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Five best films added to US streaming this week

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Call Jane (Hulu)

 

Still from Call Jane.

When I first saw Call Jane, a meticulous and clear-eyed film on a real underground network of abortion providers in 1960s Chicago, it was at the Sundance film festival in January 2022. Roe v Wade was on the chopping block – anyone paying attention, including the filmmakers, knew it – but not yet dead. By the time it premiered last October, abortion was illegal in several states. Director Phyllis Nagy’s sensitive portrait of the Janes’ operation is thus upsettingly resonant, which in movie form is more invigorating than depressing. Its refined, prestige TV-esque historicism weaves throughout the Janes’ grassroots group, from Sigourney Weaver’s steely leadership to Elizabeth Banks’s politically awakened housewife to Wunmi Mosaku’s frustrated advocacy for access for black women. Scenes covering how the abortions are paid for, who provides them and, most movingly, how the procedure is done make for one of the best, most direct and unflinching, depictions of abortion on screen. AH

 

Philomena (Hulu)

 

Woman sitting on bench

For a time, as the rest of the industry mostly pretended that female actors over 60 didn’t exist as anything but nodding grans, Stephen Frears gave some of our finest some of their finest lead roles. He ushered Helen Mirren to her first Oscar with The Queen, brought Meryl Streep her 20th nomination for Florence Foster Jenkins and guided Judi Dench toward two best actress nods, one for Mrs Henderson Presents and the second for Philomena. The latter remains a delicate, piercing little film, taking aim at the inhumanity of the Catholic church without becoming a diatribe (despite what some claimed at the time), casting Dench as a woman searching for the son she was forced to give up as a youth with the help of Steve Coogan’s cynical journalist. In a period where she became more closely associated with sterner and/or splashier performances, it’s a reminder of how much she can do at a far lower volume, quietly devastating us. It’s a film of similarly quiet anger, carefully bottled up by Frears. BL

 

Carol (Netflix)

 

Woman in red coat

Director Todd Haynes wrings every erotic detail out of this adaptation of a Patricia Highsmith story (written for the screen by Phyllis Nagy, the director of Call Jane) – a story of covert glances, wordless admissions and lidded emotions. Released in 2015 and set in the winter of 1952, Carol constructs, one freighted exchange and luminous snapshot at a time, the forbidden love affair between the eponymous New Jersey housewife (Cate Blanchett at her most leonine and alluring) and Therese (Rooney Mara), a doe-eyed clerk at a Manhattan department store. Blanchett received a best actress Oscar nomination for a reason – her Carol is a fascinating blend of impulse and control, vulnerability and self-assurance, against the backdrop of a contentious custody battle with her stereotypically 50s society husband (Kyle Chandler). The film takes place almost entirely in the winter, and is a good choice for heating up this interminable one. AH

 

Nope (Amazon Prime)

 

Woman looking out of window.

Nope, the third feature from Jordan Peele, is an underbaked comedic thriller, asking the audience to both think too much and too little about its science-fiction logic and commentary on spectacle. But it is undoubtedly a fun watch. That is in large part due to compelling performances across the board: Daniel Kaluuya as OJ Haywood, one of the few remaining Black horse trainers in Hollywood; the always magnetic Keke Palmer as his saucy, firecracker sister Em; Steven Yeun as a haunted former child star turned theme park operator. And it’s in part owing to the surreal staging, unnerving sound design, and adrenaline rush of its increasingly unhidden UFO creature. On a visual level if not a storytelling one, Nope packs a punch. It’s maybe not the scintillating, airtight alien flick you would hope from the writer-director of Get Out, nor is its critique of exploitative celebrity very clear, but it’s not hard to watch Kaluuya and Palmer take on the extraterrestrial for two hours. AH

 

All the Beauty and the Bloodshed (HBO Max)

 

Nan Goldin in All the Beauty and the Bloodshed.

Weaving together enough strands, timelines and themes to give most documentarians, and viewers, a migraine, Laura Poitras’s elegantly structured and emotionally stirring 2022 Oscar nominee All the Beauty and the Bloodshed is a close to perfect example of how to turn a true story into a real movie. It’s a detailed study of the life and work of Nan Goldin, tracing her difficult childhood and chilly parents, her undeniable photography and sexual awakening and then her determined activism against the horrors of the Sackler family and the many lives affected by their involvement in the propagation of OxyContin. Goldin is a remarkable figure, generous and unguarded, and Poitras’s stunning film makes for a suitably remarkable portrait, showing the complicated texture of a life and the incredible light that can come from incredible darkness. BL

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ACCC discontinues investigation into 'white hands on black art' allegations – ABC News

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ACCC discontinues investigation into ‘white hands on black art’ allegations  ABC News

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Home + Away artwork opens in Vancouver’s Hastings Park

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A new art installation now towers over Vancouver’s Hastings Park fields in celebration of the city’s history of spectators and sports.

Home + Away is a sculpture by Seattle artists Annie Han and Daniel Mihalyo of Lead Pencil Studio, which opened Monday in the southeast end of the historic park.

It’s a 17-metre-tall structure that resembles a narrow set of bleachers — similar to the stands of the Empire Stadium, which stood on the site of the park from 1954 to 1993 and hosted The Beatles, among many others. It recalls a covered ski jump that stood there in the 1950s and the nearby wooden rollercoaster at the PNE.

The city says the public is invited to walk the stairs and sit on the benches.

“In addition to being visually striking, this artwork is intended to be ascended, sat on and experienced. It offers exciting experiences of height and views and provides 16 rows of seating for up to 49 people, making for a unique spectator experience when watching events at Empire Fields,” the city said in a release Monday.

The idea for the park to include public art was outlined in the Hastings Park “Master Plan,” first adopted by the city in 2010. The city says Han and Mihalyo first presented their design in 2015.

“It’s wonderful to see this piece realized within the context of such a well-used public space,” said Han.

Home + Away was inspired directly by the site history of spectatorship, and we hope it will connect Hastings Park users to that history and the majestic views of the environment for many decades to come,” added Mihalyo.

The artwork features a large light-up sign, in the style of a sports scoreboard, that reads “HOME” and “AWAY.”

 

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Bill Viola, Video Artist Who Established the Medium as an Integral Part of Contemporary Art, Dies at 73

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Bill Viola, whose decades-long engagement with video proved vital in establishing the medium as an integral part of contemporary art, died on July 12 at his home in Long Beach, California. He was at 73 years old. The cause was complications related to Alzheimer’s disease. The news of his passing was confirmed by James Cohan Gallery.

Viola’s works are centered around the idea of human consciousness and such fundamental experiences as birth, death, and spirituality. He delved into mystical traditions from Zen Buddhism to Islamic Sufism, as well as Western devotional art from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance in his videos, which often juxtaposed themes of life and death, light and dark, noise and silence. These explorations were achieved by submerging viewers in both image and sound with cutting-edge technologies for their time.

“I first used the camera and lens as a surrogate eye, to bring things closer, or to magnify them, to experiment with perception, to extend vision and make lengthy observations of simple objects,” Viola said in a 2015 interview. “Once you do that, their essence becomes visible. So I suppose I was always interested in the inner life of the world around me.”

Beginning in the 1970s, Viola created videotapes, architectural video installations, sound environments, electronic music performances, flat panel video pieces, and works for television broadcast—all of which expanded the scope of the medium and established Viola as one of its most notable practitioner.

Video still of a man diving into water that has been reversed. The image is mostly black and teal.

In 2003 the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York; Tate, London; and the Centre Pompidou in Paris jointly acquired Bill Viola’s 2001 three-channel video installation Five Angels for the Millennium.

Photo Kira Perov/©Bill Viola Studio

Bill Viola was born in 1951. He grew up in Queens and Westbury, New York, and attended P.S. 20 in Flushing, before receiving his BFA in experimental studios from Syracuse University in 1973. There, he studied with visual art with the likes of Jack Nelson and electronic music with Franklin Morris.

Following his graduation, between 1973 to 1980, Viola studied and performed with composer David Tudor in the music group Rainforest, which later became known as Composers Inside Electronics. He also worked as technical director at the pioneering video studio Art/tapes/22 in Florence, Italy from 1974 to 1976. During that time he encountered the work of other seminal video artists like Nam June Paik, Bruce Nauman, and Vito Acconci.

Viola was subsequently an artist-in-residence at New York’s WNET Thirteen Television Laboratory between 1976 to 1983, wherein he created a series of works that premiered on television. He traveled to the Solomon Islands, Java, and Indonesia to record traditional performing arts between 1976 and 1977. Later that year, Viola was invited to show work at La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia, by cultural arts director Kira Perov, with whom he married and began a lifelong collaboration.

He was appointed an instructor in advanced video at the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, California in 1983. He was the Getty Research Institute scholar-in-residence in Los Angeles in 1998 and was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2000.

In 1985, Viola received with a Guggenheim Fellowship for fine arts, and later that decade, in 1989, he was awarded the MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship. His work was also featured in some of the world’s most notable exhibitions, including Documenta VI in 1977, Documenta XI in 1992, the 1987 and 1993 editions of the Whitney Biennial, and the 2001 Venice Biennale.

In 1995, he represented the United States at the 46th edition of the Venice Biennale. For the pavilion, Viola produced the series of works “Buried Secrets,” including one of his most known works The Greeting, which offers a contemporary interpretation of Pontormo’s oil painting The Visitation (ca.1528–30). The Deutsche Guggenheim Berlin and New York’s Guggenheim Museum commissioned the digital fresco cycle in high-definition video, titled Going Forth By Day, in 2002.

Viola’s work was the subject of a major 25-year survey at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1997, which subsequently toured internationally. His work has been the subject of major museum retrospectives in the years since, including at the Grand Palais in Paris (in 2014), the Palazzo Strozzi in Florence (2017), the Guggenheim Bilbao in Spain (2017), and the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia (2019), as well as an exhibition pairing his work with that of Michelangelo at the Royal Academy of Art in London in 2019.

Viola is survived by his wife Kira Perov, who has been the executive director of his studio since 1978, and their two children.

“One thing that’s very exciting about video that has turned me on since I first saw this glowing image way back in 1970 is that it can be so much,” Viola said in a 1995 with Charlie Rose on the occasion of this US Pavilion at the Biennale. “Furthermore, what’s really exciting is I don’t think it’s been since really the Renaissance where artists have been able to use a medium that one could say is the dominant communication form in society.”

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