Texas Has Passed A Bill Requiring Women To Hold Funerals For Their Abortions

Photo: @GovernorAbbott on Instagram

Texas legislators have introduced a bill colloquially known as the ‘fetal funerals’ law, and as if that name isn’t disturbing enough, what the new decree stipulates is even more horrifying.

Senate Bill 8, as it’s officially titled, mandates a few things: first, that all fetal remains must be buried or cremated – this means that whether you have an abortion or miscarry, you’ll have to have a funeral of sorts for your lost fetus. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: The Handmaid’s Tale is real life.

Another thing Senate Bill 8 stipulates is that women cannot donate fetal tissue for research, as all the remains must be used for the funerals. How lovely and practical!

The bill also bans a technique called “dilation and evacuation,” which is used for almost all second term abortions and so, in essence, would ban abortions happening after the first 13 weeks. And get this – anyone found to be assisting in any of the aforementioned banned activities is subject to up to two years in prison.

Texas Governow Greg Abbott’s new decree comes after the state has infamously tried and failed before to prevent women from having abortions. Their HB2 bill was one of the strictest anti-abortion laws in history, and while it was struck down by the Supreme Court last year, it’s impact on the amount of abortion clinics open in Texas is lasting:

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Amanda Allen, senior state legislative counsel for the Center for Reproductive Rights, said in Buzzfeed‘s report, “No state has put together a host of restrictions in one package like this before. It’s the most sweeping piece of anti-abortion legislation this session.”

Weekend Trip: Six Romantic Getaways To Book Right Now

Even in the best cities in the world, there are times that escape feels so desperate a necessity that any borrowed friend-of-a-friend’s dilapidated cottage upstate seems like it would do the trick. From dreamy and not-too-far-away to dreamy and across-the-pond, these six romantic getaways are sure to get your imagination, and your heart (and libido) stirring. Book one now. You won’t regret it.

1. Gurney’s Montauk Resort & Seawater Spa, Montauk

Just a quick Jitney trip away lies Montauk–which sheds the pretension of the neighboring Hamptons, but keeps the pristine oceanfront real estate. Thanks to a spa, salt water pool (with ocean views (!)), and yoga classes offered, you can get the perks of a tropically detoxifying retreat in just a 2.5-hour trip. End the night watching the sunset or sipping champagne by the fireplace.

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Photo: Courtesy of Gurney’s Montauk Resort

Gurney's Montauk Resort & Seawater Spa, New King Room
Photo: Courtesy of Gurney’s Montauk Resort

Gurney's Property - Sunset Image
Photo: Courtesy of Gurney’s Montauk Resort

2. Ace Hotel and Swim Club, Palm Springs

For a west coast romantic getaway, look no further than Palm Springs: this desert mecca of mid-century modern architecture doubles as a hip destination for anyone who wants California weather, sans the glitz of L.A…and should you want for just a hint of glitz, The Ace Hotel might just be the perfect resolution. If it’s pure, unadulterated relaxation you seek, “The Feel Good Spa” offers couples packages–in fact, anything from facials and seaweed body wraps, to earth clay wraps and body brushing can be done in twosome form. And, since no vacation has ever felt long enough, couples can indulge in a personal massage lesson to learn inspired, professional techniques to use at home. Outdoorsy types can soak up the SoCal sunshine via bike rentals–even better–the hotel can arrange a private dinner on the stargazing deck, which overlooks the pool and mountains.

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Photo: D.L. Thompson and Jon Johnson

aceps-spa-indoorroomPhoto: Douglas Lyle Thompson

Ace_Palm_Springs-OverviewPhoto: D.L. Johnson and Jon Johnson

3. The Prairie by Rachel Ashwell, Round Top, TX
Looking for a romantic American getaway that’s truly off the beaten path? Try Texas. Just 75 miles from ultra-hip Austin lies mecca, as told by the queen of shabby chic. Each cottage offers privacy and comfort. Couples spend time reconnecting with long walks and quality time spent together.  Trying to win some extra boyfriend/girlfriend points? Flowers can be added to the room for an extra special touch.

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Photo: Courtesy of “Rachel Ashwell Couture Prairie and Flea Market Treasures,” Cico books

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Photo: Courtesy of “Rachel Ashwell Couture Prairie and Flea Market Treasures,” Cico books

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Photo: Courtesy of “Rachel Ashwell Couture Prairie and Flea Market Treasures,” Cico books

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Photo: Courtesy of “Rachel Ashwell Couture Prairie and Flea Market Treasures,” Cico books

4. The Berkeley Hotel, London 

Here’s one for the sartorially inclined couple. If you missed the jaw-dropping Alexander McQueen retrospective when it debuted at the Met’s Costume Instutute in NYC in 2011, fear not–the corsetry, the chance to be thisclose to pieces from the groundbreaking Highland Rape collection is just one reason to head to the UK. It’s now at the V&A–a British institution, if you’ve never been. (Plus, even if you’re going for just an extended weekend, a flight to England is a solid hour less than almost any other country in Europe and the same goes for the time difference). If the exhibit isn’t enough, revel in the quirky spirit of English fashion at The Berkeley Hotel (that’s Rachel Zoe’s favorite to you) where you can enjoy Pret-a-Portea–proper high tea that pays homage to McQueen favorites. Of course, The Berkeley is more than just cookies and tea sandwiches…there are the balcony suites overlooking Hyde Park, duos can enjoy treatments at the Bamford Haybarn Spa, and unwind from the buzz of London by the rooftop pool.

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Photo: Courtesy of Maybourne Hotel Group

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Photo: Courtesy of Maybourne Hotel Group

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Photo: Courtesy of Maybourne Hotel Group

Pret-A-Portea, Spring/Summer 2015Photo: Courtesy of Maybourne Hotel Group

5. St. Regis Bahia Beach, Puerto Rico

Though leaving the premises of the St. Regis Bahia Beach would be, by no means, necessary, the couple who likes their vacation with a healthy mix of the highest-end luxury (think: a Jean-Georges restaurant on the premises) and a bit of authentic culture, look no further than this gorgeous Puerto Rican retreat, where the ocean is warm, the pool is massive and the cabanas are made for making out–but the charm and pastel colors of Old San Juan are just a short drive away. Kayak in the on-property lake, hike holding hands through the nearby El Yunque rainforest, or simply read by the pool, you’ll leave having enjoyed a restorative serving of both piña coladas and Vitamin D. Though adventure on and around the premises abounds, rooms come equipped with sun-drenched patios and walk-in showers. Even better, giant baths that are an insanely simple dial-zero to the butler away from filled with bubbly–in the bath and your glasses. Prepare for 24/7 romance.

St.Regis Bahia Beach Resort Puerto Rico
Photo: Courtesy of St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort

St. Regis Bahia Beach Pool
Photo: Courtesy of St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort

Suite Room
Photo: Courtesy of St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort

The St. Regis Bahia Beach private beach
Photo: Courtesy of St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort

6. KiCHIC Resort, Peru

Located on the edge of a traditional Peruvian fishing village, Mancora is fast emerging as one of the world’s best beach destinations (you heard it here first)! KiCHIC offers a unique hideaway where guests find call rooms, located between gardens of coconut palms and maye pepper trees facing the northern ocean breeze, home. For an especially romantic indulgence, spring for the Piedra room which has its own open-air bathtub on a private terrace made out of local flagstone, or the Himalaya. Should you decide (and no judgement, if not) to ever get out of bed, you can take your pick of surf lessons, kayaking, and outdoor movies every weekend.

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Photo: Courtesy of KiCHIC

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Photo: Courtesy of KiCHIC

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Photo: Courtesy of KiCHIC

Bid Online Now on 100s of Artworks by Cindy Sherman, Mario Testino and More for MTV Re:Define

Untitled works by Cindy Sherman, 1980/2012. Courtesy of the artist and Metro Pictures, New York.

It seems like every other week there’s a new excuse to throw on your “These Boots Were Made For Walking” playlist and head to Texas for some fantastic cultural event. And this week that event would be the fourth annual MTV Re:Define, a world premiere art exhibition, auction and fundraiser gala to benefit the Dallas Contemporary and MTV Staying Alive Foundation, an international content-producing and grant-giving organization dedicated to stopping the spread of HIV among young people. Last year’s event raised over $2 million dollars.

Taking place on April 10th during Dallas Art Fair week, this year’s event (presented by the Goss-Michael Foundation and curated by Peter Doroshenko and The Future Tense) will be honoring Michael Craig-Martin (the godfather of British Conceptual Art), and will feature over 100 works from artists Cindy Sherman, Damien Hirst, Mario Testino, Tom Sachs, and many more. Even if you can’t squeeze in a last minute trip to Dallas, you can bid on the radically cool auction live now on Paddle 8.

Below are some works we have our eyes on.

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Attempt 124, Arthur Pena, 2014. Courtesy of Arthur Pena

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Receipe Book Cone, Donald Baechler, 2012. Courtesy of Cheim & Reid and the artist.

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Tribute to Edward Hopper/Another night at the Phillies Bar, Gerard Rancinan, 2014. Courtesy of the artist.

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Umbrella (blue), Michael Craig-Martin, 2011. Courtesy of Gagosian Gallery.

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Dollar Flower, Nate Lowman, 2015. Courtesy of the artist and Maccarone (New York) and Massimo de Carlo (London and Milan).

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K
enza, Richard Phillips, 2015. Courtesy of Richard Philips Studio and Gagosian Gallery.

Disappearing Into Longing With Wim Wenders’ ‘Paris, Texas’

Before Paris, Texas plays tonight at The Film Society of Lincoln Center, take a look back on the wonder of Wenders’ film with an article originally published in 2013.

There are some films that speak to your heart in ways that words fail to describe. You cannot always articulate just what speaks to you so deeply but when it hits, you know it’s there, and the film seeps into your soul and lingers. It satisfies those tender parts of yourself that you keep under lock and key for fear of vulnerability. But perhaps this inability to describe our undeniable love for these films says something about the greater sense that there are so many things we love and yearn for that don’t even have a face or a name in which to call them—a desperate hunger for something you’ve never tasted, the endless desire for a place you’ve never been, mourning the absence of something never to be regained. The Portuguese have name for it: “saudade,” or the deep emotional state of nostalgic longing for an absent something.

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Andre Breton once said, “All my life, my heart has yearned for a thing I cannot name.” And when I think of the films of beloved German auteur, Wim Wenders, that quote seems to resonate through all of his work. But for all his work—from the black and white existential road movie Alice in the Cities to last year’s 3D ode to his dear friend Pina Bausch, Pina—it’s his 1984 Palme d’Or winning exploration of the love-worn American psyche Paris, Texas that has remained my favorite. In the way that David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive opened up a part of my brain to an absurd world of psychological obsession and perversion that’s become a part of me, Paris, Texas immediately penetrated my heart and managed to capture something that I had always felt but never known.

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It also happened that around the time I initially saw the film: I was also traveling out west alone for the first time. Flying over the midwest, amidst my own battle with unrequited love, I sat and stared out the window with the Ry Cooder-scored soundtrack twanging away in my ears and couldn’t help understand what made this German man, who grew up amongst the wreckage of World War II, so fascinated with the myth of the American West. Speaking to his fascination with that part of the country, Wenders said, in an interview we did last year, “It was as sort of a utopian place compared to where I lived. All I ever wanted was getting there…there was rhythm and fun—the notion of fun was completely strange to me. Everything I really liked was from this mythical place called America.”

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It only makes sense that the story of Paris, Texas came from the greatest Pultizer Prize-winning tortured American playwright, Sam Shepard. And what makes the film so emotionally and cinematically rich is the juxtaposition between he and Wenders—the German with a fantastical pastiche obsession with Americana and the rough-tongued “rock and roll Jesus with a cowboy mouth” himself, whose words are engrained in the sprawling western landscape. The two have collaborated many times since, but this holds as by far their best work—creating something that speaks to the human condition so effortlessly in a way that few films have been able to. No one does melancholic American isolation like a misanthropic German.    Paris, Texas is a heartbreaking character study of longing and lacerations of the heart.

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The film follows Travis (Harry Dean Stanton in the most profound performance of his career), a silent and weathered drifter who reemerges after a four year absence to reunite with his son Hunter (Hunter Carson), who has been in the care of his brother Walt (played by Dean Stockwell) in Los Angeles. Upon reconnecting with Hunter, Travis sets out to find his estranged wife, Jane (played with soft perfection by Nastassja Kinski). When it comes to Shepard’s writing, his world has always a bit hyper-realistic and things just happen—like Travis leaving for years without a trace and with no one chasing after him. But because of his command of narrative and language, the story unfolds in a way that feels extremely real and the emotion so raw and genuine that it doesn’t matter. You don’t need to question it because you can feel it, and that’s so much more powerful.The plot is simple, stripped to bare elements of narrative, but in its sparseness lies a tale about the myth of the American family and opens questions about love’s ability to fix the void within us all.

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The most stirring moments of the film come when Travis and Jane finally reunite at the peepshow parlour that Janes has been working, where customers sit on the opposite side of a one-way mirror, observing the woman on the other side, instructing them via a telephone-intercom. Separated by glass, Travis can see Jane, while she remains unaware of who is watching her. Picking up the phone to speak with her, he begins to tell their story. “I knew these people,” he begins, and continues to deliver one of the most beautifully written monologues ever delivered on film. In this 8:41s monologue you gain more emotional insight into the characters and their relationship than you could possibly have gained from actually seeing these moments played out.

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Perhaps a lesser director would have taken these words and morphed them into montage or flashbacks, but Wenders’s brilliance lies in the way he’s directed the delivery of these speeches, intercut with shots of Jane’s face as she begins to realize who is speaking to her and the implications of that. When Travis returns the next day, it’s Jane’s turn to speak as she sits with her back to the wall and explains how she “used to make long speeches to you after [he] left.” “I used to talk to you all the time, even though I was alone,” she says. “I walked around for months talking to you.” This physical separation between the two speaks to the notion of feeling alone even in the presence of someone else, even in the presence of someone you love. Jane and Travis both feel an incredible sense of isolation yet long for connection and in finding one another that longing turned into a painful attachment. This reunion begins to rip them apart from the inside out. When Jane finally turns to Travis as they touch from opposing ends of the glass, his is relfected in hers—reminscent of the Ted Hughes line from “Lovesong”:

In their dreams their brains took each other hostage In the morning they wore each other’s face.

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These scenes have no tricks, no cheap ploys for emotion. The shots are simple and the weight lies in the heaviness of their words and devastation that resides on their faces. The subtly of the acting creates such a natural essence to the scenes that make them even that much more painful to watch. Harry Dean Stanton once said, “The painful part, with Sam’s writing, was to understand how to do it. Because you don’t have to act his writing. Finally, Wim said, ‘Don’t act these lines. You just say them, like poetry, say it with a meter,’ and that’s what Natassja and I tried to do at the end, just say the lines. That’s the problem, I think, with people who do Sam’s plays. They try to act it, and his writing you don’t act. You don’t even have to motivate it if you can just be simple, because all that needs to be said is in the writing.”

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What makes Paris, Texas and all of Wim’s work so special is that it is filled with so much yearning and so much restlessness; people aching so badly to find what it is they’re looking for. They’re all so hungry for love and connection and something to make them feel alive. Some of them find it in others and then some of them realize even if they did—would it even make them feel better? Or are they destined to eternally feel that hole inside?

Travis leaves Jane and Hunter in the end because he knows putting together the pieces of the past won’t put him back together. He’s ripped apart we’ll never know why. None of us do. Wenders’s also expressed that, “hotels room have a real magic because you feel yourself, who you are in a different way and in an anonymous hotel room than you would ever be able to at home.” His films all live in transient places like motels where everyone’s face changes from moment to moment—and in a way that’s more comforting than feeling sorrow in the comfort of stability. In the end, Travis isn’t escaping (as he and Jane once dreamed of doing), he’s relieving—finally freeing himself.

Trey Laird Shares His Love Affair with Marfa, Texas

Jenny Laird, Trey Laird, and Fairfax Dorn, photographed at From the Desert to the City: BALLROOM MARFA Celebrates 10 YearsBenefit Auction & Dinner. Photo by David X Prutting/BFAnyc.com

The west Texas, high-desert city of Marfa embodies a singular place within the public art discourse in this country. Starting in 1971 when minimalist artist Donald Judd began installing his work in buildings throughout the town, an idea emerged there that art could exist in permanent installation as a means of better letting the public form a relationship with it. Since then, various foundations have preserved Judd’s legacy and then expanded upon it.

Tonight in New York one such organization, Ballroom Marfa–which was founded in 2003 by Fairfax Dorn (learn more about her here) and has helped expand the Marfa ethos to include younger, more experimental, boundary-pushing artists–hosts its annual fundraiser in New York.

So to help better understand the city and the Ballroom’s importance we spoke to Trey Laird, who aside from being one of the industry’s most important creative directors, has become one of Marfa’s biggest supporters and benefactors.

How did you first start going to Marfa on your own time?

My wife Jenny and I are both from Texas, so we obviously go back to Texas quite a bit. And we’re somewhat involved in the art world, so if you’re in the art world you know about Marfa, and if you’re from Texas and you’re involved in the art world, there’s sort of no excuse but to go. We always wanted to go and see all the Judd buildings and all the installations there, so we went first about ten years ago, maybe eleven or so years ago. And just immediately fell in love with it, with the landscape, the town, sort of the attitude–obviously all the artwork and installations. But even more so than the art work, just the sense of space and sky and openness.

When did you get involved as someone who’s helping with the town’s arts infrastructure, and more specifically Ballroom Marfa?

After we started going a few times we got to know Virginia and Fairfax, and over the years they’ve become very close friends of ours, and were a big part of why we decided to buy a house there. We really love the people that are there, and their commitment to that place and also the art. As we got a little more serious about going to Marfa on a regular basis, we were both asked to get involved in different ways. Jenny was asked to join the board of Ballroom, and I was asked to join the board of Chinati. So between the two of us we’re pretty involved in Marfa and those institutions there, and I think it’s great how different they both are, but I think they really complement each other. One sort of represents that foundation that Donald Judd established there in really bringing an art scene to Marfa. Ballroom represents a new generation of experimentation and independence, and bringing different thinking and different voices up there. I think it’s really nice to see them kind of each have their own missions but complement each other.

How are things going for the Ballroom?

It’s amazing. Obviously the famous thing they supported was Prada Marfa–to have something like that in the middle of nowhere get such global attention, it’s really extraordinary. Not only for those artists, just what it says about independent art and being able to realize projects and have them accept people in different ways. I think there are so many thousands and thousands of people who drive by that and have no knowledge of art and don’t know anything about Ballroom or the artists or anything about it–but think about it and interact with art in maybe a way that they’re not even realizing. I think there’s something really amazing about that. Ballroom is one of those places that I think is such a free-spirit in the art world. There aren’t that many of those. There are so many institutions that are big and powerful and have huge budgets and powerful boards–but to have some small, independent things that are really open-minded and experimental, and have freedom, and allow artists to kind of push the limits of what they want to express: that’s the beauty of what Fairfax and Virginia have created. Most artists are super inspired to do something like that in Marfa. It’s just this magic place that. I’ve never met an artist that either hasn’t loved if they’ve been or isn’t dying to go if they haven’t. That’s inspiring; it’s a very inspiring place. To have an institution there that brings different artists there, or musicians, or writers, and gives them that freedom to create in that space, to realize different visions, is really important, and we need those types of things.

Do you discover new work down there? Or do you know most people working there?

No, not necessarily at all. In some cases there’s artists that I know that I’ve followed their careers, I’ve seen their work, and they’ll end up having a show at Ballroom. There are other times that there will be a few artists that I’ve never heard of, and never seen their work, and someone that Fairfax has met or discovered or commissioned or whatever the right word is to say, so it’s a great mix. In some cases it’s more established artists that are given this outlet to do something completely free, and in other cases it’s a great platform for an emerging artist to have some visibility and also have that freedom.

You must find a lot of inspiration for your own creative endeavors.

Absolutely, on many different levels. One level, just from living in New York with the tastes and the crowds and the energy which is all good, but it’s so full-on and so intense. So when I go to Marfa, immediately the body starts to slow down and you’re sort of in the middle of nowhere, in some ways sort of isolated. And at the same time there’s this little sort of cultural vibe there. And it’s very unique to find those two things together. There are lots of places you can go and kind of be on your own: you can go out in the desert, in the countryside. And there are places you can go and have a cultural experience, whether that’s in Europe or any big capital. But it’s very, very hard to find a place that combines the two. For me, it is kind of the best of both worlds as a New Yorker to have that counterpoint, the polar-opposite of my day-to-day life in New York. But at the same time, to have friends and experiences that you can engage in there that are so culturally enriching, if you choose to tap into them, that’s really, really great. Then on an artistic level, every time I go in the Judd artillery shed, to see the hundred aluminum boxes–I’ve been in there 30 times, it always takes my breath away, I always leave seeing something new–just to go out in the morning and walk along those concrete boxes out in the fields, it’s incredible. It’s a magic place, there’s nowhere else like it.

Two-Lane Kings: The 15 Best Movies on the Road

“A lot of my films start off with road maps instead of scripts. Sometimes it feels like flying blind without instruments,” says iconic German director Wim Wenders. “You fly all night, and in the morning you arrive somewhere. That is: you have to try to make a landing somewhere so the film can end.” And as one of the most beloved and acclaimed masters of cinema, the majority of his early films fell into the grand and expansive category of the Road Movie. Whether it’s a drama about the fruitless search for the intangible American dream, the journey to sacrifice yourself and reunite the ones you love, or the act of running away from that which you’ve committed on the other side, throughout cinematic history, the road movie has served a vast array of narrative genres—spanning from violent pop-art thrillers to tranquil languid dramas.

As a place where the chaos of the world is forced to tame itself and adhere to the graceful restrictions of a parallel world, the road allows one’s mind to detach from the constant anxieties outside the blacktop. Wenders would describe it as a place of discovery, with travel as a “circular form” where there’s always “something of a waltz at the end of the road.” And throughout cinema, some of the most cherished works of art and some of the most influential films of the last hundred years have taken the form of the classic road picture. So as we wind into summer, the greatest time for long and winding endless trips across new borders and exploring into the abyss of the soul, let’s take a look back on some of the greatest  road movies to ever make their way onto the screen. From Dennis Hopper’s Easy Rider to Edgar G. Ulmer’s Detour, here’s looking into the vast stretch beyond.

EASY RIDER, Dennis Hopper

After Easy Rider’s cross-country journey—with its radical, New Wave–style editing, outsider-rock soundtrack, revelatory performance by a young Jack Nicholson, and explosive ending—the American road trip would never be the same.

TWO-LANE BLACKTOP, Monte Hellman

But no summary can do justice to the existential punch of Two-Lane Blacktop. With its gorgeous widescreen compositions and sophisticated look at American male obsession, this stripped-down narrative from maverick director Monte Hellman is one of the artistic high points of 1970s cinema, and possibly the greatest road movie ever made.

MY OWN PRIVTE IDAHO, Gus van Sant

Visually dazzling and groundbreaking, My Own Private Idaho is a deeply moving look at unrequited love and life at society’s margins.

STRANGER THAN PARADISE, Jim Jarmusch

With its delicate humor and dramatic nonchalance, Jim Jarmusch’s one-of-a-kind minimalist masterpiece, Stranger Than Paradise, forever transformed the landscape of American independent cinema.

DETOUR, Edgar J. Ulmer

Detour is an example of material finding the appropriate form. Two bottom-feeders from the swamps of pulp swim through the murk of low-budget noir and are caught gasping in Ulmer’s net. They deserve one another. At the end, Al is still complaining: “Fate, for some mysterious force, can put the finger on you or me, for no good reason at all.” Oh, it has a reason.

ALICE IN THE CITIES, Wim Wenders

Wim Wenders’s 1974 black-and-white road movie that marked the first installment of his Road Movie Trilogy and mirrors similar themes as his 1984 masterpiece Paris, Texas. The film tells the story of a German journalist traveling in the United States who becomes responsible for a nine-year-old girl as they travel through back through Europe to her grandmother. Filled with existential yearning and melancholic beauty this is a truly beautiful watch.    

PIERROT LE FOU, Jean Luc-Godard

This is no normal road trip: genius auteur Jean-Luc Godard’s tenth feature in six years is a stylish mash-up of consumerist satire, politics, and comic-book aesthetics, as well as a violent, zigzag tale of, as Godard called them, “the last romantic couple.” With blissful color imagery by cinematographer Raoul Coutard and Belmondo and Karina at their most animated, Pierrot le fou is one of the high points of the French New Wave, and was Godard’s last frolic before he moved ever further into radical cinema.

FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS, Terry Gilliam

Director Terry Gilliam and an all-star cast headlined by Johnny Depp and Benicio Del Toro show no mercy in bringing Hunter S. Thompson’s excoriating dissection of the American way of life to the screen, creating a film both hilarious and savage.    

PARIS, TEXAS, Wim Wenders

What makes Paris, Texas and all of Wim’s work so special is that it is filled with so much yearning and so much restlessness; people aching so badly to find what it is they’re looking for. They’re all so hungry for love and connection and something to make them feel alive. Some of them find it in others and then some of them realize even if they did—would it even make them feel better? Or are they destined to eternally feel that hole inside? 

BADLANDS, Terrence Malick

The film introduced many of the elements that would earn Malick his passionate following: the enigmatic approach to narrative and character, the unusual use of voice-over, the juxtaposition of human violence with natural beauty, the poetic investigation of American dreams and nightmares. This debut has spawned countless imitations, but none have equaled its strange sublimity.

NATURAL BORN KILLERS, Oliver Stone

Stone is not making a geek show, with closeups of blood and guts. Like all good satirists, he knows that too much realism will weaken his effect. He lets you know he’s making a comedy…Stylistically, the film is a cinematic bazaar, combining color and black and white, film and video, 35mm and Super 8, sitcom style and animated cartoons, fiction and newsreels. They’re throwing stuff at the screen by the gleeful handfuls.    

DOWN BY LAW, Jim Jarmusch

Described by Jarmusch as a “neo-Beat noir comedy,” Down by Law is part nightmare and part fairy tale, featuring sterling performances and crisp black-and-white cinematography by the esteemed Robby Müller.

TASTE OF CHERRY, Abbas Kiarostami

Iranian auteur Abbas Kiarostami’s Taste of Cherry is an emotionally complex meditation on life and death. Middle-aged Mr. Badii (Homayoun Ershadi) drives through the hilly outskirts of Tehran—searching for someone to rescue or bury him. 

BOTTLE ROCKET, Wes Anderson

Bottle Rocket is a charming, hilarious, affectionate look at the folly of dreamers, shot against radiant southwestern backdrops, and the film that put Anderson and the Wilson brothers on the map.

WILD AT HEART, David Lynch

This is my road picture, except there isn’t a role for Bob Hope.

From the Vault: Richard Hell’s Thumbs Down for Wim Wenders, Carlos Reygada, the Dardenne Brothers

Originally run in BlackBook’s March 2006 issue, musician/film critic Richard Hell wrote for us about the films he admired least from the month. With the nature of the industry changing so rapidly over the past seven years, it’s interesting to look back on his criticism with the knowledge of today. We see how the directors of whom he speaks have gone far beyond in that time, as well as how the DVD culture he praises has progressed into the world of video-on-demand and Blu-Ray. .

As a rule, I don’t write about movies I don’t like, just because it seems like a waste of space. I didn’t see any I liked for this issue, though, so I’m finally writing some straight pans. There were three movies that turned out to be bad for similar reasons, having to do with how they tarted themselves up in art drag when really all they were was the drag part. One was more or less simply disappointing, one I hated, and one was frustrating in a kind of complicated way. After all that, I’ll lighten up with some good news at the end.

The plain disappointment was the new Wim Wenders film, Don’t Come Knocking, written by and starring Sam Shepard. Wenders has always been an over-romantic Americanaphile, the kind of European who wants to make western road movies with a lot of motels and desert, fronting an electric guitar soundtrack. At the same time, I respect his casual, eye-oriented style. I’ve liked some of his documentaries and remember being susceptible to Wings of Desire too, though I haven’t seen it for a long time. Paris, Texas, his earlier movie written by Shepard, was too ploddingly portentous for me. Shepard, before he was a movie star, was the playwright hero of the 1970s and has continued to be that for two or three generations of rock & roll cowboys of the theater, reeling off drama into the dawn the way most people go to sleep. He’s successfully worked his radiotronic rabbit tooth or his silver dog smell or whatever it is on me more than once over the years. I liked a lot of those plays, and I also respect, as I do in Wenders, Shepard’s anti-Hollywood priorities.
But this movie is so bad and bad in such a way as to make me wonder if I could have been wrong about the earlier Shepard. This shit is too fucking macho, faux-mysterioso, and too much a mental mess, like a blind cut-up of Sam’s and Wim’s own faded old material. It’s strange to see these guys, who so conspicuously reject Hollywood formulas, making works as limited to formula as the stuff they oppose. There are a whole lot of good looking shots in this movie: of western desert, of the big-skied beat-up streets of downtown Butte, Montana, of outrageous disco-squared Nevada casinos, of the star’s vintage Packard wheeling down the two-lane, etc. But that shit is as tired by now as teeth-gnashing mega-pixel dinosaurs. More tired. And who cares about another jacked-in cowboy having an existential crisis all over his family? He should do that on his own time. Eva Marie Saint as Shepard’s mom is really great though. I wish they’d stayed at her house and let her be the movie.
If Don’t Come Knocking is derivative of its own filmmakers, the other two movies here are counterfeits of interesting recent artistic trends. Apparently, there are enough art movies succeeding these days that what at first was fresh gets immediately degraded by imitators. (The one film I’ve walked out on in these two years of movie reviewing was Napoleon Dynamite, a moronic and mean-spirited psuedo-type of Todd Solondz’s great Welcome to the Dollhouse.) The movie I hated is called Battle in Heaven. It’s from Mexico and is the second feature by director Carlos Reygadas. The techniques that Reygadas exploits here are those originally used sensitively and organically by directors like Abbas Kiarostami (Iran), Bruno Dumont (France), and their cinematic godfather the incomparable Robert Bresson: employing non-actors in stories about ordinary, usually poor, people in mostly everyday scenes — though the everyday scenes often include violent death, frequently suicide. Lately, explicit acts of sex have joined the real life detail of some of them, too.
Battle in Heaven opens with a shot travelling slowly, from a mushy face, down the full-frontal body of a very fat and homely naked guy who you eventually see (in unforgiving closeup) is getting his purplish penis sucked by a pretty young woman. The imagery — the camera work, lighting, angles and material subject — definitely get your attention. You want to trust this director because he’s showing you strong stuff. You want to find out where he’s going to go with it, what he’s going to indicate to you about its importance. Unfortunately, he goes nowhere and means nothing. The movie is pure exploitation masquerading as art. It’s degrading to watch. It’s all strategic smoke-blowing, the smoke being filmic techniques that we’ve learned from the director’s betters to read as signifying insight and intelligence, but which here are used in the service of emptiness and vanity, emptiness made to further keep your attention with explicit sex and extreme violence. It’s pure Hollywood pretending to be its opposite. I’ll take Get Rich or Die Tryin’ any day.
The frustrating film is L’Enfant (The Child). Isolated from its models and influences, the movie would seem more than worthwhile: it’s smart, well-acted, shot well, and compelling. (It actually won the Dardenne brothers, who produced, wrote, and directed it, their second Palme d’Or — the first was for Rosetta in 1999 — at Cannes. ) Like Battle in Heaven, it shows underclass folk (and fully credible ones, in contrast to the freaks predicated by Reygadas), carrying out their daily routine. The story is of a dim and luckless 23-year old petty thief and beggar, his 18-year-old girlfriend, and their new baby, on the streets of an industrial city of Belgium. In L’Enfant the roles are played by actors, though they’re good enough and the film is shot in such a way — hand-held camera, natural light — as to make it feel uncannily real. As in Bresson, there is no soundtrack music.
By the time it’s over, you’re moved, though for me it was against my will, because it all wasn’t enough. We’ve seen it before, in Italian neo-realism, in Bresson—the climactic scene, which defines the film, is a shameless appropriation from Bresson’s Pickpocket. I don’t know, this sort of thing isn’t unprecedented. Brian DePalma made a lot of enjoyable movies that were homages derived from Hitchcock. But DePalma’s movies were intended half as goofy filmfreak larks, not intense depictions of our condition, like the Dardennes’ film. There’s certainly a lot to be usefully learned from Bresson — Kiarastami and Dumont prove that — but this film too narrowly imitates him. It’s like if you hadn’t heard Little Richard doing “Long Tall Sally,” you might think the Beatles’ version was great. If you’ve seen Pickpocket, L’Enfant is kid stuff.
For an up note, I’ll point out that DVDs have recently been released of two really good films that you might have missed in theaters in 2005: Miranda July’s Me and You and Everyone We Know, and Arnaud Desplechin’s Kings and Queen. Both are strikingly original (!), intelligent, and entertaining, the former a whimsical/spooky tale of the quest for romance of a video/performance artist in nowheresville Southern California; and the latter a novelistically complex look at crises in the life of a thirty-five year old French woman (played by the tremendous Emmanuelle Devos). While being very different from each other, they also have a kind of poetic imagination in common, which, in mixing the real with the hallucinatory, makes everything more real (and funny). There’s not space to say more, but I think you wouldn’t regret renting either.

The Best Films to Watch Without Ever Leaving Your Bed This Week: Essential Romantic Ache

Every Monday morning, I find myself whispering the old Beckett adage “I can’t go on, I’ll go on,” to myself as I settle down into work. No matter how thrilling the day’s prospects may be, it’s that midweek slump that always seems to rear its ugly head in the worst way. But never fear, the hours are sure to breeze on by and soon it will be the weekend—one that happens to be rife with fantastic films both premiering and screening around the city, thanks to new premieres and various wonderful retrospectives.

But in the meantime, what better way to spend an evening than curled up under the sheets enjoying the best of cinema—new modern masterpieces to enduring classics—from the comfort of your bed? And with myriad options to choose from on Netflix, Hulu, and iTunes, the nightly decision of what to show in your private bedroom screening can prove a challenge. So to make your time easier, I’ve rounded up some of the best films about amour fou available to stream, so peruse our list, get cozy, and enjoy.

Love? Be it man. Be it woman.
It must be a wave you want to glide in on, 
give your body to it, give your laugh to it, 
give, when the gravelly sand takes you, 
your tears to the land. To love another is something
like prayer and can’t be planned, you just fall
into its arms because your belief undoes your disbelief.
– Anne Sexton,  Admonitions to a Special Person

Chungking Express (iTunes)

L’eclisse (Hulu)

 Love Story (Netflix)

http://youtu.be/R9Ofa3Vl-fY

The Night Porter (Hulu)

 The Piano Teacher (Netflix)

http://youtu.be/tZgHoyeSFTc

Jules and Jim (Hulu)

Reds (Netflix)

http://youtu.be/B-6K_Lz7goI

Manhattan (Netflix)

http://youtu.be/6Zjznrmw2Bk

L’Avventura (Hulu)

 Say Anything (Netflix)

The Soft Skin (Hulu)

Punch-Drunk Love (Netflix)

The Last Metro (Hulu)

http://youtu.be/H1clfoKibfA

 Take This Waltz (Netflix)

My Man Godfrey (iTunes)

 Broadcast News (Netflix)

Summer with Monika (Hulu)

http://youtu.be/FbV83kwJZ68

Nothing Sacred (Netflix)

Le Grand Amour (Hulu)

Before Midnight (iTunes)

 The Deep Blue Sea (Netflix)

Bad Timing (iTunes)

 I Married a Witch (Hulu)

I Am Love (Netflix)

http://youtu.be/9hgQTzQkP3A

Brief Encounter (iTunes)

http://youtu.be/HBW65wIItyA

Certified Copy (Netflix)

 Mala Noche (Hulu)

The Apartment (iTunes) 

Paris, Texas (Hulu)

http://youtu.be/FP46wzCt-DA

In the Realm of the Senses (Hulu)

Listening Through Cinema’s Best Soundtracks: Your Wednesday Morning Treat

A film’s soundtrack is a necessary component to the total sum. The best use of music in film is not when its manipulative but rather acting as a character of its own, helping bring to life the filmmakers artistic vision. And this year, we’ve been graced with some truly fantastic new soundtracks—from Shane Carruth’s complex ethereal wonder Upstream Color to Clint Mansell’s stirringly sensuous Stoker. So to liven up your Wednesday afternoon, I’ve rounded up the best film soundtracks floating around in their enitrety. So whether you’re in the mood to transport yourself into a delicate and gauzy Coppola world or the existential romatic longing world of Wenders, peruse our listen and see whar perks up your emotions. Enjoy.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Almost Famous

The Virgin Suicides

Trainspotting

For more

Requiem for a Dream

Upstream Color

A Clockwork Orange

For more

 

Nashville

For more

Pulp Fiction

For more

The Last Waltz

For more

 

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

For more

 

Natural Born Killers

For more

Blue Velvet

For more

 

Paris, Texas

 

Punch-Drunk Love

For more

Waltz With Bashir

For more

 

The Graduate

For more

 

Schindler’s List

For more

 

Spring Breakers

For more

Amacord

For more

 

Fire Walk With Me

For more

Chungking Express

For more

 

Magnolia

For more

 

Elevator to the Gallows

Drive

For more

 

Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters

For more

 

Taxi Driver

 

Superfly

 

Mystery Train

For more