Monday, November 07, 2005

Special Screening of Wim Wenders' "Land of Plenty" in Los Angeles

Wim Wenders's 2003 film The Land of Plenty will be opening on November 11th for an exclusive one-week run at the Laemmle's Music Hall in Beverly Hills, California. The film deals with themes that are common to Wenders's work: angst, alienation, and America—but in Land of Plenty these themes are explored through a uniquely spiritual and post 9-11 perspective. The film tells the story of Lana (Michelle Williams), who returns to the United States after years of living abroad with her American missionary father. Though she has returned to America with plans to continue her education, Lana instead sets out to find her only other living relative—her uncle Paul, her deceased mother’s brother. A Vietnam veteran, Paul is a reclusive vagabond with deep emotional war wounds. A tragic event witnessed by the two unites them in a common goal to rectify a wrong and takes them on a journey of healing, discovery, and kinship. The Hollywood Reporter says in a recent review of the film, "The sense of wonderment and desire for understanding that envelop the old soldier and the young disciple create a mood of profound optimism."

Wim Wenders will be present for Q&A after the Friday and Saturday night screenings of the film.

Listen to a cut off the soundtrack to Wim Wender's "Land of Plenty" : The Weight of the World

Sunday, November 06, 2005

The Burnt Paintings

Jessey Dorr's "Off to the Oyster Beds," a painting found at a garage sale, led the buyer, Davis Dutton, on a several-year search for the painter. Photo courtesy of the Davis Dutton Collection

Sunday's San Francisco Chronicle has a wonderful piece by the Los Angeles bookseller* and author Davis Dutton on the search for the artist behind a haunting painting found gathering dust in a garage. This account is so well written that it calls out to become a book. It has much to say about art and life in California in the early part of the 20th Century:

The Burnt Paintings

Artist Jessey Dorr: Born into a wealthy Nob Hill family, she was a strong-willed woman who burned her paintings after a bad review. Photo by Imogen Cunningham

As an artist I always wonder where my works will end up in fifty or a hundred years. Like most painters I know,(See Martin Bromirski at Anaba), I have found a few treasures stacked against the walls in small shops. I once found an original Cezanne etching in a thrift store in San Francisco. Any other finds out there?

For more on artists destroying their work see Anna Conti

*Davis Dutton and his wife, Judith Dutton are the owners of Dutton's Books in North Hollywood.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Native American Spirituality: Huston Smith and Phil Cousineau in Conversation

On Monday November 7th at Book Passage in Corte Madera at 7 pm, Phil Cousineau and Huston Smith will talk about their new book "A Seat at the Table: Huston Smith in Conversation with Native Americans on Religious Freedom ". The book is cast as a series of dialogues in which the most widely read and beloved historian of religions in the world, Huston Smith, engages in conversations with American Indian leaders about their five hundred year long fight for religious freedom. These intimate, impassioned dialogues yield profound insights into one of the most striking cases of tragic irony in history: the country that prides itself on religious freedom has resolutely denied those same rights to its own indigenous people.

Phil Cousineau and Huston Smith

With remarkable erudition and curiosity, Smith and Cousineau, respectfully engage ten American Indian leaders:

Vine Deloria, Jr. (Lakota), Winona LaDuke (Anishinaabe), Walter Echo-Hawk (Pawnee), Frank Dayish, Jr. (Navajo), Charlotte Black Elk (Lakota), Douglas George-Kanentiio (Mohawk), Lenny Foster (Dine), Tonya Gonnella Frichner (Onondaga), Anthony Guy Lopez (Lokota), and Oren Lyons (Onondaga).

Winona LaDuke

The ideas expressed in these conversations cover spirituality, politics, Native American relations with the U.S. government and contemporary American society, and the continuing vitality of Native American communities. These words help give voice to a population that is all too often ignored in contemporary discourse. American Indian culture is not a relic of the past, nor a historical curiosity, but a living tradition that continues to shape all of our American lives.

Oren Lyons

Friday, November 04, 2005

The Childballads: New Music

Stewart Lupton and Betsy Wright

"I'm coming into my own," Stewart Lupton says. "Every painter or poet has this period - the good ones always reinvent themselves. There's always this little epoch where you step into your own skin and leave what T.S. Eliot called 'the anxiety of influence' behind."

Gregory Korn, a talented writer and artist, passed on word of The Childballads recently, and the lone song available on the band's website haunts me: Childballads: "Cheekbones (White Chocolate Tea)". This song was in my dreams last night and I woke up singing it this morning.

Of course the name, Stewart Lupton, sounds familiar. Recently in the New York Post, Maureen Callahan wrote:

"IT'S rare that someone gets another shot at becoming the next big thing - especially when people aren't quite sure whether you're still alive. In the late 1990s, Stewart Lupton was poised to be the biggest rock star to emerge from the burgeoning New York rock scene that his band, Jonathan Fire*Eater, had helped revive.

The sonic and spiritual forerunners of acts like Arcade Fire and Interpol, they were the ultimate elegant Lower East Side wastrels, purveyors of noirish, organ-laden rock and sunken-eyed, dishabille glamour."

The Childballads' look and sound is deliberately far removed from Jonathan Fire*Eater's. The new music is influenced by country and folk, with lyrics steeped in old-fashioned storytelling. The stories and sound of the South hide under the alt-rock underpinnings of the band. Stewart Lupton describes the music as "sounding like doilies, like your grandmother's living room. There's a certain hollowness there; it's a roomy sound."

"Stewart's in his prime to leave the mark he didn't leave with Jonathan Fire*Eater," says Erin Norris. "That kid is never gonna fall from grace any further than he already has. He's a lifer."

Pancake Mountain: 21st Century Children's Television

Arcade Fire on Pancake Mountain

Filmmaker Scott Stuckey created Pancake Mountain, the Washington, D.C., cable-access show on which alt-rockers like Ted Leo, Shonen Knife, Weird War, Fiery Furnaces and Arcade Fire play before an energetic and very young audience.

"Bands started hearing about it and called us," Scott Stuckey says. "So many parents write us," says Stuckey, "and they're like, 'Wow, this is something I really like watching with my kids.'"

Rufus and Henry Rollins

In addition to live performances by bands, Pancake Mountain features interviews between the show's puppet host Rufus Leaking and musicians — including Henry Rollins and George Clinton. The program is currently available on cable in DC and New York, but you can buy the episodes on DVD from the Pancake Mountain website.

While created with children in mind, the show appeals to kids of all ages. My favorite clips include Shonen Knife performing "Twist Barbie" and The Evens singing the soon to be classic "Vowel Movement".

Watch it at
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