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 …

Eyes Wide Open

Skater punk photographer Glen Locket alias ‘Spot’, recently released a book of images ‘The Sound of Two Eyes Opening’. It depicts southern Californian youth culture between 1969 and 1982 in all it’s sexiness.

Peep Show

  Having peered through windows of New York, Gail Albert Halaban turns his peepers to the apartments of Paris with much the same result. As previously there is the same illicit feeling of haven stolen someone’s privacy and the same wonderfully composed images depicting the lives of our unknown neighbors. In a way it’s street …

Real Blues

Back when it was fashionable in the late 90’s early noughties, Saint Germain produced a blues sampling house album ‘Tourist’ that found it’s way into many a CD player and ITunes library. Saint Germain aka Ludovic Navarre then disappeared completely from sight not long after that but with the revival of interest in house through …

Invite the Light (and the Funk)

  Dam Funk has perhaps the most descriptive name in music because there is no doubt that funk is what he does. A massive endless amount of funk. So much funk in fact that funk-sampling fan Snoop Dogg nee Snoop Lion, collaborated with him on an album. Now he is back with a vast 18-track …

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 …

Sicario

The movie ‘Sicario’ hits you like an assassin’s bullet, right between the eyes with its powerful betrayal of the Mexican drug cartels and the men and women who try to bring them to justice. Emily Blunt plays an FBI agent recruited by a mysterious government official played by Josh Brolin, to take down a Mexican …

Mistress America

Having a director talk about his film immediately after it’s been shown should be mandatory in my view. Yes, it maybe hard to be in hundreds of places at once but they can at least try. I was pleased to see that Noah Baumbach at least had listened to my needs and had turned up …

Amazonas

Mads Nissen is a Danish documentary photographer who has won many prestigious prizes like World Press Photo of the Year amongst others. Of his work, perhaps my favorite series are those captured in the book Amazonas published in 2013.

Low Life, High Roller.

Having spent a few years of my life living in Hong Kong and having taken the hydrofoil to the gambling kingdom of Macau on a couple of occasions the book ‘The Ballad of a small time player’ has particular resonance for me. Thankfully I never had a gambling addiction like the one suffered by Lord …

Going Solo

Nils Frahm is a modern classical composer who seems to be everywhere I look. At least two complications I have brought recently have featured this piano player’s delicate and haunting compositions, as well as a soundtrack to the film ‘Victoria’ and an album released early this year as a free download called ‘Solo’. ‘Solo’ is …

The Diver’s Clothes Lie Empty

As I get older I get harder to please particularly when it comes to literary fiction. So it was pleasant surprise to come across Vendela Vida’s funny and touching ‘The Diver’s Clothes Lie Empty’ Set in modern day Morocco it involves the hapless adventures of a mixed-up young woman who meets disaster after disaster by …

Ex-Machina

It’s been a while since I was truly excited and hooked by a film. Ex-Machina ended that for me. Even though I only watched it on a tiny screen on the back of a plane seat its obvious quality shone through. Devised and directed by Alex Garland the writer of the novel ‘The Beach’ and …

Looking for Eden

Back in the day I was something of a club kid. A job in the London music industry combined with easy access to guest lists and drugs made it a no-brainer (though having no brain was a serious option if you ingested the amount of ecstasy that was available to you) I have mixed feelings …

Slumming Angels.

During my short-lived time in southern California I had plenty of time for reading being virtually friendless and often poverty stricken. Naturally I turned my attention to Chandler and gained a deep appreciation for him. Which led naturally to the discovery of Ross MacDonald. Considered by many to be the successor to Chandler’s crown, he …

Shot in New York

What better way to tour New York then to tour in the footsteps of its most iconic photographer? Arthur Felig, better known as Weegee, roamed the new York streets capturing the aftermath of mob hits and car crashes, murders and general mayhem. Now ‘Weegee’s Guide to New York’ shows you exactly where many of his …

Max Richter

The reinvention of classic music has often been an embarrassing cultural void. Whether it was Emerson Lake and Palmer reimagining Mussorgsky’s Pictures in an Exhibition or Sky repurposing Bach. So the thought of someone recreating Vivaldi’s Four Season’s didn’t exactly fill my heart with joy. Until I heard it. What we get it turns out …

Severson Surf

Eighty year old John Severson, one of the founding fathers of modern surf culture, has a book out unimaginatively but appropriately called ‘John Severson’s Surf’. This is a man that introduced surf culture to none other than the surfin’ safari Beach Boys( who he accuses of appropriating surf culture) That’s how deep into the culture …

The Last Book

Tom Wolfe had a chapter in his classic ‘The Bonfire of the Vanities’ called ‘The Last of the Great Smokers’ featuring a man with a habit soon to be in serious retreat. Dutch photographer Reinier Gerritsen has captured another possibly vanishing habit – reading a paper book. He’s captured people on the subway reading, faces …

Anyone for a guitar solo?

When you approach an album called ‘A Deeper Understanding’, it’s probably with a heavy heart. Rather in the same way you don’t announce the funniness of a comment by saying ‘That is soooo funny’ rather than actually laughing, so you don’t announce your new depth by saying ‘I have a deeper understanding’. But awful title …

Maurizio’s John

Ever taken a slash in a gold-plated toilet? You haven’t lived my friend. But if you were in New York for the past couple months the opportunity for your ‘golden shower’ was available too you at the Guggenheim. Conceptual artist Maurizio Cattelan had created his shining head for the esteemed gallery and called it ‘America’ …

The Long Day Closes

Terence Davies is a film maker largely unknown in much of America. His brand of visual art house is not shall we say ‘box office’ but is visually stunning. This is particular true of his work set in his native Liverpool, a city I also spent many formative years in. Perhaps his most beloved work from …

City on Fire

  Garth Risk Hallberg’s debut novel weighs in at a doorstopping 902 pages. But it’s one of the quickest 900 pages you’ll ever read. Set mainly in 70’s New York during the advent of punk and flashing forward and backward in time it is an evocative piece of work which manages to make the seedy …

Pauline at the Beach

Pauline at the Beach is a 1980’s French film recently shown at ‘The Metrograph’ in New York by French ‘auteur’ Eric Rohmer. I shuddered a little inwardly when I wrote the ‘A’ word but ever you want to call him Rohmer and his circle of actors produced some interesting and philosophical romantic comedies. Pauline at …