Saturday, August 30, 2014

Duet (2014)

Glenn Keane’s Duet is probably one of the most perfect marriages of music and image you’ll ever find. The film is the story of a boy and a girl from cradle to adulthood in three minutes. It’s the sort of thing that would have made Chuck Jones proud.

While I know everyone has been going on about Keane’s simply line work, for me the real joy is the soundtrack. As good as the images are they wouldn’t have the emotional power, they wouldn’t have the kick without the glorious score that they are married to. Likewise I don’t think the score would be as good without the images to play against.

I’m guessing there is a good chance this will win an Oscar.

Click on the link above and feel good.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Help Alec Kubas-Meyer make REEL

Alec’s making a movie. You need to give him money.

No wait- Alec is making an action movie you need to give him money.

I’m being silly here, but Alec really is making a movie and he needs you to help get it done.

The film is called REEL and it’s an action film and based on what Alec has done before you’ll want to get in on the ground floor of what is going to be a great career in action film directing. I’m not going to wax poetic about what Alec can do in a fight scene now (that’s coming Sunday when I talk about his recent film Miranda) but I am going to say again give him some money and he’ll send you stuff. Hell some of the gimmes at Kickstarter are signed stuff and the ability to have a signature before someone was famous is a plus down the road (I mean assuming you'll want to eventually sell the stuff on Ebay).

Trust me this is something you want to be part of. I’ve seen Alec demonstrating some of the fight scenes on Hubert this past Saturday night and it looks really cool. (And painful, so if you don't want Alec to come demonstrate on you give)

If you want to see what Alec has cooked up go to the film’s Kickstarter page which is here.

If you want an explanation of why Alec is doing it you should read his piece at Flixist which is here.

And remember if give the poor boy some money in five years you can meet him at his big feature blockbuster premiere and tell him you backed his film as a means of hustling tickets to the screening...of course he'll ignore you but its worth a shot

Alec and his co-director Gerard Chamberlain-Alec is the good looking one

Bathtime in Clerkenwell (2003)

The question of the day is should a music video be considered a short film?

The question occurred to me when I was watching Alex Budovsky's animated film of Bathtime in Clerkenwell for the 500th time. The reason it came up is that most people came across the movie, then fell in love with the music and then tracked down the Real Tuesday Weld album it comes from (I Lucifer). The notion of would you consider it a promotional film or just a film haunted me.

While technically the videos are short films, for the purpose of this discussion I would argue that any film that is trying to do more than just present the band in concert is a short film worth at least covering. Would I actually do so here at Unseen? Probably not. The film would have to do something extraordinary for me to do so.

Bathtime does something extraordinary. Its glorious monochromatic animation marries beautifully with the song to become something greater. I mean what sort of Looney Tune inspired madness has caused these birds to sing such a peppy song while being bounced around all over the place. I have no idea. All I know is I love the images and I love the music.

An aside here the I, Lucifer album is inspired by a novel of the same name. The album is just a wonderful take on a novel with some killer songs of which Bathtime is only one. (I should point out that there are differences between the various releases of the Album (UK and US) and Clerkenwell (Single, CD and film)

I've placed a You Tube link of the film above, but I warn you not to play it unless you want it burned forever in your brain.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The BOYHOOD Viewmaster I won looks like this...

I re-upped my membership for the IFC Center in New York and won a second prize- a Viewmaster with a disc of images from Richard Linklater's film BOYHOOD.

I've had several people threaten to steal it from me,I managed to hang ton to it.

I've posted a bunch of pictures of both the Viewmaster itself, including the autograph, and pictures of the disc at the Unseen Tumblr page so if you want to see it all follow this link.

Someday I'll see the movie....

Butterflies (2012)

Dark fable about giving up your dream and not following your heart is a kick in the ass. This is a film that is a wake up call for anyone who works in a dull job just to pay the bills.

A young woman living in a train station begging and selling her art work. She gets a job doing art for a card company and then has second thoughts as the job begins to crush her soul.

If you can get past the intentionally grotesque characters this is a film that should be shown to anyone with any passion for anything. Its a warning about the soul crushing nature and how it warps your dreams and crushes all hope. It shows you what can happen when people tell you no
and say you can't for reasons that make good sense (you can't be a vampire because they don't exist) but which are emotionally bullshit (why can't I be a vampire if I want to?) Reality maybe practical but it isn't always right.

I like that this film says that in order to remain in the light we must follow our dreams.

This is a magic film. Track it down and show it to someone you love.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Patema Inverted opens Friday at IFC and is a must see

The animated film Patema Inverted opens Friday in New York. I saw the film back at this year’s New York International Children’s Film Festival. If you want to see something that is going to make you think I highly recommend you get down to the IFC Center and see Patema Inverted.

He’s my review from earlier this year:

FromYasuhiro Yoshiura the director of Time of Eve, come Patema Inverted a trippy science fiction film about the world, literally turning upside down for some people.

In the years after an experiment to harness gravity as a means of energy went horribly wrong, some people live what we would call right-side up, while other people live the opposite way and when they fall they fall up into the sky, this group has retreated into the bowels of the earth and never venture to the surface.The Surface world is a quasi-religious civilization that wants to keep things earth bound, and to eradicate the sinners who fall up. One day when Padema is exploring she falls to the surface where she meet Age, a boy who wants to fly. The meeting sets in motion a clash of worlds that will change everything

Wild crazy film messes with your sense of reality over and over as the POV shifts repeatedly so we see the world from the various characters point of view. Its brilliantly done in a way that only movies, and animated movies can do. Its a visual masterpiece that must (no really) must be seen on a big screen.

While the story of the clash of worlds has been done to death, the visuals carry the film for 99% of the film. It doesn't hurt that the film sets up a rich world, or worlds (3 or 4 at least) that bleed off the screen and make you want to go explore in them.

If there is any flaw in the film, its the final couple of minutes which made me wonder what exactly I was seeing.

Momentary final reservations aside this is one to track down, especially if you like mind game films.

Nicolas Provost - Papillon d'amour (2004)

I can't review this I can only share it.

This is a bit of Akira Kurasowa's Rashomon manipulated. Its as perfect as sound and image marriage as I've seen.  Its now one of my favorite films of all time because it provokes a visceral reaction each time I watch it. I'm floored each time I see it.

Give it a shot- and if you like it even a little track down Provost's work where you can because he's amazing- he's now one of my favorite directors.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

James Brown:The Hardest Working Man in Show Business at the FIlm Society of Lincoln Center

This weekend Lincoln Center is going to be running a series of films dedicated to some of James Brown’s cinematic efforts. It’s an eclectic bunch of films that largely seem to have nothing in common other than Brown’s appearances or input. It’s also, largely a good collection of films.

Three of the films have Brown cameos as he appears to sing a song before splitting.

SKI PARTY has Brown showing up in what was an attempt to do start a Beach Blanket series on the ski slopes. Brown shows up long enough to sing I Feel Good. And because Hollywood wanted to appeal to everyone Leslie Gore also pops in. It’s an amusing trifle, but nothing special.

ROCKY IV has Rocky battling Dolph Lungren in the evil Soviet Union. An amusing piece of jingoistic fluff the film has Brown parachute in for a quick Living in America before getting the hell out of Dodge. It’s a disposable Rocky film, funny for all the wrong reasons, but in the right frame of mind it’s amusing.

If you’ve never seen THE BLUES BROTHERS you should get to Lincoln Center for this. This overblown, overdone film from John Landis is a amusing as all hell. Its full of great blues and soul singers including James Brown as a preacher. It’s funny, it’s thrilling and it has great music. It also needs to be seen big so you can really appreciate how freaking nuts they were when they made the film.

The series includes three interesting documentaries with Brown performances all are must sees.

The T.A.M.I. SHOW is a filmed record of concert that was supposed to be the start of some awards show. It was a one off, but the film, recently restored is a record of a time and place where Leslie Gore, James Brown, The Rolling Stones, Beach Boys, The Supremes and others could all share a single stage for a night. While the performances are up and down, the over effect is sure to put a smile on the face of any music lover.

WHEN WE WERE KINGS and SOUL POWER are two films that cover the events surrounding the Rumble in the Jungle, fight between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman in Zaire in 1974. The idea was to have the fight and a huge concert at the same time, but things happened and the time went off. While many people went to the fight (recounted in KINGS) less people ended up going to see the concert (SOUL POWER is the record). While Brown floats through KINGS he’s fully shown in his glory in SOUL. If you’ve never seen the films you should, both are excellent, and the chance to see them together is a huge plus.

The last film in the series is BLACK CAESAR. An exploitation film from 1973 it’s the story of a kid from the ghetto who rises up through the ranks of the underworld to become a kingpin. One of the more socially active films of the Blaxploitation cycle the film is actually pretty good even if it occasionally wears it’s heart on it’s sleeve. James Brown’s contribution to the film are a number of songs to the score

For more information and tickets check the website.

Unicorn Blood (2013)

Dark fairy tale has  has two teddy bears Moffy, with a bow tie the color of his eyes,  and Gregorio who sports an eye patch,going out to hunt their favorite food.

A dark fable that will alter your opinion of teddy bears forever.Done in a style that looks like it's the art work of several amateur artists I know come to life,the sort of a film that doesn't resemble what any sort of  mainstream film would look like. I can't image say Disney ever doing a film that was either this dark or looked so quietly unsettling.

Watching the film I was torn between wanting to go on through its handful of minutes or instead turn it off and walk away. I stayed to the end and then instantly tried to figure out how to get copies of this off to friends who would love the glorious subversion of it all.

As I said the the film will change what you think of teddy bears.Yea there have been monstrous teddies in the movies, but never before have ones been so vile as to actually be minature humans. They are much like the people in Jean Cocteau's Beauty and the Beast, outwardly beautiful but inwardly  decayed and rotten.

This is as good as short films can be with a near perfect mix of art, story, character and music.

Track this film down.

Monday, August 25, 2014

One of the years best films, STARRED UP starts Wednesday

Starred Up is one of the best films of 2014. Its one of the few films that is so good that its place on the best of the year list is not up for discussion. It’s a film that you simply have to see.

We saw the film back at Tribeca and we’ve been raving about the film. Here’s Mondocurry’s take on the film:

Right from the outset UK film STARRED UP is a claustrophobic, panic inducing experience, beginning with a new inmates being processed and remaining in the structure’s decaying yellowish labyrinth of corridors, cramped cells, and sliding bars. While the atmosphere is as chilling as any previous dramas set in prisons where appalling acts of brutality are the norm, this film stands out more the restraint that is often shown by inmates whose every primal instinct to give in to rage is tested. That’s not to say that there aren’t fearsome confrontations; acts of violence arise that will make a chill run up your spine. Yet there is also a lot of conversation, often heated, and attempts to hash problems out as opposed to resorting to violence. The story does contain some fantastic and improbable turns of events so fans of recent trends of ultrarealistic drams might be a bit disappointed.

The result is a very satisfying drama with a powerful message and a story with enough thrills to move it forward dynamically. Director David Mackenzie and writer Jonathan Asser’s ability to achieve a few instances of humor in this most grim setting suggests a true storyteller’s gift, making the story far more memorable than if we were to just be bludgeoned by the same harsh truths over and over again.

We do not know what has landed 19 year old Eric a prison sentence, but his ferocity is rapidly established. After an assault on another inmate, with effects beyond those intended, Eric stages a showdown with a host of riot-gear clad guards, in which he manages to achieve the upper hand twice and put guards in the most precarious of situations in as many times. A resulting meeting between the warden, a high level administrator, and Oliver, a counselor volunteering to work at the prison on an experimental form of talk therapy with the prison’s more violent inmates, reveals that Eric has been ‘starred up,.’ This means he is a minor assigned to an adult facility because of the severity of his crimes. Begrudgingly the warden, being suspect of the treatment being utilized at all, agrees to allow Eric to join these sessions with the caveat of any incidents landing him in solitary confinement.

Meanwhile, there is the double-edged sword of Eric‘s father, Neville being a long incarcerated inmate in the same wing he is assigned to carrying out a life sentence. On the one hand, his father is established as a formidable prisoner, one to steer clear of, which ensures Eric a certain level of protection. On the other hand, being around each other brings up all kinds of psychic damage for the two, with both of their bottled up feelings being unleashed into violent confrontations that bring as much harm as healing, sometimes standing in direct opposition to Eric‘s therapy taking hold.

As Eric engages in these sessions with Oliver’s tightly bound group of prisoners, signs of progress appear. Yet the threat of conflict both within the group and outside of it are a constant threat to maintaining peace. Emotional power struggles arise around Neville’s sense of inadequacy as a father figure seeing Eric take to the members of this group, and an administration more eager to see -Oliver‘s progressive methods fail than succeed lurk in the background.

The setting is a crucial component of the film. Doors being slammed shut into very cramped spaces. Structurally interesting, the cells are organized in ascending levels, spiraling upward daring those on the lower levels to attempt to climb. Eric‘s regular transcendence of this boundary suggests he is unwilling to conform to expectations, his boldness making him a compelling figure, and one whose survival is a constant question mark.

An image of a turnstile’s slow creaking rotation til reaching a thudding halt appears a few times. It makes a simple yet powerful statement of endless frustrating cycles in prison systems like the ones we get a glimpse of here. Not recidivism, but progress at large, such Oliver’s attempts to reform rather than dehumanize prisoners, that is constantly blocked by those in control.

I also reviewed the film and my take is here.

The film opens Wednesday and should be at the top of your must see list.