COLUMNS

  • Film

    D'Or Prizes

    AS EVERYBODY KNOWS, the best parties happen all by themselves. Nonetheless, the organizers of the Cannes Film Festival seemed compelled to plan exactly how they’d celebrate 1997 (supposedly Cannes’ fiftieth anniversary, but actually the fiftieth festival, since there wasn’t one in either ’48 or ’50). And they certainly came up with an impressive array of events. There were ceremonies and speeches, balls and fireworks, a ballet by Philippe Decouflé, and a “Palme des Palmes” awarded by all the living recipients of the Palme d’Or to Ingmar Bergman, the greatest of those yet to be so honored. Bergman

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  • Passages

    Willem de Kooning

    WHEN I HEARD THE NEWS of Willem de Kooning’s death, I was speeding down a highway in New Mexico. I had just left New York where an exhibition of his late paintings at the Museum of Modern Art was still on view. The artist had been in fragile health for years and had recently taken a turn for the worse, but I was still jolted by the irrevocability of the event. De Kooning had not been “with” the world for a long time, but suddenly he was gone from it. Needing to gather my thoughts about an artist whose work had been the focus of my thinking for the past three years and whose example dominated my

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  • Books

    David Foster Wallace

    GIFTED IRONISTS DIE HARD. Which is why it’s so painful to watch David Foster Wallace’s awkward attempt to transmogrify from arch metafictionist to champion of Meaning. In his recent A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again, a collection of magazine articles written between ’92 and ’96 and revised for the book, we witness Wallace’s protracted struggle to shed the glib, ironic armor of his early fiction by declaring his willingness “to risk the yawn, the rolled eyes, the cool smile, the nudged ribs . . . the ‘Oh how banal’” of the gifted ironist. For veteran Wallace-watchers, this New Sincerity

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  • Architecture

    MoMA's Architectural Competition

    INSTITUTIONS MOVE FORWARD by renegotiating their own history. Drawing on its legacy of architectural provocation and promotion, beginning with the International Style show of 1932, the Museum of Modern Art is nearing the final stages of preparing for its renovation and expansion. Though a number of recent museum statements describe the expansion as simply the next logical step in MoMA’s historical growth and development, deputy director for curatorial affairs and chief curator at large John Elderfield goes so far as to call the scope of the project “a reconceptualization of the entire facility.”

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  • Film

    Elia Suleiman's Chronicle of a Disappearance

    “MY LIFE MAKES ME LAUGH,” Elia Suleiman writes in his notes to Chronicle of a Disappearance. “I am far from being courageous. I hate venturing. I wish to settle down and lead a linear existence, but even when I purposely attempt to conform, something is bound to go wrong.” Suleiman’s first feature film is like a diary full of such false starts, but it is animated by wary optimism. Screened in New York recently in the “New Directors/New Films” series, copresented by the Museum of Modern Art and the Film Society of Lincoln Center, this truly thoughtful movie deserves to be seen by a larger

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  • Music

    Digital Reggae

    MAKING LIKE A CROSS between Mondo 2000 and Condé Nast Traveler, Business Week recently offered its readers a peek at the business trip of the near future. The CFO of the twenty—first century, the magazine testified, will be a cyberpunk in all but name, required to don a pair of VR goggles and “‘fly’ over a 3-D landscape representing the risk, return, and liquidity of a company’s assets.” And damn if the accompanying computer graphic of one such landscape—a pastel mesh of aquamarine blue and salmon—didn’t make that glowing moor of financial data look as inviting as a sunlit beach in the

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  • Top Ten

    Greil Marcus

    Greil Marcus is a contributing editor at Artforum. Stemmen uit Kelder, the Dutch edition of his Invisible Republic: Bob Dylan’s Basement Tapes, will be published this month by Nijgh & Van Ditmar.

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  • Books

    Radical Noir

    EARLY LAST MARCH, in the thick of the protest movement against the draconian immigration law proposed by France’s Minister of the Interior Jean-Louis Debré, the residents of a working-class Paris neighborhood not far from the Bastille came together for an emergency meeting called by Gérard, the owner of the local bistrot. Gérard was furious. After fifty-four years in France, his Spanish-born wife, Maria, had suddenly been asked to produce a certificate of naturalization in order to renew her ID card. And a call from the local police station had just informed him that his Romanian cook, Vlad,

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  • Film

    Irma Vep

    FROM THE OUTSET, Olivier Assayas’ breakneck behind-the-camera satire Irma Vep immerses the viewer in the heady desperation of moviemaking. The first shot slowly pans over fresh-faced production assistants blithely hustling investors and creditors with phone solicitations worthy of seasoned bunco artists. Enter cheerfully self-effacing Hong Kong superstar Maggie Cheung as herself; she has arrived to play the title role of a latex-encased femme fatale in a projected remake of Louis Feuillade’s legendary proto-Surrealist 1916 serial Les vampires. This is ironic inasmuch as virtually everyone involved

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  • Film

    Nowhere

    IN THE BEGINNING, director Gregg Araki’s reputation was tiny but sterling. His early, so-called no-budget movies Three Bewildered People in the Night (1987) and The Long Weekend (O’ Despair) (1989) were wildly admired for their gentle, depressive tone, seeming smarts, and movingly restrained psychological insight. Few people were making narrative films on the cheap back then, and Araki, a madly ambitious young fellow fascinatingly attuned to the inarticulate speech patterns and confused emotions of his generation, was rightly considered a promising, if blurry talent.

    If 1992’s The Living End—a

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