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Channel 101: More Media For The Attention Deficient

[ Comments Off ]Posted on May 4, 2010 by admin in Popular Media

Tuesday, May 4th, 2010

One hundred channels of television and still nothing to watch? Try Channel 101.

In our continued search for amusing media for the attention deficient, we bring you: Channel 101. And in a convenient example of life imitating art, we’re going to do what Channel 101 does to its audience, and rather than tell you what to like, force you to go look at it and tell us what’s good. So just what is Channel 101? Well, if you live in LA, it’s a film festival with monthly screenings. But beyond that, it’s a “web channel” created by Dan Harmon and Rob Schrab that lets filmmakers create short “pilots” that are then judged by the audience for a shot at getting into top rotation on the site. Kind of like real TV, except no-one’s getting paid, and the fat rich executive that calls the shots is YOU. The concept was born back in 1999 when Dan Harmon and Rob Schrab were banished from legitimate television after the FOX network opted not to make a show from their pilot Heat Vision and Jack. As their lives unraveled in 2000, Rob Schrab went on to make a series of home movies about eating poop and having sex with babies. Dan Harmon, not to be outdone, makes a movie about Chris Tallman coming back from the dead and raping him in the ass. That’s pretty much verbatim from their About Us page, for the record. The fact is these guys appear to have pals like Sarah Silverman, Jack Black, and Ben Stiller, and the concept draws some pretty decent talent, ranging from the “meta” arty 60′s mod stylised vignettes of EVERYTHING to the camp of Fagney & Gaycey. I didn’t take time to dig deeper. Why don’t YOU. And then come back and share. We get tired of doing all the heavy lifting around here. Read the rest of this entry »

Soviet Animation Is Something You Can’t Go Russian Into

[ Comments Off ]Posted on April 28, 2010 by admin in Popular Media

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010

A seemingly endless well of Soviet-era animation is popping up on line for your perusal


This image actually has
nothing to do with animation.
I just like the imagery.

Last year we touched on some of the amazing Russian Flash Animation that’s out there, but I had no idea what an amazing body of work existed in terms of Soviet animation in general until I ran into this piece about 80′s Russian animation the other day. I’ve always had a mild fascination with things Russian; especially in the 80′s, when the cold war was sputtering out. I had a fair number of Russian military surplus caps, pins, and jackets, and loved the bold graphic style of Soviet propaganda posters. At the time the Soviet Union not only still existed, it was a dark and mysterious place in western eyes. I’ve also always enjoyed the tough-minded humorous attitude of my Russian friends, which is probably why I’ve threatened to run away and start a Balkan Funk Band. But that’s going to have to wait for a minute, because this Russian animation thing has triggered a wicked case of Wikiphilia, and I’ve got some YouTubing to do. The visual style of Russian animation prior to the 90′s is all over the map, and it’s hard to get a grasp on who did what and why. Some of the coolest stuff may or may not be politically-motivated, and all the best sources for this stuff are in Russian! So I’ve only included two clips below, but if you find this stuff intriguing you might start your trail with some things like this Soyuzmulzfilm channel on YouTube, or Wikipedia pages about the film studios Kievnauchfilm and Soyuzmultfilm. Read the rest of this entry »

No Lion – M.I.A.’s New Video “Born Free” Is Manely Just Violent

[ Comments Off ]Posted on April 26, 2010 by admin in Popular Media

Monday, April 26th, 2010

In much the same way that her political posturing brings more attention to herself than the plight of Sri Lanka, M.I.A.’s new video “Born Free” brings more attention to itself than its message.

Not to be outdone by Erykah Badu, Lady Gaga & BeyoncĂ©, M.I.A.’s new video (below) is much more provocative short film than music video. And while it’s stylishly and cleverly shot  it is – in my opinion – a little short on real finesse. When I first heard about M.I.A. back in 2004 or whenever, I was intrigued; the general indy press buzz and her first releases offered hope of some really creative sounds, paired with a meaningful message. I have to confess that the intrigue wore off fairly quickly. Her limited vocal stylings and the slightly under-inspired remix-rather-than-mashup sounds bothered me less than her seemingly somewhat contrived political posturing. I don’t mind when music comes with a story: I mean, what would blues be without the story? Or jazz, or reggae? But although I don’t question the truth of her personal story, I question the genuineness of how much she cares about the plight of her country. Mostly because she seems pretty at home making a lot of money and being a pop star in the country that arguably caused it. I do on the other hand have to give her a lot of credit for being a sharp business person and pop media manipulation artist. Which makes her latest video kind of “meta”, and ironic. In case you haven’t seen it, I won’t offer up any spoilers. But I will say that much like the way the rest of her work draws much more attention to her as a person than to Sri Lanka’s problems, the new video is getting more attention than the message it seems to try to deliver. Video below. Read the rest of this entry »

Life Is Short – Films Should Be Too

[ Comments Off ]Posted on March 31, 2010 by admin in Popular Media

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

The internet is one big film festival, and you can be the judge.


Tokyo/Glow Is Gorgeous, Simple, and Short

One of my only disappointments regarding the recent Ann Arbor Film Festival was that I didn’t catch enough of it. Which is a little amusing, since I had a press pass*, and it’s a festival comprised largely of short films. Which are coincidentally kind of a fetish of mine, largely because of my goldfish-like media attention span. I regrettably missed winner’s night, but was confident that I could cleverly find a lot of the films online like I had with some of the opening night entries. How wrong I was. What I quickly learned googling the festival winners was that there are two distinct schools of thought on distribution of these festival-oriented works: one that believes in the new economy of “release it free and cash in later” (as in Chris Anderson’s book Free), and one that maintains its cachet mainly via scarcity of distribution. Ah well. I guess I’ll just have to spend more time in real theaters, watching real films! Until then though, there’s a never-ending film festival online. The biggest problem ultimately is sorting through the astounding number of indy shorts out there to find that genuine gem. Which is – as I just learned – precisely one of the reasons to go to a festival. So with all my complaining about being short on time, it’s rather ironic that I spent as much time as I did to find some sites to share with you. Of the dozens of sites I perused, two that I found that seemed to have the highest density of quality films were probably NZShortFilm.com and CoffeeShorts. My search is only just beginning though; if you have any suggestions, feel free to share. Read the rest of this entry »

Indy Film Alive & Well At The 2010 Ann Arbor Film Festival

[ 1 Comment ]Posted on March 24, 2010 by admin in Popular Media

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

One of the world’s most respected and longest-running indy film festivals is in the tiny college town of Ann Arbor, Michigan, and if opening night is any indication, this year’s festival promises to be a winner.

I always think of myself as film lover until I find myself surrounded by the passionate fanatics that will comprise a festival like the amazingly long-lived Ann Arbor Film Festival, now in its 48th year. It’s quite a feat filling a classic venue like the 1700+ capacity Michigan Theater on a Wednesday night, especially showing short films that no-one has heard of, but the AAFF did well on their opening night; I didn’t check the balcony, but there were very few seats open on the main floor. I was a little anxious about attending a full evening of indy film festival shorts; the luxury of time-shifted viewing and Internet access to an amazing variety of indy media has made me something of an on-demand media monster. But the festival didn’t disappoint, which is another impressive feat. The double-edged sword of creating a successful festival like the AAFF is that – yes, of course, you’re guaranteed a lot of quality submissions from around the world – but as the festival’s Executive Director Donald Harrison pointed out in his introduction to the festival tonight, their screeners and programmers had to sift through over 2500 submissions this year. I get a headache just thinking about what that must be like. Combine the sheer quantity with the multiple media formats and preparation required for simply projecting the material, and if the festival takes place at all, a monumental task has been accomplished. Think about that if you happen to be lucky enough to attend the festival this year. If you aren’t able to attend the festival, a surprising number of the films are readily available on line. Of course nothing compares to seeing them on a huge classic theater screen like the Michigan, but below are a few highlights from tonight’s entries for your perusal. See the AAFF’s YouTube channel for more previews, and their web site for the week’s schedule and other festival details. Read the rest of this entry »

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