Not movie-related, but kinda fascinating, I’d think, for content geeks of any stripe: A Usenet-based team of music obsessives — known, apparently, as The Whitburn Project — has been not only working on creating a huge (illegal) archive of post-1890 pop songs, but also maintaining a huge spreadsheet database of song data, including song length, BPM, label, and more. Andy Baio (Waxy.org) is running the numbers. Today, Baio charts average song duration over time, but promises more to come.
Zhang Ziyi appears in a Mercedes commercial. In China.
Check out this slideshow: Liberty City vs. New York City. What’s especially interesting is, at low resolution, it’s sometimes hard to tell the live-action shots from the videogame grabs.
If you find yourself walking through midtown Manhattan after dark during the next month, I’d encourage you to take a detour into the sculpture garden behind the Museum of Modern Art (enter from 54th Street), where a number of short films made by Doug Aitken are being projected simultaneously onto various glass facades of the building from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. every night through February 12. (There’s also a projection on the front wall of the museum, on 53rd Street, and another on the wall of the nearby American Museum of Folk Art.) The project is known as Doug Aitken: sleepwalkers.
Bill Chambers was kind enough to send me word earlier in the summer of an impending exhaustive, four-disc (!) version of Dust Devil coming from Subversive Cinema. (I wrote about this and its predecessor, Hardware, at Cinemarati in December.) You might think the last thing the world needs is a fuggin’ four-DVD version of what amounts to a solid B horror movie, cult following or no. But it looks definitive — sure, it’s got the two versions of the film, with audio commentary and a “featurette.” But it’s also got several unrelated documentaries by director Richard Stanley, on the subjects of Afghanistan, Haitian voodoo, and the search for the Holy Grail. Of course it’s possible they all suck. But maybe not. And it can’t help but be a big upgrade from the German DVD I picked up at Mondo Kim’s on St. Mark’s last year. For $29.95, I think I’ll take the chance. Scarecrow Video has it listed as a 9/26 release and is taking pre-orders.
Turner Classic Movies is having a Studio Ghibli fest every Thursday during the month of January. Films are being shown in their English-dubbed versions in the evenings, so you can safely go about your regular routine. But during the overnight hours, each one will be re-broadcast in the original Japanese. Which is, of course, the only way to fly.
TCM is a fine channel — there are no commercial interruptions, films are uncut, and these will likely be letterboxed. And Ghibli impresario Hayao Miyazaki, who directed most of these titles, is a filmmaker and fantasist second to none. Trust me on this. Even if you think you hate anime, you really need to go there; Miyazaki’s work stands well apart from the rest of the genre. The films included in the series are Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke, Nausicaa of the Valley, Castle in the Sky, My Neighbor Totoro, Porco Rosso, Whisper of the Heart, Only Yesterday, and Pom Poko.
While you wait for that new Pixar feature to make its way to theater screens, check out this blast from the past — a spectacular stunt-heavy advertisement for the Isuzu Gemini (also marketed as the Pontiac Sunbird) from the days before photoreal CG models of cars made this a cakewalk for any L.A. visual effects house. If you appreciate old-school stuntwork, I bet this footage will induce some pleasant combination of nostalgia and exhilaration.
OK, I’m a sucker for bootlegs and mashups, a genre that in its contemporary incarnation was sort of pioneered by Steinski and crew, whose “Lessons 1-3” (the mirrored links on that page still seem to work) are some kind of turntablist landmarks — and whose “The Motorcade Sped On” and especially “It’s Up to You” (Real audio) are savvy outlaw takes on the mass media.
If you went on a bender involving tequila, cough syrup, and/or some kind of mild hallucinogen and kept Fox News on while you dozed in the La-Z-Boy, your cumulative experience might eventually feel something like Big Screen Version (the link leads to an embedded QuickTime video). The man with the NLE is Aaron Valdez, late of Pasadena, Texas, and now living in Iowa City. His video mix is unrelated to Steinski, but it’s pretty entertaining.