Sunday, January 25, 2009

Away: Cell Phone Camera Film from NFB Online Catalog

Filmmaker Peter Mettler shot 'Away' on his cell phone camera in Costa Rica. His subject matter is how disconnecting from technology or the modern world can sometimes lead to a better use of technology. In this case, he lets technology lead him toward artistic expression. This fellow is a real camouflage lens. The film is beautiful and it has ended up in the catalog of the National Film Board of Canada.

There is Only One Sun: Sci-Fi by Wong Kar Wai

I'm very happy and also very ornery about what I'm about to say. Firstly, Wong Kar Wai is one of my favorite directors. He's the Hong Kong filmmaker who's made Chungking Express, In the Mood for Love, and 2046, among others. His films are fantastic swirls of color and he totally loves to film womens' feet. I don't know if it's the feet or the shoes he's in love with, but I think whatever he chooses to photograph ends up looking like he went shopping on another planet and came back with an entire film. He's incredible and he is a light-artist.

Well, he's gone off and made what might turn out to be my favorite science fiction film of the past five years. It's a ten-minute short called There is Only One Sun. But he shot it as a commercial for Phillips televisions. That's really too damned bad. A fucking commercial. I guess he took the money and was fascinated with the television company's fixation on bright vivid colors and crystalline picture quality. Whatever. Phillips can go take a dump. Pioneer makes much better television screens anyway. Wong Kar Wai wins the exchange and leaves us another masterpiece. I'm sure he ripped Phillips off in some clever way. I would. A gigantic multinational corporation asks me to make them a big juicy commercial. Well, I'm damn sure going to bamboozle them right on down the road and slip a little artistic time-bomb right under their nose. That's what this film is.

Look at these beautiful images from the film then go watch it here on NoFatClips. By the way, I found this film via an excellent short film blog called Short of the Week.

The Spider: Animated Short

Director Juan Delcan of Nola Pictures made this short animation of a poem by Gabor Barabas. Apparently, the spider animations are inspired by the work of sculptor Louise Bourgeois. I like the ever-flowing background and the way the lines transform so smoothly from one shape to another. I like the poem also.

The Spider from Juan Delcan on Vimeo.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

'9': A CGI Film by Shane Acker

'9' is a short computer animated film by Shane Acker, produced while he was an animation student. It is being made into a feature film by producer Tim Burton. The original short sets a fascinating apocalyptic mood and builds to its climax with expert precision. The little burlap sack character holds my attention as he or she deals with spare parts from old machines and fights off a life-sucking metal insect creature. The character appears to be fighting to preserve something - perhaps the life force itself.

Here's the original short film:

And here is the feature film trailer:

I look forward to seeing this one.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Martin Luther King, Jr.'s 'I Have a Dream' Speech

This is the speech that Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered on the Washington, D.C. Mall in 1963. It is quite possibly the greatest speech delivered in the United States since Abraham Lincoln's 'Gettysburg Address' and 'Second Inaugural Adress.'

It is possible that the past eight years of terror and bigotry from an American presidential administration can be overcome. That's my dream.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

New Film: 'Christmas Black'

The sun is low and cold when Christmas time comes. The lights flicker and dark boxes are slowly opened. Trees spin round faster and faster until the light explodes.

The film uses two movements from Respighi's 'Pines of Rome.' The music and film start slowly, quietly, as if conserving or gathering their resources. Then the music builds to a martial crescendo and the film images begin to fragment.

This film took me the better part of two months to make. It uses footage taken during December and some older footage that fit the subject matter. Last night when the moon was full and apparently showing at its largest for the year, I went out and took some video of it and decided that the shots were the missing element that I had been puzzling over for the past several days while editing my film. The editing took me about a week to complete. There are many connections to draw between the images that appear. Some of them are very quick, but the overall impression should be a little bit on the mystical side.

I've been very impressed lately by the work of Kenneth Anger. His underlying mystical concerns and his total lack of fear in his image-making are extremely important. He makes me think that it is the intent behind an image that determines whether it will become a part of memory or not. If you see a cup in a coffee commercial, you don't remember it five years later. If you see one in a Kenneth Anger film, you remember it forever. The intent behind an image functions a bit like magic.

I don't necessarily completely like everything Anger has made, but I admire his willingness to film beauty that frightens people. There are many very tough and hardcore underground filmmakers, but I think there are very few who are unafraid of actual, shocking, terrifying beauty.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Marcel Duchamp In His Own Words

I found a film about Duchamp. I've always liked his playfulness that never overpowers his keen eye for beautiful forms. He created art objects that he called 'ready-mades.' Films are sort of 'ready-mades,' aren't they? Watching people like Duchamp gets the brain working in a different way. Suddenly the lamp on your desk becomes more interested and full of unique possibilities. What if I lit the lamp and balanced a leg on top of it? Or a pair of eyeglasses glued onto a gun as a sighting mechanism?

That's the kind of thing Duchamp does to me. He plays with notions of art. But he plays seriously.

I am ready to post my new film. It's called 'Christmas Black.' Then, after that, I think I'm going to make a very nasty, blunt film that will combine real world photography with some video game footage. Like machinima, a technique I've used before. The story will be simple: an off-duty police officer stands in his apartment. He leaves. He walks several blocks and approaches a passerby from behind. He shoots the passerby dead and is suddenly standing in his apartment again. He leaves. Walks. Shoots another person. And so on and on... It will be two things - an interesting point of view on what video games do best and a loaded cinematic gun aimed directly at the cop who killed the subway rider on January 1, 2009. It's my little way of helping to metaphorically get rid of him. Art is anger, baby. Put it in someone's face and pull the trigger. Then just hope for the best.

Here's the Duchamp film. Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Oakland Erupts in Violent Protest Over Filmed Police Killing

This is what you get when a police officer is filmed shooting a helpless individual in the back:

Oakland protests turned violent last night over the killing of an unarmed man who was lying face-down on a subway platform by a uniformed BART officer. The killing was performed in front of onlookers with cameras rolling.

And still we must all ask: Why has the cop not been arrested on suspicion of murder?

The photos above say plenty. But here is an iReport from CNN with Oakland youths explaining why they are so angry. One of them calls the killing 'a modern day lynching.'

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

BART Police Officer in Oakland Filmed While Killing Helpless Man

Subway riders in Oakland, California shot videos on their cellphone cameras of a group of police officers handcuffing several young men on a subway platform. A couple of the officers throw a man face-first onto the ground, sit on him with their knees and then one shoots him to death.

There's lots of video of this horrific killing.

Here's one angle on the homicide. The killing happens at the 1 minute 15 second point in the video. Watch the officer in the back pull his gun, aim it and fire it into the man's back.

Here's another angle from which you can clearly see the officer drawing his weapon and aiming it down at the victim:

This alleged police officer shoots a totally helpless man in front of dozens of onlookers while being filmed!

The alleged officer's name has been released. He is apparently Johannes Mehserle of the BART Police Department in Oakland, California. So, there are news reports that this man is being moved from place to place in order to protect him from harm because he has received death threats.

People with cameras filmed this police action starting well before the seeming execution. Why would they do that? Possibly because they knew there was something suspect in the police activity. Watch the video of the moments just after the killing. Look at the other police officers. They're just standing there. A man has been shot in the back and these other jackasses are standing around as if someone's received a parking ticket. Do these officers have Nazi regalia in their homes? Are they skinheads? Are they Ku Klux Klan?

Cities burn for stuff like this. Rodney King. Remember? The cops only beat that guy with sticks and Los Angeles went up in riots and flames. This man was shot to death in public in Oakland. Looks like murder.

Protests are forming.

BART officials have made statements urging calm until the facts are known. BART can put the facts up its ass. The facts are on video.


Why wasn't the killing officer arrested immediately on suspicion of murder?
Why do the other cops stand around looking bored after the killing?
Why are the bystanders already filming from so many angles well before the killing?