The epic wait is finally over! Where the Wild Things Are is coming to Blu-Ray and DVD this Tuesday, March 2nd. The special features include a veritable bounty of videos from Spike and Lance Bangs revealing the exciting chaos of production from every angle, including all the pranks, mutinies and vampire attacks. Most excitingly, the Blu-Ray release includes a brilliant brand new 23-minute adaptation of Maurice Sendak’s Higglety Pigglety Pop!, directed by dream team Chris Lavis and Maciek Szczerbowski of Madame Tutli-Putli fame and starring the voices of Meryl Streep and Forrest Whitaker.
It’s been a wild ride on this humble blog. The movie Where the Wild Things Are started as a fleeting thought in Spike’s mind and went through years of preparation, imagination, re-imagination, shooting and editing before We Love You So sprouted up last spring, just when the film was blossoming from the quiet final stages of post-production to a roaring sea of buzz and promotion, followed by fan-fueled frenzy and trips abroad to foreign shores. Finally Where the Wild Things Are is a disc that you can hold in your hands and watch until your eyes fall out of your heads.
Who knew that abandoned mine shafts and uranium tailings could be so appealing? Canada’s Edward Burtynsky has been taking photographs of mine tailings, scrap piles, quarries, homesteads, metal recycling yards and ships for years in an effort to examine the links between industry and nature. Burtynsky photographs, in his own words, subjects that are “rich in detail and scale yet open in their meaning”; places that are outside the normal realm of experience but of whose products we partake of daily.
Burtynsky’s mission (and his status as intrepid documentarian) have an epic quality that is matched by the photos themselves, which have an emotive power evident even when shrunken and presented in JPEG form on a laptop screen. See? He’s sort of like the Cormac McCarthy of photography.
Super dark and fast-paced, Fever Chart is Bill Cotter’s debut novel published (with typically brilliant design niceties) by McSweeney’s. The hero of the novel is Jerome Coe, an off-kilter narrator who jettisons a mental hospital in order to find his merry way through New Orleans, encountering scenes of beauty and grotesquerie as he reveals, piece by piece, the reasons why he might have ended up institutionalized to begin with.
The plot is thick, the sentences are punchy, and the author is a man who previously found employment as a debt collector, toilet scrubber, door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesmen and book restorer. Imagine the wealth of those experiences distilled into a careening single novel, and you have Fever Chart pretty much pegged. If it didn’t sound so foolish, you could probably classify it as “zany realism”… or something along those lines.
Giant Drag’s distortion-heavy, sharply seductive first album, Hearts and Unicorns felt like a breath of fresh air when it was released in 2005. Sadly, a series of unfortunate events involving fickle labels and wayward drummers have kept the duo from following up their audacious debut, until now. Their long-awaited Swan Song EP is hot off the presses, and the LA Times has a great interview with the woman behind Giant Drag, Annie Hardy, in which she talks about the tragic pitfalls of covering Chris Issak and the joys of selling your hair on eBay.
Fun fact: Giant Drag’s “Stuff to Live For” video (above) was helmed by G.J. Echternkamp, director of a shockingly candid documentary about his own parents’ fractured, acrimonious, and insanely entertaining relationship, Frank & Cindy. Check it out if you get a chance.
Fun fact 2: You can catch Annie Hardy (in robot form at least) in Spike’s most recent work, I’m Here.
The thing about collage is that anyone can do it, but few can do it well. The crucial thing is to balance artful non sequiturs with a kind of coded story, balancing visual with narrative interest. Mary Virginia Carmack is a master of the medium, crafting gorgeous enigmas from paper cut-outs. We detect a hint of Man Ray and a killer sense of color, but mostly a sensibility original enough to turn each image into an illustrated dream.
Casey Dienel (who goes by White Hinterland) is back with her new record Kairos which will be released in March on Dead Oceans. The sweet R&B beats mixed with pop goes well with her graceful soft voice (and reminds me of Dirty Projectors and Arthur Russel whom she’s done covers of.) It’s is a noticeable change from her more folkier sound of her earlier records and it really is a nice progression. The song “Icarus”, which is the first track on Kairos is perfect for the spring days that are on their way.
Here’s a problem: of the relatively tiny number of independent and foreign films that find distribution each year, an even tinier number of those are intended for children.
Here’s a partial solution: the annual REDCAT International Children’s Festival helps expose the work of filmmakers and animators who believe that kids deserve more than the standard cookie-cutter fare. There are artists in Iran, Sweden, Brazil, and Burkina Faso making rad entertainment for kids, and because of this festival, their films are available to you and the budding cinéaste in your life from the comfort of a theater in downtown Los Angeles.
If you live in the area and are lucky enough to know an imaginative kid, take a trip to REDCAT this week and blow that kid’s mind! The festival runs February 27 – March 7th.
Ephemera Assemblyman is exactly what it sounds like and four times as cool. Curated by a twenty-six year old Californian named Joel, the website is a repository of well-chosen, odd and beautiful images images posted with tidbits of information designed to tease out their subtleties.
What sort of image, you ask? The kind of image that looks like it emerged from between the pages of a university library book that hasn’t been checked out in sixty years and stands gathering dust in the stacks. Or maybe the kind of image dug up in a box in the attic, or acquired on eBay or…who knows? That’s sort of the point. Joel excavates the images so that you don’t have to.
Among the best include illustrations from The Annotated Dracula, the collages of Wilfried “Sätty” Podriech, Slovenian film posters (above), theater posters, hypnotist posters, avant-garde stationary, and Russian Revolutionary periodicals. But honestly, you could spend hours tooling around the site. Be a pal and share it with your friends.
Tell Them Anything You Want, the amazing-amazing documentary about Maurice Sendak by Spike and Lance Bangs, is playing at New York’s IFC Center this Wednesday at 8PM, followed by a Q&A with the two directors. If you missed it on the small-screen, now’s your chance to catch the film and lob a question or two at Lance and Spike!
Let’s take a micro-journey to antiquity and learn about the art form known as Madhubani, shall we?
Madhubani paintings are a traditional Indian form that possibly originated at the time of the Ramayana (”madhubani” means “forests of honey”). Visually speaking, the paintings are composed of two-dimensional images painted with plant-derived pigments, and they often depict Hindu religious themes, although not always (animals and geometric abstractions also figure in).
For examples of the form, look no further than A Journey Round My Skull, a blog in which Will has compiled, among myriad other items, a solid compilation of Madhubani paintings by Ganga Devi. Most of the images are available only in hard-to-find books or at the Crafts Museum in New Delhi, so this might be your only chance to check them out. Luckily, Will is a master scanner. The images are best when viewed up close, so click away.