Thursday, May 28, 2009

Out of Business

Our corner store is out of business! After a sign yesterday morning that said, 'Closed Today' this one came up last night.

I mean, the place was kind of deficient. We complain about it all the time. Everything was overpriced, they barely ever restocked, often unexpectedly expired items were for sale (I once bought a muffin, had some bites, THEN realized it was moldy), and they didn't sell much a sober adult would want to eat often: Chips, candy, soda, ice cream, overpriced alcohol, other packaged goods that have at least 40 ingredients...

But it's still weird. Makes me feel like preparing for the worst. I guess it's the most prominent reminder I've had of the economic crisis in awhile.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Animal Collective Seducing Montreal 5/15/09

The multi-sensory experience of live music.

Animal Collective started their show Friday night LOUD. loud sound pulsing and flashing lights felt jarring at first. This seemed quite contrary to the first time I saw them at Great American Music Hall in San Fran a few years ago.
Bands become louder as become bigger? Somethin like that.

I'm overheating because of the loudness- music gets louder, harsh lights flash brighter, look around, crowded, no way out, sweating neck, PANIC

.... sitting on the sidewalk outside for a cool down.
On the upper stairwell in front of a screen overlooking the stage. I could see about half of the stage here.

You see where I'm going. Screen AND live. perspective perspective...

Well the screen quite disturbed me actually. I think it was hd. I could feel it looming over me and it was hard not to look. The better option for screens during performance is the kind of screen I've seen Radiohead play with. Rather than an -as close to perfect as possible- representation (also known as HD) of what's happening live, Radiohead had screens up of artistic bizarre close-up angles of the stage, manipulated, strangely colored. Lets suggest to the viewer another perspective, let's let them guess what's this? Let's inspire their curiosities with oddity in a manipulated shot of part of the action, perhaps. Not just simply give them an hd picture. No need for this, Metropolis. I'd rather just listen than have a view of an hd screen of live performance happening in front of me.

Here in the stairwell is when the show got better *hmm funny Montreal is noted for their stairwells. Katie says it's because back in the day during the building of the city (arrround 1850?) people wanted stoops. For example in NY the stairs are on the inside of buildings, but in Montreal they're outside. Which means there are stoops.
What an idea! Oh how stoops add to a city in a Jane Jacobsian type way.

Swamp sounds verberate throughout the audience. "There's a lot of reverb up here" says [I think it was] Avey Tare.
"No shit." says the dude next to me, commenting on the load of electronics on stage.

Mutually exclusive sounds become inclusive
= love?= connection? I always come back to love= connection.

2 sounds become three three become four four become five
five become one
All sounds one, we're ALL one. The audience feels it too.


trickle tickle, wave, smooth, expand, involve, hum, shriek, cover, arrest, embolden embody empower, birth, surround, bloom boom, feather flutter heighten explain express understand, fall, breathe, rest

all the verbs that go with sound
The fact that I feel so much nostalgia right now has to do with this.

The reverb seduces me.. it's a trick?

Sway me bring me lift me out of my box lets go. Later, put me back. or not.

The more I experience Animal Collective the more I hear the music in everyday life. Individual sounds work into each other, play off one another, All building into something eventually......

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

'Age of Stupid' Finally, BOLDLY, Shows Fate of Earth (at SFIFF)

Last night 'Age of Stupid' had its North American premiere at the San Francisco International Film Festival, and after watching I feel more called to action than I have in my 23 years on earth.

"I hope you enjoy the film- well not enjoy exactly- it's not a feel good movie but a feel inspired movie," director Franny Armstrong said before the show.

This is not your average documentary. Age of Stupid starts in the future- the year 2055 at a [computer generated] "digital archive" in Copenhagen. Our narrator is Pete Postlethwaite. Pete talks to the camera, directly to the audience, and takes us on a tour of our path to destruction of the earth, showing us news video clips of events that have led us to where we are now, and to where Pete is, alone in 2055.

The decision to make the film in the future, with all other footage and information completely real and and factual, only came after the first draft of the film was done, Armstrong said during q&a. In preview screenings the audience was confused and the film needed something to tie it all together. That's when the crew got the idea to set it in the future. The rest of the story is told (so effectively) by way of six peoples' intertwining stories- an idea stolen from the movie Traffic, directed by Steven Soderbergh. The six differet stories show us the reality- that "there is no right or wrong, or good or bad, we're all just people," said Armstrong. An Indian airplane entrepreneur who also wants to solve global poverty, an English man who develops wind turbine fields, and a Nigerian girl suffering the effects of a nearby Shell oil camp, are a few of the characters who help tell this story.

Some particular facts set us straight. If the whole world consumed as much as Americans, Canadians, and Australians, we would need 5 earths right now.

Destruction of railroads, death of electric cars, building cities where a car is a must...We don't have the right laws running our country because oil-business men have had an unhealthy impact on those who run our country. Now they run our country.

Energy is so ridiculously cheap that this has been an economical way to do things.

"It's like we had an unspoken collective pact to ignore climate change."

"Plenty of politicians are talking about it, but when it comes down to is, it's just not happening folks. It's just not happening," says one of the six.

"Why wouldn't we save ourselves if we had the chance?" asks Pete.

Quirky, humorous animation often mixes in to simply illustrate complex issues, like the idea that China is polluting so much right now, when Americans are the ones consuming what China manufactures, buying it in plastic, only to throw it away, where it sits in landfills...

The passion of the crew in portraying this important issue correctly, and
effectively, show through in the high quality of the film. Not
only is it inspiring but entertaining.

The San Francisco Film Society is right in saying, "Armstrong delivers a cautionary, pre-apocalyptic documentary that succeeds in piercing our complacency to a degree matched only, perhaps, by An Inconvenient Truth."

The Age of Stupid is the movie that goes with the Not Stupid campaign. The goal of the campaign is to get 250 million people to watch The Age of Stupid, which will be strategically released from now until September worldwide, and "to turn 250 million viewers into physical or virtual
activists, all focused on the Copenhagen Climate Summit in December
2009, where the successor to the Kyoto Treaty will be finalized and the
future of our species decided. Clearly the overall aim is to prevent
runaway climate change and the deaths of hundreds of millions, if not
billions, of people."

Go to, where you can send letters to politicians, and pledge how you will help this cause for the earth.

this article is also posted on

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Rockwell the Inspiration for Duncan Jones' 'Moon'

WHOA! This movie is a mind-blow.

Let me start by saying that I am quite unfamiliar with the genre of science fiction. When I read about this movie I didn't think, 'Oh what a cool sci-fi this movie will be.' SO it was a surprise to me when during the Q&A at the West Coast premiere of the movie at the SFIFF Sunday night so many questions and answers had to do with the sci-fi genre (themes borrowed from other movies, etc).

When I first started watching I immediately thought of Herzog's 'Grizzly Man' because of the perspective issue. We see astronaut Sam Bell ( Sam Rockwell) talking to a camera (The U.S.) back home. SO I thought of the idea of only being with yourself and the camera, the relationship formed there, and the perspective of the camera. Timothy Treadwell was alone in the wilderness with his camera, Sam is alone on the moon with a camera...
Well not completely alone. Kevin Spacey plays a robot friend.

Sam Rockwell gives quite a performance. It turns out the movie was inspired by him. Jones wanted to work with Rockwell, and Rockwell had ideas about wanting to play a working class hero type...

The moon setting is especially notable! I found myself wondering about why and how they decided to make it look the way it did and how the set worked. I learned during the Q&A it was built as a miniature model, and that's probably why it looked so beautiful. Often we see Sam driving the rover over the surface of the moon and it appears in slow motion, moon dust filling the dark air, which is only lit by the out-of-place man made machinery in outer space...

Whoa! Googling Duncan Jones just now I found out from Wikipedia that he is the son of David Bowie. Full circle. Last week at the SFIFF I watched Crude, in which David Bowie's wife and supermodel Iman Abdulmajid plays a key role in creating press buzz around a huge Chevron oil spill in Ecuador.

I'm not going give away anything about this movie, but I will say that it's soul-wrenchingly sad. About 3/4 way through I wanted to give up. At one point Sam says, "I just want to go home." And then earth comes into view.
But instead of giving up I became intrigued by the plot, and started questioning my own sadness- curious about why I felt so sad by this subject.
Sadness turned to curiosity.

Jones made the movie on a 5 million budget. and with only 30 days to shoot. 450 special effects shots. Damn!!!

Go see it. Be boggled.
Opens wide release June 12.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Coppola, American Zoetrope Founders Thrill San Francisco Crowd

Forty years ago Francis Ford Coppola, George Lucas, Carroll Ballard, and Walter Murch moved to San Francisco from Los Angeles, and founded the film company American Zoetrope. Three years later Coppola made ‘The Godfather.’

Accompanied by their wives, last night the men sat around on stage at the world-renowned Castro Theatre, telling the story of how it all began.
Zoetrope was $30,000 in dept before Coppola did ‘The Godfather.’ Worried about the debt and knowing that Coppola was “the only one of us who knew how to get a job” Lucas pressured Coppola to take the offer he had to direct ‘The Godfather’. Coppola said, “George was telling me to do the Godfather. ‘Do it however they want you to,’ he said,” to a chuckle from the sold-out audience.
“So thanks, George, for telling me to do the film,” Coppola said.

It turns out the studio had huge objections with how Coppola wanted to make it (Little did they know). They were opposed to Al Pacino and especially to Marlon Brando. In order for Brando to be cast the studio required that he do a screen test, that he do the part for free, and that there would be a million dollar bond for him in case he damaged anything. When shown the screen test of Brando, who Coppola described as “a brilliant man,” the studio was astounded.

Coppola, who made the1988 feature ‘Tucker’ about a maverick car designer and his ill-fated challenge to the auto industry, had a few words to say about the fall of the auto industry. “It’s heart breaking. America has spent decades making beautiful cars.” And on a broader note about the fate of the economic crisis, “Hard times will bring us closer together personally.”

Moderator David D’Arcy asked the group if there was any hesitancy to the idea of moving from the booming movie industry in Los Angeles to much smaller San Francisco. Overall the men said there was no hesitancy and that one of the reasons to leave Los Angeles was to leave all the legal and industry. “Why should the person who edits the sound not mix the sound?...Being in San Francisco was more like being in school…We wanted to be film makers.”
Coppola’s wife Eleanor spoke up. “This [San Francisco] is really about people who want to make films…In Los Angeles there are so many parties that revolve around things that really are peripheral to film.”

Lucas said, “We were all desperate to make movies.”

The four couples seemed truly pleasured to be on stage reminiscing about their lives and projects together, and the San Francisco audience, who lined up around two corners for hours in advance to see the event, were just as thrilled. “Can we bring the house lights up to see the beautiful faces of the audience?” Coppola jollily requested at one point.

Often the group teased one another. Murch said, “Lucas used to say- ‘Why am I the only one with a vision around here?’”
And Coppola and Lucas joked about Lucas’ writing skills back in the day. Lucas said he was more of a visual guy, didn’t think you needed anything else besides the vision.
“Like a script,” Coppola joked.
Coppola didn’t believe Lucas couldn’t write, and made Lucas write a screenplay for a job.
“But then you read it and said no, you’re not a writer,” Lucas said to Coppola. They all laughed along with the audience.

Ballard piped up about how these days more often than not the director has nothing to do with the writing of the script, rather the director comes in without any prior knowledge of the script and then takes over. “We were under the notion that if you were going to make a film you’d write it,” he said.

Coppola talked about his latest project, ‘Tetro’ (premiering later this month in Cannes) which is in black and white. “With black and white it’s different because it’s the light that’s used to separate, since there’s no color. No one will buy black and white movies. It’s hard…. For awhile if you wanna do it [make movies] you have to have a day job.”
“It’s fiction but it’s filled with personal memories,” he said about the film.

Coppola said there are really only about four films he made that are the ones he really wanted to make, from his own personal ideas. He noted Rain People, Conversation, Rumble Fish, and Youth Without Youth. "Film should be personal. Each person here, we're all unique and that unique perspective is reflected in what we create... which makes it all the more beautiful."

“The curse is that people just don’t go and see them,” he said.
“If you don’t have that kind of violence, or thrills and spills, the audience just won’t come.”

This review is also published on

Saturday, May 2, 2009

'Everything Strange and New' Showing at SFIFF

For the last time tonight! at 6:30 at kabuki cinema as part of the SFIFF. It was shot in Oakland.

Two minutes in I wanted to skip back to the beginning because I was stopped in my tracks by the style of film making. I wanted to watch it over so as to catch every detail.

This is a BLEAK movie. And man, the film making is incredible at illustrating bleakness.

Eerily slow zooms and dolly shots (which my cinema major roommate says is a trend right now) come one after the other and don't stop. Voice over has a huge role in this bleak illustration too. Often the camera holds on one vacant, nonliving space in the protagonist's daily life (like parts of the construction site where he works, or the empty street he lives) while we hear voice over of him talking about his life, or of he and his wife arguing. slow. silence. pain. monotony of daily life.

The shot that brings us down the most is a frequent long shot of protagonist Wayne, walking. Just walking. But he walks so slow, in no hurry, without any cares, not looking forward to anything next. Silence. Walking. After half a minute we are depressed too. Because we can feel it. We fear it for ourselves.

Director Frazer Bradshaw says on the film's website that his goal is to "create work that opens viewers to themselves."

While watching and after, I did spend some time assessing parts of my life (I guess to make sure it isn't going where Wayne's is). And though while watching most of the film I was quite depressed and down, today I feel extremely happy. Coincidence? Purging?

Bradshaw says further "I hope that viewers will reconstitute characters and events for themselves, bringing their own ideas and sensibilities to bear. In shaping my stories and characters, I leave important narrative and emotional spaces to be filled by the audience. My characters develop naturally, as if they absorbed what the audience imagines about them. I leave moments of silence so that viewers can employ their own motivations in driving the film's emotional content."

WHOA. I'd like to talk to Bradshaw more about this. I feel like that's exactly what this film did.

'Everything Strange and New' gets scarily depressing. (AT least that's how I feel?) Wayne and his wife detest each other. They're unhappy. There is no smiling and there aren't any birds chirping. Then suddenly, out of nowhere, Wayne and his wife embrace in a thick hug. Love and hate at the same time? I'll keep watching.

Frantic orchestral interludes accent.

I recommend this movie. The film making is incredible, so much that it's maybe a bad thing because it's all I could focus on. It shows that Bradshaw has experience as a director of photography for over 200 productions.

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