CITYWIDE


Update: Land of Songs by Aldona Watts
August 27, 2012, 11:26 pm
Filed under: Film, Life! | Tags: , ,

Earlier this Summer, Citywide covered the start of a new project by WNYU dj Aldona Watts in which she planned to document the lives and traditions of a troupe of elderly folk singer in a Lithuanian village. Aldona has wrapped her project and reports that it was a huge success (congratulations!). We look forward to seeing the final piece, but in the meantime Aldona will be joining us on Citywide once more in the near future to share her experiences first hand.

Here are some production stills to give you a taste-

ImageImageImageImageImageImage

Luke Green

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Two Inspiring Projects We Think You Should Know About

On Citywide, we interview passionate and driven people on a regular basis. It is our hope that the conversations we have with these people encourages our audience to seek out artistic expression that isn’t mass produced or packaged for the lowest common denominator. Ideally, people listen to our show and take a personal investment in the stories they hear, maybe even realize the possibility of composing their own something for everyone else to experience.

It’s understandable why many of us hesitate before seeing an independent movie, reading an unreviewed book, or investigating a new band. These experiences are not yet validated and nobody wants to feel like they have lost time with an unworthy experience. Even so, there are many of us who thrive on the prospect of untempered ground. Who crave to be the first to understand our new mythology as it changes. These people listen to Citywide. They also make projects like the two featured below-

LAND OF SONGS, a documentary in progress by Aldona Watts of WNYU

This documentary is the main feature of Citywide this week. It is made by Aldona Watts, or DJ Dona, host of Crucial Chaos at WNYU. Those of us at the station acquainted with Aldona know her for the way she pursues several projects at the same time with equal dedication. At any given time, Aldona is able to discuss the dozens of projects that occupy her time from teaching children about radio, to organizing events for Her Girl Friday, to hosting Crucial Chaos. In a way, it’s not all that surprising that she can leave her life in New York City to fully invest herself in filming a documentary in Lithuania. This week on Citywide we sat down with Aldona to discuss her motivations for traveling across the world to record the movements of an elderly group of folk singers. Their story is even more inspirational. Check out Aldona’s kickstarter below the interview below-

[audio https://files.nyu.edu/ltg219/public/land%20of%20songs_sedera.mp3]

this is the kickstarter

DETROPIA, something real

A still from Detropia

Detropia is the work of two filmmakers we hope to have on Citywide very soon. Listeners may recognize the work of Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing, the two documentarians behind Jesus Camp. Much like Aldona, their new film takes place somewhere outside most New Yorker’s regular awareness. In their case though, it’s set in a situation many people choose to ignore because of its nearness to our lives here. For Detropia, Rachel and Heidi turned their camera to the relic of American post-industrialized living, the city of Detroit. Caroline Libresco describes their film this way-

Detroit’s story has encapsulated the iconic narrative of America over the last century— the Great Migration of African Americans escaping Jim Crow; the rise of manufacturing and the middle class; the love affair with automobiles; the flowering of the American dream; and now . . . the collapse of the economy and the fading American mythos. With its vivid, painterly palette and haunting score, DETROPIA sculpts a dreamlike collage of a grand city teetering on the brink of dissolution. These soulful pragmatists and stalwart philosophers strive to make ends meet and make sense of it all, refusing to abandon hope or resistance. Their grit and pluck embody the spirit of the Motor City as it struggles to survive postindustrial America and begins to envision a radically different future.

Besides creating a daring and earnest film, Rachel and Heidi with Loki Films are attempting to distribute their film independently. This means they forgo the step most films take in which a distribution company takes control of a film and its marketing. Detropia will go on tour with the filmmakers as they screen it in various independent theaters and festivals across the country. Check out the trailer below and the screenings you might find below that. Tune in to Citywide in the coming weeks to hear what Heidi and Rachel have to say themselves.

See their kickstarter here.

Silverdocs Documentary Festival
Silver Spring, Maryland
Thursday, June 21st @ 7:30pm
Friday, June 22nd @ 10:30am
BONUS SCREENING!!!
Saturday, June 23rd @ 10:45pm

Nantucket Film Festival
Nantucket, Mass.
Thursday, June 21st @ 6pm
Friday, June 22nd @ 6:30pm

BAMcinemaFEST
Brooklyn, New York
Wednesday, June 27th @ 9:30pm
Q&A with Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing

Aspen Ideas Festival
Aspen, Colorado
Friday, June 29th @ 8pm

Hamptons International Film Festival SummerDocs Series
East Hampton, New York
Saturday, July 21st @ 8pm
Followed by a discussion between Alec Baldwin and the directors Heidi Ewing & Rachel Grady

Indianapolis Independent Film Festival
Indianapolis, Indiana
Monday, July 23rd @ 5pm

Woods Hole Film Festival
Woods Hole, Mass.
Tuesday, July 31st @ 7pm

Rooftop Films Summer Series 2012
Brooklyn, New York
Saturday, August 11th @ 8pm

Opening Theatrically: IFC CENTER
New York, New York
Friday, September 7th

Screening at The Avon Theatre
Stamford, Connecticut
Wednesday, October 10th

Lucas Green



Extraterrestrial (Extraterreste), by Nacho Vigalondo
June 15, 2012, 2:08 am
Filed under: Film | Tags: , , ,

“Who is the extraterrestrial? who needs to leave at the end?” asks Nacho Vigalondo of the characters in his second feature film, Extraterrestrialpremiering this week at Brooklyn’s Gastropub theater on Friday, June 15th as well as online on demand. His film orbits around a cast of five players. It begins with a man and a woman in their late twenties waking up next to each other not remembering what they’d done the night before, much less the others’ names. Also, aliens have invaded and the city of Madrid seems to have been abandoned by all except a creepy neighbor, a passionate ex-boyfriend, and an ominous television broadcaster. Not much more can be said about the film’s plot as its twists are abundant to the point that it is impossible to guess what’s going to happen next at any given time. Still Vigalondo leaves enough reference points to allow a narratively complex film to flow fairly smoothly. Here’s how we review new and original filmmaking on Citywide-

Extraterrestrial stars Michelle Jenner and Julián Villagrán

If you like Science Fiction-

This movie is for you. That is, if you like Science Fiction for the right reasons. This isn’t a movie about aliens, or the future, or computers, or dystopias though this movie includes some aspect of just about all of those. Most Sci-Fi does without being about one or the other. These aspects that seem to characterize the Science Fiction “genre” are used to create unique social and metaphysical scenarios. Nacho Vigalondo does so in this movie. He uses the situation to isolate a set of characters into a scenario that asks the specific questions he chooses to ask. For instance, Nacho says “In this movie, characters find the advantages of Earth being invaded by aliens… [for instance], ‘Ok I’m in love with this girl, but she’s married, but now that there’s aliens everywhere you can find yours of having sex with her,” on the other hand, I want it to be realistic on this point… if you have a toothache and the end of the world comes, you still have a toothache.”
Nacho feels that Science Fiction is falsely classified as a genre. He remarks that belonging to a genre implies subscribing to a certain set of rules. As in, a Slasher film is a Slasher film because it involves a killer stalking a set of people with a knife. A Western is a Western because it contains cowboys and outlaws. In contrast, Science Fiction does not confine stories to rules, but is used to liberate stories from the laws of reality. Think Philip K. Dick (who Nacho actually attributes his beard and desire to go bald to). So, if you like this brand of Science Fiction, this movie is for you. However-

If you like alien invasion movies-

Check your expectations. Hype for Extraterrestrial might lead audiences to expect something like Monsters (2010), by Gareth Edwards or District 9 which adeptly combine sophisticated and original melodrama with sci-fi thriller action. Extraterrestrial has its share of explosions compared to your standard rom-com, but you will be disappointed if you come expecting non-stop action violence. That being said, this film is plenty rife with suspense. It doesn’t have to lean on the spectacle of special effects because of its many plot twists and unexpected events. A lesser director could try the same thing and have it seem contrived. Vigalondo creates a setting so outrageous and extreme, it seems pointless to question its believability.

If you like romantic comedies-

Though this is a Spanish film the jokes and romance do not get lost in translation. It’s a moving film, but its conceptual nature gives it a certain level of detachment. The inter-personal drama and humor in this movie are strong enough to keep it grounded.

If you have ever wanted the whole city to yourself-

You can inhabit this movie.

If you want to watch this movie-

June 15th-
Brooklyn, NY at the Gastopub Theater
Seattle, WA at the Uptown Theater

June 22nd-
North Hollywood, CA at Laemmle’s Noho 7

and throughout Alamo Drafthouse theaters in Texas through June.

However, if you do not live in any of these areas you can get a screening in your hometown through Tugg right here. Or you can watch it On Demand here.

If you like Nachos-

Here’s a guy named Nacho:

This is our interview:

[audio https://files.nyu.edu/ltg219/public/Paul%20William.mp3]

Lucas Green



The 2012 Vimeo Film Festival with Jeremy Boxer and Eliot Rausch

The online video-sharing platform Vimeo signifies much about the current relationship between art, society, and technology. Users of Vimeo utilize the site to share originally produced video content on a high-quality player for free. For independent filmmakers, artists, and documentarians, who may have spent zero to hundreds of thousands of dollars creating a video, to share their work in the way it deserves to be seen without having to pay a distribution company or rent out a theater. It is a way for people to get their work noticed without taking the risk of submitting to film festivals, which sometimes only accept films on the condition that they do not screen at any other festival or be seen online. This may be true of just about any video-sharing site, but the quickest glance at Vimeo exhibits its uniqueness as a media platform.

On Vimeo, you will not see television or popular movie clips, you cannot search for any song you want to hear and expect to find a video file of it, and you do not find commercials. Rather Vimeo contains only the original work of its users, most of them aspiring artists or media creators. As such, the site is rife with music videos, lyrical documentaries, tone poems, tutorials, clever/cute animations, etc… There is no shortage of beautiful and entertaining content in the age of DSLRs, prosumer editing software, and easy access to educational resources. While technical quality and formal qualities do vary between extremes, the site is curated to an extent. In short, Vimeo has found a new way to contribute to the elimination of exclusivity in art.

This being the case, it can be pretty easy to get overwhelmed by the massive amount of video art with immediate availability. No one wants to become sensitized to beauty and artists have good reason to feel reluctant exhibiting work on a platform absolutely flooded with high quality, original work. Premiering video online can be just as risky as preparing a film for a festival. Thus the Vimeo Film Festival.

The Vimeo Film Festival goes against many accustomed film festival traditions. First, it is among the few festivals in existence that even allow screenings of films that have premiered online, and it is one of even fewer that focus on internet-released films. The festival also follows an opposite format to most festivals by holding the award ceremony at the festival’s opening rather than its conclusion. Jeremy Boxer, the festival’s co-founder and director as well as creative director for Vimeo, states the reason for this as an attempt to celebrate the winning filmmakers throughout the festival, which culminates in a winner’s screening at the end of the event where attendees can see all the films that have risen to the top without feeling like they missed out. The awards, too, go to less conventional categories like ‘Advertising, Lyrical, Action Sports, Motion graphics, and Remix; categories meant to reflect the work of Vimeo’s community.

This year’s festival also features many workshops and lectures from illustrious members of the film industry including Ed Burns. It is the work of these people and those like Jeremy Boxer who create a channel for people with passion and a message to express themselves freely. It has always been possible, but it was never the popular path. Filmmakers these days are beginning to take advantage of the fact that they do not have to tailor their work to appeal to someone who can give them a job. Platforms like Vimeo and its associated film festival create an infrastructure for art to disseminate off of its own merit rather than the approval of a single curator or “taste-maker.”

Listen to the show to hear Jeremy Boxer discuss the highlights of this year’s festival and previous Vimeo Film Festival Grand Prize, winner Eliot Rausch, talk about what Vimeo has been able to do to propel his own career forward. The trailer for his new film “Limbo” appears below and below that is his award winning film, “Last Minutes with Oden.”

Eliot Rausch, director of “Last Minutes With Oden” and the forthcoming “Limbo”

 

[audio https://files.nyu.edu/ltg219/public/Eliot%20Rausch.mp3]

Lucas Green



New music video by Mykki Blanco
May 14, 2012, 8:09 pm
Filed under: Film, Music

Since I had Mykki on Citywide earlier in this year in February she has not lost momentum in her drive to create daring work while maintaining the integrity that got her this far. Her commitment to making art that steadfastly represents her despite being beyond edgy shines through in her new music video directed by Mitch Moore. Not only does the video feature an extremely visceral and provocative track, it also pulls no punches in its explosive delivery. Check it out-

Keep it up Mykki. Great work Mitch.

Lucas Green



Bernie
April 29, 2012, 2:28 am
Filed under: Film, Opinion | Tags: , , , ,

Synopsis-

Based on a true story, Bernie takes place in the small East Texas town of Carthage where few come or go and everyone knows each others’ stories and backgrounds, though they may be sweepingly similar. The most beloved resident of Carthage, TX is Bernie Tiede (Jack Black), a flamboyantly generous and good-natured individual utterly devoted to his vocation as a devoutly christian mortician. While harboring a strange affinity for older women and a pronounced effeminancy, Bernie is well loved by all those around him who look to him for emotional support and resolution. Bernie becomes inexplicably attached to a wealthy widow, Marjorie Nugent (Shirley Maclaine), whom the community regards with the opposite esteem they do Bernie. Bernie finds himself ensnared in a life completely dictated by Marjorie’s wills and desires to the point that his murder of her is met sympathy by the members of the community whose testimonials to the camera serve as the story’s narration. District Attorney Danny Buck Davidson (Matthew McConaughey) attempts to convince the law of Bernie’s guilt despite the understanding of the townsfolk.

 If you like Richard Linklater movies-

-you probably enjoy them for his willingness to work outside of typical narrative structure as in Slacker or Waking Life which are each composed of thematic vignettes strung together without beginnings and ends. His films Before Sunset and Before Sunrise are entirely made up by an ongoing conversation between the same two people as they walk the streets of Paris and Prague.

You might also appreciate the social, philosophical, and metaphysical discussions featured strongly in any of the aforementioned movies and that pervade the rest of his work to a greater or lesser degree.

You may also be impressed by the astonishing dedication to his art that he exhibits in A Scanner Darkly and Waking Life, both films having been the result the extraordinarily grueling work (at the time) of rotoscoping. And, if so, you are probably excited for this project, filmed over a period of 12 years so that the final product about a boy’s growth over the entire time period is portrayed by the same actor.

Bernie has some of these things, but not all. The story is mostly expressed through the gossiping testimonials of the townspeople. This daring narrative technique prevented the film from being made for several years, but is the primary formal characteristic of this movie. The plot moves forward with the testimony of interviews which also paint a profile of East Texas culture. It’s a unique device, but it showcases none of the directorial deftness we can marvel at in Slacker. As for the intellectual enlightenment factor, this film does not suppose to question the metaphysical fabric of our lives, but it is good for a new understanding of small-town life and for questioning practical ethics like why a man who is clearly not a harm to society should be put in jail just for committing murder. In terms of Linklater’s directorial ambitions- though this film displays no attempt to defy popular filmmaking formats even in its reliance scuttlebutt story-telling, it is clear that Linklater is fascinated by the story he has to tell and is very invested in his portrayal of East Texas.

If you like Jack Black movies-

-and you’re seeing this movie because you like Jack Black, you’ll probably have a good time. I wouldn’t call this a “Jack Black Movie” like I would School of Rock (directed by Linklater) or Nacho Libre. But you’re also not going to see a movie where his Jack Blackness is subjugated to the characters’ role in the story, like in Margot at the Wedding or King Kong. Jack Black hits the role of Bernie Tiede with all the energy and vim we usually come to think of him with, but he hones it all into a very particular character (a real life person actually).

The confounding human being that is Bernie Tiede somehow comes alive in what easily stands out as the most nuanced performance of Jack Black’s career. In the end though, as with most of his roles, it is impossible not to look at Bernie Tiede and see Jack Black.

If you think Matthew McConaughey is damn fine-

-you’re probably right. However, unlike Jack Black’s portrayal of Bernie, McConaughey is hardly visible behind the character he plays. District Attorney Danny Buck Davidson is not nearly as subtle and complex as Bernie, but McConaughey still morphs into a character we recognize for his place in the story and not for his being Matthew McConaughey. Though he still manages to be vice president in charge of the lookin’ good.

he wears a shirt the whole time.

If you remembering having a huge crush on Shirley Maclaine in her younger days-

         -I don’t know if she ever lost it, but it’s certain she’s got it.

If you have opinions on Texas-

-This movie is good if you like making fun of Texas or if you have a lot of Texas pride, or both. It’s funny, but not ironic.

If you have a dark sense of humor-

-None of the laughs in this movie are cheap. Though it seems very removed, it’s still a story about murder and you are still laughing about it.

If you just need to sit down at watch something that you’ll enjoy no matter what-

-The movie lags and you can feel free to get up and pee when it starts to. As in, it’s easy to pick up again if you get distracted. Each scene of this movie is pretty entertaining in its own right and it might be okay to zone out every once in a while. You’ll probably be entertained by this movie and when you’re not, just check back in a couple minutes later.

If you are looking for something to sit down, dive into, and appreciate-

-Take a break and have fun. This movie gives you a lot to think about without the pressure. You don’t have to necessarily search for a deeper meaning, but you’ll have a lot of things to think about.

If you are looking for something original-

-You should watch this movie.

If you’re wondering what Richard Linklater looks like-

Lucas Green



Trailer released for new Xavier Dolan movie Laurence Anyways
March 20, 2012, 4:52 pm
Filed under: Announcements, Film | Tags: , ,

Xavier Dolan made an appearance on Citywide a little over a year ago to discuss his latest film at the time called Heartbeats (Les Amours Imaginaires is the French title). The film was very well met in the US and went on to screen internationally over the last year, receiving positive reviews throughout the globe, which is pretty big accomplishment for a filmmaker who was only 21 years old at the time. Dolan’s previous film, J’ae Tue Ma Mere (I Killed My Mother) has not been screened officially anywhere except for his home country of Canada and screens in France despite the fact that Canada selected the film to submit to the 82nd Academy Awards.

Xavier Dolan’s new film is called Laurence Anyways. The story follows Laurence, played by French actor Melvil Poupad, a man who decides on his thirtieth birthday to undergo a sex change and soon falls in love with a woman (as far as I can tell, the trailer is in French). From the trailer, it’s safe to go ahead get excited for the incredibly impactful tableaus that seem to freeze time in Heartbeats as well as its high-spirited and stimulating light and color sequences. And while Laurence Anyways seems to explore intense human relationships similar to the way Dolan proved he was adept at in his previous films, this new work appears to also focus on a single character study in a more pronounced way than its predecessors. It is also the first film by Xavier Dolan which he does not act in himself.

Though the film’s release has only currently been announced in Canada, we hope to see it soon in New York City. The trailer itself is something to enjoy even without being able to understand the French-

Also, check out our original interview with Xavier Dolan in which he discussed Heartbeats,  the experience of being a young and popular filmmaker, and even his plans for Laurence Anyways.  Here is the original post with the interview at the end-

Right Here

Lucas Green