Adapted from Maile Meloy’s short-story collection Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It, Certain Women is a meditation on three ... More
Film by Kelly Reichardt
Adapted from Maile Meloy’s short-story collection Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It, Certain Women is a meditation on three Montana women as they navigate their own very disparate struggles of loneliness, want and redemption. Director Kelly Reichardt (Wendy and Lucy, Night Moves) draws drama from the seemingly interstitial and inconsequential, following each story at glacial speed in order to properly observe the lives of her subjects at every turn. The dazzling Michelle Williams joins Reichardt for the third time (previously in Meek’s Cutoff and Wendy and Lucy), while Kristen Stewart, Laura Dern and some impressive newcomers, including Lily Gladstone, fill out a hypnotic collective performance. (IFC Films)
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Elliott Smith’s tragically brief life has held an outsized musical and cultural influence. For evidence, one only needs to visit the mural ... More
Album by Various Artists
Elliott Smith’s tragically brief life has held an outsized musical and cultural influence. For evidence, one only needs to visit the mural in Silver Lake, Los Angeles, that appears on the album cover for Smith’s Figure 8, where admirers still leave heartfelt messages of gratitude, love and sorrow. It is in honor of this legacy that a handful of today’s foremost songwriters—each of whom bears the influence of Smith’s career—have assembled Say Yes! A Tribute to Elliott Smith. Hearing Smith’s songs in new hands serves to reinforce their universality and the fundamental strength of the songwriting. In a welcome surprise, some of Smith’s most openly “sad” songs receive an unexpectedly upbeat treatment—Juliana Hatfield’s cover of “Needle in the Hay,” for instance—which allows this album to become more than just mournful, and instead feel like something of a celebration, as Smith’s career deserves. (American Laundromat Records)
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Nate Parker’s The Birth of a Nation is an unapologetic retelling of Nat Turner’s slave uprising in Virginia in 1831. The film ... More
Film by Nate Parker
Nate Parker’s The Birth of a Nation is an unapologetic retelling of Nat Turner’s slave uprising in Virginia in 1831. The film takes its name from D.W. Griffith’s 1915 silent film The Birth of a Nation, which has been both lauded as a milestone in cinematic storytelling and wholly condemned as unflinchingly racist. This is “ironically, but very much by design,” according to Parker, who co-wrote, co-produced, directed and starred in The Birth of a Nation. His film comes at a time when Hollywood is revisiting stories of slavery and rebellion (for instance, History Channel’s mini-series Roots and Free State of Jones), and its relevance is clear beside the Black Lives Matter movement and national dialogue concerning institutional racism.
The Birth of a Nation’s premiere at Sundance Film Festival 2016 led to standing ovations and two awards: the Audience Award and Grand Jury Prize for Drama, as well as a bidding war that ended in a record-setting purchase from Fox Searchlight. The film stars Armie Hammer (The Social Network) and Aja Naomi King (How to Get Away with Murder) alongside Parker as preacher and slave Turner, whose rebellion ultimately ended in massacre and the rescinding of freed slave’s rights across the Antebellum South. (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
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Starring Shia LaBeouf alongside Riley Keough (The Runaways) and newcomer Sasha Lane, American Honey is director Andrea Arnold’s love letter to the ... More
Film by Andrea Arnold
Starring Shia LaBeouf alongside Riley Keough (The Runaways) and newcomer Sasha Lane, American Honey is director Andrea Arnold’s love letter to the road, set in the American Midwest and reverent of the young Occupy iconoclasts of this generation. The film follows 19-year-old Star (Lane), who joins a group of roving outcasts making ends meet as door-to-door salespeople with questionable ethics. The sepia-toned story angles in on a burgeoning young love as it pinwheels through Americana, flippant partying and disarming moments of pensivity. Arnold won her third Cannes Grand Jury Prize in ten years for American Honey—following those for Fish Tank (2009) and Red Road (2006)—and was also nominated for the festival’s Palme d’Or. (A24)
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Prolific photographer, filmmaker and actor Dennis Hopper was a firm believer that art-making requires nothing more than intentional looking. He once said, ... More
Book by Dennis Hopper
Prolific photographer, filmmaker and actor Dennis Hopper was a firm believer that art-making requires nothing more than intentional looking. He once said, “Art is everywhere, in every corner that you choose to frame and not just ignore and walk by.” This is exactly what Hopper achieves in his series Colors, for which he set out in 1987 with his Polaroid camera to document gang markings in Los Angeles, especially attracted by the abstract colors and shapes created by multiple layers of spray-painted graffiti.
The series shares its name with his ensuing directorial feature, Colors (1988), in which two cops, played by Sean Penn and Robert Duvall, patrol East Los Angeles attempting to control gang violence. Hopper has appeared in cult films the likes of Rebel Without a Cause (1955), Blue Velvet (1986) and Hoosiers (1986) alongside mainstream features including Apocalypse Now (1979), but is most renowned for his 1969 directorial debut, Easy Rider.
Damiani celebrates Hopper’s eye in this new monogram, Dennis Hopper: Colors, the Polaroids. The book collects this striking series which, though ostensibly research for Hopper’s coming film, simultaneously immortalizes an era of Los Angeles and the ephemeral art that defined it. (Damiani)
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The moon’s austere beauty has captivated humans throughout history, but always across a vast distance—one that early scientists (and modern conspiracy theorists) ... More
Book by E.B. White and John Kennedy
The moon’s austere beauty has captivated humans throughout history, but always across a vast distance—one that early scientists (and modern conspiracy theorists) deemed uncrossable. When, in 1969, the Apollo program closed that distance, millions of people around the world watched in awe. In the next three years, NASA’s Apollo program sent 10 more men to the moon in five subsequent missions, all documented by the astronauts with suit-mounted and handheld Hasselblad cameras.
These images, recently released by NASA, are compiled in The Moon 1968-1972, a fresh and more intimate perspective on this chapter in human achievement. Though taken mainly for scientific purposes, the photographs channel the sense of wonder of the astronauts. Their very presence in and behind the photographs gives proof to an epic venture while capturing the stunning, desolate topography of space, as temporarily inhabited by humans. (T. Adler Books)
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Anthony Hernandez has spent his 45-year career photographing Los Angeles and its environs, shifting his approach over the years both technically and ... More
Anthony Hernandez has spent his 45-year career photographing Los Angeles and its environs, shifting his approach over the years both technically and thematically as he sought to capture the myriad, and often seemingly contradictory, realities of life in the sprawling city. His work shows a special sensitivity to the people on the fringes of society, often depicting the detritus we leave behind. Without formalized training, Hernandez was free to develop a street photography style and social message all his own—finding beauty in desolation and testifying for the individual against a harsh, built environment. To accompany Hernandez’s first retrospective at San Francisco MOMA, D.A.P. has teamed up with the museum to release a book of his photographs, including never-before-seen plates and images. Anthony Hernandez offers, for the first time, the photographer’s many phases and approaches to photographing his home city. Taken together, these images add up to an important and perspective-shifting thesis on life and hardship in Los Angeles. (D.A.P./SFMOMA)
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Facing controversy over their politically-charged and contentious name, Viet Cong adopted a more neutral appellation for their sophomore album: Preoccupations. Thankfully, this ... More
Facing controversy over their politically-charged and contentious name, Viet Cong adopted a more neutral appellation for their sophomore album: Preoccupations. Thankfully, this in no way indicates that their music has been similarly defanged. On their self-titled new record, Preoccupations still summons up unease with gothic-industrial atmospherics, stabs of discordant guitar and war-percussion drums, all wrapped up under lead singer Matt Flegel’s brooding, affectless vocals. But what sets Preoccupations apart is that the unease, at times, breaks open. The band seems to find strength and beauty amid the pain of living in a world whose prognosis seems grim. This is most evident in their stand-out single “Anxiety,” a title which distills much of the band’s overarching aesthetic. After the gloom of lyrics like, “Deteriorating to great acclaim / Help has fallen by the wayside / Nowhere near to finding better ways to be,” a bit of light breaks through. Flegel summons the strength to insist: “I’m not here purely for the sake / Of breathing, I am wide awake.” Sometimes that is good enough.
via Flemish Eye/Jagjaguwar
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Labeled one of “the great literary hoaxes of our day” by columnist David Segal, the story of JT LeRoy began in the ... More
Documentary by Jeff Feuerzeig
Labeled one of “the great literary hoaxes of our day” by columnist David Segal, the story of JT LeRoy began in the 1990s, when writer Laura Albert began publishing her own stories under the pen name. Ostensibly born in West Virginia in 1980, LeRoy published his work in many respected international publications and put out four novels between 1990 and 2007. With a personal history of drug addiction, prostitution and homelessness, LeRoy was rumored as deeply shy and public appearances were limited until 2001, when Albert’s sister-in-law Savannah Knoop donned a wig and sunglasses, claiming LeRoy was gender fluid. Albert herself appeared in public as LeRoy’s manager. The author traveled with a close entourage and enjoyed a cult-like following of fans and literary figures alike—a performance which lasted years. LeRoy became a sort of celebrity. What happened when, in 2005, an article by Stephen Beachy in New York magazine outed Albert as the ‘real’ JT LeRoy was a total blowback from the press and fans alike—the work of LeRoy was mostly forgotten, but the sham, the celebrity remained.
This is where you enter Author: The JT LeRoy Story, a documentary produced, written and directed by Jeff Feuerzeig, which premiered at Sundance 2016 and was nominated for the Documentary Grand Jury Prize. Feuerzeig’s work mimics LeRoy’s frenzied ascent with energetic pacing, using original footage of LeRoy, the press and his celebrity followers, as well as drawings from and recent interviews with Albert. Albert claims LeRoy was a way for her to write what she couldn’t under her own name, once saying she created him “the way an oyster creates a pearl: out of irritation and suffering. It was an attempt to try to heal something.”
In 2016, the discussion of gender identity and creation of personas over social media is fairly common, and that’s why this is the perfect moment for Author: The JT LeRoy Story, wherein Feuerzeig presents LeRoy not only as a writer or avatar or stunt, but the true innovator Albert made him; that she is herself. The film is arresting, and touches on the nature of art, celebrity and identity as it builds to the overwhelming question: Does it matter who created the work if the work, indeed, exists?