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The Moscow Times:

Filipp Yankovsky’s “The Swordbearer”

The film’s hero, Sasha, is played by the lithe Artyom Tkachenko, who occasionally looks like a new version of the antihero that the late Sergei Bodrov Jr. played in Balabanov’s “Brother” films, but without any of the charisma. He has one distinguishing feature: a blade-like instrument that has been embedded — mysteriously, and unexplainedly — in his hand since childhood.

It’s the kind of protection device that Russian gangsters could only dream of, given that it vanishes at will. When required, it can wreak bloody havoc on a whole range of supporting characters, from prison guards to prisoners, as well as on some others who are closer to the movie’s main romantic action: a developing relationship between Sasha and Katya (Chulpan Khamatova, a talented actress who really should know better than to commit to this kind of schlock).

The final scenes, involving some spectacular helicopter shots, suggest that Sasha’s hidden talent could be an asset for the Russian forestry industry as well, as he manages to demolish a fair proportion of seaside trees in the film’s concluding chase.

For those who cherish graphic depictions of various kinds of severed limbs, there’s much to enjoy here (there are also some intriguing sex scenes for viewers who find that gushing blood isn’t enough). In terms of sheer sadistic effect, “The Swordbearer” competes with “Junk” and “Hunting for Piranha,” two other Russian films from earlier this year that stood out on the violence front — though given their disappointing results, it seems audiences aren’t exactly queuing up for gore. Perhaps a welcome thought if you’re coming home on a dark night.

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The Moscow Times:

Bringing Rogozin and other high-profile figures on board was meant to lend legitimacy to the Russian March, Belov said. “We had to show this wasn’t some small-time event organized by a bunch of vocational school students from the Moscow suburbs,” he said.

Last year’s march through Moscow’s center included skinheads touting banners that read “Moscow Against Occupiers” and “The Russians Are Coming,” and chanting “Russia for Russians,” “Moscow for Muscovites,” “Sieg Heil,” “Heil Hitler” and the Stalinist slogan “Death to the Enemies.” It was the biggest ultranationalist protest in at least a decade, with 2,000 to 5,000 people joining in, according to different accounts.

Experts on ultranationalism said this year’s demonstrations might look different from last year’s, but that the underlying ideology was the same. “In public, they all say that Nazi symbolism should be banned, but then they justify slogans like ‘Russia for Russians’ and ‘Beat up darkies’ by saying they aren’t Nazi slogans,” said Galina Kozhevnikova of the Sova center, a nongovernmental organization that studies xenophobia.

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SF Chronicle:

The photographs themselves, to my eyes, are more troublesome. The bodies on view, to a one, are all youthful, fit and lean. A warm bronze light prevails. But, somehow, in all this celebration of the body beautiful, there’s a nagging vacancy — in the models’ abstracted expressions and a slack structure and framing of the scenes. The elaborate picnic table shot seems artily contrived. So does the one of the two boys on the deck. Sturges’ photos have always looked a little stagey and arch to me, a little too studied in their bucolic innocence — of doorframe poses, riverside sun bathing or dogs casually flopped down at the feet of statuesque nudes.

Color presents fresh complications. Color literalizes, as it spells out every limb, hair and nipple in realistic, high-resolution detail. It challenges a photographer even more to discover an essence, to make us see the thing that’s plainly there but that we might not otherwise have registered. Sturges’ photographs just don’t do that very much. There’s something coy, whether by intention or not, about the way they invite us to puzzle out their meanings and then so consistently resist that kind of looking.

It’s not that Sturges exploits his subjects. Nothing in his work or history proves it. But he does expose them, without exposing much of anything about them. You don’t feel drawn into the mystery and wonder of the nudes he photographs. You see them and move on to the next and the next. Maybe Sturges just isn’t an especially good photographer — a possibility that he himself readily acknowledges. That doesn’t make him a pornographer by default. But it might make him a kind of poster boy for the dilemmas of photographic imagery in the Internet age. In the forthright yet strangely blank nature of his work, in its uncensored volume and digital technologies, Sturges presents the reflective image of a computer screen. Here, here it all is, his photographs say to us. Make what you will of them. That’s your private business, not mine.

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BBC:

The kidnappers of an Italian journalist in Afghanistan have offered to free him in exchange for a Christian convert who fled the country, an aid agency says.
Photojournalist Gabriele Torsello was seized last week while travelling on a bus in southern Afghanistan.

The kidnappers will free Mr Torsello, a Muslim convert, if Abdul Rahman returns from Italy where he was granted asylum earlier this year, the aid agency says.

Mr Rahman had escaped a possible death sentence for becoming a Christian.

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The Moscow Times:

Moskovsky Komsomolets reported Tuesday that the patients became upset when the nurse on duty Thursday night barred them from watching a televised football game. The patients stormed the nurse’s station, threatened her with a sharp object and fled with the building keys, the newspaper reported.

The patients, all men aged 17-20, made their way past fences, a guard and a guard dog before forcing a man and woman out of their car and speeding off.
In an interview with the newspaper Tvoi Den, the driver of the car, Maxim Komkov, 22, said he had just started the engine when the patients, dressed in hospital gowns, set upon him and his girlfriend, Masha, saying: “Give us the car, homeboy. We really need it.”

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Juxtapoz:

From the gallery: “Every time I think I have done something slightly original I realise that Blek Le Rat has done it only twenty years earlier” – Banksy

The Leonard Street Gallery announces Blek’s first UK solo exhibition featuring iconic images from the last 3 decades. The exhibition aims to give a complete overview of Blek’s work and to give the current interest in street art a historical context. The exhibition previews on Thursday 12th October (6.30 – 9.30) and runs until 13th November.

A legendary figure in Street Art Blek Le Rat (Xavier Prou) was born in Paris in 1951. Thought by many to be the father of stencil graffiti as an art form, Blek began his unique, complex and intelligent stencil works on the streets of Paris in the 1980’s. Hugely influential to the current generation of street artists Blek’s work bridges the gap between underground street art and the mainstream art world.

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Little People:

And thats the third time they’ve dug that street up this month too.

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LA Times:

Though forms of freak dancing — also called “grinding” or “the nasty” — first appeared years ago, so many students are doing it now that educators nationwide are drawing up rules of behavior, changing music formats away from freak-friendly hip-hop, and banning from dances students whose movements are deemed too sexual.

“Of all the things that happen at a high school, having to spend so much time on dances — that’s out of whack,” said Kelly Godfrey, principal of Los Alamitos High School in Orange County.

Some students say a crackdown on freaking would discourage them from attending school dances.

“I wouldn’t go,” said Chelsea Walsh, 15, a sophomore at Aliso Niguel High. “It would be boring. How else do you dance?”

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Guardian:

Felicien Kabuga was indicted in 1997 by the international criminal tribunal for genocide and other crimes against humanity as the “main financier” of extremist Hutu political groups and their armed militias which led the massacre of an estimated 800,000 Tutsis.

The US has placed a $5m (£2.7m) reward on his head. Mr Kabuga is accused of supplying machetes and other weapons used in the genocide and of transporting the killers in his company’s vehicles. The wealthy businessman is also accused of funding the notorious Radio Mille Collines which incited Hutus to murder.

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LA Times:

“It’s a fear of brutality, and you submit to that brutality,” said Henryk M. Broder, whose book “Hurray, We Capitulate” is a polemic on what he sees as Europe’s submission to Islamists. “It’s surrender to an enemy you’re deathly afraid of…. Europe is like a little dog on his back begging for mercy from a big dog. The driving factor is angst.”

Even intellectuals who don’t share Broder’s views agree that Europe must defend its principles. The change in mood comes as Europeans of all political persuasions are growing less tolerant of Muslim immigrants and questioning whether Islam can coexist with Western ideals.

“We live in Europe, where democracy was based on criticizing religion,” said Philippe Val, editor of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. “If we lose the right to criticize or attack religions in our free countries … we are doomed.”

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NYT:

After a protracted real estate battle with its landlord, a nonprofit organization that aids the homeless, CBGB agreed late last year to leave its home at 313 and 315 Bowery at the end of this month. And Ms. Smith’s words outside the club, where her group was playing, encapsulated the feelings shared by fans around the city and around the world: CBGB is both the scrappy symbol of rock’s promise and a temple that no one wanted to see go.

“CBGB is a state of mind,” she said from the stage in a short preshow set for the news media whose highlight was a medley of Ramones songs.

“There’s new kids with new ideas all over the world,” she added. “They’ll make their own places — it doesn’t matter whether it’s here or wherever it is.”

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Former US Attorney General, John Ashcroft, in the NYT Magazine:

Have you ever smoked a cigarette?

No. I puffed on a cigar one time, and it just made my mouth feel like someone had shot a cobweb all inside my mouth.

If you felt temptation for another woman, what would you do?

Call my wife.

In addition to songwriting, you dabble in the visual arts. What sort of work do you do?

I make barbed-wire sculpture.

Why barbed wire?

Because there was a surplus of it on my farm.

Well, thank you for making time for this interview.

I just hope that in meeting people, they’ll understand that I am not as bad as they thought I was.

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NYT Magazine:

Since the 70’s, Lee Friedlander has been intermittently documenting Americans at work: employees in a Cleveland steel mill, telemarketers in an Omaha calling center, M.I.T. technicians staring into their computer monitors. A few weeks ago, Friedlander encountered some very different production values when he turned his eye to the glamour factory otherwise known as New York fashion week.

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Washington Post:

Italian photojournalist Gabriele Torsello was seized by five gunmen on the highway from Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand province, to neighboring Kandahar province, the independent Pajhwok news agency quoted Torsello’s traveling companion, Gholam Mohammad, as saying.

Pajhwok said its call to Torsello’s mobile phone was answered by a man saying: “We are the Taliban and we have abducted the foreigner on charges of spying.”

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Alec Soth:

But Modica wasn’t the only one assigned to the story. The much more prominent full-page intro has the following photo illustration:

This use of photography brings the medium down to the lowest common denominator. What is the point? If anything it pushes me away from reading the story. I understand that weekly news magazines are under huge deadlines and need to fill the pages. But do we need so much photo-filler? The photographs in another weekly, The New Yorker, are exceptionally powerful because of their restraint. What if Modica’s image was the only one used in the story? Wouldn’t it be so much better?

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Richard Hell, NYT:

On practically any weekend from 1974 to 76 you could see one or more of the following groups (here listed in approximate chronological order) in the often half-empty 300-capacity club: Television, the Ramones, Suicide, the Patti Smith Group, Blondie, the Dictators, the Heartbreakers, Talking Heads, Richard Hell and the Voidoids, and the Dead Boys. Not to mention some often equally terrific (or equally pathetic) groups that aren’t as well remembered, like the Miamis and the Marbles and the Erasers and the Student Teachers. Nearly all the members of these bands treated the club as a headquarters — as home. It was a private world. We dreamed it up. It flowered out of our imaginations.

How often do you get to do that? That’s what you want as a kid, and that’s what we were able to do at CBGB’s. It makes me think of that Elvis Presley quotation: “When I was a child, ladies and gentlemen, I was a dreamer. I read comic books, and I was the hero of the comic book. I saw movies, and I was the hero in the movie. So every dream I ever dreamed has come true a hundred times.” We dreamed CBGB’s into existence.

The owner of the club, Hilly Kristal, never said no. That was his genius. Though it’s dumb to use the word genius about what happened there. It was all a dream. Many of us were drunk or stoned half our waking hours, after all. The thing is, we were young there. You don’t get that back. Even children know that. They don’t want their old stuff thrown away. Everything should be kept. I regret everything I’ve ever thrown away.

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LA Times:

BORAT’S interviews fall into roughly two categories. He seeks out self-consciously genteel, almost impossibly schematic “life coaches” of one kind or another — people whose job it is to tell others how to date, tell jokes, find work, etc. — and barrages them with questions, requests and opinions that, despite being completely outrageous, consistently fail to get a rise or a reaction stronger than “We don’t do that here in America” or “That’s not a customary thing to do in the U.S. at all.” On the one hand, you have to admire his interviewees’ tact and even keel. On the other, you can’t believe that they don’t react more strongly than they do.

He also hangs out with “normal people” who happily reveal their prejudices. Shopping for a house, in one TV episode, Borat asks a real estate agent about a windowless room with a metal door for his mentally disabled brother, whether he may bury his wife in the yard if she dies, and whether black people will move into the neighborhood. At the wine tasting, he asks if the black waiter is a slave, to which the “commander” of the Knights of the Vine society in Jackson, Miss., replies that there was “a law that was passed that they could no longer be used as slaves — which is a good thing for them.” (“Oh, good for him, not so good for you!” Borat yelps, picking up an undercurrent that may not have even been evident to them.)

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London based street artist D*Face, via SocialPest:

Clocks ticking…
Thursday… Be there or…well… don’t be.

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LA Weekly:

Do you have a Brit-humor-obsessed friend who pesters you to get in line and admit once and for all that Steve Coogan is a comedy god? Maybe he’s shoved one of Coogan’s Alan Partridge videos in your hands to get you up to speed on the egomaniacally obnoxious, socially inept talk-show-host character that has made Coogan a deity in the U.K., or dragged you to a movie theater to see Coogan’s star turn in Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story. That person is a good friend.

But if you’ve ignored the pleas, let me speak for your friend and tell you that you can get in on the ground floor Friday night with Coogan’s newest character, Tommy Saxondale. He’s a bearded, cantankerous, acrimoniously divorced ex-roadie with one fist still raised in rebellion, the other around a pesticide hose. Tommy has left the world of Jim Beam breakfasts, rock-star chumminess and changing Peter Frampton’s vocoder fuse for the life of a vermin killer. And why not? Music has gone in the crapper since “electronic bleeps and farts” replaced awesome fret work, according to Tommy, but he clings to the notion that even from his comfortable suburban existence with shop-owner girlfriend Magz (Ruth Jones), he can still do his part to give the finger to authority. Tommy’s idea of therapeutic betterment? Calmly telling the session leader in his court-ordered anger-management class that the notion of anger being bad is “horseshit”: If General MacArthur’s reaction to Pearl Harbor had been “to go someplace quiet and do some deep breathing,” he insists, “you’d be goose-stepping into this meeting!” Rock and roll!?

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