Saturday, May 14, 2011

Movie Review - "Capturing Reality: The Art of Documentary"

“Capturing Reality: The Art of Documentary” is a documentary about documentary. The film is almost entirely talking head interviews with documentary filmmakers generally considered to be among the best, at least within the context of contemporary documentary filmmaking.

This documentary is one of those documentaries we’ve all seen where the subject matter, in this case the people being interviewed, far out shines the filmmaking. Documentary filmmakers spend so much time and energy capturing others that it is a real treat to see them getting a chance to dish on what they think documentary is, and what it means to be a documentary filmmaker. Unfortunately, the filmmaking of this documentary, as I said before, doesn’t come close to the intelligence or profundity of its subjects. The structure is unintelligible – it jumps from subject to subject without any explanations, transitions, or consistency. The structure really felt like a poorly written essay where all the body paragraphs are written in isolation to one another, and then they’re all put together into a seemingly arbitrary sequence that ends up only taking away from what by themselves were very interesting chapters. It also feels like there is the lack of intelligent awareness on the part of this film’s filmmakers that every documentary filmmaker interviewed offers up a different definition of what a documentary is. I wanted so badly for the film to draw more attention to how fluid the definition of documentary seems to be, especially among these notable documentary filmmakers, and what that means for documentary, filmmaking, and art in general. Also, the lower-thirds and typography felt very cheap and intrusive. It happened on more than one occasion where some important bit of information was being delivered in a lower third at the same time some a subject was delivering an important bit of information, and ultimately the importance of both bits of information ended up diminished and diluted. Despite all my issues with the filmmaking,

I still think anyone that loves documentary, or filmmaking in general, will be able to glean more than a few moments of interest or profundity from this film.


Monday, May 9, 2011

Movie Review - "Thor"

Thor was great. I went in with almost no knowledge of the canon crafted by the Thor comics, and I had a wonderful time. It's a very successful action flick that left me in a great mood afterwards. It does lean on a few tropes, but, and this is to the film's credit, not for too long. I was worried that too much of the film was going to be the fish out of water story of Thor trying to transition from the world of Norse Gods to the human world, but it really didn't linger to long, and kept the plot moving at an increasingly rare fast pace. I'm not sure to whom I give the credit, but this film could have come of as really silly, but the costumes, the diagetic reality, and even the very un-Earthly dialogue came through pleasantly well. I absolutely plan on seeing this again, as well as checking out some of the Thor trade paperbacks. FYI, I saw the film in 2D and did not feel like I was missing out.


Saturday, May 7, 2011

Short Film Watch - "More Than You Can Chew"

A short film from director/writer Dan Trachtenberg who I was introduced to as one of the hosts of The Totally Rad Show. He's a commercial director normally, but has made a few other short films in the past. This short was made for Black Box TV, which I've heard was created with the intention of being something of a YouTube Twilight Zone.

This film is why I love short stories and vignettes. So much story is packed into so little plot. Everything feels so salient and succinct, and this handles the subject matter in such a realistic manner that it doesn't feel heavy handed. So simple, yet, in an instant, so many huge implications are revealed regarding the story world. I would also recommend watching the commentary and the making of.

More Than You Can Chew -

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Movie Review - "We Jam Econo: The Story of The Minutemen"

We Jam Econo: The Story of The Minutemen was a nice little documentary. I say "little" because the scope of the film is not very big. Within the first 10 minutes, you see pretty much everyone you'll be hearing from for the next 80 minutes. The film has a pretty dirty, hand made look to it which, once you meet "The Minutemen," makes a lot of sense. The way the filmmakers switch from interview to interview isn't particularly inspired, but the points get across to you. This is definitely one of those documentaries where it is more the subject matter, rather than the filmmaking, which will pull you through to the end. All things considered, it left me feeling inspired to both try some different things with my own work as well as try and get my hands on some music by The Minutemen.

Currently available on Netflix Instant.


Saturday, March 19, 2011

Do You Think They Like Weezer?

Image taken from Mira Nair's Salaam Bombay!.

Monday, March 14, 2011

By Most Standards, It Was Not A Bad First Date

Image captured from Akira Kurosawa's Rashomon.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Movie Review - "I Am Love"

I Am Love is one of the most wonderful films I have ever seen. I am intentionally choosing the word "film" instead of "movie," because "movie" just feels to simple and pedestrian. The actual plot is quite easy to follow, and is one that I think anyone could understand quite easily, but the characters carrying the plot are so deep, and complex, that anyone who really wants to dig in has more than enough earth in which to play. The photography is absolutely sublime, and gave me chills on many occasions. The camera just feels so effortless, and almost etherial, to the point where you could imagine if someone weren't holding the camera, it would simply float away. Then the soundtrack, which is comprised entirely of pieces by composer John Adams, is nothing if not completely arresting. With the music, there is never a moment when it is present, when it is also unwelcome, and there is never a moment when it is absent, when you feel like it should be there. In the climax, the imagery and music combine for what was, to me, one of the most heart pounding, exciting, and liberating finales ever. The film has a very meditative pace, so if you are in the mood for fast paced action, please look elsewhere. If, however, you are looking for a beautiful, dramatic film about finding one's own identity, and about what it means not only to be alive, but to be truly awake to yourself and the world around you, look no further. Currently, I Am Love is available, in HD, on Netflix Instant.


Also, only the first part of it is about I Am Love, but this really is a great interview with Tilda Swinton partially about how I Am Love came to be, and also about how she views her work as an artist, as well as a fascinating discussion about identity.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Movie Review - "Merantau"

Straight away, I'll say the the martial-arts in this flick, called Silat, is an absolute joy to watch. The narrative in this movie, however, has a lot more soul than the average movie in its genre. The premise is quite simple, but moment to moment the story actually feels quite poetic. Things happen that one would be unlikely to predict, and the photography is much more than the traditional wide-angle coverage of the action. For martial-arts fans especially, but also just for movie lovers in general, Merantau really has something new and special to share with you. I would highly recommend it, and it is currently available on Netflix Instant.

You Cannot Fix That Which Is Not Broken - "Blade Runner"

The rights to any Blade Runner sequels, prequels, and spin-offs have been sold (Full Story). A chill ran up the collective spine of the nerd community. Ming Doyle said it best in her twitter post:
If the reason you want to see a new BLADE RUNNER is that you think the special effects will be "better," then you haven't seen BLADE RUNNER. (Original Tweet)
That is all.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Kanye West, say "Thank You"

In an effort to give credit when others don't, I would like to point out that a title sequence in a new music video from Kanye West pulls directly from Gaspar Noe's film "Enter The Void," without crediting the film in any way. To be clear, I'm not saying that either the director of the video, Hype Williams, or that Kanye West are evil, idea stealing, hate-demons. In fact, I applaud Kanye West for introducing many people to Daft Punk with his song "Stronger," which featured "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger," by Daft Punk. I just wish the "All Of The Lights" video would at least make some kind of nod or reference to Gaspar Noe.

Kanye West - "All Of The Lights"

Title sequence from "Enter The Void" (2010, dir. Gaspar Noe)

I would also like to thank /Film for bringing this to my attention. In their article, they cover a few more details than I did:

Friday, February 18, 2011

First Aerial Footage of Uncontacted Tribe

Besides being gorgeous, this footage truly humanizes the threat illegal logging in the Amazon poses. It's difficult to imagine what it must really be like to have zero contact with the industrialized world, but there's something comforting knowing that such groups exist. It's also interesting to imagine that there are tribes of people we didn't know were on Earth, yet so many people think that because we haven't found them yet, clearly there is no sentient extra terrestrial life.

For more information, check out

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

It's bad, right?

You wake up, and you can feel the zit on your forehead. Without even touching it, you know it's huge. It even hurts a little, obviously because your skin has been stretched so far from it's idle state. Your fingers move across it, and you swear there is a marked shift in altitude for your finger at the zit's summit. It's real bad. As you head to the bathroom, you clear away the memories of the dreams you just finished having as you prepare to soon fill that space with shock, disgust, and calculations of depth and circumference. Before looking in the mirror, you rub your eyes one last time making sure your gaze is as clear as possible. Your eyes meet with your reflection's, and slowly you tilt your head upwards. "My god," you think to yourself "these are the zits they write abo... wait, where is it?" You run your fingers over the spot again, this time watching your reflection closely, as if there's a chance that maybe it's not really you in the mirror, but it is. Instead of a snowcapped summit, there's a barely visible mound which wouldn't even qualify as a small speed-bump were your forehead a road. Instead of a sickly, tensioned red, it's color is that of all the other flesh around it, save for a little rosy complexion near the base. You knew it was bad, in your mind, you had put it all together and you understood the truth of the situation. You were so sure you had it all figured out. You had it figured out, all of it, until you looked at your reflection. Sure, it still hurts a little when you put on your hat to face the cold, but it's okay. It's better than okay, actually, it's fine. Maybe it's even better than fine, you realize, because today it will serve as a reminder that the truth is not what you conjure up in a dream-drunk haze, but rather it is your self.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Kevin Smith Keeping Indie Alive w/ Red State

Kevin Smith has been a hero filmmaker to me for a while now. My first exposure to his work was Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, which I didn't really love, and is actually my least favorite of everything he's made, save for Cop Out, which I still don't think is that bad. Once I saw Clerks, Mallrats, Chasing Amy, and Dogma, I got what he was about, and I loved it. His latest production is a flick called Red State, and it looks like nothing he's ever done before. But even more than the film itself, Smith is also trying something new with the distribution model. Below is a fantastic speech he gave after the premier of Red State this past Sunday at the Sudance Film Festival.

If you don't watch the whole above video, I understand. The salient points are that he's not even engaging in the usual marketing and distribution of the studio system. He has taken it upon himself, and is doing a cross country tour of the film, and following each screening with a Q&A with him, and star of the film Michael Parks. Many people criticized Nine Inch Nails, as well as Radiohead, when they self released their latest albums, saying that they were only able to be successful because of the audience they had already built. I don't disagree with those critics, and I don't disagree that Kevin Smith has built quite a following, but I think what Reznor, Radiohead, and Smith are doing is important because they lend an air of legitimacy to independent media distribution, which makes it that much easier for the rest of us still working towards a career.

If you don't love Kevin Smith, or don't like the look of Red State, I seriously encourage you to find other ways to support independent artists in any way you can. One of my friends introduced me to a singer songwriter named Ani DiFranco, and here's a lady who has never touched any studio system. Or Zoe Keating, who's an all indie avant garde cellist, or any number of other people. Blood, sweat, tears, and the support of those who love it should be the foundation of any art that is to be shared, and that's exactly what these folks are doing. It's kinda beautiful.

Here's the trailer for Red State

And here's a link to the Red State USA Tour: