Off-Ramp | Off-Ramp host John Rabe and contributors share thoughts on arts, culture, and life in L.A.

'Josef Koudelka: Nationality Doubtful' photos at the Getty Center

Prague, 1968, part of "Josef Koudelka: Nationality Doubtful," at the Getty Center.
Josef Koudelka & Pace/MacGill Gallery, @Koudelka/Magnum

Off-Ramp commentator Marc Haefele reviews "Josef Koudelka: Nationality Doubtful," at the Getty Center through March 22. The exhibit was organized by the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Art Institute of Chicago and Fundación MAPFRE.

"I became what I am from how I was born, but also what photography made from me. Other people ask me, 'Are you still Czech or are you French?” I don’t know who I am — people who see me might say who I am. I am the product of all this continuous traveling, but I know where I come from."  ( Josef Koudelka, New York Times, 2013)

Master photographer Josef Koudelka is a bouncy, 76-year-old elf with a sketchy remainder of fluffy white hair who got along for many years with neither a nationality nor a fixed address. He lived out of a backpack with a couple of cameras, moving all over Europe, Africa and the Middle East, often sleeping outdoors.


Add your comments

AFI Fest: Celine Sciamma's 'Girlhood:' A splintered self

"Bande de Filles," titled "Girlhood" in the US, is a coming-of-age story about a girl named Vic, played by Karidja Touré.
Strand Releasing

In his final dispatch from this year's AFI Fest, Off-Ramp contributor RH Greene gives his thoughts on Celine Sciamma's French "coming of age" drama "Girlhood," one of his favorite films of the fest.

It's understandable that Strand Releasing would want to retitle French filmmaker Celine Sciamma's wonderful new coming of age drama "Bande de Filles" as "Girlhood" for U.S. consumption. What indie distributor isn't looking at the grosses for Richard Linklater's "Boyhood" ($42 million global and counting) without smacking its lips?

Still, "Girlhood" (which took Cannes by storm this year) is a wildly different film from Linklater's one-of-a-kind time lapse stunt piece, and it's an ensemble effort in ways "Boyhood," with its single main protagonist, could never be. "Bande de Filles" (translated roughly as "A Gang of Girls") is the far more appropriate title. It speaks not only to the artificial family at the core of the drama but also to the splintered soul that is "Girlhood's" center.


Add your comments

AFI Fest: 'Merchants of Doubt' is the Lord's work, done badly

"Merchants of Doubt," a new documentary from Robert Kenner.
Sony Pictures Classics

Off-Ramp contributor RH Greene continues his journey through some of the more prominent AFI Fest titles with Oscar-nominated documentarian Robert Kenner's new movie "Merchants of Doubt."

I'm personally quite sympathetic to the impulse behind "Merchants of Doubt," the new documentary from the Oscar-nominated Robert Kenner ("Food, Inc."), which he based on the 2010 book by Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway. I think the planet is warming. I think human beings are the cause. I think the evidence is overwhelming. I think the counter-argument is so clearly manipulated by vested interests it would be laughable, if the stakes weren't so high.

WATCH: A clip from Robert Kenner's "Merchants of Doubt"

In other words, I'm the ideal audience for "Merchants of Doubt."

Which is basically the only audience for "Merchants of Doubt."


Add your comments

LA Opera's doubleheader 'like Bambi Meets Godzilla'

Paula Murrihy and Liam Bonner in the title roles of LA Opera's "Dido and Aeneas"
Craig Mathew/LA Opera

Off-Ramp commentator Marc Haefele reviews the L.A. Opera doubleheader of Henry Purcell’s "Dido & Aeneas" and Bela Bartok’s  "Bluebeard's Castle," in performance through Nov. 15.

Purcell’s "Dido & Aeneas" sharing an opera double bill with Bela Bartok’s "Bluebeard's Castle" is a lot like Bambi Meets Godzilla. These are works from two different universes, with different physical laws.

While nominally a tragedy, "Dido" folds English late-17th century brightness into Virgil’s epic. But Bela Balasz’ libretto for “Bluebeard” blends the darkest of all fairy tales and the apocalyptic shadows preceding World War I into a morbid tableau carried on the shoulders of the young Bartok’s incendiary, ground-breaking score.

So how do the two manage to create such an enjoyable evening together? By being a novel and welcome departure from the L.A. Opera’s chestnut repertory of the past few years and by being singular operas, brilliantly (with some exceptions) mounted.


Add your comments

AFI Fest: 'It Follows' offers Hitchcockian take on 80s slasher fare

R.H. Greene says "It Follows," an AFI Fest offering, is easy on the gore, hard on the dread. It tells the tale of an unexplained and murderous shapeshifting entity that is transmitted from victim to victim via sex.
Courtesy "It Follows"

Off-Ramp contributor R. H. Greene is covering AFI Fest for Off-Ramp. Today, he reports on one of the more celebrated recent horror titles at  the festival.

"It Follows," a more-artful-than-most teen horror film, broke out at Cannes last year and will be distributed by Radius-TWC (the Weinstein Brothers) in 2015. Very well directed by David Robert Mitchell ("The Myth of the American Sleepover"), the film uses a quasi-Hitchcockian approach — easy on the gore, hard on the dread — to tell the tale of an unexplained and murderous shapeshifting entity that is transmitted from victim to victim via sex.

This post-coital demon can take any shape, and slow walks implacably toward whomever is the latest victim in the chain. The only way to find respite from the monster's scary intentions is to remove yourself at a vast distance, and then pass it on through intercourse before it catches up to you.


Add your comments