"The cinema is cruel like a miracle." -Frank O'Hara

A Pot-pourri of Links

art + video
It’s Armory Week, and the number of openings, events and parties in the next few days makes my head spin. Aside from the usual mainstays, the new kid on the block this year is the Independent. Born out the ashes of X-initiative, it offers an alternative to the inescapable shopping mall ambiance of the art fair — there’s even a panel on gluttony! And a film program too. Check it out here.

Scope also has a video program, with work by Martha Colburn, George Kuchar and fashion-y films. Sashay!

Check out the next generation of Polish film poster design.

Look who’s copying a page from the Vezzoli playbook: Agyness Deyn deigns to appear in a McDermott and McGough film.

film reviews
Andrew Grant (nom de blog: filmbrain) reviews The Ghost Writer, and thinks it’s pretty good.
You should see it, especially since all proceeds from the film go to the Roman Polanski legal defense fund. (Kidding!)

mystery flavor
My favorite posthuman Andrei Codrescu is anti-Avatar, and pro-zombie. Deliciously brainy as always.

My friend Ziyan and I as zombie-vampire hybrids. Kristen Stewart, eat your heart out.

new york
Movie program ephemera from the 8th street Playhouse, which I remember going to as a little girl. Thanks to reader Jack for the tip.

Andy Warhol: Unexposed Exposures just opened at Steven Kashar.
If the Factory had had a facebook page, these would be the pictures that they would post to their wall. Lots o’ pics online too.

watch online
The first and only truly Beat film Pull My Daisy (Frank and Leslie, 1959) is on Google Video.

Avatar vs. The Hurt Locker


Neytiri (from Avatar) vs. Anthony Mackie (from The Hurt Locker). Who would you rather spend two hours with?

As an occasional mainstream moviegoer, I find the Oscars increasingly irrelevant in shaping my multiplex digressions. The field is predictable; the ceremony is excruciating. Nevertheless, I do think it’s compelling that Kathryn Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker and James Cameron’s Avatar both lead with nine nominations, because the movies come from opposite ends of the filmmaking spectrum. While the gossipmongers are twittering over the fact that the pair used to be married, I think these two films going head to head could be one indicator of the types of films the big studios will consider worthy investments in the future. Let’s compare the two:


  • Biggest budget in film history (undisclosed amount; estimated at $200 to $500 million. That’s one hell of a range, J.C.)
  • Highest Grossing B.O. ever (but not ticket sales! I find this extremely heartening)
  • CGI spectacle with different tiers of engagement: 2D, 3D, IMAX, etc.
  • Utopian, apolitical sci-fi storyline set in the future
  • Made for merchandising (Teenage boys who read my blog, take note of this and this)


  • $15 million dollar budget, independently financed and produced
  • Respectable B.O. (about $16 million worldwide to date)
  • Character-driven, highly calibrated drama
  • Politically relevant, contemporary storyline about the Iraq War (a subject that has not fared well in movie theaters)
  • Little to no merchandising potential (although I would totally buy an Anthony Mackie action figure)

There’s no question as to which of these films will make more money. But hopefully Hurt Locker’s coup will convince the studios that low-budget films (in the $10 to $20 million dollar range) are worth greenlighting again, and can distinguish themselves in an overcrowded marketplace. Thanks to the sheer number of nominations, The Hurt Locker stands to do well in the aftermarket, and DVD / VOD sales will be strong. Not every film can be Avatar; the studios simply can’t afford to outlay prodigious amounts of capital for each individual production. If anything, the success of The Hurt Locker proves once again that sure-fire blockbusters with commensurately-escalating budgets aren’t the only game in town.