Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Viewing Tips

Add to my list of current TV fascinations "The Bridge", on FX. As usual, I agree with TV critic Alan Sepinwall in appreciating its beautifully drawn and acted characters, oddball sensibility, and evocative border atmosphere. In its first season, the series was saddled with the task of adapting a Danish serial killer story, a plot line that was a bit of a dog. The second season goes elsewhere, and has been vastly better and more ambitious. It's been slow-building, growing exponentially more wonderful each week. At this point, I think Sepinwall's right in comparing it to "The Wire" in its scope and patience.

The golden age of television has been zero sum; as TV's gotten great, film's been really stinking it up. It's been years since I left a movie theater thinking it had been worth the foray from my television set, though I loved Phillip Seymour Hoffman's performance in "A Most Wanted Man". I did, however, enjoy a preview screening of "Art and Craft", which opens elsewhere this week. It's about an art forger who operates legally - he gives his work away, pretending to be a wealthy collector, so there's no issue of fraud.

The story is all kinds of whacky. The guy pushes paint around with his finger while distractedly watching TV and his current weapon of choice is a large format color printer (results from which he doctors in various ways), and there's no reason for his output to be anywhere near as sublime as it is. He's also paranoid schizophrenic, complete with highly dysfunctional affect, but as the story unfolds we see that he's whip smart and drolly self-aware; the real crazy is the egotistical out-of-work museum official obsessed with taking him down.

I'm a sucker for movies about art and creativity (my faves to date: The Five Obstructions, How to Draw a Bunny, Marwencol(available on Netflix), and Fairweather Man, about this guy...and then there's my own piddling and crushingly amateurish effort, "The Enigma of Von's Magical Cookies"). While I'm not sure "Art and Craft" is in the same league as the first four of those, it's worth watching.

Finally, for those more into Jerry Lewis than I am (i.e. just about anyone), and with a hat tip to Barry Strugatz, here's a freaky YouTube offering: a two hour cinéma vérité backstage peek as Jerry prepares for his 1989 Muscular Dystrophy Telethon. Why it's in black and white, I have no idea.

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