Archive for August, 2009

826 Benefit Screenings of Where The Wild Things Are

Published August 27, 2009 by Spike

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There are screenings in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Seattle, Chicago, Boston, New York and Ann Arbor, Mich also. Everywhere there is an 826.

826 National is a nonprofit tutoring, writing, and publishing organization with locations in seven cities across the country. Our goal is to assist students ages six to eighteen with their writing skills, and to help teachers get their classes excited about writing. Our work is based on the understanding that great leaps in learning can happen with one-on-one attention, and that strong writing skills are fundamental to future success.

After the founding of 826 Valencia, the flagship center in San Francisco, educators around the U.S. joined in to pursue the same goals in their local communities. Now 826 Valencia also serves as the headquarters of 826 National, an umbrella organization that coordinates the adaptation of 826’s tutoring and mentorship model in other cities. Already, 826 has sister centers in New York, Los Angeles, Ann Arbor, Chicago, Seattle, and Boston. Through volunteer support, each of the seven 826 chapters provides drop-in tutoring, class field trips, writing workshops, and in-schools programs—all free of charge. 826 chapters are especially committed to supporting teachers, publishing student work, and offering services for English language learners.

Annie Pootoogook

Published August 27, 2009 by Graham

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Inuit illustrator Annie Pootoogook’s work wields the language of childhood to depict scenes of modern family life in the wintry isolation of Nunavut. Apdoting an elementary school artist’s tendency to produce sparse, minimalist cross-sections of domestic scenes, Pootoogook’s images are framed from a wide-eyed child’s perspective as they highlight the theatricality in small, quiet moments. She seems particularly fond of depicting children watching television, capturing moments of sedentary cultural engagement with what’s either an attitude of coldly voyeuristic detachment or heartbreaking melancholy.

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Scenes From a Secret Robot Short

Published August 26, 2009 by Graham

Spike has been hard at work on a top secret robot-related short film. When Dallas and I visited the set, the first person we bumped into was Family owner David Kramer (more on Kramer in Lance Bang’s doc Family Portrait), furiously memorizing a verse of lyrics inscribed on his palm in a parking lot beneath the freeway. Kramer, a non-musician who had joined the project only one day earlier, was preparing to play the lead singer in a fake band called The Lost Trees, alongside the members of Moonrats.

Miranda July showed up and the four of us made our way through the vast maze of a fantastically decaying abandoned building to the room where Spike was setting up The Lost Trees’ big show. Waiting for the shoot to begin in earnest, Dallas and I decided to explore the building’s musty labyrinthine corridors. Scattered remnants left over from other Hollywood productions blurred unsettlingly with authentic artifacts from the location’s functional former life as a ballroom hall/radio station.

After conquering the rooftop with its epic vistas and then descending to the depths of the building’s eerily Saw-esque basement, we returned to the set and found “The Rec Center” now occupied by a couple of radical robots adrift in a roaring sea of extras feigning their fandom for The Lost Trees. Check out the photos above to see David Kramer embracing his inner rock star, Spike and Miranda talking shop, weird finds from our backstage explorations, and Lance Bangs shooting documentary footage in his trademark visor.

Keep an eye out for the short’s premiere in November and the unveiling of Spike’s new robotic stars!

Lance Bangs’ Family Portrait

Published August 26, 2009 by Graham

Lately, it seems like all the rad creative people and places in L.A. have become closely intertwined, like a cat’s cradle of overlapping awesomeness. Sure, an extensively detailed flow chart might help you get the picture– or you could just watch this astute new documentary from Lance Bangs! Family Portrait centers on the bookstore Family and spider-webs outward from there, touching on some of our favorite places in Los Angeles, like The Smell, Hope Gallery, and Ooga Booga, as well as the people who make those places great. Watch the rest of Family Portrait after the jump.


Part 1: An intro to Family Bookstore, the crazy range of items they stock, and the origin of the store’s name.

Read the rest of this entry »

Bicycle Film Festival

Published August 26, 2009 by Dallas

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Where The Wild Things Are noise maker Bradford Cox and his fellow Deerhunters will be putting on what will no doubt be a jam-packed show in Los Angeles tonight. The chaos that ensues will all be tied together with images and accents relating to everyone’s favorite two-wheeled method of transportation.

From the site :

The Bicycle Film Festival celebrates the bicycle in all forms and styles. If you can name it – Tall Bike Jousting, Track Bikes, BMX, Alleycats, Critical Mass, Bike Polo, Road Cycling, Mountain Biking Recumbents – we’ve probably either ridden or screened it. What better way to celebrate these lifestyles than through art, film, music and performance?

Micro-Questionnaire: Vanessa Dualib

Published August 26, 2009 by Molly

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A few weeks ago we featured the inimitable Edith Zimmerman as an examplar of high-concept food trickery. Well, it turns out there’s more than one way to impart human characteristics onto vegetables!

Meet Vanessa Dualib, a 29 year-old Brazilian artist and photographer living and working in São Paulo. Her book, “Playing With Food”, documents the mind-expanding convergence of her three favorite things: food, photography, and humor. Get a comprehensive preview at Vanessa’s Flickr page, and read on for a micro-questionnaire.

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Hey Vanessa! What do you like about working with food?

The possibilities! Truly. They are absolutely endless! I honestly tell people that there are some fruits and veggies in this world that are ‘born’ to be something else. It’s not really how I look at them, but more of how they look at me.

Do you work in other media too?

Currently I am focusing on photography– I still have a lot to learn. And most important of all, I’m still trying to convince my mom that what I do can be considered a form of art. The last time she saw me photographing one of my creations she looked at me with that familiar disapproving look and said “I sure hope you plan on eating that once you’re done playing with it…”

Yes, mom. I will.

Have you read “Where The Wild Things Are”?

I was pretty young when I first read Sendak’s book and it was totally different from anything else I had ever seen or read. The illustrations blew my mind and there was also this other ‘thing’ about this book, something that only later on my life I could define better. And that was actually that for me the essence of WTWTA lies in the genuine ability of the book to portray the feelings and fears of a child…

What are your favorite foods to work with?

Fruits and veggies. Any kind. I got a soft spot for eggs too. By now all my friends are very likely getting nervous when they invite me to lunch or dinner at a public place… probably thinking “Oh my… if she makes the olives talk to the waiter again I’m never going to invite her for lunch ever again!!”

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Time Bandits

Published August 26, 2009 by Molly

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Oh hey, what’s this? Nothing much. Just a Terry Gilliam movie starring John Cleese, Sean Connery, and Shelley Duval and produced by George Harrison. Just a movie with a character named “Og” and a plotline that involves dwarves, Napoleon, time travel, and horses that shoot rockets out of their eyes.

No surprise that Criterion is behind a thorough edition of Terry Gilliam’s Time Bandits that features a perfect transfer plus commentary by Gilliam, co-writer Michael Palin, John Cleese and others.

The premise of Time Bandits sounds similar to a story we all know and love. A young boy–intrepid, curious, unruly–struggles to contend with his active imagination in the face of parents that just don’t understand. He travels to strange lands, encounters monsters of a sort, and ends up all right in the end.

Like Maurice Sendak, Gilliam has a vision of childhood that feels truthful not despite but because of its outlandish qualities, its darkness and its eye for the absurd. The young hero of the film, Kevin, is as likable as Max and equally recognizable as a version of our former selves.

All Is Love

Published August 25, 2009 by Graham

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The first single from the Where the Wild Things Are soundtrack is out today! The track is called “All Is Love,” by Karen O and The Kids. In addition to the ridiculously rad “all star players” Karen worked with on the soundtrack, the music benefits from the extra kick of a ragtag children’s choir in the vein of The Langley School Music Project.

Download “All Is Love” on iTunes or Amazon.

Ghanaian Film Posters

Published August 25, 2009 by Graham

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Ghanaian movie posters are known for being rad. There have been plenty of blogs, books and art shows devoted to appreciating the creative beauty evident in these utilitarian, yet strikingly original, marketing tools. It’s always nice to see something bland and familiar, like a generic American action film, reinterpreted through fresh artistic eyes. Ephemera Assemblyman’s collection of mind-blowing Ghanaian movie posters is quite impressive.

In the 1980s video cassette technology made it possible for “mobile cinema” operators in Ghana to travel from town to town and village to village creating temporary cinemas. The touring film group would create a theatre by hooking up a TV and VCR onto a portable generator and playing the films for the people to see.

In order to promote these showings, artists were hired to paint large posters of the films (usually on used canvas flour sacks). The artists were given the artistic freedom to paint the posters as they desired – often adding elements that weren’t in the actual films, or without even having seen the movies.

Material Thrills: Trompe-l’œil edition

Published August 25, 2009 by Molly

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It’s the trope that never dies. Humans are eternally stoked to find that things aren’t what they seem. Trompe-l’œil is appealing in any format, whether it be 17th century Viennese frescoes, t-shirts printed to look like tuxedos, meatloaf designed to look like birthday cake or candles crafted to resemble sushi.*

What happens when you combine eye-trickery with wit and a nod to sustainable design? Strictly 21-st century inventions like the We Are Happy To Serve You cup (above left), a no-nonsense ceramic vessel that replicates the classic NYC deli cup.

Unlike the disposable originals, the faux-cup has a solid weight to it, and it’s fun to register the surprise when you hand it to a friend who expects the flimsy paper original.

On a similar tip there’s also MoMA’s tote bag (above right), a sturdy item designed to look exactly like Charles Stillwell’s Flat Bottomed Brown Paper Grocery Bag, which he patented in 1883. Up close MoMA’s bag is made of synthetic material, but from afar it looks like an oddly supple grocery bag. Carry it as your own personal secret–an illusion to reveal to the chosen few.


*We’re using a loose definition of trompe-l’œil, here. You know what we mean.