I heard about the National Geographic Channel's new series "Border Wars" a couple weeks ago and upon looking at its webpage knew that it would be complete crap - basically another "Cops" but focused exclusively on latinos in the southwest. It comes at a surprise that it would be on this channel, but after Fox launched its own fear-mongering "Border Patrol" program last year it seems logical that other networks would want to get in on the act, considering the depth of xenophobia in the U.S. audience.
About 8 months ago I took part in an ambient experimental audio jam session with Glenn Weyant and Adam Cooper-Teran. Adam was recording the whole thing on the video camera of his laptop, and afterward I composited some other found material onto the footage, and then he took what I did and said he would process it further. I didn't know he'd finished with it till I came across it on his Vimeo channel:
Since it was originally just 3 boring dorks in a living room pressing buttons (except Glenn who gently hits and scrapes metal things), this super-abstractification is a welcome improvement. Read more>>>
A few days ago I blogged about the film Avatar and how it reinforced gender stereotypes and dominant ideas about body images. I also saw this week a very different sort of film, one that I was pleased to see presented a much more realistic and healthy idea of what female bodies can be like, in addition to a more realistic vision of male/female relationships.. This sort of thing is so rare in the film world that I just have to mention it. Read more>>>
I was unsure, for several weeks, whether I wanted to go see the film "Avatar." The concept was interesting, but given that it was James Cameron directing, and something like the most expensive film ever made, I was expecting it would have problems. Not to mention that action movies appeal less and less to me these days, mainly because the cinematography for them, in general, has been steadily ramping up to a level of intensity that way too much for my nervous system to want to handle. The fact that this
Nevertheless, some people I know convinced me otherwise. One acquaintance said it was "just about the best movie" he'd ever seen, and that the violence was not excessive ("aliens throwing spears at Marines, I don't consider that violence."). My friend Jose, whose opinion I have the highest respect for, even wrote in his blog that "Avatar is as close to perfect as a movie gets". Wow. Okay. I guess I had better go see it, I thought.
Well, I don't regret going to see it. And I was relieved to find that the camera work and violence wasn't as annoying and traumatizing as some other features I've seen recently (although it was still more extreme than I prefer and contained lots and lots of killing and dying and gut-wrenching scary chase scenes through the forests and skies). Avatar was worth seeing. It was so well-executed technically, so visually stunning and beautiful, that it can probably be recommended on just those grounds alone, for those who don't have PTSD. Furthermore, the "deep-ecology," anti-Iraq-War, anti-corporate, anti-industrial and anti-colonialist subtexts really deserve lots of kudos. It was also pretty thoroughly entertaining and hence the 150-minute elapsed time flashed by and felt more like 100 (which is still too long IMHO but not as exhausting as I expected it would be). However, I would have to respectfully disagree that it is a perfect movie or close to it.
Because of some of the aforementioned redeeming qualities, I don't want to spend a lot of time griping and complaining. Most of the negative criticism of Avatar can be dismissed or forgiven with variations of the following explanation: It's an ultra-expensive Hollywood blockbuster and hence, of course, it is subject to market forces. Even stepping a bit back from a cynical economic analysis, I can charitably forgive a filmmaker who fudges some things in order to make the story and characters be more interesting and understandable to a wider audience. So, I won't go into all the science details and plot points that I found difficult to suspend my disbelief for (pun intended: the floating mountains, for example, are ridiculous).
But there's one aspect of Avatar I simply cannot abide, and will not let slide. Because although it does, in a way, fall under the "market forces" category I mention above, there is a limit to playing that card and I believe this problem with the movie goes over that limit. Read more>>>
This past week roughly (depending on how you count it) marked the 10 years since the start of the Independent Media Center, as part of the seemingly sudden outpouring of anti-capitalist, anti-corporate, anti-globalization activism that erupted in Seattle during the WTO ministerial there. The IMC was really a part of that "movement of movements": there, a small group of media activists put into first serious use a new web platform called "Active" in November 1999 that allowed anyone to report on what was going on in the streets of Seatle and otherwise. The idea and the tools and the energy spread like wildfire and in a few years there were about 200 local IMC collectives and sites around the world. Read more>>>
A few years ago I wrote a blog entry about subtitling and a little text-processing tool I wrote for preparing text so that it could be imported into DVD Studio Pro. I wrote it because often someone doing translation for you is not putting timecode start and end times in, not to mention chopping things up into lines short enough to fit on the screen. My program simply made up some rough timecodes based on the time offset at which you'd like subtitles to start and a constant duration for each subtitle, then inserted them before each line in the STL format. Read more>>>
In the November issue of Harper's, the title story, "Final Edition," by Richard Rodriguez, is about "the twilight of the American newspaper." He makes a touching and saddening case that we are truly losing something important to our social fabric with the recent closure of so much daily print media in this country. He is persuasive in arguing that a lot of the fault lies with the newspaper industry itself and the greedy corporate entities that run it.
However, one of the most compelling points is a paragraph toward the end of the article: Read more>>>
In the course of being a socially-concious filmmaker it's usually not possible to ever know if your work is really making much of a difference. This week, though, I had the chance to clearly see that happening. Read more>>>