Abramovic is Present (on Film) at the Albright-Knox This Friday

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One of my duties in compiling the calendar of events when working at Buffalo Spree was sorting through the many cool events being held each month at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, and I was always excited to see an interesting film screening pop up. (Past examples include the great “Ai Weiei: Never Sorry” and even a recent science fiction film festival.)

This Friday, as part of its monthly M&T First Friday event, the AKAG is screening “Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present,” a documentary by Matthew Akers and Jeff Dupre focusing on the wildly unique artist. I had the chance to watch the film on HBO (during a free preview for Fios customers — sigh) and found it fascinating. For a relative Abramovic novice like me, it provided a fine introduction to her work.

Here is what A. O. Scott had to say in the New York Times upon the film’s release:

“’The Artist Is Present,’ the centerpiece of an identically named 2010 retrospective of work by the performance artist Marina Abramovic at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, was one of those rare events that breach the wall dividing the art world from popular culture. Over 90 days — from the beginning of March through the end of May — hundreds of thousands of people streamed through MoMA, lining up (sometimes after camping out on 53rd Street the night before) for the opportunity to see Ms. Abramovic face to face. She sat in a plain wooden chair, gazing straight ahead, silently, into the eyes of whichever museum patron happened to be seated across from her. The effect, as recorded by Matthew Akers in his documentary ‘Marina Abramovic the Artist Is Present,’ was galvanic.”

While the MoMA event is indeed the centerpiece, the documentary also looks in more detail at her career and her personality. And whatever one thinks of Abramovic’s work, the film is compelling, smart, and entertaining.

The screening is free for members, $5 for nonmembers, and opens at 7 p.m. with a lecture by Assistant Curator of Education Jessica DiPalma titled “The World of Marina Abramovic.” The film follows at 7:30 p.m.

Photo courtesy of marinafilm.com

“Blue” Draws Raves and Criticism (But Mostly Raves), Warner Bros. Gangster Classics, and More

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A few quick hits on this Memorial Day.

  • Todd McCarthy breaks down the Cannes winners for the Hollywood Reporter: “Whether it had won or not, this was already destined to be the year of ‘Blue Is the Warmest Color,’ given how everyone had to see it just for the unprecedented and protracted realistic sex scenes between Adele Exarchopoulos and Lea Seydoux in Abdellatif Kechiche’s close-up, three-hour portrait of a female love affair.”
  • Manohla Dargis takes issue with “Blue,” and it will be interesting to see if her opinion will be shared my other major critics as “Blue” heads to the States: “‘It’s disappointing that Mr. Kechiche, whose movies include ‘The Secret of the Grain’ and ‘Black Venus’ (another voyeuristic exercise), seems so unaware or maybe just uninterested in the tough questions about the representation of the female body that feminists have engaged for decades. However sympathetic are the characters and Ms. Exarchopoulos, who produces prodigious amounts of tears and phlegm along with some poignant moments, Mr. Kechiche registers as oblivious to real women.”
  • However, reports Michael Phillips, “Spielberg and his fellow jurors took the unusual step of awarding the top prize not simply to director and co-writer Kechiche, but to the film’s two lead actresses. The jury, he said, felt ‘privileged’ to watch this three-hour film of ‘deep love, deep heartbreak’ evolve at its own pace and rhythm.”
  • I take a look at Warner Bros. new “Ultimate Gangster Collections” today on buffalospree.com. The sets, divided into “classic” and “contemporary,” are pretty stunning; perhaps the film I’m most looking forward to watching again is Michael Mann’s “Heat.” It’s sad to think that De Niro and Pacino have made only a handful (if that) of relevant films since then. But my goodness, that L.A.-set crime epic is pretty special.
  • Speaking of Michael Mann, Ignatiy Vishnevetsky recently penned an interesting short analysis of the director’s “Miami Vice” film, a movie that was received with a collective shrug upon release but now, he says, “has emerged as a major touchstone for my generation of critics. If you’re young and you’re writing seriously about the medium, there’s a good chance that you’re a ‘Miami Vice’ fan.”
  • The “Much Ado About Nothing” hype machine will soon go into overdrive, which kind of thrills me, since I’m hoping to see my name continue popping up. It is NOT mentioned in this NY Times piece, but it’s a good read all the same.

It’s a lovely, sunny Memorial Day in Buffalo — time to get away from the computer and enjoy it.

Image of Cannes winners Abdellatif Kechiche, Léa Seydoux, and Adéle Exarchopoulos, courtesy of the Chicago Tribune