Monday, 23 February 2015

Brooklyn Hipsters on Film

If Woody Allen was a young filmmaker today, he would've never been able to make a masterpiece like Manhattan due to The Big Apple's altered urbanscape of gentrification. Perhaps that's why we're seeing a plethora of low-budget indies set in “authentic” Brooklyn, where the young and creatively clueless can actually afford to pay rent, while enjoying the somewhat dubiously glorified status of hipsters.

But besides the Brooklyn-based visual clichés, generic film titles, and post mumblecore walk-and-talks that this new trend has spawned, even Woody Allen would admit that some of the following films are definitely better than others:

Appropriate Behavior (dir. Desiree Akhavan)
“I'm just having problems dealing with Brooklyn parties, and everyone talking about their Kickstarter campaigns,” vexes Maxine (Rebecca Henderson) outside a New Year's Eve party. Being a hater is how twentysomething bisexual Shirin (writer-director Desiree Akhavan) bonds with her first real love.
Like many indie anti-heroes, Shirin is confused, unemployed, yet has a typically quirky girlfriend to gripe to. She even has repressively “perfect” parents – who partially fund her apartment and creative forays – and a star older brother whose reputation she can't quite seem to live up to. But what makes Appropriate Behavior stand out is its original detail and profundity in observing – and sometimes scorning – both the hipster Brooklyn and Iranian immigrant setting, as well as Akhavan's willingness to be gawky, hilarious, and exasperating at the same time.... More films.

Friday, 20 February 2015

History Is Now: 7 Artists Take On Britain

Such unlikely objects as an antiaircraft weapon find their pointed place alongside more familiar artworks in History Is Now, an exhibition that scrutinises (in a timely fashion, given the run-up to the 2015 General Election) the last seventy years of British history

Seven artists of different generations and backgrounds, including Simon Fujiwara, Hannah Starkey, John Akomfrah, Richard Wentworth, Roger Hiorns and Jane and Louise Wilson, curate this sprawling, eclectic collection covering topics from post-Thatcherite society and the Cold War to protest movements, “mad cow disease,” and celebrity culture... More.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015


A quirky modern folktale from the Zellner brothers, Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter (2014) is not only a testament to the transcendental powers of the imagination, but to filmmaking itself. After mysteriously unearthing a VHS of Fargo (1996), Kumiko (Rinko Kikuchi) becomes increasingly obsessed with the scene in which Steve Buschemi buries a suitcase of stolen cash near Brainerd, Minnesota. Thus she embarks on an actual and metaphysical quest for buried treasure that puzzles and compels with its pervasive unreality. Although our heroine refuses to speak till quite late in the film, thanks to Kikuchi's expressive visual cues and a seething soundscape by The Octopus Project, she doesn't have to. 

But Kumiko's moody silence at the office, amidst her chatty, happily conformist colleagues, also signals subversion. Its her way of rejecting the banal lifestyle not only reinforced by her mother - who calls to demand why she isn't yet married - but her patriarchal boss, who decides that at 29, Kumiko should be replaced by "younger, fresher" substitutes. Within an increasingly decontextualised digital and movie culture, Kumiko is forced to piecemeal a personal meaning (literally hand stitching a treasure map) from whatever resources most resonate. She doesn't even watch the entirety of Fargo, but fast-forwards and replays the "treasure" scene with the possession of selective memory itself. Treading the fine line between truth and fiction, Kumiko is more than just a homage to the Cohen brothers.


Monday, 16 February 2015

Human Rights Human Wrongs @ Photographer's Gallery

Not for the faint of heart, the shocking images of The Photographers' Gallery's Human Rights Human Wrongs focus not only on wrongdoings, but how they are portrayed - even distorted - by the media. Whether documenting the US Civil Rights Movement, Middle East and South American uprisings, or the independence movements in Africa, the show looks at photojournalism's global impact on human rights.

Friday, 13 February 2015

10 Films for People Who Hate Valentine's Day

'Tis that wretched time again, the loneliest and kitschiest day of the year: Valentine's Day.
As I see it, you have two options. Either, you can 1) buy into all that roses-n'-candlelight crap at a fancy restaurant you really can't afford, conforming to one of the most successful marketing ploys to monetize cheap mass sentiment, or 2) stay home in your bathrobe and slippers in protest, and celebrate being single (or together with your partner!) over some cheap wine and a decidedly anti-romantic film like Sid & Nancy
The heroin-fuelled, physically abusive tale of Sex Pistols' surly Sid Vicious (Gary Oldman) and his bipolar girlfriend Nancy (Chloe Webb) proves once again that love is not always 'a many-splendored thing.' Dope becomes deeper than devotion, as the punk lovers party down a twisted, tainted path toward inevitable death. If this is true love, you'll be begging for the fake kind – and quick.
Here are 9 more twisted romances. Enjoy.

Friday, 6 February 2015

MARLENE DUMAS: The Image as Burden @ Tate Modern

In a grand scale exhibition tracing the South African artist's work from the 70s onwards, Tate Modern's Image as Burden establishes Marlene Dumas as one of our most significant contemporary painters. Through over a hundred of her most iconic paintings and drawings – as well as experimental collages and more recent canvases – we see how Dumas unapologetically investigates the “burden” of representation, as well as the nuanced realities of gender, love and loss. 

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

The Worst Things About Awards Ceremonies

Even more than the red-carpet hype and excitement of Awards ceremonies, I relish the failure of Hollywood celebs to live up to their glossy idealized images in real life. And why not? In addition to celebrating these actors and actresses as the golden gods of entertainment, shouldn't we also be able to laugh at the somewhat absurdly OTT and smugly narcissistic dimension of their Golden Globes and Oscars? It turns out to be a huge relief to find out they too – including George Clooney – are only human, if only because of...