Word has it Jack Kerouac’s famed On The Road is making its way onto film. Director Walter Salles and screenwriter Jose Rivera have plotted out the screenplay and the final product is set to be released sometime in 2011. The cast includes Viggo Mortensen (glad to see he’s moving on from Aragorn in LotR), Amy Adams, Kirsten Dunst and Kristen Stewart. I’ve gotta say, I’m interested to see how this all unfolds.
Possibly at Cannes…
Gus Van Sant’s My Own Private Idaho (1991) is something of a rough collage. Constantly shifting styles, the film, at different times, has the feeling of a pseudo-Shakespearian comedy, a familial melodrama, and a classic road tale in the vein of Easy Rider. And to add even more confusion, all of these elements are played out in gay-prostitute underworld of the Pacific Northwest (oh and a little bit in Idaho and Italy too). The film follows the life of Mike (River Phoenix)-an allergic, narcoleptic, and emotionally violent hustler who goes about his business in the slums of Seattle. In these ventures, Mike soon encounters Scott (Keanu Reeves) an old friend and fellow call-boy. From here, the two travel around on many adventures-the purpose of which eventually crystallizes into the search for Mike’s estranged mother.
This longing, on Mike’s part, to finally see mommy again gives the film a place to go, but is far from its most interesting aspect. Instead, the viewer will be drawn to the contradictory world members of the Northwest’s prostitute sub-culture occupy. In many ways the existence of these Hustlers is quite miserable. They sleep on roofs or in doorways, and to survive, must indulge their client’s bizarre fetishes, which Van Sant does not hesitate to display in painful detail. But in another way, the characters of the film’s sub-culture have a vibrant quality that cannot be found in the “legitimate” world their clients occupy. Many wear flamboyant neon jackets with tight jeans and cowboy boots that clearly set them apart from the more conventional sort. Others speak in a vernacular that strangely and cleverly blends hipster slang with Shakespearian English-often giving what would be normally mundane observations a distinctly poetic quality. And all of Idaho’s Hustler characters possess the defiant demeanor-associated with all the proudest counter-cultures-that allows them to say “yeah I’m weird, and fuck you” with every step.
But superficial differences aside, the hustler world that Mike, Scott, and the many others in the film occupy is permeated by a class hierarchy that sharply resembles that of the “normal” world. Throughout the film, Van Sant plays with this irony to an often divesting effect. His ability to make Idaho so strange and yet so familiar is what makes it an engaging film.
written and directed by Ondi Timoner
Who is watching? Why are we watching? How will watching affect us? What does it mean to be constantly watched without privacy? How is the digital age helping or hindering our personal interactions with others?
Ondi Timoner (two-time Sundance Grand Jury award winner) takes us to a truly evocative time in technological history by documenting the polarizing experiences and works of internet visionary, Josh Harris. As the world was in flux over a potential Y2K apocalypse, Josh Harris’ “Quiet: We Live In Public” experiment was in the midst of collapsing. This art exhibit was one of the most invasive looks into the way the human condition functions when exposed to extreme measures of virtual scrutiny through filming. Over 100 artists in a New York warehouse signed away their lives to the control of Josh Harris in this large scale, big brother examination.
We Live in Public (2009) shows how relationships can become dissonant under these types of digital pressures of having an audience view one’s every move. The nature of celebrity relationships comes to mind while watching and why so many can never truly become of anything more than tabloid fodder. As things start to crumble in Harris’ world he finds peace in the bare necessity’s that life has to offer. Timoner’s exploration of ten years of an internet genius is definitely one to witness.
Written by Rachel Summers
Do this right now, you will be incredibly pleased! It features the Arcade Fire jam, “We Used To Wait” and I hear their new album is out of this world too! The film is so innovative, so fresh, and so cool.
dir. Ang Lee
It’s all in the details. How will we look back at our youth? I look back to last year in glimmers, but forty years from now that will most likely turn into smog. Over half a million people attended the most celebrated of music festivals, Woodstock 1969. I wonder if they remember this influential festival like it was yesterday. It’s festival season, and in light of some of my closest friends returning from their unforgettable time at Lollapalooza, now is as good of time as any to talk about 2009’s Taking Woodstock, directed by Ang Lee (he’s directed a couple other of my favorites including The Ice Storm and the Academy Award winning Brokeback Mountain).
The film drops the viewer into the life of Elliot Teichberg (Demetri Martin) in rural Bethel, New York, where he is trying to save his family’s sinking motel from foreclosure. As a last resort to help his family out, he decides to put his whole town on the map by inviting the owners of Woodstock Ventures to use his land for their huge music festival that had currently been run out of the original site of Wallkill, NY. Elliot’s difficult relationship with his parents is weaved throughout the 3-day series of events and inevitably helps him come of age. The entire cast really drew me in especially standout performances from Emile Hirsch and Liev Schreiber. Lee’s attention to detail in every scene really made the film feel authentic; from the extras to the vendor stands leading to the festival. Although, the film does have it’s slow moments (where you may need to pause, take a cat nap, and then hit play), it’s shot really beautifully. The character’s that come and go continuously throughout leave the viewer with distinct memories and also propel the film along.
I’d recommend Taking Woodstock to anyone longing for a past that they did live or an imagined past we all wish we could have been a part of.
Written by Rachel Summers
And now, another dose of documentary from The Dustbowl!
On average, we see as many as 5,000 advertisements a day, whether we notice what they are or not. Art & Copy, a film by Doug Pray, takes a deeper look into this complex industry that is so often taken for granted and criticized. It details some of the advertising giants that we’ve all heard of, like Volkswagen, Apple, MTV, and Tommy Hilfiger, but also some even bigger giants. The agencies behind these companies, DDB Worldwide, Weiden+Kennedy, and TBWA/Chiat/Day, have been not-s0-secretly shaping our culture for more than half a century…
I appreciated the fresh perspective this film gave on the world of advertising, exploring the work and thought processes behind “I want my MTV!” or “Just do it”. You’ll also get to take a look inside some seriously cool offices. Weiden+Kennedy; totally awesome. They have a giant nest upstairs!
If you’ve ever thought about anything beyond the commercials, posters, and banners of advertisement we see so often, I’d recommend checking this film out on Netflix instant play!
:: Haley Rheinhart