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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


A man holds a Soviet Union flag during a pro-Russia rally in Simferopol, Crimea's Lenin Square Sunday. In Kiev, Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk vows not to give "an inch" of territory to Russia.






"Just days before the Ukrainian crisis broke out, I took an overnight train to Kiev from Sevastopol in Crimea. Three mechanics in their 30s on their way to jobs in Estonia shared my compartment. All ethnic Russians born and raised in Sevastopol, they have made the trip to the Baltic states for the past eight years for seasonal work at Baltic Sea shipyards. Our ride together, accompanied by obligatory rounds of vodka, presented the opportunity for an in-depth discussion of Ukraine's political crisis. The ensuing conversation was perhaps more enlightening than talks of similar length with Ukrainian political, economic or security officials. My fellow passengers viewed the events at Independence Square in an overwhelmingly negative light. They considered the protesters camped out in Kiev's central square terrorists, completely organized and financed by the United States and the European Union. They did not see the protesters as their fellow countrymen, and they supported then-President Viktor Yanukovich's use of the Berkut security forces to crack down on them. In fact, they were shocked by the Berkut's restraint, saying if it had been up to them, the protests would have been 'cleaned up' from the outset. They added that while they usually looked forward to stopping over in Kiev during the long journey to the Baltics, this time they were ashamed of what was happening there and didn't even want to set foot in the city. They also predicted that the situation in Ukraine would worsen before it improved. A few days later, the protests in Independence Square in fact reached a crescendo of violence. The Berkut closed in on the demonstrators, and subsequent clashes between protesters and security forces throughout the week left dozens dead and hundreds injured. This spawned a sequence of events that led to the overthrow of Yanukovich, the formation of a new Ukrainian government not recognized by Moscow and the subsequent Russian military intervention in Crimea. While the speed of these events astonished many foreign (especially Western) observers, to the men I met on the train, it was all but expected. After all, the crisis didn't emerge from a vacuum. Ukraine was a polarized country well before the EuroMaidan movement took shape. I have always been struck by how traveling to different parts of Ukraine feels like visiting different countries. Every country has its regional differences, to be sure. But Ukraine stands apart in this regard." (STRATFOR)


"Red herrings. Unresolved mysteries. A kinda happy ending. True Detective's season one conclusion made me very happy just as all eight episodes brightened many a brutally cold winter night. The last scene of the series was kind of a masterclass of acting craft and charisma. McConaughey beautifully elevated (and navigated) many tortured monologues throughout the series while Harrelson's "normal" dude lived in denial of his own darkness. For all the creepy mythology and Louisiana gothic detail, it was the car rides with these two deeply flawed American males that captivated." (Nelson george)



"Last night I paid a visit to the ladies in jail. Soon the classroom was bubbling with brilliant fun and we all had a very good laugh, a necessary laughter that changed the atmosphere, equalizing us. Until a guard came along and barked, “We’re having a ‘shake-down’. Hope you didn’t have dinner plans.” And she slammed the heavy glass and iron door, stuck in a key and twisted it locked. As she walked away the room echoed from the slammed door. We tried to return to our entertainment but strange thumps and cries and then prolonged even stranger silences tugged our curiosity and some ladies began to pop out of their seats and went to press against the glass wall to peer down into the hell pit. A guard was busy ransacking the cells, tossing their meager property all across the cement floor, until she spotted the ladies. She bellowed threats and came charging up the metal stairs and called out those who had dared to observe. And then she marched them away." (Christina Oxenberg)


Marty Cohen, Blythe Danner, Barbara Walters, Philippe de Montebello, and Joe Roberto at Guild Hall's 29th Anniversary Academy of the Arts Lifetime Achievement Awards Dinner.

"The calendar was full last night on the social side of New York. All kinds of things going on. Over at Sotheby’s on York and 72. Guild Hall was holding itsLifetime Achievement Awards dinner, celebrating an “Evening of Artistic Achievement." They were honoring Blythe Danner (for Performing Arts),Philippe de Montebello, the former longtime president of the Metropolitan Museum, for Visual ArtsBarbara Walters (need I say more?), and Jo Carole and Ronald Lauder who were given a Special Award for Leadership and Philanthropic Endeavors. Then, over at the Mandarin Oriental on Columbus Circle, The Women’s Project Theatre were holding their Women of Achievement  Awards Gala, with special guests Veanne Cox and David Hyde Pierce with a special Tribute toDorothy Fields (“I won’t dance Madam, with you; My heart won’t let my feet do things they should do…”) – the great Dorothy Fields. At the same out over at 583 Park Avenue, The New York School of Interior Design honored Mariette Himes Gomez and Charles Jencks at their annual Spring dinner. And where was I? I was over at Jazz at Lincoln Center in  the Frederick P. Rose Hall The Hasty Pudding Institute of 1770, was hosting its annual Order of the Golden Sphinx Gala, honoring film producer David Heyman." (NYSD)



Choose Your Own Documentary’s Sam Smaïl, Fernando Gutierrez De Jesus, Nathan Penlington, Nick Watson, from left.

"Who needs South by Southwest when you can just stay in New York? The Tribeca Film Festival (TIFF), in its 13th year, is continuing its march toward becoming one of the most futuristic, forward-thinking events in the industry, with a beefed-up transmedia and technology lineup. The festival, which starts April 16, has balanced its run of celebrity-studded narratives and award-winning docs with technology-focused 'films' that emphasis audience interaction, music and immersive experiences.If you didn’t think New York could be as hip as Austin, just take a look at the opener: a premiere screening of a Nas documentary, Time Is Illmatic, which explores the rapper’s seminal album 20 years after it was released. The Queens-born artist is expected to perform the album after the screening. In foregrounding music documentaries, TIFF seems to have found a successful formula. This will be the second year that it has opened with one: Last year, the band The National took to the stage for a live show after the festival premiered Mistaken For Strangers, a film about about lead singer Matt Berninger and his younger brother, Tom. Illmatic is just one of several documentaries this year that focus on musicians. Also on the lineup is Super Duper Alice Cooper, Keep On Keepin’ On, about 89-year-old jazz legend Clark Terry, and a documentary about the Grateful Dead’s co-founder Bob Weir called The Other One. Tribeca has also teamed up with digital media company Interlude for a music film challenge for Tribeca Interactive: Using the Treehouse app, competitors can create interactive music 'films' for three tracks—'Heavy Seas of Love' by Damon Albarn, 'Ticking Bomb' by Aloe Blacc or 'Dead in the Water' by Ellie Goulding—and submit their entries online. The winning creators will receive $10,000 each and a trip to attend TIFF, and their video will be shown at the festival." (Observer)





COURTESY OF FOX SEARCHLIGHT


"I want to live in a hotel someday, and I credit Wes Anderson for that. It’s not just that one of his greatest characters, Royal Tenenbaum, took up residence in a New York City suite. All of Anderson’s movies, with their fine-tuned details that are so easy to mock, capture the best things about being in hotels; the tiny toiletries, the neat storage solutions, the opulence of a busy lobby that always, somehow, seems orderly. And, unsurprisingly, that graceful hotel chaos is a major part of The Grand Budapest Hotel, Anderson’s newest film. Ralph Fiennes plays Gustave, the detail-oriented, ever-gracious concierge of a lavish hotel in a fictional European country, on the brink of World War II. When Fiennes told me, in our interview, that 'there’s a lot of Wes in Gustave,' it came as little surprise. But Anderson is not just a fussbudget playing on movie sets like a kid in a dollhouse—he’s thoughtful about all the elements of filmmaking, from casting to accepting criticism in the editing room, and even provides advice to up-and-coming filmmakers like, as it happened, Ralph Fiennes. He’s also given up on the dream of living in a hotel like Royal Tenenbaum, for reasons that might seem very earthbound for a filmmaker who’s always seemed to live in a world all his own." (VanityFair)