Capitan, My Capitan

Let me start by saying that I am afraid of heights. Looking out of a tenth story window can make me feel a little queasy. For that reason, and many others, the idea of climbing a mountain without ropes has never really appealed to me. Alex Honnold is made of sterner stuff. He’s chosen this …

Alex Prager

Alex Prager creates strange and fabulous images that look as if they might have been culled from some cult classic film of the sixties. This year there’s a collection of her work featuring some of her most famous and enduring work.

Evelyn Hofer

Evelyn Hofer is a photographer best known for her work in the fities and sixties including these wonderful images from a reissued collection of her New York photos. As an adopted son of the city, I love her take on Gotham.

Is it Because I’m Black?

  Identity politics marks our age, but what if someone chooses an identity because they ‘feel’ that they belong to a particular group? Sometimes such identification can lead to the support of the liberal world. For example, not too many would decry Catyln Jenner’s desire to identify as female even though she was born to …

Lean on Pete

Harrowing and unforgettable by equal measure, Lean on Pete shows the how fragile our lives are. A young teen, Charley, lives in Oregon with his dad, a man who seems unable to keep a job or sustain a relationship. Charley gets a job, training racehorses and becomes particularly attached to one called ‘Lean on Pete’, …

This is America

Donald Glover them man otherwise known as Childish Gambino has produced the video of the moment at a time when hardly anyone watches videos anymore. His current creation for the song ‘This is America’ scored millions of hits in a matter of hours.

The Assassination of Gianni Versace

It may be called , but the FX series is really about the life and death of his murderer Andrew Cunanan, a boy/man who longs for the trappings of success without doing the work needed to achieve it. Kept by a string of elderly male lovers in the style to which undoubtedly believes he was …

Show Me the Monae

  Janelle Monae is the latest performer to take the mighty legacy of Prince and reuse it for her creative ends. ‘Make You Feel’ is an androgynous, Kiss-like anthem to the noble art of doing what you feel, accompanied by a vibrant video that feels like the arrival of spring.

Annihilation

Based on the first book of the much-praised Southern Reach trilogy, Annihilation is the new film from Alex Garland the screenwriter behind 28 Days Later and the director of Ex Machina. I loved both these and Sunshine, another film written by Garland so I had high hopes of this new work. The story is simple. A …

Singularity

Jon Hopkins latest album ‘Singularity’ breaks in May but you can still get a preview of what you’re in for with the brilliant track ‘Emerald Rush’

Nils Frahm

Seeing Nils Frahm at the Knockdown Center in Queens this week reminded me how everything old is new again. In the seventies, people would pay to see artists like Jean Michel Jarre and Vangelis perform surrounded by banks of keyboards and technology today Nils Frahm occupies a similar space. Obviously, between now and then, house, techno, and …

Basquiat versus The Barbican

When I was back in London over the holidays, I went to see a beautiful Basquiat show at the quite hideous Barbican Center. Even this concrete monstrosity couldn’t hide the vibrancy of Basquiat’s work. Not only is there an extensive selection of drawings and paintings but also a film featuring other featured players in the …

Miami

Starting with the legend ‘I don’t think you realize just how successful I am,’ Baxter Dury ‘Miami’ gives you the worldview of as, we would say in my homeland, a certified tosser. Brilliant and disturbing in turn, the track is just of a number of great songs from an equally fantastic album.  

Into the Light

Up until about 3 months ago James Turrell was unknown to me. Quite how I managed to miss one of the major artists of the 21st century is beyond me but I admit I did. Only when reading the excellent collection of essays on artists by Calvin Tomkins did I discover about the Light and …

Tess

I understand Roman Polanski is top of many people’s shit list right now. A serial rapist is not exactly the sort of person you want to be praising. Yet on seeing the movie ‘Tess’ again recently I have to do just that. But remember I praise the work not the man. It’s hard actually to …

Naomi Klein

How do fight back in the age of Trump? I looked to Naomi Klein to give me some tips. She was being interviewed by Jia Tolentino as part of the ‘New Yorker Festival’, a long weekend of interviews with a series of famous and/or expert people. Klein did not disappoint. She said something, which stayed …

Dunkirk v Detroit

Like a flotilla of small craft carrying soldiers, Dunkirk was met with rapture on its arrival in England a few months ago. Apart from the usually dissenting voices who you always suspect are more interesting in being contrary than being honest, the reviews were gushing. Then something unfortunate happened. The leader of the anti-immigration right-wing …

I Called Him Morgan

‘I Called Him Morgan’ is a new documentary about the brilliant jazz trumpeter Lee Morgan and his untimely demise at the hands of his wife Helen. Filled with great footage of jazz greats like Art Blakey and Warner Shorter performing with Morgan, as well as classic behind the scenes photos it reminds us a beautiful …

Ghost in the Shell

The imminent arrival of Ghost in the Shell starring Scarlett Johansson led to Metrograph cinema in the Lower East Side running the anime original. Primarily known as the influence for ‘The Matrix’, it is actually quite a bit different from the Wachowski’s film and years ahead of its time. For a start it has one …

Sexual Dependency

Nan Goldin’s famed series ‘The Ballad of Sexual Dependency’ is showing at MOMA. There a few selected images from the book on the gallery walls but when you step into the darkness of an additional room you see a series of Goldin’s images appearing one after the other to an imaginative soundtrack that goes from …

Manhattan’s Babe

Frederic Beigbeder is not a name familiar to many but in France he’s a big deal. I discovered him accidentally wondering around Shakespeare & Co in Paris where I found his book ‘A French Novel’. It’s fun, irreverent and highly readable so when I heard about his novel ‘Manhattan’s Babe’ I was in. The story …

A Pen of all Work

Southern Californian Raymond Pettibon has been a counter culture artist since his days playing bass, albeit briefly, in his big brother’s punk band ‘Black Flag’. But it was with a pen rather than a guitar that he found the tool that would unleash his creativity His comic like drawings in black and white and color …

Citizen Kitty

‘Kedi’ has been  called the Citizen Kane of cat documentaries but rather than the life of one Charles Foster Kane, we have the lives of nine very distinctive Istanbul street cats and their effect on the humans who care for them. Beautifully shot with a massive amount of cats throughout, this is a must-see for …

Red Turtle

The latest work by the Studio Ghibli is a beautiful understated tale of a man shipwrecked on a desolate island, which he constantly tries to escape only to be thwarted by a giant Red Turtle that smashes his flimsy bamboo raft time after time. In his fury he takes his revenge on one turtle he …

Love Trumps Hate

I like Michael Kiwanuka debut album ‘Home Again’ but I find I’m playing his follow up ‘Love and Hate’ far more. It is unlike anything else out there at the moment, a sort of modern take on singer songwriters like Terry Callier.

Ape and Essence

As I get older and more cynical it’s often hard to find books that will engage me. Everything seems tired and done before (or maybe I’m just tired and done before) So it was with no little pleasure that I discovered Yann Martel’s new novel ‘The High Mountains of Portugal’. The Canadian author is responsible …

Something Wicked

Like to be scared out of your wits? Then the brooding period piece horror ‘The Witch’ is for you. The plot is simple. A religious man breaks with his Puritan community and goes to live with his family on the edge of a spooky looking wood. Pretty soon that family starts to disappear. The film …

Lite Spots

I grew up in the Golden Age of Video, so always have an appreciation for the form. One of my favs of the year is this one for current hip name to drop Kaytranada. It features a dancing robot, so what’s not to love?    

Elle

Businesswoman Michele Leblanc (Isabelle Huppert) seems to be a woman without feelings. When her mother announces she is marrying a much younger man she laughs at her. When said mother than has a stroke and dies she ignores her dying wishes When her best friend’s husband approaches her for an affair she goes with it …

Arrival

Alien invasion is in general not a good thing in the movies. For every ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’ there is an Independence Day or three. Which makes Arrival the new film from Dennis Villeneuve, a welcome change. The idea is simple Amy Adams is an expert linguist called upon to decipher the language …

Cathedral of the Pines

Gregory Crewdson has been creating film stills of the lives of ordinary American suburbanites for many years. His latest effort ‘ Cathedral of the Pines’ continues his themes of loss, loneliness and alienation in wide screen. But with more foliage. Beautifully composed, these eerie and unsettling images are what I imagine David Lynch might come …

James Blake at Radio City Music Hall

My enthusiasm for live shows is waning as I become increasingly more jaded. These young people with their strange ideas! It wouldn’t past muster in my day. Yet as I pass complainingly into old gitdom I can still appreciate the odd modern conception of music. Like James Blake. Yes, he may have a rather plaintive, …

American Ballet Theater Fall Season

I won’t lie. The idea of seeing another opera fills me with tedium. For a start, why are they so long? And what’s with the audience? The last time I went there was a man with a leather vest and giant gold crucifix around his neck. No, it won’t do at all. Which is why …

The Girls

A book I see carried everywhere in New York is Emma Cline’s much-hyped debut ‘The Girls’. It has the perfect pop culture moment to pull upon, the infamous Manson Murders, albeit disguised. The problem on the face it, is that this is such a well-known story that giving a narrative twist or surprise to the …

Hell or High Water

  The tone of ‘Hell or High Water’ is set from the very first shot by a piece of graffiti which states that unlike banks, there’s no bailout for homeowners in these parts. This theme is carried throughout the whole piece. We see billboards with the single word question ‘Debt?’, waitresses struggling to bring up …

String Theory

One of the biggest divides in life apart from the divide between the ugly and the beautiful (a chasm far greater than mere racial difference) is the divide between the artist and the sportsman Artists are in general what we at school would have called total ‘spods’. The kind that would always carry a sick …

82 portraits

David Hockney’s exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts in London ’82 portraits and 1 still life’ brings out another side of the artist. Having dedicated the last few years to landscapes of his birthplace Yorkshire, he now turns his attention back to California, creating portraits of various friends who visited his studio. With just …

UN Rap Wars

The Art of the music video is alive and well, if this DJ Shadow effort is anything to go by. The sight of old white men rapping is worth watching for first 90 seconds for..

Public, Private, Secret

The new ICP Exhibition location in the Bowery is host to a fascinating exhibition about the future of image making in the 21st century, ‘Public, Private, Secret’. As it says on the ICP site ‘The exhibition creates a physical experience through which to examine photography’s role in breaking and resetting the boundaries of social and …

Memoirs of the Armenians

Every other month I come across a great photographer who had previously been unknown to me. The latest is Antoine Agoudjian. He was was born in Saint-Maur, France,  to Armenian parents. Following an earthquake in Armenia in 1988, he began an ongoing photography project about the country of his roots.    

Bryan Ferry Live

On my bucket list, along with visit New Zealand, sleep with Monica Bellucci and pet a tiger, was see Bryan Ferry in concert. A trifling bucket list item but one, nevertheless that had very little chance of being ticked off Ferry being 70 and unlikely to put another album that would require a tour of …

They Wanna be Adored

A band that sings ‘I am the resurrection and I am the light’ is probably not lacking in confidence. Their most likely the sort of band who, having not released an album for 20 years, would decide one of the best places for them to gig would be Madison Square Gardens. All secure in the …

Strangers

The latest release from Marissa Nadler is a more expansive accessible album than her previous release ‘July’. There’s still the same distinctive Julee Cruise-ish vocal but now we hear a little more country twang and rock-ish overtone in the arrangements. A sort of ghostly gothic Americana, that at points kind of reminds me of a …

Lyon at the Whitney

  Danny Lyon is Magnum photojournalist mainly known for his images of Chicago bike gang ‘The Outlaws’, whom he rode with and befriended. Yet as the current retrospective of his work at the Whitney proves, there is much, much more to him than that. I’d been aware of his involvement in the Civil Rights Movement …

Modern Country

It’s always exciting to discover a new artist who up to this point has been utterly unknown to you. I know now that William Tyler is not exactly new and has released several albums before this but this is the first one that’s come to my attention and it’s beauty. Spare instrumental country that is …

The Day the Other Music Died

  Time and tide waits for no one apparently. And this week it will wash away a small part of my New York experience. Other Music is closing. This small music store off-Broadway, used to be a place to get both the latest hip indie band album and that oddity that you couldn’t quite believe …

Choose Heroin, Choose Life.

The message of the Chet Baker biopic ‘Born to be Blue’ is not perhaps as romantic as his music. It amounts to this. When given the choice between the devoted love of a good woman and a trumpet and a boatload of heroin, go for the latter. This perhaps surprising conclusion is at the very …

Miles Ahead

How to tell the story of Miles Davis, one of the world’s most prolific improvisational musicians? It’s certainly not an easy one to solve. Do you focus on his creation of Kind of Blue, a widely acknowledged musical masterpiece? Or perhaps his creation of Bitches Brew, a jazz-rock odyssey created to show he could put …

Barbarian Days

I like to think I’m pretty adventurous. For a pussy. I lived on several continents and travelled to many countries but William Finnegan has me beat. His book ‘Barbarian Days’ chronicles a surfing life that saw him travel the world in search of the finest breaks, from his native Southern California to Hawaii, where he …

The Girl from Chickasaw County

I’m a signed up member of the Bobbi Gentry Fanclub and it seems I’m not alone as there is now a box set of her work that has just been released entitled The Girl from Chickasaw  County.  If that’s too much Gentry for you, I recommend the album ‘Touch ’em with love’ or failingly that …

Uncommon

A recent show at MoMA featured the work of iconic photographer Stephen Shore. It showed the breadth of his work, but still the images I most associates with him are those taken in the 1970’s and featured in the book ‘Uncommon Places’ a kind of greatest hits collection of his work. Many document an old …

Seydou Keita

Malian photographer Seydou Keita took these pictures in the 1950’s. They feature middle-class citizens of Mali and show a beautiful eye for composition

A Fantastic Woman

The plot is simple. A transgender woman, Marina, goes out with an older man who suddenly takes ill and dies. The death is both a tragic end to a beautiful relationship and the beginning of a spiral of hate and vindictiveness given to the woman by society at large. For this film to work, you …