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)…