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.

Review: Her

Her

Bad design causes stress and discomfort; whether it is typography in a document, or unfettered suburban sprawl or too many buttons on a mobile phone. Life and relationships, which invariably happen in a haphazard fashion by their nature are bad design, and even the happiest of marriages, or most well adjusted of families and such are nevertheless full of tensions and misunderstandings, but virtue of design being non-controlled, that we learn to live with and accept, or we move on. Storytelling, autobiography, blogging and other personal narratives are an attempt to put some good design on something as chaotic as ‘a life.’ Technology, from ink and paper, to the printing press and eventually the internet have enabled our capacity to do this on an individual level. The landscape of modern social media platforms and the specialized subset of dating websites, while far (very far) from perfect, are a significant step to projecting some ‘design’ onto how we present ourselves to the world. Ultimately, though we have to find a way to be comfortable in our own skin and headspace, while alone in a room, and this includes whether or not another person or persons are present. Comfort and confidence can be driven by good design, but finding some truth and understanding in the messiness is essential.

Spike Jonze has been surveying and navigating these strange lagoons and very often uninviting rocky places with his music videos, short films and of course, his accomplished trio of feature films, Being John Malkovich, Adaptation., and Where the Wild Things Are. In collaboration with an eclectic gathering of intuitive but articulate ‘philosophers,’ Charlie Kaufman, David Eggars and Maurice Sendak, Jonze sets out on his own to great effect writing and directing his fourth feature.

Her, serves up a beautifully designed world. It is perhaps the best film on design outside of the more literal-minded “Design Trilogy” documentaries by Gary Hustwit. Here a near-future Los Angeles (or erstwhile Shanghai) is rendered skyward with clean glass towers, minimal advertising, and plenty of wide vistas and inviting space. In terms of cinematic depictions of America’s richest and most forward-thinking domain (California in itself the world’s 12th largest economy), we have come a long way from Ridley Scott’s septic, tactile and dizzying dystopic Blade Runner full of belching flames, corporate ziggurats and effluent pedestrian clutter. Architecture and aesthetics aside, there is more than a little common ground as a science fiction conceit; the questions being considered are somewhat in alignment: Can we love something ‘artificial’ if that thing can and will evolve to be more human than human? How do we interact with pervasive and ubiquitous ‘technology?’ Despite this concept being explored in may ways even in the infancy of this new millennium (From Soderbergh’s Solaris to Niccol’s S1mOne), this is the first true cinematic Pygmalion of the information age.

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Trailer #2: Her

“You’re dating an OS! What’s that like?”

While I feel it has been a drip-drip-drip flow of quality releases this fall/Oscar season, easily one of the most anticipated films (along with the new Coen Brothers and new David O. Russell) is Spike Jonze’s near-science fiction romance, Her. The images here are extraordinary, along with the emotion, earnestness and above all, very timely ideas. This trailer showcases also what appears to be a very committed cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams, Scarlett Johansson, Rooney Mara all look great here. In particular though, it is Pheonix who is playing very much against type, and yet he is so naturally engaging here that you’d never, ever know that he did any other type of role. In a word, this whole thing looks marvelous.

Trailer: Spike Jonze’s Her

The silky, inflected tones of Scarlett Johansson as a Siri-ish Operating System allow her owner, nebbish Joaquin Phoenix in a moustache, to fall in love and proceed from there. This is the premise, one brilliantly executed in the trailer (below) for the film which is simply titled Her and directed by Spike Jonze. The director has always done these offbeat films on the ‘human condition,’ (Adaptation, Being John Malkovich) and has made a few short films about robots recently, it looks to culminate in his first feature since the deeply empathetic Where The Wild Things Are. Amy Adams (her second recent pairing with Phoenix, here playing his sister), Rooney Mara and Olivia Wilde round out the cast.

Expect this film to make some waves when it gets released in November. For now, watch this trailer a half a dozen times and fall in love.

Trailer: The Wolf of Wall Street

This might just be the sharpest cut trailer of 2013. Martin Scorsese’s latest film has a driving rhythm, singing with Matthew McConaughey, and what looks to be Leonardo DiCaprio at his ‘playboy of excess’ best (Catch Me if You Can, The Great Gatsby). The Wolf of Wall Street tells the story of a New York stockbroker, who refuses to cooperate in a large securities fraud case involving corruption on Wall Street, the corporate banking world and mob infiltration. The film also features Oscar nominee Jonah Hill and Oscar Winner Jean Dujardin are on support here as well, also what looks to be the tossing of lobsters, $100 bills and dwarves. Shot digitally in New York and New Jersey, it feels fresh, exciting and funny; something that is rather surprising for another look at the ongoing American fiscal crisis.

Cinecast Epsiode 167 – The Quick and The Head

 
Nottingham and its denizens are a changed place. For the better or worse is the question which our bickering board of bloggers hash out to vastly different conclusions. Fortunately the consensus for movie of the week is The Good, The Bad and the Weird; of which we all agree is awesome in a Big Trouble in Little China meets Raiders of the Lost Ark by way of the Leone Spaghetti Westerns. Andrew and Matt also got to catch a screening of Spike Jonze’ short, I’m Here on the big screen. DVD releases this week are slim pickings, so instead we take a little more time with the recent viewings segment including Gary King’s latest drama, as well as the 2009 Bill Kunsler documentary, a little tangent on animation and dubbing Miyazaki films, in particular Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, and a minute or two on Zombieland… which still, more or less, sucks.

As always, feel free to leave your own thoughts in the comment section below and again, thanks for listening!




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Cinecast Episode 157 – Whoop-de-doo

 
This has got to be a record for one of the shortest shows we have ever done. But hey, when you have got these sort of “nothing but what is on the surface” types of films, that is often all you can do with the conversation. We do not even head into spoiler territory for the two films, Cop Out and 44 Inch Chest we review and discuss. There are, however, more than a few great DVDs (and Blu Rays) coming out this week and on the horizon: The Independent Spirit Awards, the Oscars, the new Tim Burton kajillion dollar Alice In Wonderland, and Roman Polanski’s latest, The Ghost Writer. Enjoy the brevity folks, because it is not going to last.

 
 
 
 
 

As always, feel free to leave your own thoughts in the comment section below and again, thanks for listening!


To download the show directly, paste the following URL into your favorite downloader:
http://rowthree.com/audio/cinecast_10/episode_157.mp3

 
 
 
Full show notes are under the seats…
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Bookmarks for Feb. 1-2

 
 

You can now take a look at RowThree’s bookmarks at any time of your choosing simply by clicking the “delicious” button to your left. It looks remarkably similar to this:

Cinecast Episode 141 – Something to Toy With

Episode 141:
Super thanks to Rian Johnson (Brick/Brothers Bloom) for dropping by and magically rolling with Gamble’s proverbial punches. Making up for Andrew’s illness, Rian throws his four cents into the pool of fantasy that is Where the Wild Things Are and also dropping some Coen Brothers love in a more detailed examination of A Serious Man. With of course the usual DVD talk and bits of other nostalgia and B-films.

Thanks for listening!

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Review: Where The Wild Things Are

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In Maurice Sendak’s much-beloved childhood tale it is in the wake of a childhood hissy-fit that young Max is transported to a woodland wonderland, where nature is a limitless playground and monsters roam in place of mankind. Spike Jonze’s adaptation of Where The Wild Things Are perfects the simple tale with moving visuals that seem to have leaped from the page, staying true to color, shape and texture, but his attempt to flesh out the monster’s identities and their personal relationships with Max ultimately detached me from the fantasy world created from one boy’s raw imagination basking in the peak of innocence.

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Where the Wild Things Are Soundtrack – Streaming!

Where The Wild Things Are OMPS

We’re getting ever closer to the much-anticipated release of Where the Wild Things Are, Spike Jonze’s adaptation of Maurice Sendak’s beloved children’s book. I didn’t grow up with the book, but I find myself getting more and more excited about the film as the release date nears, and a big part of that, I’ve got to admit, is due to the fact that the soundtrack is being written and performed by Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ frontwoman Karen O, along with members of the YYYs and the Raconteurs, among others. That soundtrack is out for sale today, and imeem has the whole thing available for free streaming.

I’m listening to it right now, and so far it certainly seems a perfect meld of the open-spaced freedom of the story with just a touch of the YYYs’ edginess around the corners. Give me a little while with this and a few more times through the trailers, and I’ll be right up at the front of the lines when the film releases on October 16th.

Full soundtrack stream embedded after the jump!

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