Category Films

Life for ‘A Band Called Death’

A Band Called Death

It’s summer blockbuster movie season, but for those of us interested in eschewing loud spectacles in favor of the smaller cinematic wonders, I’d like to recommend A Band Called Death for the top of your must-see list. In theaters on June 28, but available via iTunes VOD on May 24, the documentary tells the story of three teenage brothers—Bobby, David, and Dannis Hackney—from Detroit, Michigan, making punk rock before there was definable punk in the USA. Not only was this trio of misfits making killer original music at a time when disco and Motown were each having their respective moments, they were blasting the typical labels placed on artists at that time. And even though they disbanded before finishing their first album, going so far as to lock up their master tapes in an attic, they have since gone on to acquire the most unique semi-posthumous fame.

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Space Suit of the Week: 2001: A Howard Johnson Space Odyssey

2001 A Space Odyssey - Howard Johnsons Childrens Menu - 1968 4

2001 A Space Odyssey - Howard Johnsons Childrens Menu - 1968 5

Let’s do launch! This week we’re serving up an intergalactic adventure from 1968 care of the hotel chain Howard Johnson, which gives a child friendly look at the film 2001: A Space Odyssey. John Sisson, on his blog Dreams of Space, recently scanned in a menu and comic book which was released by HoJo as a promotional tie-in, featuring iconic moments from the film.

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On the Fringe of Genre – A Film Review of ‘Upstream Color’

Upstream Color_poster

Thoughtful filmmakers intent on making engaging experimental films in today’s cinematic climate are fearless. Only a handful of filmmakers, able to uncover the balance between formal abstraction and narrative fluff, succeed in making films that are a cut above the rest. Harmony Korine of course rules this utopia, as does David Lynch, Michel Gondry and to a certain extent Terrance Malick, with his rapturous depiction of regeneration. Hopefully, Shane Carruth, the writer, director and star, of his second film Upstream Color, will become the newest, most promising member of this crew.

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Nathan Oldfield’s ‘The Heart and the Sea’

'The Heart and the Sea' directed by Nathan Oldfield

I am not a surfer but have always loved the sport. I remember watching and discussing movies like North Shore, Surf Ninjas, The Endless Summer, and Point Break with my fellow desert landlocked friends who pretended skateboards on cement were surfboards on waves. And I remember how exciting it was seeing girl surfers represented in films like Gidget and later Blue Crush. But aside from the plethora of documentaries like Step into Liquid and Riding Giants, I never realized just how many surf films were being made by independent filmmakers, enthusiasts, and devotees of the sport. Nathan Oldfield is one such filmmaker, and his cinematic vision of surfing and the lifestyle surrounding it is remarkable.

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‘The Build’, an interactive film featuring motorcycle builders

'The Build', an interactive film featuring motorcycle builders

'The Build', an interactive film featuring motorcycle builders

The fine folks at Instrument, hands down one of the best digital creative agencies, have released a new experimental projects which pairs a short film with contemporary web technologies. Titled The Build, the film follows the lives of three motorcycle builders – Casey, Thor, and James – as they discuss their lives and passions.

'The Build', an interactive film featuring motorcycle builders

This film is everything I truly love about Portland. First, it’s about makers, people who really do get their hands dirty and are passionate about what they build. Truen Pence, Instrument’s resident filmmaker, does an incredible job of capturing each of these guys as they ride around town or in the woods of Oregon. And from tech side it’s great that Instrument is pushing HTML5 video and WebGL to do some interesting projects. It makes me excited for the possibilities of film on the web and how the two could mesh together even more to create some truly unique experiences (see also: Carly’s Cafe which Andi wrote about).

You can watch The Build by clicking here.

Carly’s Cafe: An Autism Film Experience

Carly's Cafe

Carly's Cafe

“Everyone has an inner voice. I found a way to let mine out.” These are the words of Carly Fleischmann, a young woman living with autism. Though unable to speak, she found a way to communicate through typing on a computer. Even though autism is typically an affliction that keeps a person locked within themselves, Carly’s breakthrough has been hailed as something of a miracle. Most people tend not to understand what someone like Carly is  going through, but the film Carly’s Cafe is meant to change all that. We spoke to director Miles Jay to find out more about this remarkable interactive film, which was recently nominated for a Webby.

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Listen to the soundtrack for ‘Upstream Color’, composed by Shane Carruth

Upstream Color Soundtrack; Composed by Shane Carruth

Lately I’ve been hearing a lot of great things about Upstream Color, a film that was written, directed, produced, stars, edited, and scored by Shane Caruth. I swear I’m not making any of that up. I purposely don’t know much about it, but I was able to find this interesting short description.

“A man and woman are drawn together, entangled in the life cycle of an ageless organism. Identity becomes an illusion as they struggle to assemble the loose fragments of wrecked lives.”

I’m a sucker for dramatic situations set in sci-fi-esque worlds and this is definitely up my alley. While I don’t want to know more about the plot, I did dabble in the films score. A mentioned earlier Caruth also created all the music for the film, which when you listen to it that seems quite impressive. I’m no expert on film scores, but this sounds like something that can stand toe-to-toe with anything Hans Zimmer has done recently.

The music has eerie, mechanical tones interlaced with deep resonating cellos. It’s both familiar with and undercurrent that’s alien and machine-like. It reminds me a bit of Takagi Masakatsu’s music, only with a more orchestral root to it. If you’re into soundtracks I think this is certainly one not to miss.

Film Art: The posters of Akiko Stehrenberger

Funny Games a film by Akiko Stehrenberger

Before any discussion of the poster for Funny Games ensues, I must emphasize that the German turned American film, by Austrian filmmaker Michael Haneke, is without a doubt a terrifying, horror movie. Funny Games is grotesque, actually, with very sinister undertones and a fair bit of gore. In designing a poster for this film, L.A. based creative Akiko Stehrenberger, made a definitive choice. Rather than funnel perception of the film toward a bloody and bone chilling horror mess, Stehrenberger focused the branding toward a clean and minimal approach, one that is rarely seen within the horror genre.

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Sociopathic Pop Misfits – A Film Review of ‘Spring Breakers’

Spring Breakers poster by Harmony Korine

Spring Breakers film by Harmony Korine

What do you get when you mix teenage starlets and pop sensations with America’s most enigmatic independent filmmaker? The answer is Spring Breakers, the neon-blazing, experiential, psychedelic pastiche that is Harmony Korine’s most commercially successful film yet. Comprised as a symphony of character, narrative, and social-political layers, Spring Breakers is a maze through an ultra-fun then frenzied trip for four freshmen that will stop at nothing to get to Daytona Beach in time for spring break.

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