Tag Archives: documentary

BEHIND THE SCENES: EXCRUCIATINGLY AWESOME VIDEO SERIES “AT THE MUSEUM” SHOWS INNER WORKINGS OF MOMA

The MoMA (that’s the Museum of Modern Art in the New York-fucking-City) has recently launched a web video series on YouTube called “At the Museum,” and we, savvy reader, are L-O-V-I-N-G it. (See video below!)

It’s a behind-the-scenes look at the innermost workings of one of the world’s greatest art museums as it prepares to mount a major exhibition. It’s documentary-like, but only to a point. The tone is more cinema-verite in a reality-TV-show way, but produced in ultra-understated, high-minimalist style. There’s no narration. No explanation. No formal sit-down interviews. When staff do talk to the camera, it’s while they’re working, doing the mundane daily tasks of their jobs, like the way witnesses in an episode of “Law and Order” always answer detectives’ questions at their place of work while continuing to do whatever it was they were doing (unloading a truck, wiping down a bar, butchering meat, etc.). 

“At the Museum” may have documentary and reality TV bones in its basic visual-narrative architecture, but its manner is the polar opposite of the chaos, Real-Housewivery or Kardashian-Jennerisms we’ve become accustomed to from contemporary reality TV. And it’s far away from anything by Ken Burns or Werner Herzog. No pans, no scans, no slow zooms, no German accents, no depressive anecdotes.

Each episode of “At the Museum” is about ten-minutes long and focuses on some aspect of the museum from the mundane to the important, e.g., shipping and receiving of the artwork. There’s high drama, too, but it’s not obvious and it’s largely confined to the nuances of the art world and its culture and codes. There’s much being said and interpreted in the raised eyebrow or long pause in speech by one of the many MoMA staff, some of whom seem like walking-talking art-world cliches straight outta Central Casting.

But these are real people. The type of people who live, breathe, eat, drink, fuck and poop art, and the type who love their jobs, for whom displaying a small Max Ernst sculpture a quarter centimeter higher on a platform makes all the difference. And we love it! Watch this series.

 

The Beautiful Retro-Cinematic Style of “Expencive Porno Movie” (sic)

“Expencive Porno Movie” (sic) is not your ordinary surf film. Directed by Argentine surfer and filmmaker Tin Ojeda and released in 2014, the movie features the to-be-expected great surf sequences by great surfers (the very talented Alex Knost making a couple of lengthy appearances in the flick) and highly original, arty interludes.

But what is so special about this surf film is that it was all shot on actual 16mm film in an experimental retro-style that celebrates — almost to the point of fetish — the low-fi, rough-hewn early 1970’s-era filmmaking techniques common to independent American Blaxploitation and sexploitation films of the period. All sorts of happy accidents that come with using celluloid — light leaks, dust, scratches and other flaws — can be seen in the footage. And the soundtrack is a beautifully curated set of organ-laden R&B, Afro-pop, funk, and jazz from the era that perfectly matches the film’s aesthetic.

Surfing aside, the movie is a beauty and true original that has raised the aesthetic bar for the genre. Check out the trailer below and this Wax magazine interview with Ojeda.

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Expencive Porno Movie Trailer – Available on DVD from Grandview on Vimeo.

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The Artist is Present

Below are still images from “Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present,” a 2012 documentary about legendary performance-art star Marina Abramovic. We stumbled upon a re-broadcast of the film doc on HBO a couple of weeks ago and watched it again for a second time. As an artist, Marina is controversial, and critics and the public had mixed feelings about the sensational, provocative 2010 MoMA retrospective of her work. The documentary is about her career and the months of preparation for the MoMA exhibition, as well as the days throughout the run of the show itself.

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