Archive for the 'Film' Category


Nickey: Basically the best short film you will see in your entire life

Nickey Robo






Watch this video right now. Just sit still for five minutes, and enjoy it, because you are probably going to cry it’s just so lovely

This is from the wonderful folks at Radio Lab, which is the best radio show on air and you should subscribe to the podcast as soon as you are done watching this video. I recommend starting with the Memory and Forgetting episode or Musical Language episode.


gaby: your special halloween programming part 2: the drew and i


Did anyone else have the urge this summer to write a book called “Drew and Drewlia,” where you would talk about how Drew Barrymore, and her winsome Terri-Nunn-from-Berlin two-tone hair and her late-in-life tongue ring and her whole thing where she just kind of seems so Alive! With Pleasure! all the time and her image as someone who is kind of possibly sort of self-actualized (for a famous person, at least), guided you through the pain and horror of your Quarterlife Crisis? I know that I had that urge. I’ll let you know when I’m finished with the book. I’m stuck on the chapter where I re-create “starring in Poison Ivy” right now, but I’ll let you know how the rest shakes out.

My point is, I love Drew, and that was the rationale behind today’s horror film pick, the Stephen King adaptation “Cat’s Eye”, which stars a wee baby Drew Barrymore as the chubby cheeked kid who ties together several vignettes in this horror anthology film. Guess what? It turns out that that was a mistake! Wee baby Drew has little in common with beloved kooky adult “your goddess rose is your woman power!” Drew, and thus has little to offer her Drewish fans besides her cute little baby face. But anyway, there is more to this movie than Drew, and unfortunately it is all bad so get ready!

Do you remember that Onion article, “I don’t even remember writing ‘The Tommyknockers’!” by Stephen King? Here, read it, its funny: Anyway, it turned out later on, after Stephen King came out and started talking about the really bad drug problems he had had for years, that there actually were books that he barely remembered writing! ‘Cujo’ was one of them. And I would like to posit that ‘Cat’s Eye’, the book that this movie is based on, is probably another one. I know this is not a cool or literate thing to admit, but sometimes I fucking love Stephen King! Sometimes his books are just weird and scary and baroque and bizarre and supernatural and I just fucking love them. Of course, they can also get bad, and they never get quite as bad as when he strays from the supernatural. This is movie all just super-goofy 80s stuff–kind of like “thirtysomething” but with a tiny troll who tries to steal your breath while you’re sleeping (that’s not a metaphor, that’s what the movie is about). Lots of shoulderpads and weird gags about cigarettes. Thumbz down.


gaby: your special halloween programming part 1: in which i plan to watch a horror movie a day for the rest of october


Oh my god, guys, do you realize it is almost Halloween?! I just got back from a trip to Eastern Europe, and I have to say, despite whatever other things I sometimes feel about the US, I am so happy to live in a country where we have a fun national holiday devoted to the terror, anxiety, and agony of the unknown! I am all about Halloween, because it is the only holiday that really touches on all of my interests:
1. werewolves
2. parables and archetypes
3. candy
4. having everyone admit that everything every day is kind of hideously scary oh my god just the uncertainty of it all, you know?? It’s amazing that we can even get out our front doors sometimes!!
4a. but also admitting that that terror of uncertainty can sometimes be the big sexy thing that keep life interesting and exciting
5. days when it is socially acceptable to tape a headless rubber mummy to your door
6. haunted houses!
7. fake blood in public

I mean, really think about it! Think about the amazing privilege that we all get, a single special day a year when we finally get to tape a headless rubber mummy to our front door (if that is what you strongly personally desire to do all the rest of the year)(I know that I do!).

I know I am basically the Halloween equivalent of someone who spends all of November making little Christmas tree angels out of toilet paper tubes, but I do not care. As far as I am concerned, it is the only holiday that is a celebration of fun and wonder, without being ruined by a really obvious and heavy-handed religious part (yes, duh, I know there is a spiritual history of Halloween, stop interrupting me) or having to do boring stuff with your family. And you can walk around in a dinosaur costume if you want to! Anywhere outside your house that you like! Even into a bar!

Anyway, so since I was away for a lot of October, I am a little behind on my Halloweening, which I normally begin at the very top of October. SO: I am kicking it into overdrive for the remainder of the month. Please get ready for some specialty Halloween programming from me on this blog over the next few days, including: things that are scary, things that are not scary, daily horror movie reviews, non-daily candy reviews, and precious Halloween memories.

First order of business: I have decided to try to watch a horror movie a day for the rest of October. I’m still kind of jet-lagged, which leaves me waking up at the unholy hour of 6:45 am. A terrible time to be awake (if you ask me), but an amazing time to watch horror movies! This morning, I watched a horror movie that was so absorbing I almost forgot to go to work! And that movie was called:

TRICK ‘R TREAT (2007), dir. Michael Dougherty
Holy balls, people, this movie is so good! It is one of those movies that is composed of four vignettes, and I just figured, I’ll watch one or two, and then leave for work, right? Wrong! Omg, so so so wrong. This movie is so fun and goofy and gross and genuinely funny and even really seriously spooky, I could not tear myself away–it gets all the Halloween feelings just right. It’s nothing like most horror movies you see around these days, the ones with all the dumb sex and then girls crying and running and realistic-looking zombies and fake-feeling everything else and weird graphic victimization that makes you kind of uncomfortable. This film takes place in a much campier, more stylized universe, a place that has more in common with “Buffy” and “Tales from the Crypt” than “Saw”–it does real unreality better than any horror film* I’ve seen since “Scream.” Yes, I am praising it that highly!

Set in a suburban midwestern town on Halloween night, the film follows four separate (but interwoven) stories centering on: a campily menacing school principal dealing with trick or treaters, a group of tweens off to do something unsettling with some stolen jack o lanterns, an old man who’s alone in the house (or is he???? omg of course he’s not!) and some Halloween girls gone wild. It’s also not sexist or racist or homophobic–I know that is sort of a weird thing to praise it for–like, shouldn’t all movies be that way?– but as a long time horror fan, I know that I sometimes have to suffer some sexism or other yucky stuff to get through a halfway enjoyable horror movie. I am pleased to report that this movie is not like that all!

It’s also really beautifully shot–it was produced by “X-Men”‘s Bryan Singer, so I am guessing some serious cash went into it, and it shows. The dark color palette is moody and gorgeous, and you know what, it has to be really fucking moody and gorgeous to get me to notice it, because I don’t pay attention to any visual details ever in my life, like sometimes my roommate gets a haircut and it takes me two months to notice. But I noticed how lush and pretty this film looked for a straight to DVD horror movie. And god knows why it was dumped straight to DVD! The movie was originally scheduled to be released in theaters for Halloween 2007, and for whatever mysterious reasons, never saw the light of day until its DVD release this past month. I think it is lame that in a world where something like “Paranormal Activity” gives everyone a boner (even though it lacks craftsmanship or story development or also a lot of other things) just because it is not the same old “Saw Part 47” nonsense, people don’t get to have an amazing Halloween delight like “Trick ‘R Treat” pushed in their faces the way it should be. Well, I am pushing this in your face right now! if you like horror movies at all–say, if you’re unsqueamish enough to watch and enjoy “Scream”–please totally go out and rent this movie this Halloween season, you won’t be sorry. When I walked out of my house, which is on an exremely crowded urban block, this morning right after finishing this movie, I felt the same combination of terror and delicious delight in my own isolation and all the unknown things going on around me that made me first go wild for Halloween as a kid.

Oh also, don’t look at the Wikipedia page, it ruins like every single surprise in the movie. My week of horror movies feels kind of shot now, though–what can I rent that will be as good as this? If you have any suggestions, pleeeeeeeeeeeease leave ’em in the comments!

* I am using the “horror film” qualifier because I think there are a bunch of non-horror directors who do real unreality better, but this isn’t about them!


KEEP IT ON THE BROWNLOWE: BEST ALBUMS OF 2009: Where The Wild Things Are : Soundtrack

An odd choice for Best Album of 2009 just snuck in…. in form of a children’s album.

I’m excited to see Where The Wild Things Are when it hits theaters later this month. I’m guessing it will be one movie this year that will justify paying $10 to see on the big screen.

And of course I was beyond thrilled to hear that Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs is responsible for the movie’s soundtrack! My imaginary child will definitely be receiving this album in their music collection.

Karen O and the Kids (an all star entourage featuring members from YYY/The Raconteurs/Dead Weather/Deerhunter/Gris Gris/The Bird and the Bee as well as a charming childrens choir) will hopefully be school yard heros with their soundtrack (which thankfully is not a huge green booger!) In fact, this album is more fun than my memories of recess!

The songs manage to remain playful and kindergarden friendly whilst sustaining a professional-sounding ochestration that even those who know how to tie their own shoes can appreciate.

Listen to “Capsize”:

Karen O’s crackly, whimsicle voice often sounds like a kid going through pre-pubescent turmoil and is leveled with cutesy folk-pop acoustic guitars and tamborines on many of the songs.

“Capsize” sounds like it could be an outtake of of the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s It’s Blitz with call and response chants with children, electric guitars and a determined snare march. “Worried Shoes” is a melancholy lullaby with clunky vibraphones and airy piano notes and sounds like it could be the inner thoughts of a kid who just licked their ice cream off the cone.

Some of the songs are darker in nature which leads me to believe this movie isn’t going to be targeting any cry babys. The primal track “Animal” begins with growls and children begging for mercy before it dives into a swamp of yelps, screetching acoustic guitars, tribal-esque shakers and bone rattling beats ending in howls.
Listen: “Animal”″

I’m excited to see how the music plays out in the movie itself. I think we’re in for a real treat this October.

Watch a fan made trailer with Karen O and The Kids hit, “All Is Love”:



Jon: Lucky Three…


A few days ago I purchased Elliot Smith’s 1995 S/T  album on vinyl and have been listening to it obsessively since. I actually already owned it on CD from when I was in High School, but hadn’t listened to it in years.

 I have to admit that I am not really that huge a fan of most of Elliot Smith’s music. Usually when I don’t like folk music (which is most of the time), it is because I wish it was more filled out with drums and other instruments. With Smith though, less is definitely more, and his later work is just too grossly over produced to carry the same emotional resonance of his first album.

This morning I remembered a documentary/live music video called Lucky Three I have on an old Kill Rock Stars compilation VHS. The 1997 Jem Cohen directed short film features Smith playing three songs and walking around dirty pre-pearl district 90’s Portland. I remember watching it when I was 16 or 17 and crying like a hormonal goon. It is a great example of Smith’s earlier sound before he got all fucked up and famous and dead.

I’m sure you’ll love it too….


26 Interviews: (A)ndrew Klaus

26aPortland based artist Andrew Klaus has been continuously working in a wide range of creative fields  including photography, music (as A is for Accident), and film, his most prominent effort.  As a follow up to several award winning films, his  newest short feature “Inheritance” will be out later this year.

Through out his career Andrew has worked with such notable collaborators as Andy Goldsworthy, Holly Andres, James Bolton, Grace Carter, and Silas Howard. Recently he has begun filming videos for  Oregon’s Emergency Medical Services for Children (EMS-C) which serve as instructional films for pediatric trauma situations. This has not only afforded him a living as a film maker, but has also given him the opportunity to film in many new and exciting situations. Did anyone say medical helicopter party?



Jon:  When not writing, directing and producing your own films you frequently work as a documentarian for hire.  Do you find that having a 9 to 5 job adjacent to your creative endeavors has been helpful?

Andrew:  I feel having a day job in your creative field is absolutely advantageous.  You make contacts with others who share your passion for film making, which is by its very nature a collaborative field.  You pool your resources, call in favors, collect knowledge and offer support to one another- or compete cut throat and blood thirsty.  Thankfully for me though, that has been the exception not the rule.

 J:  It sounds like you find a lot of inspiration in your day job. How have you filtered your experiences working on films for EMS-C into your technical process when working on your own films?  There has to be a big difference in the process behind these to seemingly disparate projects.

 A:  Often my experimental or narrative films have taught me the techniques necessary to produce a product for a client.  I’ve learned my best lessons from trying and failing and trying again.  Also, I’m a big fan of dumb luck.  In experimental film making mistakes often lead to new discoveries, frequently enhancing a performance or an effect.

With the documentary work we shoot largely in real time: one take, with multiple cameras.  This means far less room for error.  I can never just yell “cut”, reset, and start over. It’s always “think on your feet”.  I am just trying to shoot everything as fast and steady as possible.  When I cut it all together I rely on my more creative film experience to find the narrative and piece together a story from start to finish.  The final product, while not exactly a traditional film, ends up as one that has filmic qualities.

I’ve certainly learned important new lessons from this job. From budgeting in my personal life to bettering my interpersonal relations and conflict resolutions, an invaluable tool for any film maker.  Also, I’ve been really inspired by the varied rural locations I’ve been to on my job with OHSU.  These are locations which I probably would have never experienced otherwise and I hope to revisit a few of them to shoot creative personal work in the coming year.

 J: So when approaching your creative efforts you never find yourself burnt out on filming and editing as a result of your day job?

 A: I’m absolutely grateful and keenly aware how lucky I am to get to work in my chosen field.  That being said though, like anyone on any job, there are sometimes days, situations, and other people that simply get on my absolute last nerve.  I’m trying really hard to remember everyday why I do this unstable and truly insane job, and to be thankful for it.  But yeah, some days are just plain awful. 

I got really burned out on my upcoming film Inheritance.  It was plagued with problems in post production from special effects not working, to being 3k over budget, to plain ol’ challenges in storytelling.  It’s a really odd film that was a tough nut to crack when editing.

 J: Speaking of “Inheritance”, your most recent film, I’ve noticed that it deviates from your previous work in that its strength relies heavily on the absurd and comedic.  I imagine that your day job with EMS-C must also require a sense of humor seeing as you are dealing with such serious subjects.  Any funny stories?

 A: No, none… Just kidding.

 Yeah of course.  Let’s see:  Recently we pulled up to a Hospital’s Emergency Department and were unloading gear, including the Hi-fidelity medical mannequin we use.  When we unzipped the case and hauled out the “dummy”, we were unaware that a few people were watching thinking these big city strangers had come to their small town with a dead body in a suitcase.  On an even more recent project no one informed me I would be shooting on some of the largest sand dunes in North America. In the rain.  In my Kenneth Cole loafers.

INHERITANCE%20POSTER[1]J:When writing “Inheritance, what inspired you to insert a comedic element into such “a serious subject?

 A:  After completing my previous loosely themed trilogy I was sort of at a loss for what story I wanted to tell next.  The three films were all quite serious.  First off there was The Human Remains (2006), a film about a young women in a suicide survivor support group.  It was the film that started my career.  I followed it up with back to back downers – Lazarus (2007) an experimental film about madness and survivor’s guilt and then THIS HOUSE IS NOT A HOME (2007) a black and white silent horror film.

 While preparing for my next film I started making experimental films and erotica.  Creatively this was really, really satisfying but it was not something that was readily accessible.  Eventually I missed narrative filmmaking.  I had this treatment I had written as a fable.  It was a horror-comedy about a couple whose lives are turned upside down when they inherit a minor demon.  And I decided to be quite literal and instead of lesser, “minor” would actually mean adolescent.

When I started thinking about the look of the film I decided I wanted to attempt to make the kind of schlocky B (or C) movie that I loved as a kid.  I wanted to pay homage to the early days of cable TV and direct to VHS creature features, a knock-off of a knock-off of Gremlins.

 Sort of Sam Rami meets Woody Allan.

 I hadn’t really done comedy before and that seemed really challenging to me.  I mean it’s definitely a black comedy.  It’s gruesome and kinda adorable in equal measure but I’ve cut my teeth on disturbing, scary and/or emotionally moving- so doing comedy was definitely out of my comfort zone.  It’s good to be able to tell a variety of stories and work in several genres as a director.

 We’ll see how audiences react to Inheritancethis fall; the test screenings have gone really well.  I really like changing directions with each project.  My next film I plan on shooting is a surrealist sci-fi film, part David Lynch part Sophia Coppola part Derek Jarman, about a group of people in a sleep study.  It may even have a musical number.  The plan is to mix stop-motion, erections, singing, and really beautifully composed cinematography.

 And even a happy ending for a change… well, maybe.


(for more on Andrew, visit his website, Diggin’ to China)



26 Interviews  by Jon Miller

365 days.

26 interesting people.

1 alphabet.


Jon: These are my people….

jon new logo


The video below is a series of clips from a 1994 documentary called Wildwood. The documentary examines the lives, thoughts, and desires of the women and girls who live in the coastal town of Wildwood N.J. When I was a teenager I lived a short drive from Wildwood and it’s trashily festive boardwalks. In fact they were one of the favorite hangouts for me and my friends. Though my time spent there was a few years after this documentary was filmed (1998-ish), watching this video still brings back (admittedly humbling) memories of my youth. Personally though, I don’t really remember there being any actual girl fights.

 If anyone has a copy of this, let me know. I would LOVE to see the whole thing.

p.s.: I actually kind of love that shoulder-less chambray oxford.

Got any good leads?

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