Arts & Culture

Arts & Culture

Speed thrills

The surface seductions of Martin Munkácsi
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Whither beauty? Withered on the prickly postmodern vine. Sour grapes, you say? Read more »

The man whose head exploded

An interview with Hostel 2 director Eli Roth
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FILM Recently, my eyeballs were among the first to be skewered by the finished print of Hostel 2. As torture and black humor unspooled on the big screen, director Eli Roth — last seen working on Grindhouse, both as an actor and behind the camera for the Thanksgiving trailer — prowled about, gauging audience reactions to his third feature film. The next day I met Roth to discuss all things horror. He talks fast. Read more »

Tongues and tales

Under the Bed and Artemisia go for baroque
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The unconscious, the underworld, the undead — what is it that under-the-mattress anxiety points to, exactly? And what might it have to do with a pack of powdered French fops in Louis Seize costumes? Given the blissful nonchalance with which Dark Porch Theater's Under the Bed tackles that thing called plot, it's probably best not to mull it over too much. Read more »

Only human

Humansville may leave you hopeful -- or disappointed
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Great art has a moral force that ennobles anyone it touches. Not that Joe Goode's new Humansville, at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, is that great. But the work nudges at so many raw spots in a lovingly healing way that you end up believing there may yet be hope for human nature, at least until you leave the theater. Read more »

Mission: school

Alicia McCarthy turns her studies into art
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REVIEW When I walked into the Berkeley Art Museum for a first look at Alicia McCarthy's contribution to "Fer-ma-ta," the 37th annual UC Berkeley MFA graduate exhibition, I was given a small stash of pencils — the kind you use to mark scores in bowling or putt-putt golf. Note-taking is allowed in museum spaces, but pens are a definite no-no. The self-consciousness brought about by such a rule and the gift of the pencils only served to enhance the direct address of McCarthy's work. Read more »

They shoot, he scores

Wee! Wee! Wee! Would Psycho have been half as terrifying without Bernard Herrmann's memorable music? We doubt it.
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FILM Even if you've never heard of the composer Bernard Herrmann (1911–1975), it's a safe bet that you've quoted him at some point in your life. He's the coauthor of the widely recognized shorthand for murder and mayhem, the mimed downward thrust of a knife accompanied by the high-pitched squeal, "Wee! Wee! Read more »

Tokeville

Democracy in Berkeley, according to Citizen Josh
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There's a section in Josh Kornbluth's new show wherein the veteran (but weirdly ageless) monologist, waxing on admiringly about Sheldon S. Wolin, notes his old Princeton political science prof's capacity for turning a student's half-baked ideas into $10 notions. It reminded me of a professor I knew who was adept at the same thing. Read more »

Mighty morphin' power ranger

Christian Maychack's mutating pieces challenge the boundaries of time, space, physics
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REVIEW Those of us who got to see the eastbound I-580 freeway connector overpass right after it was charbroiled by that teetering gas tanker truck understand the weirdness of witnessing a thing so hefty and solid transformed into something much like melted cheese sliding off a pizza slice. Read more »

Some kind of monster!

Midnites for Maniacs: Vertically challenged monsters triple feature
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CULT FILM It's fitting that Troll 2 is playing at Midnites for Maniacs — it's truly a film only a maniac could love. This 1990 masterpiece (sorry, Julia Louis-Dreyfus fans — it's a sequel to 1986's Troll in name only) was made by an Italian crew (director Drake Floyd's real name: Claudio Fragasso), starring a cast of Salt Lake City locals. Read more »

Muse of fire

David Gordon puts a Bush-era spin on Shakespeare's Henry V
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REVIEW Perhaps the most intriguing question about David Gordon's Pick Up Performance Company's Dancing Henry Five is why it works so well. Read more »