Tim Minchin

It's hard to pick a favorite moment from the Aspen comedy arts festival and I don't want to make that kind of statement but the performer who stuck with me more than most was the one, the only Tim Minchin. He came out to Los Angles recently and we rushed across town, almost missing him. Minchin is a musical comedy genius from Australia (funny side note, I remember the guys from Fight of the Conchords saying that while they can be classified as "musical comedy" musical comedy sounds like something not very funny at all -- and FLOTC was another discovery to come out of the Aspen comedy festival! Another example of the reason why that event was so great and how it will be missed.)

Anyway, every single time I go to the grocery store I hear this song in my head:

The King of Kong

One year at the Aspen Comedy Arts festival I was invited to serve on the Documentary film jury. One of the great joys was being able to award the grand jury prize to THE KING OF KONG. I had known about the film for a little while as one of my friend Clay Tweel was a producer on the film, but I think Aspen is where this film really started to build momentum in the public consciousness.

I already talked a bit here about the documentary controversy at the Oscars this year, but the biggest complaint at my Oscar party was this film being neglected. James Faust called it the best sports film of the year here, and he's right. I normally hate sports films but KONG is a big exception. Go out and rent this today if you haven't seen it.

Requiem for Aspen Comedy Arts

Around this time for the last couple of years I'd be heading up to Aspen for HBO's Aspen Comedy Arts Festival. A number of factors have caused this event to be no more. I have such great memories of this festival, the first year I went up I saw Dave Chapelle do a live stand up set (!) and then the next year I was introduced to the magic of Charlyne Yi who I previously mentioned here. I got to witness many other discoveries in Aspen including the brillaint Aziz Ansari. I'm going to follow this post up with couple of other things I loved about Aspen and reasons why I'm so sad to see this festival die.


The True/False film festival in Columbia, Missouri is this weekend. My buddy Shaz had a film there in the fest and said it was a rad experience. Also my other buddy Mike Plante is going to be on a panel there on Sunday. I've never been myself but the festival looks interesting, check out that website! The design is incredible!

Another funny video from my friend Mary Elizabeth Ellis


Free Singularity Sci Fi novel online

IO9 reports that the latest novel from Rudy Rucker is now available for free online. It's titled "Postsingular" so my interest in piqued. They call it a "must read" and I've actually never read anything substantial of Rucker's before. I'll download it to read on my trip to Dallas this weekend.

Bonus link: IO9 today also reported on the real world Time Travel store which I mentioned back here.


Pirate Cat Radio

One of my favorite things about Los Angeles when I first moved here was at the bottom of the FM dial. Pirate Cat Radio was a pirate radio station run by one guy who called himself Monkey Man. Monkey Man never really spoke on air, just identified himself in weird promos. He's broadcast music 24/7 from his garage and I loved it. Besides the romance of outlaw radio, the music he played was eclectic, obsessive and great. Sometimes he'd leave the house for hours and just have a six-disc changer on random. But even that selection of music was so fun I'd continue listening all night. It was one of those well known secrets that can make a big city feel cozy, and he won Best Radio Show from LA Weekly in 2002. Monkey Man moved away from Los Angeles so the station went dark, but there are rumors that he's moved back and should start broadcasting soon. I sincerely hope so, long live Pirate Cat.

Lou Malnati's

I spoke about pizza here before but that was strictly local, now I'm going national. When I visited Chicago I had the lucky pleasure of having a local take me out for deep dish. He took me here. There is a little bit of controversy between me and Susan about the value and validity of deep dish in serious pizza conversation, but before any final judgments are made, Lou Malnati's must be sampled. The beauty part is we don't even have to go to Chicago, they will deliver anywhere in the US a frozen pizza in dry ice! I'm not sure how good that's going to be in comparison to the restaurant experience but it's worth a try.


It seems that parts of the internet are breaking free of the compu and wreaking havok on the real world. On the last weekend in April in Cambridge there is an event known simply as ROFLcon. It will be a meeting of various smarty pants and web types but it also has the most hilarious guestlist I've ever seen. The Tron Guy will be there, along with someone known as "Cheezeburger" and my personal favorite Leroy Jenkins. There are also a bunch of serious and smart web people, like the guys who make the comic xkcd and metafilter. But I can't believe that the real Leroy Jenkins is going to be there, that is simply too hilarious.

Go recieve THE SIGNAL

The Signal

There is a great indie horror film in theatres right now and its called THE SIGNAL. This is a film that premiered at Sundance last year and is just now being released. It's pretty rare when a indie film like this gets the full on theatrical release so bravo. The premise of the film is original, a mysterious signal begins coming out of every tv, radio phone, etc and anyone who listens to it or watches it for too long becomes a homicidal maniac.

After actually seeing the film this weekend I was impressed by how well it works this idea in the horror genre and especially how the film relied on character rather than anything else to tell its story. Characters make great stories and the filmmakers behind THE SIGNAL know this well.

Unfortunately the film is not making lots of money in the theatres (that's why these are rarely given such a roll out.) I'm not going to make one of those pleas to people to "go out and support this film" cause that shit never works and just seems desperate. I'm just sayin, if you like smart, well written and original horror films there's a movie in the theatres for you right now.

Black Francis to perform at San Francisco Film Society

America's oldest film festival, the San Francisco Film Festival is starting up in a few weeks. The film society which organizes the fest has various year round programming events as well and this one caught my eye because it sounds amazing!

"Black Francis, former front man of the Pixies, will perform the world premiere of his original score to the silent German Expressionist classic, The Golem, live at the Castro Theatre. Masterfully photographed by Karl Freund (Metropolis), and featuring Francis’s unique accompaniment, The Golem promises to be a sensory feast."

Sounds incredible! It's one of those events that programmers live for. It's March 25th in San Fran, I can't make it but if anyone is gonna be up there I'd say don't miss it!


Frangela revamps the Oscars

The latest addition to my "Friends" sidebar, Frangela, were on NPR this morning talking about the Oscars telecast. Like anything from them, it's very funny stuff indeed. To appreciate it fully you must listen to the NPR story, not just read the highlights.

As an added bonus, I'm including a video clip below of Frangela discussing idiot Creationists on The View. Hilarious!

The Critic

We showed the film HECKLER at AFI FEST last year which makes an interesting statement about criticism in society, the role it plays and how it can become corrupted. The film Ratatouille makes some similar statements, although in a much more truncated form. The idea that criticism has gone to far in this society, that there are too many critics given too much power is an interesting problem for a culture to have. I admit that there are some very talented critics out there but I mostly prefer to think of the quality critics as theorists. Too many critics are idiotic blowhards who get pleasure from tearing down the hard work of others. Before you disagree, look at this news story and then decide if you think the cult of criticism is running rampant and unchecked.


Ladies and Gentlemen, I have discovered the true purpose for the Internet. While the site "garfield minus garfield" is pretty wonderful, there is nothing more impressive than the achievement that is known simply as "Lasagna Cat." Click through at your own risk.

Barack haunts my dreams

I've had 2 dreams with Barack Obama in them now. As we approach the election I only expect this to increase. Obama seems (for me at least) to really enter the subconscious, to appeal and resonate on a very unusal level for a political candidate. That's one reason I really think he will win in the end, the idea of him affects people in a powerful way.

So I'm fascinated to find this site, called I Dream of Barack. It's a list of real dreams people have had involving Barack. I've already posted one dream about Barry up here, it should be easy to guess which one it is.

Happy Birthday Prius

It's my one year anniversary of having my new car, a green (literally) Toyota Prius. Compared to my last car, this one is a delight. I've had no problems and I'm saving a ton of money on gas. for me the choice was more economical than environmental. The environmental benefits are admittedly a bit more ego stroking than anything else. But economically I'm spending about 30 bucks a month on gas as compared to 50 a week I spend in the old hunk of steel. You're doing so good lil Prius! I'm gonna take you out for a fancy wash!

Bonus links: two fun blogs about cars I like are Prius Chat and Autopia.

Jury duty

AFI DALLAS is right around the corner, in fact I'm going out there this weekend to visit Susan. We had lots of fun last year and I got to serve on the Short film jury. Here is some video of myself awarding LITTLE FARM by Calvin Reeder the Grand Jury prize. If you have a chance to ever see anything by Reeder, do it. His new film THE RAMBLER will be in Dallas too.

LITTLE FARM Wins Jury Prize for Best Short at AFI DALLAS from afidallas5 on Vimeo.

Windmill explodes!

In my recent travels across Northern Europe we saw a bunch of modern windmills generating power. However I didn't see any of them crank so fast that they destroyed themselves like in this video below! It was right where we were traveling too, and the Climate Minister of Denmark demands an explanation! Me too!


Ricky Gervais, Atheist

I love this essay by Ricky Gervais describing his arrival to atheism as a young boy. This is a short piece but it's clear and quite an elegant little essay from an incredibly intelligent man.

"I no longer needed a reason for my existence, just a reason to live. And imagination, free will, love, humor, fun, music, sports, beer and pizza are all good enough reasons for living. But living an honest life - for that you need the truth."


An AFI film at SXSW

It's not unusual to see films by AFI students premiering at other festivals. One film premiering at SXSW in a few weeks is A NECESSARY DEATH. The film sounds intriguing and I'm excited to check it out. The premise is basically that a documentary filmmaker puts out an ad on Craigslist looking for suicidal individuals to follow for his thesis project. What caught my attention is the fact that many scenes in the film's trailer are clearly shot from inside the AFI main building. That exposed brick wall is unmistakable.

I just saw Charlyne Yi on TV!

The only reason I want to go see the new Will Ferrel flick Semi-Pro is becasue it has Charlyne Yi in it. Watching on the tv just now I saw a glimpse of her in a trailer (can't find it online, sorry.) She was in a wheelchair hold up sign that says "sucks." Susan and I saw Charlyne in Aspen at the comedy festival last year and she ruled the mountain. Below is one of her many funny videos. Enjoy.

Another short film resource, the Wholphin

Short films often get the short shaft in my world. So I'm happy to point out any place where people are recognizing/curating shorts in an intelligent way. So I was planning to write a bit about this "DVD magazine" called Wholphin. That is until I learned that my buddy Jon Korn already beat me to the punch way back here. He also wrote a much more in depth and articulate essay about Wholphin than I probably ever could have. I'll just quote the Wholphin website and then leave you alone:

"Wholphin is a new quarterly DVD magazine from McSweeney's, lovingly encoded with unique and ponderable films designed to make you feel the way we felt when we learned that dolphins and whales sometimes, you know, do it."

Opening titles

Some of my friends and I periodically have a get together we refer to as "Clip Club." Basically we try to blow each other's minds by showing brief scenes or clips from various films completely out of context. It's super fun especially with the encyclopedic knowledge of fringe film history that many of my friends have. My latest idea is to do a clip club solely of title sequences, which I think would be challenging and really fun. Today I stumbled up on this website which contains video of many great opening titles from various films old and new. Of course if we do the Clip Club I'd expect the participants to dig much deeper than this but still, fun watching.

Bukowski's old place to be a historical monument

Not everyone is a fan of Charles Bukowski. Especially among Los Angelenoes there is a bit of a backlash for sure. But I'm a big poetry fan and you have to admit his poetry writing is unique and honest. My favorite novel of his is Post Office, his first. In the news this week is this story about efforts to have the Hollywood Bungalow where he wrote Post Office preserved as a historical monument. I can't tell from the news story where exactly this place is but as soon as I find out let's go have some drinks nearby!


Lots of funny from Derek Waters

One of the funniest people I've met out here in Los Angeles is this guy. (We were in the Second City comedy program together a few years ago.) Mary Elizabeth told me about his Drunk History videos this weekend and they are freaking great. I see Derek pop up in a bunch of movies and shows every now and again. You also should check out the online series Derek and Simon that he did a little while ago. In fact any video on Funny or Die or You Tube with Derek pretty much makes me ROFL.

Things to watch at the Spirit Awards

There are once again lots of great films nominated for the Spirit Awards which are Saturday. Some of my favorite, must see films are GREAT WORLD OF SOUND, SHOTGUN STORIES, YEAR OF THE DOG and RUNNING STUMBLED.

The three nominees for the Someone to Watch Award (that sounds a little pervy) are all fantastic filmmakers as well. Both CHOP SHOP and MUNYURANGABO played in the competition section of AFI FEST this year, and the third nominee FROWNLAND was this close to playing AFI FEST as well. I even contacted the director of FROWNLAND after our final selections to personally explain /apologize. He was very nice about it. Good luck to all these fantastic filmmakers on Saturday, and be sure to check out some of these killer original films.

Probably my last Brad Pitt post ever

According to numerous blogs, Brad Pitt has influenced Audi to start making a hybrid vehicle. The story goes, Audi was arranging to have a car take him to some Hollywood premiere and he requested a hybrid vehicle. Audi doesn't make an Audi vehicle currently, but supposedly they are going to start now. Thanks Brad Pitt!

Also let me take this opportunity to thank Audi for sponsoring the premiere Los Angeles film festival, AFI FEST. It takes vision and courage to support the arts so strongly in America today.

Gears Twooooooo!

I'm pretty excited for this announcement for the sequel to Gears Of War. I liked the original a lot although I never got good enough at the multiplayer to beat the random teenagers online. Mostly I'm excited because it gives me an excuse to post this photo of a Gears statue from the Toy Fair. It's sick!

Repo Man Sequel

This one is a no brainer for me. I'm a huge comics fan. I'm a huge Alex Cox fan (isn't that picture of him hilarious?) I got the unbelievable opportunity to meet him at the festival last year when we screened his latest film. I even got to do the introduction in the theatre! So here is the big weird news, Cox has written a sequel to his beloved early film REPO MAN and is publishing it in comics form. There's only a little sample online, and it looks weird and brilliant like everything he does is.

Additional good news this month is that Criterion is releasing a DVD of his long unavailable film WALKER. If you have not seen this I highly recommend it. It is one of my absolute favorites along with STRAIGHT TO HELL.

Short films get the spotlight

I'm always happy to see some attention given to short films. The Oscars hosted a pre-ceremony screening of the nominated films for this year the other night and Indiewire wrote up a nice little article about it here. I already mentioned AFI FEST selection I MET THE WALRUS here, I'll be rooting for Josh on Sunday night. But I've seen a few of the other shorts in the list as well. It's not surprising since I saw many many short films last year in my programming duties, a few hundred would be an accurate estimate. One I haven't seen but that sounds great is THE MOZART OF PICKPOCKETS. We have most of these films in the office I think, maybe I'll pull that one down off the shelf for this weekend. If anyone wants to try and see some of these amazing nominees, let me know and I'll see if I can help.


AFI FEST and Boing Boing

Basically this is a collection of some older news but I wanted to collect this someplace. In the lead up to AFI FEST last year, the best website in the world Boingboing.net mentioned a couple of things indirectly related to the festival. First, they blogged about a Sigur Ros documentary we were showing at the festival here. Next they also blogged about THE COUNTERFEITERS, and described it as a Prisoner's Dilemma film which I loved. And then the icing on the cake was the fact that two members of the Boing Boing group actually attended the festival, presenting at the DigiFest about boingboing tv. I actually found time to run down to their presentation and catch most of it, it was a delight! Very fun watching Xeni and Mark talk about plushies in the Digital Content Lab!

Meta movie trailer by Michel Gondry

I'm super excited to see BE KIND REWIND next week. I didn't get a chance to see it at Berlin last week where it was closing night, and it's been getting great reviews. But the greatest thing I've seen from this film so far is this fake trailer Michel Gondry has created, recreating the trailer for his movie which is about recreating movies. Gigggle brain pretzel fun time.

The only pizza magazine I subscribe to

One thing you might already know about me is that I love pizza. Susan and I spent a lot of time researching before we went to New York last year to try and sample some truly stellar East Coast pizzarias. And in our research we discovered the magazine Pizza Today. I highly recomend you ge a subscription to this, it's the only pizza magazine I can recommend. The bad news is its not available to the general public, so you have to own a pizzaria to get a subscription. But the good news is it's free!

Dallas programmers name some fav films

My buddies Michael Cain, James Faust and Sarah Harris named some of their favorite films from 2007 here. I love that Sarah mentions seeing the Tracey Fragments at the end of the article. The film is amazing and the screening she's talking about is the one I blogged here.

Viking film festival

Goteborg was a great festival but very very cold. One of my favorite things about this chilly place was the festival' main venue the Draken (great name, right?) Above is the exterior of the Draken and when you get into to theater, this is what is waiting for you on the screen:

The staff at Goteborg was incredibly hospitable, and put me up in a gorgeous hotel the whole time I was there. They even invited me to the closing awards ceremony which was incredibly nice. The symbol for their festival is a dragon and check out the invite, hilarious!

The Tiger, the Dragon and the Bear

I'm finally back from my trip to the Rotterdam, Goteborg and Berlin film festivals. Here is Susan's flickr account where you can see all the official pics. Enjoy! Sue did a real real good job as the trip photographer.


Barbara Loden rocked my world

Another incredible film I saw in Rotterdam was the 1970 film WANDA, a landmark in overall American independent film. It's a film that has long been on my list of films to see as it had been listed in Filmmaker Magazine's top 50 independent films of all time and I used that list in high school as my bible. WANDA however, had proved elusive to me and I thought I might never get a chance to see it. Well it turns out there actually has been a DVD release of this film but it was only 2 years ago. You gotta go check this film out. Barbara Loden wrote directed and stars as Wanda, a woman wandering a contemporary industrial landscape with both exhausted apathy and firey rage. The film grabbed me in the opening scenes where we see Wanda wake up on a friends couch, and then proceed to show up late to her custody hearing wearing her curlers. Her chrachter sings in these scenes, revealing crushing honesty rarely seen in any film then or since. The film is incredibly surprising at every turn, never going where I think it will and every charachter continually reveals unseen corners as they continue down their paths. The film diverges into a crime spree that seems strangely exploitational at times but also adds to the 70's passion and grit of the film. The entire film has the shape and feel of a passion project, one of those films where you can feel an artist reaching though desperatly to announce herself. It's a tragedy that Loden never got the the support to make another film after this brilliant debut. Ten years after WANDA, she succumbed to cancer. A big thanks to the Rotterdam programmers for finally giving me the chance to see this gem.

Sprial Jetty blows my mind

So I've left Rotterdam now and have a bunch of Sweden stuff to report still but I wanted to talk briefly about my most intense cinematic experience in Rotterdam, seeing CASTING A GLANCE, James Benning's portrait of the Spiral Jetty.

The film is a series of scenes Benning shot at this incredible "earth sculpture" beginning in 1970 and continuing up until just a few months ago. It's an amazing use of film's ability to compress time, as the sculpture undergoes incredible transformations over the years. The sculpture seems to rise up with giant salt beaches on either side, in the mid 90s there is a point in the life of the jetty in which it is completely underwater for years. Eventually a few years later the jetty beings to slowly and surely reemerge, Finally the jetty exists in one of its most triumphant forms, a seeming floating strip of rocks hovering in the mirrored sky of the lake. It was an incredible film experience, and the fact that grass is legal in Rotterdam enhanced the film for much of the audience I'm sure.

It's an insanely good movie experience and I've drove Susan nuts by refusing to discuss anything not jetty related for 12 hours after we saw the movie. Sadly, when I got back to the computer the next day I saw this news story about the Jetty being endangered! So sad, I hope everything turns out alright fr it. This sculpture and this film are triumphant successes for all of humanity.