What I Read in 2015

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I’ve never set goals for myself when it came to reading. I read what I read, when I want to, but it is safe to say that at any given moment I am in the middle of at least one book, often two or three. I do most of my reading during my commute, and admittedly have slowed down a bit in recent years. For 2015 I felt like making some kind of commitment, and was inspired to dedicate the year to women authors after seeing some twitter friends do the same in previous years. I primarily read women anyway, but saw this is as an opportunity to get into authors I’d always meant to read but never had, as well as expand on some whom I’d enjoyed once or twice but hadn’t explored more. Here are my loosely-organized thoughts on what I read.

Top 5 Weird Movies of Fantastic Fest

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Dedicated to films from all over the world of the horror, thriller, sci-fi, action, experimental, and/or mash-up persuasions, Fantastic Fest is the perfect place to discover all-new weird movies of various origins. I tried to take in a little bit of everything, and I’ve come out with a list of the Top 5 Weird Movies of Fantastic Fest for 2015. Note: Due to scheduling conflicts I missed Yakuza Apocalypse, which I suspect would have made this list. I also missed Anomalisa. Oh well.

Social Uniforms in Film: The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)

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Wes Anderson’s films offer the most consistent examples of cinematic social uniforms, aside from those of Hal Hartley (who is a clearly a major influence on Anderson). His characters typically sport one specific outfit, or variations on one, or, at times, literal uniforms related to a job or association. They come to define the characters in some way, and allow the actors to blend into Anderson’s meticulously-crafted visual worlds. My favorite Anderson film has remained The Royal Tenenbaums, and it is rife with social uniform goodness.

Exhibitions: “Arlene Shechet: All at Once” at ICA Boston

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Within the realm of artistic genres, the area of sculpture has perhaps become the most elastic in definition. Installation is sculpture. Performance is sculpture. Assemblage is sculpture. For many the word still evokes the traditional figurative carvings of Michelangelo or the rounded bronze castings of Henry Moore, but ultimately the term is endlessly pliable. For New York-based artist Arlene Shechet, sculpture is about action as well as form, about painterly experimentation as well as material. Her abstract, textural work is on view now at the Institute of Contemporary Art in a comprehensive retrospective that has introduced me to her art for the first time.

Social Uniforms in Film: Danny Deckchair (2003)

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Continuing my new series on social uniforms in film, I’d like to talk about one of my favorite feel-good movies, Danny Deckchair. Inspired by the real-life figure of Lawnchair Larry, the film centers on Danny (Rhys Ifans), a construction worker in Sydney who is known for thinking up weird (stupid) ideas like a “human slingshot.” He dreams of flying to faraway places and camping out in the wild, but he doesn’t have any serious goals for himself. Trudy (Justine Clarke), his partner of several years, has recently worked her way up from being a secretary to a real estate agent, and her ambitions expand after she meets Sandy Upman (Rhys Muldoon), a local sports newscaster.