Sunday, December 30, 2012

The 3 Best Short Films I Saw in 2012


Rezene Tsegai is from Seattle's south end and paints his friends and neighbors. This short documentary featuring him and his work was directed by his identical twin brother Futsum, who was a student at Seattle Central's soon to be defunded Film and Video program at the time. "Rezene" is a great document of the eponymous artist and what inspires him. There's an urgency to his painting that should be exciting for artists of all disciplines to hear about.

Ash Tree Lane

MS MR came seemingly out of nowhere this year, but in reality the duo comes from New York. They released one EP of four songs, including "Ash Tree Lane". This is the video for that song, created by David Dean Burkhart out of a dizzying variety of found footage from all over the later half of the 20th century. Besides nicely complimenting MS MR's haunting music, Burkhart combines these recycled images to create a kind of nostalgic terror; it's like a big city having a nightmare, rendered from the 16mm and VHS detritus of our debauched media playground.

Hey Jane

Further blurring the already hazy line between short narrative film and music video, "Hey Jane" is only one of many great pieces by LA based filmmaker AG Rojas. We follow an increasingly harrowing day in the life of a transvestite, which includes struggling to make ends meet and raising a son. The story is a neorealism for and by the residents of this new century.

Top Ten Films in 140 Characters Each

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Light and Music: The Night of the Hunter

The song "Leaning on the Everlasting Arms" was published in 1889 by American gospel composer Anthony Showalter, naturally inspired by a passage from the bible. The tune is simple, melodic, and warm. Many versions have been recorded in the intervening decades, but I think none is more haunting than that showcased in the film The Night of the Hunter, starring Robert Mitchum. His religious fanatic serial killer idly hums this comforting hymn as he woos a recent widow in an attempt to locate some stolen money the woman's executed husband had stashed. The widow's young son is the only person in town wise to the violent pseudo-priest's ulterior motive and flees with his little sister and the loot. Giving chase, Mitchum smoothly morphs Showalter's reverent tune into a foreboding war cry as he pursues his quarry, sending its dulcet tones before him with a menacing grin. 
In this scene, Mitchum's smiling reverend is countered in righteous fashion by Lillian Gish as a steely, world-weary protector of wayward children. She takes back the beautiful hymn from the dapper snake, and the tables begin to turn.