Taika Waititi's got some great advice for writers and film directors

If you're a Taika Waititi fan, like I am, it's been one hell of a year. The What We Do in the Shadows TV series was absolutely brilliant. Last week, it was announced that he'd be directing the fourth Thor movie and, earlier today, the first trailer for Jojo Rabbit dropped. He's a writing and directing machine! If you've ever wondered what Waititi's creative process is like, then you'll want to dig into the insight offered up in this interview with the good folks at BAFTA.

My biggest takeaway: Keep writing no matter what. Force yourself to write and don't be afraid of blank pages. It's a grind, but no matter what you're scribbling about, you'll get there in the end.

Image via Flickr, courtesy of Activités culturelles UdeM Read the rest

"Verasphere: A Love Story in Costume" is a vibrant, psychedelic must-see doc

You don't want to miss the technicolor "rainbow of love" that is Verasphere: A Love Story In Costume. This new KQED Truly CA short documentary film made me smile, laugh, tear up, and want to pull out my glue gun and start making costumes again, all in the span of 20 minutes.

[It] follows two San Francisco artists, David Faulk and Michael Johnstone, who fall in love at the height of the AIDS epidemic. While most of their community is overcome with grief and rage, David and Michael discover an unlikely joy through the creation of Mrs. Vera, an outrageous costumed character made from found materials. What began as an intimate art project and a way to pass the time while they faced an inevitable death, soon took on a life of its own. Now 25 years later, a large and diverse community has evolved around Mrs. Vera, all centered around one day of costumed celebration in the San Francisco Pride Parade.

For SF Pride this past weekend, Mrs. Vera and Michael Johnstone rode in the parade as Community Grand Marshals, followed by colorful members of the "Verasphere." Put on your sunglasses because the photos are super bright!:

Mrs. Vera

Mrs. Vera and Michael Johnstone

Marcos Sorensen and Isabel Samaras

Andy Cowitt and Michael Wertz

Also, don't miss Mrs. Vera's Daybook, an ongoing series of photos by Michael of David as Mrs. Vera.

Thanks to Ruby Rieke for the SF Pride photos! Read the rest

Mesmerizing 1980s experimental Japanese film using video cut-ups to deconstruct architecture

In 1982, Japanese avant-garde filmmaker Toshio Matsumoto used video cut-up techniques to deconstruct a single residential building into a disorienting architectural puzzle. The short film is titled Shift (シフト 断層). Music by Yasuke Inagaki.

From a 1996 interview with Matsumoto:

We have to do more to irritate and disturb modes of perception, thinking, or feeling that have become automatized in this way. I did several kinds of experiments from the 1970s to the 1980s that de-automatized the visual field. But when image technology progresses such that you can make any kind of image, people become visually used to that. That's why there's not much left today with a fresh impact. In this way, the problem is that the interpretive structure of narrating, giving meaning to, or interpreting the world has become so thoroughly systematized that one cannot conceive of anything else that is largely untouched. We have to de-systematize that.

(via r/ObscureMedia) Read the rest

[Trailer] Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorsese

Watch this new trailer for that upcoming Martin Scorsese Netflix feature on Bob Dylan. Read the rest

David Lynch's Mystery Man's place in the horror pantheon

The "Mystery Man" scene from Lost Highway (embedded above) has become a YouTube classic, a bite-size précis of everything distinctive about the director's unique style and tone, that weird unnerving place between terrifying and cheesy. Here's Sean T. Collins on "David Lynch's scariest scene"

Our hero’s an avant-jazz saxophonist; it’s possible this isn’t the oddest person he’s met this week. Nevermind that he’s had nightmares about his wife Renee, whom he can no longer satisfy sexually, in which she had this man’s face. Nevermind that this guy is saying they met at Fred and Renee’s austere house, where an unknown intruder has been breaking in to film them as they sleep and then dropping off the videotapes at their front door. Nevermind that all the music and party chatter has faded out and all we hear beneath the dialogue is the proverbial ominous whoosh. We may know we’re watching something frightening, but Fred doesn’t, not yet.

“As a matter of fact,” the Mystery Man says regarding the house, “I’m there right now.”

Blake's perverse intensity gets instantly under your skin even if you think it's silly, which it is. In the real world, dangerous people are often ridiculous and I wonder if this is why David Lynch let Robert Blake design the character and do his own makeup.

See also Collins' article about monumental horror images. Read the rest

Skateboarding in an abandoned wool factory

Enjoy Sverker Löding, Stefan Helin and William Forsberg make good use of an abandoned (but conscpicuously well-kept) wool factory before it gets turned into condos or turned into an Investigation Discovery Channel host's segue lair.

This is one of my favourite indoor places I've ever filmed. A big old wool factory in the middle of nowhere. Just wanted to keep this edit very simple and real. Just pure skateboarding, sound and a very nice looking location.

Filmed with BMPCC 4K in BRAW, Milvus 21mm on Ronin-S.

Kristoffer Davidsson used the new 4k Blackmagic "Pocket" Cinema Camera, which is amazingly inexpensive for a credible production camera and produces great footage—but has some of the same practical shortcomings as its predecessor: tough to use without a rig, poor battery life, etc. They can't produce enough to meet demand, unfortunately, so they're selling far over MSRP on eBay and craigslist. Read the rest

Watch the Private Life of a Cat

Back in 1947, decades before cat memes became a way of life, experimental documentary filmmakers Maya Deren and Alexander Hammid gave us a lovely glimpse of the "Private Life of a Cat." From Archive.org:

RECORDS FEMALE CAT & HER 5 KITTENS AS MOTHER CAT APPROACHES LABOR, KITTENS ARE BORN & OBTAIN MILK & MOTHER CAT THEN CARES FOR THEM IN LEARNING & GROWING PROCESS, IN WHICH TOM CAT OCCASIONALLY PARTICIPATES.

(via r/ObscureMedia)

Previously: Maya Deren's Sights and sounds of Haitian vodou Read the rest

Astonishing aerial view of Hong Kong's public housing towers

Aerial photographer and filmmaker Toby Harriman turned his lens on the soaring public housing apartment block towers in Hong Kong. Read the rest

Every Booby Trap in 'Home Alone', the flipbook (GENIUS)

Check out this incredibly dedicated animated flipbook re-creation of all the booby traps in the 1990 holiday scare-'em film HOME ALONE, starring Macaulay Culkin and Joe Pesci. Read the rest

Watch David Lynch's weird TV commercial for Adidas

David Lynch has directed many television commercials but this one from 1993 for Adidas, titled "The Wall," gives any surreal perfume commercials (including Lynch's own) a run for their money. (See what I did there?) You can find a directory and clips of Lynch's other commercial, ad, and promo work here.

(via r/ObscureMedia)

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The Wormhole (2018), a kaleidoscopic 4K timelapse

Enjoy this trippy kaleidoscopic ultra-HD short film posted by Michael Shainblum.

I am proud to share my latest abstract mirror timelapse video “The Wormhole”. I knew after creating Mirror city I wanted to keep exploring the idea of kaleidoscopic imagery in timelapse. This time I wanted to expand upon the idea, creating scenes that feel like new worlds in alternate universes. I utilized camera techniques such as hyperlapse and aerial video to further showcase the surrealism in the video. Cities showcased in this video are Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, New York City, Dubai, Doha, Singapore, Shanghai. I really hope you enjoy the video!

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Classic film streaming service FilmStruck rises from the dead...sort of

When it was announced last month that FilmStruck, a streaming service dedicated to dishing up the greatest films of all time, would be shut down at the end of November, movie geeks, like yours truly, kind of lost their shit. Home to an unholy number of classic and arthouse flicks, it was a brainy, beautiful refuge from the fare offered up by Netflix, Hulu and other mainstream streaming services. A cry went out. A petition to save FilmStruck was thrown together. Thousands signed. Celebrities lent their voices to the cause.

Holy crap: someone actually listened.

While FilmStruck is still toast, the folks that own the Criterion Collection--a company that focuses on historically important classic films--is launching the next best thing: The Criterion Channel

From The Criterion Collection:

The Criterion Collection and WarnerMedia announced today a new chapter for the beloved collection of Criterion films. In the Spring of 2019, through a special arrangement with WarnerMedia, the Criterion Channel will launch as a free-standing streaming service. Additionally, the popular library of films will be part of WarnerMedia’s recently announced direct-to-consumer platform that is planned to launch in the fourth quarter of 2019. Today’s announcement ensures that fans will have access to these films from the Criterion Collection as well as films from WarnerMedia’s deep and extensive library in what will be a rich and curated experience, which will further expand the audience footprint for these classic and acclaimed movies.

If this is your bag, you'll be happy to know that if you sign up now, you'll be given a deal as one of the service's charter subscribers: access to everything that the Criterion Channel has to offer for $9.99 a month or $89.99 for a year. Read the rest

Do you think that we're living in a simulation?

Do you believe that we're living in a simulation? Has that belief affected your life? My old pal Rodney Ascher, director of fantastically freaky documentaries like Room 237, about weird theories surrounding The Shining, and The Nightmare, a study on sleep paralysis, is starting on a new far-out film about people who are convinced that our world is a digital creation. If you're one of those people, Rodney would love to hear from you.

"The approach, like my other films, is to focus almost entirely on first-person accounts and present them as accurately as possible - closer to a non-fiction Twilight Zone than an episode of Cosmos," Rodney says.

"A Glitch in the Matrix" (Facebook) Read the rest

Watch: Trent Reznor and Shinya Tsukamoto's MTV Japan commercial from 1993

In 1993, Trent Reznor/Nine Inch Nails composed music for the first station ID for MTV Japan created by the inimitable Shinya Tsukamoto, director of cyberpunk/horror films like Tetsuo: The Iron Man (1989). Of course, Reznor later penned the below theme song for Tsukamoto's 2010 film "Tetsuo: The Bullet Man."

(via r/ObscureMedia)

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The documentary Dark Money exposes how corporations buy elections and lawmakers

PBS premieres Dark Money on Monday October 1. It's a sobering look at how the Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United v. FEC is trickling down to local politics. John S. Adams, a Montana-based reporter profiled in the film, says, "This is scary stuff, but I think this is the proving ground for the American experiment." Read the rest

Incel, a disturbing short film about an "involuntary celibate"

This NSFW film examines a fictional incel named Sam, starting with his agonizingly tense interaction with a young woman and reaching a disturbing culmination. Read the rest

Sights and sounds of Haitian vodou

Between 1947 and 1954, avant-garde dancer and experimental filmmaker Maya Deren visited Haiti and immersed herself in vodou. Supported with a Guggenheim Fellowship grant, Deren intended to study and film the trance dancing of vodou ceremony. Ultimately, Deren became an active participant in the rituals. She documented her experiences in the 1953 book Divine Horsemen: The Voodoo (Living) Gods of Haiti and the footage that resulted in the entrancing 1981 film above, completed two decades after Deren's death by her third husband and his wife. Now, the Psychic Sounds Research & Recordings label has remastered and reissued Deren's audio recordings from Haiti on vinyl. Audio sampler below. From the label:

Maya Deren journeyed to Haiti to make a film of ritual dances, instead, she came to be accepted as a Voudoun initiate, whose devotees commune with the cosmic powers through invocation, offerings, song and dance of the Voudoun pantheon of deities, or Loa, whom are witnessed as being living gods and goddesses, actually taking possession of their devotees. Deren describes the relationship between magic, science and religion bringing a uniquely lyrical voice to her narrative. This paints a multi-textured, infinitely complex portrait of a spiritual tradition with roots stretching back to the very dawn of humanity. Joseph Campbell calls Divine Horsemen 'the most illuminating introduction that has yet been rendered to the whole marvel of the Haitian mysteries as 'facts of the mind.'' Included in this album are some of the first recordings ever made during religious ceremonies near Croix de Missions and Petionville featuring selections that serve as a soundtrack to the film she shot documenting Voodoo ceremonies and festivals conveying the incantatory power of the ritual drumming and singing.

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