Richard Flood

  • FILM

    RICHARD FLOOD

    High Travoltage

    Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs was a perfect little movie. It aspired to nothing that it didn’t do, brilliantly. Tarantino knew how to keep the camera moving while the actors tossed their lines like they were grenades: he fast-forwarded the gangster genre way past the previous innovations of Brian DePalma and Martin Scorsese. Reservoir Dogs was wildly funny, unremittingly brutal, and heroically human. It also knew how to stay small while trying out some big ideas.

    Pulp Fiction is an imperfect big movie. But imperfection has seldom felt so liberatingly giddy. The

  • Jackie O.

    MY MOTHER NEVER LIKED Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis. She thought she was “sly”—a combination, I believe, of “too big for her britches” and “foreign.” My mother loved John Fitzgerald Kennedy, “Jack,” the godlike exemplar of Irish-American, Boston-Catholic inevitability who was, oh my, just perfect. But Jacqueline Bouvier was this Frenchified whisper of a thing who was too delicate and standoffish to campaign with her Erin-go-bragh dream of a husband. Never mind that she was deep into a pregnancy; what Jack needed was a solid potato of a girl who could sprout children like tubers and get out

  • Six Degrees of Separation

    There is something morally anemic about Six Degrees of Separation. On Broadway, where it ran like a Restoration comedy on poppers, the messier social issues of John Guare’s play were folded in on themselves—as if a perfect sheet of dough covered everything with a creamy ubiquitousness. That the scary plight of the hustling black antihero is left willfully unresolved in order to serve up an epiphany of conscience to its careless white heroine caused nary a whisper of discontent.

    The play’s premise concerns a young man who claims to be the son of Sidney Poitier in order to insinuate himself into

  • CRITICAL REFLECTIONS

    When the fun is at its height it’s time to go. — Irish proverb

    Having championed Gary Indiana’s critical faculties in the September issue of this magazine, I was slightly alarmed for both of us when I was asked to introduce the following essay. I hadn’t seen much of his writing since he stopped covering art for The Village Voice, back in 1988. But I did love the Voice column and I’d begrudge anyone else’s claim to love it more.

    Indiana’s art writing for the Voice had a gorgeous, chic nihilism just below its shimmering surface. For three years, his adjectivally sequined essays simultaneously caught

  • Leni Riefenstahl: A Memoir

    Leni Riefenstahl, Leni Riefenstahl: A Memoir (New York: St. Martin’s Press), 669 pages.

    It’s terribly difficult knowing what to think about Leni Riefenstahl’s Memoir. She began writing it when she was 80, finished it at 85, and now that she’s 91 the English-language edition has just been issued. While the Memoir concludes in 1982, a new documentary (Ray Müller’s The Wonderful, Horrible Life of Leni Riefenstahl) shows her soldiering on with enough projects to last another lifetime. Together, the film and autobiography should meld into a hymn to the wondrous possibilities of simply, magnificently

  • Waldo Rising

    THE MOMENT HE opened his mouth, I fell in love with Waldo Lydecker. For most, I assume, Gene Tierney was the star of Otto Preminger’s Laura, of 1944, but I remained steadfastly focused on Clifton Webb, Laura’s caustic mentor. It was my first look at a critic and I liked what I saw—and heard. It didn’t matter that he was an unapologetic murderer. No, what I responded to was an acidic esthete who used language like a polo player uses a mallet—to keep the game moving and score.

    The film essentially pits a man of action (Dana Andrews) against a man of words (Webb), and from my then-adolescent point

  • SUGAR AND VICE AND...BALTHUS: A RETROSPECTIVE

    I saw the polka dots dancing, so to speak, on the ruffled jumpers of the two smaller girls seated side by side in the warm grass and holding hands, blowing chubby laughter in my direction as if they had never seen me before. And the peace, the warmth, the stasis, the smell of it—in such circumstances how could I help but enjoy my own immensity of size or the range of my interests, how help but appreciate the adaptability of certain natural scenes which, like this one, allow for the play of children one minute and the seclusion of adults the next? I felt a coolness between my porous thin white

  • “Extended Sensibilities: Homosexual Presence in Contemporary Art”

    “Extended Sensibilities: Homosexual Presence in Contemporary Art” called for a curator and a group of artists who clearly believe that there is a political reason for aligning their work with a sexual sensibility. There could be no doubt in anyone’s mind that the institutional aegis provided by the New Museum would—however transitorily—attract the hot white light of notoriety. Even if a coherent thesis (or, less probably, a coherent esthetic) had emerged, the exhibition would have been—and was—first and foremost a vehicle for social and sexual confrontation—an act of bravado for all concerned.

  • Rebecca Howland

    Rebecca Howland’s Brainwash, a big, ugly, confused, and confusing Rube Goldberg of a sculpture, is a provocative paradigm for a moral, municipally scaled artwork. Howland is attempting a complex ecological and political narrative using a traditional municipal ornament, the public fountain; her fountain, however, is no panacea for parched urban wayfarers. Too opinionated to relax into being an oasis, Brainwash delineates and challenges the symbiotic relationship of energy plunder and, pun intended, power.

    Howland’s fountain begins and ends with incredible resistance, almost as if its very shape

  • Gina Wendkos

    Up through her performance of Blue Blood at P.S.1 last spring, Gina Wendkos was doing primarily installations of living sculpture involving ever-increasing numbers of people and filling ever greater amounts of time. Story lines were not forthcoming and pacing was jettisoned in favor of an antistructure that spread out over time rather than rising to a climax. Insofar as the performances tended to be public events rather than self-referred theatricals, the format was perfect. (Cast a cold eye on life, on death/Pedestrian, pass by.) One encountered Wendkos’ productions in Washington Square, on

  • Richard Hambleton

    I’ve tended to like Richard Hambleton’s street works when I’ve encountered them around town. His life-sized photo silhouettes picturing the artist in an insouciant attitude of repose were pasted on construction walls and vacant buildings uptown; the images were silly and trendy and right for where they happened to be. More recently Hambleton’s painted black shadow figures bloomed all over Soho and points east. Executed so that a halo of splatter lent an expressionistic non-edge to the figure, Hambleton’s shadows were a little creepier than their photo precedents. Their positioning tended to

  • Carl Apfelschnitt

    There are inevitably periods in history when glamour becomes a kind of weapon of oppression, when the materialization of luxe becomes politically questionable. And there is, in Carl Apfelschnitt’s paintings, such a will to glamour and such an urge for luxe that I found them giving me the same sinking feeling I had when I saw Nancy Reagan smiling out at me from the cover of Interview wearing her “Christmas Red Adolfo.” In its monumental preciousness, in its refusal to connect with the realities of the world in which it exists, in its nabobery lifted to unnecessary heights of refinement, the work