There are parts of Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s The Revenant I like and parts I like less. There are some truly unforgettable sequences in this sprawling tale of a broken Hugh Glass’s will to survive, along with a few elements that detract more than compliment. The Oscar buzz surrounding this one is thick, especially for its star Leonardo Dicaprio. Does his performance deserve it? He physically went through hell for this role; from wading into freezing rivers, crawling and dragging himself across a frozen landscape, eating raw buffalo meat and so on. For his commitment and what he endured I think he earned it. Was it the best piece of acting he’s ever done, hard to say? The academy has a way of awarding people for their past achievements through their current projects and at this point Leo is due. If he doesn’t win, then the ‘what do I have to do to impress these people? I ate raw buffalo meat for god’s sake!’ comments would come fast and furious.
Why exactly did Leo and the rest of the crew put themselves through such extreme circumstances? For art? Art has a weird way of gaining access to things that other human endeavors seem to be shut out of. A big caveat it seems to hang its hat on is the nobility of suffering. If this is the case, then The Revenant is of the 10 gallon persuasion. The film is based partially on the true life story of Hugh Glass who was a fur-trapper in the early 19th century. The real story goes: that in 1823, deep in the wilderness, while out setting traps he was attacked and mauled badly by a Grizzly bear protecting her cubs. Hugh Glass was severely injured and unable to travel. The rest of his hunting party needed to continue on so they left two men to take care of him and bury him when he passed. The two men left with this task were John Fitzgerald (played by a brilliant Tom Hardy in the movie) and a younger gentleman (Will Poulter). The two men assuming Glass was on death’s door pack up and abandon him but Mr. Glass had other plans. This is enough story, but then Hollywood tries to spin its magic and that’s where things go south. I don’t want to spoil anything so I won’t go into details, but all the magic embellishments kind of distract from what could have been a brilliant movie.
The movie is flawed, but definitely worth seeing, especially on the big screen. There are two reasons to see this film: 1.the landscape captured in natural light is absolutely gorgeous, 2. the bear attack sequence is one of the most visceral terrifying bits of film making in recent memory.
Prolific doesn’t even come close. Pablo Ruiz Picasso was an endless well of creativity. He did things that predict and predate art movements and styles decades before they are fully realized by following generations of artists. Picasso Sculpture on now at The Museum of Modern Art in New York highlights; that 43 years after his death, he is still teaching us a thing or two about combining a thing or two.
The show is a marvel of objects collected from every phase of his career. Cubism has it’s rightful place along with many of his other styles. There was even an area showcasing all of the maquettes he developed for his large public works.
Picasso approached sculpture the same way he approached painting. He is at his best when he combines unexpected elements into alarming results along with capturing the essence of something with what looks like very little effort.
The best example of this I can point out is his Bull’s Head made from a bicycle seat and handle bars. The concept is mischievously simple but it’s impact is enormous. It has elements of the readymade and the combine all the while screaming Picasso.
Sometimes he’s subtle and sometimes he’s bombastic but he’s always surprising.
This was a great survey of one of the titans of Modern Art that delighted as much as it enlightened. On until Feb 7th.
Marcel Duchamp was her art adviser, Max Ernst was one of her husbands, she once got drunk with James Joyce, she lived in Paris in the 20’s during the golden age along with the Fitzgeralds and the Josephine Bakers, Man Ray took her picture, Samuel Beckett was one her many lovers, her father went down on the Titanic, she was the first to show: Hoffman, Rothko and Pollock at her New York gallery Art of the Century, she referred to one of the great architectural triumphs of the 20th century as her ‘uncle’s garage’; Peggy Guggenheim’s life reads like a who’s who of artistic spoils and the new documentary Peggy Guggenheim Art Addict by Lisa Immordino Vreeland gives us a small glimpse into this extraordinary woman’s life.
If you’ve ever been to Venice then chances are you may have visited her wonderful museum there. The walls within house one of the finest collections of Modern Art to be found in any place. She collected Magrittes, Miros, Picassos, Ernsts, and so on and so on. The majority of her collecting took place in an eight year window during and shortly after WWII. She stayed in Paris to last possible minute before the Nazis arrived to ensure her artwork made it out safely along with procuring some last minute deals in the process.
Vreeland’s documentary does a wonderful job showcasing her collection and painting the backdrop of her life but in the end I felt no closer to really understanding the woman. A few talking heads like Marina Abramovic and even Robert DeNiro (she collected his parent’s paintings) weigh in on her, but everything veers towards her reputation rather than her true self. Even an audio interview with Peggy that runs throughout the film doesn’t really give you any insight into her motivations and place in history especially pertaining to some very rich topics.
Peggy Guggenheim was in the right place at the right time and clever enough to know it. She had very forward attitudes towards art and sex, which I believe can be very threatening to some. Many tried to marginalize her but she persevered through it all. The film gives us a brief glimpse into what it was like to have been there at the time surrounded by some of the biggest names in history through the eyes of someone who lived it, and that is worth the price of admission.