holditnow

Month: December, 2015

Top 3 posts of 2015

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These were the 3 most viewed posts on holditnow in 2015.

Birdman: “a thing is a thing, not what is said of that thing.”

Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) slowly unravels like a sweater caught on a nail. Birdman unspools relentlessly through a continuous maze of backstage corridors and  claustrophobic dressing rooms of a Broadway theatre that could easily stand in for the mythological labyrinth of Minos. Michael Keaton is Riggan Thomas, who is Birdman; who may have or may not have been Icarus. Birdman reads like a Fable. Birdman felt more like a performance than a movie. While watching Birdman, I didn’t want it to end, right up until it did.

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Pinkie and the Blue Boy

It’s the classic boy meets girl story. Married by a curator/collector in 1927 resulting in a relationship cemented by sentimentalism; Thomas Gainsborough’s The Blue Boy 1770 and Sir Thomas Lawrence’s Pinkie 1794 have been eternally entwined in the  collective consciousness of the wigs and keys crowd since the early twentieth century. They are the subjects of endless reproductions, porcelain figurines, commemorative plates and all manner of kitsch. Two youths betrothed to one another by the place they shared on a museum wall. The girl in pink and the boy in blue; how perfect is that?

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Van Gogh vs Picasso

Van Gogh and Picasso are two of the most recognizable names on the planet. Countless books and millions of words have been devoted to their lives and work. Their art changed the way people see the world around them. This fact is no small feet and these men were 2 in 107,602,707,791There weren’t billions of people waiting in line for  Picasso Masterpieces from the Musee National Picasso, Paris in Toronto or for Van Gogh: Up Close in Ottawa but at times it felt like there was. The big names bring the big crowds. For me this is a mixed blessing. I love the fact that people are going en masse to experience art and taking the time to truly look at things but it can make viewing the art troublesome. This summer has been a spoils of riches for the art going public, with two blockbuster shows just four hours away from one another. So, this past week I made my pilgrimage to spend time with two of the icons of western art.

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Happy New Year and see you in 2016.

 

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Jeff Koons: Gazing Ball paintings at Gagosian

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So…. the thing is….umm……in a word….. pointless.

One of my favourite things to do in this world is making mixtapes. I love to spend hours selecting the right songs, more importantly spending hours deciding the right sequence to put them in. A good mixtape should have a wide variety of genres with some hard to find gems along with unexpected favourites. If the painting choices currently on display at the Gagosian gallery in New York are any indication; Jeff Koons just made a pretty crappy mixed tape.

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Don’t get me wrong, I love, love El Greco’s View of Toledo and Rubens’ Tiger Hunt and the Turner etc.. but the versions I love have the right scale and don’t have a shiny blue ball in the middle of them.Jeff’s mixtape is all bad covers that drain the life from the originals. I kind of get why Mr. Koons decided to pursue this body of work as a logical extension of his gazing ball sculptures, but that doesn’t make it good. I like the Gazing Ball statues. The white and the blue play very nicely together.

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The blue here clashes with most of the paintings (with a few exceptions), but the bigger problem is the ‘why’? What are the viewers meant to get out of this? Are these solely meant for rich buyers who can’t have the real Rembrandt self-portrait or Van Gogh Wheat Field but still want to drop a ludicrous amount of money on a painstakingly recreated copy with a famous name attached to it?

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While looking at them I felt sorry for the team of underpaid factory workers whose job it was to make them. I imagined it was like the equivalent of stripping to put yourself through college. Maybe I’m missing something, I can see myself in these paintings… literally, you’re right there reflected in the blue ball. Is that it, the Jeff Koons running gag about being able to see yourself in his artwork,although you’ll never be able to afford them? Simultaneously in and out.

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Or are the blue balls the naked girl at the picnic? Meant to shock and stand out. Who knows or more importantly who cares? I think Jeff should stick to sculpture, it’s what he’s good at and leave the mixtapes alone.

Lists the Season: 2015 TV edition

fhaar4dFqK2O7cqdiU9UrsHObzeIt’s that wonderful time of the year again; when we organize our lives into easily readable bullet-ed points rating our experiences from good to bad. Who doesn’t love lists? Many of you reading this right now probably have a few lists on the go as we speak: presents to buy, food to make, movies to watch etc.. So here’s my contribution: the top 10 TV shows of 2015. I’ll start by saying, it was another great year for the small screen. We said goodbye to a few old friends and were introduced to a few new ones. There were a few ‘what did I just witness’ moments along with ‘that went south quick’ ( cough, cough, True Detective season 2) . So without further ado…

0213durst0110. The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst

This six part HBO series paints a disturbing portrait of a man whose reality feels like it was pulled straight from the pages of pulp horror novel with one of the year’s biggest holy crap moments.

Mr.Robot239. Mr. Robot

Mr. Robot does a lot with a little. Social anxiety never looked so good. I’m not sure the big twist really works for me, but I’m invested enough to see where this thing’s headed.

maste_s1_003_h.08. Master of None

Aziz Ansari has created a slice of life comedy that functions one part Seinfeld, one part Bored to Death and one part romantic comedy. The best part is that he cast his real parents to play his parents.

marvel-jessica-jones-david-tennant7. Jessica Jones

Finally a Marvel villan worth watching. David Tennant does a wonderful job painting a sinister picture of the ultimate ex-boyfriend from hell. A superhero show that dispenses with the cape and concentrates on the fall out.

key-and-peele-26. Key and Peele

These two together are going to be sorely missed.

episode-01-1024.jpg5. Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

This year we lost Letterman, Jon Stewart and the Colbert Report but luckily we still have Mr. Oliver to tell it like it is.

wet-hot-american-summer-netflix_article_story_large4.Wet Hot American Summer First Day of Camp

The combination of 40 year-olds playing teenagers and 80’s power rock hits that camp nostalgia sweet spot like a deep breath of Polo cologne with underlying traces of Deep Woods Off.

peggy 3. Mad Men

Mad Men’s stellar seven season run ended on a high note; giving the history of television one of the best series closings of all time.

maxresdefault2. Better Call Saul

How could this not be good coming from the team that brought us Breaking Bad?

Screen Shot 2015-10-13 at 12_12_14 AM1.Fargo

This show has style for days: great characters, great performances, great dialogue, amazing cinematography, great soundtrack …… great show.

 

Star Wars The Force Awakens Review

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*Very Minor Spoilers*

This will be a brief review, with a more in depth one to follow after more people have had a chance to see the film and a real discussion can take place about the story and where our heroes (old and new) have found themselves.

I’ll start by saying; I am a huge fan of the franchise and love it warts and all. It’s partially because of those warts that I have such affection for it. In preparation for tonight’s screening, I went back and watched the original Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back this week, but ran out of time before I could see Jedi. I have to say nostalgia goggles do play tricks on the mind. In some ways the original movies play like a series of wonderful vignettes sloppily taped together with their slips showing the whole time. The longer you stare the larger the holes are, but the more times you watch, the more inconsequential the gaps become. We don’t care about the gaps because we just want to see Han’s ‘the cat that ate the canary’ grin or Luke whining about not being able ‘to go to Toshi Station to pick up some power converters’.

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There are a few moments in The Force Awakens that make you cringe slightly on your first watch, but that you know after repeated viewings will be little pieces of anticipated dialogue. An example that comes to mind is when Finn (Jon Boyega)  looks up at the sky and sees an X-Wing flown by Poe (Oscar Isaac) and says something like ‘That pilot sure can fly!’ Only in a Star Wars movie could a character say something so awkwardly obvious and some how come off kind of endearing. Daisy Ridly (Rey) and Harrison Ford (Han Solo) steal the show and Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren delivers a villain with a back story worth watching.  This chapter is definitely a return to form warts and all, that will make you want to see it again and again.

You had me at “in a galaxy far far away…” .

Related: Star Wars in the Age of Social Media

 

Even a Stopped Clock Gives the Right Time Twice a Day

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So a lot has happened since my failed attempt at soothsaying. I got Clara’s story spectacularly wrong but I may have stumbled half-assed  backwards into a plot device for Heaven Sent. I’m self awarding myself an over-sized participation ribbon for my efforts.

Truth be told, no one could have predicted the specific details of Clara’s endgame, considering all the so called ‘rules’ for her demise were spontaneously created for that particular episode. ‘You can give the death-clock tattoo to another person but then you can’t take it away from that other person after they’ve accepted it’ feels pretty made-up plot devicey. We get it: Clara needed to die from her reckless out-smarting herself with a pinch of altruism. I felt overall, it was a little less than satisfying. Another truth be told, I’m a Clara fan and I will miss the impossible girl, but maybe it was time for her to move on.

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This leads us to the events that happen in Heaven Sent. I don’t know about you, but I love it when the Doctor gets to spewing all fire and brimstone like he does at the beginning of this episode, and I don’t think any other Doctor delivers it better than Peter Capaldi. If you’ve ever seen The Thick of It than you know that this man can say things that would make a prison guard blush and intimidate a charging elephant. As great as all the other Doctors have been, I don’t think any of them could have pulled off the groundhog day shepherd boy story-line as well as he did. It’s hard to picture Matt Smith punching his way through a mountain made of a substance 40 times harder than diamond for 2 billion years. This episode was tailor made for the 12th Doctor.

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So sadly, we’re coming to the end of a mostly excellent season – and of course don’t forget the Christmas Special ( which like most of you who might be reading this, has become a family tradition). I’m not going to make any predictions, but I will leave you with one last hyphenated word (once I started I couldn’t stop)  that I think will sum up Hell Bent: nitty-gritty.