Overview, an Important and Inspiring Short Film

Check out this supremely interesting short doc by Guy Reid on considering our earth from a different perspective.

Guy Reid is one of a number of filmmakers who make up Planetary Collective, working with scientists and cosmologists to explore the big questions facing our planet right now.

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The Ghost of Piramida

Efterklang star in this unique and interesting documentary about their travels to a ghost town near the North Pole where they spent 9 days recording audio for use in their album Piramida. Directed by Andreas Koefoed, the film quickly becomes more than just a travelogue or behind-the-scenes look at their music-making process as we learn more about the previous inhabitants of this once rich, fertile, now barren and cold landscape.

Even better, the film is being released in a rather uncompromising fashion: all screenings will be free and open to the public, but can be held by anyone who wants to get more than 5 people together at one location. Kudos to whomever is behind this idea for finding ways to engage communities of the film, music and artistically-minded. Here’s a list of all the scheduled events so far. Find one near you!

For an added bonus, watch this oddly engaging, albeit personally invasive music video for the song, “SEDNA”:

Sound City

Dave Grohl, the musician notorious for being in Nirvana and the man behind the Foo Fighters, Them Crooked Vultures and a host of other musical side projects, has widened his scope to the cinema now. Granted, it’s a Vh1-looking rock documentary that will probably only find itself in rotation on your basic cable music channel; in January though, Sundance (of course) will unveil it which will no doubt bring out the hip Hollywood stars.

The doc is about the rise and fall of the famous recording studios in California named Sound City. Watch the trailer below to check out the impressive lineup of musicians that have recorded there, and many of which are interviewed by Grohl to reminisce. While I’m excited at the prospect of learning about this famed institution and seeing its history, the trailer is frankly less than captivating or polished.

The soundtrack Grohl has put together as compendium to this film though, looks honestly amazing. It’s out March 12, 2013 (but available on iTunes now – which seems in direct opposition to what this doc is soapboxing about), and features a collection of musicians from some of the notable bands that recorded there, playing together with Grohl on a number of original songs (one of those now infamous mashups is the former Nirvana bandmates, Krist Novoselic, Pat Smear, and Grohl, performing the song “Cut Me Some Slack” along with Paul McCartney, which they premiered to the world during the 12.12.12 Sandy Benefit concert earlier this week). Here’s the full tracklist (via Pitchfork):

1.) Dave Grohl, Peter Hayes, and Robert Levon Been: “Heaven and All”
2.) Brad Wilk, Chris Goss, Dave Grohl, and Tim Commerford: “Time Slowing Down”
3.) Dave Grohl, Rami Jaffee, Stevie Nicks, and Taylor Hawkins: “You Can’t Fix This”
4.) Dave Grohl, Nate Mendel, Pat Smear, Rick Springfield, and Taylor Hawkins: “The Man That Never Was”
5.) Alain Johannes, Dave Grohl, Lee Ving, Pat Smear, and Taylor Hawkins: “Your Wife Is Calling”
6.) Corey Taylor, Dave Grohl, Rick Nielsen, and Scott Reeder: “From Can to Can’t”
7.) Alain Johannes, Chris Goss, Dave Grohl, and Joshua Homme: “Centipede”
8.) Alain Johannes, Dave Grohl, and Joshua Homme: “A Trick With No Sleeve”
9.) Paul McCartney, Dave Grohl, Krist Novoselic, and Pat Smear: “Cut Me Some Slack”
10.) Dave Grohl, Jessy Greene, Jim Keltner, and Rami Jaffee: “Once Upon a Time… The End”
11.) Dave Grohl, Joshua Homme, and Trent Reznor: “Mantra”

George Kuchar (1942-2011)

Underground / experimental filmmaker George Kuchar (one half of the Kuchar Brothers) passed away September 6th. If you like the work of Guy Maddin, Stan Brakhage, Andy Warhol, Jonas Mekas, and Kenneth Anger, you no doubt feel the ripples of this great loss to avant-garde cinema as much as I do. For the uninitiated, but cine-curious, this doc is a great starting point…

There is an awesome obituary from the New York Times on him here.

Traum

The site of the 2012 Olympics is Lee Valley, London, and below is a fascinating travelogue of sorts to get you familiar with the place! Be forewarned the monochromatic austerity of the landscape, the post-apocalyptic dilapidation all add to the charming void which the area offers.

The filmmaker, Martin Hampton, cuts and lingers with a Olivier Smoulders via Stan Brakhage rhythm, and the superb soundtrack harkens back to the cold German experimental art-punk of Einstürzende Neubauten.

The Kills “Blood Pressure”

The single “Satellite” from The Kills new album “Blood Pressures” has a vocal melody that will likely not leave your head after you hear it once. The video is pretty nice too. It’s a creative blend of archival footage of a car accident and the band members running about the seaside streets of Europe doing some lightly mischievous things for a band by such a dangerous sounding name. Check out the video below and after that, check out a similarly shot short doc on the making of the new album including the inspiration for the new single.

Marwencol

Marwencol is a 2010 documentary by filmmaker Jeff Malmberg, but it’s also the name of a fictional town created entirely for the alter ego of one man. That man is Mark Hogancamp, and in 2005 he was brutally beaten outside a local bar in his hometown of Kingston, New York. Mark was beaten so bad that he lost much of his memory and the use of his motor skills. Slowly, he recovered and part of this process of recovery was through both the physical and mental stimulation of creating his own, private town where he could control every aspect of his life and the lives of all those around him.

The extremely unique and interesting thing about this process for Mark, is that he’s fully aware of what it is he’s doing, doesn’t think of it as a joke and uses it as his therapy that he otherwise wouldn’t be receiving. Maybe this is best and most effective way for him to communicate with others, and maybe this is what enables him to handle social interaction. His town of dolls is comprised of many of his own friends and loved ones, not to mention just other people from his community that know him. Fortunately, many of them react kindly to the fact that they’re living an alternate life in Mark’s backyard; this is the kind of hope Mark needs around him.


It’s clear though eventually, that Mark is not really able to be himself within his community and so is forced to rely on his accepting (and makeshift) community of Marwencol to get the support and love that he needs. The documentary works on two distinct levels and slowly finds its groove about a little over half way through. The first level is the alternate lives and story that is currently taking place within the mind of Mark and the makeshift world of Marwencol (“A town in Belgium,” he says, incidentally). The second level is how Mark’s world (and consequentially his art) is exploited, and not in, what I perceive as, an effort to help Mark get back on his feet. This is where many viewers may disagree with me.

The film begins to slowly and slyly reveal that Mark is a closeted cross-dresser and even points to the evidence that this fact revealed five years ago may have been what prompted him to be attacked and beaten senseless on his way home one night. So now Mark’s got a real problem again, because his “handlers” who “discovered” him have set up his first showing in none other than New York City at a small gallery called White Column. It’s like a real life version of Great Expectations and Mark is riddled with concern over the following weeks as he is basically exposing an entire section of his mind, heart and soul to the nimrods that strut around Greenwich Village and pretend to know or accept anything that passes their valueless scrutiny. On the night of his opening Mark is really only concerned about one thing and that’s what he looks like. For the past few days, he’s been pining to wear women’s clothes and prance around his opening in high heels, but he can’t muster the courage to do it.

Ultimately, the film is infuriating, and unfortunately disposable, because the filmmakers never seem to be able to do anything more than focus on this arc in the real character’s life. Once their story arc is basically over, even though there is so much more to do and say with this film, we are forced to let go. It’s vaguely like exploitation in that you only get this salacious intro to a man’s life, and you’re forced to wonder: so where is he now? Ok, well, thanks for throwing up the website marwencol.com at the end there for us, Jeff, I guess we are not supposed to actually care immediately after the film ends where this guy is now, and what came of all the spotlight that the interested parties hit him with?

Mark’s work is wonderfully creative and painstakingly meticulous and that’s all well and good, but does no one care about the man behind the Marwencol?