Kristan Horton's Dr. Strangelove Dr. Strangelove juxtaposes Horton's photographs with screenshots from Kubrick's film. It seems perfect for a very architectural filmmaker to have shots reproduced absent any signs of life. Beautiful and resonant, take a few minute from your day and check it out, with the interview below.
Thanks to Keith and The Morning News for the link.
Penguicon 5.0 is just days away - April 20-22 at the Troy Hilton. This hybrid Linux/Science Fiction convention is unlike any other, and always has an outstanding guest list and unique ambiance.
This year's guests of honor are:
Tech- Bruce Schneier
All these guests, amazing food tastings, computers, nitrogen ice cream, open source installfests, masquerade, movies, games, computers, chocolate, swordplay, dancing, ninjas, pirates, beef, computers, and so much more await.
And, Francine and i will be doing an Asian ball jointed doll presentation on Saturday afternoon.
You so want to check this out!
Today, October 3, is the International Day Against DRM (Digital Restrictions Management; that stuff that's crippling the legal CDs, DVDs and download you purchase). If you're unsure why DRM is a problem (or sure it isn't), take a look around DRM.info for a simple introduction, or The Electronic Frontier Foundation for the grand tour. For the lighter side, or to spread the word painlessly, find some videos here.
i recently read Chris Anderson's The Long Tail but almost missed the Boing Boing post about this very funny satirical movie trailer. As pointed out in one of the creators' blogs, the parody isn't precisely about 'the long tail', but of you've read the book or are a copyfight or open source advocate, you will laugh.
An extraordinary day of BoingBoing blogging... first check out Why Publishing Should Send Fruit baskets to Google by Cory Doctorow. Here's a taste:
Some day, electronic texts will substitute for print books: the convergence of superior technology and an audience raised to read off-screen will make treeware editions into luxury items and white elephants, the way that oil-paintings are today. It's certain to me that books will be largely represented as bits in the near future. It's likewise certain that bits will never, ever get any harder to copy than they are today. From here on in, barring nuclear holocaust, bits will only get cheaper and easier to copy, period. Anyone who thinks bits will get harder to copy is either not paying attention or kidding himself or kidding you.
It's not all valentines for Google at BB today; Chairman Cory also has Google Video DRM: Why is Hollywood more important than users?, and there is Xeni Jardin's up-to-the-minute coverage of Google protests by Tibetan exiles.
On a related issue, BB points to a great rant on John Battelle's Searchblog, Never Poke a Dragon While It's Eating:
Until the person leading this country values human rights over appeasement, and decides to lead on this issue, we're never going to make any progress. Congress can call hearings, and beat up Yahoo, Google and the others for doing what everyone else is doing, but in the end, it's not GYMA's fault, nor, as much as I wish they'd take it on, is it even their problem. It's our government's problem. Since when is China policy somehow the job of private industry?
Working on a rundown of a few dead tree magazines... will post when ready!
You see me intermittently rant about copyfight and DRM issues here from time to time. i'm no expert, but my background as an artist and DJ makes me one of the obsessed. This journal entry from David Byrne's blog voices my frustration much better than i have, and, hey, David Byrne. Some folks might listen. Actually, it would appear that lots of folks are as CD sales, especially among big label artists, continue to drop.
... well, unless you have a mac! And even so, i would baulk.
Unfortunately, this release has been victimized by a pissing contest between Sony and Apple, leading to new realms of corporate stupidity, as the wielders of DRM extend their purposes from anti piracy into platform warfare.
If you're ready to make your brain bleed, read about it here. i feel sorry for the band, who were completely unaware of Sony's high handed stunt, but i simply can't support this.
One of my most anticipated DVD releases has arrived, Nicolas Roeg's 1980 release, Bad Timing in a sparkling Criterion Collection edition. i hadn't seen the film since 1980, when it rocked my world.
Theresa Russell and Art Garfunkel play Milena and Alex, obsessive and tragic lovers in Vienna, finding each other unendurable, yet impossible to avoid. Harvey Keitel is the police inspector inquiring into the circumstances surrounding Milena's suicide attempt. Inspector Netusil has a curiously intimate, parallel relationship with Alex as he questions him on the details of his life with Milena, reflecting aspects of Alex's character, and also reflecting our responses as we watch the story unfold in elliptic, impressionistic episodes. Filmgoers are comfortable with non sequential narratives now, but in 1980 Roeg was really pushing the envelope, particularly in the crosscutting during the film's most intense scenes. Tony Lawson's editing is brilliant, the beginning of a long association with Roeg on several fine pictures. Of course, Bad Timing is gorgeous as only a Nic Roeg film can be, which helps sell the more diffficult aspects of the very raw and disturbing story. To se the gamut of opinion and controversy that greeted this film's release, read a few of the comments on the amazon DVD link. Theatergoers thought it was the story of their life, or were utterly repelled.
The real sell, though, is in the direction and acting, which still holds up perfectly 25 years on. If you have only seen Art Garfunkel in his earlier and better known supporting roles in Catch-22 and Carnal Knowledge, you haven't really seen him act. Many well trained actors lose their way when required to play unsympathetic types who are remote or self protecting, and either reach for sympathy, lapse into villainy, or shut down precisely when they need to give it up. Art brings it home every time he needs to, which is no small thing. When Harvey Keitel came to Bad Timing, he was a few years past his string of early Scorsese films, and had finished The Duellists, and the remarkable Death Watch. His police inspector may seem familiar because he was cast as so many cops throughout the 80's, but here is the role that probably cast him as all those other guys. Denholm Elliott is a joy, and this is one of my two favorite performances (the other, Friar in The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz) of his. He isn't in many scenes, but his rich emotional range is an essential anchor.
The true revelation, then and now, is Theresa Russell. In 1980, when she met Roeg and made Bad Timing (marrying him a few years later), she had only made two films (The Last Tycoon and Straight Time) and a miniseries (Blind Ambition). At 22 she wasn't a great deal more experienced in movies than Art Garfunkel, but she was a trained and committed actress who had already worked opposite DeNiro, Mitchum, and Hoffman. That Roeg saw her as pretty and sexy enough to play Milena isn't surprising, but their work together is hard to imagine equalling with another actress. Bad Timing requires the viewer to be turned on, repelled, moved and critical in turns, not unlike some of David Cronenberg's most challenging work. To keep the audience as alternately seduced and frustrated as the men in Milena's life, Russell had to be naked emotionally as well as physically. Her work in this picture, as well as Eureka and Insignificance, are my case for her as the most underrated actress of her generation. For a period in the 80's it was difficult to imagine her making it to the millennium without an Oscar. Then came the mainstream thrillers calculated to get her one (like Black Widow, Physical Evidence, and Impulse), and it was all over but the regrets. Like her husband's, her finest work is a bit too edgy to be widely appreciated on release.
The extras on most Criterion releases are good; this one has some lovely surprises. The booklet has a good essay by Richard Combs and a 1980 Art Garfunkel interview where he discusses his loss of Laurie Bird, concurrent with the postproduction of Bad Timing. There is a new interview with Theresa Russell, where she discusses working with the inexperienced Garfunkel, and another with Roeg and producer Jeremy Thomas, where Roeg discusses using Art's intellectual presence to carry a scene. Another thing mentioned is that the rerelease of Bad Timing was delayed by a decade due to the difficulty of securing music rights for the soundtrack, which includes work by Tom Waits, Keith Jarrett. The Who and Billie Holliday. To read a good overview of Nicolas Roeg's career, see Lee Hill's piece here.
This is a film i didn't catch in the theater, so the two disc set was a bit of a leap of faith. It was rewarded, because reviews were poor i was pleasantly surprised. Something like when we saw Howl's Moving Castle a few weeks ago, and lo and behold, it didn't suck, we could understand what was going on without having read the book, AND we caught some character points taken from the book that some reviewers who read the book missed. Now i know why people who haven't 'read the book' get so cranky when i criticize films on that basis. But i digress... kinda like Wes Anderson...
Yep, it's episodic, meandering, with no real plot. Does anyone actually watch an Anderson movie for crackerjack suspense and airtight storylines? We're not exactly in a golden age of cinema, but one of the gratifying trends is younger directors' embrace of Robert Altman's style of filmmaking - open stories showcasing a talented ensemble cast. The character parts, sets and music are as essential as the stars and the premise. In some ways, The Life Aquatic reminds me of Brewster McCloud, an Altman film i love beyond all reason. Of course, as Altman used the Houston Astrodome to create his fantasy world, Wes Anderson and his sensational production designer Mark Friedberg built theirs in a far more elaborate way.
Which brings us to the DVD specifically, and how it seems as though The Life Aquatic and The Royal Tenenbaums were made for leisurely home viewing with extras. When you've seen the film two or three times, documentaries, interviews and artwork mean much more. It's nice to see a bit about the remarkable stop motion animation of Henry Selick and the wonderful Belafonte cutaway set. The music extras are the most unexpected delight. Mark Mothersbaugh gives some good tales of how he got an orchestra to sound like a Casio, and complete performances by Seu Jorge of all the Bowie songs he does in the film round out a package exceptional even by Criterion standards. The only thing missing is a disc with the original soundtrack. i yearn for that because my copy stinks. The Life Aquatic ST is the only thing i've purchased from AppleTunes that has such broken DRM that the quality is ghastly. Normally i burn a CD quality copy with liner notes but the copy Apple sent me was junk. Now i'm holding out for a used CD, because though i don't mind paying for music, i do mind paying twice because the product was misrepresented the first time. This soundtrack is da bomb, so it's hard to find. And folks wonder why there's pirating, and copyfight. Sigh.
Robert Anton Wilson is right about F for Fake. If you haven't seen it, you must, after you've prepared yourself to have your head screwed off and returned backwards. Fortunately, it's a fairly painless procedure, what with Orson Welles' charming, freewheeling but carefully crafted documentary approach, and Oja Kodar's remarkable beauty.
Generally described as Welles's exposure of fakery, in reality F for Fake is more a celebration of same. The most remarkable and appealing thing about the film is that it's really a sophisticated process whereby authenticating authorities become naked emperors, and the viewer becomes complicit in the scam. Constructed to confound faulty logic and undermine authority with every frame, this swingin' 70's film has a startlingly modern feel.
This is another grand two disc Criterion extravaganza, including a moving introduction by Peter Bogdanovich and a good audio commentary by actor and co-writer Oja Kodar and DP Gary Graver. Disc 2 has a terrific documentary about Elmyr de Hory, the greatest (known) art forger in history, the central puzzle of F for Fake. Clifford Irving ties into the de Hory story, and is represented by a Howard Hughes press conference exposing Irving's hoax, and Irving himself discussing it on 60 Minutes 28 years later. There is also a feature length documentary on Welles's unfinished works. All interesting, and that's not all.
But, in today's spirit of carping about what might have been in this release, they could have included It's All True, a documentary about the South American "good neighbor" film Welles shot during WWII. It's not a great movie; half documentary, half reconstruction, but it hasn't yet been released on DVD. Perhaps someone will work with Criterion and present It's All True and restore some of the vast footage Welles shot for the film deteriorating in storage at UCLA. The Criterion editors have a flair for the relevant extras that make a DVD a keeper.