Tags: movies


sparrow songs

Sparrow Songs. Linked to it a couple months ago because I found the "Porn Star Karaoke" episode so arresting, but now that the series is over and I've seen every episode I feel it's definitely worth mentioning again.

The concept? Alex Jablonski and Michael Totten, two young filmmakers in southern California, put together a short documentary every month, funded entirely out of their own pockets. The result could have been disjointed and clumsy in a gimmicky way, as many such projects tend to be, but somehow it isn't. There's a contemplative, deliberate subtlety to each short that is profoundly affecting.

Despite great diversity in tone, theme, and subject matter, the one unifying element to each of the twelve shorts (as a plethora of film reviewers have already noted) is a deep and honest compassion for the people they portray. It comes out in the littlest things: a lingering shot of a paper plate, a B-roll clip of a nervous pre-interview smile, a glimpse of a chess player compulsively punching the time clock as he waits for a game. The series is a love letter to everyday America in all its different flavors. A love letter that does not apotheosize its subjects as icons or messages or victims but merely says, "Thank you for being you."

Episode 5, "The Donut Shop," isn't the most compelling Sparrow Songs short--that would be "Fall Begins in Trona, CA," about high school football in a dying highway town, or "L'Arche," about a Christian community for disabled people and caretakers, or the previously mentioned "Porn Star Karaoke"--but it's the one that, for me, hit closest to home.

Sparrow Songs - Episode 5 - The Donut Shop from Sparrow Songs on Vimeo.

I sleep late, eat late, work late. I spend a fair amount of time alone in late-night coffeeshops, donut shops, bodegas. Tang's Donuts may be across the continent from where I live but this is it. This is the contemporary Nighthawks. This is where I go. This is where I am.

There is also a blog. Sometimes the filmmaker commentary is as poignant as the films themselves.
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this number is immortal

One of Audrey Hepburn's dance scenes in the 1957 hit musical "Funny Face," set to contemporary music. Utterly amazing. If you time-machined 1950s-era Hepburn to a modern day nightclub she would still wow the living shit out of everybody.

The world will never see another Audrey Hepburn.

wait, uncrop. that reflection on the window. zoom. enhance. rotate by 270.

Dear television writers: I know that most of you are from the early 1970s, are not physics or computer imaging experts, and are writing on tourniquet-tight deadlines. But for the love of all that is spiffy how did you get away with this for so long--with teams of tech-savvy camera people, digital editors, lighting folk making it for you, not to mention Wikipedia at your fingertips--for this to become a trope:

CSI is by far the worst offender on contemporary TV for this trope, but it is by no means the first. At least Blade Runner was science fiction:

In an era in which Windows Movie Maker and iMovie ship with most new computers, are audiences really still so naive about image manipulation that they can continue to suspend their disbelief about this bullshit?

district 9

You know that film that's coming out on August 18, District 9? It's the feature-length version of this short that the same director produced in 2005:

Compelling stuff.

Also, if you call the phone number on the movie posters, you'll discover a URL--http://multinationalunited.com/. It's the rabbit hole for an ARG! Yay!

(I haven't made much progress through the game yet, but the tone, rhetoric, and social commentary are unnervingly familiar. I wonder if, as with The Beast and Spielberg's A.I., the movie will be completely unable to live up to the expectations set by the ARG.)

On the subject of ARGs, this flash game, a spinoff from a Numb3rs episode, is more than meets the eye. And clever, I might add, in a rather ominous kind of way.

why lisa wants to be pixar

As if Up wasn't enough of a tearjerker in itself: Pixar grants a ten-year-old girl's dying wish.

I'm reminded of the scene in Fanboys where the guy with cancer says, "Come on, guys, I know it's my dying wish and all, but it's just a movie," and the other guy screams at him, "It's more than a fucking movie!"

I hope the day never comes that I see art as nothing more than a commodity.

(Cinema is not a can of beans! Beans keep you alive...but cinema makes life worth living.)