18 February 2011

Ikea Heights

'Ikea Heights' is a soap opera shot on the set of the Burbank California Ikea Store, during store hours without Ikea (or its staff) knowing. This was essentially guerilla filming in the ready-made bedrooms, kitchens, offices and walkways of Ikea. Above, the pilot episode is featured.
After seven 5-minute episodes, this web series was cancelled. This despite the fact that Pastorek (from Entertainment Weekly) described it as ‘so brilliant and awesome that its glories can really only be diminished by additional words.’
Yet, the cancellation could be expected. Projects that start off as mere gags tend to run out its course pretty fast. Yet, why were they satisfied with a mere impro gag?
But be it as it may, the idea still rocks. And for guerilla filming, the result is still quite impressive.
On to the needles and pins of 'Ikea Heights': a seedy place that the characters refer to as ‘the land of convenience and murder’...
The crew managed to act out murders, arrests, on-spot adulteries and funerals within Ikea, with nobody in the know. Only at times, the crew is busted by the Ikea staff (usually asking actors and camera men for filming permits), but for the most part the actors and the crew manage to go unnoticed. Impressively, they even manage to create a musical/music video.
In addition, the innocent shoppers and members of the staff are directly cast as unsuspecting extras. For example: in one of the later episodes, the lead character, whose wife just got murdered, in his attempt to overcome grief tries to ask the shopping ladies out on a date. Another such example is when the detective Mathis follows up on the ‘wall of knobs and handles” clue by asking the helpful Ikea staff for directions.
The entire web series was directed by Dave Seger for Channel 101.

16 February 2011


Jamie Thraves, a film director that shot the short film featured in our last post, created some of the best music videos out there. This is one of them.
The track is 'Woman' by Neneh Cherry, taken from her 'Man' album (1996). Obviously, this is a female take on 'It's a Man's Man's World', originally sung by James Brown (1966). If Brown's man patronises women, Cherry's woman is ancient: she predates men.
I've died so many times
I'm only just coming to life
And my blood flows
through every man
in this godless land
that delivered me...
So mind the lyrics, as well as those truly imaginary guns the two boys pull out of thin air to shoot with.
There are two interwoven story lines: one told through the music video and the other told in words and rhymes. Taken together, the two story lines make one aware of the narrator; and wary.

Peacock's roar

'I Just Want To Kiss You', a short Brit film by Jamie Thraves starring Martin Freeman and Harry Peacock (1989).
Two lads sittin' on the dock of the day...
wasting time...
An endearing hommage to, apparently, Truffaut. Though I find it more leaning toward Godard.
Whatever you do, don't miss Peacock's roar at 3:09.
And at the very end of it all, do look at the title again. Who, and whom?

11 February 2011

A friend to grow

'Killing Time at Home', a 3-minute short animation film that delivers a punch. Written and directed by Neil Coslett (United Kingdom, 2003).
No dialogue is used to carry the narrative: a music score, camera movements, face expressions, body language - and an impressive amount of carefully chosen details. The EKO banks credit card (with a red smiley logo) and the letters delivered through GOD POST will show you that the unkempt gentleman with a child-like demeanor is in fact Mr R. Rillkrr. His room at 24 Carbon Close in Choccrington (C20 7B82H) is effectively hidden from the dangers of the outside world by a havily bolted door and a heavy curtain that we are more accustumed to see in theatres.
'The New Affliction Quarterly' headlines ('New SCA 3000 gas mask reviewed', 'Celebrities discuss their favourite diseases', 'Why the oxygen is dirty' etc) delivered to Mr Rillkrr together with #247 Zinc Dude offer some clues as to why Mr R. Rillkrr lives a life protected from the state of affairs governing the outdoors.
Other clues about the society Mr Rillkrr lives in come from the stickers on his home medicine and related "fluffy stuff in a box":
personality pills,
an inflatable doctor in a jar,
celebrity licked throat pills,
glow in the dark eye-drops,
an android toilet cleaner,
a speech enhancer (please note that throughout his daily routine Mr Rillkrr is significantly silent).
We are further puzzled by the evidence that Mr Rillkrr shops at 'Bitterfoods' where, apparently, bitter food is tolerated since it comes in cans that can double as remote control cars, and with an add-on helmet.
The dark room Mr R. Rillkrr lives in contains, insofar as the camera lets us see, a computer and a microwave (for Micro Meat). The computer monitor appears to be the sole source of light in the room. There are no chairs or tables. There also seems to be neither a sofa nor a bed. You may conclude from marked plugged-in cables that the room must accomodate at least an air purifier, a relaxation tank and an anti-radiation equipment besides the computer and the microwave.
In order to fully understand about #247 Zinc Dude, do read the caveat emptor small print from www.disposablefriends.com at 0:31 (especially the 'vital information' on habitat and behaviour). Note the logo of the webpage, the price of the 'friend' (15 df) and read the instructions carefully. The 'friend' should climb out voluntarily. Apparently, he does, too.

10 February 2011

A Case Of You

A music video for 'The Wilhelm Scream' from the just released debut and self-titled album of James Blake (2011).
The Wilhelm scream is a sound effect: a scream you hear when one of the characters in a Hollywood movie is shot. It was first used in the film 'Distant Drums' (1951).
Press here in order to hear the notorious scream.
Back to the artist in question. On BBC Radio 1, recently, a more accessible song by James Blake was aired: a cover of Joni Mitchell's 'A Case Of You'. We like that one better.

09 February 2011

City Paradise

'City Paradise',

a quirky short animation directed and written by Gaëlle Denis (2004).


Long ago the clock washed midnight away
Bringing the dawn

A rugged no-nonsense street poetry by Gil Scott-Heron, ‘the black Bob Dylon’.
What got to me is not so much the poetry (Langston Hughes and Charles Bukowski came early and took their toll). I marvel at the seemless flow of poetry and music in that rugged voice... It's that voice, in a limbo between reciting and singing, salty and matured...
The posted video poems are 'Where Did The Night Go' and 'I'm New Here', the tracks being taken from Gil Scott-Heron's last - and long overdue - 'I'm New Here' album (2010).

06 February 2011

Let the England Shake

Behold, Polly Jean maketh an eerie ode to England.

God damn, Europeans!
Take me back to beautiful England
And the grey damp filthiness of ages
And battered books

And fog rolling down behind the mountains
On the graveyards and dead sea-captains
Let me walk through the stinking alleys
To the music of drunken beatings

Past the Thames river glistening
Like gold hastily sold
For nothing... NOTHING

The above musical shorts offer the first glimpses into P. J. Harvey's forthcoming album 'Let England Shake', to be released on 14 February.
Both musical shorts are directed by Seamus Murphy, a documentary photographer enlisted by Polly Jean to tour around England and to shoot stills and moving images documenting England and the English - for each of the 12 album tracks.
The musical shorts are not shot as the music videos we are used to, but rather as a classical photographic reportage.
We are eagerly awaiting the remaining ten.

04 February 2011

7:35 in the morning

‘7:35 de la Mañana’ is an awarded short film – a masterpiece in a tiny format really – written and directed by Nacho Vigalondo (Spain, 2003). Vigalondo also appeared in the film, as Tipo (the male lead).
I will keep my silence on this one. It would be a shame to reveal anything about it. Ignorance is bliss.
Be sure to set the English subtitles in caption. Then: enjoy.
A personal favourite.

03 February 2011

It is a bright, bright day

»An image is not some idea as expressed by the director, but an entire world reflected in a drop of water. In a single drop of water!«
(Andrej Arsenjevic Tarkovskij)

Andrej Arsenjevic Tarkovskij received his polaroid camera in the 1970s from Antonioni: another master of moving image and stills. From that moment on, Tarkovskij began documenting his intimate life set in his family dacha. What came out of it is a trove of frozen time-gems collected for his son (Andrej), who would only many decades later be able to take leave from the stills by allowing them published in 'Instant Light: Tarkovsky Polaroids' and in 'Bright, bright day'.
»It is not easy for me to talk dispassionately about the photographs in this book,« wrote Tarkovskij's son, »let alone discuss their historical or artistic merit. Each time I look at them, I feel these pictures have an amazing, unique, inner energy; I am drawn as by a magnet back into my past, into the forgotten, distant world of my childhood, which all of a sudden springs up vividly all around me.«

The father - Tarkovskij the filmmaker - kept a little trove of his own time-gems in 'a cardboard box that once held tins of food'.
»I go into the house,« he wrote, »this house where I used to live and which I grew out of like a teenager growing out of his clothes, the house in the road next to Arsenev Road, and I am convinced that it’s called by that name in honour of my father who lives two blocks away from Arsenev Road. Anyhow there’s no other explanation for the name, and I’m sure that if it weren’t for my father the road would be nameless.
Mother is not here, and I wait for her in the cramped rooms of my childhood, which will never be repeated and can only fade in my memory like embers in a dying fire. The house and its two rooms barely reach to my elbows and knees, the air is stuffy and there isn’t enough, there is very little left after those fifteen years of use.
I wait for Mother and soon she arrives. She has had a short holiday and is slightly tanned, and I am glad, because I want to see her young, even though I have never in my life done anything about it and have merely dreamed like an idiot of some miracle that might make my Mother young.
We open a cardboard box that once held tins of food, and I freeze over it, as if on the edge of a precipice: in it are time, my childhood, my Mother’s and Father’s youth. The box contains photographs.«

The father – the father of the filmmaker - was the famous Russian poet Arsenij Aleksandrovic Tarkovskij. Longing for his own childhood days, this is how he sculpted into words a particularly dear image from his own past:

By the jasmine lies a stone,
Beneath the stone lies treasure.
On the path stands father.
It is a bright, bright day.

02 February 2011


This is 'Give Us A Little Love', a song track by a Danish singer Fallulah (taken from her 'The Black Cat Neighbourhood' album, 2010).

01 February 2011

Try it smiling

'On S'Embrasse?' (transl. Shall we hug?) is a short film by Pierre-Olivier Mornas featuring an aspiring actress, a looming audition, a refuge bar and a teenie-weenie story waiting to crush you (France, 2001).