7/24/2004 07:47:43 PM
In the 77 days since I last posted:
I started a new full-time design job at TMX Communications. My face graced television screens nationwide in several episodes of VH1’s ILL-ustrated. I finished the Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Kutztown University that I started ten years ago. I saw Andrew W.K. for the ninth time. I had my 28th birthday. My bedroom was swarmed by dozens of winged ants. I got a cellular phone. I co-hosted Camp Naked Terror 3. I freshened up my badminton skills. I was unofficially inducted into the Santa Maria family. I hit seven 7-Elevens on Free Slurpee Day. I watched the first two seasons of “Saved By the Bell” on DVD. My animation work was briefly considered for use in Beastie Boys tour visuals. I replaced my G3 iBook with a used G4 Powerbook. I registered our team for the 2004 National Film Challenge. I made arrangements to attend this year’s Ottawa International Animation Festival. I finally started tinkering with that wonderful Quark-killer Adobe calls InDesign. I continued to struggle with the months-old XHTML/CSS design for version 3 of this site.
So you didn’t miss anything.
5/3/2004 08:48:15 AM
The New Wave of British Heavy Metal survives in Philadelphia, thanks to the majesty of Wastoid, whose performance Saturday night at the Pontiac Grille made me feel like I was 13 again. The love of leather and swords and dazzling guitar heroics never left me, but this was a sublime rediscovery all the same.
5/1/2004 02:28:03 PM
The Philadelphia Film Festival ended a couple of weeks ago, and as it turned out, about 4 of the 8 screenings I attended were worthwhile.
The highlights included Haute Tension (as reviewed in my previous post), a French slasher gross-out; Time of the Wolf, Austrian auteur Michael Haneke’s latest chilling diatribe on the human condition; Robot Boy, a Tim Burton-esque fairy tale short; and Harvie Krumpet, the newest in Aussie genius Adam Elliot’s animated series of deadpan comic tragedies.
I’m likely biased for having been a part of it, but I thought the Best of the 48 Hour Film Project was by far the most solid collection of shorts I saw at the fest. A slapstick romance by the name of Hove Lurts deservedly walked away with about 1/3 of the awards, including Best Film. Otherwise, our film won Best Editing, and we befriended the nice folks of Citizen Wumpus Productions at the after-party.
4/10/2004 02:18:39 PM
The 13th Philadelphia Film Festival began on Thursday and I’ve managed to fit 8 screenings into my schedule this year, including The Best of the 48 Hour Film Project, for which our film Lunch Break has been chosen!
Ostensibly filling a time-honored serial slasher mold, Haute Tension opens in familiar territory: College roommates Marie (Cécile De France) and Alex (Maïwenn Le Besco) drive out to an isolated farmhouse for a vacation with Alex’s family. Before long, a sadistic killer (Phillipe Nahon, a suitably creepy French version of M. Emmet Walsh) shows up and gets down to the nasty business of redecorating the house with its inhabitants’ blood.
Many a talentless filmmaker has interpreted a similar script with predictably lifeless results (no pun intended), but Haute Tension trumps its would-be peers by cultivating very effective, genuine suspense and a consuming cloud of dread throughout. Honestly, I’m not sure I’ve seen a film that was frightening in quite this way since the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
Unfortunately, the film is a little too clever for its own good, and amidst the slicing and dicing, it manages to puncture its own plot in a number of places, all in an apparent attempt to justify basking in genre clichés that require no justification. Director Alexandre Aja’s yearning for that elusive third dimension is admirable, but his chosen M. Night Shyamalan tactics only muddle an otherwise exquisite retelling of that simple tale of deranged murder we all know and love.
Still, this is one tense and seriously grisly motherfucker of a horror movie, with an outstanding lead performance by De France.
4/1/2004 12:11:03 PM
Spaceboy Music got the new Tortoise album, It’s All Around You, nearly two weeks ahead of its release date, so I did too. I like it, and I expect to like it more as I listen to it more, but there are no great departures from the oft-imitated Tortoise sound to report, and nothing noteworthy about this newest assemblage of ambling, polyrhythmic post-rock that wasn’t already made noteworthy on one of the band’s previous outings. That said, the album’s package design and the new Tortoise web site are fantastic.
The packaging is a full-color high-gloss digipak that defies the minimalism of the equally brilliant layouts of Tortoise albums past. The heavily saturated composite photo on the cover is all focal point, and arranged with the typography in such a way that there is no front or back, up or down. It truly is All Around You.
The new Tortoise web site is simple, clean, and elegant, with a wealth of information that is easy to navigate. An in-depth history of the band is finally available, as well as a comprehensive list of all the projects each member is involved in. Each section’s header is a different interactive Flash piece based on the band’s varied album art, and the sections’ colors follow suit, offering variety but still maintaining a cohesive uniformity. Hats off to the parties responsible at Candystations.
Meanwhile, in another hemisphere of the cultural map, I saw the new Dawn of the Dead last night and it was actually pretty enjoyable. George Romero’s distinctive vision of apocalypse culture survives reasonably intact, though the original film’s zombie/consumer subtext is abandoned, reducing the story’s shopping mall setting to a practical concern. Additionally, any interest given to characterization is purely utilitarian, generally more concerned with each character’s individual approach to destroying and/or becoming zombies than their particular humanity (and indeed, in this world, even the most helpless civilian is a sharpshooter). But while Romero’s version is clearly superior in all aspects, the remake is still a tight little action/horror flick. The wild, caffeinated nu-zombies bring a fresh immediacy to the undead dilemma (as they did in the impeccable 28 Days Later), and cameos by Dawn alumni Tom Savini and Ken Foree help keep it rooted in tradition.
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