As the year comes to a close, there’s no shortage of regional and national film critics’ societies vying to name the best film of 2011. The New York Film Critics Circle chose The Artist (which premiered locally at the New Orleans Film Festival, and will enjoy a return engagement in 2012), the Los Angeles scribes chose The Descendants, and Austin gave the nod to Martin Scorsese’s Hugo. But insiders say that the critics’ societies are rife with political infighting, and their selections often reflect compromises with which few participants actually agree.
So how do we know what the critics really think overall? Metacritic has an idea: a simple points-based scoring system that combines individual top-ten lists from critics across the country. This year’s winner, by a substantial margin: The Tree of Life, reclusive director Terrence Malick’s brooding and beautiful meditation on life, nature, family, and the origin of the cosmos.
The Tree of Life had a brief run at Canal Place last summer, but it’s now out on DVD and Blu-ray. Here’s the trailer:
To add a one-item list to the pile of year-end round-ups, the strangest film I saw this year is still running. Prospect.2 includes the work of photographer William Eggleston at the Old U.S. Mint. One large room contains his 1973 series Nightclub Portraits. (Noted here by Gambit critic D. Eric Bookhardt.) In another room, beyond the photos of An-My Le, juxtaposing Vietnamese communities in Vietnam and New Orleans, is a film Eggleston made in 1973-1974 titled Stranded in Canton. It's a bizarre and often cryptic assemblage of interviews and observances he filmed in both New Orleans and Memphis. It's got a slow start, but descends into rambling and rants captured in claustrophobic family gatherings, run-down apartments and bizarre street scenes with geek stunts, drunks and guns. It captures some tortured Southern souls as well as William Faulkner or Tennessee Williams did, but without the elegance. At 15 minutes in, I questioned why I was still watching it, but by the end, I thought it was rather brilliant. The entire film is above, but it's not the same experience on a small screen as sitting in mute disbelief at the Mint. (It's not for young audiences.)
Prospect.2 runs through Jan. 29, 2012, so there's still plenty of time to catch shows in the overall impressive collection of works. Some of the highlights include Joyce Scott's beadwork and sculpture at the Newcomb Gallery, Gina Phillips' fabric works and Alexis Rockman's Battle Royale (about invasive species in Gulf Coast swamps) at CAC, and Francesco Vezzoli's Sohia Loren statue in Piazza D'Italia.
Serpas, who appeared with Orleans Parish Sheriff Marlin Gusman, said NOPD would deploy 680 officers (of about 1,350 officers employed by the department) to the "downtown core" on Dec. 31. Police will be concentrating specifically on drunk driving, illegal fireworks and celebratory firearms discharges.
"It's against the law," Serpas said. "Please do not ring in the night by bringing out a firearm and firing it into the air." A conviction could mean anywhere from two to 20 years in prison, he added.
Asked what a drunk driver can expect if he or she is taken into a parish jail facility tomorrow night, Gusman replied, "It's not going to be good," adding that drunk drivers will have to stay in jail until after the holiday when courts reopen.
"As a parent of a young man arrested twice for DWI, let me tell you it's not something you want to go through," Serpas said.
Have you spent time in New Orleans?
Yes, but not in a while. I love a beignet, and I’m prepared for my hair to start frizzing because of the humidity.
Do you have any funny stories from the last time you were here?
I just usually have some sort of stomach ailment because I overdo it with the delicious food. And I might accidentally hop into one of those old-timey funerals you see in every movie that’s ever taken place in New Orleans. You might see me with a trombone, hopping onto an old-timey funeral.
You're really liberal and include politics in your act. I'm wondering if you're disenchanted by Barack Obama like a lot of liberals are.
I’m not disenchanted by Obama. I stand by him. I think he’s very smart and he inherited an administration that was in the middle of many situations that I think a lot people would think are untenable. So no, I’m not one of those Democrats that’s going to cut and bait. He’s a very smart guy, he’s doing a great job and the country was left in dire straits — I have a long memory. I don’t see how anyone could think Obama created these problems. He’s trying to solve these problems.
(video of the year, maybe?)
We recap a bulk of the year in arts in this week's Gambit, but there are bound to be omissions (and after more recapping, more omissions). I enjoyed many, many performances, at festivals and in closet-sized spaces. I don't like lists, so I'll go month-by-month: here is a very incomplete recap of some pretty great shows that made 2011 stand out as generally pretty great but you may have missed among all the other pretty great stuff happening simultaneously.
Firstly, special recognition rightfully should go to the St. Claude Avenue venue Siberia. In its first "real" year of operation, it booked a steady stream of touring metal, punk and everything-in-between acts, with a strong local artist presence backing each night — it's proved a haven for both black and doom metal warlords, crusty bohemia, and alternative ephemera not seen anywhere else in the city on as consistent a basis. It closed out the year with, among other events, album releases for Spickle and the 9th Ward Marching Band, Colombian black metal from Inquisition, Georgia's Black Tusk, bone-crushing doom from The Body, and this lil' video.
According to Sixth District Commander Robert Bardy, police took the action after getting a complaint about the encampment from one of the property's owners. (
Bardy identified the owner as the Miro Foundation, which could not be immediately confirmed through online city property records.) Correction: One of the parcels on the lot is owned by I-See Storage and Transfer Co., a Meraux Foundation-controlled entity, according to Meraux tax records.
"The problem we have here is that this is not Duncan Plaza," Bardy said. "This is private property."
(More pictures after the jump)
(video courtesy of Lisa Palumbo)
Read about the parade's lone star club president Travis Lyons here.
(route below the jump)
This weekend’s second line parade will feature a solo star, the word ‘star’ being purposely employed here because that’s what you call a show-must-go-on professional. The Perfect Gentlemen Social Aid and Pleasure Club’s 21st annual parade will be a one man show this Sunday with the club’s president Travis Lyons holding it down all by himself.
"Occupy the Lot," a post-eviction offshoot of Occupy New Orleans, was handed eviction notices on Thursday night by the New Orleans Police Department, Officer Frank Robertson just confirmed to Gambit.
A small group has been living on a vacant lot at Earhart Boulevard and Lasalle Street, near the William J. Guste Housing Development, since the group's Dec. 13 eviction from Duncan Plaza. According to parish property records online, the lot is made up of seven privately owned parcels.
"They were issued some notices, but they were on private property, so they knew they would have to leave," Robertson says. Robertson could not say whether property owner complaints led to the eviction notice. He also wasn't sure whether a reported assault Thursday night in the 2200 block of Clio Street — which is about the location of the camp — was related to Occupy the Lot.
A posting on the Occupy New Orleans website says the encampment will be evicted in "the coming days" and Nadra Enzi, aka Capt. Black, who has been associated with the group, tells Gambit that written notices specify 24-48 hours. Robertson couldn't confirm a time frame.
"They'll be given ample opportunity to leave," Robertson says.
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