Watch Werner Herzog’s texting and driving documentary


We’re all big fans of Werner Herzog here in the third row. It’s impossible not to admire the man and his zest for life and love of using film to tap into human emotions. I mean, check out our post about him being the most interesting man alive and you’ll better understand our love for the filmmaker. Whether he’s making a documentary or a fictional feature film, he’s always has an uncanny ability to tap into the human psyche unlike any other filmmaker out there.

When AT&T approached him to make what is basically a public service announcement about texting and driving, one might have though that Herzog would think the idea beneath him. Instead, Herzog embraced the idea and turned it into a haunting, powerful 35-minute documentary that weaves together four separate stories related to texting and driving.

Herzog told Yahoo! of his decision:

“What AT&T proposed immediately clicked and connected inside of me. There’s a completely new culture out there. I’m not a participant of texting and driving — or texting at all — but I see there’s something going on in civilization which is coming with great vehemence at us. … This has nothing to do with consumerism or being part of advertising products. This whole campaign is rather dissuading you from excessive use of a product. It’s a campaign. We’re not trying to sell anything to you. We’re not trying to sell a mobile phone to you.”

You can watch the entire film below. Be sure to have your tissues handy and leave your thoughts (or confessions) in the comments.

The return of the Mickey Mouse shorts… sort of.


The Mickey Mouse short films… without them, there would be no Disney empire as we know it. Before his feature length Snow White and the Seven Dwarves in 1937, Walt Disney was known for mostly for his cute, mischievous mouse creation Mickey who appeared before live-action features.

Walt Disney’s empire began in 1928 with what is still probably his most famous Mickey Mouse short, Steamboat Willie, after famously losing the rights to his beloved character, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. The rest, of course, is history. Throughout the 1930s, Disney produced Mickey Mouse short after Mickey Mouse short. By 1940, over 100 Mickey Mouse shorts had been released. Many of these, such as Mickey’s Good Deed, Mickey and the Seal, and Mickey’s Trailer, I grew up watching over and over again on an old, worn-out VHS tape. I still adore them.

After Walt Disney’s massive success of Snow White, the company’s focus shifted to feature films and over the next two decades, less than 20 Mickey Mouse shorts were produced, before ceasing production on them completely. Mickey appeared in various other forms – TV shows, video games, comic books, but rarely again as an official Mickey Mouse short (in fact, after that, only one in the 80s and two in the 90s).

Now, Disney has decided to bring back from the dead the Mickey Mouse shorts – and boy, the Disney gang sure has been given a modern animation makeover. There is no doubt about it: the animation is slick, but for a old-school Disney lover, it’s a bit unsettling at first.

You can watch the short exclusively on Disney’s website. Check it out and chime in with your thoughts on the rather drastic animation changes.

Do you think that Disney should have stuck with the traditional style or do you believe that in resurrecting these shorts they made the right move by having their animation evolve with the times?

Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola. Say Wha? [UPDATED]

Is this simply nothing more than a commercial for a perfume by a couple of well known directors or is this a tease at something greater? I’m too lazy to do the leg work on this one, so if any Third Row reader has any knowledge about this, let me know.

Here’s maybe a clue: I don’t recognize the gentlemen in the commercial/teaser, but I recognize the girl as the shop owner in Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris. It’s this girl.

Whatever the case, neat little nugget from Anderson and Coppola…

UPDATE: OK, so I figured this out. It is an ad for Prada. The directors are doing a three part short for the company (reminds me of the BMW ads so long ago with famous directors all taking a crack at shooting Clive Owen driving fast). At any rate, Part 1 and Part 2 of the short is under the seats…

Would you like to know more…?

Watch David Lynch’s Short Film: “Idem Paris”

I‘ve been watching David Lynch do all of these various, personal projects for some time now (mostly courtesy of content over at Twitch). But I haven’t seen a feature length film since 2007 (unless you count his “Duran Duran” doc). Not that I care mind you; I’m not the biggest Lynch fan on the planet and much of these short films and online interview segments are actually quite a joy to watch.

His latest appears to be a brief look at a lithograph company called Idem Paris. An “old-fashioned” printing company he’s used to produce quite a bit of his own art. Nothing real involving here, but there is a sort of strange hypnotic nature about the short with its dialogue-free, pulsing machinery and hissing steam engine. It’s actually quite visceral and heavy; makes you want to watch out that your fingers don’t get pinched or mashed – though probably nothing more than a couple minutes of a look.

…a statement from Lynch regarding the short from Indiewire:

Hervé Chandès from the Fondation Cartier brought me over to Idem and introduced me to Patrice Forest. I see this incredible place, and I get the opportunity to work there. And this was like a dream! It just opened up this brand-new world of the lithography and the magic of lithography, the magic of the stones. And it was a great, great thing! This thing of lithography, this channel of lithography opened up and a bunch of ideas came flowing out and it led to about a hundred lithographs. I will say that Idem printing studio has a unique, very special mood, and it is so conducive to creating. Patrice has the greatest attitude for all the artists and he creates this space of freedom and this joy of creating. It’s so beautiful! And I think the place is very important—in other wors, the same stone could be moved to another place, and I think that the work that comes out would be different. It’s a combination of the stone, the place, the people, this mood, and out comes these certain ideas.

Watch All of the Oscar Nominated Animated Shorts Online [i.e. right here]

As has become the practice in the past few years, all of the Oscar nominated shorts are now streaming online. Many theaters around the nation/world are currently showing them on the big screen – which is probably the preferred way to check them out, but if you don’t live in a major city or are scrambling for dollars these days, you can watch them all right here totally free and legally.

We posted Paperman a few days ago for your viewing pleasure, and now here are the other four of the nominees in alphabetical order. The winners will be announced at The Oscar presentation show happening on February 24th.






Maggie Simpson short under the seats (autoplays)
Would you like to know more…?

AFI Fest Day 3: In Another Country and Shorts Program 3

Sunday evening was SUPPOSED to be Hong Sang-Soo’s In Another Country and the Shining conspiracy theory documentary Room 237, but again, timing didn’t work to our advantage (nor did the popularity of The Shining) and flexibility was the order of the day.

In Another Country

The last three AFI Fests have all included films from South Korean filmmaker Hong Sang-soo, and it’s a trend I certainly hope continues, because though he’s virtually unknown here aside from avid festivalgoers, his films are consistently delightful and refreshing. In Another Country has a framing device of a young Korean girl writing three versions of a story, each involving a Frenchwoman (Isabelle Huppert) visiting the same Korean seaside town; each time she’s a slightly different character in different circumstances, but with many similar experiences. Hong’s previous film The Day He Arrives was also interested in repetition with variation, but In Another Country feels more finished and polished than that film did. It’s also more broadly funny, with Hong exploiting the language barrier for all its worth (all the characters speak English with each other, as neither French nor Korean is a shared language), but never cheaply or meanly. It’s an utterly charming film that uses character interactions and conversations to drive its ever-so-slight plot (or plots), and Hong’s mastery of conversation-driven scripting is second-to-none.

Also, having Huppert on board is never a bad thing. She brings a slight melancholy to her three characters, each of whom is in Korea for a different but not necessarily happy reason, and inquiring curiosity about the folk around her (though some of that curiosity might be a front, trying to distract herself from her unhappiness). Even though we’re only with each one of her characters for about twenty minutes, it’s impossible not to be drawn right into her story each time. Meanwhile, the Korean actor who plays the lifeguard matches her in charisma, his upbeat cheerfulness and interest in her overcoming the linguistic and cultural barriers between them. Not a whole lot happens in the film beyond a lot of eating, drinking, and conversation, but it’s never less than enthralling.

Would you like to know more…?

AFI Fest Day 2: Shorts Program 6 and Holy Motors

Saturday at the Fest was supposed to include two shorts programs sandwiching Leos Carax’s highly-buzzed Holy Motors, but fate had slightly different plans, as it often does during festivals. More on that later on in the post. First off, I suspect a look at Holy Motors will be more interesting to most than a recap of a bunch of shorts, so let’s start with that.

Holy Motors

[mild spoilers]

I knew next to nothing about this film going in aside from some general buzz out of Cannes and TIFF regarding its strangeness and something about it being about cinema itself. Most of the time when a film gets labeled as being “about cinema,” it’s something like Hugo or The Artist or even Blancanieves – a film that either references specific films, is set in the world of film, or uses very specific techniques tied to certain eras or movements in film history. That’s generally not the case with Holy Motors (though there are a few specific references to be found), but I wouldn’t argue with the general classification. Holy Motors is about the art of the scene, the joy and sadness found in performance, and as the film itself puts it, “the beauty of the act.”

Frequent Carax actor Denis Lavant plays M. Oscar, who is driven around in a limo by Edith Scob (best known from her masked role in Eyes Without a Face), keeping various “appointments.” It’s unclear who set these appointments or precisely what their purpose is, but each one requires elaborate makeup and costuming which Oscar applies himself as they drive, and involves acting out a scene – anything from a beggar woman on a street to a mo-cap alien sex scene to an intimate deathbed conversation. He shuttles from one to another, fully immersed in each, but quickly moving to the next. What is going on? Are these film scenes? Are they being recorded? Who has written the scenes or hired him to do this, and why? Who is the audience? We aren’t told, which leads to a strange and intriguing combination of fascination and irritation with the film. Its mysteries are beguiling, but unyielding.

Would you like to know more…?

Nice to See Iñárritu Doing Quality Things in His Spare Time [*eyes roll*]

I‘ve always been one to enjoy (occasionally love) the films of Alejandro González Iñárritu. And I’m all for director experimentation (cue Soderbergh). But not so much when it comes to performance art and interpretive dance. Especially when it potentially puts his other feature film projects (The Revenant and Flim-Flam Man) further from my grasp/eyes. But hey, maybe you are.

So take a look at the video (yes, video) below and if you’re not into it about the 4 minute mark, you might as well give up. But if it’s your thing, enjoy; knowing that you’re pissing me off.

After being invited by Benjamin Millepied to a rehearsal for the L.A Dance Project’s premiere performance, Oscar-nominated director Alejandro G. Iñárritu (Biutiful, Babel) was inspired to make a video-exercise that documents movement and dance in an experimental way, with a stream of consciousness narrative. Teaming up with choreographer, Benjamin Millepied (Black Swan), the result is NARAN JA (One Act Orange Dance).


Flyway Pubcast #4 – Philippe Lupien and Vincent Ethier

Once again we get some returning film makers to Flyway and each year their stuff gets better and better. So good was their short this year, that it won best short film. And with the fantastic line-up of short films at this year’s festival, that is indeed a true honor. These guys are the most easy-going guys we’ve ever had the pleasure of talking with and it’s so great to have this level of craft at the festival. While it was fun discussing working with The Devil vs working with children, I think the highlight was working on English vocabulary and Matt and Andrew learning hard-core cursing in French. Good times.

To listen, hit the play button on the player above or grab the raw .mp3:


Relevant Links:
Vincent on Twitter | Facebook
Philippe on Twitter | Facebook
Flyway Film Festival

Shorts That Are Not Pants – October 2012

Last week, Toronto filmgoers were given a very special treat courtesy of James McNally and his labor of love since late 2009, Shorts That Are Not Pants. The latest edition of the screening series, which is exclusively devoted to short films and occurs at various points throughout the year, was held in a brand new venue for the first time: the newly renovated Carlton Cinema, located in the heart of Toronto near Yonge-Dundas Square. With the closing of the series’ previous home, the NFB Cinematheque, and the recent announcement of the Worldwide Short Film Festival’s indefinite hiatus, such events devoted to independent and short films are more important than ever in a city that seems to be becoming increasingly problematic for film programmers and festival curators outside of established players like TIFF and Hot Docs. But thankfully, all the signs point to Shorts That Are Not Pants only continuing to thrive, as not only did last week’s screening get a great turnout, but all seven films shown were very well-made and enjoyable and the whole program clocked in at just under seventy minutes, a perfect running time for a shorts program. There’s no doubt that James has cultivated a real knack for preparing these marvelous events, and I can’t wait to see what he’ll have planned for the program’s next edition, which will hit Toronto in January 2013. Until then, here are some of my thoughts on the assorted gems I recently got to see.

Would you like to know more…?