BIFF16 REVIEW: Tony Conrad: Completely in the Present [2016]

“No LSD needed” When Tony Conrad passed away in April 2016, I knew of him as an experimental filmmaker. It’s hard to be an art student at the University at Buffalo—despite his teaching in Media Studies rather than Fine Art—and not know his name at the very least. But that was all I knew: a name, reputation, and the plaudits of countless friends who knew so much more. Only when obituaries started being released in the likes of The New York Times did I realize how renowned a figure he…

Read More

REVIEW: Velvet Goldmine [1998]

“It’s funny how beautiful people look when they’re walking out the door” What if Citizen Kane wasn’t about Charlie’s Foster Kane but instead the interviewer tasked with speaking to those in Kane’s life, mining for the meaning of “Rosebud”? This is sort of where director Todd Haynes (co-written with James Lyons) begins his fictional account of Brit glam rocker Brian Slade (Jonathan Rhys Meyers). Velvet Goldmine deals with this enigma of a star and his tumultuous life before fading completely out of the public consciousness following a misguided stunt. (Or…

Read More

Babel’s Patti Smith and her “monastic mess”

After waxing on about the “Lovecraftian” look of downtown Buffalo—the morning’s fog still hadn’t lifted by 6:45pm during my drive along the 190 to Kleinhans—Patti Smith disarmed the largest crowd in Just Buffalo Literary Center‘s Babel history with the words: “If you get bored or tired just tell me. We can talk about anything.” It’s amazing how honest they felt, especially in context with a lecture season seeming more like a publicity tour than look into the minds of artists. Smith conversely arrived to give us a piece of her…

Read More