December 31, 2008

House Lights: A smaller screening pile

I've decided that one of my resolutions for 2009 will be to buy fewer films on disc — be they DVD(–R), (S–)VCD, or (oh yeah, right) Blu–Ray. This isn't just because of the economic malaise (although that is part of it) — it's just that I'm growing weary of overpackaged, overpriced movies on disc.

Especially in the Age of the File (AVI/Divx/Xvid, Matroska, and Ogg Theora).

That said, I am saving up for some DVDs I'll probably buy sometime in 2009. But it'll be a small pile, restricted to directors whose work I want to see.

Peter Watkins tops the list, with Privilege now legally available on Region 1 disc from Project X Distribution and New Yorker Films.

Michael Atkinson has written a must–read item on the disc over at Moving Image Source.

Amazon.com will have it ready for you — but be sure to make room for the BBC–bankrolled Culloden and The War Game disc, not to mention The Gladiators, Punishment Park, and Edvard Munch.

The other Watkins title missing from my collection is The Freethinker, which also dropped on disc in 2008 (a double disc set, actually). Since students were actually involved in the making of this one (see Mr. Watkins' site for more), I will be especially interested in seeing it.

Also on my must–see list in 2009:

Criterion's upcoming four–disc set of films by Hiroshi Shimizu, who focused on the lives of ordinary people…

the Canadian "low–fi sci–fi" feature Infest Wisely


©2007 No Media Kings / Filmquake.

…practically everything Satan MacNuggit, including Grilled Cheese Sandwich


©2007(?) Jonathan Culp / Satan MacNuggit.

…the next Damon Packard feature…

…what I can afford from the Long Island Oddities catalogue (which our local library should be buying from, anyway)…

…and my own work as it comes out of the camera and goes through iMovie and Kino.

Oh, yes: And I would still like to look at Danny Boyle's Slumdog Millionaire, even if it means waiting for the disc.

That will do.

December 28, 2008

Intermission: Prusakolep

How many of you lived (or have spent some time) in Poland and saw this advertisement on TV for the roach–killer called Prusakolep?

Don't answer all at once...



"PRUSAKOLEP!!!"

Makes one rethink "Raid,"™ eh?

December 27, 2008

If you think selling digital TV in the States is hard...

…try doing the same thing in Japan, where the upgrade costs could put the "better" picture and sound quality out of the reach of so many Japanese. Add two distinctly different satellite systems — "broadcast satellite" or {ahem!} "BS" and its rival "CS" — and, well, it gets worse.

But according to The Japan Times, that didn't stop the state–run entity known as NHK (Nippon Hoso Kyokai, which is to Japan what the BBC is to the UK) from doing a half–hour come on to get Japanese TV viewers to "get with the programme," you might say. The network even went so far as to bribe Asahi Shimbun critic Yukichi Amano into telling people what the NHK wanted him to tell them.

Think Japanese TV is weird? Think about what's actually on those rival BS and CS channels, as Philip Brasor writes:

Only a few years ago, NHK pushed high–definition satellite broadcasts and commercial networks launched BS stations requiring special tuners. No one watches those channels because they are redundant, featuring rebroadcasts of programs already available on the networks' terrestrial stations, telemarketing shows and infomercials. Even NHK doesn't seem to have enough programming to fill up its three BS channels and the government has asked it to drop one of them.


And guess who pays the tab. Sore da. The Angry Japanese Taxpayer, who, like his British counterparts, is supposed to do so by law.

And then, of course, comes the sobering thought that content is king:

…as Amano pointed out in his column, all this electronic wizardry means nothing if all that's on offer is the same old junk. On NHK, he didn't say this as strongly as did actress Hideko Hara, who also appeared on the PR program. "What people want," she said, "and what TV gives them just don't match."


Honto da? Really?

No, Minister

From the CBC News website:

Britain's culture minister says websites should be rated the way films are to protect children from offensive material.

Andy Burnham says his government has plans to discuss the idea of international rules for English-language websites with the administration of U.S. President–elect Barack Obama…

The minister, who called the [Internet] a "dangerous place," said age–appropriate ratings may be the way to go…

Burnham also suggested the internet follow television's example, which often doesn't broadcast violent material prior to 9 p.m. There should also be a set time in which sites such as YouTube or Facebook would have to remove offensive or harmful content, he said.


Uh–uh, Mr. Minister. The Internet is not television. The Internet is not the cinema. The Internet is not your place. It is that simple. Bugger off.

This farmer walks up to a movie camera, and...

…he plays an effective role in this Satan MacNuggit–made gem, released back in late September and aimed straight at conservative Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper — the very man who would later survive his country's national election and retain power.

The reason for this video? Harper's summertime move to make sharp and severe cuts to the funding of cultural endeavours in his own country.

Sadly, Canadians will still have to put up with him for a while longer.

Meanwhile… what if Canadian farmers were in fact artists? Watch and see:



This is part of the Gone in 30 Seconds campaign, and there's more on YouTube if you wander around.

Be sure also to read celebrated Canadian author Margaret Atwood's own response to Harper's anti–culture stance on the Globe & Mail's website.

And sing praises to the farmer.

December 26, 2008

House Lights: Where shall we go from here?

No video today, but some questions worth asking:

How are you faring these days? How (bad) are your finances now?

Your Projectionist, saddened not just by his own (mis–)behavior with credit cards but also with being without a full–time job for three months now, is looking more carefully at what he can do to make matters better for himself. He will be spending far less time inside a Barnes & Noble (if at all) and far more inside the local library (even though he grovels about the skimpy foreign film offerings). He is rediscovering the Internet Archive and the mashup scene (dj BC and Fortyone are two of the best examples of this scene, but don't hesitate to wander around). And, apart from the Esperanto scene, which is global by nature (with most of the action outside of North America at the moment), he is keeping his spare entertainment money far closer to home. Maybe even at home, if possible.

And in the realm of movie production (never mind if his "films" aren't fashioned on celluloid but rather as digital files), short and sweet is the way to go.

How about you? What are you resolutions, even if you don't call them that?

December 24, 2008

A gift of vision from the British Film Institute

Dearest Friends:

Sometimes, the best holiday gifts can be the most unexpected. Such are these, two of many short offerings that the generous people at the British Film Institute have placed under the big YouTube tree.

Here are two of them, beginning with G.A. Smith's 1898 short Santa Claus:




Now look at Christmas under very different — and less–idyllic — circumstances, in the 1941 piece Christmas Under Fire:


Both films are the property of the British Film Institute.

May you have the Happiest of Holidays, yea, even in times such as what we face today.

Your Projectionist,
Philip David Morgan.

December 19, 2008

House Lights: Your holiday wish list?

Many apologies from your Projectionist for the long silence — not because of another video in the works (although that will change in 2009), but in part because of holiday depression, the difficulty in finding a new (preferably full–time) day job, and a website makeover that is still in progress (but which should be done sometime this weekend if all goes well).

In the meantime, lacking something good to share right now, just a few questions to roll around:

Is there one movie this holiday season you're wanting to see?

My choice would be Slumdog Millionaire, the latest from Danny Boyle (Trainspotting, Millions, 28 Days Later…, and last year's Sunshine). It is up for four Golden Globe Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director (Mr. Boyle), Best Original Score (go, go, A. R. Rahman!), and Best Screenplay.

On top of that, it's appealing to my fondness for marsala movies in a big way.

There's a glowing review over at PopMatters, and you can read more about the movie over at the Fox Searchlight website.

I'm hoping to see it before the end of this calendar year.

Another question: How are you planning to watch video in the New Year? Are you breaking down and buying high definition gear (a BluRay player, a 16 x 9 widescreen HD television e.g.)? Or, like me, are you bookmarking sites with streaming video, bookmarking video capturing sites such as KeepVid, and looking for deals on USB sticks?

One more question: Do you plan to buy more movies (on disc or digital downloads)? Or, like me, would you prefer to make movies instead?

I confess to one video on my wish list: a Criterion Eclipse box set with two movies by the late Russian director Larisa Sheptiko — those films being Wings (Mosfilm, 1966) and The Ascent (also Mosfilm, 1977). I would like to see these two black and white features and muse about what sorts of films she might had added to her credits before an auto accident claimed her life at the age of 40.

December 15, 2008

Look ma — no shoes!

Uh–oh… Robert Greenwald and his Brave New Films organization has one final vision of our outgoing President dancing out of their heads and onto your computer screen:


©2008 Robert Greenwald / Brave New Films.

A good thing we won't be put in prison for making this item (and its companion website) viral. I only wish that Muntadhar al–Zaidi of Al–Baghdadiya Television, could have the same kind of luck.

December 13, 2008

Monkey takes over the University Settlement (just for the afternoon)

If you live anywhere near New York City's University Settlement (Speyer Hall, 184 Eldridge Street in Manhattan), you will want to be there today to witness the celebrated storyteller Diane Wolkstein celebrate the arrival of the Monkey King with her own adaptation of a part of the Chinese epic Journey to the West.

It's today, December 13th, at 3:00 p.m. Eastern time.

Here's a glimpse of Miss Wolkstein's telling of the epic (recorded at the American Museum of Natural History, also in New York City):


©2008 Diane Wolkstein / Cloudstone Productions.

And it's only a sample, folks, only a sample…

Be sure to visit the Monkey King Epic site often, because the storytelling legend has bigger plans in the making… like, a marathon shared telling (with other tellers) of the whole epic??

YouTube, brace thyself.

December 7, 2008

Coming Attractions(?): Neko Ramen Taisho

This one's for Marie–Lynn Hammond, who's not only a great musician and writer (she's the author of the plays Beautiful Deeds and White Weddings), but also a cat and horse lover.

We can at least satisfy the cat lover in her with the trailer for the very off–the–wall Japanese moviemaker Minoru Kawasaki's Neko Ramen Taisho (Cat Noodle Chef).

Alright, the late Juzo Itami's Tanpopo this isn't. But the Disney folks had better rein in their animatronic and CGI–toon mutts. This cat will Eat. Their. Yakisoba.

Just watch:


© Minoru Kawasaki/Tornado Film.

Fox can keep its overhyped The Day the Earth Stood Still rehash. I want to see this one.

At least three of Kawasaki–sama's other films — Executive Koala, The World Sinks Except Japan, and The Rug Cop — are out via Synapse Films. And the whacked–out The Calimari Wrestler is out in the States via Pathfinder Entertainment. You'll find trailers for those — and the others we hope come out on Region 1 DVD next — over at PopMatters.

I'd love to make movies as looney as these. Here's hoping it'll happen one day.

December 5, 2008

Feature Presentation: Dankon! (The Real Thing) (take 2)

It's happened. The Projectionist has become a Moviemaker. Using Esperanto (for the intertitles and supertitles this first time). And speaking his mind.

The end result is Dankon! por trinki Koka–Ŝuldon (The real thing), made partially in the chaotic zone known to all as New York City's Times Square — and completely in response to a Congress with little moral compass and even less backbone when it came to what the financial industry craved the most. Against our better interests, at that.

Congressman Dennis Kucinich said his piece back in late September, and now the Projectionist (who also runs the net studio Konstelacio) has added his two cents. And three minutes to go with it.

Behold the results, recently fixed to correct some of the supertitles in the final section:


2008 Philip David Morgan / La studio Konstelacio, k.t.p.

Mi nur komencas, karaj geamikoj. Dear friends, I am only just beginning.

December 2, 2008

Everyone's gotta have a fetish hobby

From the "you just have to believe this" department comes this little latest craze from Japanese toy and anime pusher Bandai (the Emotion and Honneamise people).

No translation needed here. Just push play and see if you can believe this one:


©2008 Bandai Co., Ltd.

For those who absolutely must have this one, it's being pushed over at J–list (link aims at their non–adult server).

I think I'll stick with Bandai and Kadokawa's excellent DVD release of The Girl Who Leapt through Time, thank you very much. (And that one's a great anime, by the way.)

But I do how many of these baka clocks will move Stateside for the wrong reasons (into the hands of white supremacists, for example)…

November 26, 2008

Preview: On Media Reality (O Mediální Realitě)

It has been many years since one Orson Welles used his CBS Radio program, The Mercury Theatre of the Air, to stage a modern adaptation of the H.G. Wells sci–fi classic The War of the Worlds. Only Mr. Welles pushed the envelope a bit by transplanting the plot to present–day Grover Mill, New Jersey, and staging the first act as an imaginary radio broadcast.

The end result was panic — especially among those listeners who didn't bother to be tuned in to their local CBS stations early enough to catch the very beginning of the broadcast, and believed the Martian invasion was indeed the real thing. (An "out–of–character" postscript by Mr. Welles, however reassuring, apparently didn't quite convince everyone.)

You can hear the master charlatan recalling his radio vision in the second half of his 1975 non–fiction feature about art fraud, F for Fake, lovingly preserved on a Region 1 DVD set from The Criterion Collection. (At least read Jonathan Rosenbaum's wonderful essay on the film. Go ahead and then come straight back.)

Decades after the radio "invasion", charlatans of a different sort — the Czech media jamming group Ztohoven — staged a different sort of invasion… by hacking into České Televize network ČT2's Panorama.

Take a close look at this preview of the forty-five minute feature On Media Reality (O Mediální Realitě) to see what they did. Pay close attention to when the video goes split–screen, and then especially to what happens with the picture on the right:


©2008 Ztohoven / FAMU Prague / Signalair.

Still doing a double–take, even after you come to realize that digital SFX hacking went portable that June 2007 day in the Krkonoše Mountains?

November 23, 2008

Now we really get "trite made flesh"

Ohhh, Patricia Rozema. You have got to be kidding. You, one Michael Sucsy, and the movie–making arm of Home Box Office.

Via free–form radio wonder WFMU:

They… have just wrapped up production on the remake (due in April 2009) of Grey Gardens. Grey. Gardens. The documentary. About Edith and "Little Edie" Bouvier Beale living in a filthy, unkempt mansion in the Hamptons? They remade a f***ing documentary.


And this is the thanks we get for buying tickets to see the marvelous I've Heard the Mermaids Singing back in 1987? A remake of a non–fiction film (available on Region 1 DVD from The Criterion Collection)?!

Memo to Mme. Polly Vandersma: Hope you've got alternative plans for the spring.

November 21, 2008

Only in California…

… do you get Riverside Philharmonic musicians on Freeway 91 trying to make their performance, and racing alongside a wildfire. Synched up in post–production to some bars of — you just have to believe this — Dmitri Shostakovich's Symphony no. 10 in E–minor, opus 93 (second movement, for those of you taking notes).

From musician/videographer Amy Sanchez's description on YouTube:

As we drove through, the strong wind was pushing the flames into our lanes, and you can actually see embers sparking up the windshield of the car. I believe this fire became the Anaheim Hills Apartment fire which you can see at the end of the video. And yes, one of the passengers was on his cell phone the whole time…


And for those wondering where (and why) Mr. Shostakovich comes into all of this:

I chose this music for several reasons, but mostly because we were actually on our way to perform this piece at the Riverside Philharmonic concert that evening. We found it interesting that the music we were about to perform matched the intensity of the fires we witnessed.


On top of that, she quoted musicologist Robert Dearing, who called the second movement of Symphony No. 10 as "a study in concentrated fury rarely equaled in music."

I believe it. So will you after you've seen it:



I wish I knew which recording she used; I'd buy it.

And here is KCAL–TV/9's report on the finished video itself:



Ah, YouTube.

November 13, 2008

Let's hear it for the pajamas

Oh, poor Sarah Palin (what, her again?!).

Seems that just recently she complained on the Fox News Channel about bloggers in their pajamas, typing away in their parents' basements.

That follows recently a recent gripe from MSNBC's Joe Scarborough (on his Morning Joe program), defending Senator John McCain against liberally–centric bloggers "eating their Cheetos™" while correcting McCain on the facts about a Sunni uprising in Iraq's Anbar province (see the full story over at Think Progress).


Well, guys, consider MSNBC presenter Rachel Maddow's response your wake–up call:


©2008 NBC–Universal.

Now that's how to spell "relief."

November 12, 2008

Esperantoland: Vocabulary day

Time for another journey into Esperantoland, and this time, it's all about words.

These three flashcard–style videos are by Andreo S. Jankovskij at Retejo.net. You can either watch them YouTube style by going to the Kinejo, or download them here as AVIs.

The first two are just general gatherings of words (spot the one duplicated word in both). Also note that in some of the words, certain letters are colored. They indicate affixes worth noting. (One of the genius strokes of Esperanto is that you can build your vocabulary with a good supply of root words, or radikoj, and an understanding of affixes and how they work.)






This third video is all–food. Watch this one to the very end:



All three videos ©2007 Andrej S. Jankovskij.

(No, I don't know if he's been to the States, let alone during college football season.)

November 5, 2008

A real-life Mission: Impossible? Well...

Good Morning, President–Elect Obama:

Here, courtesy of GOOD Magazine is your mission, which you have chosen to accept:


©2008 GOOD Worldwide, Inc.

This message will not self–destruct. But you will have exactly four years to seriously deal with everything in this post.

Good luck to you and your cabinet, Mr. Obama. You — and we — will certainly need it.

November 4, 2008

Your marching orders for today (updated)

…courtesy of Japanese–born musician/actress Mari Iijima — who isn't yet a citizen of our United States:


©2008 Mari Iijima.


And before you step out the door, check this:




If you've got the right, then exercise it today. VOTE.

[UPDATE 23h08: National Public Radio's homepage is writing the final chapter on Election 2008. Get ready to be in touch with the White House — voting your candidate is only half the battle. For now, way to go.

And for Mari Iijima: Here's to making your wish come true. Consider it done.]

November 3, 2008

Election Special: Jesus Politics

Tomorrow's the big day in the States. Election Day. Two big name candidates, one of whom will occupy the White House as of this January.

Today, both Democratic hopeful Barack Obama and his Republican rival John McCain are hitting as many states as they can, trying to sway the undecided. (I feel bad for Cynthia McKinney, who is running on the Green ticket, and who deserves far better than the hand dealt her.)

Meanwhile, TV viewers in Britain got a chance to watch Ilan Ziv's Jesus Politics: The Bible & the Ballot, itself created from road trip footage meeting with devout activists and archival footage featuring the likes of Randall Balmer and the Moral Majority's Paul Weyrich.

Have a look a the trailer:


©2008 Tamouz Media.

There's also a honest assessment of the film over at Talk to Action.

In Memoriam: John Daly

Sad news for for those movie fans whose faves may include titles as different as The Terminator, Oliver Stone's Platoon, or Bernardo Bertolucci's The Last Emperor (recently resurrected in a sumptuous Criterion package):

John Daly, who helped back those movies and more — and who co-founded Hemdale with actor David Hemminngs — has died at the age of 71.

Both the BBC and Newsday have a little more about the producer's quite passing.

Thank you, sir, for all you have done.

November 2, 2008

Inevitable, ne c'est pas?

It isn't courtesy of a troop of taunting Frenchmen, but given the topic, we'll take it.

It's actually courtesy of Marc–Antoine Audette and Sebastien Trudel, better known to French–speaking Québec as "Les Justiciers Masqués" (the masked avengers), a shock jock comedy duo. They are to French Canadian radio (Montréal–based CKOI–FM, 96.9 MHz stereo, to be exact) what Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand were (until quite recently) to the BBC.

Only the Justiciers' target this time wasn't an actor or even a pop idol (although, as a pair of stories from CTV and The Canadian Press indicate, they've been there and done that).

Non, mes amis — actually, their latest target was…


©2008 Les Justiciers Masqués / PointPub Média Communications.

For once, a pair of shock jocks performed a useful service.

UPDATE 2008.11.07: BuzzFlash has a breakdown of the very clues that could have tipped the big spender from Alaska that the chap on the other end of the line wasn't French President Nicholas Sarkozy. And The Canadian Press has a transcript of the call.

My father viewed the incident as "stupid," arguing that les Justiciers had no business sticking their noses into the politics of another country.

Needless to say, I don't concur.

First, it wasn't so much M. Audette who was stupid to put the call through, but rather Mme. Palin, who fell for it hook, line, and YouTube. By allowing herself to get pawned by M. Audette — has she ever heard M. Sarkozy's voice, let alone listen to or watch news coverage out of Europe or Canada? — she demostrated how shallow her world view really is. Had she been elected, the rest of the world would properly view her as the fraud she turned out to be, more in awe of her image than in what her "job" as (vice–)president would actually entail.

Apparently, Monsieurs Audette and Trudel sensed it, and figured they could nail her big time. And, lo and behold, they did just that. Make the results viral, and…

Talk about backing the right horse.

Second, as I discovered merely by listening often to the BBC World Service — as well as embedding a few Al Jazeera news items on this very blog — people all over the world have indeed been following the news dispatches that come from the States. They know damn well about our sometimes warped politics and our recent Election. Some actually feel the might of our presence (through industry, or sometimes military might), often through no fault of their own. People look at us, and ask what our odd little nation will do next. They want their voices to be heard, and not just through the polite channel known as the BBC's World Have Your Say. Moreover, they want us to grow up, and be part of the world for a change.

No doubt, making sure Sarah Palin never assumes a role of power as she almost did would be a great place to start.

November 1, 2008

Music Time: Alexei Jendayi and friends

Racism and the 2008 U.S. Presidential Election are very much on the mind of Alexei Jendayi (also known as Poor Russian Boy) — here joined with his musical partner Kom Plex as Fly Gypsy, with guests Nigerian tunesmith Kuku and Baba Ras–D on "The Ruler":


©2008 Alexei Jendayi et.al.

It's from Mr. Jendayi's e–release, November 4 EP, yours to buy now on his website via PayPal.

Go get it.

You think self-defense with fresh fruit is easy?

O.K., try defending yourself after you've been hit with a short bit of John Cleese–penned verse. Declaimed by Keith Olbermann on MSNBC's Countdown, no less.

Especially if you're one talk radio jock who actually deserves it:


Verse ©2008 John Cleese. Video ©2008 NBC–Universal.

Just don't make us release the taunting French troops.

Another narrative sorely needed

Earth to the United States… let's work together once again.

It's the simple message of the latest advert from Avaaz. Take a look:


©2008 Avaaz.org.

Spread it, people. Spread it.

October 28, 2008

This is what I — nay, we — want to see

A team of brave souls led by director/author Adam Klugman (of the Progressive Media Agency) gave something very special to the Democratic Party of Oregon: a election narrative worth believing in and fighting for.

Watch it:


©2008 Democratic Party of Oregon / Progessive Media Agency.

Message to every other Democratic or progressive party in the union: Copy this. You want to run our communities and our nation? Say it as if you truly, irrevocably mean it.

We're waiting.

Meanwhile, our Fellow Americans, don't hesitate to cross–embed and even KeepVid and spread it far and wide. (How many iPod Touch® players could you slap this one in?)

October 26, 2008

The neighbo(u)rs you never knew

One big H/T to Marie–Lynn Hammond for getting the word about these two chaps named "Vlad" and "Boris," who have a musical message for the Republican Vice–Presidential (just a heartbeat from Presidential) hopeful.

Suffice it to say that the Flight of the Conchords lads have nothing to fear from these guys:



Best to take the telescope before they change their minds.

October 22, 2008

Creature Features — starring Max and the Marginalized

With Samhain (a/k/a Hallowe'en) on the distant horizon, what could more scary than to follow our musical heroes Max and the Marginalized as they take their own perilously Fantastic Voyage — albeit far scarier — inside the body of… John McCain?

Hey, since he won't release his medical records, why not?

Enjoy "To Your Health," if you dare:


©2008 Max and the Marginalized.

On YouTube, no one can hear you scream.

Of course, if you're still standing afterwards:


©2008 Robert Greenwald / Brave New Films.

Watch it, and sign an open letter which pushes for the inevitable.

October 21, 2008

Outsource this? I think not.

Want to see what a nearly–privatized American city would look like?

Come aboard with the US crew of Al Jazeera's Inside USA program to visit Sandy Springs, Georgia. Apart from the police and fire department, virtually everything else about this ritzy city is run by, of all entities, the defense contractor CH2MHill ("see h two m hill"), which made money through outsourced opportunities in Iraq and post–Katrina New Orleans, Louisiana.

Looks too good to be true? It really is, and it has its negative consequences to boot:



Then stick around for part two — an extended interview with thespian Jane Fonda, who put down roots in Georgia many years ago and has found herself more involved in the state (and other causes) than ever (as evidenced in the first part of the show):


©2008 Al Jazeera.

A very fascinating episode.

H/T to the Brave New Films people, who dealt with outsourcing in a big way with the feature Iraq for Sale: The War Profiteers.

For now, cherish your municipal government, and work to make it better.

And tell the CH2MHill cult (and their ilk) that your township or county is off limits.

October 19, 2008

House Lights: The biggest impressions

Even as I have nighttime footage from New York City's Times Square imported into my computer system, I am haunted by the opening strains of Act 3 from the aforementioned Turandot — the minor section just before the big number "Nessun dorma!" (No one is sleeping) kicks in. (My favorite movie moment using this section of the opera: Ken Russell's segment in Aria. But if your fave films include The Killing Fields, then you, too, know this aria.)

Classical music (including opera) has always had a huge impact on me, even since I listened to WQXR when I was a child riding in my father's car. I suspect it will play a huge role in some of my future movies. Fads in music come and go, and yet what the late Leonard Bernstein called "serious" music still endures somehow. (Amazingly enough, so has WQXR, even as the alliance of National Public Radio, Public Radio International, and American Public Media has come to define the classics on radio.)

But by no means is it the only influence. It's on a list that also includes (in no particular order):


Japanese TV drama from the 1970's onward (HKFlix has a great selection of recent shows and movie spin–offs),

The music of Louisa John–Krol,

People Like Us (a/k/a Vicki Bennett), Negativland, John Oswald (also at the FONY website), and the Evolution Control Committee (enough said),

The music of Cyoakha Grace O'Manion and Land of the Blind,

The films of Peter Watkins (Privilege is finally available legally on a Region 1 DVD, as is The Freethinker),

The music of composers Michael Nyman and Philip Glass,

Classic Motown recordings from the 1960's (including even the live sets),

The movies of Damon Packard (read about him over at Pop Matters, and then have a look at what he's done to date), and

Home movies — the more exotic they are, the better (Collectie Filmcollectif has posted a few good ones over at the Internet Archive).


Of course, how they'll be filtered through the use of Esperanto will be the interesting part. I'd prefer to let the Japanese TV drama influence dominate, because producers favor shooting on tape instead of on film. (I have a feeling that Damon Packard will nevertheless be in there somewhere. Even if you don't notice.)

Are you finding your voice as a movie maker, or trying to? What influences you the most?

The Projectionist's raw footage is loaded


The view from within Apple's iMovie®. Wait for the Kino view, though.

Yes, your Projectionist has finally done it. To the strains of a 1972 live recording of Giacomo Puccini's opera Turandot (on the budget Gala label — the most the Projectionist can afford these days), he loaded some 21 minutes of raw video shot in and around New York City's (in–)famous Times Square (it gave up the skin trade for this?!).

Some of the footage is a little unsteady at normal speed and will be slowed down a little. Other shots will likely get superimposed, one on top of another as soon as we get a chance to sort things out.

We're saving the raw footage for Kino practice on our Linux (Kubuntu = Ubuntu + KDE) boxes, by the way. For fun and profit who knows?

(One small postscript: I was saddened to see that my favorite Japanese restaurant, the cash–only Sapporo Restaurant, is no more. So I found myself over at Teriyaki Boy just north of Times Square. Not as much variety, but at least I can eat good there.)

October 16, 2008

Europe wishes to register a complaint

As if one Joe the Plumber (a/k/a Sam Joe Wurzelbacher) getting his 8.5 milliseconds of fame (from the October 15 Presidential debate at Long Island's Hofstra University) wasn't enough of a problem… as if Barack Obama's ever–increasing lead in the polls wasn't itself enough of another matter… and as if the presence of vengeful McCain/Palin supporters wasn't in itself still yet another headache that hasn't been properly addressed… what more could be heaped on the Republican ticket?

In two words: John Cleese:



Fetchez la vache!

October 14, 2008

House Lights: The legislation that wouldn't die! (on either side of the border)

Ugh. The Anime News Network is the bearer of bad news:

On Monday, United States President George W. Bush signed into law the Prioritizing Resources and Organization for Intellectual Property (PRO IP) Act, which will allow authorities to seize property in civil copyright cases and will create an "Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator" position to oversee the government's efforts in copyright enforcement...


This means that if you're busted for Copyright violations in the States, you forfeit your equipment as well as your rights.

Meanwhile, Canada's Conservative Party wants to resurrect a tougher, meaner version of the States' own Digital Millennium Copyright Act. This one would not only increase the penalties for unauthorized downloads, but it would also make any declared "circumvention" of Digital Rights Management (DRM) schemes illegal.

Don't go to sleep yet, not even with Canada's elections winding down. The battle's only just started.

October 13, 2008

House Lights: Now we know this means war

Last night, while in New York City recording street footage, your Projectionist took some down time inside the Virgin Megastore in Times Square (to buy the aforementioned Negativland DVD, Our Favorite Things, along with CDs of music by Bela Bartok, Nikolai Rimsky–Korsakov, Pitor Ilyitch Tchaikovsky, and Giacomo Puccini). One title I considered — but decided to pass on this day — was a new Disinformation/Brave New Films DVD (Region 0 NTSC, I believe) of The Real McCain: Less Jobs. More Wars. (Maybe later this week?)

I bring this up because this past Friday, Robert Greenwald and company filed a lawsuit aimed at talk radio shock jock Michael Savage.

While this came about because the jock managed to get YouTube to cancel BNF's account over one video criticizing Savage's condemnation of Muslims in general (here's a post which includes Savage's original complaint), it's clear that this is about far more, as the "No Savage" campaign makes quite clear.

You can read more about the lawsuit here, and take a look at the video that caused the stir (which for some strange reason I can't embed here).

For those new to the story, have a read of this excerpt from Rory O'Connor's book about shock talk jocks, and this item from Crooks and Liars which shows what happened when the "No Savage" campaign kicked in.


I expect this will not be the last word on the subject. Stay tuned.

House Lights: Black screen of death?

Your Projectionist had a great time scarfing up video footage from the wilds of New York City's Times Square — all of it finding its way somehow into a mash–up video he is working on. (He got some twenty minutes' worth, plus a decent amount of still images as well — more than enough to work with. And he didn't even get arrested, which is a big plus.)

There'll be more on the video eventually, but for now we share with you this amazing sight showing a Planters® sign and something very ominous where some looped video footage apparently should have been:



And some wonder why your Projectionist prefers his Linux (Ubuntu) and Mac gear…

Speaking of mash–ups: He also came home with Our Favorite Things, a whammy of a DVD (Region 0 NTSC) & CD package by one of his fave mash–up acts, Negativland. It's on Other Cinema. Look for a review eventually.

October 11, 2008

Flashback: Unfinished business

A couple of videos produced by AGIT–POP Communications have been on my mind lately.

One of them was made to ask why the United States went to Iraq and are still there:




Another one, made for Avaaz.org dares to ask if it's possible that Westerners and Muslims actually share common wishes (such as for real Middle East peace talks, perhaps?):



These are two of the best that AGIT–POP has done to date.

Your next president: John McHoover Heaver

Only someone like John McCain can campaign for Big Brother:



So where, do tell, is Room 101?

October 10, 2008

Think on your neighbours

The United States aren't the only nation with an election weighing heavily on their shoulders. Take a look at this viral item from Canada making the rounds:



You'll find more at the Canadian liberal–powered Had it with Harper! website. Just when you thought the McCain/Palin ticket in the States was bad enough (and we won't deny that, believe me)…

No sleep 'til Poland!

Heads up, everyone: 350.org wants the next President of the United States of America — be it Barrack Obama, John McCain, Cynthia McKinney, whoever — to be part of the next United Nations Climate Meetings, which will be held this December in Poland.

The upshot: To get the United States, a long–time global polluter, to reform and join the world in dealing with climate change, at last.

Of course, the current Commander–in–Thief will still be in the White House, but he will have no say on what comes out of this gathering.

The idea: Create lots of video invites, and upload them to the 350.org website:




And here's how you can send the invite:


Both videos ©2008 350.org.

Got a camera that can hook up to your PC, Mac, or Linux box? Got a Blip.tv account? Got your message firmed up? Get cracking!

October 9, 2008

But seriously, Mrs. Palin...

The American News Project also has some questions for Sarah Palin. Only these questions cut deeper: They're about her kind of Christian faith. And about where Christian fundamentalism could lead to.

Watch it:


©2008 American News Project.

And start drafting your own questions. Because very few in the mass media here are (apart from Keith Olbermann, that is).

Scary. Very scary indeed.

Just a few questions, if you don't mind

MSNBC's Keith Olbermann has a few questions for Republican Vice–Presidential hopeful Sarah Palin (She Who is a Heartbeat Away from the U.S. Presidency) — mainly about the company she keeps (from the 7 October 2008 edition of Countdown) :


©2008 NBC–Universal.

Lots of viral video embedded in this one. For added punch.

October 7, 2008

In memoriam: Ken Ogata

If your fave films include Narayama bushiko (The Ballad of Narayama) (1983) and Vengeance is Mine (Fukushu suru wa ware ni ari) (1979), you'll be saddened to hear of the passing away of Ken Ogata, as reported by The Japan Times. He was 71 years old.

Words fail your Projectionist right now.

Quick! What's wrong with this (moving) picture?

Apologies from your Projectionist, who is working out the kinks in what will be his first public video project (he has to decide when will be a good day to shoot in and around New York City, among other concerns). The final cut could be ready by early November. (It won't be an Election Day–timed piece, however. Just so you know.)

In the meantime, Jesus' General dares you to take this piece seriously.



Have fun, kids.

September 29, 2008

Backbones don't do bailouts

In the thick of the ongoing rush to shove through a USD 700 billion bailout package for the USA's greedy financial industry, one Congressman — Representative Dennis Kucinich, a Democrat from Ohio — was one brave soul reaching for the brakes:



Run this remark through your cranium today:

Mister Speaker, when I was a child in Cleveland, there was a myth that if you took a shovel and dug a hole deep enough, you could get to China. We’re there.


And how right he is. And it isn't pretty.

[UPDATE 16h46: I have since learned that the House of Representatives said no to the bailout… 228 nays, 205 yeas. And that was enough to bring the Dow Jones down. Lots of crybabies on Wall Street, and hardly anyone willing to deal with the real issue, much less put a finger on it. Shall we start with deregulated markets gone wild?]

September 27, 2008

Music Time: Louisa John–Krol

Heads up, everyone: Australia's own faerie muse, Louisa John–Krol, is featured in this music video created for the French Prikosnovénie label by none less than Brian and Toby Froud (we knew that alone would get your attention).

Please enjoy "Which of These Worlds," from Mme. John–Krol's 2005 release, Apple Pentacle:


©2005–2008 Prikosnovénie / Imaginosis.

Mme. John–Krol's second album, Alexandria, which first came out in 1987, has been re–released in a significantly expanded edition by Dark Symphonies, the rest can be ordered from Prikosnovénie's website… including Mme. John–Krol's next album, due out in October.

[UPDATE 2008.10.09: The new LJK album is out now and ready to order from Prikosnovénie's website; it is entitled Djinn: le mystère des chats (Djinn: The mystery of cats). It's named for Mme. John–Krol's own cat. Or is that the cat who owns Mme. John–Krol? Depends on how you see things…]

And we're supposed to bail out bad bankers?!

The people at GOOD Magazine are back with a new video — this time focusing on just how much our nation's misadventures in the Middle East is costing us.

It's not pretty:


©2008 GOOD Worldwide, Inc.

Note that this production's a bit different from the last three presented here, and that there's narration this time as well. But rest assured, this is indeed from the magazine whose slogan still sticks: "America — Love It or Fix It."

Your Projectionist is subscribing to this one, and you should, too.

September 26, 2008

Creature Feature(tte): Dracula's Back

Tonight, dear friends, your Projectionist sends love to Ian and Kimberly Wilder, two Green Party people who take an occasional time out from their political work to have a good time… such as this low–/no–budget digital movie making class held at Huntington (Long Island), New York's Cinema Arts Centre, with Glenn Andreiev as their teacher:


2008 Ian and Kimberly Wilder.

And here is the quickie end result, Joel Moskowitz's Dracula's Back:


2008 Joel Moskowitz.

Please don't say the place formerly known as the New Community Cinema was that desperate for someone to work the counter.

Not bad, but let's see how you survive a Damon Packard masterclass. I mean, if you want to do kick–ass digital moviemaking…

Coming Attractions — NOT!

It's past your Projectionist's bedtime (and he has a job fair to attend tomorrow), but when CollegeHumor asked Liz Cackowski to join them in giving Republican vice–presidential hopeful Sarah Palin "the Disney treatment," well…


©2008 CollegeHumor.

No… wait a minute… that's just what some people will want! Oy.

September 25, 2008

Oh, McCain, McCain, yet again. Can't deal with Dave? (Letterman, that is)

Your Projectionist wishes to make it abundantly clear that he will not suspend blogging because of his nation's crapping economy. (Why should he, even in mere jest, with these guys?)

Besides, CBS' David Letterman had way too much fun nailing Republican presidential candidate John McCain for chickening out of a taping of the popular late–night talkfest.

Way too much fun:


©2008 CBS, Inc.

Meanwhile, the McMan has time for, of all things, the CBS Evening News?

Like the man said, don't get your Projectionist started.

Oh, yes: That is indeed MSNBC's Keith Olbermann (Countdown) towards the end.

[UPDATE 15h56: Go over to the Huffington Post to view the "Top 10 Questions People Are Asking the McCain Campaign." I can't embed it here, but it's worth opening a new browser tab or window.]

September 24, 2008

You want us to do what?!

The latest dispatch from The Onion could very well bring American self–determination to its most logical conclusion:


McCain's Economic Plan For Nation: 'Everyone Marry A Beer Heiress'
©2008 The Onion.

Of course, gold–digging should have gone the way of the 8–track stereo tape cartridge, convertibles, glam boots, and Herbalife.

September 23, 2008

Coming Attractions: The Princess of Nebraska

Your humble(d) Projectionist is slowly getting up off the floor due to a nasty virus that laid him low for a few days. (Imagine all your joints aching simultaneously, lying in bed or standing.) While part of him is still stiff and sore, all signs are looking great again, and he will soon be back at his normal activities (and pursuing a new full–time job) with renewed, vigorous force. (The Damon Packard DVDs — especially the ones of Reflections of Evil, The Untitled Star Wars Mockumentary, and SpaceDisco One — have also been a tremendous help.)

And with that out of the way…

The big news is about The Princess of Nebraska, the new film from director Richard Wong, who made Colma: The Musical. That film landed him a moviemaking gig with no less than Chan is Missing director Wayne Wang — with the goal of adapting two Yiyun Li stories; The Princess of Nebraska, intentionally made on new digital camcorders as well as on actual cellphones (we're not making this up), is the second. (More details are up at NPR's Monkey See blog.)

And now that we have your attention, young no–budget movie moguls (that includes your Projectionist), here is a taste of what's to come… and how Magnolia Pictures will unveil it to the world on Friday, October 17th (not rated at the moment):


Courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.

That's right, folks. A YouTube premiére. Not for downloading or embedding (it'll be inside YouTube's Screening Room). But why not jack in on October 17th to have a look?

Hey, someone want to get the popcorn and some fruit?

September 16, 2008

Say what?!

Meet Billy Mires, the bus driver of Senator (and Repubican candidate for the U.S. Presidency) John McCain, complete with his own YouTube page and a claim you just might find hard to swallow, much less digest:




Now where did I store that bridge I picked up in Brooklyn?

[UPDATE: Silly me to forget to track down the people truly responsible for the Blackberry. All I needed was to check Wikipedia and — voilà!

That's right, folks… Research in Motion… a Canadian company, no less.

Now, wanna tell me a new one?]

September 15, 2008

Intermission: Roll over, Aunt Jemina?

Like any other "superhero" (what?), your friendly neighborhood Projectionist has another life — as a mild–mannered part–time custodian at his local King Kullen supermarket.

So don't be too alarmed if he suddenly dashes for a phone booth (or more likely, the rest room at the Chinese takeaway across the street) should this land on store shelves:


©2008 American News Project.

I can hear it now: "I'm David Duke, I bought the company, and I approved this message."

UPDATE 2008.09.17: It gets worse: If the facts–gatherers at Firedoglake are correct, then one of the duo responsible for this product, Mark Whitlock, also works for Fox Faith, the "spiritual" arm of Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment. Both he and co–conspirator Bob Moss also worked for Dr. James Dobson's Focus on the Family, which is the parent organization behind the Family Research Council, which in turn produces the Values Voter Summit events. Got that?

But wait, folks — there's MORE! Courtesy of the Brooklyn Comedy Company, that is:


©2008 Brooklyn Comedy Company.

Case closed, peoples.

September 12, 2008

Coming Attractions: Proud American

Your Projectionist went through his little folder of Conservative bookmarks (some of which might make a few people scratch their heads), but it seems that no one has yet written about Fred Ashman's new feature Proud American, which opens today without studio distribution of any visible kind — but has sponsorship from The Coca–Cola® Company, American Airlines, and (yes) WalMart.

It's too bad that the conservative movie blog LIBERTAS is on still very much on hiatus. They are easily annoyed by anything that shows the United States in a less–than–flattering light, to put it mildly. (Go through the back posts to see how easily irked they can be.) Judging from the trailer — which I can't embed online, but which you can see on the Proud American website — it looks like this film could be a welcome tonic for them.

In any event, your Projectionist is intrigued by the trailer, and he just might go to catch a matinée. Watch this post for updates and possibly a full review.

[UPDATE 2008.09.15: No need for a full review here, considering that this film, despite all good intentions from Mr. Ashman and his Lightsource company, turned out to be a hard sell — especially with new films by Joel & Ethan Cohen (Burn After Reading, Universal–Focus) and Tyler Perry (The Family that Preys, Lionsgate) which did very well, at No. 1 and No. 2 respectively. Mr. Ashman's own efforts — which include a well done midsection about a Chicago youth who escapes the streets and becomes a family doctor — are undone by some sappy music choices (which could have come from a Christian patriotic pagent "musical" — name your own choices here) and what seems to be an attempt to appeal to diehard 1970's TV variety show fans. I guess patriotism can be a very hard sell — especially if you prefer full–blown show tunes to something more… well, restrained.

One last note: I was the only one in the auditorium for the matinée. Fancy that. My own private screening, for a movie with promise that should have been better handled than it was.]

Namasté, and good luck. To you, Mr. Murdoch

Sorry for being away for an extended spell, due to an ongoing search for a full–time job on the one hand, and an ailing MacMini® on the other (I have three computers: one MacMini® plus one Hewlett–Packard desktop and one Sony VAIO which run Ubuntu, a popular Linux distribution).

Now that we're back, we can note this item reported by Agence France–Press and elsewhere:

US film studio and distributor Twentieth Century Fox and the Star entertainment and media group on Tuesday announced a joint venture to produce Asian-language films for worldwide distribution.

The new organisation, to be called Fox Star Studios, will first work in India, with a view to expanding into China and southeast Asia, they said in a joint statement out of Mumbai, Hong Kong and Beverly Hills…


You might know about Star TV, if you've seen their copyright declaration at the end of a huge number of Hong Kong movies on home video — or if you've seen the Fortune Star logo on Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment's Region 1 DVDs of those movies.

But you might not know how big a presence they are in North America. More digital cable services (plus Dish Network and Mr. Murdoch's DirecTV) offer Star packages of one kind or another in major cities and metro areas. (Dish Network offers the most Star bang for the buck in DSS land. I don't know how Cablevision and Time Warner fare.)

I'm not sure what to make of this news. Bollywood companies have certainly been looking to expand their audiences beyond India and its global diaspora. And to be sure, they have quite a few converts — myself, for instance, a new fan of Farah Khan's delightful hommage, Om Shanti Om, having finally seen Eros International's DVD.

Think back, also, to Ashutosh Gowariker's Lagaan (Once upon a time in India), produced by Aamir Khan (whose own first directorial effort, the acclaimed Taare Zameen Par [Every Child is Special], already out in India via T–Series, will soon hit a Disney Region 1 DVD in North America).

And I'm hearing nothing but good words about Mr. Gowariker's 2007 feature, the epic Jodhaa Akbar, which (judging by the trailer DVD that came with my copy of the soundtrack CD) looks gorgeous, appears to be well–cast and directed, and (like Lagaan) boasts a A. R. Rahman score that is guaranteed to make a positive impression.

Which leads to one of the few Bollywood studios that can go toe to toe — or is it frame to frame (or reel to reel)? — with Hollywood's finest: UTV Motion Pictures, which co–produced Jodhaa Akbar with Mr. Gowariker's company (AGPPL). Go to their website and take a look at the streaming trailers online, especially Mumbai Meere Jaan and the thriller A Wednesday!, and you'll see what I mean.

UTV is one of the few operations that is serious about everything that goes into great moviemaking, and it shows. They'll probably survive a Fox Star invasion. So will Sony, which brought Lagaan to a global audience and which co–bankrolled Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Saawariya (available in North America on a well–received Sony Region 1 DVD). How the others will fare is another story.

Rupert Murdoch's presence in Asia is one that has commanded high viewership of the Star network system. I just wonder how much resentment has gone along with it.

And will Fox release Region 1 DVDs of their Fox Star flicks, or will they just be "for local consumption"?

Of course, I have to wonder how well some of Fox's {ahem} domestic catalogue will go over abroad. Anyone for Babylon A.D.?

September 8, 2008

And you know you want the tacos

In the grand tradition of the one–panel comic in which one anguished cow tells another that she's just seen how hamburger is made… we bring you the latest marvel of Real American Genius, courtesy of the "Public Service Administration."

Tell you what they're gonna do…



"Oh, you and your leftist conspiracy theories — get a grip, honey."

Coming Attractions: Slacker Uprising

They can assault him with mere words (as did one Paul A. Ibbetson quite recently), and they can keep making muck flicks mocking him (yeah, Citizens United, I mean you) — but you can't keep Michael Moore down, much less away from a camera. Case in point: The trailer for his latest, Slacker Uprising:


Courtesy Brave New Films / Dog Eat Dog Films.

U.S. and Canadian residents only: Sign up on the website to download the feature for free (and make sure you've got sufficient disk space!).

The NTSC DVD streets on September 23, for USD 10. And yes, it'll have enough extra stuff to keep you entertained.

There's more about the film over at BuzzFlash, including some backstory on the movie's original title and what (sadly) ended up on the cutting room floor due to music royality issues. (Guess you can't have everything.)

September 3, 2008

Oh, McCain, McCain, not again

Your Projectionist has smelt the GOP/neo–con Kool–Aid® just by tuning in to some of the conservative talk stations which dominate AM radio in the New York Metropolitan Area (yeah, WABC, WOR, and Salem's WNYM a/k/a the Apple, I mean all three of you). The way they support presumptive Republican presidential and vice–presidential hopefuls John McCain and Sarah Palin, it's almost as if they can't inhale (or make) enough gallons of the bug juice. (Michael Medved, once an interesting movie critic on public television, especially worries me now.)

Maybe they need to wipe their chins, tone down the rhetoric, and listen to Dr. Philip Butler, who remembers the McMan quite well…


©2008 Robert Greenwald/Brave New Films/Brave New PAC.

Now, Mr. Medved and company: As you were saying…?

Young People's Matinée: Jojo kaj Bubu en la parko

This may be a little late for the young ones going back to school, but it's so good that your Projectionist — who is also an Esperantist — couldn't resist.

Produced by the generous folks at Lausanne, Switzerland–based DANNIRéalisations, this is a simple short entitled Jojo kaj Bubu en la parko. Yes, it's about two friends — a puppet rabbit (Jojo) and a bear (Bubu) — having a great time at a amusement park.

The Esperanto in this short is easy enough that I'm certain every komencanto (beginner) will get it.

Ĝuu, karaj amikoj! Enjoy, everybody!


©2007 DANNIRéalisations.

Elkoran dankon! Thank you, our good friends in Lausanne!

September 2, 2008

And then they came for Pacifica Radio

Out of all of yesterday's protest coverage from the 2008 Republican National Convention (in St. Paul, Minnesota), this was probably the hardest to deal with:


2008 Pacifica Radio.

Yes, that was footage of Amy Goodman, veteran Pacifica/WBAI–FM journalist and host of Pacifica's Democracy Now!, being arrested yesterday — for trying to intervene on behalf of two colleagues, producers Sharif Abdel Kouddous and Nicole Salazar, who were themselves being arrested while trying to cover the protests near the Xcel Energy Center, where the RNC is being held.

From the program's blog:

Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher told Democracy Now! that Kouddous and Salazar were arrested on suspicion of rioting, a felony. While the three have been released, they all still face charges stemming from their unlawful arrest. Kouddous and Salazar face pending charges of suspicion of felony riot, while Goodman has been officially charged with obstruction of a legal process and interference with a "peace officer."


All three have since been released, but the charges have not yet been dropped.

Whether Pacifica or its five stations (including WBAI) will themselves face further fallout from this incident — at the hands the next Presidential administration, that is — isn't very clear right now. But I suspect that conservative pundits are having a field day with this one.

If I spy some choice words (how carefully do we use the word "choice"!), I'll add them here. Otherwise, any talk about Ms. Goodman and her colleagues' run–in with the wall of blue is probably being washed down in coffee and a cognac or two.