The Yes List – Charlotte Gainsbourg's Songs of Salvation
Each week, The Daily Beast scours the cultural landscape to choose three top picks. This week, Charlotte Gainsbourg’s miraculous new CD, a retrospective of Chris Ofili’s controversial art, and a Danish Coen brothers movie.
Charlotte Gainsbourg's Songs of Salvation
Being the daughter of Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin can’t be easy—there’s the three-way pressure to be incredibly beautiful, incredibly talented, and incredibly French. Fortunately, Charlotte Gainsbourg turned out to be all three. The actress and singer began her career in film and theater (she just appeared in Lars von Trier’s Antichrist), but has gradually migrated to a music career, culminating in her gorgeous third album, IRM. The existence of the record itself is a miracle—in 2007, Gainsbourg (now 38) was rushed to the ER with a cerebral hemorrhage following a waterskiing accident, and managed to survive a risky, life-threatening surgery. Her songs about the experience, produced by progressive rocker Beck, is a revelation, and shows Gainsbourg at once more vulnerable and stronger than she’s ever been.
Chris Ofili's Primal Visions
British painter and mixed-media artist Chris Ofili is perhaps best known for his controversial 1999 work, The Holy Virgin Mary, which depicted a black Mary with close-ups of genitalia from naughty magazines and generous heaps of elephant dung. This was the fated work that caused then-New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani to singlehandedly lead a crusade to have the work removed from the Brooklyn Museum, despite Ofili’s noble status as the Turner Prize winner a year earlier. But Ofili soldiered on, representing the U.K. at the Venice Biennale in 2003, and now, he has a new exhibition on view at the Tate Britain, through May 16. The show is a midcareer retrospective (with more than 45 works on display), including samples of Ofili’s obscure early watercolors, but it also showcases his current work, inspired by his 2005 move to Trinidad. The new paintings explore Trini mythology in addition to his favorite themes of Biblical lore and the African diaspora, but things haven’t changed too much—there will still be dung. Read Olivia Cole on Ofili’s new show on Art Beast.
If the Coen Brothers Spoke Danish
As the Oscar race kicks into high gear, now is the time we wait for every year at the cinema—the selections for best foreign language film start to pour into American theaters in the hopes of gaining some buzz before the big night. This weekend, the official Danish selection, Henrik Ruben Genz’s Terribly Happy, arrives in the states. The winner of seven Roberts (Denmark’s version of the Oscars)—including best picture, director, actress, screenplay and actor— the film follows actor Jakob Cedergren as a big city police officer who suffers a nervous breakdown. To mend, he moves to a small town to take a vacant marshal position, though he can’t seem to reconcile his metropolitan experiences with the bizarre attitudes of the small townsfolk, and things get really dark, really fast. View the trailer, here.