Andrew Hultkrans

  • William Gibson and Paul Holdengraber at the New York Public Library on Friday, April 19. (Photo: Jori Klein/The New York Public Library)
    diary April 23, 2013

    Future Past

    PITY THE WRITER who coins a term or phrase that becomes a cliché, part of the culture (e.g., “the global village,” “Catch-22,” “cyberspace”). Not only are you asked to revisit and account for this eureka moment for the rest of your career, but you’re also often consigned to ignominious or obscure fates. If you’re Marshall McLuhan, you end up parodying your own ideological ubiquity in a Woody Allen film; if you’re Joseph Heller, you recede into the landscape and disappear. If you’re science-fiction novelist William Gibson, author of Neuromancer (1984) and prime mover of the “cyberpunk” subgenre,

  • Chris Felver, Ferlinghetti: A Rebirth of Wonder, 2009, HD video, color, sound, 79 minutes.
    film February 08, 2013

    Poetry in Motion

    VARIOUSLY CALLED AN “OLD-ASS ANARCHIST” (Amiri Baraka), “the most popular modern poet” (Michael McClure), and a “romantic idealist who accepts living in an imperfect world” (Nancy Peters), poet/painter/publisher Lawrence Ferlinghetti is that rarest of birds, a creator-impresario-activist whose tireless dedication to radical literature and politics changed the course of postwar cultural history. His best-known book of poems is the proto-Beat lyric collection A Coney Island of the Mind (1958), but his legacy is better described by the title of his 2007 volume Poetry as Insurgent Art. Through his

  • Jay Bulger, Beware of Mr. Baker, 2012, color, 92 minutes. Left and right: Ginger Baker.
    film November 28, 2012

    Beat Generation

    “THE DEVIL TAKES CARE OF HIS OWN.” So says the first wife of legendary jazz/rock/African drummer and world-class hellion Ginger Baker to explain the man’s highly improbable longevity. Best known for his work with British “supergroups” Cream and Blind Faith, in which he created and broke the mold of the hard-rock stickman in under three years, Baker is also—as we learn in the penetrating, often gasp-worthy documentary Beware of Mr. Baker—a ferocious madman who has consumed truckloads of substances; made and spent fortunes; and alienated scores of family members, friends, and musicians on several

  • Don DeLillo and Jonathan Franzen at the New York Public Library. (All photos: Jori Klein/The New York Public Library)
    diary November 05, 2012

    Mean Streak

    BLOOD FROM A STONE. A kind, patient stone, but a stone nonetheless. The stone was Don DeLillo, novelist and elder of postmodernism, and the designated bleeder for the evening was Jonathan Franzen, novelist and acolyte of Don DeLillo. Watching Franzen try to draw out DeLillo on the “meaning” of his work on a pre-Sandy night at the New York Public Library, I felt the type of vertigo-by-proxy one feels when reading a particularly unrewarding interview with Bob Dylan, where the questions are longer and more complex than the answers, and the answerer, when answering at all, comes off as the cat who

  • The Quay Brothers, Institute Benjamenta, or This Dream People Call Human Life, 1995, 35 mm, black-and-white, 104 minutes.
    film October 30, 2012

    Stop Making Sense

    NATIVES OF SUBURBAN PHILADELPHIA who have lived for decades in England, the Quay Brothers are identical twins. Originally inspired by Polish poster art and animation, they emerged (not unlike David Lynch) from an ordinary American childhood to create a dreamlike, unclassifiable body of work that is proudly anachronistic and (dare I say) European. Their flummoxing, unforgettable animated shorts—infernal machines of staggering complexity and detail—are the products of visual artists who chose film as a medium, not of arty filmmakers. Indeed, that is what they were and are—gnomic illustration

  • Léos Carax, Holy Motors, 2012, 35 mm, color, 116 minutes. Monsieur Oscar and Eva Grace (Denis Lavant and Kylie Minogue).
    film October 10, 2012

    Search Engine

    IN CRONENBERG ON CRONENBERG, the Canadian director said that his adaptation of Stephen King’s The Dead Zone (1983) was, for him, primarily about Christopher Walken’s face. Similarly, Holy Motors (2012), French writer-director Léos Carax’s bold return to feature filmmaking after more than a decade, is largely a multivalent study of Denis Lavant’s body. It is also a brilliantly metatextual, multigenre meditation on what Jean Baudrillard called “the disappearance of the real” in the face of the encroaching digitization of everything, as well as a fictional realization of Erving Goffman’s 1959

  • Robert Downey Sr., Babo 73, 1964, black-and-white and color film in 16 mm, 56 minutes. Stanley Studsbury and Chester Kitty-Litter (Taylor Meade and James Antonio).
    film July 06, 2012

    Senior Trip

    THERE’S SOMETHING UNCANNY about seeing—on film—the parents of a screen actor of your own era: watching a Kirk Douglas or Lloyd Bridges movie, say, if you came of age in the 1970s and ’80s with Michael and Jeff. Not only do you immediately start cataloguing similarities in appearance and mannerisms (odd in itself, as both parent and child are playing characters), but you feel compelled to make extracinematic judgments about the real-life individuals; how, even as an old man, Michael seems callow, baby-faced, and reptilian next to the craggy, eagle-like intensity of his father, who wouldn’t look

  • Anthology Film Archives founder/artistic director Jonas Mekas. (All photos: Kim Madalinski)
    diary July 01, 2012

    Movie Magic

    AH, PATRONAGE. Where would we be without it, especially in these days of extreme income polarization? For good or ill, if a certain subset of the wealthy didn’t help fund the arts in this country—whether motivated by genuine affinity, the tax code, or evil-billionaire image management—all that would remain available for mass consumption would be endless analogues, for every artistic medium, of American Idol, So You Think You Can Dance?, Project Runway, Project Greenlight, etc. One of the primary modes of arts fund-raising—the benefit, often with awards attached—can nevertheless be deadly, with

  • Left: A view of “Tarkovsky Interruptus” at the New School, March 10, 2012. Right: Andrei Tarkovsky, Stalker, 1979, color film in 35 mm, 163 minutes. Production still.
    film March 19, 2012

    Stalker Talkers

    OK, I CONFESS: I went to the Wikipedia page for Andrei Tarkovsky’s Stalker (1979) to double-check something for this piece. I did this despite the fact that, ontologically speaking, Tarkovsky and Wikipedia couldn’t be more incompatible: one man’s brilliant (if at times gnomic), expansive, autocratic vision vs. a mediocre, bite-size, consensus version of reality hashed out by a virtual rabble of bickering volunteer librarians. I wouldn’t risk admitting this if the page didn’t contain something as unbearably perfect for its subject as this generic Wiki admonishment: “This article’s plot summary

  • The Occupy Rousseau panel: Laura Flanders, Pascal Couchepin, Victor Gourevitch, Thomas Kean, Khalil Gibran Muhammad, Eliot Spitzer, Guillaume Chenevière, Nannerl Keohane, and Amin Husain. (All photos: Jori Klein)
    diary March 16, 2012

    Mic Check

    IN THE THIRD MAN, the soulless black marketeer played by Orson Welles considered the relative merits of the Swiss approach to life and politics: “In Italy for thirty years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love—they had five hundred years of democracy and peace—and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.” That’s not entirely fair; they also produced Jean-Jacques Rousseau, the eighteenth-century political philosopher, novelist, composer, and citizen of Geneva

  • Portlandia, 2011–, still from a TV show on IFC. Amber, Toni, and Candace (Amber Tamblyn, Fred Armisen, and Carrie Brownstein). Photo: Scott Green/IFC.
    film January 06, 2012

    Insight Joke

    IN PORTLAND, OREGON, where I’d gone to attend an old friend’s wedding a few years ago, I witnessed two hipsters in their natural habitat, just around the corner from a Stumptown coffee shop on Belmont, silently and with great efficiency performing what can only be described as a dance ritual (on weathered fixed-gear bikes, natch). Not a word was spoken, but this streetside roundelay was pregnant with pointed looks, twitchy body language, and, of course, the mutual sizing up of clothes, hair, and accessories. The boys were impeccably styled—Williamsburgers would abandon OkCupid and chuck their

  • Mike Kerry and Chris Hall, The Ballad of Mott the Hoople, 2010, black-and-white and color film in 35 mm, 103 minutes.
    film December 14, 2011

    All the Old Dudes

    NAMED AFTER AN OBSCURE NOVEL by Willard Manus about a circus freak, Mott the Hoople were one of the emblematic rock bands of the early 1970s, their many stylistic phases—hard rock, singer-songwriter, country rock, glam—paralleling the genre shifts of the period. Like the Velvet Underground and the Stooges, Mott were a cult band before the category existed, and like Lou and Iggy, they enjoyed a midcareer resuscitation from the original fan–rock star, David Bowie.

    Originally a semimanufactured group consisting of four yobs from Herefordshire and a minor genius from Northampton, Mott were put together