An amazingly intense and emotional Spanish movie! Definitely my favorite one of the festival. It's a prison thriller movie in which a guard, on this first day, gets trapped on the wrong side of the prison doors during a massive inmate riot and uprising. The only way to survive is to become one of them. It's also a very graphic movie which makes Shawshank Redemption seem like Sesame Street.
A Danish movie about a Copenhagen police officer who is transfered to a small town after pulling a gun on his wife after finding her cheating on him. The locals, however, do not welcome him and would prefer to take care of matters their own way. Sound familiar? I couldn't help but notice the similarities to Hot Fuzz. Although not a really spectacular movie, it was another interesting take on the premise.
This was an amazing documentary covering the Disney Animation Studio struggles during the 80s with some flops and their comeback in the early 90s with movies such as "The Little Mermaid", "Beauty and the Beast", and "Lion King". It closely follows the tension between Michael Eisner, Jeffrey Katzenberg, and Roy Disney as they struggle for power and attention, as well as the animators who mostly suffer as the result of the upper management. The animators channeled their anger through funny caricatures, some which are displayed in the film. The style of this documentary was unique: It wasn't interview in modern day, followed by archival footage, followed by another interview... the visuals are made up entirely of archival footage from before 1994. A highlight includes Tim Burton's menacing grin toward the camera back when he was a young animator. This documentary is a good complementary film to The Pixar Story, which was at the festival a couple years ago, and for anyone interested in a great comeback story, I would recommend.
This was an... interesting... British film, the first part of three, about a news reporter (left, in the photo) trying to track down a serial killer in a city filled with corruption by upper management in the media and police. The film got a bit slow in the middle, but finally came together in the end. I'm also told it all doesn't come together until I watch the other two parts, so I won't cast any final judgement just yet.
This was an INSANE fast-paced Belgium comedic claymation about a horse, a cowboy, and an indian who live together. I'm not even sure where to start, but could probably best compare the witty dialog and awkward character movements best to Team America: World Police. The packed Orpheum Theater was in stitches by the end of the movie, as you could hear laughter during the entier hour and a half run of this movie. This is an absolute must-watch, and will probably be picking it up again to catch everything I missed the first time around.
Probably my favorite film from the festival so far this year, and others probably agreed, since it sold out the 1,700 seat Orpheum Theater. This Swedish thriller follows a journalist and a hacker (pictured) who are employed by an old rich man who wants to find his niece that disappeared some 40 years ago. The suspects? The entire Vagner family, which is made up of the type of characters you would expect to find in the game 'Clue'. The two know they are getting closer to unraveling this family mystery as their lives are put more and more in danger. With an exciting ending, the movie keept me on the edge of my seat the entire time. This is also a must-watch, and I'm excited to see if the other two books in the trilogy this movie is based off of also make it to movie form.
This Korean movie is a good old fashioned detective crime movie, as a group of detectives search for a serial killer. The film festival introducer explained this is the "anti-CSI", as they have little to go on except of their instincts (They had to mail a DNA test to USA which took weeks to get back). The tension between the hands-off laid-back detective and the karate-chopping drunk interrogator provides for an interesting conflict. This wasn't a thriller per se, but more of a Law and Order paced movie with some hilarious moments in between. While this movie wasn't anything spectacular, it was enjoyable to watch and I would recommend.
A couple creative uses of the pedestrian crossing sign in Madison, WI:
'Drunk Student Crossing' at Ian's Pizza (arguably the best pizza place... ever)
Last night I had the privilege of seeing Sufjan Stevens at a sold out concert of 600 people at The Majestic in Madison, WI. I knew it was going to be a great show the moment he stepped on stage in a blue "WISCONSIN" t-shirt, camouflage hat, and said: "Sup 'yall, I'm Suff-jan Stevens", making fun of a common mispronunciation of his name, and went right into playing my favorite song, Seven Swans.
Mixed day for movies today:
And I do have to applaud this movie, because it's the first action movie that I've seen in a long time that I've given any care to the characters whatsoever. (Unlike, for example: Transporter) Granted, they were fortunate enough to have 3 hours to do it in... which would never fly with an American action flick. (Transporter is just around 90 minutes) And those 3 hours flew by. There were no slow spots throughout the movie, and I'd totally watch it again, despite its over-the-top music and cinematography. And I mean, over-the-top.
(Also: Apparently this is mostly copied, and without credit, from Memento, which I never saw. I'm curious, though, if seeing it will change my opinion of this)
Saw two great films at the Wisconsin Film Festival last night:
It started out a lighter comedy, and I thought it turned darker pretty quick. My more cultured friends called it an in-your-face social commentary on the modern Japanese family, although I didn't pick up on that. Minus some over-the-top emotions near the end, I really enjoyed the movie. The beginning is pretty hilarious, and while the second half looks bleak, the director was nice enough to give you a glimmer of hope at the end.
The movie's biggest points were this: The food industry is run by a very small handful of large corporations, and, Monsanto (I think mentioned negatively in every single anti-corporation documentary I've seen) runs the FDA, and this is all really really really really bad.
The only organization or company to be portrayed positively was Wal-Mart, interestingly enough, for their willingness to buy more and more free-range and organic food. (Although, not as much for ethical reasons as for the profit from consumers now demanding food produced more healthy)
It's definitely worth the watch, as long as you're willing to accept your food isn't made by 'Joe the Farmer' like the packaging leds you to believe.
Police have responded. Dayton from Park to Lake has been closed. Lots of kids getting wet :)
Updated 1:55am: The snowball fight had broken up by the time I got this entry posted. It was hard to get a photo that conveyed the scale of this thing. I need a professional camera.
They recently posted a directory of the services that will be in the UW half of University Square, if anyone is curious about more specifics:
It looks like UHS will be dominating most of the tower.
I've heard all over that lines at the voting locations weren't bad. I voted at 8:30am and the line was only 20 minutes long. For the post part it was very quiet (probably because everyone had just woke up) except for an intense discussion about the separation of Church and State prompted by the fact that our voting location was a Catholic Elementary School and they were selling cookies.
Supporters from both parties are out and about, and both were having difficulty keeping their signs upright with the occasional gusts of wind on an otherwise beautiful day.
If you haven't voted and don't know where, Google Can Help.
Added 2:00pm: My friend Kennis posted a photo of an Obama ad projected on the side of Memorial Library last night.
Found on the 4th floor of Vilas Hall.[More]
This is really sweet-- as I went to one of the bus shelters around the capitol loop in Madison I noticed an LED sign announcing all the bus routes and when they were arriving.
I'm curious if:
1) It is based off of real time (like GPS) or scheduled time
2) There are any plans to expand this.
Multiple inquiries to Metro Transit didn't get any replies.
Saw two films today on the last day of this year's Film Festival.
Some notable interviews were that of Wayne Bibbens who collects and has thousands of old Apple computers, and Jim Reekes, who created today's startup Mac sound and was a somewhat disgruntled ex-engineer, calling some of the other engineers from his time "retarded".
I wasn't really a big fan of the documentary itself. I've seen a lot of really really well done documentaries, both inside and outside this festival, and this was not at that caliber. My primary complaint is that it lacked focus-- jumping from being organized chronologically to by some random selection of topics. It was also slowly paced... many of the interviews went for several minutes, uncut.
The directors had a Q&A afterwards and acknowledged both issues, letting us know that this wasn't the final cut. They apparently have 8 hours of usable footage and have had difficulties from the beginning deciding what and what not to include. They additionally acknowledged some of the interview segments were long, and hope to cut them down in time along with adding some additional interviews that didn't make this cut. I think if they work on both of these issues before the DVD and final distribution, it has potential to be enjoyed by those who aren't Mac fanatics.
Equally puzzling was how they were related, why they were lured into this room, and who was behind it. What was disappointing was to the extent every question the viewer had about the movie was spelled out at the end. I'm not a big fan of movies that leave you totally wondering what happened, but you can't just explain everything to us either.
I finished up Saturday by seeing two more films-- suspense films this time.
In panic, he struggles to hide the suitcase and its contents... meanwhile his wife thinks all the sneaking around is because he's cheating on her. This misunderstanding takes over the topic of the film, as you start to hear or learn less and less about the suitcase.
The movie was interesting... funny at times... but nothing spectacular. The ending was weird.
The woman, however, is up for a promotion at work. In panic, instead of calling 911 or dropping the man off at a hospital, she ends up driving home to her garage with the man still in the windshield. She then subsequently learns that he's not exactly dead.
The movie soon turns into a race-- can he somehow get help before she "takes care of" him?
The movie was significantly more gory and bloody than I had expected. It's always fun to watch a movie like this with a large crowd, as you could hear the whole audience of a few hundred people all cringe at once.
Today marked my first day of the Film Festival. Unfortunately with classes and work, I was unable to see any movies from the first two days.
To start off Today, I saw two solid documentaries, both which I would call "magical".
It surrounds a lot around how Ed Catmull, Steve Jobs, John Lasseter (right) came to get together, Pixar's origins at Lucasfilm, and struggles and benefits they have had with Disney... featuring interviews with Steve Jobs and George Lucas among others.
My favorite parts were seeing the early animations that Pixar produced, including Luxo (the lamp) Jr.
That's where David Harrison and Gregory Anderson come in. They are linguists traveling the world trying to document dying languages, despite governmental red tape or political unrest.
The documentary surrounds around specific trips to Siberia, India, and Bolivia (left) as they attempt, more difficult as it seems, to find one of the ten or one of the hundred left that speaks a dying language.
I had a good laugh with the linguists as they discovered a language in India that counts using both base 20 and base 12. "Our favorite number is 93," Anderson said. "It's four-twenty-twelve-one."
I went to see Gregg Gillis (a.k.a. Girl Talk) at the Memorial Union yesterday. Girl Talk is a mash-up DJ. Unlike your typical DJ which uses cross fades (or horrible DJs that don't even use that), Girl Talk beat matches the ends and beginning of songs, so there isn't a single second of 'down time' between them. He also layers songs on top of each other, making comparisons you wouldn't even think of (Ying Yang Twins vs The Verve)
(My camera battery died, so thanks to Kennis for this pic)
I just got back from Hillary Clinton's speech over at the Monona Convention Center. It was definitely different than Obama's rally.[More]
Senator Obama came to speak at the Kohl Center in Madison today. The doors opened at 6pm, but he wasn't scheduled to speak until 8:15. I got there at 7:40, not really caring if I got good seats. (I wasn't going to sit there doing nothing for two hours... they wouldn't let people bring in backpacks)
However, as I approached the Kohl Center, there was somewhat of an angry crowd outside. Per Mar, the special events security on campus locked the doors saying the Kohl Center was full and walked away, refusing to answer questions (Can we sit on the side? In the back? Is it really full, or will you let more people in once the crowd settles?)
As I started to leave, I saw a door open up at the attached Nicholas Pavilion, and it was announced they setup large projection screens with a closed-circuit feed of the Kohl Center.[More]
We got about 12 inches of snow today. I wish I could have captured everything in pictures-- all the cars stalled and being pushed... all the neighbors outside digging out their car... students trying to scale snowy stairs and sidewalks... and the group of people cross country skiing down the street.
It took me a little over an hour to dig my car out (right). My roommate was nice enough to help. But it was definately a bonding moment, as the entire neighborhood was outside. Shoveling, digging, pushing, or sledding down the hilly streets.
Oh-- and does anyone know of a good weather website? You know, without 500 advertisements? (that leaves out weather underground and weather channel)
I had a chance to visit the brand new "custom made", "eco-friendly", Monona Wal-Mart, which, like Cloverfield, seemed a bit overrated.
Some features that it flaunts is the under-store parking, to save valuable real estate (and the special escalators that hold shopping carts to get you there... although Ikea has had those forever), skylights to allow for more natural light... which is actually kinda nice, and freezer cases where the lights turn off when nobody is near by (memorial library stacks, anybody?).
My biggest complaint it was really cold. Probably because the underground parking wasn't heated, and there weren't many doors keeping the warm air in the store. Or they're trying to save energy.
But if you're a Wal-Mart fan, definitely better than the crappy old one on the west side of Madison.
This guy made my day:
"Why does everyone suck but you?" a woman screamed from her car.
"Because I have a sign and am shouting very loudly!" replied the guy.
The woman smiled, she understood.
I noticed these at the Kohl Center today. When did this happen? I'm fairly certain they were not here yesterday. They are pink and gold. When finished, they look like they will be lit from both the inside and outside.
Um, why? They're just as ugly as that giant phallus outside Camp Randall. Please take them down, unless they do something cool like project a giant "W" against the night sky. At least paint them RED and WHITE.
Edit: Ohhhh... they change colors at night. Well, they still look out of place.
Now. You'd think after what happened last year that this problem would be fixed. Luckily it didn't keep raining.
Last film I saw at the festival. Enjoyable one too. (Aren't they all?) It's going to sound more boring than it actually was, but surrounds around four college students who are aspiring to be famous writers. One of them is quite the arrogant s.o.b. and is quick to point out the flaws of other writers. They just don't realize how much they're being duped.
One of the many series of shorts at the Film Festival. My favorites were "Kompetenz", a couple fighting over skills vs talents, "My Name is Not Carlos", a jazzy music/animation, "Hallucii (upper left)", an animated man stuck on an Escher staircase, and "Startle Pattern", a claymation.[More]
It wasn't a horrible movie though. It had a compelling plot, several bits of humor ("How many pounds is a ton of love?"), and a great but unexpected ending, that without, the movie would have been pretty average.
The very first film I saw was "Manufactured Landscapes". It was quite an eye-opening documentary. Mostly featuring Chinese industry, this film showed how horrible manual repetitive labor can be. It started out with a tracking shot down an entire building of a Chinese Factory, showing aisle after aisle after aisle of teenage-looking men and women assembling, by hand, items such as irons and fans. It took about 10 minutes walking speed to get down the entire building. It was quite stunning. Above left shows each aisle's labor being briefed by their supervisor before going to work. Many were getting yelled at for not producing enough units, or having too many defective units.[More]
On an impulse, I went to the Blue Man Group in Madison today. It was only three blocks away from my apartment, so it was hard to resist.[More]
Snow brings the creativity out of everyone.
Lewis Black came to Madison today. His "home away from home" he said. I went to see him. Sat in the nosebleed section, but he was still hilarious from 500 feet away. And his routine was different from his new HBO special (which I saw), so I was pleasantly surprised.
He wasn't happy with the audience's sometimes hesitant laughs and political correctness. "Leave that bullshit for campus!" barked Lewis.
War protest? Random work of Art? Semester-end Project?
On the North side of the Humanities Building. (thx Kennis)
More spray paintings in the area:[More]
This year I was very saddened by the loss of my favorite campus comic, Everybody Drunk but Me in the Daily Cardinal because Laura, the author of the comic had graduated from U-Dub.
Hey. I'm still alive.
At the beginning of August I started training for my job as Involvement Coordinator in one of the UW-Madison Residence Halls. Basically, I work with involved students to put on educational and social programming in the halls. It is a lot of fun, but very time consuming, which is why I haven't been able to update this much. However, things are winding down and you should see updates more often.
If you have visited before, I tweaked the layout a bit. Simplified things a lot so it is more usable on your end, and easier to keep up on mine. Leave any comments about it by clicking that link on the bottom of the entry.
Everything has been going well, except a couple of things that annoy me:
People don't read. Everyone is all up-in-arms about the Facebook Development Platform (saying that Facebook is using this to sell information), but nobody knows what it actually is. Facebook Development Platform is a way to allow ordinary people such as myself to program fun add-ons to Facebook, like map your friends or Billmonk. They aren't selling anything. And if I were to sign up to use the Facebook Development Platform for a website, I would never be able to obtain your contact information from your profile... ever. And simply, if you don't want a 3rd party developer to use your information for their application, DON'T USE IT.
People are oblivious to their surroundings. Some of the first-year students here still haven't figured out they need to walk across busy streets with their eyes open, head up, and iPod off. One frustrating thing are the large number of pedestrians walking down the bike lane next to University Square because the sidewalk is closed. I emailed the City of Madison who promptly put up "PEDESTRIANS PROHIBITED" (with a picture of a guy crossed out) and "BIKE LANE ONLY" (with a picture of a bike) signs at the entrance. People don't seem to see them, or they don't care. And they wonder why they keep getting hit by frustrated bikers, who don't care either.
Don't sit in an aisle seat of an empty row in a lecture hall. I fear this problem will never be solved.
I've also been emailing back and forth with the Athletic Department to do something about the horrible Student Section Football Lines. We'll see if they use any of my suggestions next weekend.
After receiving approximately 4 inches of rain in a period of a half hour, it seemed as if the two lakes on the Isthmus of Madison connected together. Almost all of the streets south of Johnson St on campus flooded. The street was filled with stalled vehicles and students playing in the massive street lakes. At several points the water reached up to waist height. Lower-sitting classrooms on campus flooded as well, like in the Humanities and Computer Science buildings, among others.
Thursday night I helped out with lighting, sound, and projection for the Public Drunkards. They did an excellent job with their comedy sketch, with viewers demanding another show sometime in the future. The music by Awesome Car Funmaker following was equally as good.
Funny story though. When rehearsing on Tuesday night a big storm hit. We were rehearsing in a room on the second floor of the Humanities building. We were unaware of the torrential downpour at the time, until water started seeping underneath the door. We went out into the hallway to find more water. The water outside was up to our ankles, and flooded the hallway even more when we went outside. When finished playing in the rain outside, we went back to rehearsing in another room when the fire alarms went off. People were coming from downstairs saying the first floor was flooded. We ventured downstairs to find water covering the entire first floor, and water dripping from the ceiling. It was quite a hilarious sight. I think it's a sign that building needs to be knocked down.
About every week, this falling woman appears spray painted in the entrance way to Starbucks on State Street. Every week, Starbucks paints it over. It's back again:
Some things I found funny today:
Ugh. Living Wage Referenda passed but the Wisconsin Union one didn't. Thanks guys. Now the guys scooping ice cream will get $10.28/hour, but the handicapped still won't be able to fully navigate the unions. It also appears as if Ashok Kumar won County Board District 5 by breaking University Housing policy multiple times to distribute his flyers all over our rooms and by harassing us when we're trying to do homework.
Today was the final day of the festival. First I went to see Jim and Joe's Experimental Shorts Program which was a group of avant-garde shorts. It was painful to watch, and as a friend of mine put it, "it sucked out my soul". Some of the techniques used in shorts such as Shape Shift by Scott Stark and SSHTOORRTY by Michael Snow were pretty cool, but almost all of them had flashy fast-paced scenes and high-pitched tones that I guess these directors thought make them innovative. What I did enjoy however was Mirror by Christoph Girardet and Matthias Mueller for the cool lighting effects, and especially enjoyed Pornographic Apathetic (picture above) by T. Arthur Cottam which was the most monotone and expressionless reading of an extremely hot and explicit pornographic script creating a hilarious result.
And the last thing I saw in the festival was Innocence, a French drama. I thought it was really good. It had probably some of the most beautiful cinematography I've ever seen. The story however, while not bad, was very... creepy. It centers around an all-girls boarding school, where they learn science and how to dance, while having many strict rules enforced by the other girls. Anyone caught trying to escape would have a very unhappy future. It's awfully difficult to explain. You could view the trailer, but it's in French.
I'll keep it short today.
I saw a bunch of Wisconsin made shorts today. Some that I enjoyed were:
Kitchen by Brian Dehler, which was a stomp-like short involving every-day kitchen objects.
Monster Team: Episode 6 by Ben Olson and Arthur Jones which was a real-life version of their cartoon series.
Status Quo by Justin Sprecher, which is kind hard to explain. Head-trip of sorts.
The Life and Death of a Pumpkin by Aaron Yonda, the funniest of the bunch, explored the life of a pumpkin from the pumpkin's point of view.
Straight Boys by Dave O'Brien, by far the best in the group of shorts, told the story of a guy in love with his straight roommate and the complications that come from it... filmed right here at Madison in Chadbourne Hall.
Then I saw Same Sex America which documented the big marriage debate in Massachusetts. It was well done and tracked multiple couples trying to get married.
Last day tomorrow!
On Friday I saw three additional moves at the Film Festival.
The first was Le Fantôme de l'Opératrice, a.k.a. The Phantom of the Operator which was a Canadian documentary about women in the telephone operator business, and had several clips from old corporate training videos which were quite funny. Always have a "voice with a smile!" Preceding this was a short montage of old High-School Science videos which were even more humorous, including "Jimmy" not knowing why you need to rationalize the denominator and this guy getting electrocuted by an electric eel.
Next was Ceský Sen a.k.a. Czech Dream which was a documentary about an elaborate hoax two filmmakers put on-- they built the front wall for an elaborate hypermarket, advertised the crap out of the grand opening, and documented the process along with the finale-- when thousands of people realized that they were running not to a hypermarket, but an over hyped front wall.
[Added 4/4 12:30 PM: I found a trailer for Czech Dream online for download. The part about them getting the crap beat out of them was definitely not in the version I saw at the festival, and now I'm pretty upset they left that out.]
[Added 4/4 1:45 PM: It appears as if I had been conned myself. I emailed the Film Festival to ask why the segment in the trailer was not in the actual documentary, and Travis Gerdes from the festival replied "Much like the false advertising campaign behind the Czech Dream hypermarket, we believe the filmmakers took a similar approach when promoting the film itself... it makes sense that the filmmakers would continue their message of misleading promotional campaigns, even for their own film." Makes sense.]
Finally, the best film of the day was a German comedy Die Nacht der lebenden Loser a.k.a. The Night of the Living Dorks. It is kinda hard to explain, but it was absolutely hilarious. It featured three teenagers in high school who smoked too much pot, got in a car accident, and, well, ended up Zombies.
More politically oriented art around campus:[More]
Today was the first day of the Wisconson Film Festival. I saw Awesome, I Fuckin' Shot That!. It was a concert video of a Beastie Boys concert in Madison Square Garden. However, it wasn't your normal concert video. It was filmed by 50 randomly selected audience members who were handed cameras at the beginning of the show and were told to start filming when the lights go down and never stop. Very fast-paced, several cuts a minute. A few times they did a 50-way split screen to show all the cameras at once, which was pretty awesome to see. A few of the funny spots included one of the guys running (and going) to the bathroom, a drunk cameraman buying a beer, and another trying to sneak backstage. It was quite an interesting hour and a half.
A follow up to a previous post.[More]
So, last weekend we got the snow dumped on us. And it got really cold. As you Madison people know, after a fresh snowfall it is tradition to sled down the hills...
What you see there is about 100 cafeteria trays left over from the night before.
A series of various artwork and spray paintings around campus.[More]
A couple funny things around campus lately:[More]
What a last couple of months.
The nighttime Michigan-Badger game has to be the best game I've ever been to.
Cap'n Kronsh's Crew put in a lot of hard work toward homecoming and it paid off. FIRST PLACE. Third year in a row. We rock!
Halloween however, not so fun. I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. I can now say I know what it feels like to get pepper sprayed. And it hurts. A lot.
I love madison! I had so much fun my first semester. Highlights include:
Nader came to Madison. He actually gave a really good speech. Yeah, I know Kerry came too but I missed both his rallies.