come bust some moves with me and other copyright issues

i had never really understood the appeal of girl talk. until recently, the music purist in me perceived gregg gillis' musical act as armed robbery. known for his musical mash-ups, girl talk, uses unauthorized samples from various songs, everything from black sabbath to lil' kim, to create his music and his only instrument is his laptop. although, gillis has cited fair use as justification for his use of other artists' work, i still considered the thought of this to be blatant copyright infringement and lacking in originality.

however (yea, you saw that coming, didn't you?), a few days ago i came across a thread in my favorite internet forum where people were discussing their favorite music to work out to and there were so many people advocating the heart pumping, feet moving power of girl talk's latest album, all day. when someone noted that the album is available for free on girl talk's website, i thought i would check it out.

and holy crap! i was totally wrong about girl talk. that's right, i am going to eat my words on this one. this album is wild fun. it's like a crowded, sweaty dance floor waiting to happen. and after giving the album a listen, it became obvious to me that girl talk is less about theft and more about honoring some of the world's most notable songs and musicians. girl talk is able to portray this sense of respect for all of these artists he samples, not only by acknowledging them on his website, but in the unsuspecting and unusual mash-ups he creates (mixing aaliyah with janes addiction, for instance). it's like riding 'it's a small world' at disney; by mixing genres that are typically considered at odds with each other (metal and pop, is a good example) girl talk creates a sense of unity within the numerous genres that seems to illustrate, regardless of the type of music you prefer, we actually all listen to music for the same reasons.

i think the greatest thing about girl talk, though, is the fair pricing on his albums. as someone who believes that art should be accessible to everyone, despite your economic situation, and that the music industry's resistance to music sharing is misguided, i love seeing artists reject the traditional notions of charging fans exorbitant sums of money for their music. all of girl talk's albums are available on his website as pay what you can. so, what are you waiting for? whether you're looking for a good album to run to or you're digging for a great play list for your next party, girl talk's, all day, is your answer.

want a little taste? here you go:

in other questionable copyright news, i have been taking advantage of youtube's movie channel, that allows you to watch full length movies on youtube. granted most of the films they have listed are probably/defnitely terrible, they do have a pretty significant list of classics. or, if you're like me and have a sweet spot of campy, science fiction horror films of the 1950's, they have a lot of those too.

i recently watched the 1963 classic, charade, starring audrey hepburn, cary grant and walter matthau, which i highly recommend, as well as the surprisingly effective, carnival of souls. both films are on youtube, so if you find yourself bored one night and you've already had a little dance party with girl talk, go watch some movies on youtube!


blue valentine

let me introduce this film by first saying that, before you have the opportunity to hear any more of the already rampant (but well-deserved) hype about this film, you need to watch it. i made the mistake of: a) not seeing this the weekend it opened and b) listening to slate's culture gabfest podcast about the film, in which stephen metcalf and his fellow hosts,  praised the film so highly that my expectations for the film were surely tainted. so, yea, i went into this film expecting a lot but luckily for me, blue valentine delivers.

blue valentine is a film by newcomer, derek cianfrance and stars michelle williams and ryan gosling. this movie is a heartbreaking account of the courtship and dissolution of a couple. cianfrance very effectively toggles the past and present, using different filming techniques (the past is filmed in 16mm and the present in RED), juxtaposing the impulsive, light-hearted days of their courtship with the heavy and bleak reality of their currently crumbling marriage.

the performances by williams and gosling trump everything in this film, however. williams is subtle, yet powerful, in her portrayal of cindy and gosling, who first impressed me in lars and the real girl*, is captivating as the over-sensitive dean. both performances have since been nominated for several awards.

watching blue valentine is like watching your really great friends, who you always thought would be together forever, break up. my heart still aches a little from seeing this film but it's so worth it. every minute of this film will tear your heart apart but i promise you will walk away from this film with the feeling that you've gained something.

i know, i know, i'm just adding to the already rampant hype i was just complaining about. i guess what i'm saying is, stop reading about this movie and go see it.

*the truth is, he impressed me the first time in breaker high but that's not something i generally like to say out loud.


and the wiener is...

the fabulous natalie jean! congrats!

and just so no one thinks the contest is rigged, here is a screen cap of the random number generator that i used.

and for those who missed out, fret not! i plan on doing this regularly. i have a huge library that i need to pair down, so this seems like the most entertaining way of doing so.

in other news, i have started a newsletter list, which you can sign up for at the link on the right. expect a weekly update from me in your inbox and special offers, contests and tidbits that you won't find here!

i've also added a poll to the blog, which is at the bottom of the right hand column. i figured since i haven't been able to make my own decisions lately (winter makes me indecisive), i would let you guys decide for me. the poll will change weekly, so make sure you check back often and weigh in on important issues like, should i cut my bangs?

as for sweet charity, i'll be back with our regular posting schedule next week. have a great weekend internet friends!


proud momma

initially i was going to take an unannounced vacation from blogging this week. unfortunately, my very talented and handsome friend, noah pink, ruined everything by posting the excellent new hey rosetta video he directed on facebook. and like the proud momma i am, i couldn't contain my excitement.

for those of you who don't know, noah pink is a very smart and resourceful film maker and screen writer. in addition to making amazing music videos, he has made several short films, which have been screened at various film festivals, including the cannes film festival, the atlantic film festival, and the festival international des très courts.

here are two of noah's videos for your viewing pleasure. the first video is, 'yer spring,' off of hey rosetta's new album, seeds (which will available this february and if you're not acquainted with hey rosetta, you're very much missing out.) this lovely gem was filmed in newfoundland and makes me homesick for the maritimes.

the second video is for, 'red song,' off of hey rosetta's, red songs ep. this is one of my all time favorite videos. i love this video for so many reasons, the biggest being, that lovely lady in the video, is my bff. (yea, i'm pretty lucky, right?)


book give away!

so, i've decided to have a little fun and give away one of the books i reviewed on these here internets. (yes, i constitute fun as giving away good books so others can read them. take that as you will.)

back in november i reviewed, or what others might call, gushed over, rivka galchen's atmospheric disturbances. well, now you can hold the very same book i read, in your sweet, little book-loving hands. all you have to do is leave a comment in this post with a link or url to your website, facebook or twitter (so i can get a hold of you, if you are the wiener) and perhaps a few words about yourself, what you're reading or a recipe for oatcakes. whatevs, kids, it's up to you. i'll choose the winning comment using a random number generator because i'm fair like that.

the best part about this book, like a lot of my books, it comes well loved. you'll not only get a really great novel to enjoy but you'll also get a coffee stained book sleeve that was chewed on by my best friend's puppy and it's full of marginalia by me. i compulsively and somewhat randomly highlight, underline and make notes when i read. i've always enjoyed this in books i unearth in second hand stores, there's something really charming about reading someone else's thoughts on the very book you're reading. if you're into this sort of thing too, leave a comment, it won't hurt.

you have until friday, january 21st @ 12:00pm pacific standard time to leave your comments.


geek love

i actually read katherine dunn's novel, geek love, for the first time around this time last year. i had been meaning to write about it here since but had been reluctant to try and do this novel justice; it's so good that i just didn't think i would be able to adeptly describe how wonderful this novel really is.

instead, i went on a seven month campaign, urging friends and bibliophiles alike to read this book (since arm flailing and incoherent rambling is much better received in person, as opposed to in writing). for one reason or another, everyone of these people have returned to ask me, 'what was that book called that you were telling me about?' (maybe they were too distracted by the excited body gestures to remember). so, i figured i should just suck it up and write something so people can remember to pick up the damn book the next time their at the library/book store.

so dunn's novel is about a couple, al and lil, who decide to revive their failing traveling carnival by breeding freaks. the couple experiment with illicit drugs, arsenic and radio active materials, among other things doctors generally tell pregnant women to avoid, to engineer the genes of their children. their efforts are successful and the result is a tight nit family of flippered, bald, telekinetic weirdos. however, as the carnival grows in popularity and the children grow older, the dynamic of the family changes and things begin to unravel.

dunn's style of writing is brutual, clever and daring. she never once shies away from giving her reader the blunt reality of her characters and her descriptions are unflinching. for example, describing lil's talent for biting the heads off chickens is simultaneously beautiful yet bloody:

"there never was such a snap and twist of the wrist, such a vampire flick of the jaws over a neck or such a champagne approach to the blood. she'd shake her star-white hair and the bitten-off chicken head would skew off into the corner while she dug her rosy little fingernails in and lifted the flopping, jittering carcass like a golden goblet, and sipped! absolutely sipped at the wriggling guts! she was magnificent, a princess, a cleopatra, an elfin queen!" (chapter 1, pg. 6)

 i hope you will read this novel. a national book award finalist, geek love, challenges our understanding of normal verses abnormal and allows us to examine our own feelings of 'us' verses 'them'. more importantly, geek love is about family and the (sometimes strange) ties that bind us together.

if you are interested in learning more about this book, there's a really fascinating interview with katherine dunn here. it's worth a listen, if only to hear how amazingly deep and sexy dunn's voice is.

pretend you're dead

i received some disappointing news today. so, in order to distract myself from the temptation of writing hate mail, i have reverted to my thirteen-year old, angsty self and am spending the day in my bedroom listening to L7 and contemplating dying my hair blue.

since misery loves company, feel free to join my pity party!


four movies and one weekend

hopefully this weekend was an indication of my movie watching habits for 2011. i managed to catch four movies this weekend, which is sort of a record for me. although at one time in my life, it wasn't unusual for me to watch four movies in one night, nowadays i'm lucky if i get four movies in one month.

so, in viewing order, let's begin:

1. black swan
i saw this mostly out of boredom and the fact that i promised matt i would wait for him to see true grit. typically, i do not watch natalie portman films because her acting reminds me of someone with a large broom stick up their bum, stiff and uncomfortable. my expectations for this film were low, as they tend to be with major hollywood films, but i walked away from this movie pleasantly surprised how enraptured i was while watching it.

black swan is a film about a ballet dancer, nina sayers (played by portman) who lands the coveted role of the swan queen in swan lake. however, the intensity of the role, already present mental health issues, a crazy stage mom and a manipulative prick of a artistic director make for a slow and terrifying unraveling of a young woman who is poorly equipped to cope with these stressors.

this film is totally entertaining to watch. the film's director, darren aronosky, strategically blurs the lines between reality and fantasy in nina's life, keeping the audience questioning the reality of nina's experiences, even after the film is over. and portman's acting in this is the best i've seen from her since leon: the professional. however, i won't be adamant that you watch this film; i've watched way better films than this one, especially from aronofsky (check out pi or requiem for a dream for some really exceptional work) but if you're looking to kill two hours, it's not a terrible way to do it.

before i begin, i should note that i would not, under any circumstances, choose to watch this film independently. nonetheless, it was movie night at my house and this is what my roommates decided on. considering that if the choice were up to me, my poor roommates would likely end up being traumatized by lars von trier or  confused by godard, it's probably better i don't choose our movie night picks.

all i'm really going to say about the other guys is, if you think rape jokes are funny or you consider femininity the ultimate insult, you will love this movie. truthfully, this movie has its funny moments and i occasionally laughed out loud but in sum, if your taste in movies is similar to mine, save yourself and don't watch this movie.

3. funny games (us version)
i have talked about my love for michael haneke on this blog several times. he is, by far, in my top three favorite directors. i have watched all of his films with the exception of one and have adored all of them to varying, unreasonable degrees. one of my very favorites is funny games (1997), hanake's german psychological thriller about a family held captive by two very creepy, odd and crazy young men. haneke has this wonderful ability to strip complex situations down to their very core, leaving the audience within a stark portrayal of humanity at it's worst. there are so many things about this film that make it smart, terrifying and fun.

unfortunately, haneke decided to remake this masterpiece in hollywood. yes, my distaste about this decision ran so deep it took me three years to finally put my resentment aside and watch his 2007 english version. and after watching the newer film, i was still left scratching my head, wondering what possessed haneke to do this.

oddly enough, everything about the american version is the same, with the exception of the actors and the language it is filmed in. the set, an all american vacation home, is almost identical to the one used in the older version. however, the feel and effectiveness of this version is lacking. maybe it's the fact that naomi watts and tim roth were cast to play americans, and their terrible american accents were distracting and unbelievable (i love you tim roth, but really?!).  additionally, the actors who portray the men who torment the family over a twelve hour period are not nearly as good at making my skin crawl as the original german actors.

it's really difficult to put my finger on what was lacking in this film because it is, literally, the exact same film as the '97 version. obviously this likeness is only on the surface and if haneke accomplishes anything with his remake, it is proving that sometimes something really special happens when you make a film, something beyond the cerebral, that you just can't recreate in a remake.  i'm going to leave you with both trailers and the advice that you leave the 2007 version on the shelf and look for the 97, german version. it is an amazing film.

here is another film from a couple of my favorite directors, joel and ethen cohen. not to be confused with the 1969 john wayne version of true grit (although both are based off the novel, true grit by charles portis), this film tells the story of a fourteen year old girl who sets out, with the help of a u.s. marshall, to find her father's killer.

i'm not even sure if i can articulate my love for this film. it was funny, touching, and exciting. jeff bridges, matt damon and josh brolin (all cohen brothers regulars) are amazing in this film. and hailee steinfeld, who plays the stubborn, strong headed, mattie ross, is beyond great. her character is everything i look for in a female - smart, courageous and probably slightly nuts.

just go see this film. there really is nothing else i can think to say about this movie. just go see it. i promise, you will not be disappointed. (side note: mattie ross is my new fashion icon. seriously.)