beautifully done. The cinematography and 3D particularly in this scene aid so much in eliciting the feeling that the filmmakers want you to feel. The use of 3D in a movie set in space is a great idea and is spectacular not only in this scene but throughout the whole movie. He uses it to direct your eyes to where he wants you to have them and it is masterfully done. 

Towards the end of the film, Cuaron again hits home on the idea that she is in a transitional period. When Bullock finally, after going to hell and back, reaches earth safely, she is a new person both physically and mentally. It’s the first day of the rest of her life.  When she begins to walk after landing, Cuaron focuses the camera on her legs and it’s as if she is walking for the first time.  It’s almost like watching an animal when it’s first born and can’t quite find its footing and balance because of its weak legs; this is a metaphor for her taking the first steps in her new life.  It is striking and emotional all at the same time.  This highlights only a few moments, but Bullock is sensational throughout the whole film, doing an amazing job of externally showing us her inner struggles while dealing with this nerve-wrecking transitional period in her life.  She is literally the only person on screen for 75% of the movie and she is absolutely captivating.  Cuaron does his part as well in aiding all of the themes in the movie, including transition, with wonderful visuals and it all adds up to not only to the best film of the year, but one of the best films of it’s time, and there is absolutely no hyperbole there. When technology and emotion meet, it’s a wonderful pairing that we get all too rarely in cinema these days. It’s something that a young Steven Spielberg mastered and hasn’t quite brought back; thankfully we have Alfonso Cuaron to sate us.  Let’s just not wait another seven years to make our next film, ok Alfonso? Thanks.

Part of our TRANSITION issue.

Time Loops and Blunderbusses

It seems like everything in Hollywood is derivative of book, graphic novel or another film. Looper is the exception to that rule & if you don’t enjoy it for that reason alone, you’re whats wrong with America. With that being said, Looper was great! Looper is a original idea by Rian Johnson which is the guy who basically brought us the lovable acting skills of Joseph Gordon-Levitt with Brick.

Looper takes place in the year 2044 where there are hit men called Loopers that take care the mob’s dirty work. Thirty years into the future, in 2074, time travel has been invented. Time travel was immediately outlawed and is now used by outlaws; so the mob of the future send their targets to the Loopers in the past so they can murder and dispose of the body. They do this because apparently in the year 2074 it’s become near impossible to kill and dispose of body’s because of tagging and tracking techniques. A Looper is paid by silver that is sent strapped on to their victims. Once a Loopers contract is over, the mob sends their future selves back to the to be executed, at which point the silver is replaced by gold & the Looper is now free to live his life but knows that in thirty years, they will send him back to the past to have the same fate. The premise is great! The inclusion of time travel brings a bunch of logic and ethic issues forward. If you had a chance to go back in time and stop baby Hitler, would you kill him or prevent him from hating? Because the fact of the matter comes down to killing a child. If you had chance to go have coffee with your past self, how much would you tell him? As Doc from Back to the Future would say, any changes you make in the past could have a dramatic effect on the present.

About 15 minutes into the film, a new crime lord, known as the Rainmaker, has taken over in the future and is giving orders about existing loopers: He wants all their future selves sent back in time and killed immediately by the younger versions of themselves. Without giving away too much, Joe hesitates to kill his future self at which point is knocked out cold by a gold bar and Future Joe runs out in to the world to find and murder the Rainmaker and prevent all of this from happening. When Joe awakes, he must arrange a meeting with his future self to get updated on their 30 year difference and figure out if they’re going to work together or against each other. Hands down the best part of the film. The witty comebacks and back-and-forth between the two are mix of exactly what you would expect would go down if your younger, more stubborn self met your older wiser self. All this over the identical plates of steak and eggs. The argument could be made that there were not enough of these scenes, but I think here one was the magic number. If there would’ve been any more, the film would suffer from being excessively weighed down. The one meeting expressed everything ones future self would be pissed about and everything ones present self would say in response. The movie was everything but bloated and ended when it needed to.

    It didn’t mess with the gist of time travel as much as it could have. The end was a little anti-intellectual, and didn’t really leave the viewer with any but one question that can’t be expressed without spoiling the film for you guys. It does indeed tease your brain just the right amount without digging too deep and making your head hurt. Nonetheless, JGL & Rian Johnson work great together. Highly recommend checking this film out! Hopefully this starts the trend of original films that don’t suck.

Part of our TRANSITION issue.

Lone Ranger: Johnny Depp’s Portrayal Of Tonto

Johnny Depp has been a heartthrob for decades, first rising to fame and capturing the hearts of teens everywhere with his role in 21 Jump Street. Since then, he has proved that he is more than just devilish good looks, and has demanded respect for his acting by playing the lead in Edward Scissorhands, Sweeney Todd, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, and The Pirates of the Caribbean. Depp has pulled off many personas and roles in addition to the ones listed above, transforming himself into a vampire, an eccentric candy man, and a delusional mad hatter. Depp’s most recent role as America’s Native American hero has actually garnered him some negative feedback.

The Lone Ranger  is a popular American franchise, starting as a radio show in 1933 and evolving into a television series running between 1949 and 1957. Considering America’s past with racism and treatment of minorities, especially the treatment of Native Americans, and combined with the fact that the Lone Ranger was popular long before the advent of the civil rights movements in the ’60s, it is understandable, but not forgivable, that the Native American character, Tonto, was never represented well. According to Salon, as The Lone Ranger franchise developed, Tonto was first portrayed as a bloodthirsty savage, then as a slightly competent character in accordance with the Reorganization Act, and finally as a character independent from a tribe, and loyal to the Lone Ranger. His characterization has always been to affirm a stereotype or “prove” that their various laws regarding Native Americans were working; in other words, whatever the American nation has needed.

 In the present age, a day where racism has supposedly been abolished and the American government has apologized to Native Americans for past treatment, what new direction can Tonto‘s character take? According to Adrienne Keene, a Harvard graduate, Depp’s Tonto is comprised of all the stereotypes typical of Hollywood, and he totally misrepresented the already underrepresented Native American culture. His costume was based on a painting by Kirby Sattler, a non-Native who has admitted that he does not paint his subjects with historical or ethnical accuracy in mind.

Depp has conferred with Native groups, donated money to Native charities, and has been adopted as an honorary member by the Comanche Nation. Depp’s main goal was to create a role model for Native Americans to look up to. According to Keene, that would have been more successful if he had played Tonto as a character that did not use being Native American as the main selling point. While it is true that Depp has used his fame and money from the role to help Native Americans, and the resurfacing of the role has brought these social issues to light, critics have said that it would be better if an actual Native American played the role, instead of Depp.

 Though the role of Tonto in this revival of The Lone Ranger is not overtly racist like it was in the past, there are still plenty issues inherent within the character. It is a bit of a dual edge sword; Depp is helping bring awareness to the otherwise ignored Native American culture, but is also engaging in common stereotypes that actually hurt the advances of Native American rights movements. It isn’t a perfect step or a completely politically correct role, but it does have certain positive benefits in the rehashing of the popular Western.

WORDS: Donna. Prior to working as a social manager at Edictive in Sydney, Australia She worked as a talent agent in Los Angeles, USA

Commuters 2012 by Rebecca Davis

I bet, just like me, there’s been countless times where you’ve wanted to share what’s going on NYC’s subway and haven’t simply beauce you don’t want to be ‘that creep’ taking photos on the subway. Video journalist Rebecca Davis, did just that. Davis’s video Commuters 2012 is a glimpse of life in New York’s subway. The video is a simple idea that you just can’t take your eyes off, just like real-life situations in the subway. The video is a collection  of hundreds of snapshots of regular people living their lives underground, selected from more than 3,000 photos she took last year.

Davis began documenting commuters while she herself was traversing the five boroughs for different stories, often spending more than two hours per day on trains working as a video journalist for the New York Daily News. Explaining the project, she says:

“I became interested in the way in which the dynamics of the train cars changed from line to line, neighborhood to neighborhood, and throughout the seasons. … I was also interested in the very private moments I would often see playing out before me between two people and often with individuals caught in moments deep in their own thoughts–all the while surrounded by strangers.”

She cites Walker Evans’s and Bruce Davidson’s photography of unsuspecting train passengers as inspirations for the project, but updated for the iPhone age.

“So often on the train we bury ourselves in something we’re reading or music we’re listening to and forget to look around and take in some great human drama that is constantly being played out in New York,” Davis says. The best moments in her video are of children and of couples–kissing, laughing, or just sitting there. “I hope it makes people stop and look more deeply into all the different faces and human moments we encounter each day in a city like New York where privacy is hard to come by.”

While Davis’s hidden camera isn’t exactly making it easier to locate privacy, instead, it reflects images familiar to anyone who’s ever passed through New York–in all of its diverse richness. (Perhaps you’ll even find yourself in the video. People looked eerily familiar to me.)

In addition to cutting together footage for Vimeo, Davis maintains a fuller photo archive of the project on her Tumblr

Miuccia Prada Embraces Flapper Fashion for The Great Gatsby

Miuccia Prada Bianchi, the fashion dynamo behind luxury brands Prada and Miu Miu, is known in fashion circles as the queen of classic cool, one that knows how to look her best without ever trying too hard – it seems only fitting then, that Prada was the designer chosen to collaborate with director Baz Luhrmann to create the costumes for his upcoming adaptation of The Great Gatsby. Miuccia Prada worked closely with Catherine Martin, the costume designer for The Great Gatsby, who is also Baz Luhrmann’s wife. Together, they created a collection of more than 40 bespoke pieces for the cast of the film, including fringed cocktail dresses and sequined evening gowns. Luhrmann and Prada have a long-running professional relationship, and are united by a keen interest in modernising the classic fashions of bygone eras. Prada also worked on the costumes for Luhrmann’s acclaimed 1996 film adaptation of the Shakespearean tragedy Romeo & Juliet.

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