Andrew Hultkrans

  • Actors Anthony Michael Hall, Molly Ringwald, Ally Sheedy, and Judd Nelson.
    diary September 29, 2010

    Talking about My Generation

    AS AN ACTUAL ALUMNUS of the highschool class of 1984, I approached last Monday night’s twenty-fifth-anniversary screening of John Hughes’s The Breakfast Club at Lincoln Center with the wrenching mixture of anticipation and trepidation peculiar to high school reunions. Now that the 1980s have equaled (if not surpassed) the pop-cultural longevity that the ’60s and ’70s once enjoyed with generations too young to have experienced them firsthand, this Hughes tribute seemed a bit behind the curve, even by the standards of nostalgia. But you only get to be twenty-five once, and since four of the five

  • Vikram Jayanti, The Agony and the Ecstasy of Phil Spector, 2008, still from a color film, 102 minutes.
    film June 30, 2010

    Sound Judgment

    LITERALLY AND FIGURATIVELY GNOMIC, the reclusive music producer Phil Spector had been out of the public eye for decades when he was arrested in 2003 for the murder of B-movie actress Lana Clarkson. Photographed in court sporting a mammoth Brillo pad of an Afro that threatened to topple his tiny frame, Spector seemed to be another in a long line of LA has-beens—O. J. Simpson and Robert Blake come to mind—who capped their careers with alleged execution-style killings. During his first trial, which ended in a hung jury in 2007, Spector appeared as emotionally distanced from the proceedings as

  • Banksy, Exit Through the Gift Shop, 2010, still from a color film, 87 minutes. Image courtesy of Paranoid Pictures.
    film April 07, 2010

    Banksy Job

    BORN OUT OF THE NEW YORK graffiti scene of the 1970s and ’80s, street art has come a long way since Revs and Cost were wheat-pasting their block-letter foolscap names in every nook and cranny of the city. Like its sibling rap music, it has gone massive. No one was more responsible for this mainstreaming than an elusive, anonymous Bristol native who goes by the tag Banksy, with a close second going to the ubiquitous Shepard Fairey, he of the Obama “HOPE” poster. Both are featured in Exit Through the Gift Shop, a documentary about street artists that Banksy took over from its original auteur (and

  • David Thomas as Père Ubu at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, London, April 2008. (Photo: Mark Mawston)
    diary April 03, 2010

    Prickly Père

    New York

    DAVID THOMAS IS A “DIFFICULT ARTIST” in every sense of the term. Greil Marcus called him a “crank prophet.” In his band Pere Ubu’s early days, he called himself Crocus Behemoth. I call him batshit crazy. But there’s nothing wrong with that, particularly when you’ve consistently created some of the most challenging and influential music of the past three decades. Tall, stout, tightly wound, given to Tourettic outbursts, Thomas embodies the insecure male id inflated to mammoth proportions, so it’s surprising that it took him so long to assume the character from which his band took its name, the

  • Kathryn Bigelow, Strange Days, 1995, still from a color film in 35 mm, 145 minutes. Lenny Nero (Ralph Fiennes) and Lornette “Mace” Mason (Angela Bassett).
    film March 13, 2010

    Reality Bytes

    A PAINTER WHO ENROLLED in the Whitney Program before migrating to Columbia Film School, Kathryn Bigelow is something of an anomaly in Planet Hollywood. Combining an affinity for the frenetic rhythms of the thriller with a taste for subversive genre-bending that recalls her “high art” beginnings, Bigelow is a consummate technician whose balletic action sequences remind us how cinematically pure the language of violence can be. Her latest film, Strange Days (1995), is a tech-noir set in a Los Angeles on the brink of the millennium, where conflicting visions of rapture and revolution divide the

  • Niels Arden Oplev, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, 2009, still from a color film in 35 mm, 152 minutes. Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace) and Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist).
    film March 13, 2010

    Nordic Track

    AS A PERSON OF SWEDISH DESCENT and somewhat dark sensibilities, I was piqued by the idea of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, a Swedish adaptation of the first novel in Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy, a posthumous publishing smash that spread the reputation of Nordic noir around the globe. As someone who rarely, if ever, reads contemporary mysteries, I had managed to avoid said publishing smash and hoped to get a taste of the Larsson phenomenon through the film, which has already won a smorgasbord of Swedish awards and was Europe’s top-grossing movie of 2009. I can’t say whether it is

  • The Thing Quarterly 8 (September 2009). Trevor Paglen’s coffee mug.

    The Thing

    HALF MACGUFFIN, HALF HOLY GRAIL, the “impossible object” driving Jonathan Lethem’s novel Chronic City (Doubleday, 2009) is a vase of transcendent attractiveness called a chaldron. Some readers may take the word to be the author’s coinage, but it dates back to at least sixteenth-century England (an early spelling of cauldron) and denotes an inexact measure of volume, generally of coal. For an elusive object that appears as different things at different times and whose meaning shifts depending on who’s looking at it, the name is well chosen, carrying metaphoric weight that implies specificity but

  • Editor David Fricke with musicians Lou Reed, Moe Tucker, and Doug Yule at the New York Public Library. (All photos: Peter Foley)
    diary December 15, 2009

    Velvet Goldmine

    New York

    WELL, THIS WAS A SURPRISE. As soon as I heard that the Velvet Underground (actually, a subset—there’s no true VU without deceased rhythm guitarist Sterling Morrison) would be closing the 2009 season of “Live from the NYPL,” I immediately (and excitedly) assumed they’d be playing. So, apparently, did the rest of the SRO house. As program director Paul Holdengraber noted in his introductory remarks last Tuesday, the event sold out in three minutes and twenty seconds. Keyed to the recent Rizzoli coffee-table book The Velvet Underground: New York Art, edited by Johan Kugelberg, which collects a

  • Werner Herzog, My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done, 2009, color digital film, 93 minutes. Production stills. Left: Mrs. McCullum, Brad McCullum, and Ingrid (Grace Zabriskie, Michael Shannon, and Chloë Sevigny). Right: Ingrid (Chloë Sevigny). Photos: Lena Herzog © Absurda.
    film December 09, 2009

    Parent Trap

    IT’S ODD, AND SLIGHTLY UNSETTLING, when a great director assumes the style of another great director, but that’s what seems to have happened in Werner Herzog’s My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done, a surreal psychodrama loosely based on the bizarre matricide committed by talented student actor and basketball player Mark Yavorsky in 1979 San Diego. Written by Herzog and longtime associate Herbert Golder, a classics professor at Boston University, the film was executive-produced by David Lynch—and it shows.

    Renamed Brad McCullum for the movie, the Yavorsky character is played with bewildered intensity

  • Left: Singer-songwriter Paul McMahon with Participant director Lia Gangitano. Right: Performers Trixie Minx and Tony Clifton. (All photos: Mark Tusk)
    diary October 21, 2009

    Tony Crowd

    New York

    AS FAR AS POLITICAL CORRECTNESS GOES, the art world has come a long way since the 1980s. How else can one explain downtown gallery space Participant Inc.’s hiring of über-offensive Andy Kaufman/Bob Zmuda character Tony Clifton for a cocktail party/benefit feting their new programs director, Stephen Hepworth? This was like booking Andrew Dice Clay for a Planned Parenthood mixer or Paul Mooney for Farm Aid. Nevertheless, as I entered the gallery and noted the combo of offerings on display—the tail end of a My Barbarian show, previews of an exhibition inspired by the life and work of performance

  • Left: A view of the service. Right: Genesis P-Orridge. (All photos: Ryan McNamara)
    diary October 12, 2009

    Due Process

    New York

    LEGEND HAS IT that a young L. Ron Hubbard once bragged to his friends that he was going to start a religion and make a million dollars. We all know how that went. Less known is a far smaller rogue offshoot of Scientology that exerted disproportionate influence on late-1960s and early-’70s bohemian culture in London, San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, and other epicenters of radical chic: the Process Church of the Final Judgment, or, simply, the Process.

    Formed in 1963 in London by two disenchanted Scientologists—Mary Ann MacLean, a former call girl from Glasgow, and Robert DeGrimston, a

  • Abel Ferrara, Chelsea on the Rocks, 2008, still from a color film in 35 mm, 88 minutes. William Burroughs and Andy Warhol.
    film September 28, 2009

    Chelsea Lately

    LONG A STUBBORN TOTEM of downbeat bohemia in the face of Manhattan’s gentrification, the Chelsea Hotel was wrenched into the corporate present in 2007, when members of the hotel’s board forced out the seemingly eternal manager/owner Stanley Bard in favor of BD Hotels, a boutique hotel firm that threatened to turn it into the Chambers, the Mercer, or something worse. (The board has since fired BD, with various scuffles and changeovers in management tracked on the Hotel Chelsea Blog.) Producer Jen Gatien was living in the Chelsea at the time of the initial ouster and was determined to document