The Lawlessness of Modern Russia




Is there anything in Russia that is not being stolen, looted or turned upside down for spare change?

Mikhail Novikov, a deputy director in charge of construction at the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg has been placed under house arrest on charges of suspected fraud.

Moscow’s Lefortovsky District Court ruled on 29 March that Novikov is to be held under house arrest until 23 May. In January, the Hermitage acknowledged in a statement that investigators from the Federal Security Service, a successor agency of the KGB, had been conducting “operational procedures” at the museum’s Staraya Derevnya restoration and repository centre. Some commentators had speculated that the searches were a reprisal for criticism by Mikhail Piotrovsky, the director of the Hermitage, of the handover by the local government of St. Isaac’s Cathedral, now run as a museum, to the Russian Orthodox Church.

On Wednesday, Russian media reported that Novikov's case was connected to a larger case of over Rb100m in embezzled funds during major Russian Ministry of Culture restoration projects that has already landed Grigory Pirumov, a former deputy culture minister, in jail.

Since the rule of law really does not exist in Russia, you have to ask one question. Did they really steal the money or did they fail to bribe the right people while they were stealing the money?

Never mind the arts, of course. When all is said and done, we'll be lucky if there's anything left.













Live Stream Mystery Science Theater 3000 on April 9




In a world full of crappy news, this is a bright, shining beacon of hope. Mystery Science Theater 3000 returns with a new season of experiments on Netflix.

1. The preview screening of Experiment 1101 will be available to stream starting at 12:01 AM PT on SUNDAY, APRIL 9th, 2017 [this is only for MST3K "backers" who pledged $25 or more to finance the return of the show].

2. All release times – including the release of the new season on Netflix on April 14th – will be on PACIFIC TIME, not on EASTERN TIME.

Not everyone is getting the e-mails, so pass this along. If you didn't pledge money when the show was coming back, don't worry--you'll get to see the results on Netflix. Watching on Netflix makes sense because, in the old days, and I'm talking to all of you younger folks out there, it was a pain in the rear to program VCRs. I had one that was flaky on me, and I liked to get the whole two hour show on one VHS tape for quality purposes I don't understand right now.






Looks like something magical to me is about to happen.













The Loing River at Moret




My childish photograph does not do this painting justice. The Loing River at Moret (1891) is a work by Alfred Sisley at the McNay Museum. This is not one of his major works, but it is a Sisley and that's enough.










 

 

Terry Gilliam Isn't Crazy




Terry Gilliam's Don Quixote film always struck me as proof that people in Hollywood are afraid of spending money to make great films:

It has now been 18 years since Terry Gilliam first tried to film The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, a.k.a. The Movie That Will Probably Kill Terry Gilliam, Instead. In that time, Gilliam has faced a Job-like series of setbacks on the film, from flash floods to sick actors to dead actors to some “Portuguese chap” who couldn’t deliver the financing he supposedly promised. And yet, Gilliam has persisted on the film for almost two decades, blowing through our entire stock of jokes about “tilting at windmills” and the entire project becoming the exact definition of “quixotic.”

Today, IndieWire reports that Gilliam has hopped back in the saddle again, putting together an unnamed source and an Instagram post from original cast member Rossy De Palma that indicate that production has once again resumed...

There's no reason why a Gilliam film can't be properly marketed and treated like any other commercial film product. Every year, the Oscars come and go, and the absence of really important and great films is the elephant in the room. When was the last time anyone found themselves truly inundated with great films in the span of a calendar year?















The failure to recognize the fact that he does have an audience and that he does have a masterful ability for filmmaking is a result of something entirely not his fault. Wanting to shoot a script and make a film that satisfies the artistic itch is the ultimate worthwhile endeavor.

Can VEEP Still be a Relief in Weary Times?




It used to be fun to watch VEEP because you just knew that the real thing wasn't as awful or as cynical as what you were seeing on television.

Now? 

Holy mother of God, it's like a version of reality we all wish we were living. The real thing is so much more awful, so much more venal that it is impossible to overstate just how horrible things have become.

Can a show that shows us a funny way of looking into the political and social lives of selfish people survive in an era when the real thing is more of a farce than what's written as fiction? Well, if they have been working their asses off, sure. It's entirely possible for art to transcend reality if people have put in the effort. This is a show where people have been doing that so why not?