The concrete veil on the Broad Museum downtown isn't even half in place, but you can already feel its gravitational pull on downtown's cultural scene. Or it's probably just that the The Theater At the Ace Hotel's a tipping point: The chic venue already hosted Benjamin Millepied's dance company, a live read of Tarantino's leaked script The Hateful Eight, and now it, along with the Broad, is bringing Takashi Murakami back to Los Angeles on May 30th to screen and talk about his feature film debut Jellyfish Eyes.
If you don't know Takashi Murakami, just imagine the bastard love child of Andy Warhol and Astroboy who fully (and ironically?) embraces 21st century capitalism. The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA hosted a huge show of his a couple years back that gave a grand sweeping viewing of the hyper surrealist, pop-manga-filtered art that's made him a darling of the international art scene. He'd even forayed into short films and music videos for Kanye's Graduation -- all featuring his whimsically deranged style that feels like he leased a studio just a few feet too close to a leaking nuclear power plant. Of course, hailing from Japan the metaphorical and literal fallout of the nuclear age plays prominently into his art -- Jellyfish is described as "genre-defying adventure set in a post-Fukushima world." (A young boy moves to a new town and discovers a floating jellyfish on the way home from school because, you know, Japan.) And judging from the trailer the pure bizarreness of vision is something to behold: giant multi-rainbow-eyed worms, floating fungi, and anime princesses fighting what appear to be demented, sinister Pokemon. Basically, vintage Murakami.
The point is a screening of the debut feature of a world-renowned Japanese artist (and a discussion with him at the Orpheum) is the kind of cool, random event that tends to happen more and more downtown these days. Not that downtown's exponentially growing vibrancy is news; and LACMA will always hold an artistic primacy. But whether it's Ciclavia, the LA Film Fest, Last Remaining Seats, the DTLA social calendar rarely has any holes these days. However mind-boggling Murakami's feature turns out to be, it's nice to know it's one of the smorgasbord of bizarre flavors on offer downtown as we head into a long summer of cultural snacking. I mean, what's it going to be like when the Broad is actually open?
General admission tickets for Jellyfish at the Theater at Ace Hotel are available at http://takashimurakami.frontgatetickets.com. Murakami's discussion with Pico Iyer hosted by The Broad Museum will take place the night before at the Orpheum. Tickets are available at www.thebroad.org/programs.