Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Ladies Are Bringing It!

Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work
Can’t rave enough about the Joan Rivers doc, Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work. It’s a truly revealing portrait of an artist at work. Honest, riveting, enervating, hysterical, and brutal, Rivers gives us a behind-the-scenes look at her life during a trying year. She’s 75, her career is on the downside, yet she keeps hustling. Why can’t she slow down? Why doesn’t she rest on her laurels? Why does she continue to subject herself to the trials and tribulations of the artist’s life when she’s 75? The film does a great job getting to the core of what makes Joan tick and why she’s so driven. The film deftly mixes the modern day neurosis with a look back at her seminal career, so those looking for a historical overview will not be disappointed. What’s most rewarding are the bits from her current show. Rivers is still side-splittingly hysterical. Sharp tongued, she remains current. She’s not hauling out material from 1979. She keeps it fresh and au courant. Go see this now.

Just Kids by Patti Smith
This book is awesome. It's inspiring and romantic. This is the kind of book you read when you’re fourteen that makes you want to be an artist. Smith beautifully recounts her years with Robert Mapplethorpe. Smith and Mapplethorpe are each other’s muses. They commit to a life of art and to each other. The book traces their time together, from nobodies who intensely believe in each other and what they each have to offer the world, to recognized artists. Mapplethorpe moves from collage to photography, looking to enter the Factory world and move beyond it. Smith does an amazing job tracing Mapplethorpe’s development as an artist and as a person grappling with his sexuality. She brings keen observations to his work and process and shines light on the beauty of Mapplethorpe’s “challenging” oeuvre. For her part, Smith has her beloved poetry. Watching her find a way to meld her love of Rimbaud with her love of rock and roll is truly fascinating. Over the course of the book you see the two find themselves, find their voice, and find a direction. Through it all, they have an unwavering commitment to each other, to push each other, to prod each other, to make sure their gifts find a place in the world. A beautiful story, beautifully written. Go Patti Smith.

Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings live at The Warfield, June 2010
It’s a party. It’s a throw down. Sharon Jones is on fire. The hardest working woman in showbiz. A non-stop, soul-shaking juggernaut. The band bills it as a soul revue, and they are not wrong. This is the second time I’ve seen Jones and she delivers full marks. Jones is a dynamo, bringing it full on for nearly two hours. Just goes to show, you don’t need to be young to know how to rock.