Mike Vraney, founder of Something Weird Video, has died of lung cancer. He was 56. For decades, Something Weird has been the preeminent source of cult psychotronic and exploitation films that would have vanished into the dustbin of underground culture were it not for Vraney's tireless efforts. Our thoughts go out to Mike's wife, artist Lisa Petrucci, their family, co-workers, and friends. Below, watch a 2007 television profile of Vraney and Something Weird. Here's the obituary at Daily Grindhouse, copied from the Something Weird page on Facebook:
"In Memory of 'Something Weird' Founder Mike Vraney (1957-2014)" (Thanks, Kirsten Anderson)
In 1983, fine art photographer Laura Levine shot a Super-8 film in Athens, Georgia with a group of creative friends. It includes a clip of Michael Stipe singing Lou Reed's "Pale Blue Eyes." The film, titled "Just Like A Movie," is unreleased, but after Reed's tragic death last week, Levine decided to post that scene on YouTube. Levine says, "The song itself was recorded earlier that day on a Walkman, with Matthew Sweet on guitar."
The dueling banjo scene in John Boorman's Deliverance (1972) is one of my favorite musical moments ever in a film. It's simultaneously delightful, funny, and deeply creepy. I watched the clip recently and decided to find out who played Lonnie, the young inbred fellow picking opposite Ronny Cox. The actor is Billy Redden from Rabun County, Georgia who was 15-years-old at the time. Redden was "discovered" during a casting call at his school in Clayton, Georgia. Special effect makeup was used to augment Redden's already-unusual features. He didn't actually play the banjo. According to The New Yorker, "Boorman had had to deploy another boy to hide behind the swing and slip his hand through Redden’s sleeve to finger the changes." Redden wasn't a fan of Burt Reynolds: “Burt didn’t want to say nothing to nobody,” Redden told The New Yorker years later. “He wasn’t polite. And he made us look real bad--he said on television that all people in Rabun County do is watch cars go by and spit.”
Redden's IMD profile says that for a time Redden gave "Deliverance Tours" along the Georgia river where the film was shot. After Deliverance, Redden didn't appear in another movie until Tim Burton's Big Fish. Burton located Redden working in the Cookie Jar Cafe in Clayton, Georgia. Since then, Redden had a bit part on Blue Collar TV as an inbred car mechanic who played the banjo.
Below, a video interview with Redden from last year.
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"Ghost Algebra (bird in tree)" (2009) is Janie Geiser's beautiful, weird, dreamlike 16mm film/animation created from found objects, vintage book illustrations, toys, and collaged ephemera. (via Toys and Techniques)
Last year, Parisian street artist Invader, famed for his ubiquitous 8-bit video game mosaics, launched one of his invaders into the stratosphere on a weather balloon. On Tuesday (10/29), our pals at NYC's Jonathan LeVine Gallery are presenting a free screening of the short film about that project, titled ART4SPACE. The screenings are at 8pm and 9pm at Landmark Theatres Sunshine Cinema on East Houston Street. ART4SPACE screening
BB contributor Ben Marks tells us of a new documentary film in production about UCLA's Quidditch team that Ben's son founded in 2009:
In May of 2011, when filmmaker Farzad Nikbakht Sangari was relatively early in his career as an M.F.A. candidate at UCLA's School of Theater, Film and Television, he noticed a co-ed group of students on the university’s Intramural field, running around with short brooms between their legs. Hurling underinflated volley balls and dodge balls at each other, as well as through hula hoops on opposite ends of the field, it turned out they were playing Quidditch, the fictional game made famous in the Harry Potter books and movies.
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Oh Yeah Wow's video for The Paper Kites' "Young." Seven days to photograph more than 350 people. Ten days to cut together 4,000+ photos.
The soundtrack to Forbidden Planet (1956) was a milestone moment in the history of electronic music. It was the first entirely electronic film score, composed by Louis and Bebe Barron using DIY circuitry inspired in part by Norbert Wiener's 1948 book Cybernetics: Or, Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine, a seminal text in its own right. At the time that the film's producer at MGM, Dore Schary, met the Barrons they were beatnik musicians hanging out in Greenwich Village. The soundtrack to Forbidden Planet continues to astonish even today. (Listen to the "Main Title" at left.) My friend Ken Hollings, author of the fantastic outré history book "Welcome to Mars," created a wonderful audio documentary that just aired on BBC Radio 3 about the Barrons and their iconic "electronic tonalities."
You can listen to the BBC Radio 3 piece here: "Sound of Cinema: Return of the Monster from the Id"
And you buy the soundtrack here: "Forbidden Planet: Original MGM Soundtrack
Who goes hang gliding in a leisure suit? Bond. James Bond. Graphic designer Matt Spaiser's blog "The Suits of James Bond
" should be an inspiration to all of us. Nobody in Hollywood wore terrycloth or linen better than 007.
More than three decades after Koyaanisqatsi, director Godfrey Reggio has created Visitors, another wordless collaboration with Philip Glass and Jon Kane. It will premiere next month at the Toronto International Film Festival, accompanied by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.
"Presented by Steven Soderbergh in stunning black and white 4K digital projection, "Visitors" reveals humanity's trancelike relationship with technology, which, when commandeered by extreme emotional states, produces massive effects far beyond the human species. The film is visceral, offering the audience an experience beyond information about the moment in which we live. Comprised of only seventy-four shots, "Visitors" takes viewers on a journey to the moon and back to confront them with themselves."
Margaret Pellegrini, one of the Munchkins in The Wizard of Oz (1939), died today at age 89. Pellegrini was just 16 when she appeared in the film. Of the 124 actors who portrayed Munchkins in the film, there are only two still known to be alive. (Yahoo! Movies)
The new video for Califone's "Stitches," the title track from their forthcoming album, generates itself from images and Gifs culled from a selection of Tumblrs. The band is a collaboration with filmmaker Braden King and programmer Jeff Garneau. The new album, Stitches, will be released September 3.
Watch the video here: Califone. Stitches.
Background about its creation is available at their record label Dead Oceans' blog.
College Humor's faux movie trailer for a live action Daria film, starring Aubrey Plaza. La la la la la. Daria's High School Reunion
Patrick O'Brien is an underground filmmaker suffering from Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, AKA Lou Gehrig's Disease. As I've posted before, Patrick is making a 35mm feature documentary about his experiences. Now having lost almost all control of his body, Patrick is using an eye tracking computer to complete his film, with the help of his friends. He's launched a RocketHub crowdfunding project to raise the money to finish the film. "Everything Will Be OK: An Epic Documentary about ALS"
Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me is the new documentary about the mythic, incredible, and commercially unsuccessful rock band formed in the early 1970s in Memphis by Alex Chilton, Jody Stephens, Chris Bell, and Any Hummel. Their three albums #1 Record, Radio City, and Third/Sister Lovers, influenced everyone from REM and The Replacement to Afghan Whigs and Wilco. The film's companion soundtrack album, out this week, is an excellent compilation of demos, alternate mixes, and rare recordings that will delight both longtime fans and those who are (gasp) new to the overwhelmingly awesome Big Star sound. Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me soundtrack (Amazon)