I suppose, in an ideal world, I would return from a writing hiatus with the proverbial bang. Perhaps an exposé about key parties held at the Department of Agriculture or a look at psychotic guinea pig beauty pageant moms. But this is not an ideal world, so instead I’m posting this short film — “Cloudy” — by Samuel Borkson and Arturo Sandoval III of FriendsWithYou; a film so saccharine that the resulting diabetic coma will, with any luck, erase the fact that I have been slacking off considerably from your minds.
This will, unfortunately, not work on my masters who, unlike you dear readers (My favorite people in the whole world. Have I told you that? Well, it’s true. You’re also looking quite lovely today, let me tell you.) are devoid of both souls and any emotions save for furious anger, rendering them immune to this sort of thing. For them I have this sizable stone, which I managed to pry loose from the wall of my cell and with which I hope to hit them very hard on the back of the skull. I think it’s a sound plan.
Winner of the 2012 Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film, William Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg’s The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore tells the story of a young man whisked away (along with the rest of his town) by a great wind. In a desolate, gray landscape he is lead to a library full of living, flying books and becomes its caretaker, all the while writing a book of his own.
Beautifully told without words, the Lessmore has both the look and mannerisms of a Keaton-esque silent film star. The books, too, are imbued with a fantastic sense of life, despite their limited ability to emote. Lessmore’s main, Humpty Dumpty-like companion is especially well done, the flipping of illustrated pages allowing it to portray more complex emotions. Along with an understated score, it’s a lovely, sweet story. I had meant to watch this before the Oscars, and seeing it now, I find it most deserving of its honors.
A breathtaking combination of time lapse and 3D optical illusion by California-based multimedia artist Jeff Frost:
“Over 40,000 high resolution still images were shot on Canon DSLR cameras for this film. I roamed the deserts of California and Utah looking for abandoned structures in the same manner that my Grandpa, Alfred, explored the Four Corners area looking for ancient Native American dwellings. This film is dedicated to him.”
From Kelsey Holtaway and Mark Cersosimo of Departure|Arrival Films, This Is My Home profiles East Village resident Anthony Pisano. Mr Pisano has a particularly spectacular home, so crammed with wonderful oddities that people often mistake it for an antique shop. This could also be because his home looks suspiciously like a storefront and Mr. Pisano is often seated outside near the entrance. Whatever the reason, he doesn’t seem to mind and is more than willing to let people look around anyway and gaze at his collection of baubles and bric-à-brac. Surprisingly, he says nothing has ever been stolen, though he has, on occasion, given things away. You can see some bonus footage of his densely packed abode at their site.
Today, we celebrate what would have been Anaïs Nin’s 109th birthday by posting Bells of Atlantis, an experimental film from 1952.
The film stars Nin as the mythical queen of Atlantis and conveys, as Wonders in the Dark puts it, “the experience of trying to remember and re-experience a dream.” Over cascading experimental footage, Nin reads aloud from her novella House of Incest. We catch glimpses of her nude form swinging in a hammock, and we see her shadow undulating over sheer fabric blowing in the wind, but for the most part, the imagery, captured by Nin’s husband Ian Hugo, remains very abstract, creating a “sense of swimming through a hallucination, trying to get closer to a world clouded not only by its own hazy nature, but the veils of memory and reality cast over it – given form by the watery ambiance that washes over the images.”
Bebe Barron, an early pioneer of electronic music.
The soundscape was crafted by Louis and Bebe Barron, two pioneers of electronic music who are best known for composing the world’s first entirely electronic music score for The Forbidden Planet, which the Barrons filled with “bleeps, blurps, whirs, whines, throbs, hums, and screeches.” They built their own circuits, which they viewed as “cybernetic organisms,” and spliced together the sounds they made into collages. Louis did the work of creating the circuits, while Bebe did most of the composing. Their sound, wrote Nin, was akin to “a molecule that has stubbed its toes.” Bebe Barron was one of the first women in the field of electronic music, and in her last interview, she fondly recalls memories of her friend Anaïs.
Wayne White is an American artist, puppeteer, sculptor, set designer, cartoonist, art director, animator, and illustrator whose influence on popular culture has been quietly vast. As Mark Mothersbaugh puts it: “Kids [in the ’80s] mainlined it. He was imprinting their brains, and they don’t even know it.” Filmmaker Neil Berkeley’s new documentary about White’s roller coaster career and personal life looks like it’s packed-to-bursting with inspiration and warm-fuzzies and whimsy and pathos:
“Raised in the mountains of Tennessee, Wayne White started his career as a cartoonist in New York City. He quickly found success as one of the creators of the TV show, Pee-wee’s Playhouse, which led to more work designing some of the most arresting and iconic images in pop culture. Most recently, his word paintings, which feature pithy and often sarcastic text statements crafted onto vintage landscape paintings, have made him a darling of the fine art world.”
“Beauty Is Embarrassing chronicles the vaulted highs and the crushing lows of a commercial artist struggling to find peace and balance between his work and his art. Acting as his own narrator, Wayne guides us through his life using moments from his latest creation: a hilarious, biographical one-man show.”
The world premiere of Beauty Is Embarrassing will take place on March 10th at SXSW. Click through below to see more examples of Wayne White’s multifaceted work.
Beauty is Embarrassing film still, featuring White wearing his LBJ paper mache puppet head.
You would probably want to be careful when making a movie that involves Afghanistan. You could, perhaps, be more cavalier in dealing with Osama bin Laden (in the U.S. at least), but I’d think you would want to exhibit some sort of sensitivity when making a film about a country we’ve been involved with on, let’s just say, unpleasant terms for a while now. It seems like a bad idea to make a film about a group of white people (like, super white people) running around a poor, war-torn country (our war, no less) doing sick karate kicks and slaughtering the local populace in droves, even if they’re “zombies”, and then have them partake in hot, white people make-out sessions in between said slaughter. I don’t know, maybe it’s just me.
Yes. Hello. Feb 5th is the date of novelist William S. Burroughs’ birth. Coilhouse should really show the man some love. W.S.B. double feature, anyone?
First, The Cut-Ups, a mesmeric and disorienting experimental piece Burroughs put together with filmmaker Antony Balch (aided by multi-disciplinary art firebrand Brion Gysin and others) in 1966. Over the course of twenty minutes, it plays out in very much the same vein as Burroughs’ literary cut-ups, only with multiple sensory layers of headfuckery. (Read more about the film here / the generalized concept of cut-ups here.)