Saturday, February 10, 2007


I don't like watching people applaud onscreen in movies. And it's not just because sometimes I find myself so far into a movie, that I unconsciously start clapping along like the sheep-clapper I can be.

No, watching people clap in a movie is irritating because it suggests to me that the filmmaker has run out of ways to signify a monumental or resonant moment in a character's storyline. Especially with the advent of cgi-enhanced crowds (thank you George Lucas), I feel like an applause scene is cheating. Being encouraged to feel pride for the recipient of the applause (from generally an anonymous mass of people) and watch him or her bask in the artificial glory is a dead-end visual contrivance.

At the end of Pan's Labyrinth, a character's spiritual achievement is totally undercut by the faceless crowd we've never met before cheering her on. "Look how many people are clapping! This must be a big moment!" screams the scene. But without knowing the people clapping, the connection becomes tenuous and fake and here rings very false.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is another guilty party. There are way way too many scenes of crowds acting as one. The emotional shifts become inevitable and heavy-handed. The crowd is mad at Harry for being chosen to compete in the blah blah blah. Boooooooooooo. Harry steals an egg from a dragon. Yayyyyyyyyyyyy.

There are exceptions where the acceptance for an outsider character is demonstrated through a group cheer/applause. These scenes invoke a richer connection by incorporating close-ups of people within the crowd and/or a slow building, 80s-style clap rhythm (Thank you, Lucas).

But along with scenes of drug addicts going through rehab, scenes of crowds applauding/booing without discerning individual sentiment fully expressed need to be shelved for the time being.

More moratoriums as irritation dictates.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

(the) Internets Celebrities WENT to Sundance!

We are returned from Utah and with the posting of Episode 7 yesterday, done with the whole exhausting and satisfying affair. Now, here's the recap:

At this year's Sundance Film Festival, I directed SEVEN short videos - in SEVEN days - characterizing the experience of Dallas Penn & Rafi Kam attending the film extravaganza that descends annually on Park City, Utah.

The series was written by Dallas & Rafi and associate produced by Ian Savage, with original music composed by Matt Lima and graphic design from agent b. The Daily Reel premiered the videos originally on their site and paid for the trip.

All the videos are done and posted now to my youtube page. Here's the episode breakdown:

Go HERE to see Dallas and Rafi pose the question: Is Sundance essentially "a grown-ass spring break?!?"
- Featuring Dustin Diamond reacting to the name Screech!

Go HERE to see Dallas and Rafi encounter the world of free celebrity swag!
- Featuring Jamie Kennedy explaining that in Sundance all celebrities are the same!

Go HERE to see Dallas and Rafi meet Park City's local celebrities!
- Featuring a lot of really forthcoming Park City residents opining on all things Sundance and a brief glimpse of Dakota Fanning surrounded by paparazzi.

Go HERE to see Dallas and Rafi break down some REAL FACTS about Sundance!
- Featuring the TRUTH about Robert Redford.

Go HERE to see Dallas and Rafi meet the filmmakers attending this year's Sundance Film Festival!
- Featuring MC Hammer!

Go HERE to see Dallas and Rafi hit the big and not-so-big parties of this year's Sundance Film Festival!
- Featuring some sick techno by David Hudry (additional vocals by some dude with an inconsistent accent)!

Go HERE to see Dallas and Rafi close out the festival with some survival tips.
- Featuring a (kind of touching in my opinion) montage set to the song “Simple Symphonies” by agent b.

Thanks very much for watching.
I hope you enjoy the series as much as we enjoyed making it.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Super Bowl Fun-day!

Football is not my favorite sport, but I still tend to have some measure of internal anticipation for the zenith of the football season, Super Bowl Sunday, as if the day were about to bestow gifts upon me like it was Christmas. Although when I think about it, the actual zenith of the football season in my eyes tends to be the second week of the playoffs, where you've got two good games on Saturday and two good games on Sunday. And every once in a while my Jets manage to get that far. Rarely, but it happens.

What stood out about this go-around was that it was my first with a DVR. This enabled the pleasant ability to play video games for an hour while the game recorded in the background, after which I could begin to watch the game while fast forwarding between plays. I had no real rooting interest in the game, though my grandparents are Indianapolis residents and Colts fans, so I sort of hitched my wagon to the Colts. I remember how hapless they were back in the day, when Jeff George was their supposed up-and-coming savior. Ugh.

I hope these random thoughts from the proceedings don't sound too curmudgeony, like my uncle Samuel or something. Because we are different people.

1. I could watch Prince play guitar forever.

2. I'm no Adam Vinatieri hater, but it was fun to watch him miss one on the big stage, inconsequential as that miss turned out to be.

3. I'm not a fan of the advertising strategy in which undue importance is ascribed to a product that's easily available. Bud Light is cheap and plentiful. Apparently animals have had an unfulfilled hankering for beer as well, but what bearing should this have on my drinking decisions? And the idea of two or more people discussing the value of Sierra Mist is just laughable.

4. The Super Bowl is a great excuse to eat pizza and buffalo wings, a meal which proceeded to suck all the moisture from my body like some water parasite. I woke up in the middle of the night with a thirst akin to three days stranded in the desert.

5. We were graced with some of the most amateurish Super Bowl commercials of all time. The Doritos ads, seemingly submitted by aspiring filmmakers and fans of the tangy chip, were interesting if only for the rare opportunity to watch ugly people (by media standards) sell stuff on national TV. And Sales Genie... wow... just, wow.

6. Congratulations to Peyton Manning. Now I no longer have to hear about him... right?