The End of the Tour begins in medias res as David Foster Wallace publishes his radically contemporary 1996 novel, Infinite Jest, one ... More
Film by James Ponsoldt
Interview by Clare Shearer
“I just read the script and it was so moving!
Such a tonal tightrope walk.
—James PonsoldtAnd I was like, oh fuck. Fuck fuck fuck.” — James Ponsoldt
The End of the Tour begins in medias res as David Foster Wallace publishes his radically contemporary 1996 novel, Infinite Jest, one of the greatest in literary memory. David Lipsky, then a journalist at Rolling Stone, lobbied to cover the end of Wallace’s book tour. The resulting article never ran, but Wallace only continued to gain a cult-like following and, eventually, a tragic mythos after his 2008 suicide. Like many, Lipsky felt the loss of a great mind deeply. Adapted from Lipsky’s 2010 memoir, which revisited the tapes of that interview and his former self, the film takes a deeply humanistic approach to their rapport over five days of driving and flying and talking over junk food and cigarettes.
With Jason Segel as Wallace and Jesse Eisenberg as Lipsky, the film is based in rambling conversations, revealing Wallace as a sustained dichotomy of genius and normal guy-hood. Only 34, he feared what his newfound fame might mean for his writing. Lipsky was 30 and—though also an acclaimed young writer at the time—confronted by self-doubt and the growing realization that Wallace, who had everything he wanted, still wasn’t fulfilled.
Known for his staunch criticism of modern American culture and the corporatized distraction of mass media, Wallace is a man who (we can assume, and his surviving relatives assert) would not like to see a movie made of himself. An early devotee of Wallace, director James Ponsoldt (known for The Spectacular Now) is well aware of the weight of expectation this film must—and has—taken on.
“Infinite Jest came out in 96 and I started college in Fall of 97,” Ponsoldt tells me. “I was an English major and everyone was reading that book, or had a copy of the book and said they were reading it. It was not ‘the best book of this spring,’ it was this crazy huge thing that you had to contend with, and was probably the most substantive relationship I had that year.”
He read everything Wallace had ever written, and Wallace’s voice became a touchstone for how to filter the world. When there was a conversation or a fight or a question, Ponsoldt would ask himself, What would Wallace have to say about this? “He was this person who wasn’t literally in the room, but you felt was around… I felt like he understood something about what it was to be alive at that time that most other writers didn’t, and spoke to the psychological and emotional experience of that, and being a complicated, damaged human.” Hundreds of thousands of fellow readers felt the same.
“I felt like [Wallace] understood
something about what it was to be alive
at that time that most other writers
didn’t, and spoke to the psychological
and emotional experience of that,
and being a complicated, damaged human.”
— James Ponsoldt
So when he was sent the script by his former Yale professor (and Pulitzer Prize winning playwright) Donald Margulies, Ponsoldt had to ask himself, “Is this a losing proposition?” It’s not an unfair question, as it’s a tenuous and almost insurmountable task to portray a very private, very admired writer when he had previously existed in the world of the mind, on paper, without intermediary. “I just read the script, though,” Ponsoldt says, “and it was so moving! So pitch-perfect. Such a tonal tightrope walk. And I was like, oh fuck. Fuck fuck fuck.”
This tightrope walk is Wallace’s almost monolithic legend, but as Ponsoldt reiterates, “The movie’s not a biopic, it was a very subjective story about Lipsky’s time with Wallace… Lipsky was super tough on himself, so in the movie we tried to be equally tough and honest. Lipsky is our point of entry into this story. He’s like a surrogate for the audience, sometimes in his jealousy, maybe in his pettiness, and all these things that are very very human. That’s what I relate to. I’ve been that guy far more than I’ve been a genius who can write a thousand page novel.”
“This is a movie about two guys who wrote books and were discussing ideas. And hopefully there’s a universal story about getting to spend time with someone you thought about a lot from a distance, someone you’ve idealized or romanticized or have deeply jealous feelings towards. Who you measure yourself against. It’s much more about yourself always. It’s having so much burden of expectation and realizing, man, people are fucked up and complicated and it’s really, really hard.”
What Ponsoldt and co. have achieved is exactly that sentiment. The film is fiercely dedicated to getting the story right—both philosophical and entertaining, as painful as it is darkly funny—and speaks to something larger than itself. And, by the way, Jason Segel makes an unprecedented turn to the dramatic without losing the warm-hearted effortlessness that has defined his career. For those who have never heard of Wallace or Lipsky or any of this, Ponsoldt says it best, “If this movie was only for the fans of Wallace, we should just rent out a theater at the Arclight. We’ll knock it off in a single weekend. The fans are there, I’m one of them.”
Inspired by a donut shop near his Hollywood home, director Sean S. Baker together with co-writer Chris Bergoch produced Tangerine, an independent ... More
Film by Sean S. Baker
Inspired by a donut shop near his Hollywood home, director Sean S. Baker together with co-writer Chris Bergoch produced Tangerine, an independent comedy-drama. The entire film was shot in Los Angeles using an iPhone 5s and premiered at Sundance earlier this year before being bought by Magnolia Pictures. Tangerine begins on Christmas Eve, as transgender prostitute Sin-Dee Rella finishes her prison sentence and heads to Donut Time to meet a friend, who informs her that Sin Dee’s boyfriend and pimp has been cheating on her with a white, cisgender female. Outraged, Sin-Dee sets off on a hunt for her boyfriend and the “fish” who stole him away. Actors James Ransone and Karran Karagulian feature alongside new faces and some of LA’s most beloved streets.
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“I’m trying to find the sublime in the post-internet age,” says Montreal artist, filmmaker and essayist Jon Rafman of his photo series ... More
Jon Rafman Photobook
“I’m trying to find the sublime in the post-internet age,” says Montreal artist, filmmaker and essayist Jon Rafman of his photo series Jon Rafman: Nine Eyes. In 2007, Google added Street View to its online maps, using composite images taken by a fleet of hybrid electric cars, each with a nine-lensed camera mounted on the roof. Rafman began combing through millions of its images and compiling unedited screenshots into his online blog “9-Eyes.” What began as an internet photo project, then gallery exhibit, is now encapsulated in a clothbound volume containing some of Google Street View’s most poignant, breathtaking and, at times, disturbing scenes. Nine Eyes elucidates the world brought to you by Google as fragile, subversive and saturated – an inadvertent document of complex cultural texts and relationships.
Published by Jean Boite Éditions
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Long Beach native, fellow Cutthroat Boyz rapper and Odd Future collaborator Vince Staples released his lengthy debut album, Summertime ‘06. Staples’ prolific ... More
Album “Summertime '06”
Long Beach native, fellow Cutthroat Boyz rapper and Odd Future collaborator Vince Staples released his lengthy debut album, Summertime ‘06. Staples’ prolific studio recordings include guest versing for the likes of Ghostface Killah, Earl Sweatshirt, Mac Miller and Common, as well as releasing several noteworthy mixtapes and EPs: Stolen Youth (2013), Shyne Coldchain Vol.2 and Hell Can Wait (2014). In spite of his myriad connections, Vince doesn’t pledge allegiance to anyone – neither his former hometown gang nor any rap clan. The album is raw with this integrity, poised between Staples’ hood credo and his sharp defiance of racism, inequality, and its fallout on the streets. Produced by No I.D., Summertime ‘06 is a stripped-down flood of percussion. Staples’ clear vocals and cool-mannered restraint underpin the lyrical surge of contradictions, revealing a thoughtful and multi-dimensional songwriter.
via Def Jam
In May 2009, The New York Times Magazine published “A Prom Divided,” a photo-essay by Gillian Laub documenting segregated school dances at ... More
Book by Gillian Laub
In May 2009, The New York Times Magazine published “A Prom Divided,” a photo-essay by Gillian Laub documenting segregated school dances at Montgomery High School, Georgia. Her photographs portrayed Montgomery’s youth in their effort to subvert the racism enforced by older generations. “A Prom Divided” sparked nationwide defiance and the eventual upheaval of Montgomery’s backwards regulations – culminating in a historic campaign to elect their first black sheriff and dampened by the murder of a young black man featured in Laub’s photos. Disregarding protests by school faculty and sheriffs, Laub returned in 2011 and 2012 to document Montgomery’s ongoing change through the eyes of its ever-hopeful teens. In May 2015, HBO premiered the film documentary Southern Rites – Laub’s directorial debut examining the aftermath of “A Prom Divided.” The accompanying book, Southern Rites, is a comprehensive, 12-year visual study of radical change led by determined youth against deep-seated racism and generations of resentment.
Published by Damiani
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Starting with the first 19th century running shoe, Out of the Box: The Rise of Sneaker Culture delineates the cultural evolution of ... More
The Rise of Sneaker Culture
Starting with the first 19th century running shoe, Out of the Box: The Rise of Sneaker Culture delineates the cultural evolution of sneakers from pragmatic invention to hip-hop status symbol to contemporary high-fashion. Beginning with the “Out of the Box” shoe exhibition at the Bata Shoe Museum, hosted by senior curator and acclaimed shoe historian Elizabeth Semmelhack, the photobook is a significant retrospective. Out of the Box includes photographs of the original exhibition’s iconic sneakers, resurrected from archives and private collectors. Keds, Air Jordans, the original Air Force 1 and 21st century renditions from Jeremy Scott, Jeff Staple and Kanye contribute to the fascinating collection. A web of historical and cultural connections, Out of the Box draws people from all corners of the creative industry, including Nike designer Tinker Hatfield, professional basketball player Walt Frazier, the Beastie Boys’ Adam Horovitz, and Def Jam. Out of the Box is a complex, incisive account of the sneaker’s reinvention over two centuries of technology, marketing, fashion and social trends.
Published by Rizzoli
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Three decades ago, Wim Wenders combed the stark American West alone for locations to film his seminal Paris, Texas, which swept the ... More
Wim Wenders Photobook
Three decades ago, Wim Wenders combed the stark American West alone for locations to film his seminal Paris, Texas, which swept the 1984 Cannes Film Festival. The German filmmaker drove across Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California capturing their vivid wildness on his Makina Plaubel 6 x 7 camera. Wender’s original travel series, Written in the West, exhibited in 1986 at the Centre Pompidou in Paris and was published in 2000. Decades later, the mastermind behind Paris, Texas as well as Wings of Desire, The Buena Vista Social Club, Pina and Salt of the Earth returned to Paris, TX with a Fuji 6 x 4.5 and a sustained fascination for the Southwest. Written in the West, Revisted is the expanded edition of Wender’s cherished photo diary, revealing 15 of his newest, iconic photographs, saturated with the immensity and obscurity of the American frontier.
Published by D.A.P.
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Norwegian experimental art pop musician Jenny Hval has released her newest LP, Apocalypse, girl, in league with producer Lasse Marhaug and members ... More
Album “Apocalypse Girl”
Norwegian experimental art pop musician Jenny Hval has released her newest LP, Apocalypse, girl, in league with producer Lasse Marhaug and members of Jaga Jazzist and Swans. Apocalypse, girl is Hval’s fourth LP, counting last year’s Meshes of Voices – her well-received collaboration with fellow Norweigan Susanna Wallumrød of Susanna and the Magical Orchestra. Hval has toured with the likes of St. Vincent and Perfume Genius following her successful 2013 album Innocence is Kinky. Apocalypse, girl surpasses Innocence is Kinky as the more adult, ambiguous and strung-out pop cry for meaning over substance… Or as Hval posits it in “Kingsize” – “What is SOFT DICK ROCK?” (Sacred Bones)
via Sacred Bones
Since their 2007 debut, Prinzhorn Dance School has whittled their minimal, post-punk sound into an even sparser and sharper form. While their ... More
Album “Home Economics”
Since their 2007 debut, Prinzhorn Dance School has whittled their minimal, post-punk sound into an even sparser and sharper form. While their new six-track Home Economics is indeed economical, it was not made at home. The Brighton, UK duo, comprised of Tobin Prinz and Suzi Horn, recorded their third LP in various apartments while traveling. Prinzhorn’s sound joins the ranks of artists from Young Marble Giants to Swell Maps to Pylon to The xx – never a bad thing, especially since Home Economics excels in conjuring a nebulous yet potent lovesickness.