May 27, 2005

Looking Closer Journal: The Lion, the Witch, and the Musical Merchandising

Looking Closer Journal: The Lion, the Witch, and the Musical Merchandising

First off, don't miss this news tidbit about not 1, not 2, not even 3, but 4 soundtracks for the upcoming Narnia film... hopefully this marketing ploy is not a sign of things to come for this film adaptation of one of the better series of childrens books in recent years.

Second, do not miss Jeff Overstreet's list of soundtracks that should also be included.

May 25, 2005

"Born Into Brothels" screening

Changing the Marquee
Originally uploaded by Luke and Sarah.

Tuesday evening, Sarah and I were privileged to join about 400 other filmgoers for a special screening of this year's Oscar-winning documentary, Born Into Brothels. Special because the filmmakers, Zana Briski and Ross Kauffman, were on hand to answer questions following the film as a part of the Seattle International Film Festival.

The film tells the story of Briski, a photographer, and 8 children who are growing up in the red light district of Calcutta. Briski went to India in 1995 to document women' issues there. Through her connections there, she was led to get a room in one of the brothels to earn the trust of the women. While she was there, the children of these women became fascinated with her camera. Upon her return visits, Briski began to teach the kids how to take pictures on their own.

The opening sequence of the film cuts between scenes from life in the red light district and close-ups of the children's eyes. It is a brilliant way to open our eyes to what the children have experienced their entire lives, as well as telling us that our perspective will be from the kids point of view. The film starts as the kids are getting their first lessons in photography. Briski teaches the children about framing and composition, but encourages them to have their own style. She is also subtly teaching the audience to look beyond what's simply in the foreground as what matters.

As her students start to show talent, she realizes that all her work will be in vain if they are unable to leave the brothel and need to attend boarding schools. One child in particular shows great potential to pursue his art, but he concedes that "there is nothing called 'hope' in my future." In the end each child's story plays out in different ways: some uplifting and hopeful, others heartbreaking.

The interview with Briski and Kauffman after the film helped to build the story even further. They had intended to show some updated footage of the kids filmed this January but were unable to due to technical issues at the theater. They did tell about the current situations for the kids; some of them are on the road to high school.

In regards to the making of the film, Kauffman reflected on the difficulty of having Briski as the protagonist when the kids were really the main characters. Kauffman is currently a writer in Hollywood but worked as editor for 10 years on his way up in the industry. He plays just as much a role in the making of this film because he was able to nail down a narrative thread while Briski was just getting as much footage as she could get.

They also talked about the organization that has grown out of this experience, Kids With Cameras, which has started teaching children in Haiti, Cairo, and Jerusalem. When asked if their work seems hopeless in light of eight million homeless children in Brazil alone, Briski answer "suffering is endless. (The organization) is about individuals and empowering underprivileged kids." Another audience member asked about what good it was to teach these kids photography, when only a few of them will ever be able to leave the streets on the merits of their art. Kauffman replied that "the kids get to look at their won lives in a different way... and they learn to express themselves."

Briski and Kauffman made it obvious that they did not set out to change the world, but they are starting to make progress in some nearly untouchable areas. They clearly see the dignity that we all holds as human beings. If these kids are able to understand that their lives are worth living, no matter the suffering involved, then they are able to see the beauty that is all around them and attempt to share that joy with those around them.

Kauffman told about showing the film to kids this past January. The kids felt that it was a very good representation of that time in their lives. One girl in particular, who started out as the quiet one, had become more talkative in the end. Upon watching the film, she said that it was incredible to see how she acted back then and how much her new perspective has changed her outlook on life. Born Into Brothels caused me to look in a new way at the need for mercy and how tangibly it can be brought with such an incredible impact.

* For more reviews, check these out:
At Looking Closer by J. Robert Parks'
At Decent Films
Roger Ebert

May 24, 2005

Looking Closer Journal: Contactmusic reports U2 to re-record "Pop" album!

Looking Closer Journal: Contactmusic reports U2 to re-record "Pop" album!

I just posted a long comment on Jeff's blog, and thought some of you might be interested: both for the news about a (possible) new U2 album, and also the discussion about artists and their ability to rework their old, published works.

May 21, 2005

kiwi mock-umentary

I went on a little video geek spree this afternoon. I picked up my trusty Scarecrow Video Guide and tracked down a few rare flicks to watch while Sarah was at a bridal shower this evening.

I ended up renting two movies, both in the same vein. One is The History of White People in America, Part 1, which I have yet to watch. It was directed by Harry Shearer, from Spinal Tap and Simpsons voice fame, and stars Martin Mull and Fred Willard. Haven't watched that one yet, but it looks hilarious.

I just finished my other rental, Forgotten Silver. It was created by Peter Jackson and was released just before he started major production on the Lord of the Rings in the late 90s. It tells the story of Colin McKenzie, the first New Zealander filmmaker. According to the film, he was the first to ever make a film with sound, but it happened to all be in Chinese, so audiences walked out after the first few minutes. He also made a Biblical epic, ala D.W. Griffith, about the story of Salome. Upon its completion, he buried it since he was being chased by American mobsters and the Soviet government, both groups having fronted money for the production of the film. Jackson and friends spend the film tracking down the buried film and then edits it for release.

What is so brilliant about this film is that it actually feels like a dockumentary. One of my favorite genres is the Mock-mentary (Spinal Tap, Mighty Wind, Best In Show), but they always are so over the top that anyone who doesn't figure out that its fake is pretty dim. Silver succeeds in having a plausible plot, believable characters, and is assembled in the manner of any other dockumentary. The film premiered on New Zealand TV and was actually promoted as being true! The DVD contains an extra called "Behind the Bull", which talks about the public reaction to the fact that they had been led to think that New Zealand should be seen as such a huge film giant!

Well, I don't want to spoil it for you if you actually end up tracking down this gem. It's available at Scarecrow if you're in Seattle, but I can't be sure it'll be available anywhere else. If you get a chance rent it, and perhaps watch it with a friend who isn't "in" on the joke to see their reaction!

May 20, 2005

Song Titles, Before Editing for Language Efficiency and Clarity.

McSweeney's Internet Tendency: Song Titles, Before Editing for Language Efficiency and Clarity.:
"'Up There, Where the Clouds Are, Is Lucy, With Her Precious Carbon-Based Gemstones That Required Extreme Pressure and Temperatures of More Than 2,192 Degrees Fahrenheit to Become What They Are'"

Take a moment to figure these out... and be thankful for the wise producers and engineers that helped smooth these titles out!

Currently on iTunes: Nick Drake Mix, "Five Leaves Left" to be specific

May 19, 2005

we're wired and ready

I finally caught up with the Wi-Fi revolution and got me one of them AirPort Cards. Yeah, this is about the coolest thing since Oregon Trail! ("You died of dysentery.") Watch out Al Gore... the internet isn't all yours anymore!

"meteorlogical therapy" posted by aaron o.

"At this point, I would recommend meteorological therapy."
from Aaron Otheim's Blog, Reflections
yeah, we've been having crazy weather. like the witches from Oz are duking it out. Aaron, you put it quite nicely....

May 18, 2005

Top 5 of the Day - Albums of All Time

Top 5 albums of all time, in approximate chronological order (see note following list)
Let it be known, that I owned the first 3 albums on cassette (early high school), that I didn't get into Pet Sounds until my junior year of college (I wrote a concert band arrangement of "Waiting For The Day"), and that I had never heard Nick Drake's music until 2003 when I was already out of college and working at Barnes & Noble (I bought all 3 full length albums and his biography the last week I worked there without ever hearing his music... all that I had read about him elsewhere, I knew that I was going to love his music).

All of these, and no Wilco, Patty Griffin, Ben Folds Five... you might say, "what's this world coming to?!?", to which I respond, "I just don't know..."

* Currently on iTunes: "Raining In Baltimore", Counting Crows; "The Late Greats", Wilco; "Orange Crush", R.E.M.

May 17, 2005

how did I miss this?!?

Okay, so I can't say I'm a Nick Drake fanatic, but there are few musicians that I would say I know better (both musically and biographically) than this British songwriter/guitarist who died only three albums into his career. But I missed an album (Made to Love Magic) of new material coming out?!?

I am still making my way through his biography by Nick Humphries, and I own all three of his studio releases. There is a fourth album, Way to Blue, which is an introduction to his music, that is worth skipping except for the 2 songs not found on other albums ("Time of No Reply" and "Black Eyed Dog", which you can just download at iTunes). Pink Moon is by far my favorite album, most likely becuase this was my first complete exposure to his music (you probably would recognize the title track from a Volkswagen commercial).

Somehow today, I stumbled across the fact that another album has been released of mostly previously unreleased material! How can it be?!? So now I have to save up my pennies to go and purchase another album to once again "complete my collection" of this brilliant artist. If you haven't checked Nick Drake out, be sure to start with Pink Moon, and follow it with Five Leaves Left and Bryter Later (which has "One of These Things First" on the Garden State Soundtrack). You will quickly hear how his style (vocally, instrumentally, and lyrically) has influenced Elliott Smith and R.E.M.

* For an article detailing the making of the new album, Made to Love Magic, read the press release at Robyn Frederick's site.

May 13, 2005

sitting and waiting

so what's the internet chat symbol for "twiddling thumbs"? would it just be *twiddling thumbs*? well, that's what I'm doing. not exactly at this exact moment since I'm typing it. but I'm waiting. and sitting. and waiting. for the email. from the company. that told me yesterday. that our CDs would be finished. yesterday. but they weren't. so today. they could be finished. but who knows. since I still haven't heard. that they're finished. so I'll just sit. and wait.

May 10, 2005

start holding your breath.... now!

rare sunshine cover art
Originally uploaded by Luke and Sarah.

"Rare Sunshine", the long-awaited debut recording of music from RUF at the University of Washington, is ready to drop! I will be picking them up from the manufacturer at the end of the week, and then the mass distribution will begin.

We hope to have them available this Sunday morning at Green Lake Presbyterian, then at RUF next Wednesday. Locally they will be $10. I will also be shipping some to the RUF Summer Conference, going on this week and next week near Panama City Beach, Florida. I am currently working on getting online distribution through a few companies, so look for it soon!

May 09, 2005

Astonishing evidence of God's sovereignty!

"It is one of the most astonishing evidences of the sovereignty of God that in spite of the fact that man has... turned his back on his Maker... the fact of the matter is that we cannot cast off restraint, run riot, please ourselves and be completely hedonistic without a price having to be paid."
John Blanchard

May 02, 2005

Looking Closer Journal: U2 - Live in Seattle

Looking Closer Journal: U2 - Live in Seattle last night: A great show, slightly "dismantled" halfway through Jeff Overstreet has a review that sums up the first Seattle show on the Vertigo Tour. Anything that I will say in the future about this concert will be tinted through this lense, for better or for worse :)