Thursday, November 13, 2008

Max Roach

I took a cab the other day, and the driver had a Jazz station playing on the radio. On it, a Max Roach diddly came on that blew my mind.

So in turn, here's some for you:

On a related drummer note, Mitch Mitchell died yesterday at the age of 61.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Slumdog Millionaire

"Slumdog Millionaire", a new film by Danny Boyle, the British director who brought us my favorite movie of all time, "Trainspotting", comes out today. It's been getting solid reviews across the board, and I'm quite anxious to see this in the theater.

Here's the NYTimes Review:

November 12, 2008
Orphan’s Lifeline Out of Hell Could Be a Game Show in Mumbai

Published: November 12, 2008

A gaudy, gorgeous rush of color, sound and motion, “Slumdog Millionaire,” the latest from the British shape-shifter Danny Boyle, doesn’t travel through the lower depths, it giddily bounces from one horror to the next. A modern fairy tale about a pauper angling to become a prince, this sensory blowout largely takes place amid the squalor of Mumbai, India, where lost children and dogs sift through trash so fetid you swear you can smell the discarded mango as well as its peel, or could if the film weren’t already hurtling through another picturesque gutter.

Mr. Boyle, who first stormed the British movie scene in the mid-1990s with flashy entertainments like “Shallow Grave” and “Trainspotting,” has a flair for the outré. Few other directors could turn a heroin addict rummaging inside a rank toilet bowl into a surrealistic underwater reverie, as he does in “Trainspotting,” and fewer still could do so while holding onto the character’s basic humanity. The addict, played by Ewan McGregor, emerges from his repulsive splish-splashing with a near-beatific smile (having successfully retrieved some pills), a terrible if darkly funny image that turns out to have been representative not just of Mr. Boyle’s bent humor but also of his worldview: better to swim than to sink.

Swimming comes naturally to Jamal (the British actor Dev Patel in his feature-film debut), who earns a living as a chai-wallah serving fragrant tea to call-center workers in Mumbai and who, after a series of alternating exhilarating and unnerving adventures, has landed in the hot seat on the television game show “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.” Yet while the story opens with Jamal on the verge of grabbing the big prize, Simon Beaufoy’s cleverly kinked screenplay, adapted from a novel by Vikas Swarup, embraces a fluid view of time and space, effortlessly shuttling between the young contestant’s past and his present, his childhood spaces and grown-up times. Here, narrative doesn’t begin and end: it flows and eddies — just like life.

By all rights the texture of Jamal’s life should have been brutally coarsened by tragedy and poverty by the time he makes a grab for the television jackpot. But because “Slumdog Millionaire” is self-consciously (perhaps commercially) framed as a contemporary fairy tale cum love story, or because Mr. Boyle leans toward the sanguine, this proves to be one of the most upbeat stories about living in hell imaginable. It’s a life that begins in a vast, vibrant, sun-soaked, jampacked ghetto, a kaleidoscopic city of flimsy shacks and struggling humanity and takes an abrupt, cruel turn when Jamal (Ayush Mahesh Khedekar), then an exuberant 7, and his cagier brother, Salim (Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail), witness the murder of their mother (Sanchita Choudhary) by marauding fanatics armed with anti-Muslim epithets and clubs.

Cast into the larger, uncaring world along with another new orphan, a shy beauty named Latika (Rubina Ali plays the child, Freida Pinto the teenager), the three children make their way from one refuge to another before falling prey to a villain whose exploitation pushes the story to the edge of the unspeakable. Although there’s something undeniably fascinating, or at least watchable, about this ghastly interlude — the young actors are very appealing and sympathetic, and the images are invariably pleasing even when they shouldn’t be — it’s unsettling to watch these young characters and, by extension, the young nonprofessionals playing them enact such a pantomime. It doesn’t help even if you remember that Jamal makes it out alive long enough to have his 15 televised minutes.

It’s hard to hold onto any reservations in the face of Mr. Boyle’s resolutely upbeat pitch and seductive visual style. Beautifully shot with great sensitivity to color by the cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantel, in both film and digital video, “Slumdog Millionaire” makes for a better viewing experience than it does for a reflective one. It’s an undeniably attractive package, a seamless mixture of thrills and tears, armchair tourism (the Taj Mahal makes a guest appearance during a sprightly interlude) and crackerjack professionalism. Both the reliably great Irrfan Khan (“A Mighty Heart”), as a sadistic detective, and the Bollywood star Anil Kapoor, as the preening game-show host, run circles around the young Mr. Patel, an agreeable enough if vague centerpiece to all this coordinated, insistently happy chaos.

In the end, what gives me reluctant pause about this bright, cheery, hard-to-resist movie is that its joyfulness feels more like a filmmaker’s calculation than an honest cry from the heart about the human spirit (or, better yet, a moral tale). In the past Mr. Boyle has managed to wring giggles out of murder (“Shallow Grave”) and addiction (“Trainspotting”), and invest even the apocalypse with a certain joie de vivre (the excellent zombie flick “28 Days Later”). He’s a blithely glib entertainer who can dazzle you with technique and, on occasion, blindside you with emotion, as he does in his underrated children’s movie, “Millions.” He plucked my heartstrings in “Slumdog Millionaire” with well-practiced dexterity, coaxing laughter and sobs out of each sweet, sour and false note.

“Slumdog Millionaire” is rated R (Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian) for brutal violence.


Opens on Wednesday nationwide.

Directed by Danny Boyle; written by Simon Beaufoy, based on the novel “Q & A” by Vikas Swarup; director of photography, Anthony Dod Mantel; edited by Chris Dickens; music by A. R. Rahman; production designer, Mark Digby; produced by Christian Colson; released by Fox Searchlight Pictures. Running time: 2 hours.

WITH: Dev Patel (Jamal), Ayush Mahesh Khedekar (Youngest Jamal), Freida Pinto (Latika), Rubina Ali (Youngest Latika), Madhur Mittal (Salim), Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail (Youngest Salim), Sanchita Choudhary (Jamal’s Mother), Anil Kapoor (Prem) and Irrfan Khan (Police Inspector).

Monday, November 10, 2008

Momofuku Bakery & Milk Bar

Word 'round campfire (aka, Momofuku Bakery & Milk Bar's opening is imminent. The menu is out for all to drool over.

Crack pie, eh??

Btw, Sac Sacs are good.

Momofuku Bakery & Milk Bar
207 2nd Avenue
New York, NY 10003


One of my favorite artists and clothing designer, Kaws, is currently having an exhibition of his works at the Gering & López Gallery.

Here's the press release from the gallery's website:

GERING & LóPEZ GALLERY is pleased to present the much anticipated solo exhibition of new work by Brooklyn-based artist KAWS. The artist sees his technique as a sieve of modern culture, filtering and re-contextualizing the images and information that he comes in contact with daily. Beginning as a graffiti artist in the 1990s, KAWS took an interventionist approach to the imagery on billboards and bus shelter advertisements, interweaving his own graphics. KAWS now uses the worldwide popularity of his familiar brand-like symbols to explore other methods of integrating his iconography into the global consumer culture.

This exhibition features the artist's most recent paintings and sculpture. Large-scale acrylic works on canvas incorporate his usual cast of characters set against abstract, chaotic scenes of geometric shapes. In this series, the subject is displaced and the focus is drawn to the bold coloration of the elements. In another group of monochromatic paintings, line work and treatment of the surface texture obscure the compositional focus leaving only the presence of the characters' emotive expressions in abstraction. Additionally, KAWS has produced a series of thirty-three uniquely painted life-size bronze sculptures of his own severed head. With this series, KAWS reinvents the age-old tradition of bronze casting by finishing the sculptures with playful candy coated colors. A sculpture entitled Chum stands as a larger-than-life rendition of a classic KAWS character.

Throughout his career, KAWS has explored different approaches to his artistic agenda. In 2006, he opened his own shop in Tokyo, OriginalFake, where new products release weekly in limited quantities. He has completed several collaborative design projects with such labels as Commes des Garçons, Marc Jacobs, Levi's, Nike, and A Bathing Ape. Through each of these ventures, KAWS has successfully blurred the line between fine art and mass-produced merchandise thus allowing his artistic vision to touch a far-reaching audience.

Born in 1974 in New Jersey, KAWS graduated with a BFA from the School of Visual Arts in New York. He has had international solo exhibitions at several galleries including Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin, Miami, FL; Bape Gallery, Tokyo, Japan; Colette, Paris, France; and the MU Art Foundation, Eindhoven, Netherlands. His work has also appeared in many group exhibitions such as Everything Else at Franklin Parrasch Gallery, New York, NY; Ugly Winners at Galerie Du Juor Agnes B., Paris, France; and Beautiful Losers, a traveling exhibition that has been on view at Le Tri Postal, Lille, France; Palazzo Dell'Arte, Milan, Italy; the Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach, CA; and the Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati, OH, among others. He was the winner of the 1998 Pernod Liquid Art Award and three monographs have been published about his work.

Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10am to 6pm. For further information please contact Lauren Cicione at 646.336.7183 or

KAWS Exhibition at the Gering & López Gallery
Hours: Tuesday - Saturday | 10:00 am - 6:00 pm
730 Fifth Avenue
Between 56th and 57th Streets
New York, NY 10019
p: 646.336.7183

Friday, November 7, 2008