Still rolling Sofia Coppola’s movie around in the mind. It has its share of critics, which is fine, but I think a lot of them are missing the point, and revealing their own hang-ups with her charmed life and career. Better to set that aside.
As I see it, Johnny Marco suffers from a malady called celebrity. The entertainer can’t be entertained: a steady stream of Hollywood pleasure-on-demand has deadened his nerve endings. Joy must belong to his humbler past. Things are different now: all that material success has led to an inner failure, something nicely hit upon by Walter Benjamin (1928: success dulls the mind) and Willie Nelson (1977: so-called successful lives leave behind the basics of love).
In Johnny’s pampered present, he’s absent. Physically he’s there, drifting through the parties and the junkets, into the anonymous bedrooms. But he’s emotionally elsewhere. Often seen as the summit of American success—the rise from mere man to big-screen hero—Coppola gives us an insider’s view of stardom as a somewhat tragicomic condition of existence. From her casting (Chris Pontius, the girl from the Office) to her art direction (the spot-on “Berlin Agenda” poster) one can safely infer that she has a sense of humor about this: the crucial “comic” in “tragicomic.” After all, it is not exactly profound or innovative to argue that money and fame do not beget happiness; this is not Somewhere’s aim. Instead the film serves more as evocation than argument, watching with sympathy and patience and even humor how today’s cultural gods reveal and cherish their humanity, how they mourn its surrender, and ache for its recovery.
So when Barnes & Noble had their 50% sale on Criterion Collection DVDs, I couldn’t resist. I chose favorites that I still hadn’t owned in non-digital form
We lost these two titans of European art cinema in the same year, sadly. It’s hard to pick their bests, but these are strong contenders, if not the strongest. Ingmar Bergman’s Smiles of a Summer Night. Antonioni’s L’Eclisse.
A couple more European delicacies. Jacques Tati’s Playtime. Víctor Erice’s The Spirit of the Beehive.
French encounters with modernity. Louis Malle’s Le feu follet. Godard’s 2 or 3 Things I Know About Her.
Two American classics. Cassavetes’ anxious The Killing of a Chinese Bookie. Terence Malick’s gorgeous Days of Heaven.
Last night, B, my sister and I went to see J&J and it was a perfect way to end the day. I laughed throughout the whole movie, and 2.5 hours whizzed by like it was 30 minutes. If only there were more scenes with Meryl Streep and Stanley Tucci. I was in love with their love if that makes any sense.
Meryl Streep gave an amazing performance as always, but Stanley Tucci really won me over. Besides The Devil Wears Prada, I am not too familiar his work and I look forward to seeing what he has in store for the future.
Another great review by A.O. Scott for the nytimes.
Gimme! Today, I came across these beautiful posters by artist Eric Tan. Inspired by Disneyland attraction posters from the 60s, he is famous for his “retro-futurist remix posters” of popular films like Indiana Jones and The Incredibles. This one for Up reminds me of the See America project put out by the Works Progress Administration. The folded creases makes the poster even sweeter. Here is Tan in his own words:
I think retro advertising might work because they’re based in something we’re all used to seeing. There’s a comfort in that. There was a defining look to past decades that immediately brings you back to those days. If our job as artists/communicators is to evoke a feeling and/or emotion out of a piece, it’s a good way to instantly bring the viewer that feeling of nostalgia.
more of his work:
I’m definitely going to keep these in mind as references for future assignments. Maybe I can have my students revisit their favorite movie or vacation postcards as a catalyst for new designs? Their bookcover redesigns came out wonderfully but I can’t post any due to copyright. Must find a way to do this.
Happy find via Magic Molly: We Love You So, a website devoted to the many sources that shaped the making of Spike Jonze’s adaptation of Where the Wild Things Are. It made me think of my student teaching experience in Pawtucket, RI, where we incorporated the book into a 2nd grade art lesson.
A package from Max arrives…
Wild Things getting ready for a dance party…
Packing a suitcase for the her Wild Thing, Faith…
Afterwards, my students insisted that they danced with their creatures to Rihanna’s “Umbrella.” What you’ll never see: the 3rd graders teaching me how to dance to Soulja Boy!