ROUND-UP July 9-24, 2018

Hello, dear readers! I'm starting to consider just doing these posts on a monthly basis so that they're more regular. Anyway, enjoy an art review, two movie reviews, and a book review!
"Perhaps it's a result of Young Jane Young's zeitgeisty nature, but the novel, enjoyable as it is, doesn't necessarily warrant a second reading. I typically enjoy books that continue to reveal layers upon further deep dives, but while Zevin's book is punchy and entertaining, it's not particularly complex. The story of the women wrapped up in a Clinton-esque sex scandal is appropriately timely in 2018; as society and popular culture at large have begun to reevaluate how we talk about sex and relationships and issues of power dynamics and consent, certainly the reaction to Monica Lewinsky's encounters with President Clinton has shifted. One of the perks of being born in the '90s means that my perception of her was only lightly colored by the media circus following her affair with the President, so naturally I'm inclined to see Lewinsky as someone I could have known—someone I could have gone to school with, even. To me, the gap in maturity and power in that relationship—in any relationship between an employer and a subordinate—seems obvious. Lewinsky herself has since responded to the events that have shaped her life since she was in her early 20s with far more introspection, candor, and grace than President Clinton has. Making Aviva one of the main characters of her own story, and giving her subjectivity and a voice, is an important step forward in how we think of these "other women" as more and more of their stories come to light."
"Both an artist opportunity and a canny homage to the original 1863 Salon de Refus├ęs, “Best of the Worst” is a much more sly challenge to its neighboring galleries than it purports to be. Like the 1863 Salon, Practice is suggesting that the works on its walls — over 40 pieces — are perhaps better, and more avant-garde, than what’s on the walls at the juried shows; with a wink and a nudge, Practice stakes its claim for posterity through association. 

"Of course, in order to back up that assertion, the works in “Best of the Worst” need to push the envelope in some way—to shock, confuse, even disgust us. But on its face, there isn’t much in “Best of the Worst” that distinguishes itself from other juried shows. There’s certainly talent on display in a wide variety of media–sculpture, painting, photography, installation, even video. But as an overall experience, “Best of the Worst” is marked by a sense of disjointedness. Because the central theme is a “best of” show, with no single aesthetic, and the works don’t relate to one another thematically. Instead, the pleasures in “Best of the Worst” are often found in singular contributions as discrete units."
"There are hints of brilliance in how the documentary is constructed. Before we begin with the biography of the man, we’re treated to a sort of greatest-hits to help us settle in, to familiarize ourselves with what Beaton is known for, before we learn who he is. A clip of Beaton’s Academy Award-winning costumes for My Fair Lady—specifically, the scene at the racetrack—and how it is presented in the context of Love, Cecil almost serves as a metaphor for the film in its entirety. As we gaze upon the massively ornate hats and perfect black-and-white ensembles, we’re told that Beaton’s vision of the Edwardian era in My Fair Lady was a fantasy, a construction that doesn’t represent how people actually dressed back then. The illusion of fidelity wiped away for us, the audience. We then watch Eliza Doolittle’s Cockney accent slip out in that famous clip where she cusses out her preferred horse, which demolishes the fantasy in a visceral way. We see a creation, are told it’s not based in reality, and then are shown something that shatters that creation’s hold on reality once and for all."
"There are half-baked ideas brimming under the surface in Zoe, which gives us a world where humanity has seemingly delegated emotional and romantic decisions to technology and pharmaceuticals. The strategy is three-pronged: robotic companions (called 'Synthetics' in a realistically-prescient form of marketing jargon) are sold as the perfect companions/lovers to lonely humans; human couples can be evaluated by a machine for compatibility, or single humans can use the same machine to find a compatible match; a new pill recreates the hormone rush of falling in love, rejuvenating stagnating relationships or allowing users to trip on a love high with complete strangers. Each of these three mechanisms would make an interesting story basis on its own, but shoving all three together as part of the same world-building means each gets short shrift, and none of the particularly interesting ethical issues actually get explored."