June 11th, 2006

Chris Keeley




Directed by Olivier Assayas

Starring: Maggie Cheung, B�atrice Dalle, Laura Smet, Ian Brown
Script: Olivier Assayas, Nyle Cavazos Garcia
Original Title: Clean
Running Time: 1:50
Country: France
Year: 2004
Official Site: Clean
The latest film by Olivier Assayas is just beautiful. A deposed rock star must give up drugs and her past way of life to get her son back. Assayas directs a melodrama imprinted with nostalgia. As a precise and attentive archaeologist, he records one of the last vestiges of a bygone era: the independent rock scene of the Eighties. Indeed, his characters belong to the mythology of rock whose mantra was "sex, drugs and rock'n'roll". Today, the flamboyance and rage have disappeared. Relieved of these antics and having returned to a mundane life, his heroine must face and assume her responsibilities.

Assayas opens his film with shots of industrial sites in Canada, a metaphor for the milieu of rock music that he depicts. These lit fires shine in the distance, beautiful and ardent, like the characters. During a disastrous night Emily (an exceptional Maggie Cheung) fights with Lee (James Johnston, a musician who plays with Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds) and shoots up in her car. At the moment the drug penetrates her body, an incandescent fire spouts out of the mouth of a factory chimney. This destructive fire, an image of the fatal poison that Emily injects, contaminates the set and the heroine's body.

Emily reaches a point of no return. In the early morning, she discovers the rigid body of her companion, who has died of an overdose. Incriminated, she serves a six-month sentence in prison and loses custody of her son, who has been entrusted to his grandparents.

Then the second part of the film, or the return to life, gets underway. After the night and agony of the drugs, Emily walks towards the light. The sublime and expressive light of cinematographer Eric Gautier carries her very moving journey. Emily experiences loneliness. Her friends turn their backs and she no longer has any support in the profession, notably from singer Tricky, playing himself. Assayas films the musicians in concert with control. Whether it's the group Metrics and their singer, all feline grace, or even Tricky, in full hypnotic and feverish trance, his camera vibrates to the tempo of the electrifying music of these artists. These very successful sequences are joyfully based in fiction, all the while bringing a documentary touch t


Assayas directs a very emotional film, antipodal to the very cold Demonlover. The reunion with her child rings true, without being lachrymose. With sincerity the mother addresses her son as an adult. She doesn't try to tone down her descent into Hell, to lie to him about her past. In this, the film is radically detached from Hollywood cinema and its procession of clearance sale emotions. Maggie Cheung portrays a heroine in precarious balance with surety, precision and seriousness. Constantly sober and just actors, such as Nick Nolte, who plays the leading part of the benevolent and protective grandfather, back her up.

In a sumptuous finale, Emily rebuilds herself by and thanks to music. On the proposal by Mazzy Star's David Roback (a cult figure in his own role), she resolves to record an album. Her voice rises naked and stripped, like Emily who is starting from zero. Next, the other tracks of music assemble and envelop her voice, forming a harmonious ensemble. In the same way, Emily recomposes the puzzle of her life.

As for Olivier Assayas, he succeeds with a tour de force with this post-rock film, a melodrama

  Sandrine Marques
  Translated into English by Anji Milanovic

Chris Keeley

Eleanor Tydings Ditzen; D.C. Society Fixture*

Eleanor Tydings Ditzen; D.C. Society Fixture*

By Matt Schudel
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, June 11, 2006; C09

One of the grandest of Washington's grande dames, Eleanor Davies Tydings
Ditzen, who was the wife of one U.S. senator and the mother of another
and who dined with presidents for more than 80 years, died June 6 of
cardiac and respiratory arrest at her home in the District. She was 102.

From childhood, Mrs. Ditzen led a storybook life, and over the years she
was never far from Washington's center of influence. She was a leading
society figure who had a strong influence on the powerful men in her life.

Her father, Joseph E. Davies, who helped Woodrow Wilson win the White
House in 1912 and was Franklin D. Roosevelt's ambassador to the Soviet
Union in the late 1930s, played a key role in brokering the U.S.-Soviet
alliance in World War II. Her second husband, Millard E. Tydings, was a
four-term Democratic senator from Maryland. Her son, longtime Washington
lawyer Joseph Davies Tydings, served a term in the Senate.

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Chris Keeley

I am really concerned about America. In a way, we have the wrong leadership. But we also have the wr

Christian Oth for The New York Times

George Soros.

Questions for George Soros

Indebted to Liberal Causes

Q: As a financier and political activist who has spent fortunes trying to remove President Bush from office, do you ever feel you have squandered your resources?

Not at all. When you take a stand, you do it because of a principle and not because you necessarily will prevail. I did what I could. I didn't succeed. You know, it didn't hurt me.

How much money, roughly, did you contribute to MoveOn.org and other anti-Bush groups during the last presidential campaign?

Something like $27.5 million. It's a lot of money, but the annual budget for my foundation is about $400 million.

In that case, why didn't you give more money to Democratic causes?

You can't buy the elections. Partly because of my participation, as much money was spent on the Democratic side as there was on the Republican side, but the Republicans are much better at messaging and distorting the truth. The Swift Boat ads, which cost maybe a million or whatever, had a tremendous impact because they were in-your-face distortions of the truth.

Are you saying you think it is futile to inject your own money into the midterm elections this year?

I feel it's very important for Democrats to win control of the House, and I am supporting efforts to do that. I am really concerned about America. In a way, we have the wrong leadership. But we also have the wrong followership. People don't care about the truth.

That is the theme of your new book, "The Age of Fallibility: Consequences of the War on Terror." Did you write it yourself?

Unfortunately. I don't trust ghostwriters.

I thought you went too far when you compared the Bush administration to the Nazi regime, with their reliance on propaganda and the politics of fear. As a Holocaust survivor, surely you can see the difference between them?

It is not identical at all, but our open society is endangered. We live in a democracy. I live here because here I can be critical. In Hungary, I lived under false names. I didn't open my mouth.

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Chris Keeley

Ken Ashton

Ken Ashton

(Ken Ashton)

Photographs focus on upban sprawl and human impact on the environment.

This exhibition of 33 works focuses mainly on urban scenes across the world. Dubbed "De Aqui al Paraisio" (or "From Here to Paradise"), some of the images on display manage to capture both the mundane aspects of city life and a glimpse of paradise in the same frame. Those images are Ashton's most successful.

One of Ashton's most compelling pieces is entitled "Montevideo (Pole)." In this large-scale photograph, Ashton captures a decrepit building awash in graffiti. To the left of this building are two men conversing in front of a limitless ocean. The buildings are everyday reality, but the clear ocean suggests a paradise beyond.

Ashton's mastery of the camera is evident in works like "Cologne (Pole)" and "New Years Eve, Havana." In "Cologne," he presents a flyer-covered pole in crisp focus. A blurry city scene in the background suggests that life swirls around this pole. The busy party scene in "New Years Eve, Havana" has the same lively effect.

Other highlights of the show include "Porto (laundry)" and the seductive "Noah's basement."

--Julia Beizer, June 7, 2006

Ken Ashton: De Aqui al Paraiso