Shorts

July 29, 2007 at 8:51 am (watch)

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As in short films, not the clothing item. Today I went to a short film program that was part of the French Film Festival in the gorgeous Crest Theatre. Whenever I see short films I remember that there are millions of interesting films made every year that no one gets to see because there are so few avenues to exhibit them.

Over and over people make the argument that the internet has drastically changed how musicians, filmmakers, and writers do, publish, and exhibit work because you don’t need money to distribute your product blah blah blah–but it’s really true that the internet has provided an outlet for short films. Here are a couple of sites to get you started:

Nice Shorts

This site is Australian, but there are videos from other countries too. Definitely check out Darkness, Light, Darkness, which is a gorgeous, funny, and kind of unsettling stop-motion animation. Apparently it’s also political commentary on the state of Czechoslovakia in the late 1980s and I’m sure it’s more powerful if you know the background, but even without context it blew me away.

Little Song Films

This site has an international line-up organized in categories of video art, film poems, narratives, and music. A lot of the videos are artsy/experimental, but don’t write them off as pretentious. I’m sure some are, but others are really pretty–Cloudland, in the video art category, would make an amazing screensaver, and that’s not an insult–it means I could watch it all day and still find the images beautiful. Also watch “The man with the crystal fingertips” in the music category for the best street musician ever.

Check them out, and let me know some of your favorites.

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More than a feeling

July 22, 2007 at 7:00 am (Uncategorized)

I finally got around to seeing Knocked Up. It was very funny, but more importantly, Paul Rudd is hot. I’ve been a fan ever since he semi-inappropriately dated his semi-sister in Clueless. So, here is a clip of him singing “More than a feeling.” I don’t know where, and I don’t know why, but I do know that I would love to be at that party and I’d probably try to rush the stage. (David Wain from Stella is the other guy.)

To double your fun, check out the same song when Turk, Ted, the janitor, and the delivery guy air-guitar-it-up on Scrubs. There’s some awkward editing in the middle, but oh well.

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Umbrellas

July 16, 2007 at 10:00 am (look)

It’s sort of embarrassing, but I don’t know how to pronounce the name of one of my favorite artists in Sacramento. Try for yourself: Zbigniew Kozikowski. He’s from Poland, and even though in my mind Poland is dominantly gray and sort of depressing (in school I only ever learned about Poland in the context of WWII), Kozikowski’s brilliant with color. He uses a lot of bright orange, magenta and purple that, instead of seeming garish, makes everything seem drenched in a sunset. He also layers colors a lot, and sometimes creates actual layers in his paintings by collaging newspaper onto the canvas.

Unfortunately, I can’t find a ton of his work online to post. (UPDATE: Turns out an extensive google search fails to bring up his homepage, which I just found because I found his business card–can’t be good for publicity.) I’m especially disappointed that there are no umbrella pictures–for years he has painted umbrellas (very rarely accompanied by people) in semi-abstract cityscapes (UPDATE: Check them out here). A cluster of umbrellas can be surprisingly beautiful–all the curves, and the way they suggest figures while remaining very clearly objects. My mom liked his work before I knew who he was but could never remember his name, and in my family we still call him “the umbrella guy.”

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I have to say, that I don’t actually love any of the paintings above. You can still see, though, how Kozikowski’s colors keep even a super played-out subject (the capitol building) feeling fresh. They also make me want orange juice. Yum.

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Magazines

July 15, 2007 at 7:21 am (Uncategorized)

Turns out they’re a lot of work. The reason I haven’t posted in awhile is because I have been working 16-hour days at Sactown magazine for the last week so that we can meet our deadline (22:45 hours and counting–I’m still at work, by the way). Anyone in the Sacramento area, please check it out on August 1. You far-away folks, go to sactownmag.com. I’ll be back with interesting things soon, I swear.

update: I think the time on this blog is all messed up–I posted this at 12:15 am.  Also, I am still at work…

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movie musicals

July 8, 2007 at 4:05 am (hear, watch)

I love musicals. That’s the first important point. I love them when I go see them live, or listen to the albums, or watch movie musicals (except the movie of The Producers–that was awful). I was raised on The Sound of Music, Fiddler on the Roof, My Fair Lady, West Side Story, and The Music Man. I also get really sad whenever I watch a musical because my dream job is to star in a musical (on Broadway, but really community theater would be cool too), except I can’t sing, dance, or act…

Anyway, part of what I love about musicals is their over-the-topness. One of my favorite musical scenes ever is the “Roxanne” tango scene in Moulin Rouge that intercuts among multiple characters, locations, and songs. (You have to watch all the way to the end to get to the full frenzy.)

Last weekend I saw the Irish movie Once, which is the antithesis of any elaborate or expensive or complicatedly choreographed musical. Music plays a huge role, but no one bursts out into song unnaturally. The two main characters are The Guy, a street musician, and The Girl, a Czech immigrant who plays piano in a music store for an hour a day. They team up and (pardon the expression) make beautiful music together. Unfortunately, I saw the film in a theater with bad speakers, but the songs are gorgeous (and written and performed by the two stars, Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova. Hear some of them here). Anyone who just can’t buy “normal,” “cheesy” musicals should check out this low-key but affecting movie (see the trailer below. It gives away one plot point that I wish it didn’t, but trailers have the unfortunate habit of doing that).

As a side note, watching this movie I discovered that I now understand Spanish better than heavily Irish-accented English.

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Beautiful people

July 3, 2007 at 7:20 am (look)

When I was younger, I taught myself to draw by copying pictures of celebrities out of magazines. I still have a folder full of pencil sketches of Alicia Silverstone circa Clueless, Gwen Stefani circa Tragic Kingdom, Christy Turlington from an Oui Perfume ad, and tons more. As I got older and learned more about art, I tried (and still try) to be more conceptual, to push my art farther and make it challenging and arresting…but really, I just want to draw people. (I suppose the real success would be to draw challenging and arresting portraits, like these–go to “selected works” then “drawings”.)

Here are some portraits by one of the most successful modern figurative artists, Elizabeth Peyton. She got famous in the mid-90s with her colorful paintings and drawings of her friends and celebrities like the Gallagher brothers from Oasis, Kurt Cobain, Princes Harry and William, and Eminem. Her work is simple but disarming–often close-ups that strip away the glitz and show both the vulnerability of her subjects and her admiration of their beauty. Most importantly, Peyton helped reintroduce people as legitimate subjects for serious art. Admittedly her pieces start to blur together after awhile because most of her friends are skinny and androgynous and brunette, but I when I flipped through this book of her work I was still engaged after 200 pages. Enjoy.

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Obsession of the week

July 2, 2007 at 12:13 am (hear)

Ok, so by now it has actually stretched on to about a month. But check out this jazzy, sultry song, Eau de Toilette by Emily Haines (member of Metric), and you’ll understand–it’s dangerously catchy, despite not having a chorus. The song is from her self-released solo album from 1996 that is now really hard to find (wikipedia says copies on eBay go for several hundreds of dollars, although there are none listed for sale now), and apparently she asked fans who had copies of it to not distribute it on the internet. Oops. So now I feel a little bad, but it’s only one song–and it’s damn good.

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Also, to make up for violating her wishes, I’ll promote her new solo album (yay!) that comes out July 24.

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