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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)

 

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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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The Art Collection of David Bowie: An Introduction – Open Culture

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Today, it hardly surprises us when a successful, wealthy, and influential rock star has a large art collection. But David Bowie, ahead of the culture even at the outset of his career, began accruing art well before success, wealth, or influence. He put out his debut album when he was twenty years old, in 1967, and didn’t hesitate to create a “rock star” lifestyle as soon as possible thereafter. As the world now knows, however, rock stardom meant something different to Bowie than it did to the average mansion-hopping, hotel room-trashing Concorde habitué. When he bought art, he did so not primarily as a financial investment, nor as a bid for high-society respectability, but as a way of constructing his personal aesthetic and intellectual reality.

Bowie kept that project going until the end, and it was only in 2016, the year he died, that the public got to see just what his art collection included. The occasion was Bowie/Collector, a three-part auction at Sotheby’s, who also produced the new video above. It examines Bowie’s collection through five of its works that were particularly important to the man himself, beginning with Head of Gerda Boehm by Frank Auerbach, about which he often said — according to his art buyer and curator Beth Greenacre — “I want to sound like that painting looks.” Then comes Portrait of a Man by Erich Heckel, whose paintings inspired the recordings of Bowie’s acclaimed “Berlin period”: Low, “Heroes,” Lodger, and even Iggy Pop’s The Idiot, which Bowie produced.

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As we’ve previously featured here on Open Culture, Bowie also loved furniture, none more so than the work of the Italian design collective known as Memphis. This video highlights his red Valentine typewriter, a pre-Memphis 1969 creation of the group’s co-founder Ettore Sottsass. “I typed up many of my lyrics on that,” Bowie once said. “The pure gorgeousness of it made me type.” Much later, he and Brian Eno were looking for ideas for the album that would become Outside, a journey that took them to the Gugging Institute, a Vienna psychiatric hospital that encouraged its patients to create art. He ended up purchasing several pieces by one patient in particular, a former prisoner of war named Johann Fischer, enchanted by “the sense of exploration and the lack of self-judgment” in those and other works of “outsider” art.

The video ends with a mask titled Alexandra by Beninese artist Romuald Hazoum, whom Bowie encountered on a trip to Johannesburg with his wife Iman. Like many of the artists whose work Bowie bought, Hazoumè is now quite well known, but wasn’t when Bowie first took an interest in him. Made of found objects such as what looks like a telephone handset and a vinyl record, Alexandra is one of a series of works that “play on expectations and stereotypes of African art, and are now highly sought after.” Bowieologists can hardly fail to note that the piece also shares its name with the daughter Bowie and Iman would bring into the world a few years later. That could, of course, be just a coincidence, but as Bowie’s collection suggests, his life and his art — the art he acquired as well as the art he made — were one and the same.

Related content:

Behold the Paintings of David Bowie: Neo-Expressionist Self Portraits, Illustrations of Iggy Pop, and Much More

96 Drawings of David Bowie by the “World’s Best Comic Artists”: Michel Gondry, Kate Beaton & More

Bowie’s Bookshelf: A New Essay Collection on The 100 Books That Changed David Bowie’s Life

How Aladdin Sane Became the Most Expensive Album Cover Ever — and David Bowie’s Defining Image

“David Bowie Is” — The First Major Exhibit Dedicated to Bowie Spans 50 Years & Features 300 Great Objects

Meet the Memphis Group, the Bob Dylan-Inspired Designers of David Bowie’s Favorite Furniture

Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the Substack newsletter Books on Cities, the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

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Masha Titova's “The Music of Art” – The New Yorker

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It’s not often that the cover of The New Yorker, traditionally a storytelling image signed by the artist, reflects what goes on behind the scenes at the magazine—but that is what the black and copper shapes designed by Masha Titova for the cover of the June 5, 2023, Music Issue, available to read in its entirety here, manage to do.

The first step was connecting with Titova, a Russian artist who relocated to Montenegro last year, after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. I asked Titova to use her sense of design to orchestrate a portrayal of a variety of sounds. Titova says, “I don’t play an instrument, but I love music, especially its rhythms, which often inspire me. And when I design, I try to harmonize the various visual shapes as if they were part of a musical composition.”

Once we settled upon the image, we recorded the aural elements that make up the cover’s malleable melody. Some of our more musically adept staffers—including Nick Trautwein, a senior editor who moonlights as a saxophonist, and David Remnick, the editor, on guitar—gathered to interpret Titova’s shapes, selecting the ones they wished to play. Julia Rothchild, a managing editor, who contributed piano, viola, and voice, described the process as “an exercise in synesthesia. What sound would that square make, or those triangles? A thud, or a flutter?”

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Impromptu chamber groups formed: a viola-cello duo, a vocal quintet. The musical respite in the middle of the day presented the opportunity to exercise a different kind of focus from that of closing pieces, or making fact-checking calls. The associate research director Hélène Werner, who has played the cello since she was eight years old, said, “Music set me on my way. It was the organizing principle of my childhood. . . . It demands, of those who play it and listen to it, intellectual commitment and emotional honesty. It is generous in return. There is no better teacher.” Rina Kushnir, the art director, also appreciates music for its emotive qualities, for its ability to communicate what is “not possible to express otherwise.” Liz Maynes-Aminzade, the puzzles-and-games editor, says that “drumming and writing (puzzles or otherwise) light up some of the same parts of my brain.” A unifying factor in everyone’s performance was how seriously each performer took their music. One after the other, when their turn came, they paused their casual banter, took a deep breath, played their bit, and only then rejoined the playful green-room atmosphere. It was an unplanned but perfect demonstration of all our colleagues’ marvellous dedication to all they do.

The video editor Christopher Kim filmed the process.

The making of a weekly magazine (or of a Web site, a radio show, a festival, any of our many undertakings) is always a concerted endeavor, but that collaboration happens behind the scenes. This multimedia project, programmed by David Kofahl, the head of the interactives department, with the help of the features editor Sam Wolson, gives a glimpse of the way the efforts of many talented individuals and departments combine to insure that The New Yorker appears on your doorstep (or in your in-box), week after week, as good as we can make it.

See below for more covers about music:

Find covers, cartoons, and more at the Condé Nast Store.

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OSS art students create 'exciting' new mural for school atrium – OrilliaMatters

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The Orillia Secondary School (OSS) atrium will soon be graced with a new, student-made triptych mural that celebrates school spirit and Indigenous culture and history. 

For the past two months, approximately 20 students from grades 9-12 have participated in the brand-new OSS Mural Club, put together by art teachers Steph Dunn and Lindsay Cooper-Wagner. 

“We just decided to do this as an extracurricular, to give these artist students a home to have, you know, if they’re not involved in in sports or other things,” said Dunn. “They kind of found each other and we got to do some creative stuff together as a community.”

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Together, the group created the Woodlands-style mural.

“It was inspired by one of my Grade 9 students, an Indigenous student, who did a drawing of our (school mascot) Nighthawk in the Woodlands style,” Dunn said. 

Each piece of the mural reflects something different about the school, the community, and the area’s Indigenous history, Dunn explained. 

“We kind of adopted that style, and also created a treaty map that’s done in the Woodlands style, a kind of (abstraction) of Simcoe County,” she said. “We also have a tree that symbolizes … we’re all in this in this building together … and there are seven little mini Nighthawks in the trees — they represent the seven grandfather teachings.”

The students who participated were happy for the opportunity to help create something meaningful and lasting for their school. 

“For me, it was like really exciting to hear, as a Grade 9, I get to finally do something really big,” said OSS student Triti Shah. “I do a lot of art, digital (and) traditional, and it’s just like a really big thing for me … throughout my childhood. It’s really great actually getting to have something up there and out for everyone to see.”

Grade 10 student Paige Hodges, who is also an artist in her free time, said it was important to incorporate elements of Indigenous history in the mural.

“That was the the big idea was to really incorporate the indigenous aspects to it,” she said. “It is really nice to see that sort of inclusiveness in art pieces that will be displayed everywhere.”

The students are looking forward to the mural taking its rightful place in the atrium.

“I think they’re going to take a lot of pride in it once it’s up,” said Dunn.

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