A thread that runs through all creative mediums from fashion to architecture to cinema is that cultural icons of the bygone days can be fertile inspiration for the contemporary creative imagination. It was in this spirit that Ghanaian-American filmmaker Akosua Adoma Owusu wrote and directed her short film, Kwaku Ananse. Starring rising talent Jojo Abot, palmwine legend Koo Nimo and film veteran Grace Omaboe, the film is a reimagining of the classic Ghanaian tale of the spider. Supported by the Africa First film program, Kwaku Ananse went on to win an African Movie Academy Award and screened this year at the Durban and Toronto International film festivals.
Akosua’s current project is also a reimagining of sorts. This time, she hopes to add social relevance to Ghana’s iconic Rex Cinema house. Once a central element of entertainment in Accra, the Rex has fallen into disrepair and is at risk of being sold. The idea is to transform the now dormant structure into a vibrant multimedia artspace in the middle of Accra. To bring about this transformation, Akosua has started a kickstarter campaign called “Damn the Man, Save the Rex”. If funded, the campaign plans to renovate the building as well as install new projection and sound systems, creating a meeting place for members of Ghana’s growing arts community to showcase their talents. Read more.
Like a few of the world’s other major movie-going cities, Los Angeles often presents impossible choices for the exploring cinephile. And tonight, Sunday, provides a doozy.
Where to go? To Westwood, to the Billy Wilder Theater, where UCLA Film & Television Archive continues its remarkable “A Century of Chinese Cinema” survey with two exceptionally rare early 1950s, post-Revolutionary films (in 35mm) at 7pm?
Or downtown, to REDCAT, where Los Angeles Filmforum has invited the pioneering American experimentalist Bruce Baillie to present (in person) an array of his 1960s classics, including the premiere of a previously unreleased work, also at 7 pm? Read more.
The Hollywood Reporter Unveils the Industry's Top Music Schools
The Hollywood Reporter's ranking of the top 10 music schools reveals a unique hierarchy of institutional standing. Based on a survey of academic and entertainment insiders -- including composers, arrangers, music supervisors, editors and engineers from The Society of Composers & Lyricists -- both traditional conservatories and innovative programs that funnel talent to Hollywood resonate among those who have graduated to the professional sphere. One clear advantage: proximity to Los Angeles, where extracurricular experience awaits. Read more.
Robert Atkins introduced the latest edition of his book ArtSpeak at the New York Public Library last night by admitting that artspeak has gotten a bad rap. “Somehow the language used for describing and discussing art has a reputation for unusual opacity, even sadism,” he said.
That’s the artspeak also known as International Art English, the scourge of artist’s statements, press releases, and catalogues, a language so riddled with semiotic buzzwords that any potential meaning is obscured.
ArtSpeak, the book, is not like that. It’s where you go to find out, quickly and clearly, what Semiotics means. Read more.
Is Beth Behrs Anything Like Her Character on ‘2 Broke Girls’?
If you mean did Beth Behrs, 27, grow up with a silver spoon in her mouth, the answer is no. She elaborates, saying, “The biggest difference for me is Caroline came from a billionaire background and went to nothing. I can relate to the nothing part, to being broke, but it was hard for me to imagine what her [before] life would have been like.”
Another difference is that Behrs is not a New Yorker. Rather, she was born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania and grew up in Marin County, California. And while Caroline attended Wharton Business School, Behrs, who has had a passion for performing since she was very young, attended the American Conservatory Theater (ACT) in San Francisco, CalArts in Valencia, California, followed by UCLA’s School of Theater, Film and Television.
Yet a third difference is that while Caroline is still working to make her dream come true, for Behrs, “2 Broke Girls” is her dream coming true. Read more.
Henry Selick on Directing ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’
What’s this? Twenty years ago, an $18 million stop-motion-animated musical featuring a singing and dancing skeleton was quietly released in theaters. But the film took on a life of its own after it left cinemas and, millions of Sally dolls and Hot Topic t-shirts later, The Nightmare Before Christmas is now considered a Halloween classic.
Directed by Henry Selick and produced/co-written by Tim Burton, The Nightmare Before Christmas centers on Jack Skellington (voiced by Chris Sarandon), the de facto ruler of ghoulish Halloween Town. But he’s become tired of celebrating Halloween each and every year. One day, he opens a portal to Christmas Town, and decides to switch things up a bit—kidnapping Santa Claus, and recreating the yuletide cheer in Halloween Town. Meanwhile, Jack has fallen for a rag doll named Sally (voiced by Catherine O’Hara), and wishes to free her from the clutches of her creator, the resident mad scientist Doctor Finkelstein.
Featuring eye-catching gothic design and beautiful musical numbers by Danny Elfman, the film grossed a meager $50 million when it was first released in theaters, but has made countless millions in merchandise sales since. Read more.
Lou Reed, who died yesterday at age 71, was a supreme songwriter, storyteller, and scourge of music journalists (just read Lester Bangs or listen to Reed’s between-song harangues on his 1978 album Take No Prisoners). He imbued rock music with gravity, menace, and insolence. Reed sang about discovery, whether he was finding a reason or rushing on a run and feeling just like Jesus' son or turning on the radio and being saved by rock and roll. These appeals took his listeners—musicians, artists, a certain dissident Czech playwright, and countless estranged urban denizens—to places where they sought their own voices.
Some have argued that Reed’s work brought the street and the literary avant-garde together, but it was more the fact that he innately understood what the two realms had in common. For Reed, it was about recognizing the humanity that resided within the strangeness, acknowledging that even in dreams there were responsibilities. Growing up, Reed listened to doo-wop even as he immersed himself in the stories of outsiders in books by Nelson Algren, Hubert Selby Jr., and John Rechy. He studied and drank at Syracuse with poet and short story writer Delmore Schwartz, to whom he would dedicate the song “European Son” and sing to in “My House” on The Blue Mask. Reed’s next mentor would be Andy Warhol, who would produce the Velvet Underground and to whom Reed later paid tribute on the stirring 1990 album that reunited him with his Velvet Underground compatriot John Cale, Songs for Drella.
If Reed had done nothing but the first four albums with the Velvet Underground, that would have been more than enough for inclusion into the rock ‘n’ roll pantheon. Read more.
It may look like the group of 30 people sitting in UCLA Hammer Museum’s Lindbrook Terrace staring intently at the Nintendo 3DSes in their laps are twiddling their thumbs, but each of them is battling foreign species, trading animals or exploring the new world of “Pokemon X and Y.”
These 30 gamers participated at the “Pokemon at the Hammer” panel discussion and event last Saturday afternoon to celebrate the release of “Pokemon X and Y,” battle each other and share their love of Pokemon. “Pokemon X and Y” is the most recent iteration of the Pokemon game series and was released worldwide two weeks ago.
The Pokemon panel was broadcasted live on the radio as part of the KCHUNG radio residency at the Hammer Museum. The two hosts of the KCHUNG radio show “Outbreak: Comics and More,” Brent Freaney and John Martin aka “Johnnie JungleGuts”, led the panel. Read More.
Gary Simmons Wins Studio Museum in Harlem’s 2013 Wein Prize
Artist Gary Simmons has been named the winner of this year’s Joyce Alexander Wein prize by the Studio Museum in Harlem. Each year, the prize, which comes with $50,000, recognizes an African-American artist who demonstrates great innovation, promise, and creativity. Simmons received his MFA at the California Institute of the Arts, and has been featured in solo shows at venues that range from the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden to Kunsthaus Zurich. His work is in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, among other institutions. Previous winners of the Wein prize include Jennie C. Jones and Leonardo Drew. Read More (Please scroll down for news item).
Gary Simmons Wins Studio Museum’s Joyce Alexander Wein Prize
The artist Gary Simmons has won the Studio Museum in Harlem’s Joyce Alexander Wein Prize, the museum announced today. The prize comes with $50,000. Mazel! Full release below:
NEW YORK, NY, OCTOBER 25, 2013—The Studio Museum in Harlem has awarded the eighth annual Joyce Alexander Wein Artist Prize to Gary Simmons. The Wein Prize, one of the most significant awardsgiven to individual artists in the United States today, was established in 2006 by jazz impresario, musician and philanthropist George Wein to honor his late wife, a long-time Trustee of the Studio Museum and awoman whose life embodied a commitment to the power and possibilities of art and culture.
The $50,000 award recognizes and honors the artistic achievements of an African-American artist who demonstratesgreat innovation, promise and creativity.Inspired by his wife’s life-long support of living artists, George Wein envisioned the Wein Prize as an extension of the Studio Museum’s mission to support experimentation and excellence in contemporary art.Director and Chief Curator Thelma Golden and more than 700 guests will celebrate the eighth Wein Prize at the Museum’s Gala 2013 on Monday, October 28, 2013. Read More.