by Margaux Williamson
1. The best movie I saw that I didn’t write about this year - Rocky
I had never seen any of the Rocky movies. It was recommended to me after a conversation about sports movies with my friend Lucas Rebick. I was surprised at how unfake the aesthetic was. It looked like Philedelphia in 1976.. and kind of like Toronto in 2010. I was surprised at how much I related to it. I related to Rocky and to all of the women he talks to.
“Hey Rocky” the loan shark’s driver hollers out of a car window. “Yeah?” Rocky asks. The loan shark’s driver – “You should take your girl to the zoo. I hear retarded people like the zoo.” Rocky flinches, “Fuck you, man!” Rocky shouts back, “She ain’t retarded, she’s just shy.”
2. The other best movie I saw this year and didn’t write about – My Man Godfrey
My friend Gracie has a favourite romantic comedy from every decade. My Man Godfrey is her tops for the 30′s (1936). Carole Lombard plays a rich socialite who falls in love with her butler. It was pretty interesting to see how rich people were portrayed as such silly and thoughtlessly cruel individuals (as in every situation, the beautiful, charming ones escape total condemnation). Rich people have enjoyed a much better and enduring reputation since all the communists were kicked out of Hollywood. It reminded me of how quickly things can change and how very long they can stay the same.
My favourite part came when the family needed to talk about money – the matriarch of the rich family looked horrified and cried “Money is dreadful! We can’t talk about money, it upsets Carlo!” (Carlo is the artist that they support). At this point Carlo turns away, towards the fire, upset and shuddering like an angel. Luckily, the cheese sandwiches come in just as things are about to get awk-ward.
3. Thick of It
I really couldn’t get enough of this British TV show from 2005 about the inner workings of the modern British Government. Sample text (if I am remembering correctly) – “Terry, do you know why they call him the Fucker?”
“Is it .. is it.. because he’s.. a bit of a fucker?”
This new reality TV show premiered in the summer. Contestants, from across the U.S., compete in an art competition with a jury of professional critics and artists. It was just like any other reality TV show. It was strange. And people wrote about it.
Art Fag City covered it like white on rice, Lynn Crosbie had some good points for the artists and Jerry Saltz (an art critic who was a judge on the show) wrote an article for each episode after first participating in and then watching the episodes. Jerry Saltz’s articles were, hands down, the best art to come out of the show. The articles were written to an audience that included the show’s participants, viewers and art-insiders. He wrote about the art, judging the art and judging himself judging the art. It was strange and good.
Some art-insider critiques of the show sounded an awful lot like a reversal of the old art-outsider stereotype – “my kid could paint that”. The equivalent turns out to be – “my friend down the street from me, in Brooklyn, could paint that a lot better”. Sucks to be on the outside.
Though there didn’t feel like there was too much at stake (America’s next great artist-wise), the beginning of some hilariously awkward public conversations (involving critics, artists and audience) about what art is felt stupid-smart, meaningful and full of potential.
The only “unreality” part was at the end when there were only three contestants left. One would get the bank and the others nothing. Maybe it’s just my world, but every artist I know would have been more than happy to split a hundred thousand dollars 3 ways and then gone about their business. But I guess reality TV without winners or losers is just the NFB.
5. Websites about videos
I know about these two websites, Ryeberg Curated Video and 2 Pause: Freezing Music Video Culture, because I contributed to them. But they’re both really interesting and I’m sure there’s a lot more of these websites out there – websites that are figuring out how to talk about or organize the massive amounts of videos out there. Ryeberg has contributors write short essays on Youtube videos and 2 Pause collects interesting music videos and puts them into categories like these: Lo/No Budget (that is where I am and this nice one from Antony and Boy George), Netherclips, Stop Motion, Electric Cinema (I didn’t watch them all but found this nice one from Foals and Chris Sweeney) and French Wave. I would like to see the categories that everyone has for their videos.
6. Artists Using and Sharing
I really liked that Erykah Badu made this video by borrowing the idea from Matt and Kim. She credits them in the beginning of the video. The structure of her video is identical, but the feel and meaning are completely different and more to my interests. The borrowing and added art reminds me of this article about Jeff Wall from a while ago.
Olaf Breuning’s work (consisting of performance based art video) has always looked really interesting but I assumed that he, like a lot of artists, didn’t put all of his work on-line. I only just saw one of his videos recently when Jon Davies screened it at the Cinecycle. It was great. Then I went home, looked him up and discovered that all of his videos are available on his website. Thank you Jon Davies for reminding me of Olaf Breuning and thank you Olaf Breuning for sharing. SO much better that way.
7. Moral/ art lessons from popular music videos
LCD Soundsystem and Spike Jonze reminds us that drunk people, whom are often beautiful and fun, can also be really fucking annoying. The video, featuring the band being abused by people dressed as pandas, is as good as Spike Jonze’s videos always are. And Lady Gaga and Beyoncé remind you again that it’s a bad idea to disrespect the people who serve your food. And Kanye West, who likes a lot of the same things I like ( naked ladies, revolution, ballet, Beyoncé, Takashi Murakami) reminds us to take paintings seriously.
8. Luc Tuyman’s painting Turtle
I really loved this painting this year, from 2007.
I also really love this painting from Brad Phillips.
The performances from Toronto’s LIFE OF A CRAPHEAD (Amy C. Lam and Jon McCurley) feel so good on your brain. They go right to the part that understands but doesn’t share with the other parts of your brain – the parts that could explain what is happening. But then those parts start understanding something else and then, somehow, every part of your brain is being massaged by a fire in-the-know and then it is over. It can feel like good drugs, but really, it’s more like spinach.
10. SUM: Forty Tales from the Afterlives by David Eagleman
David Eagleman, a neuroscientist, wrote this strange book comprised of brief scenarios of the afterlife. More about life than after.
11. Missing Objects
Is it too late for a really, really long Arrested Developement movie?
Also, I would like an audio book of Jack Hitt’s articles. I would buy two. While we wait, we can read his Mighty White of You: Racial preferences color America’s oldest skulls and bones and listen to his Act 5, the 52 minute long audio documentary about a group of prisoners at the Missouri Eastern Correctional Center who are rehearsing and staging a production of Hamlet. It’s great.
Nice work William Hammond Hall and John McLaren.