Film Essent Archive for July, 2010

Can You Do Me a Kindness?

Just a note for you NYC folks: Winnebago Man premieres there this weekend, and tix are reportedly selling out. I caught Winnebago Man last year at Cinevegas, and it is hilarious. From last year’s Cinevegas dispatch:
I also very much enjoyed Winnebago Man, in which director Ben Steinbauer became obsessed with tracking down Jack Rebney, better known to many folks through YouTube as The Winnebago Man (or, alternatively, The World’s Angriest Man) courtesy of a viral video of outtakes of Rebney taken during an industrial video shoot for the recreational vehicles, in which he rants and swears most impressively. Steinbauer managed to track down Rebney, considered by found video afficionados to be a “holy grail” of sorts, to find out what happened to him. While I’m not normally in favor of the director of a documentary being in the film itself, this particular case is an exception, given that the story is somewhat about the relationship that evolves between Steinbauer and his crusty, curmudgeonly subject.
Winnebago Man is an immensely enjoyable film, and that’s at least in part due to some excellent editing choices by Malcolm Pullinger. It’s also worth noting that one of the cinematographers credited on the film is Brad Beesley, who also shot and directed the surprisingly poignant Summercamp!, which is one of my favorite underappreciated documentaries.

Me again. If you’re in NYC and you’ve not seen Winnebago Man, go see it, will you? Added bonus: Michael Moore and Jack Rebney, the Winnebago Man himself, are expected at the screenings at the Sunshine Cinema.

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Armond, Armond, Quite Contrary

I was just reading this piece that Ray Pride linked to about Armond White on Maclean’s, in which writer Jaime Weinman attempts to dissect the man whose penchant for contrariasm has made him one of the most talked about critics du jour.
Love him or hate him, but you have to admire White for finding a way to use the internet to reinvent himself, rather than just shaking his fist in the air and yelling at those damn kids to get off his print critic lawn. Roger Ebert, who’s quoted in the article from this piece calling that White a “… troll. A smart and knowning one, but a troll.” has also learned to leverage the power of the internet to his advantage, communicating more directly with his large fan base through both his online journal and prolific use of Twitter. But whereas Ebert has been accused in recent years of growing too soft and generous with his reviews, White is the bellwether of contrariasm. If everyone else loves it (see: Toy Story 3) White is almost certain to review it negatively. If most other critics slam a film, White is likely to find something to like about it.

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“I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how many recappers, while clearly over their heads, are baseline sympathetic to finding themselves routinely unmoored, even if that means repeating over and over that this is closer to “avant-garde art” than  normal TV to meet the word count. My feed was busy connecting the dots to Peter Tscherkassky (gas station), Tony Conrad (the giant staring at feedback of what we’ve just seen), Pat O’Neill (bombs away) et al., and this is all apposite — visual and conceptual thinking along possibly inadvertent parallel lines. If recappers can’t find those exact reference points to latch onto, that speaks less to willful ignorance than to how unfortunately severed experimental film is from nearly all mainstream discussions of film because it’s generally hard to see outside of privileged contexts (fests, academia, the secret knowledge of a self-preserving circle working with a very finite set of resources and publicity access to the larger world); resources/capital/access/etc. So I won’t assign demerits for willful incuriosity, even if some recappers are reduced, in some unpleasantly condescending/bluffing cases, to dismissing this as a “student film” — because presumably experimentation is something the seasoned artist gets out of their system in maturity, following the George Lucas Model of graduating from Bruce Conner visuals to Lawrence Kasdan’s screenwriting.”
~ Vadim Rizov Goes For It, A Bit

“On the first ‘Twin Peaks,’ doing TV was like going from a mansion to a hut. But the arthouses are gone now, so cable television is a godsend — they’re the new art houses. You’ve got tons of freedom to do the work you want to do on TV, but there is a restriction in terms of picture and sound. The range of television is restricted. It’s hard for the power and the glory to come through. In other words, you can have things in a theater much louder and also much quieter. With TV, the quieter things have to be louder and the louder things have to be quieter, so you have less dynamics. The picture quality — it’s fine if you have a giant television with a good speaker system, but a lot of people will watch this on their laptops or whatever, so the picture and the sound are going to suffer big time. Optimally, people should be watching TV in a dark room with no disturbances and with as big and good a picture as possible and with as great sound as possible.”
~ David Lynch