Friday, December 31, 2004

Best of 2004...

It's that time of year where I have to make lists of the best movies and music of the year. As a film critic making lists of movies is fairly easy. However when it comes to music the list pretty much consists of what I happened to buy during the year.

*BEST FILMS OF 2004.
[Rather than making a simple top ten I will make a list of movies I liked in two tiers]:
Tier One:
-The Take - Argentina workers have a plan - listen up [Canada / Argentina documentary]
-Distant - So still, so vital, so sad [Turkey]
-Moolaade - Time to break the chains of tradition [Africa]
-Sideways - In wine is truth
-Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind - How forgotten love isn't
-Dogville - Small minds think alike
-The Corporation - Scared me [Documentary]

Tier Two:
-Enduring Love - Challenges assumptions
-Secret Things - A corporate sex myth [France]
-Notre Musique - Godard doing his thing [France]
-Touching the Void - Harrowing to the core
-2046 - The Art of forgetting is beautiful and impossible [Hong Kong]
-Tarnation - Affecting and so personal it hurts and helps.
-Blind Shaft - Capitalism in a communist system [China]


BEST MUSIC OF 2004.
[In no particular order]
-Joseph Arthur: Our Shadows Will Remain - searing [rock]
-Ted Leo and the Pharmacists: Shake the Streets - rockin' and literate [rock]
-B Fleischmann & Herbert Weixelbaum present: Duo 505 - uplifting [electronica]
-Lali Puna: Faking the Books - rainy day [electonipop]
-Elbow: Cast of Thousands - introspective [rock]
-Fennensz: Venice - fragile and strong [experimental]
-The Libertines - Rough around the edges and at the core [rock]
-Simple Kid: 1 - underrated [rock]
-Air: Talking Walkie - oui [electonica]
-Architecture in Helsinki: Fingers Crossed - twee [scandanapop]
-Dogs Die in Hot Cars - hooks [rock]
-Scissor Sisters - fun [rock]
-Franz Ferdinand - tight [rock]

- And two from 2003 that I caught up with this year:
Yeah, Yeah Yeahs: Fever to Tell
M83: Dead Cities, Dead Seas Lost Ghosts

Sorry there are no links but I'm off on vacation for a bit.
Will post later next week.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Children's Books...

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French and Italian Picture books for the kids. What's fun about this site is that they provide scans of the entire book. [via I Like]

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Toy art...

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Hand Customized 8" Toy 2R Qee toys - designed by 38 artists.
Anybody get anything like this for Christmas?

[via a lot sites way back when]

*Link is now working.

Monday, December 27, 2004

Animation...



Origins of American Animation has some really fun [and darn old] films for your viewing pleasure.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Prints...


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Kirsten Ulve likes colorful cartoon characters. Her caricatures are cool too.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Painting...

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ZZ Wei likes big colorful landscapes, the open road and old automobiles. More of his fabulous paintings are over at this gallery and at the bottom of this page and on Art Net.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Illustrations...

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Timothy Cook is an illustrator who keeps it simple, clean and clever. [The site is a bit odd to navigate. I recommend going to this page and typing in a key word. The word that yielded the most images for me was the word 'car'. Next was the word 'house'].
[Via Neurastenia]

Monday, December 20, 2004

Painting...

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Leon Kossoff selected paintings from 1956-2000 are on display at the Louisiana Museum of Art in Denmark. [The link is to the LA Louver web site].
Kossoff is one of the greatest living European painters. More is written about him on this site.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Posters...

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Chinese Public Health Posters from a Clendening Center collection at University of Kansas Medical Center.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Birthday...

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Laura Macchiarini Langdon [my mom] is a professional calligrapher who has created hundreds of calligraphic works. Each year she sends me a handmade card for my birthday, which is today. [Only a handful of my mom's works are currently on the internet. More coming soon.]

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Art of war...

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Art of World War One is the best site on art I've come across in the past month. It has all kinds of great paintings from the 1914-18 era as well as historical and informative write-ups on each artist and piece of art featured. Some of my favorites are William Orpen, FĂ©lix Vallotton, John Nash and Sydney Carline
Via Ramage

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Painting...

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Mikey Welsh [formerly of the rock band Weezer] is a self taught painter who spreads the paint with abandon. [via gmtPlus9]

Monday, December 13, 2004

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Lithographs...

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Ann Chernow knows where the girls are - in a nostalgic 1930's kind of way.
More of her good stuff here.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Painting Road Trip...

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Scott Parker decided to visit and paint or draw views of all 56 of the officially-designated National Parks in the United States. It took him two years. Nice work. [via MeFi]

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Sunprints...

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Gregory Ilich finds new ways to present the human form. [Perhaps NSFW in some sectors].

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Notebooks...

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Linus Pauling's Science notebooks are on display over at the Oregon State University web site. [via Plep]

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

2046...

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I was lucky to catch an early exhibitors screening of Wong Kar-Wai's 2046. [More info and photos here]

The film is a deliriously gorgeous work of art that basically is an extension of In The Mood for Love. Except where that film was about Chow Mo-wan a writer in the 1960's and his unrequited love for one woman this film is about the same writer - played again by Tony Leung Chiu-wai - and his relationships with three different women. The film also takes us into the distant future by showing us scenes from some of the science fiction stories that Chow writes.

Aesthetically there are moments that take one's breath away. This time Wong - and his DP Christopher Doyle - use an interesting framing device in which there is always some object like a door or a wall that obstructs half the frame on one side or the other. In this way the characters space is claustrophobic and they seem more restricted and locked into place than usual. The camera moves a lot but the characters do not. As always too Wong's use of music is stellar. He mixes in opera arias, Latino rhythms and sweeping strings to intoxicate us with mood and atmosphere.

The story takes place over four years between 1966 to 1969 [using Christmas Eve as a starting point in each section] and takes place primarily in one hotel. The three women are played by Zhang Zi - a prostitute who falls in love with Chow, Faye Wong - an innocent daughter of the hotel's owner who helps Chow write some of his stories and Gong Li - a mysterious gambler who wears a black glove. The prostitute and the gambler fall in love with Chow [of course] but he doesn't recipricate. The hotel owner's daughter, however, becomes Chow's heartache because she is in love with a man who lives in Japan. To show his love for her Chow writes a story for her set in a neon glow future [conceived as an homage to both Alphaville and Blade Runner] in which she is an android unable to feel love for him - or his alter-ego.

Like much of Wong's latest work this one deals with memory and forgetfulness, love and loss, romance and pain, tears and heartbreak. And it wafts through the air as light as cigarette smoke yet it mezmerizes and pulls the viewer in with its seductive pace. [There is one amazing shot where Wang Jingwen puffs on a cigarette in slow motion and it really seems that time has stopped].

I can say from the screening I attended the film was admired for its style but not particularly liked. The reason being, naturally, that it won't earn much money because it's long at 129 minutes and Wong doesn't try to hook us with story or performance so much as with his own panache.

But that's no concern of mine. As long as Wong Kar-Wai continues to make works of art like this he's got my business. And hopefully yours as well. The film has no U.S. distributor yet.

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Also...
Here's a Wong Kar-Wai directed DJ Shadow video.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Pictographs...

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Adolph Gottlieb Pictographs 1941-1951 are on display [with excellent scans] over at the Pace Wildenstein Museum.
Illustrations...

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Joseph Daniel Fiedler is a magazine and book illustrator who has a knack for disturbing and provoking without offending. [via Otomano]

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Painting...

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Lauren Gregg's work is cute with a bit of an ironic intellectual edge.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Music...

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Emek's Concert Posters are sometimes better than the concerts.

Speaking of music.

Billy Harvey has a good sound but it's his web site that really rocks.

Canyon Son is a fine rock band from Topanga Canyon. The band's front man - Justin Kirby - is a friend from my college days in Colorado. I saw them at Club Good Hurt last week. You can listen to 10 tracks on their web site.

Panache sounds has lots of cool links to music and movies. Put it on your 'to be checked out' list.

And lastly go over and see the experimental video and audio art of Takagi Masakatsu. The guy's got mad talent.