This Weekend at LACMA: Eakins Lecture, Film Foundation Series, and More

October 8, 2010

Exhibitions, lectures, concerts, films… we’ve got a little of everything this weekend. On the exhibition front, there are seven different special exhibitions on view right now, starting with Olmec, Fashioning Fashion, and Eye for the Sensual in the new Resnick Pavilion. In the Ahmanson Building you’ll find In the Service of the Buddha: Tibetan Furniture from the Hayward Family Collection and EATLACMA. Harvest time is approaching for the artist-created gardens of EATLACMA, so keep on the lookout as you walk around campus. Finally, there’s Catherine Opie: Figure and Landscape and Manly Pursuits: The Sporting Images of Thomas Eakins, both of which close next week.

 

Thomas Eakins, Wrestlers, 1899.

 

Saturday would be an ideal day to take in Eakins, as we’re also holding a special symposium, “The Body Imagined: Sports & Art in American Culture, Then & Now.” Tad Beck, the artist behind the Palimpsest exhibition embedded within Manly Pursuits, will be on hand, along with Los Angeles Times sports journalist Mike Bresnahan; Jennifer Doyle, professor at UC Riverside; and Amy Werbel, professor at St. Michael’s College, all discussing the role of sports and art in the evolving cultural attitudes toward the human body. The lecture is free and starts at 1 pm.

 

Muhammad Aza, Portrait of Nasir ud din Haidar, c. 1830. India, Uttar Pradesh, Lucknow. Oil on canvas 36-1/4 x 28-3/8 in. (92.1 x 72.1 cm). Collection Drs. Aziz and Deanna Khan. Photo courtesy Drs. Aziz and Deanna Khan.

 

Sunday sees another lecture, also free: “Lucknow through the Lens of Bollywood.” The lively presentation of film clips from Hindi and Bollywood directors from the 1960s to the present will also include a live tabla performance. This will be a good primer for our upcoming exhibition, India’s Fabled City: The Art of Courtly Lucknow, opening in December.

If music is your game, we’ve got two free concerts. Tonight (Friday), the Ernie Watts Quartet plays Jazz at LACMA. Watts is a two-time Grammy winner and has played with plenty of greats over the last forty years, from Cannonball Adderly to Frank Zappa. Sunday, we continue our Sundays Live series with another concert be performers from the New England Conservatory, in celebration of Robert Schumann’s bicentennial.

This weekend also kicks off our latest film series, a 20th Anniversary Tribute to the Film Foundation. The series will run every weekend for the rest of the month and features a diverse slate of films—all of which have been restored and preserved by the Film Foundation. Tonight sees a noir double feature with The Big Combo and They Made Me a Fugitive. Saturday, the foreign masterpiece Pather Panchali will be followed by the dance classic The Red Shoes. Here’s a trailer for the latter:

Stretching into next week, we should note that Monday is a holiday—we’ll be open (but not free, as we are for other holiday Mondays). But Tuesday we will be free, as we are on the second Tuesday of every month If you’re free you should come down, maybe catch The Swan, with Grace Kelly and Alec Guinness, during the Tuesday Matinee—just two bucks!

Scott Tennent


Tarzan vs IBM: Manny Farber (1917-2008)

October 20, 2008

At the time of Manny Farber’s death this summer, he hadn’t published any film criticism since the late seventies, focusing instead on his collage-like, perspective-defying paintings. (The image used here appears in the latest issue of CinemaScope, which also includes a “guide to Farber“). For me, Farber remains the greatest film critic the United States ever produced (check some of his greatest hits at the invaluable Greencine blog). He ventured further out than most of his peers, all the while maintaining the swiftness and vinegary tone of a thirties B-picture roughneck and the incisive poetics of a Frankfurt school brainiac. His bebop syntax, brut exuberance, and sculptural texture are all immediately striking. But there’s also a ceaseless squirreling of ideas amid all that kinetic language.

Manny Farber, Sherlock Jr., 1982

Too much film criticism remains just perfunctory writing at the service of utilitarian opinions. Farber’s clutter of angles and tangents, the vulgar modernism and pulp formalism, always served a wealth of ideas. A champion of Wellman and Akerman, Walsh and Snow, his taste can only be considered eclectic when set against an incurious narrowness of cultists or so-called experts. Consider this sentence, written somewhat prophetically in 1968, on Godard:

At the end of this director’s career, there will probably be a hundred films, each one a bizarrely different species, with its own excruciatingly singular skeleton, tendons, plumage… already he has a zoo that includes a pink parakeet (A Woman Is a Woman), diamond-black snake (Contempt), whooping crane (Band of Outsiders), jack rabbit (Carabiniers) and a mock Monogram turtle (Breathless).

Godard and Farber cross paths at this year’s Viennale Film Festival. Godard’s first transmission in years is an erstwhile “trailer” for the festival; there will also be a sidebar tribute at the fest devoted to films of Farber’s liking. Surprisingly, it’ll only include slapstick silents. It seems much of Farber remains unexplored terrain.

Bernardo Rondeau


The Exile Cinema of Edward Yang

October 7, 2008

Of the blows cinema suffered in 2007, a year when it lost Michelangelo Antonioni and Ingmar Bergman, perhaps none hurt me more than the sudden passing of Edward Yang at the age of 59. After receiving his first-ever full U.S. release with the roundly praised and awarded Yi Yi (aka A One and a Two) in 2000, at the time of his death Yang had yet to produce a follow-up.

Yang was actually based in Los Angeles for a long time and is even buried here. Though born on mainland China, Yang’s life was split between Taiwan and the U.S.; his time here increased as he grew disillusioned with the film industry in his homeland. Though all of his works are rooted in the specificity of Taipei’s perpetual urban reinvention, he eventually returns to the city of his youth as if from exile. I hear that Yi Yi has not been released there to this day.

Yang’s parents remain in Seattle, where he studied to be an engineer and, anecdote has it, was initiated to the pleasure dome of cinema through the epic atmospherics of Aguirre, the Wrath of God. Yang’s own films (he made seven features) are set amidst an equally dynamic environment, though high-rise-crowded vistas and poured concrete panoramas replace Herzog’s tropical luxuriance.

It’s no surprise that Gao Wendong’s new film Sweet Food City pays tribute to Yang. Set in an unvaryingly decrepit complex that encompasses cramped flats and ramshackle storefronts, it’s a picture-perfect microcosm for the megalopolises that Yang saw on the horizon.

I’m pleased we’re paying tribute at LACMA to this under-screened and increasingly prescient filmmaker, whom the world lost far too early.

Bernardo Rondeau


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