Occasional blogging, mostly of the long-form variety.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Arts Roundup 12/17/09

It's all film today. Congratulations to Liv Ullman, who just turned 71. She's quite a good director, and an exceptional actress. Her performance in Scenes from a Marriage is one of the best I've ever seen.

Elvis Mitchell's radio show The Treatment has been especially interesting recently. Two weeks ago, he sat down with director and mad genius Werner Herzog, who offers some great (and unconventional) advice for becoming a good filmmaker. Herzog's mainly talking about his new film, The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans. (The title is not his fault.) I just saw it this past weekend. It's not for people who like their main characters virtuous, because Nicholas Cage as Police Detective Terence McDonagh is more than a little "bad." But it's also hard to take your eyes off him. He's shockingly sleazy, crazy, surprisingly effective at his job at times, but always engrossing. It's Cage's best performance in a few years, Herzog shoots the film through with dark, wild humor, and the two of them make a great pairing.

The latest Treatment was with Viggo Mortensen, who's excellent in the film adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's The Road. It's an extremely bleak movie (as is the book on which it is based), but if you're up for it, certain scenes are haunting. memorable and moving. Like Ullman and Herzog, Mortensen just seems like a really cool, well-rounded human being. At one point he quoted Eleanor Roosevelt, in a line that seems especially relevant given the political battles of our time: "When will our consciences grow so tender that we act to prevent misery rather than avenge it?"

(Ullman with Bergman.)

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