1. “Björk Is on Display, Up Close and in 3-D at MoMA.” For the New York Times, Melena Ryzik on the Björk retro at MoMA.
“[Klaus] Biesenbach, who like Björk is 49, called her the paradigm of a ’90s artist, a compliment. ’The ’90s, my generation, said it’s all about relational aesthetics, it’s all about collaboration,’ he said. Many tried to cross over to art, film and design; ’she lives that.’ A centerpiece of the exhibition is ’Songlines,’ a labyrinthlike audio tour through Björk’s music and psyche. Visitors wear headphones connected to Bluetooth beacons, which locate them through the space, cuing the proper songs and visuals. The technology was adapted by Volkswagen, a sponsor of the show, from a hands-free program it made to soundtrack driving. (The geolocation obviates the problem of continually looking down at a device, rather than up at the exhibition.) For ’Black Lake,’ the architect David Benjamin and his team, working with the firm Autodesk, turned the song into a literal blueprint, mapping the music’s volume and frequency. Then using that for a 3-D topography to place the cones.”
2. “Creativity Under Capitalism: The Pop Music Critic as Public Intellectual.” Ivan Kreilkamp on Robert Christgau’s memoir, Going into the City: Portrait of a Critic as a Young Man.
“Christgau is rock criticism’s closest analogue to Pauline Kael—a critic he acknowledges as a major influence on his early sense of what pop music criticism could be and do. Like Kael, Christgau brought to a relatively disrespected popular genre in the 1960s and ’70s a new degree of critical intensity and erudition, delivered with an American vernacular energy and wit and let-it-fly opinionatedness. As music editor at The Village Voice—he began writing for the Voice in 1969, returned as music editor in 1974 after stints at Esquire and Newsday, and stayed until fired in 2006—he exerted massive influence on pop music writing, both for his own work and (also like Kael) his role as a professional mentor to countless protégés and acolytes. Aside from the new memoir, he’s published two essay collections and three book collections (one each for the 1970s, ’80s, and ’90s) of his influential and infamous capsule-length, letter-graded ’Consumer Guide’ record reviews, of which he has now published almost 14,000. (One of my favorite lines from the book: ’To the eternal ‘Opinions are like assholes—everybody’s got one,’ I just say, ‘Yeah, but not everybody’s got ten thousand of them.’’)”
3. “A Few Words on Russell Tovey and Why If It Weren’t for My Father, I Wouldn’t Be a Faggot.” Noah Michelson is proud to be a faggot who never felt the need to toughen up.
“Tovey states that he ’had to toughen up,’ which implies that his natural state of being wasn’t tough. What’s more, when he says, ’If I’d have been able to relax, prance around, sing in the street, I might be a different person now…’ I can only read longing in that statement. Despite how much the lady doth protest, he gives himself away. He wanted to relax. He wanted to prance. He wanted to sing in the street. But because his dad—and society—wouldn’t allow him to ’go down that path,’ he didn’t. That’s not something to celebrate or be thankful for, even if it did result in ’the unique quality that people think’ Tovey has (which is what exactly? Not coming across as a faggot?). In fact, it just makes me feel sorry for him and his dad—and all of us..”
4. “The Weird Problem with Focus.” Richard Brody on how the film squanders the seductive charm and intoxicating chemistry of Margot Robbie and Will Smith.
“For all the able exertions of the cast, which, in addition to its stars, offers bright supporting turns to Adrian Martinez, playing an accomplice with an undisciplined dirty mouth, and Gerald McRaney, as a veteran criminal with a highly disciplined dirty mouth, Focus is a disaster of a particular sort. It’s a failure of excess calculation, a movie that’s crushed by the hermetic mutual reinforcement of its screenwriters’ clever intentions. But it does raise a question that casts a peculiar analytical light back through the history of movies and into the theory of screenplay practice, namely, the connection between what a protagonist knows and what a director shows.”
5. “Future Projections.” Erika Balsom on the collected writings of Gregory J. Markopoulos.
“In ’Sto Palikari,’ he calls for collectors to purchase films from commercial galleries through a ’limited print sales plan.’ At the time, Markopoulos was involved in a partnership with Gimpel Fils gallery in London to offer for sale limited editions of his films—a very early instance of this now-common practice—but no buyers were forthcoming. This initiative is notable not only for its prescience, but also because it underlines the extent to which Markopoulos’s vision of the Temenos developed out of an active and sometimes pioneering engagement with virtually all distribution models available to him. He pursued television commissions, the sale of 8-mm prints to home viewers, film rentals, and gallery sales. It was only after he had exhausted these possibilities that he settled on the Wagnerian dream of a cinematic Bayreuth. The fifth and longest section of Film as Film, ’Towards a Temenos,’ documents Markopoulos’s shifting elaboration of this project.”
Video of the Day: The trailer for Rebels of the Neon God: