By Sherrie Li
By Falling James
By Amanda Lewis
By Amy Nicholson
By Amy Nicholson
By Jennifer Swann
By Scott Foundas
By Sherrie Li
Really a 58-second art film with a two-second commercial tacked on the end, "Bubble" is one of the best things on TV. (It has shown theatrically as well.) I rarely find commercials moving, but this one packs so much information and emotion into its time frame that it leaves you touched and almost overwhelmed. Part of it is the music, of course — "Mr. Blue Sky" is a great song — but it's also the look and performance of Billy Briggs, the actor who plays the lost soul wandering through a wilderness of cubicles and corridors, as well as the ingenious use director Mike Mills makes of split screens and even quarter-screens, so that two or even four days in the protagonist's life can be shown simultaneously. Okay, it's just a commercial, but it evokes everything from Groundhog Dayto Cindy Sherman photographs, and doesn't suffer in the comparison.
WITH ALL THESE NUMBED OFFICE WORKERS clogging the screen, Keith Richards' performance during the Rolling Stones concert at Madison Square Garden (carried live by HBO on January 18) stood out all the more. (That's what all those paper shufflers want to be: rock stars.) Only rarely do you get to see someone who really loves his job, but Richards, to paraphrase Hamlet, made love to his profession. His face may be ravaged, but his body remains wonderfully limber, and he is now, cruelly, far more graceful than the wince-inducing Mick Jagger.
Being the Rolling Stones, the band still managed to provide a bit of subversion, and they did it in a deliciously sly way. They (gasp!) smoked cigarettesonstage. No one blinks an eye when someone lights up in a movie or a TV drama, because we know it's only "acting." But the sight of someone enjoying a puff live on camera not because it's in the script, but because he enjoys it, has become weirdly startling. In fact, watching Richards light up his coffin nail with such evident pleasure — taking drags off the thing, using it to gesture with his hands in time-honored artistic fashion as curlicues of smoke rose into the spotlit air above him — was the most shocking thing I've seen on TV in ages.
New York's humorless Mayor Bloomberg, furious that his ban on smoking in public places was being so arrogantly flouted, threatened to close down the show and sent in the police to issue the Stones a summons. Too late: The wily rockers slipped away through a side door before the cops could reach them. A pity, since it might have made a glorious final entry in a police-blotter that spans the decades: Busted -- for smoking a Marlboro.
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