Movie of the Day – Drawing Restraint 9

Well, I wasn’t certain if I was going to honestly talk about this movie, much less dive into the abstract world of these visual, performance art movies.  Matthew Barney’s work is abstract, somewhat reflecting on his ego as an artist (again my opinion), grandiose, but truly captivating in this weird, enthralling way.  If you aren’t familiar with his work, check out the Cremaster Cycle, a series of his work that all blends together, each tied to one another with this over-arching theme.  It’s wonderful, weird, and certainly something to behold.  What got me to see this movie in particular is the soundtrack by Bjork and most notably the song Storm which is what plays in the trailer.  Combined with the imagery in the initial trailer and this haunting song, I had to see it.

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Movie of the Day – Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry

One of the things I love about Netflix, other than the obvious, is that they are able to feed my documentary cravings from time to time.  I talked about some of my favorite films of the past year back in January and I made sure to split the favorites amongst feature films and documentary films.  Ai Weiwei made it on the top ten list of documentary films for last year, a list that included several personal favorites and a few Oscar nominated documentaries.  Ai Weiwei stood out  to me the most for the topical reason of the current events that were taking place with its subject Ai Weiwei.  A political activist that was currently under house arrest by the Communist regime of China.  A dissident that dared speak out on a national level about his country and in doing so, makes him of the biggest, most powerful figures in China due to his international fame.

This documentary looked to highlight the man who dared to speak out against the government, an artist that uses his art to make a commentary on the society he lives in.  A daring and dangerous prospect since China doesn’t seem too keen on people speaking out against them, so utilizing his fame to cast the light on his country is a ballsy movie.  Never Sorry doesn’t shy away from getting at the core of this amazing individual, who’s work is polarizing and provocative.  You get to see a side of the country that isn’t seen by most people, as Weiwei exposes the hidden side of life and showcases it to the world through art and his recordings.

Below is an excerpt from my original review, hopefully you will take a look at this movie on Netflix Instant as well.

Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry is, by proxy of Alison Klayman, one of his best works.  A visual recording of what his life is like in an increasingly hostile government controlled country.  His character defines who he is, a man who doesn’t falter and never stops breaking the old ways and rules of the country.  His art, from breaking a priceless Han dynasty vase to painting product brands on the side of century old vases, shows a defiance, but calculated move to get people to pay attention to what he has to say.  Weiwei is often quiet and reserved in the privacy of his house with his numerous cats, but his actions are the loudest voice of dissent.  It’s the quiet, tranquil moments of Ai Weiwei’s life that highlight the stark reality he goes out and faces with the government when he leaves his house.  Tender moments with his loved ones are then dwarfed by police brutality and the threat of prison.

Full review here.

Weiwei

Movie of the Day – Indie Game: The Movie

I haven’t done a documentary in a while and I wanted to definitely talk about this particular documentary that a gamer friend of mine showed me a while back.   I am definitely a casual gamer by definition.  I don’t spend countless hours honing my skills in multiplayer games developed for the mass market.  If I ever play a game, it’s usually one that I can lose myself in from time to time.   I love RPGs, mainly because of the investment in development of my character and getting immersed in a world and story.  Mass Effect and Borderlands are two that I have been playing religiously as of late, putting in a few hours when I can here and there, but while the mass appeal of those games are great with their big budget productions, I do yearn for something a bit more unique and outside the box.  That is where the indie game market comes into play.  That is the subject of the documentary, a look into the world of those that communicate with the gaming community through these micro games that buck the big distributors and studios.  They find success amongst those that welcome creativity and the development of independent games.

Also if you want to find me online, my Xbox handle is HumorousIcarus2.

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Movie Review – Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry

I remember being in Beijing two months before the Olympics were to take place in the majestic city, one where economic boom was paralleled with a old way of life.  The Bird’s Nest was the crowning achievement of architecture in the bustling city, a gorgeous, twisted structure that was unlike anything in China.  Ai Weiwei was the idealist and artist behind the design of the stadium, a bear of a man who might seem imposing at first glance, but is soft spoken and kind.  His art and life are at the center of documentary by Alison Klayman in Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry.

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Movie of the Day – Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey

Muppets or Sesame Street, the two quintessential picks of any young kids childhood.  Some liked one or the other, heck maybe you were super excited about puppets and liked both.  Regardless of your stuffed puppet allegiance, there is no denying that you have experienced the joy of watching puppets come to life on the television screen.  They acted as our after school teachers, our friends, and babysitters even for lazy parents, but there was something magical to watching inanimate objects come to life.  Often times, as kids mainly, we don’t understand that there is a lot of love and passion into breathing life into those characters we come to grow up with.  Also is would be haunting to realize that Elmo is being controlled by some unknown guy with his hand up the ass of the puppet.  Being Elmo isn’t just about knowing the man behind the face of the puppet, but it’s a look into this theatrical world that works to bring to life the iconic puppets of our childhood.

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Movie of the Day – Shut Up, Little Man!

I like to think of myself as a lot of things, mainly a purveyor of all things internet related from memes to viral material that seems to permeate our pop culture infused lives.  It is just my nature to consume useless amounts of trivia, which also makes me a valuable member to any trivia team.  But I will admit, I knew nothing about the underground viral phenomenon known as Shut Up Little Man.  I mean, who else really has heard of it?  Don’t be one of those douches that chimes and be like I listened to it before it was cool and shit cause you are full of shit.  In all honesty, the audio verite spread through the underground scene by the exchange of cassette tapes and eventually making it’s way to the airwaves through radio.  Who would have ever thought that listening to an odd couple roommate situation would have yielded some interesting, cultural talking points.

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True/False Fest Day One

So I finally made it into Columbia, MO which I will call home for about four days while I attend their 9th annual True/False Film Fest.  For me this is a welcome vacation from work and necessary since I have an abundance of time off built up at work and what better way to indulge in my hobby than attend a film festival.  In my preivous post about what to expect film wise from the festival, I have been able to, in the span of a day, see what makes this festival so unique and vibrant.  Everything about the city (downtown to be precise) seems to come alive from the atmosphere of other film lovers.  Street performers belting out ballads and percussive sounds, to the oppulently dressed volunteers who have made the festival experience enjoyable for me during my first night here.  While I am excited and elated to see what the next several days have in store for me, I am more interested in what the organizers have in store for me when it comes to their fine selection of documentary and non-fiction films.

For my first night as a Lux Passholder (yeah badass I know), I was able to get two films scheduled for the first evening. The first film of my night, not the first of the festival mind you, was being held at The Blue Note, a venue that seems to be no stranger to being at capacity as the documentary that night drew out a heavy crowd which filled the balcony seating and floor seating as well. The documentary that evening is a compelling film that follows the artistic expression and suppression in Mainland China. A nation that seems to be going through the pangs of economic and social expansion, but finds a means to supress expression through limiting and imprisoning the artistic freedoms of the “intellectuals”.

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Documentary of the Day – Waste Land

Now I come to the close of my month long documentary posts.  I had to think about what would be a good documentary to close out this little venture, thinking I needed a grand opus of a film to make my closing mark.  I could have gone many ways with this post, choosing something provocative or entertaining.  I decided to continue with the theme of art, mainly because I enjoy my previous post on “Exit Through The Gift Shop”, which was an entertaining look at the street art world through the lens of hype and commercialism.

Today I chose Waste Land, a documentary that marries a beautiful style of art and humanity.  It is one of the more emotionally challenging films, viewing art through those that inspire the artist and how a piece of them makes its way into the work.  Portraits made of rubbish, all made to look like the people who work with the garbage everyday and there is a story and face behind each work.

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Documentary of the Day – Exit Through The Gift Shop

I am not one for art, well still/performance art, but I do considering film to be art so I like film more than traditional art.  It’s not that I don’t appreciate art, I mean I took several classes in college over art, have friends who are artists and generally enjoy the occasional gallery showing.  I will say, that I am not how movies portray art crowds, with a lot of black clothing and quasi-intellectuals being all hipstery and un-ironic while chewing on their chunky glasses.  I mean I have chunky glasses, but that is more so because the shape of my face is framed nicely by them, not because I need them since all the other cool/uncool kids have them.  Wire frames on glasses are not my thing.

Anyways, what I am getting at here with all of this is my general issue with art, particularly modern art.  Some will say that I am just some simpleton who doesn’t get it, but in reality, I don’t think they get it.  It seems like a fade to immediately dismiss someone who isn’t a fan of that style as not getting, while seeming to look cool by going against the grain.  So while I am unfamiliar with the movement of street art, mainly by choice and the fact that I think an artist just reusing the image of Andre the Giant (Shepard Fairey) over and over again on different locations doesn’t seem necessarily exciting.  I am sure that there is a subtext to the “Obey” image, but I just think about watching Princess Bride again to see Andre the Giant.  So if there is one thing that my time here on Earth has proven to me is that there is one universal thing that everyone likes, particularly white people, is that everyone loves Banksy.  So my excitement is at a fever pitch to see a film directed/not directed by him, but I am most excited since we can view street art the hype surrounding it through a lens.

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Documentary of the Day – Helvetica

This one goes out to my typography fanatics out there.  Such a simple font type that goes beyond just the style of the words.  A proliferation of a typeface that is iconic as it is mundane to the common people.  Only those ubberly fascinated with typography will recognize it instantly and also understand the impact it has on society.  Now I wish that I could use Helvetica as my font type for this post as it would be poignant, but then again I would be a dick and choose comic sans to fuck with everyone.  Haters gonna hate.

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