Artistic License

Hello, darling b-rollers! I’ll say Happy Monday because it probably will be by the time you read this (as it is, it’s almost Monday as I write it). Of course, “Happy Monday” is such an oxymoronic term that it’s hardly worth saying, but whatever. Let’s go with it.

I took the weekend off from blogging because I was terribly busy being sociable. Who has time to blog when there is shopping and brunching and gossiping to be done? I didn’t even watch much television this weekend. Take a moment and digest that. My roommates and I saw a Shakespearean play – Henry V, which was actually incredibly entertaining, far more so than Richard II, of which we spent the latter half thinking, Good God, would everybody just die already?! – and then, feeling all cultured, we met some friends to see Date Night. Not quite the same level of sophistication, but a shirtless Mark Wahlberg is poetic in its own way.

I do subscribe to the belief that television and film are art forms (Date Night, while very funny, notwithstanding); it helps me rationalize the minutes, hours, days spent in their pursuit. But this weekend, it was refreshing to spend some time in front of high-brow, honest-to-God art. The night before the play, I went with friends to an after-hours event at the Hirshhorn Museum, the Smithsonian’s modern art museum on the Mall. I am saddened to report that the stuff inside the Smithsonian does not, in fact, come to life after dark (thank God; some of those Picasso statues would have scared the holy hell out of me). And here’s a fun fact: Nothing will make you more cynical than modern art. Sure, there was some interesting stuff, but my reaction to the diamond-shaped painting of red, yellow and white (descriptively titled “Red, Yellow, White Diamond”) was less This painting has turned a light on in my soul than I wonder if I started painting triangles if I could convince a rich person that it was brilliant and afford a bigger apartment. In the end, my friends and I entertained ourselves by pretending we were the curators/tour guides and making crap up. You’ll see the evocative nature of the triangular lines. They were inspired by the kite festivals the artist used to attend as a child on the island of Nantucket. I know the placard says that he is from Petrograd, but you see, his family just loved to escape tsarist Russia by summering near the Cape…

I apologize to all fans of modern art; I respect that it’s a form that will be mostly hit-or-miss for me (usually miss), and I have tremendous admiration for those who really “get” it. But I think it’s clear that in terms of criticism and/or recommendations, I should stick to what I know. And so, in that spirit, I bring you a new feature of the b-roll blog: The Monday Movie. Yeah, the name needs work (I’ll keep you posted when I come up with something more creative). But here’s the drill: Each Monday, I’ll post a suggestion for a documentary that is free-ish (available for online streaming, either on a free site like Hulu or Snagfilms or the subscriber Netflix site), off-the-radar, and often provides a counterpoint to a more popular fictional film or genre. They might be frivolous, they might be probing and deeply emotional, but they’ll all be films that I’ve found worth the 90 minutes.

And since I spent a full paragraph talking about my bewilderment of modern art, my first Monday Movie is on that very topic. The marvelously-titled Who the #$&% Is Jackson Pollock? is about a California truck-driver – a hilarious pistol named Teri Horton – who bought a thrift-store painting for $5 only to discover that it might be a Pollock worth millions, and has been fighting the art establishment ever since. You could watch Teri for the entire film and be satisfied (her opening line, which might be on my list of favorite movie quotes ever: “Everybody knows that a fairy tale begins, ‘Once upon a time.’ But a truck driver’s tale starts out, ‘You ain’t gonna believe this shit!'”); but the insight into the art world is equally fascinating. If you saw Ed Harris’ biopic Pollock, it’s an interesting follow-up; if not, you’ll probably want to rent it after watching the documentary, to gain a glimpse into the life of the artist. Special b-roll shout out to Suzanne, who has been quoting Pollock obsessively for nearly ten years now and will be delighted with the selection.

And so the Monday Movie begins. Sip some coffee or pop some popcorn and enjoy the show. Happy Monday indeed.

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