“”An eerie trumpet call over a lost battlefield.” – Hunter S. Thompson
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy was my favorite film of 2011. I was prepared for the byzantine plot but surprised by its emotional heft. The narrative’s pervasive sense of anguish, wrought by personal and professional compromise, was carefully anchored by Gary Oldman’s nuanced portrait of George Smiley. And the visual atmosphere, opulent yet decaying, reminded me of another portrait of societal decline, The Conformist.
The film easily affirmed Tomas Alfredson as one of the most assured stylists in cinema. And like neo-noir peers David Fincher and Park Chan-Wook, Alfredson uses VFX as an expressive yet often imperceptible tool.
This video reveals how he and the VFX team at The Chimney Pot utilized animation to subtly enhance the film’s visual scope.
Today is the twelfth-year anniversary of his death. Michael Herr, who co-wrote Full Metal Jacket, wrote this humorous, sometimes revealing, Vanity Fair article about his experiences with Kubrick just after his death. It’s a great read, often detailing how funny the director was in person:
Kubrick, during a conversation on Hemingway: “Do you think it was true that he was drunk all the time, even when he wrote? Yeah? Well, I’ll have to find out what he was drinking and send a case to all my writers”
On the topic of another writer, Kerr relates: I once told Stanley William Burroughs’s line “A paranoid-schizophrenic is a guy who just found out what’s going on,” and he took it to his heart. “Wait a minute, wait a minute. I’ve gotta write that down.”
On the film side, several of my friends have feature projects playing at SXSW next week. I’m really looking forward to checking out both films.
Eric Koretz, cinematographer on Iditarod, shot this superb-looking doc, Dragonslayer, executive produced by Christine Vachon.
My friend and fellow AFI classmate, director Zal Batmanglij is screening his film Sound of My Voice. It was shot by another good friend, and my cinematographer/co-writer on Redemption Maddie, Rachel Morrison. It debuted at Sundance to very positive notices.
Here’s a brief synopsis: Peter and Lorna, a young Silver Lake couple, delve into the underworld of a cult that meets in the San Fernando valley.
I don’t think one’s appreciation, or “fandom”, for a medium’s triumphs (whether it be music, film, literature etc.) is ever separate from one’s own proficiency or talent in said medium. You have to acknowledge what you like, what you’ve been inspired by, what makes you challenge yourself…because, certainly no man’s an island. On the one hand, there’s the rarefied people whether it be a Bob Dylan or a Claire Denis (relative, not absolute examples) through abstraction you aspire to equal as an artist…
On the other, sometimes you’re just lucky enough, to be awed by the people who you actually know.
The last few months have been a watershed, and a real kick in the ass personally, because I’ve been privy to several friends of mine deliver some astonishing work.
In no real order…check this work out. Or I’ll find you.
My old friend Zac and his stellar bandmates, Pete and Tommy, comprise the portland-based trio Wax Fingers and they just released their self-titled debut. Their influences are diverse, but suffice to say, if you’re a fan of Animal Collective or Battles, you will find something to appreciate. They just make spellbinding experimental rock that’s tethered by a gift for melody and subversive mood-spinning.
Check out one of my favorite tracks “Fasten the Hook”:
You can grab a copy of the album at CDBaby, Itunes or Amazon. Or if you’re in the Northwest check out one of their killer live shows.
Ethan and I have run across each other in several different circles over the years. We reconnected a while ago, and he was on the eve of releasing his debut as a singer-songwriter: Songs from a Toxic Apartment. It’s out now and I just had the pleasure of seeing him play at Hotel Cafe and the set, much like the album, was sincere and unnerving. Plus Toxic Apartment is thankfully, an ALBUM, intelligently produced and conceived with a thematic concept as the guiding structure.
An acoustic cut of “Why Don’t You Sleep”:
The album just received a strong review from Pitchfork and you can grab a copy on Itunes, Amazon, or directly at Ethan’s website.
My short film, Redemption Maddie, has been distributed through Reframe and Amazon. The film ended it’s run on the festival circuit over a year ago, but I’m still very proud of the short. So if you haven’t seen it…
I’ve just discovered Japan’s Tetsuya Nakashima. As a filmmaker associated with frenetically-paced and provocative material, he seems to have succeeded Takeshi Miike and Shinya Tsukamoto as Japan’s enfant terrible of the moment.
His new film, Confessions was shortlisted for the foreign academy award this year. There’s a Battle Royale-esque manic energy coursing through the film’s trailer, but the story and choice of protagonist suggests something akin to Pedro Almodovar. Whatever the film’s actual tone, this appetizing tease of footage has whet my appetite for both Confessions and Nakashima’s work in general.
The video short I directed for the band Cascade Array was recently posted here at Video Militia, a very cool music video blog that features distinctive music videos released through the internet. Check it out – and the myriad of other great videos they have posted – and support the site!