All posts by grahamcorrigan

Issues – Biography

All Is By My Side is, supposedly, the Jimi Hendrix biopic we’ve been waiting for. The film has been in production for seven years, ever since director John Ridley heard a rare demo of “Sending My Love to Linda.” But the film’s production has been hampered by an all-too-familiar obstruction: the deceased’s estate.

Experience Hendrix LLC, run by Jimi’s sister Janie, isn’t taking part in All Is By My Side, and All Is By My Side will be a Hendrix biopic without any original Hendrix music as a result. Luckily, the film’s producers are blessed with a different once-in-a-generation artist at the helm. André 3000, rapper turned actor, is making his big debut as a leading man. The Outkast frontman has been very involved with soundtracking the picture.

The soundtrack will be comprised of covers Hendrix performed rather than his original work. That includes some Beatles (“Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”) and Muddy Waters (“Mannish Boy”). All Is By My Side focuses on Hendrix in the mid-60s, when he was a backup guitarist being lured to London and eventual stardom.

The Hendrix family was never even approached about using Jimi’s music—not that they would have allowed it. Janie is actually a step-sister, not biologically related to Jimi Hendrix. They’ve refused rights before, most famously to director Paul Greengrass . But the filmmakers have attempted to sidestep the issue entirely by contextualizing the film around Jimi’s days before stardom.

Charles Cross is the author of the Hendrix biography Room Full of Mirrors. He’s tangled with the Hendrix estate before, but he can’t help feeling a little suspicious of the upcoming film. “Suffice to say, don’t believe most of what’s in the film,” Cross said. “The fact that they never even approached the estate means the filmmakers aren’t interested in what actually happened.”

Profile: Jeff Huckleberry

HC8_0289-560x373-300x199

Jeff Huckleberry is naked. He’s standing in front of four huge pieces of plywood parallel to one another, each separated by about a foot. They’re about an inch thick but at least 7 feet tall, looming over his 6’5” frame. Slowly, methodically, he starts leaning into the first piece of wood, putting all his weight into the board. The wood starts to creak and splinter and he forces his way through, careful to keep his tender parts free from shards.

Huckleberry, 44, has been a part of the performance art world for 23 years. After growing up in the Colorado mountains, he moved to Boston to attend the Museum School. In the two decades since, Huckleberry has blossomed into one of the world’s most arresting physical artists, spreading his gospel of paint and wood from Canada to Poland. He’s also gained a family—his wife of 18 years, Sandy, and their son, Wilder.

“It’s a very personal, internal experience for me,” Huckleberry tells me over the phone. “I don’t think about the audience at the show, I think about the what’s happening to me, the feeling of wood cracking. I wanted people to get that close, so I started shooting video.”

His performance art is always filmed, often a very simple one-camera setup. “Having these videos was probably the best decision I’ve made with regards to my art,” he said. “After I sent them out I was invited to festivals all over the world, it became easier to show what I was doing.”

The performance art community began to take notice, and Huckleberry soon found himself fielding offers from universities to come teach. ”It doesn’t make real sense to me, to be honest,” he laughs. “Performance is what you make it, I’m not sure what I could be teaching.”
– Graham Corrigan

Profile: Jeff Huckleberry

HC8_0289-560x373

Jeff Huckleberry is naked. He’s standing in front of four huge pieces of plywood parallel to one another, each separated by about a foot. They’re about an inch thick but at least 7 feet tall, looming over his 6’5” frame. Slowly, methodically, he starts leaning into the first piece of wood, putting all his weight into the board. The wood starts to creak and splinter and he forces his way through, careful to keep his tender parts free from shards.

“It’s a very personal, internal experience for me,” Huckleberry tells me over the phone. “I don’t think about the audience at the show, I think about the what’s happening to me, the feeling of wood cracking. I wanted people to get that close, so I started shooting video.”

His performance art is always filmed, often a very simple one-camera setup. But these videos have allowed his live shows to be seen as far as Poland and China. “Having these videos was probably the best decision I’ve made with regards to my art,” he said. “After I sent them out I was invited to festivals all over the world, it became easier to show what I was doing.”

He’s adamant, however, that video only provides a shadow of the experience. “It’s called performance art…to be in the room and experience the event with the performer is paramount to the process. If you don’t hear the wood breaking or see the paint dripping in the frame and the light that I’ve created, you’re not getting a different show. Video is something different. Not any less valuable, but different.”

Asked whether he would ever create a show around videos of his performances, Huckleberry hesitated. “Maybe as part of a live show…have a couple monitors playing around me, interact somehow with the image. One of the wonderful things about performance art is that there are very few boundaries, but that can also make things twice as hard.”

– Graham Corrigan

Criticism: Paolo Sorentini & The Fountain of Youth

La Grande Bellezza (The Grand Beauty) is an exhausting film, full of grandiose set pieces and narratives that take left turns with two wheels in the air. And yet that same extravagance is what makes Paolo Sorentini’s epic tale of Rome’s high society easy to sink into. The film washes over you like silk, a merry-go-round of debauchery and tragedy.

At its foundation, however, La Grande Bellezza is a history lesson. Sorentini’s film follows a quintessentially Italian arc, built most notably by Fellini and Antonioni: long walks, scenes within scenes, and the pervasive impermanence of both life and death. Toni Servillo plays Jep Gambardella, our eyes and ears throughout the film. He’s a journalist and one-time novelist most famous for his decadent parties and lascivious lifestyle.

Sorentini delivers a sharp and unflinching account of the upper class, one marked by excess and waste. It peaks in a dimly lit room crowded by the bourgeoisie. They’re patiently waiting their turn to have their chins lifted and bags removed, pricked by the needle of a famous cosmetic surgeon. Sorentini spoke about the scene at Cannes:

I don’t seem to be able find any beauty in the transformation of bodies through surgery or Botox, but I didn’t want to make a statement or anything like that…behind it there is a lot of pain and sadness, the inability to accept your body and the flowing of time.

Sorentini’s characters are quite literally paralyzed by the pursuit of beauty. It’s a theme that has cropped up in more recent Italian cinema, an insatiability that devours some peripheral part of life. Sorentini uses it for both dramatic and comic effect. Luca Guadagnino’s I Am Love (2009) offers a more earnest and dangerous interpretation.

As in Guadagnino’s film, there is a darkness in La Grande Bellezza missing from Fellini’s lighthearted carnivals. The golden age is over, and the ravages of time are beginning to set in.