By Aaron Wherry - Sunday, March 3, 2013 - 0 Comments
Dennis Rodman takes North Korea, Berlusconi rises again, and a dictator’s daughter takes over in Seoul
Bagman on the stand
Nicolo Milioto, construction magnate and alleged bagman for Montreal’s infamous Rizzuto Mafia clan, took the stand at an inquiry into Quebec’s construction industry last week. Milioto, known as “Mr. Sidewalk” for his uncanny ability to nab municipal construction jobs, stated his name and occupation—and very little else. According to one newspaper’s tally, the bullet-headed Milioto said, “I don’t know” or “I don’t remember” 522 times during his testimony. He said he was insulted to be associated with the Mafia, saying he was but a friend of since-assassinated don Nick Rizzuto. It’s a surprise he remembered that much.
Former NBA bad boy Dennis Rodman is trying his hand at “basketball diplomacy” in North Korea. News that “the Worm,” as he was once known, had made it into the Hermit Kingdom to film a documentary arrived via Twitter: “It’s true, I’m in North Korea. Looking forward to sitting down with Kim Jong Un,” he said. The sentiment may be shared: growing up, Kim Jong Un, the country’s young dictator, was a huge fan of Rodman’s ’90s-era Chicago Bulls.
Enter Mr. Fixit
SNC-Lavalin Group hired a new chief compliance officer last week to help clean up the embattled engineering giant in the wake of a bribery scandal. (Two former SNC executives—former CEO Pierre Duhaime and Riadh Ben Aissa—face fraud charges relating to the firm’s contract to design, build and maintain the McGill University Health Centre’s new $1.3-billion hospital.) SNC’s incoming CCO, German executive Andreas Pohlmann, has acted as a go-to for scandal-plagued companies: he was brought in to fix Siemens after a $2-billion bribery scandal in 2006. Next, he headed up the compliance unit at German engineering firm Ferrostaal in 2010, after a bribery scandal there.
By Emily Senger - Thursday, February 21, 2013 at 11:38 AM - 0 Comments
Councillors protest, but Miami auction house says purchase was legitimate
A graffiti mural thought to have been created by artist Banksy has been removed from a London shop wall and has appeared on the website of a Miami auction house.
The art in question first appeared on the side of a London shop during celebrations for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and “its imagery was considered a critique of the ‘real-life’ discomfort and sweatshop conditions behind the cosy, nostalgic British iconography of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee,” writes Wired magazine. Continue…
By Simon Gadke - Monday, September 10, 2012 at 11:07 AM - 0 Comments
These elite filmmakers bring home the bacon doing something else
The only thing more obscure than the meaning of Terrance Malick’s fifth film, The Tree of Life, is his biography. His Wikipedia page offers two possible locations for his birth. It is known that he has directed five feature films since his stunning 1973 debut Badlands. His sixth film, To The Wonder, will have its North American premiere at TIFF on September 10.
It is also known that prior to his career as an obscure director Malick was a philosophy professor at MIT and a translator of Heidegger. Not exactly a pre-requisite for being a film-maker. Here’s a look at some other films directed by people with day jobs that wouldn’t lead one to assume that they’d be comfortable in a director’s chair.
1. Mike Nichols & Elaine May: The comedy duo hit it big in the 1950s working on stage and on television. After the huge success of Woody Allen and with Louis CK recreating himself as a sitcom-auteur, it seems natural that a comedian would become a director, but it must have been unimaginable when Mike Nichols directed Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf in 1966. While Nichols would have more commercial success as the director of such hits as The Graduate, Primary Colors, and Charlie Wilson’s War, Elaine May would create a small but distinct body of films including the Cassevetes-esque Mikey & Nicky, starring none other than John Cassavetes.
2. Bernard-Henri Levy: The controversial and wildly French Public Intellectual made a name for himself as a philosopher and social critic. Known as much for his political stands as he is for his philosophy, he also worked as a journalist before deciding to make the film Le Jour et la nuit. From all accounts it was a real debacle: the film was the subject of cat-calls and antagonistic questioning when it premiered at the Berlin Film Festival in 1997. The only other blunder in his career that rivals Le Jour et la nuit was when he relied heavily on a spoof system of philosophy to refute Kant. Whoops.
3. Julian Schnabel: Artists have been using film since Louis Bunuel and Salvidor Dali dragged a razor across an eyeball and called it art. But plate-smashing, pajama-wearing Julian Schnabel has managed to create a body of feature films that aren’t contemporary art, in the way that Andy Warhol’s eight-hour film of a shot of the Empire States Building is, but are actually highly regarded narrative works. While his debut film, Basquiat, may have seemed like a one-off cannibalization of a period and a moment in the art world, his second feature, Before Night Falls, proved that Schnabel was arguably better behind the camera than in front of a canvas. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly received four Academy Award Nominations.
4. Banksy: The graffiti artist has perpetually beguiled the art world. From his ascendancy to international fame without ever painting a canvas to his record auction sales, Banksy has been as much a question mark as a cultural figure. So it made sense that his sham documentary Exit Through the Giftshop was entertaining, inconclusive and contemptuous of the cult of money and the artist.
5. Madonna: She can dance. She can sing. She can write children’s books. She can promote mystical Judaism to mass heights. Why couldn’t she direct a film? In 2008 Madonna got behind the camera for Filth and Wisdom, an ensemble comedy. Last year she released the high profile W.E., riding the wave of royal-mania induced by The King’s Speech and the actual royal nuptials, and finally put her English accent to good use.
By Julia De Laurentiis Johnson - Friday, July 20, 2012 at 11:38 AM - 0 Comments
Forget queues: Why not drink good coffee, walk through flower markets, and get up close and personal with some street art?
London is a city so crammed that walking down the street on any given day is like a game of human pin-ball. Olympic London will be worse: as in, waiting-in-line-all-day-to-get-into-the-Tate Modern worse. Wouldn’t you rather avoid the masses and see the city like a stay-cating Londoner? Sure you would. Here’s an unconventional guide to sightseeing in London:
Wake up and what’s on your mind? Coffee, of course. There’re lots of great coffee shops in London but only one where you can learn latte art from a World Barista champion between your sips of flat white. A few years ago, Gwilym Davies was running his coffee cart in East London when his friends entered him in the World Barista Championship competition on a whim. When the flat cap-wearing Yorkshireman won the title in 2009, the charming cart was soon overrun and Davies opened Prufrock’s, a laid-back café and learning space. You can just sit and sip in the café or, as the café’s namesake poem suggests, dive in and measure out your Saturday with coffee spoons: Prufrock’s offers three-hour classes in Brew Methods, Coffee Tastings and Latte Art, among others.
Don’t want to work so hard for your cup? Full Stop Café is great to watch weekenders browse Brick Lane market. Bonus: it also serves handcrafted ales from Redchurch Brewery, made just up the road.
Coffee buzz kicking in, you’d probably like to do some shopping. You don’t need a red toy phone booth and under no circumstances should you buy a reusable Harrods bag. The Columbia Road Flower Market is capable of giving you that souvenir experience we all hope to find when we travel and it will put your senses to work. There’s that rainbow of blossoms lining the street, the strong sniff of hollyhocks from the stall next door, and then there’s all that yelling. Men with gold chains and cockney accents holler things like ‘Lilies fer a fiver! Buy ‘em for your wife, buy ‘em fer someone else’s wife!’ You’ll feel like an extra in Guy Ritchie Presents London! with blooms instead of bullets. Don’t forget your camera – this place is rich in photo-op gold. On your way out, pick up some irises to brighten up your hotel room. Go around closing time to get the best deals. Sunday 8 am – 2 pm.
Most art galleries in London are free and the streets, spilling over with graffiti, are no different. London is known for its incendiary street art—this is, after all, the land of Banksy. And there are many pockets across town where you can witness a slice of the London art scene as it happens – amazing artists paint the walls in the sunken ball courts at Stockwell Park Estate almost weekly in the summer. The Leake Street tunnel by Waterloo station is easily accessible and was the site of Banksy’s 2008 Cans Festival, an urban street art party where artists from around the world came to beautify the tunnel. Brick Lane and Old Street is street art central in London. Curtain Rd, Holywell Lane and Rivington St. are packed with so many stencils, posters and coats of spray paint, you’ll feel like Alice in graffiti wonderland.
London is an old city. And sure, sometimes those ancient buildings can make you feel like you’re in an open-air museum. But most main streets have some combination of 30 chain stores, like Carphone Warehouse,Tesco and Willam Hill betting shops, giving them a terrible cookie-cutter effect. You’ll need a pretty good imagination to feel the spirit of Swinging London in Soho or the refinement of the Edwardian gentry in Kensington. But Highgate Cemetery on the north end of town looks utterly frozen in time. The sprawling cemetery, packed with crooked headstones and weeping stone angels wrapped in dense ivy, is a morbid and beautiful monument to the Victorian obsession with death. It’s the resting place of Karl Marx, poet Christina Rossetti and writer George Elliot, among others. Go on a misty day for full effect. The West Cemetery can be viewed only by tour and it’s worth it – you’ll feel like you’ve time travelled.
Instead of Googling a restaurant online (and scrutinizing the menu beforehand so you know exactly what you’ll be ordering), The School of Life has a more innovative idea on how to dine. The resource centre, originally set up as a school to get through the school of hard knocks, not only offers classes with philosophical titles like “How to be Creative” and “How Necessary is a Relationship,” but they also host intimate meals where diners are encouraged to weigh in with their own ideas and experiences. Think of it like a diner’s salon. Gone are the ‘what do you do for a living’ banalities and other cocktail-hour platitudes. At these dinners, you’re likely to intimately relate to how someone feels about the concept of guilty pleasure or how to best develop compassion before even knowing their name. Next month, they’re hosting a Picnic with Thoreau in a secluded London park. Sip Pimm’s and nibble potato salad while discussing self-discovery and purpose, with strangers!
If that’s too intimating, The Holly Bush in Hampstead is the most charming pub in London. You’ll get standard English fare like beef & ale pie with Eton mess for dessert. Walk the Hampstead streets and admire the chocolate box houses, as you digest.
By Andrew Potter - Monday, May 10, 2010 at 6:51 PM - 0 Comments
Andrew Potter on new Banksy film, Exit Through the Gift Shop
Banksy is in town! Or at least, Banksy’s operatives. Or someone pretending to be Banksy. Or someone imitating Banksy. Or just an ad agency. Or… Whatever. It’s all designed to promote his new film, which is all you need to know. Continue…
By Brian D. Johnson - Friday, May 7, 2010 at 12:00 PM - 2 Comments
This weekend at the movies, we’ve got a shooting match of iconoclasts. Take your pick: Robert Downey Jr., Catherine Keener or Banksy. They’re all first-class provocateurs, but each is working on a different scale. As the star in Iron Man 2, Downey Jr. proves that his Hollywood rehab is now more than complete. He proudly sports his shiny new franchise like a post-modern pimp in a cheap suit, even if it did cost US$140 million. And as his nemesis, another iconoclast cashes in his notoriety, Mickey Rourke. Iron Man 2 may well be the summer’s biggest blockbuster, but here’s the catch: there’s something funny about an action movie when the acting is so much better than the action. Going to an action movie for the dialogue is like reading Playboy for the articles. It’s just wrong. For a real-life renegade superhero, check out Banksy, the legendary British graffiti artist who has made his first film without surrendering his secret identity—a marvelous documentary called Exit Through the Gift Shop. Catherine Keener is an iconoclast of a different kind. And she’s in her element in Please Give, Nicole Holofcener’s wry, note-perfect movie about love, deception, greed and self-esteem. There’s no comic book posturing here, just a shrewdly observed drama with a keen wit. It’s a rare gem. And finally, for something completely different, there’s Babies, a lavish documentary about human wildlife that is all babies all the time. This post ends with an update of the Babies review that was first appeared in a BDJ Unscreened blog about Hot Docs, Documentary Tourism.
Iron Man 2
The first Iron Man had the excitement and velocity of a thing being forged from scratch. Not just Iron Man, but Robert Downey Jr.’s comeback. Now it’s just the thing replicating itself, as these things do. Another movie about a man and his gear. A playboy tycoon and his iSuit. It’s the ultimate toy, a wearable computer/weapon/rocket/uniform. We pick up where the last movie left off. Tony Stark announces to the press that yes, he is Iron Man. He makes his entrance as the star of a vulgar trade show at his dad’s old theme park, cavorting with a chorus line of showgirls.. Pretty soon, he’s like a parody of the old Robert Downey Jr. on a bender. Outta sight and outta control. Like a drunk at his own wedding. He’s also dying from toxins, from that palladium disc he uses as a heart. (Palladium? Rhymes with Avatar‘s unobtainium. And it’s what ever A-list guy is dying to have—his very own element.) Stark’s arch-enemy is a ghoulish Russian scientist played by Mickey Rourke, who is fashioning his own wearable military hardware. Rourke looks like more of a wrestler than he did in The Wrestler: a greasy, toxic, tattooed by guy with stringy dreads and a sloppy grin full of metal teeth. He seems to be smothering in his own flesh and you can practically smell the sweat coming off him. Continue…