Monday, March 31, 2008

Short Films of Apichatpong Weerasethakul at NWFF : Apr 15 - 23

More quiet, often reflective, dualistic, multiple-narrative cinematic wanderings through the Thai landscape,
urban centers, outlying rural expanses and deep jungles through the eyes of their key progressive cinematic
voice. Contemporary culture also plays a large role, often just as a foil to contrast the natural splendor and
life of the people and their relationship with the vibrant green spectacle that is the jungle. Often surreal, or
hinting at the metaphysical (or as in "Tropical Malady" direct interaction with the spirit world) his films both
describe the life of a people as they are, as they once were (first chapter of "Syndromes and a Century for
example) and in the more abstract passages, suggesting how they could be. Beautiful capsules of cinema
that remind the viewer of the small insights into the otherworldly that take place in the everyday.

Link to NWFF Short Films of Apichatpong Weerasethakul site

From the Northwest Film Forum:

"World cinema’s premier maker of mysterious objects, Apichatpong Weerasethakul is on a one-man mission to
change the way we watch movies. Rich and strange, postmodern and prehistoric, his films foster an experience
of serene bewilderment and –for the willing viewer – euphoric surrender. They are suffused with a sense of wide
-open possibility that sometimes explodes into epiphany."–Dennis Lim, THE VILLAGE VOICE

"Apichatpong Weerasethakul (SYNDROMES AND A CENTURY, TROPICAL MALADY) is a key figure in modern Thai
film and a highly original moving-image artist. He studied architecture at Khon Kaen University before completing
a Master of Fine Arts in filmmaking at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Influenced by American experimental
film, Weerasethakul is one of a small group of independent filmmakers working outside the Thai studio system. His
video installations, shorts and feature films explore the genres of documentary and fiction in uniquely Thai contexts.
Thai television, radio and comics provide story elements that may be enacted or embroidered by the characters that
drive Weerasethakul’s films. These two programs comprise rarely seen short works made by the acclaimed director
over the past 14 years."

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Edgard Varese / Le Corbusier "Poeme Electronique" : Early AV Modernism

Link to UBUWEB archive's Varese / Corbusier "Poeme Electronique" video

Seeing this classic collaboration again between two of the 20th Century's great pioneers
(Modern Composition / Design & Architecture respectively) brings to mind the continuation
of lineage in this audio/visual form by contemporaries like the recently mentioned Qubo Gas,
Domnitch & Gelfand, Uonoma and Alex Rutterford. Admittedly, the likes of Qubo and Rutterford
aren't inventing completely new sonic forms while constructing some of the most advanced visionary
architecture of the century. So, the old masters remain masterful and the new kids continue on their
step-by-step progressive way with explorations in new media.

Link to Columbia University Music Dept - Varese "Poeme Electronique" site

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Why "Southland Tales" was the Worst BEST Film of 2007

This is going to read as a delirious rambling-incoherent jumble of ideas, but that's about the the only
appropriate/corresponding way to go about describing the subject matter:

Kaleidoscopic in the issues it tackles, "Southland Tales" sets about telling too many 'tales' in too much
time, but most successful among them is its america-in-a-twisted-hall-of-mirrors Philip K. Dick sci-fi
SATIRE depiction of our current global/domestic state in 2008. As though all of this country were as
warped and completely f*cked! as LA - with the additional doomsday-stoking factors of an atomic 'Terrorist'
strike on Texas, a new 'Big Brother'-style surveillance wing of the CIA, corporate sponsored war in Iraq/Iran
(Hustler logos on military vehicles), an 'alternative fuel source' natural disaster in the waiting and the best
all-around mockery of the TV-People unreality that seems to have become the american dream I've maybe
ever witnessed on the big screen. The additional genius stroke of using many known, but B-grade hollywood
actors to depict fictional A-grade hollywood icons/celebrities/politicians is one of the best executed jabs of
the whole film. Schwarzenegger? Jenna Jameson? George Bush? You've got em all in "Southland Tales".

Some cons; The near total lack of any real resolution of the major plot-points where things just kind of all
Apocalypse-explosion fall apart in the last 1/4 of the film as the dramatic 'conclusion' was a bit of a cop-out.
Where rather than tying some (of the many) untethered plot threads together to give more perspective into the
insane surreal jumble of global events and the 8? 12? major characters in this ensemble-cast uberdrama, instead
we get a string of (admittedly beautifully choreographed) MTV music-video vignettes that ad much to the mood
of the film, but in end are head-scratchingly pointless to the narrative and don't advance the plot at all.

Another con of a different variety; NObody saw this film. For the next major studio release by the director of one
of the biggest cult hits of the early 2000's (yep, "Donnie Darko") - its confounding that there was no audience to
speak of that saw "Southland Tales" in the cinema. Obviously, the studio had no clue what to do with this film
(see the later couple of trailers, the lack of any mention of the prequel, etc.) and the ad campaign was one of the
shortest-lived I have ever seen for any film (one week) and its theatrical run was abominably short (two weeks in
Seattle) with, confoundingly, no second-run screenings. Which is where "Donnie Darko" made its money and
retroactively found its audience, as a second-run and midnight movie. There was a lesson learned there, that
could have been applied to this film and evidently was not. By NObody, this is the kind of box-office ticket
sales numbers/audience attendance I'm talking about:

"Southland Tales grossed $275,380 at the North American box office, and $81,028 elsewhere, making a
worldwide total of $356,408,[24] falling far short of the film's $15-17 million budget."

In the end, what does seem to be Kelly's point, beyond just the insanely fun(!) total satire of the times in which
we live - is that the film suggests people-want-doomsday = people-get-doomsday in a Neo-Con / Fundamentalist
Christian 'War on Terror' manifesting the Apocalypse kind of moral/biting jab/humor play. And no, the Republican
party aren't the only ones targeted by Kelly, he finds much to parody about the directionless ineffectual jumble of
absurdist Marx-appropriating misguided/wrong-headed political 'action' on the part of what the Fox Network currently
refers to here in usamerica as the 'Extreme Left'. The overarching politics of the film bring to mind Kubrick's 'How We
Came to Love the Bomb' subtitle on "Dr. Strangelove" - and there are some parallels here, but mostly, "Southland Tales"
is just a thing unto its own and WOW what a wonderful apocalyptic-satire-disaster of a disaster of a film it is.

Official site:

New York Times and Village Voice reviews:,hoberman,78254,20.html

The most outspoken advocate of the film was Amy Taubin, who in both Film Comment and Sight & Sound
bemoaned the fact that the studio levered Kelly to reduce the scale/duration of the movie from the version
that was seen at Cannes and afterwards horribly mismanaged its theatrical release stateside the following year:

And the wiki:

Lastly, a fitting quote from Quentin Crisp: "If you describe things as better than they are, you are considered
to be a romantic; if you describe things as worse than they are, you will be called a realist; and if you describe
things exactly as they are, you will be thought of as a satirist."

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Next 30 Days in Live Sounds : Boredoms / Autechre / Stars of the Lid

Over the course of the coming month, three performances by significant (and significantly different) artists
all of which have in their own incomparable way defined the last decade in adventurous sound. Last time
Boredoms were in Seattle: 1995 / Last time for Autechre: 2005 / Last show by Stars of the Lid: 2000.
You get the idea here.

March 21

Link to official Boredoms site

March/April US Dates:

03-15 Canes San Diego CA
03-16 Henry Fonda Theater Los Angeles CA
03-17 The Fillmore Auditorium San Francisco CA *
03-20 Crystal Ballroom Portland OR
03-21 Neumos Seattle WA
03-25 First Avenue Minneapolis MN *
03-26 Logan Square Auditorium Chicago IL
03-29 Paradise Boston MA
03-30 Terminal 5 New York NY *
04-01 Starlight Ballroom Philadelphia PA
04-03 9:30 Club Washington DC

April 7

Link to Warp Records Autechre site

April US Dates:

04-04 Los Angeles, CA - Echoplex *
04-05 San Francisco, CA - Mezzanine *
04-06 Portland, OR - Doug Fir *
04-07 Seattle, WA - Neumos *
04-08 Vancouver, British Columbia - Richards on Richards *
04-11 Chicago, IL - The Abbey *
04-12 Toronto, Ontario - Lees Palace *
04-13 Montreal, Quebec - Club Soda *
04-14 Cambridge, MA - Middle East Downstairs *
04-15 Brooklyn, NY - Music Hall of Williamsburg *
04-16 Philadelphia, PA - Transit *
04-17 Washington, DC - Black Cat *

* with Massonix, Rob Hall

Stars of the Lid
Triple Door
April 18

Link to official Stars of the Lid site

April/May US Dates:

04-14 Los Angeles, CA - TBA
04-15 San Francisco, CA - The Independent
04-17 Portland, OR - TBA
04-18 Seattle, WA - Triple Door
04-21 Minneapolis, MN - Southern Theater
04-22 Champaign, IL - Staerkel Planetarium
04-23 Grinnell, IA - Sebring-Lewis Concert Hall
04-24 Louisville, KY - 930 Listening Room
04-25 Pittsburgh, PA - Warhol Museum
04-26 Chicago, IL - Lakeshore Theater
04-27 London, ON - Museum London
04-28 Toronto, ON - Music Gallery
04-29 Montreal, QC - TBA
05-01 Boston, MA - Museum of Fine Arts
05-02 New York City, NY - Good Shepard Faith Church
05-03 Philadelphia, PA - TBA
05-04 Washington, DC - TBA
05-05 Asheville, NC
05-07 Austin - Ritz Theatre

Above image from the "Watercouleur Park " interactive graphic composition
by French artists group Qubo Gas for Tate Modern:

Link to Tate Modern "Watercouleur Park" site

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

"Mostly Messiaen" at SAAM : Mar 16

In a recent critical breakdown/rant debunking of P.T. Anderson's "There Will Be Blood" the case
of Jonny Greenwood's soundtrack 'playing' the classics of Ligeti, Bartok and Messiaen was made
as a metaphor for the the whole of the film being gesture and mimicry and little more. Curiously,
here's a chance to hear the 'real thing' in person - in the form of the piano works of Olivier Messiaen:

Like the Morton Feldman Marathon at SAM of last month, having significant 20th Century
Composers performed in this town is a rather rare and noteworthy event. Glad to see the
Seattle Art Museum playing host on an increasing basis.

Link to Boston University's "Messiaen Project" site