Veteran actor Martin Donovan on the impetus behind his directorial debut, Collaborator.
After putting impressive Hollywood acting career under his belt—most notably working extensively with Hal Hartley throughout the late ’80s and ’90s—Martin Donovan felt a profound need to write. The seed for the script of the film Collaborator grew for many years before Mr. Donovan actualized it in written form, and from there the project took shape. The film deals with the playwright Robert Longfellow—played by Donovan—who, having had his most recent work panned, returns home to California to regroup and reconnect with his past. While on his way to see old flame and Hollywood star Emma Stiles (Olivia Williams), Longfellow is amiably accosted by his next-door neighbor Gus (David Morse), who is still living at home with his mother. The two share some drinks and talk of their childhood, but Robert soon discovers that Gus’s motive for this reconnection might not be altogether casual, and their encounter transforms into a dangerous, violent, and fascinating meetings of minds.
Donovan is the first to admit that directing was a learning experience. And while his perspective on film and its possibilities has undoubtedly grown, the experience also confirmed his own artistic instincts on both sides of the camera. With a manner that is calming yet deceptively sharp, Martin Donovan speaks of the power of language, the creative act and its innate cathartic quality, as well as the uncanny experience of returning home.
Alec Meacham I guess my first thought was—obviously there’s a little bit of coinciding biographical info between your character and the main character, living in New York and California—did any of it come out of any kind of personal experience? Hopefully you weren’t held hostage or anything.
Martin Donovan (laughter) No, never held hostage.
Alec Meacham discusses The Guard and Bellflower, the directorial debuts of John Michael McDonagh and Evan Glodell.
It would be a difficult task to find two feature debuts with more disparate styles and tones than The Guard and Bellflower, both of which are currently screening at the Angelika Film Center. John Michael McDonagh wrote the script for his dark comedy, The Guard, which stars the indelibly Irish Brendan Gleeson and the impeccably American Don Cheadle. John is the brother of Martin McDonagh, director of In Bruges, also starring Gleeson. But while the veteran character actor’s somber and weary wisdom anchored that film, The Guard is propelled by his boisterous wit and roguish charm.
This weekend’s BOMB Alert is rife with blacks, whites, greens, and Blues.
The Idiot (Hakuchi) by Akira Kurosawa, the director’s lengthy drama based on Dostoevsky’s 19th-century novel, will be enjoying three screenings this weekend at the IFC Center. Beware: the shows are all at 11 AM. As in, the morning.
Two of director Carl Theodor Dreyer’s masterpieces, the silent The Passion of Joan of Arc and Vampyr, his first “talkie,” are playing at the Anthology Film Archives in the East Village. I’m not not saying that you should spend all of this beautiful Friday indoors watching black-and-white films.
The Poetry Society of America presents its final reading of the works of Federico Garcia Lorca at the New York Botanical Garden, alongside their exhibition, “Spanish Paradise: Gardens of the Alhambra.” Readers include Pablo Medina, Aracelis Girmay, and Forrest Gander. What could be better than poetry in gardens?
Check out the final days of Lorna Simpson: Gathered at the Brooklyn Museum.
Alec Meacham talks to Polish filmmaker, painter, and poet Lech Majewski about his new film, The Mill and the Cross, inspired by 16th-century Flemish master Pieter Bruegel’s panoramic painting, The Way to Calvary.
I think it’s a testament to the vast depth and detail of filmmaker Lech Majewski’s work that before learning about and seeing his most recent film, The Mill and the Cross, I had never learned of the religious persecution of the people of Flanders under the dark and violent piety of the Spanish Inquisition. I had never heard the names Michael Francis Gibson or Pieter Bruegel, or seen or read their groundbreaking works. However, you are not struck by the pulsing intellect of Majewski’s film on first viewing. Rather, you cannot help but be overwhelmed by the lush visual feast before you.
Alec Meacham Initially, I’m curious about what drew you to the film. I know you met Michael Francis Gibson. What was your reaction to his book, The Mill and the Cross?
Lech Majewski Well, what drew me to the movie is my youth. Basically, you know, the life of an artist is playing in homage to the youth’s fascination, that’s how I feel. When I was a teenager I very often traveled from Katowice where I lived and I was born—at the that time it was rather a black and white, grim coal-miner’s city like Pittsburgh used to be here—and I traveled to Venice where my uncle was teaching at the conservatory. And I switched trains in Vienna. And there was always this ten-hour waiting period. During these ten hours I always went to see the Kunsthistorisches Museum. . . there also there is ten, a room number ten, the room where you have all the major Bruegel paintings. So I must say I was drawn immensely inside the paintings. I basically lived inside those paintings. Initially I was fascinated by these characters. I painted, so my first vocation was being a painter and poet.
Alec Meacham chats with director Sophie Fiennes about her documentary, Over Your Cities Grass Will Grow, which brings to life the work of artist Anselm Kiefer at his expansive compound in Barjac, France. The film screens tonight, September 6th, at Film Forum.
In 1993, Anselm Kiefer found himself in Barjac, France, having left his studio in Buchen, Germany and traveled some distances around the globe. He found an abandoned, derelict silk factory called La Ribaute, which he turned into a studio compound. And over many years, this compound evolved into a Gesamtkunstwerk, which translates as an ideal or total work of art. To call this place a project or solitary work does not seem to do justice to its expanse and complexity.
Alec Meacham I know that you’ve been familiar with the artist for a long time. How do you think your relationship with Kiefer’s work influenced the way you went about this project?
Sophie Fiennes My knowledge of Kiefer’s work prior to making the film was quite basic. After the initial impact of first seeing the work in the late 1980’s I always made sure to see his shows, but I had never read books. The way I approached the project is still rooted in the physical encounter of Barjac and the moments of creative process. It’s a very direct approach on the one hand, on the other hand I try to synthesize all I am learning and gathering about the subject into the film itself. My knowledge affects my choices. You don’t need to know anything about Kiefer to see the film. I realized when the film was first screened in Cannes, a lot of people had never even heard of him. This was a great surprise to me, but the film still worked for these people. The creative act is immediate and primal; it doesn’t need a context to explain itself.
Alec Meacham discusses Below the Brainat BAM September 1, and then Spectacle Theater—and talks with directors Sam Fleischner and Tony Lowe about reggae, sound oceans, and spiritual possession.
I’m not a big fan of the word visceral. Most times when I read it, I find myself cringing. It’s a great word, almost onomatopoetic in a strange way. But too often I feel like people don’t know what they’re saying when they’re using it. Most often I think the word gets used for a highbrow-sounding version of something intense or affecting. But those words are broad, nonspecific. When you see a good movie, hopefully you’re always intensely affected in some way.
But visceral is something different, and I like to think that Sam Fleischner and Tony Lowe, the assemblers (read: editor/director) of the documentary Below the Brain, have explored its meaning a little more deeply, if not on a conscious level; as visceral is, in fact, exactly that—below the brain. It is of, or relating to, the organs of the body cavity—liver, kidney, heart, and so forth. A punch in the gut is visceral. Your lungs contracting forcefully, losing your breath, is visceral. What’s visceral is primary and immediate, and exceeds your expectations or conjectures.
The 4th Annual Lit Crawl NYC will take place this Saturday, and BOMB is excited to be the media sponsor! In preparation for the festival, our friends at Lit Crawl are lining the streets of New York with literary gold.
All this week, Lit Crawl NYC will be planting clandestine literary treats throughout New York City! In anticipation of the fourth annual Lit Crawl NYC, to take place this Saturday, September 10th in the East Village and Lower East Side, the folks at Lit Crawl have hidden books throughout Manhattan and the boroughs. Be on the lookout in cafés, bars, laundromats, and all your favorite spots throughout the city. If you spot a lone book hanging around, chances are there is a Lit Crawl bookplate in it. And if you see cannibalistic packs of grizzly-faced men in horn-rimmed glasses and tweed roaming the streets, don’t panic, just play dead.
Head to the festival’s Facebook page to tell where you found the book, then read it or re-hide it. And look carefully for “golden tickets” which entitle the finder to three free drinks at Saturday’s after party. Visit Lit Crawl’s Facebook page for riddles that just might tell you about the literary places where the golden tickets hide.
The Lit Crawl NYC festival, sponsored by BOMB, takes place this Saturday, September 10th. The festival’s co-founder and director, Suzanne Russo, chatted with us briefly about the weekend’s exciting events.
Suzanne Russo started out working for Litquake in San Francisco a few years back, and eventually found herself moving to New York to help start the first ever Lit Crawl NYC four years ago. The event has gotten bigger and bigger since then, expanding locales, authors, participants, and after-party hours. According to the Lit Crawl NYC website’s bio of Suzanne, “When not consumed by all things literature and crawling, she works at Hearst Digital Media, pens travel stories, and contemplates J.D. Salinger.” And amongst all this, Suzanne had some time to talk to us about the upcoming romping literary festival.
BOMB So first off, can you tell us a bit about what we can expect this weekend? How long is the festival, and what are some of the highlights in your expert opinion?
SUZANNE RUSSO This promises to be our biggest and best crawl yet. We’ve jumped up to 20 venues this year, over the course of three hours. The first phase starts around St. Mark’s, and then we’ll work our way down Bowery, ending in the Lower East Side for the final phase and the after party at Gallery Bar.
The lineup is so great this year, and we’ve branched out to some really unique events, like New York history writers (Scumbags, Scalawags, and Satanists). I’m excited have SMITH Magazine along this year with their Six-Word Memoir Slam, and the “Sex Lives of Salesmen” event, where Helen DeWitt will be comparing actors’ renditions of scenes from her latest novel, promises to be fantastic.
This week’s BOMB Alert features kitchens and volcanoes, virtual bowling alleys, sublime women, and Jane Fonda. And of course, Labor Day.
The deceptive work of Francis Alÿs will be shown in continuation at MOMA PS1 through September 12. Go now or forever hold your peace.
Catch the final showings of Over Your Cities Grass Will Grow, the documentary concerning Anselm Kiefer and his magnificent art compound in Barjac, France, directed by Sophie Fiennes.
Those old McNally Jackson booksellers are presenting a small talk and celebration for Fantastic Women: 18 Tales of the Surreal and the Sublime, which features works of fiction from Miranda July, Lydia Davis, Aimee Bender, et al.
The Powerhouse Arena hosts a talk and slide show for Patrica Bosworth, and the publication of her most recent biography, Jane Fonda: The Private Life of a Public Woman.
This weekend’s BOMB Alert encourages you to head out and celebrate dedications, art openings, and poetry readings—but don’t miss Sam Lipsyte and BOMB at the Lit Crawl NYC this Saturday!
Celebrate Elizabeth Murray and her contributions to the art world (and what would have been her 71st birthday) with the Bowery’s dedication of the Elizabeth Murray Art Wall. Also catch the screening for the trailer of “Elizabeth Murray: Everybody Knows,” Kristi Zea’s forthcoming film.
This group exhibition will be including work by Barbara Kruger, Jenny Holzer, John Waters and Richard Prince among others. The artists show how they’ve come to incorporate words into their work, and they explore why texts, phrases and fonts are an integral part of contemporary society. Go see Word Up! Recent Text-Based Work at Benrimon Contemporary
Check out the opening of Cosmic Voodoo Circus, Sanford Bigger’s new exhibition that explores cross-cultural, cross-disciplinary identity and features an empty trapeze. Be sure to stay tuned for the feature on Bigger in BOMB’s Fall issue, on newsstands September 15!
Gather to commemorate the ten year anniversary of the 9/11 events and the six months of recovery since the earthquake in Japan with the Japan Society. The organization has put together a small film festival, featuring over 30 animated shorts, including Pixar’s much anticipated La Luna. All proceeds go to the Japan Earthquake Relief Fund.
September 11, an aptly titled exhibition, launches at MOMA PS1, designed to reflect upon how the past decade of art has been shaped by the attacks of 2001. Artists featured include Luis Camnitzer, Sarah Charlesworth, Janet Cardiff, and Jem Cohen, among many others.
Joyce SoHo presents a concert of composers, in memoriam of the events of a decade ago, starting at 8:46 AM and extending until midnight. The music of Philip Glass, Julia Wolfe, Lou Reed, and many others will be played, along with performances from Laurie Anderson, Lisa Moore, and the JACK Quartet.
Nearly four decades after its release, Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s sci-fi epic, World on a Wire, has been digitally remastered by cinematographer Michael Ballhaus, and is currently screening at the Independent Film Channel Center in Lower Manhattan.
It almost seems hard to say it, but it’s been 38 years since Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s sci-fi epic, World on a Wire (Welt am Draht), hit German television as a two-part miniseries. The film, which was made while the director was on a brief hiatus from production from two other feature-length projects, was re-released last year as a 205-minute whole, first at the Berlin International Film Festival, followed by the Melbourne International Film Festival, and New York’s Museum of Modern Art. This digitally restored version is currently enjoying a limited screening at the IFC Center in Lower Manhattan.