• 2014

Year: 2014

“Black Mirror”—Dark Reflections of the Mind

Black Mirror I’ve just discovered the extraordinary showstopper, “Black Mirror”, a British sci-fi television series that is part “Twilight Zone” but darker and more bizarre. In six episodes in Season One we are let into a dystopian future narratively thrilling yet outrageous, because of its plausibility. The season finale, “White Christmas”, is certainly not full of holiday merriment. This bleak episode showcases the handsome and versatile Jon Hamm (the character Don Draper in “Mad Men”), as Matthew, a charming guy who does not possess any moral tentativeness or empathy for anyone. Great choice...

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“The Theory of Everything”—A Brief History of Love

This is a lyrical and magnificent film, adapted from a literary source (a memoir by Jane Hawking). Rich in character and dialogue, “The Theory of Everything” is primarily a romance wrapped around a chronicle of a brilliant and beautiful mind trapped in a malfunctioning body. This film is a narrative of heartbreak, marital and emotional distance, with jagged edges and torn souls portrayed with great subtlety and craft. Focusing on the courtship and marriage of Jane (the riveting Felicity Jones) and Stephen Hawking (a tour-de-force performance by Eddie Redmayne from “My Week with Marilyn” and...

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“Peaky Blinders”—A View of Injustice

Peaky Blinders This BBC television drama series starring the amazing Cillian Murphy as Tommy Shelby, the leader of the Peaky Blinders gang, is Britain’s answer to “Boardwalk Empire”. Netflix released the first six episodes comprising Season One this past September and the next six of Season Two in November. Taking place immediately after the First World War, in Birmingham, England, the story focuses on making one’s way in the world of brutal street rivalries and competition for money through bars, gambling, and horse racing. But this series is more family saga than criminal thriller, although...

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“Whiplash”—Marching to the Beat of a Different Drum

Whiplash For lovers of jazz music and of stories dealing with young artists trying to find their way, this 2014 movie has it all. A young drummer, Andrew Neyman (Miles Teller) is accepted into Shaffer Conservatory, one of the best music schools in the country and yearns for the approval of Terence Fletcher, the school’s intimidating and legendary master (J. K. Simmons, in his best role since “Juno”). Fletcher is only interested in the best of the best students and hopes to find the next Charlie Parker, only to be continually disappointed.   The sacrifices Andrew makes in order to please Fletcher...

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Keith Haring (1958-1990): The Political Line (November 8-February 16, 2015)

Many of the works in this comprehensive exhibit at the De Young Museum (San Francisco) are being publicly presented for the first time, several on loan from the Keith Haring Foundation, Brooklyn, New York, [In March 2012, a retrospective exhibit of Haring’s work, Keith Haring: 1978-1982, opened at the Brooklyn Museum in New York.  See my May 2012 review ]  The imagery of Haring remains vital to the universally recognized visual language of the late 20th century. His enduring vision and critique of global problems is as relevant today as it was almost a quarter of a century ago. More than...

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Ai Weiwei—Without a Trace

With Wind The extraordinary @Large Ai Weiwei exhibit is now part of the daily tour to Alcatraz by ferry (Pier 33). Ai Weiwei, 57 years old, whose art raises questions about freedom of expression and human rights, has served several prison sentences in China.  This major installation invites viewer participation. Alcatraz   Several of the prison buildings (now in ruins reminiscent of burnt-out inner city neighborhoods or the aftermath of Hiroshima) exhibit a range of Ai Weiwei’s artwork with the most evocative being “With Wind” and “Trace”. “With Wind” has an enormous dragon kite as its...

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