Displacements - Michael Naimark from today and tomorrow on Vimeo.
Completely genius. I know, everyone uses that word too much. (via dembot)
MSPIFF Film Reviews
The Minneapolis/St. Paul International Film Festival is in full-swing. Lori and I have seen 5 films between us, and thought it would be fun to review a couple in video flesh. Behold, watch!
Public Enemy: Welcome to the Terrordome ***½
There's a lot of good stuff here, but you know there's trouble when you're re-editing the film in your head after five minutes. Worth seeing if you're a fan for insider looks at Public Enemy and some good interviews with Henry Rollins and Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello.
Traveling with Pets ****½
A gorgeously-shot, immersive essay about a young rural Russian woman (who looks like a young Tilda Swinton) faced with discovering who she is after her unsympathetic husband dies suddenly. Definitely an art-house film, but in the best sense. A few scenes are so striking and magical, it's hard not to feel you're watching something special. It can be a little slow, and some may not have the patience for the pace. I left feeling aglow.
Disappointing overall, but amusing observations on sex and relationships might make it worth a look. Unfortunately, the structure of a "film within a film" is a distraction and makes the whole thing disjointed. There's also some really unnecessary animation, yet another idea they threw into the mix instead of making the story more compelling and coherent.
You, The Living (Du Levande) *****
My favorite film of the festival. It's full of ugly Swedes, in all their angst and absurdity and despair – and it's funny! The film has a really distinctive, soft painterly look with a palette of pale greens and muted pastels. It turns out that nearly every scene was built and staged in a studio, though this is completely transparent when you're watching. The film is really a series of loosely-connected vignettes, with certain characters recurring along with their dreams. Various members of a Louisiana brass band provide an unlikely and comforting soundtrack. This is a hard film to describe, but don't miss it if it comes back for "Best of Fest."
Clash of Egos ***½
If you've ever hated a Lars von Trier film, Clash of Egos is for you. This Danish film is the perfect palette cleanser in your festival schedule. The crux of the plot is that a blue-collar fellow, Tonny, is furious at the piece of crap art film he and his children have been subjected to. He goes after the director and demands his money back, ending up badly injured on set. Rather than take a money settlement, he ends up co-writing and co-directing the director's new film, turning it into a ridiculous action flick with lots of f-bombs. This satisfying and well-acted plot is diminished by a sappy, boring romantic subplot that ends the film on a predictable note.
What have you seen? We're planning to see Mondo Bondo on Wednesday, followed by the Mid-fest party at Red Stag Supper Club. We're also going to see Lynch, the documentary about David Lynch, and possibly Dean and Me: Road Show of an American Primary to find out how the filmmaker spent $100,000. Finally, we don't plan to miss Encounters at the End of the World, a documentary about Antarctica by Werner Herzog.
UPDATE: Instead of Mondo Bondo, which we heard was so-so, we saw Full Metal Village (***). The quaint, imperfect country folk of a rural German town don't seem to mind the presence of Korean documentary filmmaker Sung Hyung Cho in their daily routines. In fact, a great deal of time is spent on languid still shots that let the often funny details of their farm lives unfold. And then... the death metal festival arrives.
There's something deeply satisfying about a herd of cows running to heavy metal. If you're a metal fan you might be disappointed, since most of the time is spent on the village characters. I found it completely charming and well worth my time.
This is for everyone who loved or hated Inland Empire. I kinda hated it, but somehow I can't get enough of Lynch telling weird stories, closing his eyes and demanding a one-legged 16 year old girl and a beautiful 23 yr old Eurasian, and yelling "fuck!" as often as possible. Glimpses into Lynch's filmmaking process are rare, and it's a little surprising he chose to let us in on his least cohesive, most haphazardly-envisioned film. Watching this documentary is almost enough to make me sit through Inland Empire again, though certainly not sober.
WSJ calls Sicko a "blogumentary"
When the government stripped Mr. Incredible of his superhero status in "The Incredibles," he was reduced to working in the claims department of an HMO, where his job was to deny claims. His testimony would have been a worthy addition to "Sicko," though Michael Moore's argumentative blogumentary about health care is shockingly funny -- and sometimes genuinely shocking -- without him.
Blogumentary: Now on Google Video
I just posted this to the Yahoo videoblogging group:
This week I put my entire documentary feature film online.
It's called Blogumentary and it documents the rise of political
and personal blogs, from the early days up through the
Iraq War and Dan Rather's downfall - not to mention a
bloggy love story or two. Think of it as a collection of
vlog videos woven together into a 65-minute film.
People have often asked me if they could watch the film online.
Up until now, no. There's a fair amount of copyrighted
material in the film, particularly music. This is what's prevented
me from putting it online, trying to sell DVDs, or even promoting
it all that much.
Now, in the YouTube era, I'm not as worried. So I'm taking a chance
and putting the whole thing online, with the disclaimer that it's
intended for non-profit educational use only. I'm sincere about that;
I do hope this will make it easy for educators to show new media
and journalism students. That's probably the most likely audience.
If you're linking it on your blogs, feel free to link to blogumentary.org
which is the official site and has a bit more info. I've always intended
to make that site into a videoblog from the huge archive of interviews
I have, but there's no demand for that so I spend my time on my other
projects + client work. Someday, someday.
Fearless, Viral, Spiral
Here in the Twin Cities we have a regular event called Fearless Filmmakers. The next event's theme: "The Viral Market".
The invited filmmakers have an interesting variety of backgrounds. Some of them are from agencies or productions companies, the others are indie filmmakers. Ryan Wood surely has the most bona-fide viral hit in the group, with his multi-million-viewed short film Fear of Girls. Fear of Girls 2 is going to premiere at the screening - sweet!
I dearly love my friend Melody Gilbert, but her MySpace page for Urban Exporers has a very small (but I'm sure devoted) audience. Likewise, her Best Buy "webisodes" on YouTube have been viewed around 400-500 times each. The virus has not proved contagious there. I think the most baffling inclusion may be Julie Rappaport, whose Smokin' Yogi Films (or "platform") has produced a project called Abnormally Normal. Regardless of the content or merits of the project, I just don't understand how or why this is "viral."
Putting a video on a web site, creating a MySpace page, or calling something a "webisode" does not make it viral. Not in my book, anyway. What does? I think of viral as simply word-of-mouth at Internet speed. You see something, and think "I've gotta forward this to my friends." Immediate gratification. I don't think it requires any certain type of content, but it tends to be the Q-word: Quirky.
Napoleon Dynamite could be called viral, in a way. Subservient Chicken is probably one of my favorite viral experience.
But hey - I ain't gonna hate on these fine folks. I'm glad this showcase has come together and I plan to be there if I can. I thought this was an entirely curated selection, but apparently anyone could apply for some open slots. So, more power to anyone dipping their feet in these waters. My feet are all soggy and wrinkley, and that makes me cranky and spitty.
Lame, pointless web site
However, some junior fuckhead at Fox Searchlight pictures is marketing the film through a lame, stupid web site "doyouwantlieswiththat.com". They have pretty cool "burger-and-crossbones" stickers with that URL, but the site makes you admit you're a liar and ultimately just redirects you to the actual film web site.
Worst. Website. Ever. (But go see the film! Beware if you get queasy at the site of cow blood.)
ABC's The Path to 9/11 Sacrifices Truth
Chris Dykstra sums up what's wrong with ABC's propaganda play. I believe a filmmaker has the right to dramatize and take creative liberties with anything in the world, including the tragedy of 9/11. However, we also have a right to pressure ABC not to air The Path to 9/11, a right-wing fantasy riddled with fabrications, intended to slam Clinton and the Democrats and indeed rewrite history for future generations.
ABC claims the docudrama is based on the 9/11 Commission Report. 9/11 Commissioners disagree. Scholastic dropped their original discussion guides, as they were full of neocon misinformation. Their new guides focus, rightly, on media literacy (i.e. distinguishing between fact and partisan propaganda).
9/11 takes a jab at freedom of the press, too - and gets it wrong. The film portrays a CIA analyst saying "ever since the Washington Post disclosed that we intercepted his calls, UBL [Usama bin Laden] stopped using phones altogether." Actually, it was right-wing rag Washington Times. Besides that, the whole notion is an urban myth.
Worst of all, the film makes it look like the CIA had Osama bin Laden in their sites, but the Clinton administration chickened out. Richard Clark says flat out that never happened.
September 11 deserves a truthful film. Tell ABC to tell the truth.
Remix Jack Valenti!
JD Lasica, author of Darknet: Hollywood's War Against the Digital Generation and founder of OurMedia, talked to former Motion Picture Association of America president Jack Valenti and caught a bit of video on his cell phone. At the end JD says "Hopefully somebody out there will be watching this and maybe go do a video, or remix or mashup of you - whaddya think about that?"
Completely unrelated: Ryane, Scoble, and friends unplugged in Montana
Check out this great interview on mnartists.org: SWEET LAND writer and director Ali Selim, MPR's Euan Kerr, and CHASING WINDMILLS creators Cristina Cordova and Juan Antonio del Rosario talk abut the future of motion pictures, wherever they may be.
Good news! Minnesota Stories is collaborating with mnartists.org to create a series of videos profiling local artists. The videos will appear on both MNstories and mnartists.org, and will also comprise a DVD that will be playing at the Minnesota State Fair and beyond. Very exciting stuff. Making videos about artists is probably one of my favorite things in the world. Isaac's 40 is the first video in the series, and a personal favorite.