Date Archives January 2012

‘Address is Approximate’ – A Great Animation by Tom Jenkins

'Address is Approximate' - A Great Animation by Tom Jenkins

'Address is Approximate' - A Great Animation by Tom Jenkins

Address is Approximate is a really nice stop-motion film by the British director Tom Jenkins. It’s a charming piece of filmmaking which tells the story of a lonely desk toy who longs to escape his surroundings and head on a cross-country road trip to the Pacific.

Jenkins’ is really inventive with his use of objects and there’s a real fun and playful way in which he uses his surroundings… not to mention his terrific use of Google Street View. Musically, the Cinematic Orchestra‘s track ‘Arrival of the Birds’ also brings something special to this animation, turning this lonely toy’s journey into a surprisingly moving trip.

A film review of ‘Newlyweds’

The poster for Newlyweds

It happens to the best of us. The slight comment from your partner that leads to a greater argument, or when the forgotten special occasion becomes symbolic of an underlying issue. It would be enough if these catapulting moments stood alone within a couple’s relationship, but when the noses of family members sniff their way in, the thin ice can become even thinner. Ed Burns’ film Newlyweds (2011) is a romantic comedy about family, loyalties, and the moments of debacle that creep into a relationship and affect change. Shot in the traditional Burns style, on the streets of New York, a la cinema vérité, the film’s script, written by Burns himself, is a genuine vignette on the subtleties of marriage that cause it to function or fail when we must navigate the stormy waters between in-laws and lovers. As a companion piece to Sidewalks of New York (2001), Newlyweds uses a similar pseudo-documentary structure, provoking the most honest answers from his seven-character cast.  In tandem with the loosely improvised script, each character benefits from an interview expose, which is weaved into the narrative. This vérité montage not only provides a depth to the characters, it helps to unravel the hypocrisy behind the opposing views they are only comfortable to reveal behind closed doors.

Katie (Catlin Fitzgerald) and Buzzy (Ed Burns) are newlyweds, whose nascent “I Do’s” hold the naïve perspective that a relationship should be a breeze if you, (A) abide by an opposite schedule, and (B) tell each other everything. The logistics of the first part don’t prove to be that hard, as Buzzy works days and Katie works nights. It’s the second option, the honesty policy, which begins to complicate their life when Buzzy’s sister challenges the couple’s territory in her impromptu visit from L.A. Kerry Bishé, plays Linda, a sexy, free-spirited blunderer who quickly becomes the unwanted house guest in their modern Tribeca apartment. Within the first 12 hours of her stay, Linda’s disastrous  presence pushes all the wrong buttons. The tornado trail she leaves behind is enabled by Buzzy’s guilt at being an absentee brother, causing a ripple effect that is felt through all seven characters. Simultaneously, when Katie’s sister Marsha (Marsha Dietlein) voices concern about her 18 year marriage to Max (Max Baker), chaos, misunderstanding and spite move in.

Unquestionably, Newlyweds, is Ed Burns’ best work to date. Although Sidewalks of New York still encompasses the charm of a young director trying to make his mark in the canon of American independent filmmaking, in Newlyweds he has arrived. His camera, usually loyal to the handheld aesthetic, has more constraint this time around, maintaining close-ups in soft focus and exploring the use of natural light to fill the frame. Although elevated from past works in terms of composition, the production of Newlyweds was a throwback to Burns first film The Brothers McMullen. It is romanticized filmmaking. With a starting budget of $9,000,  locations borrowed from friends, a shooting schedule spread over 12 non-consecutive days dependent on the availability of the small cast and crew (who worked during their free time), it is evident that Newlyweds is a labour of love by all who contributed to seeing this poignant film through. Ed Burns enthusiasts will follow him wherever he may go, even if it means cutting out the traditional major theatre distribution method. The only venues where Newlyweds can be accessed are digital, through Video-on-Demand, through iTunes or at edwardburns.net.

This film is important, both due to the respect that it pays to its subject matter, and because the efforts of independent filmmakers who seek to show us truth through representation need to be supported. When I finished Newlyweds, I immediately followed it up with the classic Woody Allen’s Manhattan, which I hadn’t seen in years. And I think that was a wise choice.

‘Beauty Is Embarrassing’, the life and times of Wayne White (video)

'Beauty is Embarrassing', the life and times of Wayne White (video)

'Beauty is Embarrassing', the life and times of Wayne White (video)

'Beauty is Embarrassing', the life and times of Wayne White (video)

The first time I saw Wayne White’s work was in Fred 62, an all-night diner here in Los Angeles. His paintings of colorful phrases and words over found paintings instantly caught my attention, and I was shocked that I had never seen him before that point. Funny enough, after watching the trailer above for the upcoming Wayne White documentary Beauty Is Embarrassing, that actually wasn’t the first time I had seen his work.

Come to find out Wayne was the art director of Pee Wee’s Playhouse, a show that absolutely shaped my childhood. It was insane, it was non-sensical, and it was perfect. It says a lot about who he is, that his work and talent has stretched out for so long, and that I’ve appreciated his work as a child and as an adult. I can’t wait to see this movie, which actually premieres in March at SXSW. Hopefully it comes to Los Angeles soon.

Jaaam (The Fresh Prince Remix) by Pogo

vivian banks does not look happy

This makes me so happy. The extremely talented and oft-featured Pogo has released a new remix using footage from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Vivian, Carlton, Geoffrey, everyone is excised from the mansion, the early ’90s, the videotape, and moved into an updated digital melody. As the early ’90s would have it, the cast is wearing some of the only clothing that could compete with the song they now live in. But isn’t that part of Hilary’s charm?

I’m a bit skeptical of nostalgia when it seems inauthentic, but this is legit. Watching the Fresh Prince with my sisters after school is one of my favorite memories. We were on a first-name basis with the Banks and watching this again, I think we still are.

P.S. Did you know that Pogo came to the States and got arrested? He is banned from reentering the country for 10 years which is very sad for us. I would cite SOPA, but I’m a day late.

The Bark Side, Volkswagen’s new Superbowl commercial

The Bark Side, Volkswagen's new Superbowl commercial

The Bark Side, Volkswagen's new Superbowl commercial

The Bark Side, Volkswagen's new Superbowl commercial

The Bark Side, Volkswagen's new Superbowl commercial

Volkswagen has gotten quite chummy with the Star Wars brand in the last year, as you may remember the mini-Darth Vader using the Force in their last commercial. This time around they’ve cast the movie with an adorable assembly of dogs, who together bark and howl the Imperial March. It’s a super clever idea, I’ve already watched this several times in a row and it’s better with each sequential viewing. It’s also fun trying to figure out who all the dogs are supposed to be, can you distinguish who is who?

Fantastic interactive window displays by Britzpeterman

Fantastic interactive window displays by Britzpeterman

Fantastic interactive window displays by Britzpeterman

Fantastic interactive window displays by Britzpeterman

Britzpetermann, a German design studio, recently wrote me to share their newest project, a series of interactive window displays for their shop. They did an amazing job on these so far, creating one with eyeballs, one with musical waves and another with randomized words. Each of these respond as you pass by their windows, grabbing your attention and bringing some fun to the street. Here’s how they did it:

We used a high quality projector and semi-matt foil from the hardware store to project the eyes to the window. They are rendered by a WebGL frontend using a shader sphere effect. The detection is performed by OpenFrameworks and the Kinect.
An Arduino controlled servo motor, pushing a button on the projector remote, is turning the installation on at 4pm and off at 11pm.

Super cool, in my opinion. I’d love to see more stuff like this populating shop fronts, bringing life to ordinary streets.

‘You As You Were’, a new track from Shearwater

Animal Joy by Shearwater

Shearwater is back and releasing a new album in 2012 called Animal Joy, this time around with the help of the always on point Sub Pop Records. From this track alone I’m extremely excited to hear the rest of the album. It’s got a wonderful pace to it, Jonathan Meiburg’s vocals spilling out like a beautiful brook. The vibe is also a bit more uplifting than their previous material, constantly building up higher and higher. The new album comes out February 14 in the USA and Feb 27th everywhere else, so be on the look out. If this song isn’t weird enough for you, I’d suggest checking out Meiburg’s collaboration with Jamie Stewart of Xiu Xiu called Blue Water White Death.

‘I Could Eat A Horse’ by Stefán Pétur Sólveigarson

I Could Eat A Horse by Stefán Pétur Sólveigarson

I Could Eat A Horse by Stefán Pétur Sólveigarson

I thought it would be fun to post about this little cute spaghetti measuring tool today. It’s called Ég gæti borðað heilan hest which is Icelandic for ‘I could eat a horse’, and it’s designed by the product designer Stefán Pétur Sólveigarson.

Every time I cook spaghetti I always remember that I need to buy a measurer and I think Stefán’s is really neat. It measures out spaghetti in serving-sizes for kids and adults as well as it’s horse measurement -enough to feed four adults, or presumably, one very very hungry person. It’s available for sale online at the Reykjavik Corner Store.

Luis Urculo in San Francisco

Luis Urculo at the Popular Workshop Gallery

Remember Luis Urculo? He’s the guy that made a series of delightful (if not always sturdy) architectural stacks out of all kinds of knives, plates, hairs, et cetera. Luis has a degree in architecture, but works happily outside the expectations for the profession. When asked about his decision to work this way, he says:

“When I finished studying I was already quite critical with the professional landscape of options/possibilities/tools I was expected to use as an architect. For me, my degree on architecture was just a big toolbox to invest on many different ways, based on my interests at that moment: graphic and space. I decided to start, trying to leave behind the shadow of expectations of ‘what an architect is supposed to do’.”

Lucky folks in San Francisco will have the opportunity to see what architects might-not-be-supposed-to-do when when Luis’ latest installation opens on January 20th (this Friday) at the Popular Workshop Gallery.