Dispatch: The Long, Hot Summer
Jeffrey Slonim weighs in on Killer Joe, Ai WeiWei: Never Sorry, and early tech art at the New Museum.
August 01, 2012
Matthew McConaughey and Gina Gershon at the premiere of Killer Joe
I touched base with Andrew Saffir about the Cinema Society screening of Killer Joe last Monday to find out if it was appropriate to bring my young son. Saffir is so polite, he just said, “Oh, gee, I think it’s too racy.”
That was an understatement.
Gina Gershon is crazy-good in this film—like, Elizabeth Taylor in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? good—and Matthew McConaughey knocks it out of the park. But Killer Joe is exceedingly violent.
At the front of the theater, director William Friedkin addressed the bloggers. Meanwhile, at the back of the theater, Sherry Lansing, his wife, put her arm around Vanity Fair’s Bennett Marcus and cooed, “We didn’t get any bad reviews.”
“It’s based on a true story,” indicated Tracy Letts, who wrote the script. “It's about a murderous Florida family and a play I wrote about them 20 years ago. I reset it in Dallas, which seemed like a good fit.”
Gershon, who answers the door naked from the navel down in the first scene of the film, wore Dolce & Gabbana with shoes by Bally to the premiere. And how did she and McConaughey get along? There was an “innate understanding,” she claimed. “I felt safe with him.” Given what I saw in the film, they likely had to have a safe word.
During his speech, Friedkin, possibly nervous, went into standup. He did a very funny bit about a crummy actor doing Shakespeare and getting booed. The joke when something like, And the actor turns to the audience and says, “What do you want from me? I didn’t write this shit…”
McConaughey, who looks scary-skinny for a role, mentioned that Friedkin had “dropped trou” on the set.
Susan Sarandon; Lindsey Wixson at the premiere of Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry
Then, on Tuesday, Susan Sarandon and The Peggy Siegal Company screened Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry, in which director Alison Klayman documents the life of one of the great living artists. The son of famous poet Ai Qing—the premiere whipping boy for China’s cultural revolution in the ’50s—Ai Weiwei came to New York for his education and then returned to China to become the greatest artist and architect of his generation. (While in NYC, he worked at Katz’s Deli.)
In the film, he tweets and speaks incessantly against the government—and disappears for a harrowing 81 days at their hands during filming. His life story is like watching a horrifying alternative universe where, say, France persecuted Picasso and then went after Paloma. If you’re not following him on Twitter, do so soon.
Susan Sarandon indicated that she had known of his work before seeing the documentary. “From the architecture to the backpacks to the seeds. Fascinating, all of the censorship that exists in China,” said Sarandon. She was also wowed that so many people “stepped forward to pay his taxes” when the government saddled him with an “insurmountable bill.”
Then on Wednesday, Dispatches put on a white sweater and nearly burned up on my way to the White Party at the New Museum. On the top floor—talk about synchronicity—they were passing out the China issue of Whitewall Magazine.
The show at the museum was called “Ghosts in the Machine” and focused on art at the cusp of the information age. There was a film project in a modest cinemadome that approximated the speed of web images.
It made one think; mainly about how quickly tech art dates.