The Builders and the Butchers’ “Golden Green”

  • Posted by
  • on July 17, 2009
  • Filed in: Music

I said it once but it’s so true I’ll say it again: Portland is in a golden era of rad music videos. Our stable of local directors continue to up the ante and the Builders and the Butchers new Henry-Darger-inspired track from Salvation is a Deep Dark Well is no different. Local booker, public health photographer and music video director Alicia Rose brings us “Golden Green.”

Bruno Castrated In Order to Maximize Quantity of Dollar Bills Garnered by Studio

In a startling move by Universal Studios, anemia they’ve decided to re-cut Bruno in order to get a wider audience in the UK and Ireland. They’ve snipped and spliced so as to achieve the equivalent of our PG-13 rating.  Apparently the demand is so ravenous that the studio had no choice but to relent and offer the public what they so righteously require.

This is what Universal’s David Kosse had to say:Due to the overwhelming demand by fans who are desperate to see the film, we’re really pleased to be able to offer a ’15’ certificate version. Both of these versions will allow many more of Bruno’s fans in the UK to enjoy the film.”

bruno

That studio-speak is roughly translated as DOLLAR DOLLAR GIVE ME THE DOLLAR.

Rarely is this form of not-so-sneaky-censorship seen outside of Utah state lines. All the same, it’s here and it poses as a very questionable threat to the sanctity of decisive cinema. It’s one thing to release a dozen versions of a DVD (uncensored cut, director’s cut, bootleg cut, uncorked edition) but to start blurring that line on the big screen is a very bold move. Not only does it marginalize the importance of the movie (offering multiple cuts suggests a film doesn’t matter enough to be presented only in the form its creators had intended) but it also just grosses me out as a potential harbinger of things to come. This sort of “OH NO YOU DIDN’T” could easily come stateside should this test-run prove successful. Then I’d have to puke a lot more in life.

Tom Green, misunderstood absurdist-virtuoso behind Freddy Got Fingered was shrewd enough to see the ridiculousness behind thought processes like these. He included a PG version of Freddy Got Fingered on the DVD release which ran only a few minutes long, effectively poking fun at the uselessness of artistic castration.

Of all the potential films that could be used to try out this dual-version strategy it seems a little troublesome to use a movie that exists primarily to offer outrageous and lewd behavior, one that barely escaped an NC-17 rating. Where it’s offensive to cut away at any movie without the filmmakers blessing, it seems doubly so to do it to a movie that relies so heavily on its R-rated elements. Hopefully the teenagers in the UK know better.  I’d like to think the box office returns will reinforce the notion that the appeal of a film is largely due to components that are compromised by miserly edits like this.

POTENTIAL SOLACE: Maybe studios will feel a little more comfortable green-lighting R-rated films if they know the option of knee-capping it into PG-13 still exists.

Blue Horns at Backspace

  • Posted by
  • on July 12, 2009
  • Filed in: Music

This is a show I filmed from a while back at Backspace – a night with 4 awesome bands: Patterns, order Inside Voices, treat Blue Horns and Church. I’ll be putting out more videos as time passes I spun the wheel and today you get to enjoy a song by Blue Horns.

If you’re digging this one, there is another Blue Horns track from the same show over here.

Really? Seriously? Ok… Hell YES!! MacGruber!?!

  • Posted by
  • on July 8, 2009
  • Filed in: Film

macgruber

Oh, pregnancy if only every day could start with news as shockingly glorious as this. SNL’s resident bumbling MacGuyver wanna be, dermatologist MacGruber, this is coming to the big screen. Normally, any SNL related news pretty much gets mentally shredded, because for all I’m concerned SNL is now  doing just as much to sully the name of comedy as it once did to raise it to new heights, it used to be groundbreaking stuff. Now its a place where comedy goes to die. I remember a time when there used to be a skit or two, that I found to be “not that funny” now, I can go an entire season with out so much as a giggle. When the skit for MacGruber first hit, I was not that impressed, yet he kept coming back, and blowing up, over and over again, It took me a while to get appreciate it, and eventually it wormed its way into my “One of like 7 things SNL has done to make me laugh in the last decade” list. 

Now, even this wasn’t enough to have me sold on the movie, cause frankly SNL has also not been the once prolific film studio that it once either. I read along in the story, simply to pass the time and avoid further happenstances of actually working. I read that Kristen Wiig was gonna be in it. Sweet! I find her attractive in a very odd way. Ryan Phillippe was also in negotiations. Umm ok, whatever. Wait, what is this? Val Kilmer has expressed interest and is in talks as well? Ummmmm Yes Please. If this goes down, we are all in for a very serious treat. One thing that the world simply always has room for, is Val Kilmer busting his comedic chops. He doesn’t do it very often, but he has a genuine gift for comedic roles. Don’t get me wrong he is a talented actor, and I have a deeply disturbing man crush on him. But Real Genius? Top Secret? Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang?  Some seriously funny movies, that may not have been near as good with anyone else in his spot.  

My highest hopes for this, is that he plays the evil mastermind character in the movie, now the plot for the upcoming film is pretty much under wraps, so they don’t wanna let anything out. But dollars to donuts says that if Kilmer is interested, he’s looking at the villain lead.

Fans of comedy can only hope.

Episode 7 of Truckerspeed in 3D

Check out episode 7 of our public access TV show (in Portland) where I’m joined by my friend Jon Hurst. We talk about beer, otolaryngologist dancing, abortion show some music videos and even give shout outs…to a lady! Filmed in our greenscreen basement studio in Southeast Portland.

Blitzen Trapper Release Black River Killer Video

I’m a big fan of Portland’s Blitzen Trapper – and weighing in at 37 iTunes plays I’ve listened “Black River Killer” more times than any other track on their most recent release “Furr.” While the band has always been a purveyor of fine music videos, therapy this creepy murder ballad takes the prize.

The Making of Black River Killer

You might have noticed some seriously awesome effects in there and the filmmakers were kind enough to give us this minidocumentary about the making of. I’m impressed by the production value: real sets and actors, tuberculosis camera cranes, underwater freaking greenscreen – this is for real. According to the story from Spinner where I nabbed this video, there were at least 120 people involved in the making.

Predator: State of the Union

  • Posted by
  • on July 2, 2009
  • Filed in: Film

predator

If by some divine chance the gods smiled on you like they smiled on me then you must have, abortion at some point in your life, been a little boy. I’m sure little girls had it made too, but from first-hand experience I can attest that being a little boy was golden-euphoria. And being a little boy that bore witness to 1987’s Predator was as magical as rubbing your eyes till rainbows.

The film was a revelation because it represented everything a little boy might dream adulthood could be. It featured big muscles, giant guns, a scary monster, disgusting wounds and sublimely badass dialogue.

Webster’s definition of tough guy dialogue:  “I ain’t got time to bleed.” – 1987’s Predator

Being a little boy at the time of glory, the film reiterated to me, at an exponential degree, the  same narrative that had been running fevered laps in my brain. That narrative being, simply: humans vs. monsters (aliens fall under monsters, as anything that isn’t US is THEM). And having lived a decade and a half since that first viewing, I can still say with utmost confidence that monsters have never been as cool as the Predator. Laser-sights, gnarly fingers, invisibility-camouflage and a face full of JESUSCHRIST fright. He was the James Dean of monsters.

WHY MONSTERS? Because the banality of it all can be too much unless tempered with giddy-terror. This is why the scene with Billy on the log influenced me more profoundly than the French New Wave.

Adding to the accrued fear, this particular monster hunts us. While monsters are hopefully always  scary, monsters that methodically hunt humans like humans hunt deer (taking spinal chords and skulls as trophies), strikes a wonderfully primal blow to the yellow-belly we all possess. Especially when you are young enough to believe evil floats through every shadow.

predator3

For all the above-mentioned reasons I was Citizen Kane-“Rosebud”-obsessed with Predator and it was the first DVD I ever purchased.

Predator 2, while having it’s share of beauty-madness, didn’t touch the transcendence of the first one. Those in charge believed they were raising the stakes by moving the anti-villain to the big city and having him go head-to-head with Danny Glover. What they failed to realize was that there is nothing as remarkable as Arnold Schwarzenegger and a monster in the middle of the jungle. Sorry. Nothing is as remarkable. Danny Glover is a fine actor, but the sequel was doomed from the get-go. For me it had a crude sensibility and unbalanced focus. That being said, I still enjoyed it. It just didn’t give me the same crippling bouts of pleasure-fear.

The next generation of films were the Alien vs. Predator blah-blahs. They were striving for the admirable goal of creating the apex of badassery with the combination of the two franchises but the result was a relegation of both monsters’ intimidation. It became a tedious chess match between two once-vital threats (with forgettable actors playing the forgettable bystanders). The movies made boatloads of green at the box office but felt like different worlds. Predator just wasn’t James Dean anymore.

So, when a franchise loses relevance Hollywood does what Hollywood does. REBOOT, REMIX. It milks the property dry. This time the film will be called Predators and will be produced by Robert Rodriguez.

The just-named director of the new film will be Nimrod Antal. I can get behind a choice like this. I thought his first effort, Kontroll, was a wily blend of comedy and suspense. And his follow-up Vacancy was a nice little punch to the gut. I’m intrigued to see what he can do with a big-time budget and a producer that thoroughly believes in the sacred go-for-broke aesthetic. The new film is said to take place on the Predator’s home planet which, if done correctly, could remind me what made this beast so close to my heart. Or it could just be overkill on top of overkill.

Regardless, I was still a little boy when I saw the original. So I’ve had my Christmas morning.

Explode into Colors Explodes in the Portland Art Museum

As we started to polish up the next episode of the Penny Jam (our ongoing video series), order it occurred to me that we hadn’t posted the most recent episode, pregnancy number 24 featuring Explode into Colors.

It’s been getting some loving on the internet, ambulance and for good reason. Explode into Colors brings the energy like a bobcat in a burlap sack – and in this case they brought it four or five times over the course of the shoot – and from what they told us it’s one of their more technically and physically challenging songs. We filmed it in the Grand Ballroom at the Portland Art Museum, where just the night before John Scofield played during the Portland Jazz Festival. I couldn’t help feel really lucky to have access to such a great space. Then I cried. Then I stopped and we filmed this great video. Enjoy!

Ben Folds’ A Capella Odyssey

  • Posted by
  • on June 30, 2009
  • Filed in: Music

So last night I was poking around on Youtube looking for something to tuck me in and I stumbled accross this well-shot, clinic 15-minute documentary. Ben Folds Presents: Unviersity A Cappella!.

I’m no aficionado but I do enjoy A Capella quite a bit. I think my appreciation comes from living with a guy in college who was in a group that proved just how awesome the form could be by attracting huge crowds for their free outdoor performances and busting out songs by unlikely groups like Radiohead and yes, Ben Folds. Here is a quote from Mr. Fold’s site:

Do not underestimate the genre. These vocal bands tour the country. They’ve performed on The Late Show With David Letterman, on Saturday Night Live, on The West Wing. They record albums (some costing upwards of $30,000 to produce). And in unbelievably large numbers, they’re covering the songs of Ben Folds.

Aside from tapping into a creative base that embraces his music, I think that what Ben Folds has done here is an awesome direction for the music/video relationship. As someone who shoots a fair amount of music related video (i.e. http://thepennyjam.com) I’m always in deep thought trying to hatch new projects that are neither 1) run of the mill or 2) gimmicky. By taking the reins he’s achieved a grand scope, maintained quality control and provided a built-in story. And if you’ve ever been a music writer you probably relate to that – having a story keeps things colorful, and helps you from infusing too much snarky, self-important, music-writery prose to carry your writing.

And it’s working. Some of the publications that’ve picked up this story: The Wall Street Journal, Entertainment Weekly, NPR Music, Baltimore Sun (lots more) and most likely the college publications of every group involved. So my hat’s off to you Mr. Folds – a classy move indeed. I’d love to see more video projects such as this one, focusing confidently on an artist-centric catalog. The album is available now.