Film evaluation — American Honey: ‘Ridiculously exciting’

Watching American Honey, you really feel like a ball hurtling down a bowling alley. Americana — its tropes and kinds — supplies the skittles. The ball is the bus we’re in, bearing a “mag crew” across the land, young door-to-door hustlers selling magazine subscriptions. (Several of them are dropouts, dopeheads or minor delinquents grabbing a passing avocation.) And the bowler is British filmmaker Andrea Arnold.

Arnold comes to America soon after 3 films that explored a more native and individual kind of picaresque, the byways of English passion even though even those movies — Red Road, Fish Tank, Wuthering Heights — had a flair and impetus beyond the norms of Cinema Blighty.

Her new film is ridiculously fascinating. The subject might sound resistant to funkiness. “They live tough, adore hard, rock tough, they’re — ” subscription sellers? But the film grows into an epic in the Altman mode: a 163-minute celebration of the heightened ordinary, a dressed-down yet hopped-up Nashville, baring the lives and dreams of its characters as they bump or bang up against the each day. Music is omnipresent. It sets moods or counterpoints them. It blares exuberantly from city-escaped ghetto blasters as the kids improvise dances by the roadside. It sketches sadness, frustrations and the music of misfits.

‘American Honey’

The new girl on the crew, a mixed-race teen with a troubled life who parks the half-siblings in her care with their mum to take this adventure with a breadwinning band, is wonderfully played by first-time actress Sasha Lane. She is shown the ropes by Shia LaBeouf’s handsome, promiscuous hellion, a bearded, tattooed mini-hunk. Falling for her blend of feistiness and innocence, he shows her much more than the ropes. The whole film shows us far more.

It shows us a middle America in barely dormant ferment and discontent, instinct with the social-psychological volatility that will finish up conjuring a Donald Trump presidential campaign. It shows us capitalism on the hoof, in funny, sardonic scenes of doorstep huckstering. And it shows the stream of every day life, youthful life, in a way couple of other films have. The square-framed images, busy and handheld, are like sumptuously textured house movies. They are the work of Robbie Ryan, correct now the greatest cinematographer in the indie cinema globe. And the dialogue, cataracting its vim and vernacular, is by Arnold in — we’re guessing — element-collaboration with her varied and brilliantly gifted cast.

Section: Arts


Mae Reeves&#039 Hats Hang At National Museum Of African American History And Culture

A visitor views a partial recreation of Mae’s Millinery, a Philadelphia hat shop that after served Ella Fitzgerald and Lena Horne, at the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Ariel Zambelich/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Ariel Zambelich/NPR

African-American females have been wearing fancy hats to church for generations. That tradition is getting celebrated at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, which officially opens in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 24. Vintage turbans, caps and fascinators that span a half-century are on display — all from the shop of 1 lady.

Her name is Mae Reeves.

In 1942, a time when couple of girls have been becoming entrepreneurs, Reeves opened what would grow to be a Philadelphia institution with a $ 500 bank loan. Her hat shop, Mae’s Millinery, helped dress some of the most well-known African-American women in the nation, like iconic singers Marian Anderson, Ella Fitzgerald and Lena Horne.

Reeves hung her hat above the retailer, raising her household in the very same creating — 1st in downtown Philadelphia and later West Philadelphia.

“You do what you got to do,” she mentioned, reflecting on the early years of operating her enterprise in an interview with the Smithsonian recorded after the museum acquired a collection of her hats. “I had to perform with my household and make a living also. So I did it, and I am quite proud of it.”

Donna Limerick, daughter of Mae Reeves, wears her favorite hat designed by her mother. The original is housed at the National Museum of African American History and Culture, so she wears a replica. Ariel Zambelich/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Ariel Zambelich/NPR

Downstairs, buyers ranging from white socialites to black domestic workers kept the money drawer ringing. Reeves’ daughter Donna Limerick, a former NPR producer, remembers putting on a black dress and pearls as a teenager to support her mother sell hats created of blue tulle, pink organza and purple feathers.

“In the course of Mother’s Day and Easter, when females would just come one soon after the other, that bell would just ring, ring, ring,” Limerick says.

Reeves’ hat organization aids paint an extraordinary portrait of the Wonderful Migration, according to Paul Gardullo, a curator at the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Mae Reeves and her husband Joel pose with her hats at Mae’s Millinery in Philadelphia, circa 1953. Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Gift from Mae Reeves and her children, Donna Limerick and William Mincey, Jr. hide caption

toggle caption Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Gift from Mae Reeves and her children, Donna Limerick and William Mincey, Jr.

“Consider about this: You’re speaking about amidst of a depression, amidst of Jim Crow, a young woman who has moved from the South to the North, and she produced a good results of herself really from nothing at all,” Gardullo says.

And numerous of the females who wore her hats had been attempting to make much more than just a style statement.

“For black females who grew up in the Jim Crow era, as my grandmother and my mother did, hats were a way for them to take ownership more than their style, a way for them to assert that they mattered,” says Tiffany Gill, author of Beauty Shop Politics: African American Women’s Activism in the Beauty Industry.

A Philadelphia resident, Gill says she nonetheless hears women talking about how they used to save money to purchase a hat from Reeves’ shop. It was a center not just for black fashion but also for civic life on election days.

“My mom would permit them to bring these huge machines into her tiny little hat shop, so individuals in the neighborhood could vote,” Limerick recalls.

Each city, Gill says, once had at least one particular popular, black-owned hat shop where African-American buyers could typically find far better service than at white-owned shops.

“When I see older females who nevertheless wear hats to church on Sunday or bring them out on unique occasions, it really is just a reminder to revere that generation and the ways they asserted dignity when to be black and to be a woman was some thing that brought about ridicule,” Gill says.

(Clockwise from leading left) Ochre-colored rolled brim suede hat with feathers purple tulle cap with pink and purple feathers blue and white hat with blue tulle streamer red feather lamp shade hat. Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Gift from Mae Reeves and her children, Donna Limerick and William Mincey, Jr. hide caption

toggle caption Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Present from Mae Reeves and her youngsters, Donna Limerick and William Mincey, Jr.

They’re a generation that Reeves helped dress with pride.

“I like to make them quite,” Reeves explained with a chuckle in her interview with the Smithsonian.

Prompting her mother, Limerick asked, “So several females came to your hat shop and when they left, they sure looked gorgeous, did not they?”

Mae Reeves created this green raffia lamp shade hat with silk and polyester. Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Present from Mae Reeves and her children, Donna Limerick and William Mincey, Jr. hide caption

toggle caption Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Present from Mae Reeves and her children, Donna Limerick and William Mincey, Jr.

“Oh yeah,” Reeves answered.

The hat shop closed in 1997 and a handful of years later, Reeves moved into a retirement home.

“When she left, her final words were: ‘Don’t touch something in this hat shop! I am coming back to make a lot more hats,’ ” says Limerick, who later arranged for the shop’s contents to be donated to the Smithsonian.

Reeves is turning 104 in October and can no longer practice what for her was much more than a craft.

“It was a calling for me, one thing that I loved to do, making them colorful,” she told the Smithsonian. “That is why they came from everywhere to get something different.”

The National Museum of African American History and Culture has recreated a portion of Reeves’ shop, total with its original red-neon sign, sewing machine and antique furniture. And she’s arranging to go see her hats again, this time in the nation’s capital.

Arts &amp Life : NPR


American Horror Story Lastly Reveals Its Season six Theme

After weeks of suffering through its frustratingly (and purposefully) ambiguous marketing and advertising campaign, American Horror Story finally revealed its Season 6 theme for the duration of Wednesday night’s premiere — and to be honest, My Roanoke Nightmare (if that’s even the official title) is the FX anthology’s most ambitious installment however. This season, AHS is tackling the documentary format, and it really is subject is the Lost Colony of Roanoke.

The premiere episode (“Chapter A single”) played out like an hour of Nightmare Next Door on ID Discovery, full with dramatic reenactments and a excellent, old-fashioned haunting. Framed as getting portion of an apparent documentary named My Roanoke Nightmare, the very first episode reenacted the unsettling story of a true-life couple, Shelby and Matt (played by Lily Rabe and Andre Holland), who move into a dilapidated farmhouse in the middle of nowhere and are promptly haunted by Roanoke settlers or terrorized by a group of racist townsfolk or… something.

Pieced with each other by interviews with Rabe and Holland and dramatizations starring “actors” played by Sarah Paulson (as Rabe) and Cuba Gooding Jr. (as Holland) in the reenactment, My Roanoke Nightmare plays like a true crime story that is heavy on drama, light on actual scares. But the occasional, unexplained occasion does occur — like teeth raining from the sky and an assemblage of hanging corn-husk puppets straight out of The Blair Witch Project.

Even though it really is nonetheless unclear regardless of whether the sixth season of American Horror Story will reenact various accurate crime stories with totally new casts all through the season, or stick to the identical narrative, provided the documentary format, it really is honestly only a matter of time just before Billie Dean Howard makes an look.

We’ve had dozens of teasers and creepy posters to maintain us guessing, and however, most of these had been all artfully crafted lies. There’s nevertheless not a complete lot out there about the season, but here’s what we do know: My Roanoke Nightmare is far less opulent than its predecessors. It really is rogue. It’s dark. It’s genuinely spooky! This is AHS going back to fundamentals it’s Scary Motion pictures 101, all cleverly placed music cues, camera tricks, and screams.

That being stated, we still have so many concerns. Murphy said that “components of young children” will somehow be involved in the sixth season — but young children have been absent from the season premiere. (Count on, of course, for the child Shelby and Matt lost after a traumatic miscarriage.) “If you appear at horror tropes, the innocence of young children, that sort of wide-eyed entryway into some planet is constantly quite dramatic and satisfying,” he told reporters back in March. OK. But where are the little ones?

Appears like it is time to place on our tinfoil hats and begin theorizing.

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Joy — film evaluation: ‘A wry swipe at American optimism’

Jennifer Lawrence in David O. Russell's 'Joy'

Jennifer Lawrence in David O. Russell’s ‘Joy’

Something is running around, difficult to catch, in David O. Russell’s Joy. At initial you want to trap it, or zap it, with one of the multi-function mops patented by the inventor heroine (Jennifer Lawrence). You realise, eventually, what it is. It’s the film’s mis­chievous subtext. It is the answer to the question, “Why are we watching this feelgood, even hokum-ish story, primarily based on true events, about a self-created lady who marketed a household tool?”

Russell is a mischief-maker. Three Kings was a war film as opposed to a war film, a lot more a black comedy in a fire-zone. Silver Linings Playbook was a feral fairy tale. Joy, like his last film American Hustle, is about the American dream. But with Russell the American dream is an antic, elusive issue, far more like the oneiric tatters that form a dream as you slip in or out of it.

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Nigel Andrews

Joy’s first hour is loose, ludic, exhilarating. Right here, largely beneath one particular roof, is a working-class dynasty that is all proximity and no relating. Joy, primarily based on real mop inventor and later millionairess Joy Mangano, is a struggling blonde scatterbrain dreaming up hit-or-miss gizmos (wonderfully played by Lawrence). Mum (Virginia Madsen) lies on bed all day watching soap operas. Semi-estranged dad pops in and out, played by Robert De Niro in his twangy, vibrant-loser Woody Allen style. Add Joy’s husband, who wants to be the subsequent Tom Jones, and granny (Diane Ladd), who delivers the script’s best line. “You were born to be the unanxious presence in the space,” she tells Joy.

Even when the film sails close to accurate-story triteness, teledrama-style, the director as ironist is at function. As Joy goes ahead of the purchasing channel cameras, nervously wielding her mop below the lights although chirruping of single-weave cleaning heads detachable for machine-washing, I thought of a famous painting by Richard Hamilton — that pop-art paragon and paradigm of the 1950s — titled “Just what is it that makes today’s houses so different, so attractive?” Russell achieves the exact same blend of consumer cheesiness, collage exuberance and bizarre bliss-out. And when Bradley Cooper turns up playing the tycoon as dream hero, a suave comic-book hunk, you can add Roy Lichtenstein to Richard Hamilton.

Postmodern wryness is a risky style. It is via faith as considerably as cause, at times, that we credit Russell with intending a wry swipe at American optimism simultaneously with a loving handshake. You need two hands for that or 1 hand more quickly than light. In some scenes we sense that second wizardry. There is a corporation waiting area, huge, modernist and Valhalla-shadowed, that resembles an Ayn Rand dream or nightmare. As imagery it is each awesome and lunatic. And watch for Isabella Rossellini as De Niro’s new consort, a witchily glamorous business boss with a sly, unerring instinct for hindering the young although pretending to help. It’s this actress’s best, and spookiest, role considering that Blue Velvet.

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Section: Arts


Coney Island: Visions of American Dreamland, 1861-2008, Brooklyn Museum, New York

Harvey Stein’s ‘The Hug: Closed Eyes and Smile’ (1982)©Harvey Stein

Harvey Stein’s ‘The Hug: Closed Eyes and Smile’ (1982)

Meander through Coney Island’s bleak, ramshackle fairgrounds and it is virtually impossible to conjure the fairyland of decades past. Today’s empty lots and automobile parks after sparkled with thousands upon thousands of bulbs, all blinking with the promise of pleasure. The Brooklyn Museum’s Coney Island: Visions of an American Dreamland, 1861-2008, filters the spirit of the electric Eden through the eyes of those who treasured it. This cornucopia of a show jumbles carved carousel horses, postcards, salvaged ghouls, film clips, souvenirs and paintings to glorious and melancholy effect. The show ignores developers’ futuristic daydreams for the Coney Island of tomorrow and alternatively drifts off on a plume of nostalgia. The halcyon days are not coming back.

A spit of land linked to the rest of Brooklyn by a private-toll causeway in the 1820s, Coney Island began developing as a resort right after the Civil War. An 1868 guidebook listed the wide, sandy shore as the greatest beach on the Atlantic coast, and higher-finish hotels materialised for overnight guests from Brooklyn and beyond. By 1873, weekenders numbered in the tens of thousands.

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A foyer at the exhibition’s entrance contains painted glimpses of those early holidaymakers. Samuel S. Carr’s “Beach Scene” (1879), for instance, bundles a variety of amusements into a single picture. A transportable puppet theatre holds one group rapt, although nearby, a loved ones poses stiffly for an itinerant tintype photographer. In the background, a beruffled toddler, shaded by his nanny’s umbrella, perches on a donkey. An additional of Carr’s paintings depicts a father-son acrobatic team surrounded by smartly dressed bystanders.

Samuel S. Carr’s ‘Beach Scene’ (c 1879)©Smith College Museum of Art

Samuel S. Carr’s ‘Beach Scene’ (c 1879)

Inside a few years, railway connections opened access to day-trippers, and a bouquet of fantastical parks sprang up to delight them. The nation’s 1st rollercoaster opened there in 1884, and Steeplechase Park quickly followed. Leo McKay’s panorama (1903-6) portrays an otherworldly location exactly where thrill-seekers could take to the track on mechanical horseback, cruise on naphtha-powered gondolas along Venetian canals, plumb Dante’s infernal regions, or take a cyclorama trip to a green-cheese Moon. They could also ride genuine elephants.

The elephant recurs like a undesirable dream in this exhibition, an emblem of mindless exoticism and exploitation. In 1885, James Lafferty constructed the “Elephant Hotel”, a 122-foot tall animal with tin skin and glass eyes that straddled the beach like a Colossus of Brooklyn. The hind legs hid the staircase to the torso’s 31 rooms and ocean views.

The landmark rising from a bed of lights was the first glimpse that immigrants got of the United States, even just before they entered New York Harbor or set eyes on the Statue of Liberty. It stares out of posters for Barnum and Bailey’s travelling “Coney Island Water Carnival”, which was staged at indoor arenas all through Europe and featured a water tank 376ft extended and 40ft wide. The beast itself became an icon of American hedonism as the hotel devolved into a brothel and the phrase “Seeing the Elephant” became code for louche adventures. The structure burnt down in 1896, its notoriety soon eclipsed by a real pachyderm’s demise.

In 1903, Topsy, an Asian female with a properly-cultivated reputation for nastiness, was poisoned, electrocuted and strangled ahead of a small gathering of reporters and guests — as well as a film crew from the Edison Manufacturing movie company. The gruesome footage, originally meant to be viewed on coin-operated kinescopes, can be seen at the museum. It can’t, however, be forgotten. This nightmare of sadistic sensationalism was dreamt up by the exact same hucksters who built the ethereal amusement mecca, Luna Park.

Coney Island toggled between “America’s Playground” and “Sodom on the Sea”, and the artist who greatest understood its fusion of joy and darkness, of the beautiful and the grotesque, was Reginald Marsh. In the course of the Depression, even though his peers waded into politics, Marsh turned his gaze upon tawdry emporiums of distraction and escape. In paintings like “Wonderland Circus” and “Pip and Flip”, the amusement park appears as a sulphurous dream, where half-clad beauties mingle with seedy sailors, barkers and freaks. Marsh’s populism bears a lurid sheen: the canvases explode with exposed flesh and wallow salaciously in “entertainments” enjoyed by individuals of every race and class.

The second world war saw the apex of this democratic idyll. Gasoline rationing produced subway excursions the only available kind, and soldiers on their way overseas lingered and mingled with temporarily liberated girls. A 1943 painting by Yasuo Kuniyoshi — labelled an enemy alien right after Pearl Harbor — depicts a blond sailor on the boardwalk seeking out to the Atlantic whilst the Asian woman he will leave behind clings to him, her face a mask of despair.

The show largely averts its gaze from the neighbourhood’s postwar decline. The fade-out was gradual and incomplete. Low-cost gasoline permitted middle-class New Yorkers to flee the scorching city for Lengthy Island’s pristine beaches. A poorer clientele kept the faith but couldn’t support the fancier establishments. Street gangs expanded their turf, and city government sealed the area’s reputation as a dumping ground for the poor by ringing it with higher-rise public housing projects. In 1964, Fred Trump (father of The Donald) gleefully razed the legendary Steeplechase Park, but never ever managed to replace it with something.

Ruination can be great for art, and even an exhibition that would prefer not to know contains a few moving documents of that decay. Robert Frank’s 1962 series “Fourth of July” has a racial subtext. 1 black man contorts in his sleep, the sand about him flecked with garbage. An additional, lying in the shadow of the iconic Parachute Jump, appears like a corpse in a body bag.

Diane Arbus basked in the gloom. Her “House of Horrors” lights up the empty Spook-A-Rama with a raw flash. She lays bare the artificial machinery of fear, opening a dimension of absence and death. She’s even more explicit in her photo of a man garrotting a woman in the “Wax Museum Strangler”.

This inanimate scene of shuddering violence, and Arbus’s description of it, reads like a requiem for Coney Island, a neighbourhood brutalised, emptied and left for dead: “Still and always, in the murky half light behind the chicken wire, murderers and their victims grapple silently and ambiguously for the final lasting time in the scuffed footwear and crumpled stockings and faded wallpaper of their hell where practically nothing ever happens or stops taking place.”

To March 13, brooklynmuseum.org

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Section: Arts