Friday, September 23, 2011

Two Box Sets: Swanberg's Collected Films 2011 and Nilsson's 9@Night series

So, Joe Swanberg is releasing his last four films as a box set, via Factory 25 and employing a unique distribution plan by releasing each film quarterly along with extras. I have to admit, I haven't seen a Swanberg film since Hannah Takes the Stairs, but not because I didn't like his films. I thought his film before that, LOL, was very good. I saw it in a packed theater in San Francisco's Mission district, and the crowd loved it. Since then he's seemed to garner a lot of critical derision. I can recall an audience member being quoted after attending of his more recent films as saying something like, "These films are the product of a culture with nothing left to say." (I can't find the article that contained the quote.)

I find I'm often attracted to polarizing artists. Sometimes, they're misunderstood or unfairly maligned, and sometimes, well, the work just happens to suck. I'd like to take a look at these films, and I am intrigued by the distribution method. But at one hundred dollars, the price is a bit steep, especially if I end up not liking the films. Here's a post at cinemaspragus that makes one of the films in the set, Silver Bullets, look interesting -- certainly a departure from anything I've seen by Swanberg in the past.

On a somewhat related note, there is a box set I've been meaning to buy for a long time now -- Rob Nilsson's 9@Night series, and before I even consider buying Swanberg's set, I'm definitely getting Nilsson's first. I saw two of the films in the series when they played at the San Francisco Roxie in 2008, and was pretty blown away by how good they were. A filmmaker friend once told me Nilsson's movie's were sloppy, and I could see what he meant by that; Rob didn't seem to care much for aesthetics, at least not in a superficial sense. I got the feeling he didn't sweat the details because he was reaching for something higher. Most of the time, he got there. I thought it was everything independent film should be. I plan on getting the set soon, and writing about each film in length.

Friday, September 16, 2011


Here's a recent article about microcinemas in New York City, and here's another, better article about microcinemas across the country that appeared in Cineaste a couple years ago. I attended an open screening at SF's own ATA once. I liked some of the films -- I remember an abstract, computer generated one in particular that was pretty great -- but the volume was turned up so high during every film that it hurt my ears (remember: these are small, DIY films and don't have the best sound mixes to begin with), and they played a Hendrix live album loudly during the intermissions which made it hard to socialize. It was such an alienating experience that I never went back. I suppose I'll suck it up one day and attend another screening, or maybe check out Craig Baldwin's Other Cinema, mentioned in the Cineaste article. I don't mean to sound like I'm complaining; I love the idea of microcinemas, of course. I just hope they don't all need to have the atmosphere of a dive bar to bring in an audience.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Squaw Hootnanny

"In 1987, my sis and her best friend Brandy formed a two-girl rock band in our backyard. It lasted about a week and spawned one album. 'Squaw Hootnanny' was the title track and my brother was recruited to provide pot-and-pan percussion."

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Shaye Saint John

Shaye Saint John was a character/art project created by Eric Fournier, who posted videos of himself as his creation on Youtube and his own website about four or five years ago. I missed them the first time around, and Fournier is now unfortunately deceased, but his videos are still up on Youtube, and a DVD compilation he released is still for sale on Amazon. It's difficult to explain this sort of humor to anyone that doesn't immediately get it, and I don't even really laugh at the video above -- it elicits more a silent admiration. Note the music and how it changes back and forth from shot to shot -- the video wouldn't work quite as well without it. For an example of something that does make me laugh until I cry: "Stumpwater Salad" and "TWENTY4SEVEN REDUX." I'm actually a little envious that someone could come up with something so weird and original and implement it in such a simple way (i.e., using a DV camera with an on-board mic). Inspired and inspiring stuff.