Dedicated to classics and hits.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Museum Review: The Huntington Library, Art Collection & Botanical Gardens

Museum Review:
 The Huntington Library, Art Collection & Botanical Gardens
San Marino, CA.

  Talk about a birthday present for me:  I've been trying to "make it" to the Huntington Library, Art Collection and Botanical Gardens for more than a decade without success; even as a I conquered other proximate sites like the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, CA.  San Marino is like a super-wealthy enclave within already wealthy Pasadena.  The Huntington Library, Art Collection & Botanical Gardens is best described as a "grounds."  What started as the private residence of Henry Huntington (nephew of "the" Huntington, Collis Potter Huntington, who was one of the principals in the railroad linking California to the rest of America.) eventually grew to a two structure art museum (European stuff housed in the original manor house, American stuff in a more recently built museum structure) and library display housed in what I believe was/is the library itself.

  My interest lay specifically in the library, which is one of THE best libraries in private hands in the world.  The one room display demonstrates that to spectacular effect, with a copy of the first bound edition of Shakespeare's works, a Gutenberg Bible, a Declaration of Independence and so on and so forth.

  The art museums are a mixed back- with the bulk of the collection consisting of pre-Modern 18th century English portraiture and landscape.  They DO have The Boy Blue by Thomas Gainsborough, which is arguably the most famous 18th century painting.  The high light of the modern museum is their collection of Craftsman furniture and fixtures, including significant example by the Greene Brothers, Gustav Stickley and Frank Lloyd Wright.

  The botanical gardens are also well put together, though the Chinese Garden rather paled in comparison to the one I saw in Portland, and the Japanese garden was so inundated with screaming children that it made quiet rest and contemplation impossible.  Note for the wary/cheap: Entrance is 20 bucks!!!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Show Review: Spiritualized Performing Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space at The Theatre at the Ace Hotel in DTLA

Show Review:
Performing Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space at
The Theatre at the Ace Hotel in DTLA
Valentine's Day 2014

  I am for sure a late-comer on the Spiritualized train.  I missed the initial release in 1997- probably because I was in the night clubs and listening to Dischord style hardcore. After I moved down here and fell in with the Art Fag/Crocodiles/Dum Dum Girls crowd I got up to snuff pretty quick, and developed a firm appreciation for the Spiritualized/Spaceman 3/Spectrum catalog, with a particular affinity for Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space, which is an AMAZING record- start to finish.

 So when I read that they would be performing said record, in its entirety, backed by a gospel choir, a string section and horn section, and that the performance would take place at the Grand Opening at the brand new Theatre at the Ace Hotel in DTLA, I was in.  It helped that my boo got us free (and great) tickets through her incredible connections.

 I was highly impressed by the venue, though it is a bit smaller in r.l than I was led to expect by the photographs.  Intimacy isn't a bad thing, and it means something different in the world of retrofitted early 20th century movie palaces then it does for indie/diy venues.  The Theatre was crowded with hipsters and scenesters alike, many of whom seemed positively giddy to be present.

 The show started on time and was as billed, Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space, played in its entirety.  It was an epic experience- perhaps the move fully enjoyed live show I've seen since that Daft Punk show at the LA Coliseum back in 2007.   I highly recommend you check out the Theatre at the Ace Hotel in DTLA at your first available opportunity.  

Monday, February 17, 2014

The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum (1975) d. Volker Schlöndorff and Margarethe von Trotta

Volker Schlöndorff

The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum (1975)
d. Volker Schlöndorff and Margarethe von Trotta
Criterion Collection #177

  I guess I haven't mentioned many of the German Criterion Collection films by Wim Wenders and Werner Herzog because I've seen them all.  Werner Herzog especially-  Many of the recent films in the theaters.  Soooo.... Scholndorff, who has seven films in the Criterion Collection, is like the most famous German director who's films I've seen or heard mentioned by anyone at any time in my entire life.
        Both Katharina Blum and Young Torless, the other Schlondorff film I've seen, are versions of literary novels. Schlondorff is pretty on the record about not wanting to write movies, and his choices of source material within the German world certainly limited his appeal in the English speaking film markets.
         Katharina Blum is a young divorcee in 70s Germany who has the misfortune of falling in love with a terrorist/army deserter.  She is hounded by the press after her arrest on suspicion of aiding a terrorist. The "shocking" ending involves her murdering the reporter responsible for tarnishing her name AND the fact that she is, actually, a communist sympathizer.  At least that is how I read The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum.  The psycho sexual nature of the abuse she suffers at the hands of the "system" is a point of emphasis in the film: the obscene phone calls and greeting cards she received are harped upon, repeatedly.
          That sexual element is a kind of thematic link to the subject of "internet fame"- the tabloid culture that is the primary target of this movie.  Like then, is now, unwanted attention from the media can have a very rapey element, and Katharina Blum is a kind of rape at the hands of strangers parable, compete with a revenge fantasy tacked on at the end.

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