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The Beauty of Time Lapse

29 Sep

I was recently introduced to 2 videos from 2 friends, and I thought they were so good that I was obligated to share them. One video documents Hong Kong, and was shown to me by a friend there, the other is of Mexico City, and was shown to me by a friend who is from there as well. They both deal alot with time lapse, which is quickly becoming a favorite technique of mine, and these works only further inspire me. I think they are well put together, much props to the creators who took so much time to do them, check them out below!

Both are on Vimeo, so check them out here: Hong Kong, Mexico City.

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Keeping up with the Joneses

11 Sep

It’s the catch phrase of suburban consumerism, that simple line personifies the human instinct to always do better than our neighbors. When Mr. Jones next door pulls into the driveway in his new Audi S4, you stop mowing the lawn and stare in awe of his new ride. You go over and have a look for yourself, complimenting Mr. Jones on his new purchase, and then get back to mowing your lawn. The next day you’re looking at your old car with dissatisfaction, and you are soon at the Audi dealership test driving an R8, knowing that when you pull into your driveway, all your neighbors will want what you have. Yup, your just keeping up with the Joneses.

Cue in this years film titled just that: The Joneses. The film stars David Duchovny and Demi Moore as they portray a wealthy suburban family moving into a new neighborhood. Their perfect family easily blends into their new community and soon becomes the family that has what everyone wants. They drive the cars you want, they have the phone you didn’t even think was out yet, and they dress the way you wish you looked. However if it all seems to good to be true, then you might be catching on.

That perfect family turns out to be no family at all, instead, they are a corporate team of advertisers working for an agency that places ‘families’ in neighborhoods just to show off the latest consumer products. It all seems so perfect until the father figure Steve Jones played by Duchovny starts to see the crippling effect their sales tactic is having on the neighbors as they desperately try to keep up.

Coming into this film I thought it was going to be a clever and entertaining movie, but as the credits rolled up, it ended as a touching experience as well. The film exposed the tragic reality of how consumerism can push people out of their element, and into a world full of debt and regret. The current economic situation will resonate in your mind as you watch, and start to ask yourself; are you living within your means?

Thumbs up for a quality film that both entertains and leaves you with something to think about. Check out the trailer below.

180South: Impressions

7 Sep

Can challenging yourself, both physically and mentally drive you to change, inspire others to change, and to view the world differently? In 180 South, Jeff Johnson embarks on an epic journey for adventure, and also a journey to save one of the largest untouched wilderness spaces on the planet; Patagonia.

This documentary by Woodshed Films chronicles Jeff Johnson as he follows in the footsteps of a similar 1968 journey that his inspirational friends; Yvon Chouinard and Doug Tompkins did long ago. The goal is to reach Patagonia in South America, and try to save this majestic wilderness from encroaching development. It is through this journey of sailboats, surfboards and rock climbing that the deeper meaning of conserving not only Patagonia, but the entire planet is revealed. And the ultimate question is presented to ourselves as society; can we simplify our lives?

Whether you think these guys are a bunch of hippy surf bums or not, this film definitely gets you thinking. And it also features some amazing videography and original music. The website www.180south.com is also fantastic and a great resource in addition to the film with some cool wallpapers and music to boot. Check out the trailer below, its 180 South, and its worth a watch.

Mammoth: The Film

3 Jun

The days of the mammoth are long gone, their lives only understood from what few remains can be found frozen in places like Siberia. What is the value of those remains; say the ivory from a long extinct mammoth tusk?

Sliding under the radar of the popular spotlight slides the film Mammoth. This is a film I recently watched one night as I was far from home in the Canadian arctic, not all that far from Siberia when you look at a map.

But geography aside, I was compelled to write about this film. Mammoth’s purpose is not to entertain you, but rather to move you, and move you it will. The story follows a successful young family living in Soho, New York, and a series of unexpected events that befall on them. Leo has been successful with a popular video game based web community and is leaving his family in New York to settle a business deal in Bangkok. Back in New York, daughter Jackie is spending more time with the nanny Gloria than with her mom, a busy surgeon at the hospital.

The film begins to focus on the lives of the husband, wife, nanny, and the nanny’s family back in the Philippines as they all drift into their own series of problems. Leo is experimenting with a lifestyle he is unfamiliar with, as his dealings are delayed and he heads to the beaches of Thailand to kill some time. While at home his wife struggles to connect with their daughter Jackie, who is busy learning the Tagalog language from Gloria the Nanny. The mother tries to establish a relationship with Jackie but it seems she is more capable helping her patients at work than her own daughter. The story only thickens as the nanny Gloria’s life unfolds as well. The movie isn’t without fault though, I found some scenes with Leo to be awkward and unnatural while there are mixed reviews about the feelings of guilt pushed on viewers in regards to the Nanny situation. Not to mention Leo’s choice of clothing and his persistance in wearing it everyday really bugged me (sorry, you’re going to notice that now).

What writer and director Lukas Moodysson does do is a beautiful job at using the challenges faced by the characters to reflect the underlying theme of some major global issues of poverty and development and also the disconnection many families face in the modern world today. You’ll find the use of silence over soundtrack in some key scenes in the film as Moodysson effectively creates a mood that pulls the viewer in. But music is not completely void from the film, and the soundtrack itself is both ominous and upbeat and works well the overall story. I watched for over 2 hours as this interesting and captivating film played on. And I started to wonder why the most important and real stories are confined to films that most people have never heard of. Don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoyed Iron Man 2, and I understand its popularity. I just wish that such important films to humanity such as Mammoth would be seen by more people, and could escape the doom of being shuffled straight to DVD.

So do yourself a favor and watch this movie. I will confirm that through the entire film, you will not see one single mammoth, but what you will find is a beautifully tragic story. So go find it, the name is Mammoth.

Tokyo Sonata: A Family of Change

9 May

A somewhat obscure film, Tokyo Sonata was recently released on DVD this past week. Directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa, it’s a story about a seemingly typical middle class Japanese family. But appearances are only skin deep, and as the plot opens up, we discover that this typical family has a myriad of problems tearing at the fabric keeping the mother, father, and their 2 sons together. We witness a family trying to cope with a series of unexpected events, and ultimately break down under the pressure, only to redeem themselves through their own means.

After the father; Ryuhei Sasaki loses his job due to a downsizing economy, things for the family only spiral out of control from that point. The film could be an accurate depiction of the 90’s in Japan, with parallels to so many during that time. The so called ‘lost decade’ in which Japan’s economy suffered greatly, the plunging value of the yen combined with record unemployment rates forced many families into similar situations as the Sasaki’s.

More recently this storyline resonates with a different audience as well, as western countries around the globe suffered during the recent economic squeeze. Families across North America might be able to relate to the hurtles the Sasaki family is pushed through. From their son Kenji’s secret passion for the piano, to Megumi’s outstretched arms asking to be helped up only to be answered by no one, the film is filled with painful scenes of a family in turmoil.

Failing to fall into any genre, Tokyo Sonata pushes the envelope of family drama, and evolves into one of the most beautiful films I have seen in a while. The final scene in which the family learns to accept change as Kenji plays out Claire de Lune by Debussy makes this film worth watching all on its own.

So take a moment to watch this film, and watch it as it as any foreign film should be viewed, with english subtitles. US trailer below:

Movie Review: Cashback

30 Apr

This movie slipped through the fingers of fame when it was released in March 2007, but that does not mean it was not worth watching. It’s stunning story of a young man named Ben dealing with life and how quickly it changes. After a painful breakup, Ben finds himself lost. Unable to sleep he takes up a part time job at a local grocery store to do something productive with the new found time in his life. It’s at his new job where his life grabs hold, and things start to change.

Written and directed by Sean Ellis, this british film was originally a short, with good receoption; 2 years after the short was filmed, it was made into a feature length movie.

Few films can be described as beautiful, but this one does just that. Striking common ground as you watch it is inevitable, and through Ben we can see that out of the rubble of a broken moment, we can emerge a changed, better person. Check it out!

Travelling without the iPod

2 Jan

At a time, when anyone and everyone is seen with little white earbuds in their ears; on the bus, on the train, in school, on the street, riding their bike, I find it necessary to point out certain times to leave the iPod at home.

And one of those times I find it not only necessary, but critical that you leave your iPod or any other electronics at home, is when you are travelling. Let’s face it, if you went through the effort of lugging mini speakers along for your iPod, you probably didnt venture too far off the beaten path, and that beach your at will probably have somebody else playing Bob Marley anyways. And nothing screams “don’t talk to me I’m antisocial” like headphones on while riding the train or bus to the next city on your itinerary. Point is, if your blocking out your surroundings on a trip, your also blocking out potential conversations and experiences at a time when you should be absorbing as much as possible.

Travelling is about experiences, its not about killing time between the next “snap a picture proof I was here lets move on now” moments. It’s about listening to the sounds around you, the way the train wheels squeel along the tracks, the strange music that bus driver is playing, picking out key words in a conversation between people speaking a foreign language your trying to grasp. This is it, you went through a great deal of trouble to be somewhere else other than home, you came to see how people live, new smells hit your nostrils, your touching and feeling, why not listen, listen to the sounds of this new place.

You’ll be surprised at how many chance encounters with friendly strangers can happen when you simply open yourself up to the possibilty of interaction. You can listen to your new playlist anytime when you are at home, how many opportunities are there to converse with somebody who lives a world away?

Are we in a new era of antisocial behavior never seen before? Is it healthy? Lynne Truss doesn’t think so, in her book ‘Talk to the Hand’ she figures “this is an age of social autism, in which people just can’t see the value of imagining their impact on others..”. Not convinced? Google the term “ipod antisocial” and you’ll find a plethora of articles and blogs discussing the topic.

So if a cellphone or an iPod can have such detrimental effects to our social life at home, the reasons to leave the iPod behind are only compounded when embarking on a new trip. So do yourself a favor, when your packing your bag, leave the iPod in the dock, you’ll be glad you did.