1. Roger Ebert’s Interview w/ Asghar Farhadi

    via rogerebert.suntimes.com

    In a broader sense, we might expect the film to be critical of Iranian society. Although its events are embedded in the fabric of modern Iran, I’m unable to determine what its opinions are. All the important characters in the film are seen positively. There are no bad people here. Nothing that happens is the “fault” is anyone. They are good people facing impossible questions of the heart. In his Oscar-nominated screenplay, what is Farhadi’s point of view?

    "I’ve always felt that the filmmaker’s point of view is secondary to the way that the film is accomplished," he said. "That’s what really links the viewer to the film. The viewing public sees a series of images and either embraces it or lets it go. For me the cinema has always been the most important thing — and features like being critical only come next. Being critical doesn’t add value to a film, any more than a choice of genre does. It really comes down to precise and focused writing and structure.

    "Instead of the expression of ‘critical cinema,’ I prefer to use the term ‘questioner cinema.’ I like to put a question mark around the issues I’m concerned about. This is a way of inviting the viewer to critique, without my views getting in the way. I prefer to add numerous question marks to every issue. I think a cinema that asks questions is preferable to a cinema that is stylistically critical."

    I just watched A Separation two days ago and thought it was as excellent as all the critical praise suggested. Farhadi’s notion of a ‘questioner cinema’ is an interesting one, I am trying to think up some examples of other films that might suit this description. Any thoughts? It is a clever tactic as I have to agree that films that wear their criticality as a stylistic/genre choice lose themselves in it, reduced to polemics. Farhadi’s film and screenplay are totally evenhanded, uncynical, and non-manipulative; such a strange and wonderful contrast to most films, especially in Hollywood, where the viewer is pulled along, lectured, and manipulated by events and characters with no depth beyond their artifice as straw constructions for plot development or emotional currency.  

    - NM

  2. Tate Screening of Shame

    image via www.impawards.com and by ALL CITY

    A couple of weeks ago marked the wide release (in the UK) of Shame, the newest film from former Turner Prize Winner Steve McQueen. The film features lead performances by Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan. It is McQueen’s second feature length film after his debut Hunger (2008). Last month I had the opportunity to see a preview screening at Tate Modern; both McQueen and Fassbender were present for a post-screening Q & A.

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  3. Art.sy, a genome sequencer for art?

    via Wired.com

    If Art.sy succeeds, it could upend what remains one of the last cultural precincts largely untouched by the digital revolution—changing not just how art is sold but also what art is sold and to whom. By teasing out traits in artworks that link them together aesthetically and historically, Art.sy can draw on buyers’ own taste to suggest other works to them, in some cases circumventing (if not entirely dispensing with) the choices put forward by gallerists and critics. On Art.sy, a would-be collector can select a work of art and get presented with a range of “similar” work, much of it for sale. And what this will represent in practice is not just more products to buy but—potentially—future geniuses to coronate.

    New Warhols, come here: We want you.

    Really seems to be a bit more about interior design, than say subject matter—style over substance. A ‘hey, this, looks like that.’ Perhaps it will also make everything feel even more derivative than it already does. I requested an invite so when it is open for public testing we can have a closer look. 


    - NM

  4. Work of Art: The Next Great Artist (Intro + Ep. 1 Recap)

    I found this show late, having heard about it last year, but not caring at the time to really see what it was about.  I saw something similar on the BBC around the same time, judged by Tracey Emin among others, and supported by the shadowy art patron figure of Charles Saatchi. I watched one episode of this BBC thing and then forgot about it beyond that it was called, School of Saatchi. At the time I was unsure of what to make of it beyond an initial sort of impulse of disgust, and could find little brain space to care. However, I find myself intrigued this year about the American take on this due mainly to my own mixed feelings about the BBC thing and because I felt sort of ashamed by my misplaced disgust: Oh No! Reality television has even gotten into art. What is the world coming to? Fogeyism at its most obvious. I watched the  Banksy film Enter Through The Gift Shop on an airplane last year and thought it raised many of the issues around this art/high/low/commodity conundrum brilliantly so with this in mind, I was interested in getting back to it with a new outlook.

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  5. For those that missed it, Frieze Art Fair 2011 Rundown

    Part I
    Here Goes (or some Scenes from Frieze)
    When I arrive at Frieze Art Fair 2011 (FAF11) there is a long queue that is contained and held in a cordoned line that starts outside the first pavilion and runs about halfway up into the covered entrance way. The people at the very front of the line are middle-aged, serious looking, and quiet. There is a broad mixture of others winding back from youngish art student types, to tourists, judging by language mostly from Europe, to elderly couples and among all these others, the punctuation marks of tremendously hip looking people in heels and tight jeans, their heads bearing on-trend hairstyles and expensive looking glasses. The people queuing stand mostly alone or in pairs with the occasional larger group mixed in, usually the youngish art student types. This queue is waiting until 1pm when they will be allowed entrance as the second wave of the day. They’ve all paid between £15-£60 to be here depending on how many days of access and their ability to qualify for concessionary pricing.

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