Shorts Program: The Dancing Pig (1907)

There’s more TCM Fest stuff to come, including a rundown of the Return of the Dream Machine program, which featured films from 1900-1913 projected with an original 1908 hand-cranked projector – it was a very special evening, and introduced me to one of the most amazing, incredible, and bizarre pieces of early cinema I’ve yet seen. It affected me so much that I feel the need to share it with everyone I know, in every outlet I have. Ladies and gentlemen, behold….The Dancing Pig.

[The most amazing thing about this short is that apparently this vaudeville program was so popular at the time that there were numerous film versions made of it, by almost every studio. This one from Pathe seems to be the main one that’s survived to today.]

Music Video Saturday Vol. 2 [music]

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I started a weekly column where I highlight a music video that I vividly remember or just recently discovered. Last week I tackled the weirdness that is Bjork as directed by the great Spike Jonze. This time we are going way back in time to the first memory of a music video I ever had. I was 7 years old and my sister (a music freak) was staying with us briefly, staying up all night watching MTV. I was familiar with The Cars since my dad played their debut record constantly. They had just released a new album called Heartbeat City which he purchased on cassette. I can’t recall which video came out first “Magic” or the one that has stuck with me to this day featured below. “You Might Think” is one of my favorite songs of theirs, which is featured on a less than stellar outing from the band despite hit singles like “Drive.” Suffice to say, the record as a whole doesn’t hold up as strongly as their debut, but this landmark video (at least in mind) is still well worth a look. Yes it’s uber-80s in terms of content and effects, but it’s goofy and groundbreaking for its time. The reason I chose it for the simple fact that Ric Ocasek as a fly haunted my dreams just as much as Freddy Krueger did at the time. I had nightmares of being stalked by fly-Ocasek and watching it now, I can’t help but laugh at the fact that seeing that animated fly actually scared me as a kid. What memories of music videos do you recall from your childhood that made an indelible impression — good or bad? Here’s the very first for me, and I’m not ashamed to say that I still like this song despite what the video did to me as a kid. Stay tuned next week for an “I Love The 90s” edition of Music Video Saturday!

I Want My Music Video Please! [music]

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It should come as no surprise that my three favorite music video directors are Spike Jonze, Michel Gondry, and Mark Romanek. A lot of accomplished filmmakers started out making short films, collaborating with musicians back when there was one cable channel that focused solely on the music video art form. For me, music and film are the two things I love the most when it comes to expressing a vision. So I consider the music video to be the best of both worlds. My earliest memories outside of sitting through Spielberg and Zemeckis films in the theater with my dad, often involved staying up late to watch 120 Minutes, Alternative Nation, Headbanger’s Ball, and any MTV program dedicated to binging on videos. So I decided to explore this further by presenting a weekly find, either one I’ve never seen before, or a blast from the past that I think deserves another look. You will definitely find selections from the three names mentioned above including a list of my all-time favorite videos mid-year. For now, let’s talk about the brilliance of Spike Jonze as an inventive visual stylist whom I first adored when his breakthrough Weezer video won accolades back in the mid-90s. I know he still actively makes short films, and of course I consider HER to be one of the best films of the decade so far. I used to be a huge Bjork fan but as of late I haven’t been as crazy about her output, particularly the songs on this record. But I will admit to finding “Triumph Of The Heart” to be an interesting song to say the least, featuring beatbox vocal contributions from Mike Patton of Faith No More. And besides music and movies, I also love cats. Finding this Spike Jonze gem was a welcome start to my weekend, and hope that you feel the same. I wouldn’t necessarily put it up there as one of Jonze’s best, but it’s certainly worth a look for its sheer weirdness.

November 22, 1963.

This is a follow on by Errol Morris’ to “The Umbrella Man” short film commissioned for the New York Times last year (we featured it here.) In part 2 “November 22, 1963” Morris continues his conversation with Josiah “Tink” Thompson regarding all things JFK.

50 Years.

Friday One Sheet: Castello Cavalcanti

Maybe I am hijacking my own column here, as the One Sheet on display this week is merely a well posed frame from the film with a red and yellow checkered flag along the top. But it it is a well posed frame from a Wes Anderson short film that popped up online this week, made with two of his usual collaborators, Jason Schwartzman and Roman Coppola, along with funding from Prada of all companies. Oh, and that checkered motif of course matches the uniform of the driver of the smashed sports car that happens to be on fire.

You can also watch the 8 minute short, as it is tucked under the seat.

Would you like to know more…?

TIFF Short Film “NOAH” [last day to view]

Just because you weren’t in Toronto the last couple of weeks doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a little of what TIFF has to offer. For example, I stumbled across this short film entitled Noah which takes place entirely on a computer screen (including the closing credits). It’s an interesting look at relationships in the digital age.

It’s only a few minutes long but I actually felt a little anxious for the protagonist while watching. So for me it was what I like to call “quietly intense.” Take a look below and see what you think.

**Today is the last day the video will be available for viewing on YouTube**

 

Watch It: Don Cheadle Makes Directorial Debut with “H8DES”

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A few weeks ago Vanity Fair announced “The Decades Series” to celebrate the magazine’s 100th anniversary. The series consists of ten shorts, each with a different director or team of directors, capturing a decade beginning with 1910. It doesn’t look like the videos are being released in any sort of order as the 1960s was posted earlier this week (a fun video of talking heads directed by Bryce Dallas Howard) followed today by the 80s but but today’s video is a little extra special.

Titled “H8DES,” this marks the directorial debut of none other than the great Don Cheadle and from the opening moments it perfectly captures the 80s, the laugh track accompanied opening scene feels like it could have been lifted from “The Cosby Show,” but the short manages to cover every major event and feeling of the decade, from Reaganomics to the fall of the Berlin Wall. It’s really fantastic and well worth five minutes.

Watch Star Drunk, a modern sci-fi classic.

So, a bunch of writers in Portland, Oregon decided to get together, get drunk, and write a script for an epic sci-fi short film. While I think all of us wannabe writers have done this at one point (hey, Steinbeck, Kerouac, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Faulkner, and Bukowski were all raging alcoholics, were they not?), these guys didn’t regret their decisions the next morning. Instead, they decided to take it a step further and they hired actors who would act out their film while equally as drunk as the writers had been while writing it.

The result is Star Drunk. And it’s as ridiculous as you’d expect – sort of like a sci-fi version of Drunk History meets Battlestar Galactica. It hilarious, especially if you’re a sci-fi nerd such as myself. Or maybe it’s stupid, but I also spend hours each week watching cat videos on YouTube, so I suppose it’s all relative.

I don’t know about you, but I’d like to see more of these. Perhaps with some drunk editing thrown in for good measure.