"And all cinema — including Hollywood — reflects reality. In fact, sometimes the worse the film the more it reflects real life." Jonas Mekas recently took questions from graduate students in the Art Criticism and Writing program at the School of Visual Arts, and the November issue of the Brooklyn Rail features a transcript of the freewheeling conversation covering the origins of Film Culture, a sketchy history of the avant-garde and, of course, Mekas's own busy schedule for the near future: "I am a very weak person; I do not know how to say no."
Also: Penny Lane's interview with Eric Daniel Metzgar ("Watching Reporter, it is easy to understand why this Brooklyn-based filmmaker has been hailed as the most unique and talented young documentarian in America") and Williams Cole's talk with Alex Gibney about Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer; plus, Vince Carducci on Matthew Barney, whose "art grows in stature the more conspicuous its waste," Brian Edgar on Davis Guggenheim's Waiting for "Superman", which he finds "amounts to propaganda for the [education] reform efforts beginning with President Bush's No Child Left Behind initiative of 2001, not a prescription for reform," and Lu Chen on Matt Reeves's Let Me In.
"Though enduringly marked by its passage through Los Angeles (its trademark layout designed by LA artist-godfather Ed Ruscha), Artforum is most assuredly a New York magazine," writes Andrew Berardini in Art Lies. "Much the same could be said of frieze, whose ascendancy marked the rise of the art world in London, which formed both its spiritual and financial base. Though both publications are now quite international, their relationship to their respective cities dictates both their financial bottom line and, more importantly for our purposes, their editorial visions." Because at the moment, Los Angeles has no equivalent; but there may well be "something important quietly emerging" in East of Borneo, which "endeavors to capture some of the strange energy and disparate cast of characters that make up this unique place, the riffraff and refugees, visionaries and weirdos, adrift intellectuals and country-skipping euros ready to remake themselves, would-be power brokers and low-brow entertainment moguls slumming through the halls of high culture, and sundry other characters and artists too strange and individual to sum up so easily in a line (from Raymond Pettibon to Simone Forti). East of Borneo's first articles include the rather unlikely (but to my mind completely representative) cast of playwright Bertolt Brecht, artist Chris Burden and schlock director Roger Corman. Though East of Borneo does contain a lot of writing directly about Southern California art and culture, with the wobbly legs of infancy, it appears to have achieved something much more elusive than simply coverage: a real LA point of view, neither cloyingly provincial nor tiredly cliché, but poetic, intelligent and imaginative." In other words, definitely worth a browse.
The latest issue of Offscreen to go online is a "Science Fiction Special." Editor Donato Totaro's opening essay, "The Vertical Topography of the Science Fiction Film," explores "the frequent juxtaposition of upper and lower spaces" in the genre. Daniel Garrett considers the futures conjured in The Road, Moon, District 9 and other films. Leon Saunders Calvert argues that Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins and The Dark Knight "were successful both because of and in spite of the intelligence and thought which went into making them and the ideologies they explore, express and even exploit." Jason Lindop argues that "editing is a key stylistic and thematic element" of Chris Marker's La Jetée. And Philip Gillett files a report on this year's Bradford International Film Festival.
IN OTHER NEWS
The European Film Academy has announced its nominations for this year's batch of awards and Guy Lodge is more than a little ticked off. In the race for European Film 2010 are Semih Kaplanoğlu's Honey, Xavier Beauvois's Of Gods and Men, Roman Polanski's The Ghost Writer, Samuel Maoz's Lebanon, Juan José Campanella's The Secret in Their Eyes and Fatih Akin's Soul Kitchen. In an open letter to the EFA at In Contention, Guy writes that the "following are all European films superior to the six you shortlisted in your top category: Another Year, The Illusionist, How I Ended This Summer, Kawasaki's Rose, White Material, Dogtooth, Certified Copy, Mysteries of Lisbon, Four Lions, The Mouth of the Wolf, and so on. And hey, I'm not that high on I Am Love either, but are you really saying nothing at all stuck out about it to you? (You only have four cinematography nominees, by the way. Just a thought.)" On the other hand, "laying aside my personal vexation for a moment, The Ghost Writer leads the list with seven nominations, and will likely cruise to victory at the EFA ceremony on December 4. After being named the year's best by FIPRESCI, this consistently underestimated thriller just continues to surprise."