Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Wild Tales

In the beginning, The Bureau consisted mostly of film reviews, but in the last few years it's become more of a venue for photos, particularly photos of rapidly changing San Francisco. However, the bureau chief is happy to return to films when something notable comes along. "Wild Tales" is an Argentinian black comedy made by Damián Szifron. It's his first feature although he's done work in television. It consists of six stories on the themes of injustice and revenge. It's brilliant, violent and hilarious. It reminded me of how I felt when I first saw Tarantino's "Pulp Fiction".

It was nominated for Best Foreign Film Oscar but lost out to Pawel Pawlikowski's "Ida" which is also an excellent film, but beautiful and sad while "Wild Tales" is completely exhilarating. I surprised myself by watching three of the five Foreign Film nominees this year. The third was Abderrahmane Sissako's "Timbuktu" which is also excellent and also beautiful and sad.

The first of the six tales in "Wild Tales" is a tiny masterpiece before the title that sets the mood for the whole movie. If "Wild Tales" is no longer in the theaters, I urge you to rent it as soon as it's available.




Friday, April 3, 2015

Another Mélange

Blue City.



Gold City.



Orange City with birds.



Mariachi Hitler?



Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Other Kind of Rainbow

The day after I shot the Leprechaun type of rainbow in our backyard, Madam Le Chef and I drove south on the freeway to see some friends in Menlo Park. We went under some dramatic rain clouds that produced rainbows less Leprechaun and more Apocalypse. Mme Le Chef shot some pictures through the windshield.







Saturday, February 28, 2015

Sudden Rainbow

Yesterday, 2/27/15, a strong breeze from the sea blew in a small rain shower that lasted maybe two minutes. It ended with a rainbow that vanished rapidly. As far as I could tell, no ponies or unicorns were involved.


Sunday, February 22, 2015

SFMOMA Addition

This is for Bay Area locals. We were downtown last weekend and saw that the addition to MOMA is finally more than a framework of girders. It looks like a docked cruise liner and towers over the original Mario Botta building in front of it.


I'm beginning to believe it really will reopen in the spring of 2016.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Ai Weiwei on Alcatraz

Ai Weiwei's wonderful show was constructed completely by volunteers under the artist's remote direction. He's not allowed to leave China. The installation starts at the New Industries Building which is somewhat decrepit but light and airy. Red jacketed volunteers act as guides. The photos are a mixture of mine and Madame Le Chef's.



The first thing you see is a big paper dragon kite. This is the start of the piece "Wind".



This is what the dragon looks out at.



The dragon is surrounded by bird kites.



The second piece is "Trace". It's portraits of political prisoners done in Legos. Although the artist was imprisoned by the Cinese government, he doesn't let any other governments off the hook.





There are books explaining what the people were imprisoned for. In order to see the next piece, "Refraction" you have to go into the very narrow gun gallery and peer through panes of glass which are covered by plexiglass since some of the panes are broken. The reason the corridor was named "the gun gallery" is that the guards observed the prisoners working from there. If a riot broke out, the guards could break the glass and shoot the prisoners.



The claustrophobic nature of the gun gallery is a good preparation for the next pieces which are in the much older central prison building. Madame Le Chef and I agreed that the most moving piece was "Stay Tuned". You were invited to sit in a cell and listen to a song or speech or poem which was broadcast from a square hole in the wall, down near the floor. It was as if you were listening to a message from another cell.



The text was posted on the wall across from the cell. I really liked this poem.



As always, World bless Pussy Riot.



The last piece that we photographed was "Blossom". Various bathtubs, basins and toilets in the hospital were filled with porcelain flowers made in China. That, the beautiful light and the decaying walls transformed them into weirdly sacral objects.











Monday, February 2, 2015

Alcatraz 1/24/15

Madame Le Chef and I went out to Alcatraz to see the Ai Weiwei show (to be covered in the next post). I had not been there in over 20 years and was struck by two things: the decayed state of a lot of the buildings and the stunning setting and beauty of the island. San Francisco didn't have a drop of rain in all of January - the first time that happened since they began keeping records. That was a terrible thing in the long run but led to week after week of superb afternoons. We took the boat out to the island on one of those afternoons.






Some buildings are being held up by inner supports of steel girders.



The views are not bad.



The same fogs and mists that erode the buildings...






Help the plants.






If you can, you should visit Alcatraz while the Ai Weiwei show is on. It's there through April 26th.