I have been tuning into SNL since the days of Eddie Murphy. Easily its the most loyal I have been to any show in my lifetime. If I am home on a Saturday night, you can be sure I will be dialing in SNL at 11:30. As you can imagine a show with such a long history will have it’s lulls and its high points. 2008-2009 was one of SNL’s best years on record mostly due to the election. But since then it has been a major bore. last night I fell asleep watching SNL. Today I saw a blog post about a Scott Brown piece that aired as I lay sleeping. It featured Jon Hamm as Scott Brown and is one of the funniest I have seen in a long time. Wish I caught it Live. Anyway here it is.
Also check out the interview Texas and I did for URB Mag with SNL featured player Fred Armisen (who is also in the piece above playing Congressman Barney Frank). Fred Armisen was one of my favorite interviews.
Favorite TV intros of all time. It’s amazing they all come from the 70′s and 80′s. Which is saying allot since there were only 3 major TV networks back then. What happened? Honorable mentions listed below.
I had the pleasure of documenting Mixoligist Joaquin Simo for the “Creator Of” series I am doing with Pernod. Joaquin talks about the art of Mixology and also gives a breif history of Absinthe which was banned in 1915 in the United States and in most European countries. It was portrayed as a dangerously addictive psychoactive drug and blamed for the ills of society. This stigma contributed to it’s popularity with the art scene of it’s time. Very similar to the way marijuana is demonized and simultaneously heralded today. Check out the video along with the artist depictions of Absinthe from the early 20th Century.
I am a big fan of the iPhone, and today’s iPad unveiling was a huge letdown. It’s a big iPhone. It falls somewhere between the iPhone and a Laptop. Guess what? It also falls somewhere between me wanting to pay for it, and ever actually paying for it. I’ll use my iPhone as my mobile device, and my laptop for the heavier lifting. This has no home. That Verizon misfit commercial where the iPhone lands on the isle of misfit toys would be more fitting for this device.
I prefer to use something like this. Check out this product by Bonnier
The folks at Gak City interviewed Patty Crash about living with Nikki Jean, working with The Roots, and dumping her lover for her music. I documented Patty about a year ago at a Lick event and thought she was really talented. Check out the interview here and then the video we shot here.
It always fascinates me when something considered cool generations ago becomes vintage cool for a contemporary generation. Often the past is a great indicator of what will be cool in the future. Go back around 20 years and you will often find indicators of the trends of today. That 20 year window leaves a great un-mined resource of vintage films, fashion and music to be re-examined and re-packaged for today’s generation. I would like you to consider another film that falls out of this 20 year pattern of appreciation.
The film “Anatomy Of A Murder” (1959) is an American trial court drama directed by Otto Preminger. This film is known for being one of the best trial movies ever made. What stood out to me and most critics of the time was how it incorporated jazz in the musical score. It was the first film to extensively do this. The use of what was the alternative music of the time was a novel approach. The Jazzy opening sequence with music by Duke Ellington and artwork by Saul Bass also added to the cool aesthetic. Imagine yourself as a teenager 1959 not knowing much about what is going on in contemporary pop culture and then you see this trailer or this poster. You may say to yourself ‘This ain’t your daddy’s music,’ and suddenly you wonder about the world outside of your small middle American town. Sound familiar?
Check out the embed below, and if you get a chance to see the movie on TCM or pick it up on Netflix I do recommend.
Last night I found myself watching “Revolutionary Road.” It is an adaptation of the 1961 novel of the same name by Richard Yates starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet. It’s a dark commentary on American life in the 1950s and had some stunning performances and beautiful photography. The performance I found most captivating was the portrayal of John Givings by Michael Shannon. He was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for this role. The scene below was the best in the film. Michael Shannon’s character is a former mathematician who is now under psychiatric care in a mental institution. His character is the voice of truth in this film. As I start to shoot and write myself I am beginning to view films in a completely different way, with a new appreciation for how writers use characters to make their points. I notice how multiple characters are used to convey the message of a single voice. I see subtle ploys who’s genius are revealed only upon dissection. I see the dance, the give and take between the communicator and receiver. In the scene embedded below notice how Yates uses the Michael Shannon character to say what Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet are thinking but to afraid to say. The couple played by Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet planned to move to Paris to escape the mundane suburban life. A trip that Leonardo’s character was much less excited about than Kate’s character. A trip that gets cancelled because Kate’s character becomes pregnant by Leonardo’s. Take a look at how this scene plays out.
Michael Shannon makes two appearances in this film, and in both cases Yates uses his character to move the story along by stating the truth. To have the characters get to the truth themselves would have lengthened the storyline. As an editor I appreciate the value of shortcuts. Some may argue that it is an easy out. I say it is unless it is artfully done. In this case it is.
One other note about this scene. The framing is genius in it’s simplicity. The balance achieved by the straightforward composition may look elementary at first glance, but takes an artful eye and courageous spirit to pull it off. Ask yourself would you frame it with such simple composition? With millions being invested in this film would you be tempted to try and make it more complex? Or would you trust that such a simple composition could carry such a heavy scene?
If you want to see more it is currently available on HBO or you can grab it on netflix.
Yesterday’s stunning upset in the U.S. Senate race in Massachusetts of Democrat Martha Coakle by Republican Scott Brown ends the Democrats 60-seat filibuster-proof “supermajority” in the Senate, and may mean the end of the Health Care Bill and any chance of significant Healthcare reform. Suddenly everyone is looking to lay blame at someone else’s feet. Understandably people are upset, but the problem isn’t campaign mismanagement. It runs far deeper. Ironically the seat lost was occupied for 47 years by the Late Ted Kennedy, healthcare’s most visible supporter.
One year ago today it seemed like the world had changed. I was there. I was in Washington when Obama was inaugurated. I slept in the street and stood in the cold with tens of thousands to welcome in change. We had spoken and our voices were heard, this was our day. One year later Obama’s approval rating is down 20%, and those same voices demanding change have seemingly gone on with their lives. We treated Obama’s election as the end and not the beginning of a long struggle. Somehow we missed the point that Obama is a representative for the people, he is our voice. Who can forget this Obama quote “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or if we wait for some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” We embraced that mantra and moved like a tidal wave over a nation fed up with the Bush regime and centuries of oppression. We washed away old ways providing fertile ground for change. We had arrived.
One year later it appears that the fertile ground for change we sowed is being reaped by another group. A new movement is saying to our President that the Democrats are getting a little ahead of themselves. NJ, Virginia, said it loud and clear, and now Massachusetts is saying it again. This is how our political system works. The loudest voices will be heard. It’s not about racism, or sexism, or anything else. Its about vocalizing your concerns and getting out to vote. That is the only voice that matters. It is unfortunate that this lesson may have to come at the expense of Healthcare reform, but if we learn from our inaction now, maybe it won’t mean learning this lesson when the November 2010 elections or the 2012 Presidential elections come around. If you disagree about what is happening now make your voice heard. There are no excuses. One year ago today, we showed the world that we can bring on change in the face of overwhelming odds. We proved the system worked. One year later, It is the same system.
I posted a video of my trip to Washington for the inauguration one year ago. It’s an intimate reminder of where we were one year ago. Check it out. And listen to the wise words at the end stated by Andrea. Listen and ask yourself what are you doing?
The film “The Naked City” is a 1948 black-and-white film noir directed by Jules Dassin. The movie, shot in documentary style, was filmed on location on the streets of New York City. It is known for having one of the more famous quotes in movie history. “There are eight million stories in the Naked City; this has been one of them.” I actually watched this entire film just to hear this quote in context after hearing it out of context my entire life.
One scene that I took note of during this film was the final chase scene on the Williamsburg Bridge. The transformation of the Williamsburg Bridge from then to now is pretty fascinating. The West bound side has incoming and outgoing traffic, and the current eastbound side has a stairway that leads to the walkway. The most striking difference is how folks back then (Assuming that this portrayal was true to life.) utilized the Manhattan side walkway as a park. You can see kids rollerskating, jumping rope, playing marbles, etc. The only bridge in NY that bears any resemblance to that now is the Brooklyn Bridge. However the Williamsburg Bridge 1948 seems to have been a playground for locals as opposed to the tourists who cross the Brooklyn Bridge now. Also fascinating is how little Delancey street has changed. Haha.
Another interesting note about this film. The visual style was inspired by the New York photographer Weegee who published a book of photos of New York life entitled Naked City (1945). Weegee was known for his stark black and white street photography. Check out the embed below that has both the Williamsburg chase sequence and the famous quote. And if you get a chance see this film by all means do. It pops up on TCM every now and then or you can order it on Netflix.
Last Sunday while the Arizona Cardinals and Green Bay Packers were playing one of the most exciting games in NFL playoff history I found myself surprisingly switching between this incredible game and the TCM airing of the film “Sweet November”. When I first stumbled on it I had no idea this was a remake of the 2001 film starring Keanu Reeves and Charlize Theron bearing the same name. I fell asleep watching the remake on HBO a few weeks earlier. What drew me into the original film was it’s commentary on the beat generation and it’s 1968 beautiful portrayal of my native Brooklyn. It also had a carefree charm that drew you in only to surprise you with a more ominous plotline. Wikipedia description: “Charlie Blake is a fanatical business man. He meets Sara, a woman very different from anyone else he has ever met. She beguiles him and convinces him to spend a month with her on the promise that she will change his life around.” It’s also worth noting that Sara convinces Charlie to stay under the condition that at the end of the month he will leave no questions asked. Inevitably and quite predictably Charlie falls in love with Sara and tries everything he can to convince her to let him stay longer, even going as far as changing the dates on the calendar just to buy him a couple of extra days. After numerous failures Charlie comes up with a clever and touching plan to try and win over Sara’s heart so she will allow him to stay past his alloted time. Scene posted below:
The plot twists are quite surprising, and it gives keen insight into the bohemian “hipster” lifestyle of the time. I highly recommend watching the rest of this film if you get a chance. It doesn’t seem to be available on Netflix but you can purchase it on the TCM website. As for the remake, I would not recommend it at all. Seemingly there is a touching ending in the remake that may have changed my view had I not fallen asleep. But the point is I FELL ASLEEP! Plus It was universally panned by fans and critics alike. According to wikipedia “Due to the poor response the film received from critics it was nominated for Worst Remake or Sequel and both Reeves and Theron nominated for Worst Actor and Worst Actress at the 2001 Golden Raspberry Awards.” So save yourself the headache and enjoy the original instead.