Monday, April 18, 2011

More Camera Whoring!

BROOKLYN, N.Y.—Since I've apparently become something of a camera whore over the course of the past few months, and apparently have no shame in promoting my appearances in front of a camera (feel free to let me know if any of you think this is a worrying trend), here are a couple more videos in which yours truly is present:

That organization Pro8mm which offered me and others a chance to shoot a bit of footage on Super 8mm film at South by Southwest finally released an edited video compilation of all of that footage. For about a few seconds, from 0:18 on, I'm seen being shown how to use a film camera.

Not impressed by that? about footage of me eating dinner before a screening of João Pedro Rodrigues's latest film To Die Like a Man on Thursday night? Captured by one of my roommates?

My presence is spreading all over the Internet! Mwahahahaha!

All right, I'm done with this kind of thing for now. One day, My Life, at 24 Frames Per Second will become a blog of serious arts criticism again (if it ever was that). One day.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Finding My Inner Punk, With the Help of The Clash

NEW YORK—Despite having my one umbrella destroyed by the heavy winds yesterday afternoon, leaving me vulnerable to getting heavily rained on by Mother Nature last night, I had an excellent weekend.

But the highlight of my weekend was not the spate of Japanese films I saw for the first time on Friday and Saturday at Film Forum: two black-and-white masterpieces—Mikio Naruse's Floating Clouds (1955) and Kenji Mizoguchi's final film Street of Shame (1956)—and one fairly amusing color musical-comedy, Keisuke Kinoshita's Carmen Comes Home (1951), featuring Hideko Takamine in an exuberant singing-and-dancing role—as a stripper, to make things that much hotter—that is as far as possible from the quietly suffering heroines she played for Naruse in her collaborations with him. And no, it wasn't even Jacques Tourneur's fascinatingly dense 1946 Technicolor Western Canyon Passage, seen at Anthology Film Archives—though that experience was marred by a supposedly restored print that was plagued by terribly flawed audio, making some of the dialogue barely comprehensible.

No, the highlight of my weekend was this:

A co-worker of mine at The Wall Street Journal fronts this punk-rock band on the side; the group recently released their first album and celebrated that release on Friday at Fontana's Bar in New York's Lower East Side. Afterwards, Fontana's hosted a session of "Punk Rock Heavy Metal Karaoke," with a live band providing the musical accompaniment as people got up to sing a song of their choice—or, at least, of their choice based on a long list of selections. I decided to take a stab at it with The Clash's "I Fought the Law"...and what you see above is the result of that experiment.(Believe it or not, I was not feeling drunk at all before doing this, despite the one-and-a-half pint of beers I had consumed; over the years, I've developed a pretty good tolerance for beer, at least.)

I'll leave it to you all to be the judge of how successful I was at this endeavor. All I can report is that, against all odds, I actually left the stage feeling like an honest-to-God rock star—for the moment, at least. And isn't that what karaoke is at least partly about?

P.S. As I was getting my ears blown to bits as a spectator and as a performer at Fontana's, many of my fellow cinephile friends and acquaintances were apparently getting their minds blown at Walter Reade Theater by this old film by some French dude I've never heard of. Maybe some of those cinephile friends/acquaintances can tell me if I truly missed something special. I, for one, regret nothing. (Not yet, anyway.)

Friday, April 15, 2011

Nine Types of Light at a TV on the Radio Concert

BROOKLYN, N.Y.—From the Brooklyn band's Radio City Music Hall concert on April 13:

I would have also had video to accompany these iPhone-captured photographs of a by-and-large terrific show, but for some reason—as a result of probably unfounded jitters over whether I was allowed to record any part of the concert or not (clearly, I've been to too many classical concerts and not enough rock concerts)—I ended up not taking any...

...which made the discovery of this video below just a tad gut-wrenching (I could have fuckin' shot that!). But hey, I snoozed (not literally, of course) and I lost. I'll just embed the video here and thank the user by the name of hashmagazine for shooting it and posting it on YouTube:

The song Tunde Adebimpe & co. is performing in that video is named "Repetition," by the way, and it's possibly my favorite cut off their latest album, Nine Types of Light—thus the oh-so-clever title of this post. It's an excellent album, by the way, a worthy complement to their previous—and, to my mind, best-to-date—album Dear Science (2008). If their first two albums, Desperate Youths, Bloodthirsty Babes (2004) and Return to Cookie Mountain (2006) both, to a certain extent, made the tension between intellect and emotion a major theme of their music, in Dear Science, TV on the Radio seemed to finally embrace their wild Dionysian side (yes, rather ironic given its title); it's the first time I actually found them rousing fun to listen to instead of just "interesting" to hear. Nine Types of Light, thankfully, continues in that soulful, funky vein...and there was certainly a lot of joy to be had at their Radio City Music Hall concert on Wednesday night! Especially considering that that was my first time ever stepping into that famous venue!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Beauties of Burnett

NEW YORK—I was originally going to devote all of last weekend to immersing myself in some of the films of African-American independent filmmaker Charles Burnett, thanks to the complete retrospective of his work currently going on at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). It didn't entirely work out that way; on Saturday, instead of seeing Burnett's 2007 film Namibia: The Struggle for Liberation as I had initially planned, I ended up (thanks to Foursquare—see, location-based social media does have its valuable uses!) meeting up with a couple of old friends from college and crawling around the East Village all afternoon and late into the night. Hey, it's New York; that kind of thing happens! And it was such a lovely day out that I felt no guilt about it whatsoever.

Namibia—which, to be perfectly honest, has an unappealingly academic-sounding title—is supposed to be screening again at MoMA a couple weekends from now. One quick look at my calendar suggests that that next screening may conflict with a Satyajit Ray film at Walter Reade Theater that I'm dying to see (his 1973 film Distant Thunder, for those who are curious; Film Society of Lincoln Center has programmed a series of late Ray films after its series of his earlier work in 2009). This weekend, then, may well be the only one in which Burnett's films figure into it. For that reason, I might as well go ahead and discuss the by-and-large excellent films I saw this weekend.


Burnett, for those who aren't aware of him, is an African-American filmmaker who has been working on-and-off for about four decades now, making many films about the black American experience that have often found favor from critics but have never found their way into more popular acclaim. The fact that Burnett's aforementioned three-hour epic about Namibia's struggle for independence from South Africa—featuring a big name in Danny Glover, no less—has still only played at film festivals more than three years after its completion gives you an indication of how marginalized a figure Burnett has been over the course of his career, despite the heroic efforts of intrepid film critics like Jonathan Rosenbaum to bring him into the public eye.

But the tide may finally be turning in his favor. It took 30 years, but his 1977 debut feature Killer of Sheep was finally restored and given a proper theatrical release by Milestone Films in 2007; a two-DVD set of that film, his 1983 follow-up, My Brother's Wedding, and some of his short films followed. And now he has this big museum retrospective in his honor.

Before this series began, I had only seen Killer of Sheep and My Brother's Wedding, so I was looking forward to seeing his later, more difficult-to-see work. Here's some of what I wrote about Killer of Sheep for the Daily Targum—Rutgers University's daily newspaper—upon its belated theatrical release in 2007:

From its deliberately unassuming—and, in this 35mm blow-up, noticeably grainy—black and white cinematography (Burnett shot the film himself) to its authentic location settings, and from the fairly amateurish performances of its mostly nonprofessional cast to its episodic plot—all of these elements serve to give us the feeling of real life taking place right in front of our eyes.
The real life of this film isn’t particularly glamorous, either: its main character, Stan (Henry Gayle Sanders), works at a slaughterhouse for a living—thus the film’s title—and goes through much of the film palpably disillusioned by the depressing reality of his lower-class existence in his Watts, Calif. community. In its interest in capturing the harsh realities of the everyday lives of ordinary citizens, Killer of Sheep works in the great tradition of neorealism, the famous post-World War II artistic movement that attempted to render real life on film as authentically as possible with documentary-style techniques—handheld camerawork, outdoor location shooting, etc.

But Italian neorealist classics like Vittorio De Sica’s Bicycle Thieves or Roberto Rossellini’s Open City aren’t great just because of its documentary-like realism. Like De Sica and Rossellini, Charles Burnett has both compassion and a poetic—yet fiercely unsentimental—sensibility to go along with his sharply observant sense of lived-in realism.

Thus, no one is made out to be exaggerated caricatures in Killer of Sheep—not even the two show-offy “rich” guys who are first seen stealing a television set, and then are shown asking Stan to participate in a murder for money. Even scenes like those, Burnett suggests, are an unmistakable part of life in an African-American ghetto; you do what you feel you have to do in order to get by in such dire surroundings.

And even in the midst of Stan’s sense of despair, Burnett is still able to find, and poetically convey, moments of indelible beauty and joy. Perhaps its most touching moment comes in long sequence in which Stan and his wife (Kaycee Moore) share a silent slow dance in their apartment to the tune of Dinah Washington’s “This Bitter Earth.” It’s all in one unbroken shot, and Burnett’s camera simply sits there, observing the wife’s attempt to try to reach out to her emotionally distant husband. When the song is over and the dance ends, everything seems to be back to (dreary) normal. Within Killer of Sheep, however, those small gestures—and there are many of them at unexpected, isolated moments—have the power of giant deliverances.

The Burnett films I saw this weekend generally build on the more enthralling qualities of both Killer of Sheep and his worthy second feature My Brother's Wedding. All of them, though, are quite different from either of his two early features, suggesting a stylistic adventurousness on his part that supplements his sociological and humanistic concerns.

His rarely screened 1990 film To Sleep With Anger is an intimate family drama that, as a result of its spiritual elements, becomes the stuff of folklore. Danny Glover, probably the most high-profile actor in this cast, gives a beautifully insinuating performance as Harry, an old acquaintance of Gideon (Paul Butler), the patriach of the film's central clan. Gideon kindly lets Harry stay over his house...but Harry turns out to have a malicious streak, as he slowly but surely begins to wreak havoc on the family's relations, threatening to tear the unit apart in subtly insidious ways. His malice manifests itself in its most physical form when Gideon himself suddenly falls into a coma one morning—surely not unrelated to Harry's continued presence in the household.

The character of Harry, however, doesn't represent anything quite so simplistic as the "evil" to the family's "good." As others have commented, Harry is a modern incarnation of the Trickster, a being who acts in a dangerous manner but whose actions often have unexpectedly positive outcomes. In this case...well, as Burnett depicts in the opening scenes of the film, this family was already swimming in buried tensions and generational divides; they only needed someone like Harry to push those tensions to a boiling point—to the point of bloodshed, in one instance—and apparently they only needed someone like Harry to at least help pave a way toward a promising resolution. In the world Burnett creates in To Sleep With Anger—realistic yet full of magical possibilities, a kind of supernatural variation on the milieu he explored in his first two films—even that mediocre kid trumpet player who annoys everyone in town manages to get at least one tune right by the end; tellingly, the kid gets this strange and oddly heartwarming film's final image, as his cacophonously tuneless trumpet playing transforms into a beautiful improvisation that plays over the end credits.

There's more beauty in Burnett's 1994 police drama The Glass Shield—to date his only film to get released by a major studio, in this case Miramax—though it's a stark kind of beauty, one that highlights the film's angry substance. Instead of the kind of harsh, gritty realism of other urban crime dramas made during that time—films like Boyz N the Hood (1991), for instance, or Menace II Society (1993)—Burnett, with the aid of cinematographer Elliot Davis, bathes much his based-on-true-events tale in neon-blue colors and dark shadows, turning the Los Angeles county precinct headquarters into some kind of Hell on earth. He also  encourages composer Stephen James Taylor—who wrote the folksy score for To Sleep With Anger—to turn up the heat in his music for the film, imparting an operatic grandeur to the story. It's still quite harsh and gritty—its sprung editing rhythms (Curtiss Clayton did the editing) keep us on our toes as the story unfolds—but there's a visual radiance to it that, surprisingly, doesn't detract from the power of this tale of police corruption, racism, compromised morals and idealism punctured.

The Glass Shield is a more story-driven film than any of his previous feature work, and Burnett's economical approach to storytelling here sometimes makes the film seem choppier and neater than his previous work. It's still a gripping and brilliantly told story, though, and its underlying themes and emotions still pack a punch, especially the bitter irony of its concluding twist (which apparently Burnett had to fight to keep in, as Miramax demanded a softer ending). It's as socially conscious as Burnett's previous films, except done in a more urgent and electric style than any of them.

Social consciousness is not the first thing one might think of when encountering The Annihilation of Fish, Burnett's as-yet-unreleased 1999 comedy-drama with James Earl Jones and Lynn Redgrave both playing endearing elderly nutcases who fall in love when they both move into an apartment building owned by Mrs. Muldroone (Margot Kidder, barely recognizable here in her aged makeup). Actually, "nutcase" is a bit too strong of a term to describe them—though they certainly seem like little more than crazy people during the film's set-up, which comes so perilously close to drowning in its "look-at-me" quirks that it nearly tried my patience. But even with the titular Fish (Jones) claiming to be literally wrestling a demon named Hank, and with Poinsettia (Redgrave) experiencing heartbreak after being forced to split for good from her invisible friend Giacomo Puccini—yes, that's right, the famous Italian opera composer—Burnett somehow manages to look past the relentless whimsy and locate the emotional heart within Anthony C. Winkler's oddball screenplay.

It's not so much that Fish and Poinsettia are "crazy," as in mentally insane. In Jones's and Redgrave's performances, there are underlying hints of deep personal pain—perhaps from tragic pasts that the film only slightly hints at—that these idiosyncracies mask; their quirks are their defense mechanisms from worldly hurt. In that sense, their madness is metaphorical in nature rather than literal; at least, that's the way Burnett seems to treat the material. (In a few moments of outright stylization, when Fish wrestles Hank the demon, Burnett's camera sometimes playfully adopts the demon's point-of-view; when he throws the demon out into the trees just outside his apartment window, there's a rustling sound heard in the leaves every time.) Much of the drama of their relationship, then, comes from whether these two characters will eventually break through those defense mechanisms, confront their pain directly and move past the (for lack of a better word) demons unsettling them both.

The Annihilation of Fish isn't quite an overlooked masterpiece; it's less visually distinguished than some of Burnett's previous features (someone at the Q&A session after the film's screening on Friday night suggested that this film might work as a Hallmark Hall of Fame-type movie, which gives you an indication of its visual ambition), and, as I suggested earlier, it's so aggressively whimsical early on that it may drive some viewers nuts in the beginning. And yet, once you ease yourself into the film's zany world, one senses traces of Burnett's usual sensitivity and humanity. He refuses to condescend to this zany material; the film never becomes the cutesy-poo "two-old-codgers" comedy one expects. The result is a film that, against all odds, becomes strangely moving without becoming overly saccharine. (Maybe Burnett would have been a better choice to direct The Beaver than Jodie Foster.)

MoMA's Burnett series runs through April 25, with these aforementioned films receiving second screenings. Again, I'm not sure if I will be able to see any more films in the series (which is exhaustive enough to include a lot of his television work, including his Disney Channel film Nightjohn (1996) and a 2003 PBS documentary about Nat Turner), but if any of you live in New York and don't know much about Burnett, his films are worth taking a chance on. On the basis of what I've seen—all of them brimming with beauty, warmth and insight—I think he's not only one of the finest filmmakers we have in America, but certainly one that deserves to be better known that he is.

[Of these three films, only The Glass Shield is easily available on DVD here in the United States. To Sleep With Anger was released on DVD in England by the British Film Institute, but it looks to be technically out of print now...though, if you're willing to spare the greater expense, you might be able to find used copies somewhere online.]

Monday, April 11, 2011

A Literary Interlude in Honor of Sidney Lumet (1924-2011)


...Over the years, critics and others have remarked that I'm interested in the judicial system. Of course I am. Some have said my theater roots show because of the number of plays I've done as movies. Of course they do. There have been a bunch of movies involving parents and children. There have been comedies, some done badly, some better, as well as melodramas and a musical. I've also been accused of being all over the place, of lacking an overwhelming theme that applies to all my work. I don't know if that's true or not. The reason I don't know is that when I open to the first page of a script, I'm a willing captive. I have no preconceived notion that I want the body of my work to be about one particular idea. No script has to fit into an overall theme of my life. I don't have one. Sometimes I'll look back on the work over some years and say to myself, "Oh, that's what I was interested in then."

Whatever I am, whatever the work will amount to, has to come out of my subconscious. I can't approach it cerebrally. Obviously, this is right and correct for me. Each person must approach the problem in whatever way works best for him.

I don't know how to choose work that illuminates what my life is about. I don't know what my life is about and don't examine it. My life will define itself as I live it. The movies will define themselves as I make them. As long as the theme is something I care about at that moment, it's enough for me to start work. Maybe work itself is what my life is about.

And don't get me wrong: The body of work Lumet, the legendary Hollywood director who died at the ripe old age of 86 on Saturday, amassed over the course of his long and fruitful career is certainly a considerable one, in many ways. Me, though, I treasure Lumet not so much for his films (though, of the handful I've seen, I'm wholeheartedly on board with the consensus anointing 12 Angry Men and Dog Day Afternoon masterpieces; Network not so much), but for his great book Making Movies, from which the above quote is taken, from its first chapter, titled "The Director: The Best Job in the World."

In Making Movies, the veteran filmmaker not only goes into the nooks and crannies of the filmmaking process in a warm, wise and accessible fashion, but also articulates his own philosophies on filmmaking in ways that usefully illuminate his own art. In the book's third chapter, Lumet offers these valuable and somewhat provocative thoughts on "style" in a film:

Making a movie has always been about telling a story. Some movies tell a story and leave you with a feeling. Some tell a story and leave you with a feeling and give you an idea. Some tell a story, leave you with a feeling, give you an idea, and reveal something about yourself and others. And surely the way you tell that story should relate somehow to what that story is.

Because that's what style is: the way you tell a particular story. After the first critical decision ("What's this story about?") comes the second most important decision: "Now that I know what it's about, how shall I tell it?" And this decision will affect every department involved in the movie that is about to be made.

...Critics talk about style as something apart from the movie because they need the style to be obvious. The reason they need it to be obvious is that they don't really see. If the movie looks like a Ford or Coca-Cola commercial, they think that's style. And it is. It's trying to sell you something you don't need and is stylistically geared to that goal....From the huzzahs that greeted [Claude] Lelouch's A Man and a Woman, one would've thought that another Jean Renoir had arrived. A perfectly pleasant bit of romantic fluff was proclaimed "art," because it was so easy to identify as something other than realism. it's not so hard to see the style in Murder on the Orient Express. But almost no critic spotted the stylization in Prince of the City. It's one of the most stylized movies I've ever made. Kurosawa spotted it, though. In one of the most thrilling moments in my professional life, he talked to me about the "beauty" of the camera work as well as of the picture. But he meant beauty in the sense of its organic connection to the material. And this is the connection that, for me, separates true stylists from decorators. The decorators are easy to recognize. That's why critics love them so.

As the quote above suggests, Lumet as a director was all about serving the script as much as possible, adapting one's style to fit the material. Often, he aimed for as invisible a style as possible, as he was always more interested in allowing storytelling and acting, rather than show-offy directorial fireworks, to make the biggest impression. There's a reason why his films are often acclaimed for the high-quality acting and expert storytelling more than for any consistent signatures on Lumet's part. That is not to say he was lacking in vision—though what that vision is, Lumet, as the passage from Making Movies that opened this post suggests, seemed happy to leave to critics to elucidate.

Whether such conscientious craftsmanship is enough for a filmmaker to be considered a great artist is open for debate, and I won't pretend that I value Lumet's work quite the same way I do other filmmakers—I'm thinking of directors like Howard Hawks, Alfred Hitchcock, Nicholas Ray, and many others—who managed to carve out arguably more memorable visions within the classical-Hollywood-cinema tradition. Nevertheless, especially these days, with many mainstream Hollywood releases openly flaunting visual incoherence and pandering to the lowest common denominator, Lumet's humble classicism and respect for an audience's intelligence is worth treasuring, especially now that he's gone.

So rest in peace, Mr. Lumet. And if you haven't read his book yet...well, it's a quick and breezy read, but it's also genuinely enlightening, not only about the filmmaking process, but about Lumet himself and where he was coming from as a director. Other than watching some of his films, I can't think of a better way to commemorate his passing.

At least I can say to myself that I did get to see the man in public once before he died, at an event hosted by The Wall Street Journal in the summer of 2009 featuring him, his daughter Jenny (fresh off of having her script for Rachel Getting Married filmed by Jonathan Demme) and the Journal's film critic, Joe Morgenstern. In fact, I wrote about the event for the organization's Speakeasy blog here!

Enjoy some videos from the event:

Friday, April 08, 2011

Bookmark This! A New Site For All Your New York Repertory-Cinema Needs


I'm sure all of you are well aware of my newfound dedication to repertory cinema: seeking out older films, either well-known (but probably as yet unseen by me) or rare/as-yet-unavailable on DVD. It's seriously come to the point where I've long resigned myself to falling behind on newer releases just to get my repertory-cinema fix. Just a few weeks ago, though, with a friend of mine back in New Jersey, I was talking (or, rather, "talking"; this was conducted through Twitter direct messages) about how overwhelming the sheer amount of choice was for people as tuned into the alternative-cinema scene in New York as I am. So many theaters playing all sorts of these older treasures, some of them offering this kind of programming every single to keep track of them all? Wouldn't it be nice if there was a website that made that task oh-so-easy?

Well, thanks to Paul Brunick, a good friend and bright young film critic in his own right, there is now an easy way for people like me to keep tabs on what films are playing in repertory every night in New York. Yesterday, his site Alt Screen went live, and right off the bat, the site proved its usefulness by alerting me to two screenings of Peter Bogdanovich's 1972 comedy What's Up, Doc? that I hadn't even heard about, playing at a venue—the Clearview's Chelsea Cinemas—that had never really figured into my moviegoing plans in the past. (Not that I could make either one; I was too busy being dazzled by Charles Burnett's rare 1990 film To Sleep With Anger at the Museum of Modern Art, as part of their just-begun retrospective of the director.) Already I have a new venue to check up on and new cinematic revelations to look forward to!

For repertory-cinema fiends like myself, this site is a godsend—and better, it's actually quite a beautifully designed site to boot! And it features Editor's Picks and extra blog commentary/criticism! Hats off to Paul and the rest of his crew for a job well done! And, of course, go explore the site for yourself, because it's very much worth your time, if you're interested in discovering everything New York has to offer film-wise.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Video for the Day: Getting Angry at a Cable Company...With Style!

BROOKLYN, N.Y.—I just felt like sharing a video today—this one not something I made myself, but something on YouTube a co-worker of mine forwarded to me, and which I thought was hilarious enough to be worth sharing with all of you, if you hadn't encountered this yet.

If I unleashed my id and had to deal with losing my cable service and having to deal with a crappy cable company, I might sound like this guy:

Hell, to be honest, I probably talk somewhat like this guy now, especially when I'm at work—except I do it under my breath, when I think no one's listening. I think.

My favorite aspect of this video, by the way, besides the angry phone messages themselves—and seriously, who hasn't been in something like this situation before and hasn't felt a strong desire to vent in the uninihibited manner this guy does?—is its perfectly chosen use of the second movement of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony to score these messages. Oh, and the final message featured makes for a nice twist.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

South by Southwest 2011—in Super 8!

NEW YORK—During the latter half of South by Southwest, the Austin Convention Center housed the SXSW Trade Show, in which a whole bunch of exhibitors displayed their sites, apps and other digital technologies. I walked through a part of the trade-show floor one of those days and came across a company named Pro8mm, a Burbank, Calif.-based company specializing in Super 8mm and Super 16mm film. One of the ways they were promoting Pro8mm was by allowing people to take one of the film cameras they had available and, arming all of them with both 200 feet of actual Super 8mm film and a quick tutorial in how to use the camera, let them roam around and outside the Convention Center to shoot about 2½ minutes of footage.

I had never actually shot anything on film before, so this intrigued me. Thus, a couple days after I had walked past the Pro8mm stand, I came back to give it a shot.

This is the result of my experimentation:

I have to say, I find seeing all that film grain in something I shot quite pleasing to my eyes. I also have to say that trying to shoot handheld footage with a film camera can be quite a challenge. Those cameras are quite bulky! I can see why so many filmmakers, both young and old, are turning to digital cameras; supposedly they are just easier to use.

Anyway, hope you all enjoy the footage I shot! The video above doesn't technically represent the sum total of everything I shot; I cut out about eight seconds of footage of me pointing the camera at myself as I walked in the Austin Convention Center, because I forgot at the time that film cameras, unlike video cameras, don't actually record live sound. (I had a digital voice recorder on me at SXSW, so I could have used it if I had remembered that! Oh well; I think this silent footage still has considerable analog charm anyway.)

Pro8mm, by the way, in addition to sending me a CD with a digitally transferred .mov file of my Super 8mm footage, actually sent back to me the original roll of film I shot!

If anyone has a film projector handy...

Friday, April 01, 2011

An April Shower of Activity! Plus, "The Mysterious Light"

BROOKLYN, N.Y.—Today is April 1, the first day of what is looking to be an unusually busy month for me.

Among the many things on my plate this month:

  • Another month, another film festival—two actually (as I will explain below)! New York's own Tribeca Film Festival runs throughout the second half of this month, and for the first time ever, I will be helping to cover it for The House Next Door.
  • In the last week of April, I will be heading off to Champaign, Ill., to attend Roger Ebert's annual film festival, Ebertfest. I'm attending this one mostly for my own personal enjoyment. The lineup, frankly, doesn't excite me all that much (I've already seen, like, half the films scheduled, though I do like all of them to varying degrees), so I'll mostly be there to try to meet up with people I only know from online interactions (people like elite blogger Jim Emerson and some of Ebert's very fine Far-Flung Correspondents). Hopefully I'll be more successful at the networking thing there than I was at South by Southwest.
  • In between all this festival-going and -dispatching...well, this month New York seems to have exploded in intriguing repertory-cinema programming. The ones I'm most interested in hitting up as frequently as possible are Museum of Modern Art's Charles Burnett retrospective (finally, I can see his not-available-on-Region 1-DVD 1990 film To Sleep With Anger!), Brooklyn Academy of Music's series of Brian De Palma thrillers (The Fury on a big screen!) and Film Forum's "5 Japanese Divas" series, featuring films with five of the most famous actresses in Japanese-cinema history—including Mikio Naruse's muse, the late Hideko Takamine (who was so luminous in Yearning, the only Naruse film I've seen so far).
  • I hope to be able to fit in at least a little bit of non-cinema culture as well. I already have a ticket to see the indie-rock band TV on the Radio in concert at Radio City Music Hall in a couple of weeks (I'm not necessarily even the biggest fan of Tunde Adebimpe & co., but one of my roommates convinced me to tag along with him, and the venue is a mere three blocks away from my workplace!). Other possibilities: Alban Berg's Wozzeck at the Metropolitan Opera, and maybe even the hot new Broadway ticket, Trey Parker & Matt Stone's The Book of Mormon.

So, once again, if you notice blogging is light here at My Life, at 24 Frames Per Second (though it's not like I've been super-productive in the blogging department recently, I admit), all of those above are reasons for that paucity. Juggling all this and my day job? Maybe one day I'll actually get paid for all this writing and festival-going I'm aiming to do this month...

In the meantime, speaking of my day job: Thanks to my new iPhone, I guess this is the kind of meaningless crap I capture with it when I'm bored:

Meaningless? Well, maybe you can find some kind of wholly unintended meaning in this mysterious light hovering on one area of the ceiling at my place of employment. In fact, if any of you want to contribute any, um, interpretations of his mysterious hovering light, feel free to offer some up in the comments section of this blog!