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Pretty poison

Pretty Persuasion plays a two-faced game

Pretty Persuasion is a slutty little movie pretending to be an important one.

??
It wants to wallow in the trough of American junk culture then tsk-tsks like a holy rolling evangelist when it has you on its hook.

??
The success of Alexander Payne seems to have convinced many strapping young lads that they can pull off an Election-style satire with equal finesse. But the relatively green former music video director Marcos Siega (who ends his film with the bold declaration "A Marcos Siega Film," as if his name has become as synonymous with quality and value as Oscar Mayer) is not up to the task.

??
Pretty Persuasion is social commentary for the readers of Maxim and Stuff, who can make fun of the randy grotesquerie of the society they live in without sacrificing their neo-Hefner, lad-of-the-manor sense of calling all the shots.

??
Siega's film is another in the apparently endless, lesser post-Heathers genre of cinema. On the entertaining, revealing end of that genre lie films like Mean Girls, which manages to wrest empathy and relevance from high school girl politics. On the more crowded butt-end are films like Jawbreaker that take a little too much pleasure in the sight of super-hot barely legal girls having sex and being mean before delivering up a satisfyingly misogynist comeuppance to its anti-heroines in the end.

??
Pretty Persuasion's anti-heroine is a pale, whip-smart brunette in the Winona Ryder Heathers mode. Kimberly's (Evan Rachel Wood) exclusive Beverly Hills private school has teachers who are over-attentive to the point of lechery and parents who are disconnected to the point of neglect. While instructing a new Arab student, Randa (Adi Schnall), on the social codes of her school, Kimberly gives us a handy crash course in her Southern California dystopia of promiscuous sex, casual racism, PC-lip service and jaded attitude.

??
For fun, Kimberly and her best girlfriend Brittany (Elisabeth Harnois) eat Twinkies and smoke cigars (the director never met a phallic symbol he didn't like) and watch porn, confessing to each other who has done what in the film's degraded portrait of precociously hard-hearted teens.

??
Kimberly's problem, the film instructs, is that she's A) female and thus engineered for deception and malice, and B-) cursed with the unnatural and unholy combination of looks and brains that Siega and screenwriter Skander Halim's worldview fears with an unnatural fury.

??
In a manufactured, out-of-left-field plot twist, Kimberly convinces her girlfriends Randa and Brittany to accuse their drama teacher of sexually assaulting them, the preamble to a lengthy courtroom drama that critiques the American thirst for celebrity at any cost.

??
Pretty Persuasion thinks it's got its hot little finger on something pulse-like by both including an Arab character responding to American decadence, and by alluding to the Iraq War where Kimberly's half-brother died. At various points, when Halim intends you to think there might be something almost human stirring beneath his scales, he has his characters gaze wistfully at the photo of the fallen Marine. Halim thus shamelessly drags a national tragedy into the fray of this ugly, malevolent film in another attempt to make it feel like relevant social commentary.

??
Exhibiting the same kind of bilious sarcasm and random misanthropy that has marked other weak social commentary such as American Beauty (a work of genius in comparison), Pretty Persuasion manages to simultaneously hate and lust after its teen hotties.

??
In the 11th hour, Pretty Persuasion tries to cop a relevant, downbeat, socially concerned attitude, but after the previous piggish rutting in kink, who exactly does Siega think he's fooling? It's hard to get on board with Team Siega-Halim's tearful ending when they've done such a good job of making their entire cast — especially teen antagonist Kimberly — subhuman.



More By This Writer

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  string(54) "Sofia Coppola imagines female desire in 'The Beguiled'"
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  string(11075) "%{data-embed-type=%22image%22 data-embed-id=%225952c59138ab46de32527569%22 data-embed-element=%22span%22 data-embed-size=%22640w%22 contenteditable=%22false%22}%In the waning days of the Civil War, as depleted Confederate troops retreat, dragging their wasted numbers through 1864 Virginia, a waylaid, wounded Union soldier separated from his ranks finds shelter in an isolated girls' school: the Miss Martha Farnsworth Seminary for Young Ladies. Nursed back to health by the gentle ministrations of these lonely girls and women cut off from the gift of male company, the man finds himself less a patient and more a captive, vied over by these genteel women for whom his presence becomes provocation.Written by Thomas Cullinan in 1966 and made into a film in 1971 by consummate '70s workman director Don Siegel (Dirty Harry), The Beguiled has been dusted off, bathed in golden candlelight and given a distinctly girl-power spin in Sofia Coppola's remake. Winner of the best director award at the Cannes Film Festival (the second for a female director since the award's inception) Coppola has placed female desire front and center in her reinterpretation of Cullinan's story. As in her macabre ode to male beauty and sex The Virgin Suicides, Coppola returns to the difficult pull between repression and desire that has challenged women through the ages, but certainly challenges the well-brought-up specimens of Southern womanhood in The Beguiled. A powerhouse lineup on the order of The Women, Steel Magnolias and Francois Ozon's 8 Women, Coppola's cast  Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst, Elle Fanning  dramatize the lust and coping mechanisms that arise when the complicating force of a debilitated enemy solider, John McBurney (Colin Farrell), is introduced into their exclusive circle of femininity.Discovered in the woods like a wounded fawn by the naturalist and lover of all living things Amy (Oona Laurence), John hobbles into a kind of estrogen Eden buffered by Spanish moss and brambles from the nightmare of war. Placed in the catbird seat in the well-appointed music room at this Virginia seminary, John gives the distinct impression of licking his lips at the prospect of a Merchant Ivory convalescence. But his desires are soon crowded out by the greater, and more ambitious desires of his keepers. John, in a nutshell, is no match for these lilting, delicate feminine creatures with the mettle of French Resistance fighters and the lusty soulfulness of Sophia Loren.The Beguiled is a blend of Coppola's twin interests in froth and the fraught. Her aesthetics come courtesy of fashion magazines, a teenage internship at Chanel and the trappings of her Paris berth, and she remakes The Beguiled in a palette of Ladur̩e mints, millennial pink, lilacs and seafoams in Miss Martha's atmospherically cloistered women-centric institution. But The Beguiled's plumbing of the complexities of human behavior and relationships can be seen in her recent rock-solid New York Times tally of her favorite films of the 21st century, including: Force Majeure, The White Ribbon, Under the Skin and Fish Tank.Centered on female experience at various stages, from the provocative but still innocent teenager Alicia (Fanning) to the tremulous, lovesick schoolmarm Edwina (Dunst) to the fully ripe Martha Farnsworth (Kidman), Coppola identifies with all of them (Coppola is herself closest to Kidman's age). Her film finds equal merit in the middle-aged Martha's longing for her dead husband as it does in the littlest girl Amy's pre-sexual vision of John as a best friend and fellow nature lover who appreciates the world's birds and turtles and living things as much as she does. Whether you're 12 or 40, John in Coppola's hands is first and foremost a total dreamboat. Coppola says she chose Farrell for his universal appeal to women and gay men. As Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos discovered in The Lobster, Farrell is an actor who can play vulnerable without losing his inherent hunkiness. Even when things take a dark turn in The Beguiled and John falls from favor with the ladies for his "acting out," Farrell and Coppola never lose sight of his woundedness or his humanity. He's as lost in the fog of war as they are, an Irishman cut off from his country as a paid Union soldier not too different from these women cast away from their countrymen, fearful of attack from their own Southern soldiers and mourning the lost world of men until the glimmer of hope John arrives. John never becomes a monster, just a tragic, raging man whose libido and pride end up backing him into trouble's corner.But The Beguiled is not just an expression of Coppola's interest in strong-willed but vulnerable women and atmospheric romance-licked settings out of a Grace Coddington Vogue spread. Her film is also revisionist to the core, a chair kicked out from under the very different in tone and sexual politics of Siegel and Clint Eastwood's vision of Southern nights circa 1971.Siegel's The Beguiled was very much a product of its hairy-chested times and exemplified some of the he-man fixations of hard-boiled male directors of that era like Sam Peckinpah and fellow auteur Eastwood (see his rapey High Plains Drifter for the definitive knuckle-dragging view of "no means yes?۝). Siegel's Southern gothic is a hopped-up universe of alternately repressed and oversexed women, a men's magazine come to life. Wedded to the conventions of the gothic, in Siegel's interpretation of The Beguiled, female sexuality is the resident monster in the attic.Vincent Canby, writing in a New York Times review at the time, called Siegel's hothouse horror "a sensationalistic, misogynistic nightmare." Female desire in Siegel-country is a raging, vindictive force threatening to consume the fraught man in its crosshairs, in this case John McBurney (Eastwood), whose recuperation  and possibly his life  is threatened by the spook show of female sexual jealousy.No value assignedLike some smutty drugstore paperback come to life, Siegel's cast of women includes a tarty, vindictive teen vixen played by Eastwood's real-life paramour (Jo Ann Harris). There's the sexually precocious prepubescent 12-year-old (Pamelyn Ferdin) who John flirts with and kisses passionately in some of the film's ickier moments. And raising the cinematic bar for tightly wound sexual repression is headmistress Martha Farnsworth (Geraldine Page) who is  natch  the kinkiest of them all. In the ultimate backwoods Southern , Martha is revealed to have once had a "thing" for her own brother and harbors baroque sexual fantasies of three-ways. Siegel's The Beguiled reserves the most respect for the black slave Hallie (Mae Mercer) who John treats as an equal, sexually joshing with her as she with him (both are captives of a sort, after all), even though the film's biggest taboo may be a desire he can't possibly act upon.While Coppola extends the hand of friendship and understanding to both her male and female characters in her version, Siegel seems eager to paint the human race with a typhoid brush in his grindhouse Beguiled. More antihero than hero, flashbacks reveal John's cowardice and homicidal instincts, a man who fought dirty on the battlefield and fights dirty in sex, too.Nostalgia and time's passage tend to soften retro hokum and make us tickle the chin of knuckle-dragging sexual politics and filmmaking kitsch past. But it's pretty clear in her reconceptualization that Coppola has a purposeful revisionism of Siegel's jaundiced view on her mind. Just as a new generation of directors invested the creaky, sagebrush Western with moral darkness and political and social urgency in the revisionist Westerns of the '60s and '70s, The Beguiled suggests the gender revisionism that happens when a female director tackles a male tome. Slate's Matthew Dessem speculated that Coppola's The Beguiled might be the equivalent of Mary Harron's own revisionist take on Bret Easton Ellis' serial killer yarn American Psycho.Female sexual repression is not a sickness in Coppola's version, but a circumstance, the war-time reality of husbands and potential mates dead or off fighting coupled with the impossible demands of Southern womanhood. In Coppola's The Beguiled, John's presence unfurls a melancholy longing, a sense of long-suppressed desire that squarely places Coppola's version in the female camp. That painful divide between desire and self-control plays out in a scene where Martha washes an unconscious John soon after his arrival at the seminary, Coppola's camera lingering over his body until Martha is forced to break the spell and flee temptation. What comes through in the scene is the painfully sequestered, forbidden dimension to desire for these women. They are not fully human because they have been forced to pretend their entire lives that their only desire is for whist and French verb conjugation. It's a scene laced with equal parts poignance and electricity, an appreciation of male pulchritude to bookend Jill Soloway's comparable examination of female lust, I Love Dick.And rather than a foil to these women, in Coppola's version, John is not anxious to leave his cream puff divan or these soft, nurturing women ministering to his heart and health. He longs to stay as their gardener tending the rose bushes and earning his keep as the man of the house, deserting the brutal world of men and surrendering to this paradise of women. While Eastwood's John longs to escape his house of harridan horrors, Farrell sinks deeper and deeper into this eiderdown of sex and surrender.If the women in Siegel's The Beguiled live in a bubble of their director and producer's feverish imagination, then Coppola's women inhabit their own ideological snow globe as well, one where race doesn't penetrate. Despite being filmed at the same Napoleonville, Louisiana, plantation, Madewood, where Beyonce's own mantra of empowerment "Lemonade" was created, sisterhood is powerful, but lily-white in Coppola's South. The solitary evidence of the rationale for the Civil War, the housemaid Mattie in Cullinan's novel and Hallie in Siegel's adaptation, is nowhere to be seen in Coppola's film. Instead, she seems most adept at handling one social issue at a time, a feminist-inflected vision of female strength, resilience and agency, but one cut off from the politics of the day.
                     

Like other visions of a sugar-dusted Southern womanhood, ultimately, Coppola's belles are steel magnolias forced to show their mettle when times are tough. How you view the difference between Siegel's and Coppola's rendition of The Beguiled may very well depend upon how you view female desire. Siegel imagined The Beguiled's theme as "the basic desire of women to castrate men." In Coppola's hands, sexual desire is part of female humanity and agency, even when society demands that that humanity be tamped down and hidden far, far away inside oneself, never to be revealed.
The Beguiled: 4 stars.??Directed by Sofia Coppola. Stars Nicole Kidman, Colin Farrell. Rated R. Opens Thurs., June 30. At area theaters."
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  string(11323) "%{[ data-embed-type="image" data-embed-id="5952c59138ab46de32527569" data-embed-element="span" data-embed-size="640w" contenteditable="false" ]}%In the waning days of the Civil War, as depleted Confederate troops retreat, dragging their wasted numbers through 1864 Virginia, a waylaid, wounded Union soldier separated from his ranks finds shelter in an isolated girls' school: the Miss Martha Farnsworth Seminary for Young Ladies. Nursed back to health by the gentle ministrations of these lonely girls and women cut off from the gift of male company, the man finds himself less a patient and more a captive, vied over by these genteel women for whom his presence becomes provocation.Written by Thomas Cullinan in 1966 and made into a film in 1971 by consummate '70s workman director Don Siegel (''Dirty Harry''), ''The Beguiled'' has been dusted off, bathed in golden candlelight and given a distinctly girl-power spin in Sofia Coppola's remake. Winner of the best director award at the Cannes Film Festival (the second for a female director since the award's inception) Coppola has placed female desire front and center in her reinterpretation of Cullinan's story. As in her macabre ode to male beauty and sex ''The Virgin Suicides'', Coppola returns to the difficult pull between repression and desire that has challenged women through the ages, but certainly challenges the well-brought-up specimens of Southern womanhood in ''The Beguiled''. A powerhouse lineup on the order of ''The Women'', ''Steel Magnolias'' and Francois Ozon's ''8 Women'', Coppola's cast  Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst, Elle Fanning  dramatize the lust and coping mechanisms that arise when the complicating force of a debilitated enemy solider, John McBurney (Colin Farrell), is introduced into their exclusive circle of femininity.Discovered in the woods like a wounded fawn by the naturalist and lover of all living things Amy (Oona Laurence), John hobbles into a kind of estrogen Eden buffered by Spanish moss and brambles from the nightmare of war. Placed in the catbird seat in the well-appointed music room at this Virginia seminary, John gives the distinct impression of licking his lips at the prospect of a Merchant Ivory convalescence. But his desires are soon crowded out by the greater, and more ambitious desires of his keepers. John, in a nutshell, is no match for these lilting, delicate feminine creatures with the mettle of French Resistance fighters and the lusty soulfulness of Sophia Loren.''The Beguiled'' is a blend of Coppola's twin interests in froth and the fraught. Her aesthetics come courtesy of fashion magazines, a teenage internship at Chanel and the trappings of her Paris berth, and she remakes ''The Beguiled'' in a palette of Ladur̩e mints, millennial pink, lilacs and seafoams in Miss Martha's atmospherically cloistered women-centric institution. But ''The Beguiled'''s plumbing of the complexities of human behavior and relationships can be seen in her recent rock-solid ''New York Times'' tally of her favorite films of the 21st century, including: ''Force Majeure'', ''The White Ribbon'', ''Under the Skin'' and ''Fish Tank''.Centered on female experience at various stages, from the provocative but still innocent teenager Alicia (Fanning) to the tremulous, lovesick schoolmarm Edwina (Dunst) to the fully ripe Martha Farnsworth (Kidman), Coppola identifies with all of them (Coppola is herself closest to Kidman's age). Her film finds equal merit in the middle-aged Martha's longing for her dead husband as it does in the littlest girl Amy's pre-sexual vision of John as a best friend and fellow nature lover who appreciates the world's birds and turtles and living things as much as she does. Whether you're 12 or 40, John in Coppola's hands is first and foremost a total dreamboat. Coppola says she chose Farrell for his universal appeal to women and gay men. As Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos discovered in ''The Lobster'', Farrell is an actor who can play vulnerable without losing his inherent hunkiness. Even when things take a dark turn in ''The Beguiled'' and John falls from favor with the ladies for his "acting out," Farrell and Coppola never lose sight of his woundedness or his humanity. He's as lost in the fog of war as they are, an Irishman cut off from his country as a paid Union soldier not too different from these women cast away from their countrymen, fearful of attack from their own Southern soldiers and mourning the lost world of men until the glimmer of hope John arrives. John never becomes a monster, just a tragic, raging man whose libido and pride end up backing him into trouble's corner.But ''The Beguiled'' is not just an expression of Coppola's interest in strong-willed but vulnerable women and atmospheric romance-licked settings out of a Grace Coddington ''Vogue'' spread. Her film is also revisionist to the core, a chair kicked out from under the very different in tone and sexual politics of Siegel and Clint Eastwood's vision of Southern nights circa 1971.Siegel's ''The Beguiled'' was very much a product of its hairy-chested times and exemplified some of the he-man fixations of hard-boiled male directors of that era like Sam Peckinpah and fellow auteur Eastwood (see his rapey ''High Plains Drifter'' for the definitive knuckle-dragging view of "no means yes?۝). Siegel's Southern gothic is a hopped-up universe of alternately repressed and oversexed women, a men's magazine come to life. Wedded to the conventions of the gothic, in Siegel's interpretation of ''The Beguiled'', female sexuality is the resident monster in the attic.Vincent Canby, writing in a ''New York Times'' review at the time, called Siegel's hothouse horror "a sensationalistic, misogynistic nightmare." Female desire in Siegel-country is a raging, vindictive force threatening to consume the fraught man in its crosshairs, in this case John McBurney (Eastwood), whose recuperation  and possibly his life  is threatened by the spook show of female sexual jealousy.%{[ data-embed-type="image" data-embed-id="5952c5cc38ab461c33527569" data-embed-element="span" data-embed-size="640w" contenteditable="false" ]}%Like some smutty drugstore paperback come to life, Siegel's cast of women includes a tarty, vindictive teen vixen played by Eastwood's real-life paramour (Jo Ann Harris). There's the sexually precocious prepubescent 12-year-old (Pamelyn Ferdin) who John flirts with and kisses passionately in some of the film's ickier moments. And raising the cinematic bar for tightly wound sexual repression is headmistress Martha Farnsworth (Geraldine Page) who is  natch  the kinkiest of them all. In the ultimate backwoods Southern , Martha is revealed to have once had a "thing" for her own brother and harbors baroque sexual fantasies of three-ways. Siegel's ''The Beguiled'' reserves the most respect for the black slave Hallie (Mae Mercer) who John treats as an equal, sexually joshing with her as she with him (both are captives of a sort, after all), even though the film's biggest taboo may be a desire he can't possibly act upon.While Coppola extends the hand of friendship and understanding to both her male and female characters in her version, Siegel seems eager to paint the human race with a typhoid brush in his grindhouse ''Beguiled''. More antihero than hero, flashbacks reveal John's cowardice and homicidal instincts, a man who fought dirty on the battlefield and fights dirty in sex, too.Nostalgia and time's passage tend to soften retro hokum and make us tickle the chin of knuckle-dragging sexual politics and filmmaking kitsch past. But it's pretty clear in her reconceptualization that Coppola has a purposeful revisionism of Siegel's jaundiced view on her mind. Just as a new generation of directors invested the creaky, sagebrush Western with moral darkness and political and social urgency in the revisionist Westerns of the '60s and '70s, ''The Beguiled'' suggests the gender revisionism that happens when a female director tackles a male tome. Slate's Matthew Dessem speculated that Coppola's ''The Beguiled'' might be the equivalent of Mary Harron's own revisionist take on Bret Easton Ellis' serial killer yarn ''American Psycho''.Female sexual repression is not a sickness in Coppola's version, but a circumstance, the war-time reality of husbands and potential mates dead or off fighting coupled with the impossible demands of Southern womanhood. In Coppola's ''The Beguiled'', John's presence unfurls a melancholy longing, a sense of long-suppressed desire that squarely places Coppola's version in the female camp. That painful divide between desire and self-control plays out in a scene where Martha washes an unconscious John soon after his arrival at the seminary, Coppola's camera lingering over his body until Martha is forced to break the spell and flee temptation. What comes through in the scene is the painfully sequestered, forbidden dimension to desire for these women. They are not fully human because they have been forced to pretend their entire lives that their only desire is for whist and French verb conjugation. It's a scene laced with equal parts poignance and electricity, an appreciation of male pulchritude to bookend Jill Soloway's comparable examination of female lust, ''I Love Dick''.And rather than a foil to these women, in Coppola's version, John is not anxious to leave his cream puff divan or these soft, nurturing women ministering to his heart and health. He longs to stay as their gardener tending the rose bushes and earning his keep as the man of the house, deserting the brutal world of men and surrendering to this paradise of women. While Eastwood's John longs to escape his house of harridan horrors, Farrell sinks deeper and deeper into this eiderdown of sex and surrender.If the women in Siegel's ''The Beguiled'' live in a bubble of their director and producer's feverish imagination, then Coppola's women inhabit their own ideological snow globe as well, one where race doesn't penetrate. Despite being filmed at the same Napoleonville, Louisiana, plantation, Madewood, where Beyonce's own mantra of empowerment "Lemonade" was created, sisterhood is powerful, but lily-white in Coppola's South. The solitary evidence of the rationale for the Civil War, the housemaid Mattie in Cullinan's novel and Hallie in Siegel's adaptation, is nowhere to be seen in Coppola's film. Instead, she seems most adept at handling one social issue at a time, a feminist-inflected vision of female strength, resilience and agency, but one cut off from the politics of the day.
                     

Like other visions of a sugar-dusted Southern womanhood, ultimately, Coppola's belles are steel magnolias forced to show their mettle when times are tough. How you view the difference between Siegel's and Coppola's rendition of ''The Beguiled'' may very well depend upon how you view female desire. Siegel imagined ''The Beguiled'''s theme as "the basic desire of women to castrate men." In Coppola's hands, sexual desire is part of female humanity and agency, even when society demands that that humanity be tamped down and hidden far, far away inside oneself, never to be revealed.
The Beguiled'': 4 stars.??Directed by Sofia Coppola. Stars Nicole Kidman, Colin Farrell. Rated R. Opens Thurs., June 30. At area theaters.''"
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  string(11360) "    Sofia Coppola imagines female desire in 'The Beguiled'   2017-06-28T00:52:00+00:00 Gothic redux   Felicia Feaster  2017-06-28T00:52:00+00:00  %{data-embed-type=%22image%22 data-embed-id=%225952c59138ab46de32527569%22 data-embed-element=%22span%22 data-embed-size=%22640w%22 contenteditable=%22false%22}%In the waning days of the Civil War, as depleted Confederate troops retreat, dragging their wasted numbers through 1864 Virginia, a waylaid, wounded Union soldier separated from his ranks finds shelter in an isolated girls' school: the Miss Martha Farnsworth Seminary for Young Ladies. Nursed back to health by the gentle ministrations of these lonely girls and women cut off from the gift of male company, the man finds himself less a patient and more a captive, vied over by these genteel women for whom his presence becomes provocation.Written by Thomas Cullinan in 1966 and made into a film in 1971 by consummate '70s workman director Don Siegel (Dirty Harry), The Beguiled has been dusted off, bathed in golden candlelight and given a distinctly girl-power spin in Sofia Coppola's remake. Winner of the best director award at the Cannes Film Festival (the second for a female director since the award's inception) Coppola has placed female desire front and center in her reinterpretation of Cullinan's story. As in her macabre ode to male beauty and sex The Virgin Suicides, Coppola returns to the difficult pull between repression and desire that has challenged women through the ages, but certainly challenges the well-brought-up specimens of Southern womanhood in The Beguiled. A powerhouse lineup on the order of The Women, Steel Magnolias and Francois Ozon's 8 Women, Coppola's cast  Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst, Elle Fanning  dramatize the lust and coping mechanisms that arise when the complicating force of a debilitated enemy solider, John McBurney (Colin Farrell), is introduced into their exclusive circle of femininity.Discovered in the woods like a wounded fawn by the naturalist and lover of all living things Amy (Oona Laurence), John hobbles into a kind of estrogen Eden buffered by Spanish moss and brambles from the nightmare of war. Placed in the catbird seat in the well-appointed music room at this Virginia seminary, John gives the distinct impression of licking his lips at the prospect of a Merchant Ivory convalescence. But his desires are soon crowded out by the greater, and more ambitious desires of his keepers. John, in a nutshell, is no match for these lilting, delicate feminine creatures with the mettle of French Resistance fighters and the lusty soulfulness of Sophia Loren.The Beguiled is a blend of Coppola's twin interests in froth and the fraught. Her aesthetics come courtesy of fashion magazines, a teenage internship at Chanel and the trappings of her Paris berth, and she remakes The Beguiled in a palette of Ladur̩e mints, millennial pink, lilacs and seafoams in Miss Martha's atmospherically cloistered women-centric institution. But The Beguiled's plumbing of the complexities of human behavior and relationships can be seen in her recent rock-solid New York Times tally of her favorite films of the 21st century, including: Force Majeure, The White Ribbon, Under the Skin and Fish Tank.Centered on female experience at various stages, from the provocative but still innocent teenager Alicia (Fanning) to the tremulous, lovesick schoolmarm Edwina (Dunst) to the fully ripe Martha Farnsworth (Kidman), Coppola identifies with all of them (Coppola is herself closest to Kidman's age). Her film finds equal merit in the middle-aged Martha's longing for her dead husband as it does in the littlest girl Amy's pre-sexual vision of John as a best friend and fellow nature lover who appreciates the world's birds and turtles and living things as much as she does. Whether you're 12 or 40, John in Coppola's hands is first and foremost a total dreamboat. Coppola says she chose Farrell for his universal appeal to women and gay men. As Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos discovered in The Lobster, Farrell is an actor who can play vulnerable without losing his inherent hunkiness. Even when things take a dark turn in The Beguiled and John falls from favor with the ladies for his "acting out," Farrell and Coppola never lose sight of his woundedness or his humanity. He's as lost in the fog of war as they are, an Irishman cut off from his country as a paid Union soldier not too different from these women cast away from their countrymen, fearful of attack from their own Southern soldiers and mourning the lost world of men until the glimmer of hope John arrives. John never becomes a monster, just a tragic, raging man whose libido and pride end up backing him into trouble's corner.But The Beguiled is not just an expression of Coppola's interest in strong-willed but vulnerable women and atmospheric romance-licked settings out of a Grace Coddington Vogue spread. Her film is also revisionist to the core, a chair kicked out from under the very different in tone and sexual politics of Siegel and Clint Eastwood's vision of Southern nights circa 1971.Siegel's The Beguiled was very much a product of its hairy-chested times and exemplified some of the he-man fixations of hard-boiled male directors of that era like Sam Peckinpah and fellow auteur Eastwood (see his rapey High Plains Drifter for the definitive knuckle-dragging view of "no means yes?۝). Siegel's Southern gothic is a hopped-up universe of alternately repressed and oversexed women, a men's magazine come to life. Wedded to the conventions of the gothic, in Siegel's interpretation of The Beguiled, female sexuality is the resident monster in the attic.Vincent Canby, writing in a New York Times review at the time, called Siegel's hothouse horror "a sensationalistic, misogynistic nightmare." Female desire in Siegel-country is a raging, vindictive force threatening to consume the fraught man in its crosshairs, in this case John McBurney (Eastwood), whose recuperation  and possibly his life  is threatened by the spook show of female sexual jealousy.No value assignedLike some smutty drugstore paperback come to life, Siegel's cast of women includes a tarty, vindictive teen vixen played by Eastwood's real-life paramour (Jo Ann Harris). There's the sexually precocious prepubescent 12-year-old (Pamelyn Ferdin) who John flirts with and kisses passionately in some of the film's ickier moments. And raising the cinematic bar for tightly wound sexual repression is headmistress Martha Farnsworth (Geraldine Page) who is  natch  the kinkiest of them all. In the ultimate backwoods Southern , Martha is revealed to have once had a "thing" for her own brother and harbors baroque sexual fantasies of three-ways. Siegel's The Beguiled reserves the most respect for the black slave Hallie (Mae Mercer) who John treats as an equal, sexually joshing with her as she with him (both are captives of a sort, after all), even though the film's biggest taboo may be a desire he can't possibly act upon.While Coppola extends the hand of friendship and understanding to both her male and female characters in her version, Siegel seems eager to paint the human race with a typhoid brush in his grindhouse Beguiled. More antihero than hero, flashbacks reveal John's cowardice and homicidal instincts, a man who fought dirty on the battlefield and fights dirty in sex, too.Nostalgia and time's passage tend to soften retro hokum and make us tickle the chin of knuckle-dragging sexual politics and filmmaking kitsch past. But it's pretty clear in her reconceptualization that Coppola has a purposeful revisionism of Siegel's jaundiced view on her mind. Just as a new generation of directors invested the creaky, sagebrush Western with moral darkness and political and social urgency in the revisionist Westerns of the '60s and '70s, The Beguiled suggests the gender revisionism that happens when a female director tackles a male tome. Slate's Matthew Dessem speculated that Coppola's The Beguiled might be the equivalent of Mary Harron's own revisionist take on Bret Easton Ellis' serial killer yarn American Psycho.Female sexual repression is not a sickness in Coppola's version, but a circumstance, the war-time reality of husbands and potential mates dead or off fighting coupled with the impossible demands of Southern womanhood. In Coppola's The Beguiled, John's presence unfurls a melancholy longing, a sense of long-suppressed desire that squarely places Coppola's version in the female camp. That painful divide between desire and self-control plays out in a scene where Martha washes an unconscious John soon after his arrival at the seminary, Coppola's camera lingering over his body until Martha is forced to break the spell and flee temptation. What comes through in the scene is the painfully sequestered, forbidden dimension to desire for these women. They are not fully human because they have been forced to pretend their entire lives that their only desire is for whist and French verb conjugation. It's a scene laced with equal parts poignance and electricity, an appreciation of male pulchritude to bookend Jill Soloway's comparable examination of female lust, I Love Dick.And rather than a foil to these women, in Coppola's version, John is not anxious to leave his cream puff divan or these soft, nurturing women ministering to his heart and health. He longs to stay as their gardener tending the rose bushes and earning his keep as the man of the house, deserting the brutal world of men and surrendering to this paradise of women. While Eastwood's John longs to escape his house of harridan horrors, Farrell sinks deeper and deeper into this eiderdown of sex and surrender.If the women in Siegel's The Beguiled live in a bubble of their director and producer's feverish imagination, then Coppola's women inhabit their own ideological snow globe as well, one where race doesn't penetrate. Despite being filmed at the same Napoleonville, Louisiana, plantation, Madewood, where Beyonce's own mantra of empowerment "Lemonade" was created, sisterhood is powerful, but lily-white in Coppola's South. The solitary evidence of the rationale for the Civil War, the housemaid Mattie in Cullinan's novel and Hallie in Siegel's adaptation, is nowhere to be seen in Coppola's film. Instead, she seems most adept at handling one social issue at a time, a feminist-inflected vision of female strength, resilience and agency, but one cut off from the politics of the day.
                     

Like other visions of a sugar-dusted Southern womanhood, ultimately, Coppola's belles are steel magnolias forced to show their mettle when times are tough. How you view the difference between Siegel's and Coppola's rendition of The Beguiled may very well depend upon how you view female desire. Siegel imagined The Beguiled's theme as "the basic desire of women to castrate men." In Coppola's hands, sexual desire is part of female humanity and agency, even when society demands that that humanity be tamped down and hidden far, far away inside oneself, never to be revealed.
The Beguiled: 4 stars.??Directed by Sofia Coppola. Stars Nicole Kidman, Colin Farrell. Rated R. Opens Thurs., June 30. At area theaters.             20866067         http://dev.creativeloafing.com/image/2017/06/arts_film1_1_10.5952c608169b7.png                  Gothic redux "
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Tuesday June 27, 2017 08:52 pm EDT
Sofia Coppola imagines female desire in 'The Beguiled' | more...
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  string(3386) "Cuteness may be wearing on Sarah Emerson's nerves. The Atlanta artist is known for her toxic Disney paintings in a macaron color palette of raspberry, orange blossom, and cinnamon accessorized with the manufactured sparkle of rhinestones. The star of Emerson's show has often been a wary deer tentatively walking through sick and pretty scenes, an icon of innocence navigating a compromised world.

But something wicked this way comes. Darkness has overtaken the artist's latest body of work, Underland. The magical forest — always a sinister kind of enchanted in Emerson's lexicon — has decomposed into something more nightmarish. Gone are the wolves and the deer, the ravens and other totems of virtue and mayhem, leaving behind a paint-by-numbers-style killing field.

Emerson has taken one more step deeper into abstraction with Underland. Her gooey color palette remains, along with the oozing forms of her dream forests, a rotting Candy Land. Though still recognizable as forests, their inner workings have gone weird and metaphorical, as if the unconscious was bubbling out of the ground like crude oil. The trees and foliage drip and run, threatening to slide off of the canvas and creating a powerful sense of obliteration.

An inescapable brew of violence and death lurks at the margins of Emerson's paintings. Like colorful crepe paper hung at a funeral, the paintings are punctuated by thick stripes of color. In "Sea of Trees III," effluvial lines of hot pink and marigold yellow drift through the air like some evil, intoxicating poison leading you to your doom. Emerson recently explained on Atlanta's AM 1690 that those pink and gold lines of color have a real-world reference point. The paintings are based on an actual place, the Sea of Trees in Japan at the base of Mt. Fuji. The forest has become a legendary suicide destination. Search parties and family members often use brightly colored ropes to help find their way out of the thick woods. By the time you consider the final painting in the show, "Black Pool," any inkling of bucolic tranquility has been erased by the death wail rictus of a skull figure in the painting's foreground. The trees appear to bleed into the black river, as an enchanted glade turns haunted.

Stare deeply into Emerson's paintings and you'll find countless eyes staring back at you. The skulls that were once such prominent figures in Emerson's work have re-emerged in abstract form. They are enormous cartoon heads and eyes peeping from the edges of the painting, and blinking out from the churning rivers and melting forests. Blood-red tendrils hang from the trees, and clusters of pinks, reds, and tans suggest some cartoon rendering of an open wound. The felled trees that fall across the painting suggest broken bones. The waterfalls cascade into a horrifying oblivion.

I'll cop to a sentimental nostalgia for Emerson's fauna. There was something about innocence corrupted, the trauma and pain of good coexisting in a troubled world that spoke to me in those wide-eyed fawns. While Emerson's move toward abstraction seems more cerebral, less apt to massage the pleasure-sensors of representation, I miss her collision of those innocent animal stand-ins for a human presence. Underland makes it possible to both enjoy the path Emerson is taking while also romanticizing the past in this prolific, exploratory artist's oeuvre."
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But something wicked this way comes. Darkness has overtaken the artist's latest body of work, ''Underland''. The magical forest — always a sinister kind of enchanted in Emerson's lexicon — has decomposed into something more nightmarish. Gone are the wolves and the deer, the ravens and other totems of virtue and mayhem, leaving behind a paint-by-numbers-style killing field.

Emerson has taken one more step deeper into abstraction with ''Underland''. Her gooey color palette remains, along with the oozing forms of her dream forests, a rotting Candy Land. Though still recognizable as forests, their inner workings have gone weird and metaphorical, as if the unconscious was bubbling out of the ground like crude oil. The trees and foliage drip and run, threatening to slide off of the canvas and creating a powerful sense of obliteration.

An inescapable brew of violence and death lurks at the margins of Emerson's paintings. Like colorful crepe paper hung at a funeral, the paintings are punctuated by thick stripes of color. In "Sea of Trees III," effluvial lines of hot pink and marigold yellow drift through the air like some evil, intoxicating poison leading you to your doom. Emerson recently explained on Atlanta's AM 1690 that those pink and gold lines of color have a real-world reference point. The paintings are based on an actual place, the Sea of Trees in Japan at the base of Mt. Fuji. The forest has become a legendary suicide destination. Search parties and family members often use brightly colored ropes to help find their way out of the thick woods. By the time you consider the final painting in the show, "Black Pool," any inkling of bucolic tranquility has been erased by the death wail rictus of a skull figure in the painting's foreground. The trees appear to bleed into the black river, as an enchanted glade turns haunted.

Stare deeply into Emerson's paintings and you'll find countless eyes staring back at you. The skulls that were once such prominent figures in Emerson's work have re-emerged in abstract form. They are enormous cartoon heads and eyes peeping from the edges of the painting, and blinking out from the churning rivers and melting forests. Blood-red tendrils hang from the trees, and clusters of pinks, reds, and tans suggest some cartoon rendering of an open wound. The felled trees that fall across the painting suggest broken bones. The waterfalls cascade into a horrifying oblivion.

I'll cop to a sentimental nostalgia for Emerson's fauna. There was something about innocence corrupted, the trauma and pain of good coexisting in a troubled world that spoke to me in those wide-eyed fawns. While Emerson's move toward abstraction seems more cerebral, less apt to massage the pleasure-sensors of representation, I miss her collision of those innocent animal stand-ins for a human presence. ''Underland'' makes it possible to both enjoy the path Emerson is taking while also romanticizing the past in this prolific, exploratory artist's oeuvre."
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But something wicked this way comes. Darkness has overtaken the artist's latest body of work, Underland. The magical forest — always a sinister kind of enchanted in Emerson's lexicon — has decomposed into something more nightmarish. Gone are the wolves and the deer, the ravens and other totems of virtue and mayhem, leaving behind a paint-by-numbers-style killing field.

Emerson has taken one more step deeper into abstraction with Underland. Her gooey color palette remains, along with the oozing forms of her dream forests, a rotting Candy Land. Though still recognizable as forests, their inner workings have gone weird and metaphorical, as if the unconscious was bubbling out of the ground like crude oil. The trees and foliage drip and run, threatening to slide off of the canvas and creating a powerful sense of obliteration.

An inescapable brew of violence and death lurks at the margins of Emerson's paintings. Like colorful crepe paper hung at a funeral, the paintings are punctuated by thick stripes of color. In "Sea of Trees III," effluvial lines of hot pink and marigold yellow drift through the air like some evil, intoxicating poison leading you to your doom. Emerson recently explained on Atlanta's AM 1690 that those pink and gold lines of color have a real-world reference point. The paintings are based on an actual place, the Sea of Trees in Japan at the base of Mt. Fuji. The forest has become a legendary suicide destination. Search parties and family members often use brightly colored ropes to help find their way out of the thick woods. By the time you consider the final painting in the show, "Black Pool," any inkling of bucolic tranquility has been erased by the death wail rictus of a skull figure in the painting's foreground. The trees appear to bleed into the black river, as an enchanted glade turns haunted.

Stare deeply into Emerson's paintings and you'll find countless eyes staring back at you. The skulls that were once such prominent figures in Emerson's work have re-emerged in abstract form. They are enormous cartoon heads and eyes peeping from the edges of the painting, and blinking out from the churning rivers and melting forests. Blood-red tendrils hang from the trees, and clusters of pinks, reds, and tans suggest some cartoon rendering of an open wound. The felled trees that fall across the painting suggest broken bones. The waterfalls cascade into a horrifying oblivion.

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Friday April 27, 2012 03:00 pm EDT
Local painter loses her innocence in a dark, abstract solo show | more...
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Steele's work can make you feel like a meek, unsuspecting ladybug or housefly contemplating a dewy spider web. Interspace is composed of eight clusters of line strung across the gallery. Hung at varying heights, the yellow and red filaments at times intersect. Spotlights on the ceiling pick up the lines' colors depending upon where the illumination hits. The effect is Pink Floyd cosmic meets Dan Flavin minimalist.

Minimalist sculpture and installation art focus on a viewer's presence as a spectator and how it relates to the space. For fans of those genres, the piece probably does succeed in its ability to awaken the sensation of encountering and relating to a strange, new visual disturbance. You feel like a small child pussyfooting around an unfamiliar room you maybe shouldn't be in, or a space traveler trying to wrap your brain around some intergalactic architecture. Though entirely static, the lines become animated by shifts in light and position.

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Monday April 23, 2012 05:00 pm EDT
Chastain Arts Center's new exhibit is quiet and contemplative | more...
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  string(3445) "Felicia Feaster

It's hard to think of a better way to nerd out on nostalgia than the blast of outmoded technology, high school hair, and the black Pontiac Fiero parked dead center in Beep Beep Gallery for its current exhibition The Ends. If you weren't a man going into The Ends, you'll come out one.

The Ends is a dude collaboration between Atlanta artists Jason Kofke (2011 Artadia awardee) and Chris Chambers that suggests the kind of geeky-smarty-britches show you'd stumble across in a hipper-than-hip section of Brooklyn.

The tiny gallery has been filled with vintage televisions that play bits and pieces of the 1986 Space Shuttle Challenger disaster, images from a video high school yearbook, and other snippets of mid-'80s pop culture. The space is also ornamented with vintage radios, alarm clocks, a Microfilm reader, old MacBooks that now look shockingly archaic, as well as high school yearbooks and that vintage Fiero (complete with Challenger license plate).

Mounted on the wall are typewritten (another dead technology) transcripts of bellicose folk artist Ronald Reagan's speeches cataloguing now ancient-seeming disasters from the Challenger explosion to the 1983 Soviet Union attack on a Korean Air commercial plane. Vintage laptops play Pontiac commercials and offer sound bites such as "memory is constructed" and other insights into the psychology of time and memory. The shocking speed with which we create and discard not just TVs or laptops, but ideas, national enemies, and world views makes The Ends an exceedingly provocative and brain-tingling show. There is the shudder of self-awareness in the work, that the shiny, new iPads we anxiously queue for will be obsolete toxin-emitting Third World waste in no time. Our own mortality is measured in these plastic encased tombstones.

The assembled dross of obsolete technology and vintage disasters exudes a powerful mix of melancholy and black humor. The installation suggests video artist Nam June Paik crossed with some future world natural history display of technological relics.

Whether intended or not, the accumulation of junked technology (and perhaps the reek of so much rubber and plastic crammed into one small space) emits a chemical funk: eau d'nostalgia. It's the cumulative stench of VHS tape, burning rubber, and a mix of longing and disdain for the time that came before.

On one wall, Kofke and Chambers have assembled an array of drawings also using the outmoded materials of an analog world: found index cards, graph paper, technical pens, rubber cement, and other tools evocative of our pre-digital era. The drawings conjure up images of warfare in renderings of missile silos and fighter jets, as well as pixilated, split identities in Chambers' ink on graph paper humanoid portraits of psychic distress. Combined with the Challenger disaster and Cold War-era intimations of nuclear war this exhibition reminds us of the perennial American crop of toxic fear-mongering, whether the Cuban Missile Crisis or September 11.

The Ends is as much a head space-journey as Ben Roosevelt's dream-inspired dive bar at the Westside's Get This! Gallery. The Ends is the best kind of cultural time capsule, both personal and universal. Plucky, resolutely indie gallery spaces in Atlanta are doing some of the best shows in the city these days, taking risks and transforming their spaces in a trend that would be thrilling to see continue."
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  string(3683) "Felicia Feaster

It's hard to think of a better way to nerd out on nostalgia than the blast of outmoded technology, high school hair, and the black Pontiac Fiero parked dead center in Beep Beep Gallery for its current exhibition ''The Ends''. If you weren't a man going into ''The Ends'', you'll come out one.

''The Ends'' is a dude collaboration between Atlanta artists Jason Kofke ([http://clatl.com/atlanta/award-winning-artists-rocio-rodriguez-and-jason-kofke-talk-politics/Content?oid=4296802|2011 Artadia awardee]) and Chris Chambers that suggests the kind of geeky-smarty-britches show you'd stumble across in a hipper-than-hip section of Brooklyn.

The tiny gallery has been filled with vintage televisions that play bits and pieces of the 1986 Space Shuttle Challenger disaster, images from a video high school yearbook, and other snippets of mid-'80s pop culture. The space is also ornamented with vintage radios, alarm clocks, a Microfilm reader, old MacBooks that now look shockingly archaic, as well as high school yearbooks and that vintage Fiero (complete with Challenger license plate).

Mounted on the wall are typewritten (another dead technology) transcripts of bellicose folk artist Ronald Reagan's speeches cataloguing now ancient-seeming disasters from the Challenger explosion to the 1983 Soviet Union attack on a Korean Air commercial plane. Vintage laptops play Pontiac commercials and offer sound bites such as "memory is constructed" and other insights into the psychology of time and memory. The shocking speed with which we create and discard not just TVs or laptops, but ideas, national enemies, and world views makes ''The Ends'' an exceedingly provocative and brain-tingling show. There is the shudder of self-awareness in the work, that the shiny, new iPads we anxiously queue for will be obsolete toxin-emitting Third World waste in no time. Our own mortality is measured in these plastic encased tombstones.

The assembled dross of obsolete technology and vintage disasters exudes a powerful mix of melancholy and black humor. The installation suggests video artist Nam June Paik crossed with some future world natural history display of technological relics.

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On one wall, Kofke and Chambers have assembled an array of drawings also using the outmoded materials of an analog world: found index cards, graph paper, technical pens, rubber cement, and other tools evocative of our pre-digital era. The drawings conjure up images of warfare in renderings of missile silos and fighter jets, as well as pixilated, split identities in Chambers' ink on graph paper humanoid portraits of psychic distress. Combined with the Challenger disaster and Cold War-era intimations of nuclear war this exhibition reminds us of the perennial American crop of toxic fear-mongering, whether the Cuban Missile Crisis or September 11.

''The Ends'' is as much a head space-journey as [http://clatl.com/atlanta/ben-roosevelts-the-blue-flame-pours-one-out-for-art/Content?oid=5115611|Ben Roosevelt's dream-inspired dive bar at the Westside's Get This! Gallery]. ''The Ends'' is the best kind of cultural time capsule, both personal and universal. Plucky, resolutely indie gallery spaces in Atlanta are doing some of the best shows in the city these days, taking risks and transforming their spaces in a trend that would be thrilling to see continue."
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It's hard to think of a better way to nerd out on nostalgia than the blast of outmoded technology, high school hair, and the black Pontiac Fiero parked dead center in Beep Beep Gallery for its current exhibition The Ends. If you weren't a man going into The Ends, you'll come out one.

The Ends is a dude collaboration between Atlanta artists Jason Kofke (2011 Artadia awardee) and Chris Chambers that suggests the kind of geeky-smarty-britches show you'd stumble across in a hipper-than-hip section of Brooklyn.

The tiny gallery has been filled with vintage televisions that play bits and pieces of the 1986 Space Shuttle Challenger disaster, images from a video high school yearbook, and other snippets of mid-'80s pop culture. The space is also ornamented with vintage radios, alarm clocks, a Microfilm reader, old MacBooks that now look shockingly archaic, as well as high school yearbooks and that vintage Fiero (complete with Challenger license plate).

Mounted on the wall are typewritten (another dead technology) transcripts of bellicose folk artist Ronald Reagan's speeches cataloguing now ancient-seeming disasters from the Challenger explosion to the 1983 Soviet Union attack on a Korean Air commercial plane. Vintage laptops play Pontiac commercials and offer sound bites such as "memory is constructed" and other insights into the psychology of time and memory. The shocking speed with which we create and discard not just TVs or laptops, but ideas, national enemies, and world views makes The Ends an exceedingly provocative and brain-tingling show. There is the shudder of self-awareness in the work, that the shiny, new iPads we anxiously queue for will be obsolete toxin-emitting Third World waste in no time. Our own mortality is measured in these plastic encased tombstones.

The assembled dross of obsolete technology and vintage disasters exudes a powerful mix of melancholy and black humor. The installation suggests video artist Nam June Paik crossed with some future world natural history display of technological relics.

Whether intended or not, the accumulation of junked technology (and perhaps the reek of so much rubber and plastic crammed into one small space) emits a chemical funk: eau d'nostalgia. It's the cumulative stench of VHS tape, burning rubber, and a mix of longing and disdain for the time that came before.

On one wall, Kofke and Chambers have assembled an array of drawings also using the outmoded materials of an analog world: found index cards, graph paper, technical pens, rubber cement, and other tools evocative of our pre-digital era. The drawings conjure up images of warfare in renderings of missile silos and fighter jets, as well as pixilated, split identities in Chambers' ink on graph paper humanoid portraits of psychic distress. Combined with the Challenger disaster and Cold War-era intimations of nuclear war this exhibition reminds us of the perennial American crop of toxic fear-mongering, whether the Cuban Missile Crisis or September 11.

The Ends is as much a head space-journey as Ben Roosevelt's dream-inspired dive bar at the Westside's Get This! Gallery. The Ends is the best kind of cultural time capsule, both personal and universal. Plucky, resolutely indie gallery spaces in Atlanta are doing some of the best shows in the city these days, taking risks and transforming their spaces in a trend that would be thrilling to see continue.       0,0,10      13067484 5198286                          Jason Kofke and Chris Chambers contemplate The Ends "
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Article

Friday April 13, 2012 04:00 am EDT
Duo's Beep Beep Gallery collaboration is the best kind of cultural time capsule | more...
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  string(3522) "You expect different things from a bar than you do from an art gallery. In one you pay someone to help you lose consciousness. In the other you don't have to spend a dime to become hyperconscious.

For his solo exhibition The Blue Flame at Get This! Gallery artist Ben Roosevelt makes a hash from those two seemingly incongruous spaces. In the process, a strange synesthesia emerges: Maybe these diametrically opposed spaces of escape and connection aren't so different after all. Roosevelt has transformed the gallery's white walls into a trompe l'oeil of a dive bar complete with mismatched tables, faux-wood paneling, a Pabst neon sign, and cans of Old Milwaukee.

Proceed through the doorway in the distance marked "Restrooms" and the whole mirage falls apart. Two-by-fours prop up the fake walls like the Spanx keeping a zaftig babe in check. What are galleries and bars anyway, but places built on artifice and a little show biz, too, where an atmosphere and mood are conjured up for the delectation of their patrons?

Both the watering hole and the white cube could stand to be a little bit more like the other, says gallery owner Lloyd Benjamin, who likes to sit behind the bar to tell the tale of the Blue Flame. Galleries would probably be more vibrant, social spaces where you could sit at a table and shoot the shit about art while nursing a Champale. Bars could benefit from some aesthetic edification beyond a St. Pauli Girl poster and a dartboard, and the opportunity to argue about art instead of politics or the most recent "American Idol."

The Blue Flame comes to us courtesy of a dream Roosevelt had, a dream which took place in a low-down where rocker Iggy Pop, romantic poet Samuel Coleridge, Divine Comedy poet Dante, and seminal conceptual artist Joseph Beuys made appearances. Roosevelt's show takes that dream and transforms it into a physical place to give the viewers the not altogether unpleasant sensation they are rattling around in the artist's psyche.

Roosevelt has decorated the walls with a series of vaporous, delicate colored pencil and graphite drawings that riff on this insular world of poets, singers, and artists Roosevelt has evoked. In keeping with the ersatz barroom setting, the works are framed in a hodgepodge of gilt, cheap wood and generic frames. There is a series of drawings of Iggy Pop's amp, his microphone, his boots, and the singer himself sprawled out bowlegged on stage. Tongue-in-cheek drawings of bar marquees advertise gigs by Iggy but also Beuys, both passing through the Blue Flame. Larger drawings picture the Blue Flame's exterior, envisioned as the kind of roadside dive with a Cadillac-sized mud puddle out front where big, whiskey-fueled plans are hatched and careers hit the skids.

Not one to let some headshrinker do the heavy lifting, thirtysomething Roosevelt has done his own auto-dream interpretation. Roosevelt sees Iggy, Beuys, et al as brethren who have all taken part in the mid-life, mid-career crisis. And it's hard to think of a better place to contemplate issues of self-doubt, failure, and scab-picking anxiety than either a down-at-the-heels bar or an art gallery.

While all of Roosevelt's references to Coleridge's hairdo and Dante's "Inferno" may not gel into a coherent whole, as a Freudian mood piece, The Blue Flame succeeds much in the way the films of David Lynch or Lars von Trier succeed. It's hard not to feel you've gone someplace peculiar and reflective of an individual sensibility in the course of this tale's unfurling."
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  string(3603) "You expect different things from a bar than you do from an art gallery. In one you pay someone to help you lose consciousness. In the other you don't have to spend a dime to become hyperconscious.

For his solo exhibition ''The Blue Flame'' at [http://clatl.com/atlanta/get-this-gallery/Location?oid=1297612|Get This! Gallery] artist Ben Roosevelt makes a hash from those two seemingly incongruous spaces. In the process, a strange synesthesia emerges: Maybe these diametrically opposed spaces of escape and connection aren't so different after all. Roosevelt has transformed the gallery's white walls into a trompe l'oeil of a dive bar complete with mismatched tables, faux-wood paneling, a Pabst neon sign, and cans of Old Milwaukee.

Proceed through the doorway in the distance marked "Restrooms" and the whole mirage falls apart. Two-by-fours prop up the fake walls like the Spanx keeping a zaftig babe in check. What are galleries and bars anyway, but places built on artifice and a little show biz, too, where an atmosphere and mood are conjured up for the delectation of their patrons?

Both the watering hole and the white cube could stand to be a little bit more like the other, says gallery owner Lloyd Benjamin, who likes to sit behind the bar to tell the tale of the Blue Flame. Galleries would probably be more vibrant, social spaces where you could sit at a table and shoot the shit about art while nursing a Champale. Bars could benefit from some aesthetic edification beyond a St. Pauli Girl poster and a dartboard, and the opportunity to argue about art instead of politics or the most recent "American Idol."

''The Blue Flame'' comes to us courtesy of a dream Roosevelt had, a dream which took place in a low-down where rocker Iggy Pop, romantic poet Samuel Coleridge, ''Divine Comedy'' poet Dante, and seminal conceptual artist Joseph Beuys made appearances. Roosevelt's show takes that dream and transforms it into a physical place to give the viewers the not altogether unpleasant sensation they are rattling around in the artist's psyche.

Roosevelt has decorated the walls with a series of vaporous, delicate colored pencil and graphite drawings that riff on this insular world of poets, singers, and artists Roosevelt has evoked. In keeping with the ersatz barroom setting, the works are framed in a hodgepodge of gilt, cheap wood and generic frames. There is a series of drawings of Iggy Pop's amp, his microphone, his boots, and the singer himself sprawled out bowlegged on stage. Tongue-in-cheek drawings of bar marquees advertise gigs by Iggy but also Beuys, both passing through the Blue Flame. Larger drawings picture the Blue Flame's exterior, envisioned as the kind of roadside dive with a Cadillac-sized mud puddle out front where big, whiskey-fueled plans are hatched and careers hit the skids.

Not one to let some headshrinker do the heavy lifting, thirtysomething Roosevelt has done his own auto-dream interpretation. Roosevelt sees Iggy, Beuys, et al as brethren who have all taken part in the mid-life, mid-career crisis. And it's hard to think of a better place to contemplate issues of self-doubt, failure, and scab-picking anxiety than either a down-at-the-heels bar or an art gallery.

While all of Roosevelt's references to Coleridge's hairdo and Dante's "Inferno" may not gel into a coherent whole, as a Freudian mood piece, ''The Blue Flame'' succeeds much in the way the films of David Lynch or Lars von Trier succeed. It's hard not to feel you've gone someplace peculiar and reflective of an individual sensibility in the course of this tale's unfurling."
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  string(3824) "    Solo exhibit transforms Get This! Gallery into dive bar   2012-03-30T14:30:00+00:00 Ben Roosevelt's The Blue Flame pours one out for art   Felicia Feaster 1223506 2012-03-30T14:30:00+00:00  You expect different things from a bar than you do from an art gallery. In one you pay someone to help you lose consciousness. In the other you don't have to spend a dime to become hyperconscious.

For his solo exhibition The Blue Flame at Get This! Gallery artist Ben Roosevelt makes a hash from those two seemingly incongruous spaces. In the process, a strange synesthesia emerges: Maybe these diametrically opposed spaces of escape and connection aren't so different after all. Roosevelt has transformed the gallery's white walls into a trompe l'oeil of a dive bar complete with mismatched tables, faux-wood paneling, a Pabst neon sign, and cans of Old Milwaukee.

Proceed through the doorway in the distance marked "Restrooms" and the whole mirage falls apart. Two-by-fours prop up the fake walls like the Spanx keeping a zaftig babe in check. What are galleries and bars anyway, but places built on artifice and a little show biz, too, where an atmosphere and mood are conjured up for the delectation of their patrons?

Both the watering hole and the white cube could stand to be a little bit more like the other, says gallery owner Lloyd Benjamin, who likes to sit behind the bar to tell the tale of the Blue Flame. Galleries would probably be more vibrant, social spaces where you could sit at a table and shoot the shit about art while nursing a Champale. Bars could benefit from some aesthetic edification beyond a St. Pauli Girl poster and a dartboard, and the opportunity to argue about art instead of politics or the most recent "American Idol."

The Blue Flame comes to us courtesy of a dream Roosevelt had, a dream which took place in a low-down where rocker Iggy Pop, romantic poet Samuel Coleridge, Divine Comedy poet Dante, and seminal conceptual artist Joseph Beuys made appearances. Roosevelt's show takes that dream and transforms it into a physical place to give the viewers the not altogether unpleasant sensation they are rattling around in the artist's psyche.

Roosevelt has decorated the walls with a series of vaporous, delicate colored pencil and graphite drawings that riff on this insular world of poets, singers, and artists Roosevelt has evoked. In keeping with the ersatz barroom setting, the works are framed in a hodgepodge of gilt, cheap wood and generic frames. There is a series of drawings of Iggy Pop's amp, his microphone, his boots, and the singer himself sprawled out bowlegged on stage. Tongue-in-cheek drawings of bar marquees advertise gigs by Iggy but also Beuys, both passing through the Blue Flame. Larger drawings picture the Blue Flame's exterior, envisioned as the kind of roadside dive with a Cadillac-sized mud puddle out front where big, whiskey-fueled plans are hatched and careers hit the skids.

Not one to let some headshrinker do the heavy lifting, thirtysomething Roosevelt has done his own auto-dream interpretation. Roosevelt sees Iggy, Beuys, et al as brethren who have all taken part in the mid-life, mid-career crisis. And it's hard to think of a better place to contemplate issues of self-doubt, failure, and scab-picking anxiety than either a down-at-the-heels bar or an art gallery.

While all of Roosevelt's references to Coleridge's hairdo and Dante's "Inferno" may not gel into a coherent whole, as a Freudian mood piece, The Blue Flame succeeds much in the way the films of David Lynch or Lars von Trier succeed. It's hard not to feel you've gone someplace peculiar and reflective of an individual sensibility in the course of this tale's unfurling.             13067218 5115611                          Ben Roosevelt's The Blue Flame pours one out for art "
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Article

Friday March 30, 2012 10:30 am EDT
Solo exhibit transforms Get This! Gallery into dive bar | more...
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