LE JOUR SE LEVE directed by MARCEL CARNE (1939)
Running time: 93 minutes
In French with subtitles
Know how Dr. Strangelove has one of them trailing additional titles (... or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb), like When the Pawn ... ? This movie has one in my brain: Le Jour Se Leve, or How I Get to Pretend Like I'm Dating Jean Gabin. One of the perks of speaking French is that I can stare at him without having to read the sous-titres. AND I can take lyrical amusement in the title, which translates to the film's American title — Daybreak — but literally means "the day, it rises." Awesome.
Le Jour Se Leve is part character study, part one-man show, but is known for defining the French genre of poetic realism. So-called poetic realist films (including another Jean Gabin gem, Grand Illusion) just remind me of early American noir. But I could be missing the point and oversimplifying the era, soooo I don't put too fine a point on this genre BUT delight in its aesthetic elegance and composition.
The movie is about Francois (Jean Gabin) committing a murder and hiding out, and we get the story of his life via flashbacks. It wouldn't be a Janus film without some sexy drama attached to it, and this film has plenty! Upon its release it was suppressed by the Vichy government because of its "demoralizing" nature, and then, when it was to be remade in Hollywood in the late 1940's, RKO endeavored to buy up and destroy every existing copy of it they could find. But they didn't get 'em all! And also, now, Internet.
Jean Gabin was reportedly Sergio Leone's favorite actor, which makes sense, because he'd be a killer strong, silent type in a spaghetti Western. He's more of my imaginary not-alive-anymore movie boyfriend. Still, my heart is with Oskar Werner. And wouldn't you know which Janus classic is up next on the docket ...
Nashville filmmaker Shawn Foster wants to recreate the days when rock-star jai-alai athletes sold out frontons (arenas) and lived like kings in South Florida's coke-soaked underworld. Toward that end, Foster — a veteran music-video maker who's worked with everyone from the Deftones to the Drive-By Truckers, while directing episodes of HBO's popular Zane's Sex Chronicles — is mounting an Indiegogo campaign to raise $50,000 toward his planned feature Urquidi, which he describes as "Rocky meets Boogie Nights" (!). So far he's raised $1,440 with 18 days to go, and the campaign ends Dec. 14.
Read more about it. And if you like what you see, scoop up some cash in your basket-shaped xistera and toss it Foster's way.
Kilmer assumes the persona of the beloved humorist in Citizen Twain, which comes to the Ryman Feb. 7. Tickets go on sale this Friday at 10 a.m.
Check out Stephen Trageser's story on Holbrook's performance at the Schermerhorn, which includes some commentary on Kilmer's Twain piece, here. And check out a Twain-worthy remark about the whole affair from the Scene's D. Patrick Rodgers here.
We can only imagine what would happen if Holbrook and Kilmer took the stage at once. If ever the Twains shall meet. Bada bing!
Of course, Kilmer is no stranger to Nashville. A couple of years ago, he came to town to star in Harmony Korine's "Lotus Community Workshop," a 26-minute film that was part of an omnibus from the folks at Vice, The Fourth Dimension. (Directors Alexey Fedorchenko and Jan Kwiecinski also contributed shorts.)
Check out "Lotus Community Workshop" after the jump. Kilmer turns in a pretty hysterical performance. Definitely worth watching. The full Citizen Twain press release follows.
There's been a run of successful artist talks in Nashville this season — Sanford Biggers, Nina Chanel Abney, even Alicia Henry, the reclusive Nashville-based artist, spoke about her work in front of an audience recently. But what about curators, the organizing, galvanizing force that works between the artists and their audience? Luckily, Adrienne Outlaw is on it. She's moderating a talk with curator Michelle Grabner at the Nashville Public Library on Dec. 17 as part of her Insight? Outta Site! lecture series. The series is designed to be more of a conversation with the audience than a lecture, with Outlaw acting as moderator and provocateur.
The full press release follows:
Seed Space and Nashville Public Library present an Insight? Outta Site! talk with Michelle Grabner, co-curator of the 2014 Whitney Biennial, on Tues., Dec. 17, 12-1 p.m. in the auditorium of the Nashville Public Library, main branch. Designed to ignite creativity and discussion about contemporary art and social engagement, the Insight? Outta Site! forum consists of Q and A-style talks led by the audience and moderated by Adrienne Outlaw. Grabner will talk about the upcoming biennial, the art spaces she co-runs and her work, determined by questions from the audience.
Michelle Grabner is an internationally lauded artist, critic, educator, gallerist, and curator.
Represented by Shane Campbell Gallery, Chicago and Anne Mosseri-Marlio, Zurich, Grabner has exhibited nationally and internationally at venues including the Musée d´art Grand-Duc Jean, Luxembourg; Tate St. Ives, UK; Stadtgalerie, Keil; Kunsthalle, Bern; Daimler Contemporary, Berlin; Rocket, London;
Cranbrook Art Museum; The Walker Art Center; The Milwaukee Art Museum; Turbinehallerne, Copenhagen; and The Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland, among others.
In 1999 Grabner founded the artist-run project space The Suburban with her husband Brad Killan. In 2009 they started the nonprofit exhibition space The Poor Farm, both of which they continue to run.
Grabner is an editor for X-TRA and a contributor to such publications as Artforum, Modern Painters, Frieze, Art Press, and Art Agenda. She is professor and chair of Painting and Drawing at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and recent senior critic at Yale University in the Department of Painting and Printmaking.
For more on Grabner and her participation in the 2014 biennial, read Alicia Eler's Hyperallergic article from last year.
We want The Belcourt to keep its retrospectives coming, just for the awesome trailers staffer Zack Hall devises for them. If you haven't seen his latest — for the Coen Brothers' 10-film 30-year retro starting Dec. 6 — check it out here. (The last line gets a laugh every time we see it in the theater.)
CBS has ascended to top-dog status among broadcast networks through a careful strategy of maximizing predictable programs that earn critical scorn (at best) and viewer acclaim. From CSI and Criminal Minds to Survivor (whatever this year's emphasis might be) and Big Brother to The Big Bang Theory and Two and a Half Men, no one ever accused a CBS show of deviating from whatever formula works.
Which is why it's been stunning to see The Eye make bold moves with two cornerstone programs in midseason. During the same week CBS took huge, potentially unpopular steps with two highly popular shows, and one has already generated an online firestorm.
The death of Joss Carter (superbly played by Taraji P. Henson) on Person of Interest hasn't gone down well in some circles, notably among black viewers. Henson brought a mix of elegance, integrity and resourcefulness to her character, who was determined to expose the corrupt element within the NYPD known as "HR." Carter had already endured the loss of a close friend and lover, survived a demotion, and outwitted previous attempts at permanently silencing her.
But her death on the Nov. 19 episode, while a marvelous move in terms of plotting, hasn't been universally applauded. In fact, Henson has been doing some post-episode diplomatic work, explaining that she knew on the front end her character had two, at best three years within the story line — and that while she felt sad to see Carter killed, she loved working on the program and understood the creative necessity for taking that plot step.
That hasn't satisifed the legions of viewers who complain — rightly — that there's not exactly a surplus of strong, positive black female characters on network TV. And now here's CBS killing off one of them.
Still, that sets up an exceptional revenge finale to the three-part arc billed as "Endgame" on the Nov. 27 episode (WTVF-Channel 5, 9 p.m.). Reese (Jim Caviezel) will display a side of his personality that has always been present, but before has been muted by his efforts to help others. Now that he's on a vigilante crusade, all bets are off.
Whether the death of Carter ultimately helps or hurts Person of Interest, it is the type of shocker rarely seen on a show in mid-season. Usually, producers and writers either do it at year's end to propel interest for a new season, or at the start of a final season to provide a hook through the year.
At Vanderbilt's StudioVU lecture last week, artist Sanford Biggers spoke about the quilt drawings he's been making in the past year. He's an extremely prolific artist, but this series struck me as his most layered and thought-provoking. I transcribed what he said about the quilts below, and included some of the best examples of those quilts after the jump. Be sure to watch the above video piece he made with his band Moon Medicine — it incorporates the stories of the quilts in a way that words alone cannot.
Sanford Biggers: I have a master's degree in painting, but I've mostly not been painting for the majority of my career — until lately. It all started because I did a project in Philadelphia that I was exploring different stops and locations along the Underground Railroad. And as I did that, through my research I started to hear a lot about quilts reportedly being used in the Underground Railroad as signposts. People would fold the quilt a certain way, or show a certain pattern or a certain color, and that would indicate that the safe house was in fact safe, or that they were under surveillance and people should keep moving, or they should travel a few more miles and they can turn — they were like maps, almost. So I took that idea and started to collect antique quilts — 1700s and 1800s, nothing past 1900 — and start to paint directly onto the existing quilt.
The creative minds behind Tremors — director Ron Underwood, screenwriters S.S. Wilson and Brent Maddock — never did anything before or after that would suggest where the near perfection (heh) of this droll, perfectly pitched horror comedy came from. That's OK — most careers never manage even one Tremors, a cheery, good-natured and hugely entertaining throwback to ’50s monster movies about prehistoric subterranean worms menacing the quirky inhabitants of a dustblown desert town.
So what makes it special? A lighthearted tone that never slips into camp or fake jocularity; genuinely cool monsters; shock scenes that don't violate the essentially comic spirit; a script that wrings clever situations from the premise that any kind of ground disturbance lures the worms (footsteps! cars! pogo sticks!). Above all, there's a delightful ensemble led by the comedy team of Fred Ward and Kevin Bacon, playing the local lunkheads trying to figure out how to survive in order to claim their new ticket to national fame.
The scene-stealer here among a choice cast, however, is one Reba McEntire. Who knows how she arrived at the decision to make her film debut playing an unflappable gun-toting survivalist with a basement stash of firepower, but her legendary career acumen didn't fail her here. The movie wasn't a hit in theaters, but on home video it proved such a smash that it spawned a fleet of sequels that never matched the original. It's taken on eternal life as a cable favorite — but it's way more fun in a theater.
Thank you, 30 Americans exhibit, for giving me a new favorite artist to obsess over: Nina Chanel Abney, whose work in the Frist exhibit includes an installation of 25 small paintings and one monumental one, is one of the most interesting young artists in the show. I was so glad to learn that she'd be coming through Nashville to speak about her work, and jumped at the chance to do a quick Q&A with her over email earlier this week. Read our correspondence below, and listen to her speak about her work in person tonight at the Frist — her Artist's Perspective lecture starts at 6:30 p.m.
Country Life: In the documentary they screen in the exhibit, you talk about your inexperience with contemporary art education growing up. I'm fascinated with that, specifically because I think this exhibit might show a lot of Nashville kids what great contemporary art can look like, perhaps even for the first time. Can you talk a little bit about your lack of exposure to art, and if it affected how you come to your work?
Nina Chanel Abney: I am from the Midwest, specifically the south suburbs of Chicago. Back when I was in college, I feel like unless you attended the Art Institute of Chicago, most wouldn't have much experience with contemporary art. I didn't even really understand how artists made money at that time, let alone what performance art or an installation was. I just think with most things, especially in the creative fields, if you reside in the heart of the city or close proximity to, you are exposed to much more and even "ahead of the game" in that you are right in the midst of the action.
When I first moved to New York, I think my lack of exposure to contemporary art and the "art world" gave me a naivety that allowed me to approach my work with a complete sense of freedom. But it also pushed me to rely on my intuition, and I have been working intuitively ever since.
Nashville’s weirdest arts and exploitation venue, the Cult Fiction Underground in the basement of Logue’s Black Raven Emporium, continues to grow and expand its fascinating and freaky slate of programming. In addition to the weekend cult movie fare and theme parties that were their initial bread and buttered popcorn, they’ve added several new regular events.
The popular “Night of Free Speech” poetry and prose readings, hosted by literary agent provocateur, Honest Lewis, are held on the 2nd and 4th Tuesday of every month. The first Monday of each month brings the roar of “hogs” with “Motorcycle Mayhem” — a free screening of a chopper classic. Mystery Science Theater 3000 brings the “Satellite of Love” to the Underground every Thursday and is hosted by Cat Beast Party queen Angie Doren and DJ “Matt the PM” from Radio Free Nashville. The Walking Dead is on the big screen every Sunday night and there is more in the works for the near future.
For this weekend, Friday brings a special one-night only showing of the best anti-pot, pro-Christian, killer mutated turkey-man movie ever made — Blood Freak. If you don’t believe me, just check out the wondrous NSFW trailer above, or the blurb from this week's Scene:
What Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny is to Christmas, director Brad Grinter’s infamous 1972 opus is to Thanksgiving: namely, a rancid spoonful of cinematic castor oil guaranteed to cure you of holiday spirit. In this Florida-shot Christian scare film, a dude takes LSD and faces the inevitable consequences. Which is to say, he morphs into a giant turkey monster with a head that looks like the ham costume the kid wore in To Kill a Mockingbird, then menaces victims with a terrifying “Gobble!” (I am not making this up.) In between shocks, director Grinter chain-smokes and hack-coughs his way through the story’s moral lessons in front of the grubbiest plywood-paneling set this side of an amateur porn festival.
Then Saturday break out the bathrobes and bowling gloves for the first Big Lebowski Fashion Show and Bowling Party. They may even have some of that good sarsaparilla at the bar.
How about "WeHo"?
Franco's role in the action turkey HOMEFRONT is essentially his SPRING BREAKERS character without a…
I saw THE MANITOU at one of Nashville's long-gone downtown theaters in '78. Boy, was…
Thank you for this excellent coverage, Stephen! I was stuck inside the cube all day…
If you're looking for Prohibition-era gangster drama, the movie LAWLESS has been turning up a…