Cultural Caviar

Giamatti’s Latest, a Hot Brit TV Import & Baldessari’s Light Show

January 10, 2011

Multiple Pages
Giamatti’s Latest, a Hot Brit TV Import & Baldessari’s Light Show

Barney’s Version
Paul Giamatti as beloved antihero? Sure, we’ll buy it. In this affecting new film based on Mordecai Richler’s novel, the lovable schlub stars as Barney Panofsky, who managed to get not one, but three women to marry him. He tells his own story of how they met and fell in love, and Giamatti—along with Dustin Hoffman as his straight-talking father—ably does the whole “age 40 years in two hours” gimmick. The trailer plays up his romances with characters played by Minnie Driver, Rachelle Lefevre, and Rosamund Pike, but there’s a dark underbelly to his life story. Scott Speedman plays Barney’s attractive best friend who suddenly goes missing, and Barney spends his life wondering if he somehow killed him (because Barney has a drinking problem, you see, and conveniently blacks out during key moments). Forget Sideways—this is the performance of Giamatti’s career. Barney comes to limited theaters on Friday.

John Baldessari: Your Name in Lights, 2011 Sydney Festival, Now – January 30
Famed contemporary artist John Baldessari knows everyone’s secretly waiting on his or her 15 minutes of fame, and he’s tapping into that desire to be seen this week at a new installation in Australia. Modernizing Andy Warhol’s belief that everyone will be famous in the future, the California artist is flashing 100,000 names in blinding lights for 15 seconds each on a huge billboard. “I want it to be as glamorous as possible,” he said. And accessible, too: Webcams filming the exhibit from now until January 30 will livestream the light show to anyone who can’t make it to the Australian Museum. The 79-year-old, who won the Golden Lion Award at the Venice Biennale in 2009 and just wrapped a huge show at LACMA, continues to amaze in 2011.

Will Cotton: New Paintings, Michael Kohn Gallery, Los Angeles, January 14 – February 26
Will Cotton’s artwork makes mouths water. He paints dreamy landscapes swirling with cotton candy and chocolate, nude models usually lounging seductively around his fantasy land. The New York-based artist scored a coup when one of his paintings featuring “Firework” singer Katy Perry was appropriately made the cover of her new album Teenage Dream. In his latest exhibition of new works, Cotton’s branched out and clothed his models in candy-themed garb: lollipop crowns, cupcake foil wrapper dresses, and pop rock candy bodices abound. Those fans of pop music will be pleased that Katy Perry’s featured in a number of new paintings as well. Cotton was also artistic director for her scandalously candy-themed video “California Gurls.” Looks like he’s got a new muse.

The Social Network
Although it’s getting a splashy re-release in theaters, anyone who’s antisocial and can’t pry themselves away from Facebook will be glad last year’s hit The Social Network is coming to DVD. Starring Jesse Eisenberg as misunderstood Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, the film is an Oscar frontrunner and big hit with audiences who got a glimpse into the business that transformed the way the world communicates. Eisenberg as the young nerd-turned-billionaire is fantastic, but it’s future Spider-Man Andrew Garfield as spurned business partner Eduardo Saverin who’s the heart and soul of the film. Justin Timberlake is said to be gunning for a Best Supporting Actor nod for his portrayal of Napster founder Sean Parker.

Welcome to My World
Johnny Weir’s made a career out of being outrageous in an already outrageous sport: figure skating. He’s made enemies with his fellow skaters, including the brawny specimen Evan Lysacek, and is unapologetically flamboyant. He’s also an aspiring pop star and Skating with the Stars judge. Now he’s telling his life story—or quarter life story—in his new autobiography out Tuesday. Are you ready for the big surprise? Johnny’s gay! (As if his stilettos on the cover didn’t give it away…) “I delve into a lot of the nitty-gritty about my sex life, which people have been waiting for, but I wanted to wait until I could tell it in my own words,” he said. At long last, it’s refreshing to hear the polarizing skater be true to himself—dirty stories and all.

Magnificent Specimens, Land Gallery, Portland, Now – February 13
Tell me, dear reader, is there anything more magnificent than carefully sculpted facial hair? Dave Mead’s hilarious, humanizing portraits of award-winning mustaches and their owners are on display in the hirsute land of the Pacific Northwest at an Oregon gallery. His subjects are all winners of the 2009 World Beard & Mustache Championship and they really, really take care of themselves, usually inhabiting characters (an old-timey gent with a top hat, for instance, or a man who doubles as Moses) for a laugh. They’re really unlike anything you’ve ever seen. Mead’s snapshots may not end up at the Met, but they might look great in your office cubicle. (See his calendar here.)

Off the Map
ABC’s pinpointed one of the only problems with its uber successful formula for Grey’s Anatomy: Those goddamn scrubs are too confining. The latest show touted from the producers of the soapy hospital drama (i.e. Shonda Rimes, also the brain trust of Private Practice) copes with that issue by dropping a bunch of young doctors “somewhere in the Amazon” where hospital garb is ditched for tight and sweaty T-shirts. Martin Henderson is the new dreamy doctor who cares, oh he cares so much, and in the jungle his idealistic team gets plenty of hands on experience with medicine and, of course, each other. Friday Night Lights standout Zach Gilford and Meryl Streep’s talented daughter Mamie Gummer also star in this “romp in the jungle” premiering this Wednesday at 10/9c on ABC.

London International Mime Festival, January 15 – 30
This ain’t your mama’s mime show. The annual London event, which began in 1977, kicks off next week promising cutting-edge circus-theatre, and not just the stereotypical white-and-black painted clown faces and dour expressions. Learn “How to Be Stupid,” about the “Puppet as Performer” and an “Introduction to Corporeal Mime” at workshops during the nearly two week long event. One of the biggest shows is “The Curse of Poe” based on the famous writer’s work. Events are running at the Southbank Centre, Camden’s Roundhouse, the Barbican Centre, the Institute of Contemporary Arts, and the Royal Opera House’s Linbury Studio Theatre.

Downton Abbey, PBS, Airing January 16, 23 and 30
Already craving a little change from all the soapy drama coating TV schedules this winter? How about some good ol’ fashioned aristocratic drama? British export Downton Abbey covers the estate where a rich family lives and money threatens to tear them apart. PBS and Masterpiece Classic (celebrating its 40th anniversary this year) don’t always scream a good time, but this four-part series chronicling the Crawley family proved addictive for UK audiences. Over 11 million viewers watched each 90 minute episode last fall. Julian Fellowes created and wrote the successful series that rings with the authenticity of the Oscar winning Gosford Park, which he also penned.

The Importance of Being Earnest, American Airlines Theatre, New York, In previews now, Opens January 13 – March 6
Another society send-up, Oscar Wilde’s wildly witty The Importance of Being Earnest is now on Broadway with a fun twist. Brian Bedford (the Tony Award winner from Tartuffe, directs and plays the stoic Lady Bracknell. The premise of Wilde’s comedy is well-known: two bachelors, John and Algernon, run around town chasing Gwendolen and Cecily with plenty of partner swaps and cheating on the side. It’s 75-year-old Bedford’s cross-dressing that pushes an old favorite into new comedic territory. Catch this new production when it comes out of previews January 13.

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