December 13, 2010

Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work
She may be the Comedienne of Mean, but Joan Rivers is also the hardest working woman in show biz”€”and she’s not about to let you forget it. Filmed two years ago during the throes of Celebrity Apprentice when Rivers could hardly book a show, this documentary (out on DVD Tuesday) reveals a surprisingly human side to the red carpet terror. Now 77 years old, Rivers fears being without work more than anything else”€”she flips through her datebook, each empty month a symbol of how far she’s come from her days seated next to Johnny Carson on the Tonight show. Luckily, this is one documentary with a happy ending”€”Rivers”€™ career was revitalized after Donald Trump deemed her the winner of his reality show, and she’s back to late-night appearances and sold out stand-up. Welcome back, Joanie. We hardly had a chance to miss you.

Norman Rockwell’s America, Dulwich Picture Gallery, London, UK, Opens December 15 “€“ March 27, 2011
Norman Rockwell was able to capture the nuances and beauty of everyday life in America and now, with the opening of the first major exhibition in England, an entirely new country is getting a dose of his classic work. The span of his six-decade career is covered, including 323 photorealistic Saturday Evening Post covers spanning 1916 to 1963 and other illustrations and ads. Not to worry, for those who live stateside, two other shows of Rockwell’s work are still at the Brooklyn Museum and the American Art Museum in Washington D.C.

It may be two weeks before the end of the year, but one of pop music’s most-anticipated albums is here in the nick of time. MICHAEL, the first posthumous work from the King of Pop since his sudden death in June 2009, is comprised of unreleased songs he was working on up until his demise. If it seems a little thrown together, that’s because it is”€”Jackson’s label included outtakes and Michael’s brother Randy argues that his famous sibling isn”€™t even singing on some tracks. Reviewers are still calling it compelling work and who are we kidding”€”diehard fans are going to be rushing the stores for this one. Before its release on Tuesday, the entire album is streaming for free online at

Cirque Phenix, Pelouse de Reuilly, Paris, Now “€“ January 10, 2011
They may not leap over tall buildings in a single bound, but the extremely lithe and talented performers of this circus act have other impressive talents. Fifty artists from all over the world gather for this show, a favorite in Paris. Over three million people have seen the Cirque Phenix, now celebrating its 10th year on stage. Russian trapeze artists share the stage with Ethiopian contortionists”€”and there’s even a little 3D effect thrown in for good measure. Its director Alain M. Pacherie is responsible for the global reach of the show and has expanded it this year with fireworks and accompaniment by the Phenix Orchestra. Beats a stroll down the Seine.

Andy Warhol: Motion Pictures, Museum of Modern Art, New York, December 19 “€“ March 21, 2011
His actors don”€™t talk. The storylines don”€™t make sense. The images don”€™t flicker in color”€”and certainly not in 3D. Yet Andy Warhol’s motion pictures are nonetheless compelling, perhaps because they star some of his favorites from the worlds of art and Hollywood. Edie Sedgwick, Allen Ginsberg, Lou Reed, Dennis Hopper, Susan Sontag and others make cameos. Warhol shot his films during the height of his career in his creative studio The Factory. “€œSleep,”€ “€œEat,”€ and “€œBlow Job,”€ along with his longer works, were shot on 16mm black-and-white film at 24 frames per second, then slowed down to mimic earlier silent films. MoMA is showing the shorts constantly, the longer films are scheduled through the end of the exhibition. Oh, and did we mention they”€™re racy? The sound of silence is sexy again.


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