A Christmas Special for Misfits
It’s the time of year when the same classic Christmas specials, from Charlie Brown to The Muppet Christmas Carol to the stop-motion Rudolph start airing on seemingly every channel, an endless loop that can drive even the merriest person a little grinchy. But this year, there is a new contender in the ring, and it’s way out there. In fact, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia: A Very Sunny Christmas, a DVD-only release from the devilish and gag-out smart show on FX, is perhaps the crudest, blackest, most twisted Christmas spectacular ever. And it’s wonderful. The gang from Paddy’s Pub go through a wacky version of the Scrooge story, discovering along the way that their parents stole toys and acted as prostitutes serving Santa impersonators. The special includes gems like a naked Danny DeVito emerging from a couch (it’s cringeworthy funny) and a claymation short of the gang that quickly turns from innocent to R-rated. The DVD is worth renting or purchasing as a deviation from the standard holiday fare—but it’s definitely not for the little ones.
The New Italian Renaissance
Italian art has always been on the cutting edge of contemporary ideas—including the recession-friendly Arte Povera movement and the work of the great Lucio Fontana—and a new exhibition curated by the forward-thinking Francesco Bonami, attempts to cover 40 years of Italian art. Italics: Italian Art between Tradition and Revolution 1968–2008, is open now at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, and features controversial works like Maurizio Cattelan’s All, a sculpture made to look like nine dead bodies lying underneath white sheets. Bonami, who is also curating the 2010 Whitney Biennial in New York City (and who curated the Venice Biennale in 2003), has come under fire for his choices—many big artists in Italy, such as artist Jannis Kounellis, were not included, and descendants of the Arte Povera community (like Mario Merz’s daughter) say that Bonami did not fully represent the movement in the show. Venetian artists are in a tizzy about Bonami’s lack of sinking city art, and Bonami simply hopes that he can be accepted for his unconventional choices. “I didn’t intend to create a stink,” he told The Art Newspaper. “But in Italy, when you step outside the ‘family,’ when you don’t involve established figures, then you are wrong.” Read more from The Daily Beast’s Rachel Wolff on the show at Art Beast.
Mamet’s Race—A Play for the Obama Age
David Mamet ( Glengarry Glen Ross, Speed-the-Plow) has had four plays on Broadway in the last two years, but Race, which opened last Sunday at the Ethel Barrymore theater, is his first new show to premiere this year—and it is an ideal conversation starter given the Obama presidency and issues of race and class that have recently bubbled up in the American conversation. The play revolves around two lawyers (David Alan Grier and James Spader) who take on a wealthy white client accused of raping an African-American woman (Kerry Washington). Mamet has very plainly said that the play’s “theme is race and the lies we tell each other on the subject.” As the Daily Beast’s Elizabeth Gates writes, “This play artfully pronounces the many strains of self-doubt and internal conflict we all face within ourselves and places it all under one roof without hope for escape.” Tickets to Race can be found here.