Tuesday, December 11, 2007

2nd\NE Quadrant The Year-End Mega Matrix

The Year-End Mega Matrix

Venice Biennale, documenta, and Skulptur.Projekte

View of "Pump Room", a work by the Hungarian artist Balázs Kicsiny
at the Venice Biennale in 2005.

The Venice Biennale (Italian: Biennale di Venezia) is a major contemporary art exhibition that takes place once every two years (in odd years) in Venice, Italy. The Venice Film Festival is part of it, as is the Venice Architecture Biennale, which is held in even years. A dance section, the "International Festival of Contemporary Dance", was established in 1999. (Wikipedia)

from documenta 6

documenta is seen as the world‘s most important exhibition of modern and contemporary art which now takes place every five years in Kassel, Germany. It was founded by artist, teacher and curator Arnold Bode in 1955 as part of the Bundesgartenschau (Federal Horticultural Show) which took place in Kassel at that time. This first documenta was - in contrast to most expectations - a considerable success as it featured most of the artists who are generally considered to have had a significant influence on modern art, e.g. Picasso or Kandinsky. The more recent documentas feature art from all continents; nonetheless most of it is site-specific. (Wikipedia)

Skulptur Blickst du hinauf und liest die Worte von Ilya Kabakow (1997)

The Skulptur.Projekte is an international sculpture exhibition in Münster, Westphalia, which since 1977 has taken place every ten years, each parallel to the Documenta in Kassel. The artists are invited to Münster, in a self-selected location within the city to create a sculpture. Many of the works are in accordance with the 100-day exhibition period from the city, have been bought by companies or have become a permanent part of the city image.
(Wikipedia\Google Translation)

Michael Chabon

Michael Chabon (born May 24, 1963) is an American author and "one of the most celebrated writers of his generation." His first novel, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh (1988), was published when Chabon was 25 and catapulted him to the status of literary celebrity. He followed it with a second novel, Wonder Boys (1995), and two short-story collections. In 2000, Chabon published The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, a critically acclaimed novel that The New York Review of Books called his magnum opus; it won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2001.

His latest novel, The Yiddish Policemen's Union, was published in 2007 to enthusiastic reviews. His work is characterized by complex language, frequent use of metaphor, and an extensive vocabulary, along with numerous recurring themes, including nostalgia, divorce, abandonment, fatherhood, and issues of Jewish identity. He often includes gay, bisexual, and Jewish characters in his work. Since the late 1990s, Chabon has written in an increasingly diverse series of styles for varied outlets; he is a notable defender of the merits of genre fiction and plot-driven fiction, and, along with novels, he has published screenplays, children's books, comics, and newspaper serials. (Wikipedia)

"The Yiddish Policemen's Union" is an alternate history detective story based on the premise that after World War II, a temporary Yiddish-speaking settlement for Jewish refugees was established in Alaska in 1941. It also incorporates the (fictional) destruction of the State of Israel in 1948 after an unsuccessful struggle for independence. It takes place in a fictionalized version of the real city of Sitka. (Wikipedia)

Cute Polar Bear

Knut was born on Dec. 5, 2006, the first polar bear cub to be born in Berlin Zoo in 30 years, but was rejected by his mother, the 20-year-old polar bear Tosca. His twin brother died four days after the birth. Little Knut spent the first 44 days of his life in an incubator. The dedicated Dörflein has slept in the zoo since the birth of the bear in order to provide round-the-clock care to the cub, and feeds Knut milk six times a day with a bottle. (Spiegel Online)


"Frost/Nixon" is a play by the British screenwriter and dramatist Peter Morgan. Its subject is the series of televised interviews that Richard Nixon granted David Frost in 1977 and that ended with a tacit admission of guilt regarding his role in the Watergate scandal. The play premiered at the Donmar Warehouse theatre in London in August 2006.

On March 31st, 2007, the play went into previews on Broadway. It officially opened as a limited engagement at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre on April 22, 2007 and closed on August 19, 2007, after 137 performances. The original Broadway cast included: Frank Langella (Richard Nixon), [and] Michael Sheen (David Frost)...(Wikipedia)
(Photo courtesy of Sara Krulwich/The New York Times)

"Planet Earth" on Discovery Channel

Planet Earth
is an Emmy award winning BBC nature documentary series narrated by David Attenborough and produced by Alastair Fothergill. It was first transmitted in the UK from 5 March 2006. The American version is narrated by Sigourney Weaver.

The series was co-produced with Discovery Channel and the Japan Broadcasting Corporation (NHK) in association with the CBC, and was described by its makers as "the definitive look at the diversity of our planet". It was also the first of its kind to be filmed almost entirely in high-definition format.[1] The series was nominated for the Pioneer Audience Award for Best Programme at the 2007 BAFTA TV awards. (Wikipedia)


Bobby Cannavale in "Mauritius"

Bobby Cannavale (Dennis) made his Broadway debut in "Mauritius" at the Manhattan Theatre Club. The performances ended on 11/25/07.

Plot Summary: Jackie and Mary are half-sisters whose mother's death leaves them in possession of a rare stamp collection. But which sister actually owns the stamps? Which of three dealers can be trusted with their sale? And where do we choose to live: the present or the past? Tightly woven and ever-surprising, this sinister tale marks Ms. Rebeck's first collaboration with MTC, as well as her Broadway debut.

Roberto Cannavale (born May 3, 1971, Union City, New Jersey) is an Emmy Award-winning American actor. He won a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor - Comedy Series in 2005 for "Will & Grace." One of his most famous roles was as a paramedic on the hit show, "Third Watch."

The Wimbledon Final

Roger Federer def. Rafael Nadal 7-6(7), 4-6, 7-6(3), 2-6, 6-2

Roger Federer won his fifth consecutive Wimbledon title, equalling the modern-era record set by Björn Borg, after a five-set battle that took close to four hours against Rafael Nadal, 3 sets to 2. Federer’s supremacy on grass met a strong challenge from Nadal and the victory did not come easily for the Swiss. But Federer came through by winning the tiebreak in the first and third sets, and faced four break points before victory in the final set. It was the first time that Federer has been pushed to five sets in the final of a Grand Slam. (Wikipedia)

The last 9 minutes of the final.

"Rescue Dawn"

Rescue Dawn
is a 2007 movie starring Christian Bale and Steve Zahn. It is written and directed by Werner Herzog, based on the director's acclaimed 1997 documentary, Little Dieter Needs to Fly. NBA all-star Elton Brand is the film's producer through his production company Gibraltar Entertainment, which he co-owns with partner Steve Marlton.

The film is based on the true story of German-born Dieter Dengler, who dreamed of being a pilot and eventually made his way to the United States, where he joined the Navy during the Vietnam War era. He became a pilot and was shot down over Laos and captured. Eventually he organized an escape with a small band of captives. (Wikipedia)


"No Country for Old Men"

Plot Outline: Violence and mayhem ensue after a hunter stumbles upon some dead bodies, a stash of heroin and more than $2 million in cash near the Rio Grande. (IMDB)

Rex Reed writes in his review of the film for the Observer, "In a terrifying performance of hypnotic power, Bardem totes around an air gun for slaughtering cattle, which he uses with ingenuous lust; it’s a strange apparatus that looks like an oxygen tank, with a device on the head of the hose that glows key holes out of door locks and foreheads."

"Losing their customary cool, some critics are labeling No Country for Old Men, a modern western with pokey pacing and blood-curdling violence, a masterpiece. Until the five-minute finale that threatens to destroy the whole thing, I found myself dazed, dazzled and overwhelmed. The ending is so lame it made me feverish. Then I remembered the perfection that came before it, and concluded that this is, without question, the best movie ever made by the eccentric Coen brothers, Joel and Ethan. Better even than Fargo. It’s so good that I am powerless to hold a grudge. Yes, I guess I have to admit it’s a masterpiece."


Sir Ian McKellen's Junk

Logan Hill wrote on NY Mag: Ian McKellen is proud of his junk and sensitive to those who might criticize it. A few years ago, during an interview about another McKellen project, he asked us about his "old friend" John Simon, our former, exacting theater critic. Like many actors, he was still nursing a grudge regarding a negative review. In this case, though, he claims the negative review was of his junk. For what it's worth, a long search through the magazine's archives — and John Simon's collected theater reviews — failed to bring up much more than a reference to McKellen's performance in 1984's Wild Honey: "McKellen mugs, struts, fidgets, prances, erupts, and shrivels expertly" (emphasis ours). Surely this can't be what McKellen was so upset about, can it?

In his Bloomberg News review of King Lear, Simon gives McKellen a B+ for his performance ("better than I expected but less than I would wish for") but takes another jab at McKellen's manhood, so to speak:

As for Lear (and this, surely, is more McKellen than Nunn), although he is supposed to be "every inch a king,'' he gives us several inches of frontal nudity that neither Shakespeare nor we bargained for, though they may work as a form of self-advertisement.

"Then We Came to the End"

In this wildly funny debut from former ad man Ferris, a group of copywriters and designers at a Chicago ad agency face layoffs at the end of the '90s boom. Indignation rises over the rightful owner of a particularly coveted chair ("We felt deceived"). Gonzo e-mailer Tom Mota quotes Walt Whitman and Ralph Waldo Emerson in the midst of his tirades, desperately trying to retain a shred of integrity at a job that requires a ruthless attention to what will make people buy things. Jealousy toward the aloof and "inscrutable" middle manager Joe Pope spins out of control. Copywriter Chris Yop secretly returns to the office after he's laid off to prove his worth. Rumors that supervisor Lynn Mason has breast cancer inspire blood lust, remorse, compassion. Ferris has the downward-spiraling office down cold, and his use of the narrative "we" brilliantly conveys the collective fear, pettiness, idiocy and also humanity of high-level office drones as anxiety rises to a fever pitch. Only once does Ferris shift from the first person plural (for an extended fugue on Lynn's realization that she may be ill), and the perspective feels natural throughout. At once delightfully freakish and entirely credible, Ferris's cast makes a real impression. (Publisher's Weekly)

Jim Shepard said, "Then We Came to the End is the Catch-22 of the business world: it's a hilarious and heartbreaking and surreal portrait of the modern American corporation as a carnival - preschool? - of infantile misbehavior and breathtakingly futile and petty and despairing competiton. The real revelation here is how moving it all becomes: how much humanity and genuine emotional weight finally, against all odds, shines through." (Powells)

The Subway Superman

Kristin Chenoweth

A most untraditional sound came out of the speakers of The Metropolitan Opera Friday [January 19, 2007] night. Just as music director/conductor Andrew Lippa lifted his arms to cue the 11-piece orchestra to begin the evening's program he was interrupted by the rhythmic chords of an organ playing the type of energizing vamp more typical for a ballpark than an opera house. After a hearty "da-da-da-dat-da-da? charge!" the evening's soloist [Kristin Chenoweth] dashed out wearing a New York Mets jersey and cap, gleefully waving a pennant and asking if anyone knows where the hot dog stand is. (All About Opera)

“The Lives of Others”

Plot summary for “The Lives of Others” from IMDb: Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck's movie debut focuses on the horrifying, sometimes unintentionally funny system of observation in the former East Germany. In the early 1980s, the successful dramatist Georg Dreyman and his longtime companion Christa-Maria Sieland, a popular actress, are big intellectual stars in the socialist state, although they secretly don't always think loyal to the party line. One day, the Minister of Culture becomes interested in Christa, so the secret service agent Wiesler is instructed to observe and sound out the couple, but their life fascinates him more and more...

Dana Stevens of Slate says, “The Lives of Others is the best surveillance movie since The Conversation.”

“The Lives of Others” won the 2007 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.


Kurt Vonnegut

Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. (November 11, 1922 – April 11, 2007) was a prolific and genre-bending American novelist known for works blending satire, black comedy, and science fiction, such as Slaughterhouse-Five (1969), Cat's Cradle (1963), and Breakfast of Champions (1973). (Wikipedia)

The Times reports that, "Mr. Vonnegut wrote plays, essays and short fiction. But it was his novels that became classics of the American counterculture, making him a literary idol, particularly to students in the 1960s and ’70s. Dog-eared paperback copies of his books could be found in the back pockets of blue jeans and in dorm rooms on campuses throughout the United States."

David Michalek’s
“Slow Dancing”

Coolhunting has a post on David Michalek’s “Slow Dancing,” which was an outdoor installation on 40-foot screens that featured 43 dancers. The dancers performed a variety of genres that included ballet, break dancing, and Balinese dance among others. The dancers were asked to prepare three five-second phrases, were shot at 1000 frames per second and, “When played back in real time, the five-second movements equal about eight minutes, allowing the viewer to see every minute detail and move.” The show ran nightly from
9:00 PM - 1:00 AM, and ended on July 29, 2007.

Apple’s profile of Michalek mentions that he learned filmmaking at NYU, had an apprenticeship with fashion legend Herb Ritts, and his pictures have appeared in The New Yorker, Vanity Fair and Vogue.

The full Times review can be read here, and includes a multimedia slide show.

Below is a link to a Times video of the installation.

In Slow Motion

Youtube (low quality) Video of "Slow Dancing"

Junot Diaz

His fiction has appeared in The New Yorker magazine which listed him as one of the 20 top writers for the 21st century. He is best known for his two major works: the short story collection "Drown" (1996) and the novel "The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao" (2007). (Wikipedia)

"The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao" has made it to the New York Times Best Sellers list (a first for a Dominican author), Miramax Films bought the screen rights and a translation into Spanish is already in the works.

The novel revolves about Oscar, an obese comics fan growing up in Paterson, N.J., and his dysfunctional Dominican family, going back to the Rafael Trujillo dictatorship. (BTAM)

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