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Monday, June 10, 2013

BLISS - The Magical White Wolf

Bliss was our heart & Brooklyn soul - When everyone asked "what  kind of dog?" we always just said he is a Brooklyn Dog. Feisty at times, loved his pack & most of all his Prospect park. Rescued from the Linden Blvd shelter - he rescued us many times over in his 12 years with us. His beauty was extraordinary, a magical wolf to many.

We brought Bliss home to Brooklyn where his big white "woof" shadow will forever be in his park.

Please also see the real Bliss in action on YouTube:

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Best Indie Music of 2012

(There is clearly critical talent in the Seymour-Nahikian bloodline. Here is Chafin's 2012 Indie Music picks! Reading is fun - hearing the picks is even better. I vote for my favorite - Alabama Shakes!)

2012 TOP 10 (+ Honorable Mentions)  INDIE ALBUMS 

These are my top albums of 2012. I will not go overboard with my intro except to say that 2012 was an exceptionally strong and eclectic year in independent and pop music, and I had a hell of a time deciding what I wanted to write about for this year end wrap-up. I decided on these fourteen albums (four honorable mentions and a top ten) arduously and carefully. 

10. Four Tet – Pink

As anyone who has spent a lot of time around me in the past year can tell you I have been really into house music. In fact, much of this fascination was instigated by Four Tet’s fabulous Fabriclive mix from earlier this year. Many of the tracks off of Pink were released as singles or EPs previously but they were really begging to be compiled. Four Tet (actual name, Kieran Hebden) is an electronic music veteran. He has put out six very different albums and more live mixes and song remixes than I care to imagine. Pink finds Hebden diving head first into the club. Where earlier records were rhythmically restrained in their minimalist tendencies, Pink lets the rhythm drive and builds the structure around those. Loops abound and bass pounds but you never get the sense that Heben is leading you on aimlessly. This is music that is based in his roots and you can tell he cares. This is really a great introduction to house music for someone with little to no experience, and rarely does a modern producer delve so deeply with no effort showing. Never has so much thought gone into music that encourages folks to stop thinking and just let go. You will dance my friends, oh yes, but you will do so consciously.

9. Alabama Shakes – Boys & Girls

I was a little skeptical of Alabama Shakes before I listened to them somewhere between the NPR accolades and adult-contemporary following. However, I allowed myself to indulge in this album. It is four-piece, grungy southern blues-rock in its purest form, nothing overly deep or onerous, and that is key. What really reaches through the speaker and grabs you is lead singer Brittany Howard’s primal howl. From the thumping “Hold On” to the trickling “Goin to the Party” to the love ballad of the year “You Ain’t Alone,” the consistency, believability, and sense of desperation of her vocals make up this album’s driving force. While there were other notable blues-rock releases this year, namely Jack White’s strong solo album Blunderbuss, nothing stuck in my mind so concretely as Boys & Girls. In this case, less is most definitely more.

8. Jessie Ware – Devotion

In a post-Adele world how does a young, female, British singer-songwriter make her work stand out? There probably isn’t one right answer to that question. But Jessie Ware certainly offers an intensely-appealing album full of suggestions. Ms. Ware made her start singing hooks on electronic dance songs by the likes of SBTRKT and much of that club influence spills over into Devotion, her first solo work. However, despite the “of-the-moment” nature of the production Ware manages to expertly write and sing timeless love songs. The centerpiece ballad “Wildest Moments” is a song that could have gallivanted into glory by expressing the joys of a one-night stand or healthy sexual relationship. Instead, Ware manages to add uncertainty and poignancy by singing about a relationship that only makes sense to the two people involved. This attention and care makes an album that could easily have been merely as a pop-diva’s introduction into a collection of smart artistic choices and memorable intimate melodies. 

7. Grizzly Bear – Shields

I’ll be up front: I love Grizzly Bear, always have. Ever since I heard those first tenuous notes of 2006’s Yellow House followed by the complete work-of-art that is 2008’s Veckatimest, Grizzly Bear has managed to run the emotional gauntlet from warm intimacy to cold distance. Shields finds the Brooklyn band venturing out into the wilderness to look beyond their own backyard for influence. Musical references range from jazz to The Beatles and somehow they manage do it all justice. The arrangements on this album conjure up landscapes as breathtaking as they are intimidating. You can feel that Shields came to be relatively seamlessly and naturally compared to the endlessly worked over quality of earlier albums. In interviews, Grizzly Bear has said that this album was the most collaborative in terms of songwriting, and you can feel the vibe of a band intensely comfortable working together. In lesser hands, songs like these could easily be sappy or overly buttoned-up; in this case, it’s just What They Do. I’ll be damned if I can think of a band that does it better.

6. Beach House – Bloom

The most glaring critique I keep hearing about Beach House’s Bloom is that it “sounds too much like their earlier stuff.” While this is true, that fact is also precisely what makes Bloom such a strong effort. It has taken three other albums, but Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally finally take their synth-and-guitar-driven-dream-pop out of the bedroom and into the big wide world. The depth and scope of this album is impressive, as every song seems to “bloom” from start to finish. Legrand’s voice is as scintillating as ever and the arrangements are indeed lush. However, her newfound lyrical assertions as well as the use of more confident percussion and rhythm structures lend themselves to deepening and widening a sound that could easily peg a less adept band into a corner. Beach House knows where their niche is and instead of shying away from that they have found a way to drive deeper into it. Bloom seems to say, in response to the criticism mentioned earlier, “Yeah it does and try to tell me you don’t love it anyway.” I can’t, and neither should you.

5. Grimes – Visions

Grimes is definitely a product of our over-digitalized culture. Canadian art-student Claire Boucher makes music entirely on her laptop using technology that is, relatively speaking, available to anyone. She has garnered a following and buzz using just the Internet, no record label needed, and Visions is Boucher’s most accessible release to date. Despite being an indie darling (thank you Pitchfork) Boucher does something unexpected here by making something she clearly enjoys as opposed to trying to please critics or an audience (a tact, I believe, more artists both in and out of music should look into). You can tell she is having a lot of fun with this record. Her layering of her own sugar-sweet vocals over gloppy, bounding digital tracks is equally appealing and subversive. The fact that you can hardly understand her lyrics (I’m pretty sure she slips into singing in Japanese on a couple tracks) is part of the escapist absurdity of it all. Visions is not the easiest album to listen to, to be fair. But it truly grows on you, going from ridiculous to danceable to contemplative in just a few minutes, further reflecting over-stimulation by the Internet.  By allowing yourself to revel in the commentary as well as the fun, Visions becomes a worthy indie-pop experience.

 4. Kendrick Lamar – good kid, m.A.A.d city

 good kid, m.A.A.d. city has already been hailed by some critics as, “the most important commercial rap album in the last decade.” So let’s calm down and start by jumping off the Kendrick Lamar bandwagon for a second. Yes, he is a skilled lyricist with a strong instinct for radio-friendly hooks. Yes, he expertly chooses assorted beats from the best of today’s hip hop producers. Yes he’s been featured on every hot hip-hop track over the past six months. Yes, he can count such industry heavyweights as Lady Gaga and Dr. Dre in his corner. However, despite the buzz, what stands out most about Kendrick Lamar is his ambition. This album is subtitled a “Short Film” and indeed the scope of the narrative-driven LP can feel a bit cinematic at times. It contains twinges of naïveté, with stories of adolescent peer-pressure and family alcoholism (“Swimming Pools (Drank)”), mixed with youthful bravado (“Backseat Freestyle”), and a dash of timeless swagger (“Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe”). At the edge of it all gnaws the darkness and emptiness of growing up in South Central L.A. gang culture (or for that matter any violent American urban center) and the cultural contradictions often present in African-American culture, such as devotion to God and religion equal to that of substance abuse and violence. It remains to be seen where this album will fall historically; hence my tentative urging to give it some breathing room. It is, nevertheless, instantly recognizable as an important and original portrait of urban music in 2012 -- and by far the strongest rap offering I have heard from a new artist in quite some time.

3. Frank Ocean – channel ORANGE

There is little doubt in my mind that Frank Ocean is the future of urban and pop-music. I am also decidedly OK with that. After an early mixtape in 2011, the phenomenal Nostalgia, ultra, and tabloid fodder regarding his open sexuality, Ocean, whose birth name is Christopher Breaux, emerged from the hype with the meticulously-crafted channel Orange. The album is meant to transcend boundaries and identities, and it does. At first listen, it can come off as simply a strong debut from a pop singer. You can feel the teeth-sharpening Ocean has done while ghostwriting for such artists as Justin Bieber and John Legend. However, upon repeat listening, one can begin to recognize channel Orange as a much stronger statement; not just on Ocean’s pop sensibility but on America’s. The fact that a song as cloyingly sweet as “Thinkin’ Bout You” can slide into play on urban radio stations next to Rick Ross and Meek Mills, while still being a sing-along favorite for soccer moms, is both impressive and intelligent. This eclectic, constantly-shifting mix of pop ideas is so deftly, almost nonchalantly, executed that by the time you realize you’re listening to a John Mayer guitar solo over gloomy, ambient synths at the end of “Pyramids” it’s almost too late. From start to finish, Frank Ocean plays to our comfort zone while periodically throwing in ideas you would not expect. A delight to listen to as well as to discern, channel ORANGE is an unexpected pop pleasure.

2. Flying Lotus – Until the Quiet Comes

This album represents a musical and intellectual quandary to many people. A traditionally hip-hop/electronic producer strips down his digital cacophony with (get this) live musicians. Steve Ellison (a.k.a. Flying Lotus) has embraced his heritage. He is the great nephew of Alice and John Coltrane. After releasing three albums to increasing critical acclaim he arrives with the wonderfully understated Until the Quiet Comes. It is, in essence, an electronic jazz album, but before you write it off as overly experimental, just put it on and let it take you for a ride. The way in which Ellison can synthesize so many disparate elements (African percussion, free jazz, West Coast hip-hop etc.) into a cohesive sonic journey is a wonder to behold. The influence of fellow Brainfeeder Collective member, Thundercat is clearly discernable in the strong bass lines and psychedelic milieu. The use of live set musicians, as opposed to exclusively digital instrumentation, further expands Ellison’s current trajectory. Nothing here seems forced.  And despite existing in a clear and heady intellectual space, there is something discernibly intimate and personal about this album. You really feel as though Ellison has found his “quiet” place where all his musical ideas can flow organically and take shape on their own.

1. Dirty Projectors – Swing Lo Magellan

For those of us keeping score at home Swing Lo Magellan represents Dave Longstreth’s eighth album in the past decade with his Dirty Projectors project. What is most impressive about the latest effort is the seeming lack of it. Longstreth finally seems comfortable in his own skin as a songwriter. Not to say he has abandoned his distinctly complex vocal harmonies or tempo shifts, but he has found a way to not let his technical arrangements get in the way of simple and pleasurable song writing. Swing Lo Magellan is a collection of literate love songs for a generation of young people hyper aware of the impending doom of society. However even in the darker moments of the album (such as “Offspring are Blank”) Longstreth trusts in his expressive and eclectic musicality to carry through while allowing himself to be lyrically playful.  This is by far Dirty Projectors most accessible and fun release to date and it is undeniably catchy. Try getting the chorus from “About to Die” or “Impregnable Question” out your head after one listen…Impossible.

+ Honorable Mentions

Killer Mike – R.A.P. Music
Cagey rap veteran Killer Mike finally does his name and reputation justice. Independent, political, and fiercely opinionated, Mike makes the album we have been waiting for, with help from Brooklyn producer El-P who takes some of the usual distortion out of beats in favor of banging southern bass. It is a smart choice that allows Mike to rock in his comfort zone from start to finish. 

THE party record of the year, hands down. This five song EP from producers Lunice and Hudson Mohawke was a giant smack across the face of modern dance music. Combining “trap” style southern hip hop bass with elements of House and Dubstep (note the intense-ass-drops on every track) TNGHT reveled in simplicity and space while urging pop consumers and club kids to “wake the f’ up” and notice some real “ish.”

How To Dress Well - Total Loss

This was the first proper cohesive album from How To Dress Well’s Torn Krell. He continues to play with traditional R&B arrangements by taking out all the warm and fuzzy stuff to leave you with an anxious, empty sound. He does let some color in on tracks like “& It was U” but overall stays distant. Never has a bad break-up (and crippling depression) sounded so smooth.

Burial – Kindred EP & Truant/Rough Sleeper

 I have always described Burial as on “another level” from other electronic producers and the two EPs released by William Bevan this year continue to prove me right. While eleven-minute electronic house opuses steeped in otherworldly distortion and dark ambiance may not be the most palatable thing in the world, it is good to see an artist unafraid to explore the world he chooses to create. While we wait for another jaw dropping album like 2007’s Untrue these two excellent EPS will just have to be enough. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


"In the end, it's not the years in your life that counts. It's the life in your years."
                                                                         -Abraham Lincoln

2012 - No Easy Transition

The Seymour-Nahikian "partial" move to Washington, DC...and the Chafin Seymour move from OSU to Eastern Parkway & from time to time, Gene - has not been an easy transition. Too many boxes, too many belongings in too many places, too many memories! This  picture which says more than I can possibly write.

Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn, September 2012

These folks were inadvertently left homeless after an infamous garage sale - the result of continuing to sort thru our lives.

Chafin spotted these guys, rescued and brought to live on this stoop.

(Most of the blogging action has migrated to - but for the sake of continuity, I thought I would add a couple of things since Gene's last post in June 2012. - Marie)

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Gene Seymour on the Supreme Court today

IT'S RARE WHEN WE WIN ONE OF THESE THINGS,  so let's collect our thoughts:

1.) Nothing says "dysfunctional state of journalism" quite like the way today's get-it-first-who-cares-if-we-get-it-wrong content providers cover today's U.S. Supreme Court. Editors, pundits and even reporters who should know better were trying to handicap this process from its beginnings. In fact, many of those covering the arguments were tumbling over each other in an effort to see who would be first to declare the government's case a Loser-with-a-capital-L. ("Jeez, Sonia's sure asking a lot of...questions, isn't she?") Imagine being a veteran court reporter being pressed by his boss to come down hard on whether Obama's a goner or not. (Never mind those who were going to die for lack of insurance. About whom more later.) Here's news that apparently stays news (except to Jon Stewart): The Highest Court in the Land can never ever be reliably handicapped. the Dred Scott decision likely came as a surprise to a few people, even those who got what they wanted from it.

This slipshod journalism went right down the wire -- and CNN will now forever be slammed through the ages as the Folks Who Got It Wrong with their premature announcement that the health care law had been overturned. (It seemed to take forever for them to unravel their way to the correct information. As punishment, Wolf ("This is very complicated") Blitzer & the rest of his operation should be condemned to hearing Aaron Sorkin shouting in their ears, day and night, for two weeks straight. Too lenient? Fine. Ten weeks.

2.) Speaking of Dred Scott...the name of Chief Justice Roger Taney has in the century-and-a-half since his court's decision, been soaked in slime for weaseling on slavery. The incumbent chief justice, John Roberts, likely knows this. He is nothing if not an avid student of the court over which he presides. He is also a very conservative jurist; some say he leans further rightward on some issues than Samuel Allito. Nevertheless, one gets the sense that it is primarily as the former that Roberts decided that, one way or another, he wasn't going to be forever branded as the Chief Justice Who Screwed America's First Black President Out Of A Chance For Re-election. (That's right. "Chance." This thing is far from over yet, no matter which pinhead-with-a-platform says otherwise.) He also perceived an opportunity to evade that fate through the most basic application/interpretation of Constitutional law. He has plenty of time to do something we don't like.(Oh, right. Citizens United. Check.) But the man's not blind. He can see how dysfunctional all our institutions have become and, maybe, he's trying to apply wet blankets to the hysteria here.

3.) I refuse, now or ever, to resort to the dread newspeak description, "Obamacare," to describe a program whose principal objective is to make sure no one has to go through what millions of families have had to endure to get decent, affordable health care. In the two years that this issue has inflamed passions, my own family has had to endure its own health issues in startlingly compressed fashion. I took each right-wing cheap shot against the very notion of equitable care as a personal affront and I'm guessing I'm not alone. The president himself has never forgotten who this law is for and neither should the aforementioned pinheads-with-a-platform. And just so we're clear: I'm STILL holding out for single-payer benefits. And I still don't think November's a slam dunk for progressives.

Back to you, Hoda.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

2012 OSCAR PICKS - From Gene Seymour

Because YOU Asked For It (and don’t lie, you did): Gene’s 2012 Oscar Picks

I’ve watched them every year — even when life finds me in the rain forests of Costa Rica or on a red eye to Italy. And it’s very likely I’ll watch them again Feb. 26, though I sometimes wonder how long these will matter any more. I’m no longer sure they do. At least not as much as film festivals do. (And I think we’ll see those televised sooner than we see a revival of the Academy Awards’ fading reputation.)

Nevertheless, I used to do this every year & I used to be pretty good at it – that is for those who thought getting them right mattered more than picking whatever outrageous thing came into sombody’s head. But things have changed. I no longer live in a city with a better-than-average chance of bumping into someone who a.) is an Academy member or b.) knows somebody who knows somebody who is an Academy member.

Hence my once-reliable radar for handicapping these things may be too dust-bunny ridden to pick up more than faint signals of what will happen Oscar Night. Granted, in our world-wired age, there are likely no longer any such things as “faint signals.” But there certainly are garbled or discordant ones. And in a year such as this (not the best, by the way, for movies in general) where some of the more challenging pictures and performances got waylaid, if not ignored, on their way to nomination, I have a feeling – only a feeling – that, with few exceptions, things wont be nearly as cut-and-dried as they’ve been in the recent past. Or maybe I’m just showing how truly out-of-touch I am these days. What-EVER!

(Predictions, as always, are marked with an “x” (not that you couldn’t have figured that out yourselves, but you never know who’s watching, right?)

Best Picture
x “The Artist”
“The Descendants”
“Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close”
“The Help”
“Midnight in Paris”
“The Tree of Life”
“War Horse”

Someone, I’m thinking it was the late John Gregory Dunne, kept insisting that the Academy Awards were, first and foremost, trade awards and, as such, should have never been viewed as purely qualitative assessments. For Best Picture awards, this is especially true – though it still doesn’t explain “Gandhi” winning out in 1984 over “E.T.” or “Tootsie.” (Oh wait. Yes it does, especially if you think about the choice Hollywood often makes between what’s best and what best exemplifies its present state-of-mind.) What movie trades-people also go for are those pictures that will best help their industry move forward, get richer, spread the wealth around. This year, two of the Best Picture nominees – “Hugo” and “The Artist” – come across as broadening the medium’s possibility while flattering the industry’s sense of its own significance. “The Artist” appears to hold an insurmountable lead – and I’ve got no overpowering reason to challenge the hordes. Still I’m getting those aforementioned distant (and intangible) signals that suggest, however faintly, a late surge by Scorsese’s homage to Melies. My old scoutmaster Tom O’Neill would suggest that I’d be Out-There-And-Daring with this choice. I would tell Tom, “Um…Tom? Picking ‘Hugo’ to win Best Picture is not daring. Picking ‘War Horse’ to win Best Picture is not all that daring either. Picking ‘Tree of Life’ as Best Picture? Now THAT’S daring! And so is picking ‘Melancholia’…Oh wait…”

Best Director
x “The Artist” Michel Hazanavicius
“The Descendants” Alexander Payne
“Hugo” Martin Scorsese
“Midnight in Paris” Woody Allen
“The Tree of Life” Terrence Malick

If “The Artist” wins Best Picture, it’s Hazanavicius. If “Hugo” wins, Scorsese. I know we’re seeing Picture/Director splits more often lately than we did in the Way-Back-When. But somehow this doesn’t feel like the year for it.

Actor in a Leading Role
Demián Bichir in “A Better Life”
George Clooney in “The Descendants”
x Jean Dujardin in “The Artist”
Gary Oldman in “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”
Brad Pitt in “Moneyball”

Man, is Clooney putting himself out there this season or what? He’s brought at least two sets of camera crews into his house to shoot his furniture and scratch his dog. (Better that than the reverse, I guess.) You’d think he was running for something. And maybe he is, but it can’t just be for Best Lead Actor. President, maybe? He’d certainly be Hollywood’s choice, though Clint Eastwood’s performance on that Super Bowl Chrysler ad, along with his Dirty Harry response to the commercial’s GOP critics, may have put his name back in play. I like Clooney as an actor, a director, and an Earthling. But all I can think of when watching him go through the motions is that it’s a shame there’s not as much chronicling Pitt’s efforts on behalf of a striking, nuanced performance that is not only better than Clooney’s, but far better than anything he’s done before. (Some say he’ll get another chance. I ask: Are we sure about that?) He and Oldman are the class of this crop and, while stranger things have happened, I think Oldman will have to settle for happy-just-to-be-here. (And he assures us that he is, he is.) This leaves Bichier and Dujardin, relative unknowns — and foreign to boot. Relatively few people have seen “Better Life”; more and more are seeing “The Artist.” And there’s a gimmick in Dujardin’s turn (e.g. not talking aloud) that practically leaps into voters’ welcome arms to cuddle, much like Clooney’s dog. Or so I’m guessing.

Actress in a Leading Role
Glenn Close in “Albert Nobbs”
x Viola Davis in “The Help”
Rooney Mara in “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”
Meryl Streep in “The Iron Lady”
Michelle Williams in “My Week with Marilyn”

A wider-than-usual race includes not one, not two, but three performances that lean heavily on gimmicks; four, if you consider what Mara does to herself and her skin pores a gimmick. Of course, it takes more than stunts to pull off a rich, well-rounded performance and Streep, Close, Mara and Williams all earn their nominations by making you feel the pleasures and pains in each of their grandly-conceived characters. And that’s exactly why I think Davis scores here. Her dominance of “The Help” sneaks up on you while the other performances lead with their inventiveness. The takeaway from Davis’ work will thus resound more with voters reacquainting themselves with her movie. Nothing’s a lock here. But I’m sensing a canceling-out effect that favors the one performance with nothing but humanity to declare.

Actress in a Supporting Role
Bérénice Bejo in “The Artist”
Jessica Chastain in “The Help”
Melissa McCarthy in “Bridesmaids”
Janet McTeer in “Albert Nobbs”
x Octavia Spencer in “The Help”

No reason to think Spencer wont continue her hot streak. True, McTeer’s getting awfully good buzz heading into the stretch – though not good enough to take the lead.

Actor in a Supporting Role
Kenneth Branagh in “My Week with Marilyn”
Jonah Hill in “Moneyball”
Nick Nolte in “Warrior”
x Christopher Plummer in “Beginners”
Max von Sydow in “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close”

Why do I think they’ve already shipped the Oscar to Plummer’s house? And that he’s still plucking stray Styrofoam peanuts out from under the sofa? Rather than dwell on the ONLY sure bet on this year’s card, let’s once again make rude noises at those who excluded Albert Brooks from nomination. Or, for that matter, any or all of the following three guys from “Descendants”: Beau Bridges, Matthew Lillard and Robert Forster.

Animated Feature Film
“A Cat in Paris” Alain Gagnol and Jean-Loup Felicioli
“Chico & Rita” Fernando Trueba and Javier Mariscal
“Kung Fu Panda 2″ Jennifer Yuh Nelson
“Puss in Boots” Chris Miller
x “Rango” Gore Verbinski

We will now pause to register shock & awe over a “Pixar”-less slate of candidates. Guess I’ll toss a dart, blindfolded, and see where it lands…Hmmm…Really? Should I toss it again? You’re right. What for? (IREALLY want to see “Chico & Rita, though…)

Documentary (Feature)
“Hell and Back Again” Danfung Dennis and Mike Lerner
“If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front” Marshall Curry and Sam Cullman
“Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory” Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky
x “Pina” Wim Wenders and Gian-Piero Ringel
“Undefeated” TJ Martin, Dan Lindsay and Richard Middlemas

The biggest gripper in this group is “Paradise Lost 3,” which deserves the Oscar for nothing more than the sheer persistence of its makers through two previous installments. Its triumph would neither displease nor stun me. But there’s a tingle in my back that makes me think that “Pina’s” “Wow” factor is strong enough to lift it to the podium. Plus, it’s always the comparative dearth of buzz that seems to benefit winners in this category. And for that matter, the next one.

Foreign Language Film
“Bullhead” (Belgium)
“A Separation” (Iran)
x “In Darkness” (Poland)
“Footnote” (Israel)
“Monsieur Lazhar” (Canada)

“A Separation” is the almost-by-acclamation winner of this category in just about every critics’ poll and awards ceremony from sea to shining sea — which has in the past proven to be an all-but-certain buzz kill for its Academy chances. (Besides, people seem quite angry with Iran, even with movies that openly criticize the things that make people quite angry with Iran.) This opens the door for any of the other contenders and it’s on the strength alone of Agnieszka Holland’s good name that I’m giving a slight edge to “In Darkness.” Which doesn’t mean I wont be much happier if “Separation” gets the gold.

Writing (Adapted Screenplay)
x “The Descendants” (Alexander Payne and Nat Faxon & Jim Rash)
“Hugo” (John Logan)
“The Ides of March” (George Clooney, Grant Heslov & Beau Willimon)
“Moneyball” (Steven Zaillian & Aaron Sorkin w/story by Stan Chervin)
“Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” (Bridget O’Connor & Peter Straughan)

O’Connor and Straughan are the most deserving for being able to winnow and boil the knottiest of thrillers into something evocative and tense. But I can’t imagine “Descendants” walking away from this thing empty-handed.

Writing (Original Screenplay)
“The Artist” (Michel Hazanavicius)
“Bridesmaids” (Annie Mumolo & Kristen Wiig)
“Margin Call” (J.C. Chandor)
x “Midnight in Paris” (Woody Allen)
“A Separation” (Asghar Farhadi)

Writers love Woody and the public, in numbers greater than anything Allen’s reaped in four decades of filmmaking, loved “Midnight in Paris.” And while I’m not sure screenwriters will be altogether happy with what the movie says, or even implies, about their craft. (Then again, we’re talking about a profession legendary for its self-loathing); and while “Margin Call” needed – and deserved – more eyeballs; and while it would be a kick to see which of her many alternate personalities Wiig assumes in the winner’s circle, this really & truly is Allen’s best script in decades. Of course, I needed to see it again to be sure…as, one presumes, did the voters.

1 comment so far ↓

#1 Pat on 02.14.12 at 2:42 pm

I gotta say, I still felt a bit of a Myeh! when it comes to The Artist. It’s like the smart kid in film class, flashy but will you remember him next year? I’m going with Hugo!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Chafin Seymour's "Zoology" in Brooklyn March 3

The Seymour Dance Collective & the Ohio State University School of Dance

will present an excerpt of "Zoology"

Kumble Theater for the Performing Arts

One University Plaza

Brooklyn, NY 11201

Phone: (718) 488-1624

Link here for tickets to the "Zoology" performance or see more information at DanceWave.

See a preview !

Click for directions to the Kumble Theater. The theater is located on Flatbush Avenue between DeKalb & Willoughby Street in downtown Brooklyn.

If you are coming, try to let us know - we'll try to have dinner together after the show.