Monday, November 23, 2009


Those who missed the brief run of the Jonathan Parker-Catherine DiNapoli flick "Untitled" missed a thought-provoking work. While it shreds the pretentions of New York contemporary art and "serious" music, it also offers an explanation, of sorts, or how we got there. (The scariest part is that I mildly enjoyed some of the film's mildly stimulating David Lang background music.)

Questions raised: What is art? What is the avant-garde?

To me, the connection between serious and commercial art, depicted regarding the art gallery at the center of the movie, was most intriguing. It mirrors the situation of literature's "serious" postmodern works a la Jon Lethem, with the bills paid by the "back room" produce of the Brad Thors of the publishing world. In literature, as with art, both categories are junk. (Or, as a Russian singer notably proclaims in the film, "This is shit!")

This realization-- that it's all shit-- turns the film from comedy into tragedy: the depressing knowledge that art has reached a dead end, with no apparent way out.