The tail end of the trip I just returned from took place in Nashville, TN and was charged with readings and viewings about the occupation of Iraq and the current political trends in Washington: I finished reading Nashville resident Al Gore's book The Assault on Reason and then later the same day, saw the new documentary film No End In Sight. The two tie together nicely, and so I have a review of them both here.
As you're coming out of the movie 28 Weeks Later, you might be tempted to discuss the horrors of the events in the movie, the acting, the overwhelmingly and unnecessarily bloody gore, or the architecture in the London skyline. But I think we can all agree that the movie was, above all, a lesson in military and security strategy and a warning to future operations planners (especially those dealing with infectious viral outbreaks that turn people into flesh-eating zombies).
I know it will seem pretty far fetched and hard to picture in real life, but here are some of the salient events in the plot (spoiler alert!):
Continue reading "Security strategy improvement lessons from 28 Weeks Later"
Some bits and pieces from life right now: I'm really proud of the RNR podcast episode from last night, even though I was tired enough that my production quality wasn't what it usually is and I mispronounced some names. But it's been an emotionally charged week and it was an emotionally charged evening, so I think the episode reflects that.
Thanks to the folks at PhilQuinnForCouncil.com for linking here so prominently on the site. Of course, as much as I like and admire Phil, please know that I have not (nor do I plan to) endorsed any local political candidates here. I do wish them all the best in fulfilling the promise of the democratic process.
If you haven't already, you can head on over to GetWellJoe.com, a site I set up for Joe Augustin after he was assaulted earlier this week. The technical details are mundane compared to what Joe is going through, but it was a strange experience going from scratch to a full-blown weblog with hundreds of visitors and comments pouring in in a matter of an hour or two. Thanks to all the people who are holding Joe up now and keeping each other posted on his progress.
In a little bit, I'm heading out to IU East to help unveil the preview and website for the new documentary being produced here, 1:47. I'm at Summersault right now working with my team on the final prep for actually making the new site live, so you can check that out shortly. I haven't gotten to do as much lately with video production as I would like, so it's at least rewarding to be peripherally involved in a project where some really great production work is being done.
Have a good weekend.
In a near coma from a holiday meal today, we ventured out to see The Pursuit of Happyness starring Will Smith. My resulting notes below contain some mentions of specific plot details, so if you haven't seen it yet and don't want anything spoiled for you, come back to this post later.
As a cinematic experience overall, the movie was quite well done. Smith and Jaden Smith (his son both in the film and offscreen) filled their roles as Chris Gardner and Christopher Gardner with a glow and depth that is uncommon. The story moved at a constant and engaging pace, always with just enough information to make the plot real, and never too much to make it feel like it was being told to a movie audience. The camera angles were mostly plain and obvious in a way that complements the content of the film just fine, but there were a number of really excellent shots that brought out the layers of emotion and determination so well - Chris and Christopher sitting a ways apart on a bench in the subway, exasperated, desperate, staring off and wondering what's next; the shots of Chris running through the streets of San Francisco with action-movie style camera-work but very believable results; the walks through the floor of a brokerage in chaos, and so on.
Continue reading "The Pursuit of Happyness, a movie review"
This is an ad for a really great Frontline episode called "The Persauders" - a thoughtful and thorough journalistic look at the world of advertising and how it affects us at all levels. It covered a wide variety of perspectives, from advertising executives to media experts to sociologists to counter-cultural ad-busters. Quote from interviewee Mark Crispin Miller: "Once a culture becomes entirely advertising friendly, it ceases to be a culture at all." There's an interesting segment about how one firm interviewed cult-like groups of people (including Linux users and WWF Wresting fans) to craft the campaigns for brands like Nike and Apple. I guess if you can figure out what makes people loyal to a cult, you can get them engaged in your products and services.
The downside of the piece is that the reporter seems to let himself be convinced in conclusion (with snappy upbeat music in the background to reinforce) it's a good thing that "once the market becomes the lens through which we see the world, there's no us and them any more. We're all persuaders." I would probably disagree that this is a good trend.
I remember back in the day (i.e. a few years ago), when you wanted to put video on your website, you needed to think about disk space, bandwidth, media format compatibility and a host of other issues before you could even hope to have people looking at the actual video content. Today, sites like YouTube and Google Video (soon to be one) make it as easy as uploading your video to their site and then linking to it. And as Jean Harper sort of noted (lamented, really), it's quite the craze with the kids.
So (or, despite that), I decided to throw up a few videos I've produced over the years to see what happens. There's my trip to Washington D.C. to ask the president not to invade Iraq, highlights from a conference on cultural change that I organized, a clip from an inspiring talk about peak oil, and highlights from the raising of a wind turbine at the Cope Environmental Center, which I've mentioned here before. These were shot with everything from a digital still camera to my GL-2 MiniDV rig, so the quality varies widely, but I've already generated 1 subscriber to my "channel", 49 views of my videos, and a comment. I love web-based social networking!
Let me know what you think.
Just one reason of many, I'm sure: Borat film tricked poor village actors. Excerpt:
"Mr Tudorache, a deeply religious grandfather who lost his arm in an accident, was one of those who feels most humiliated. For one scene, a rubber sex toy in the shape of a fist was attached to the stump of his missing arm - but he had no idea what it was.
Only when The Mail on Sunday visited him did he find out. He said he was ashamed, confessing that he only agreed to be filmed because he hoped to top up his £70-a-month salary - although in the end he was paid just £3.
He invited us into his humble home and brought out the best food and drink his family had. Visibly disturbed, he said shakily: 'Someone from the council said these Americans need a man with no arm for some scenes. I said yes but I never imagined the whole country, or even the whole world, will see me in the cinemas ridiculed in this way. This is disgusting.'"
The media seem to be getting a kick out of pretending to debate the question "is this groundbreaking cinema or just over-the-top offensive profiteering?" To me, at least, it's clearly the latter, and I have no reason to spend money on it.
It would be nice if some day we could say, "great, now we know about ALL of the human-made products and processes that can give us cancer and harm the planet, now let's start doing something about them." But alas, it seems that everywhere you look, there's a new story about a chemical or drug or food or way of raising your children that can endanger our lives. Some of it is fear-mongering, but some of it is an honest and long-overdue look at the products and practices that we take for granted, examining them for harm they might cause and seeking healthier alternatives. And in her award winning film Blue Vinyl, that's just what Judith Hefland has done with...get ready for it...vinyl siding.
Continue reading "A review of Blue Vinyl"
Last year I made a short video about the raising of a 104-foot wind turbine at the Cope Environmental Center here in town. I've just gotten around to posting it, so you can take a look and let me know what you think. It's a little dramatic and rough around the edges, but it was great to be a part of that experience and get it on film. Thanks also to Evan Agee for his help in some production design, and Geoff Greenfield of Third Sun Solar & Wind Power for the great work and juicy sound bites. If you haven't already, head on out to the Cope Center and check out all the renewable energy education stuff they have - it's cutting edge! (And if you're interested in that sort of thing, The Richmond/Wayne County Environmental Awareness Council hosts its sixth Environmental Awareness Luncheon on April 28 from 11:30 - 1:00 at Hills Pet Nutrition. There is no fee for the program and lunch is sponsored by Hills. Contact Jackie Vanderpool for more info.)
I enjoyed attending the premier party tonight at WCTV, Richmond's local public access cable television station. As I've encountered the station over the years I've come to appreciate that it's another amazing (but underutilized and oft-overlooked) resource that sets Richmond and Wayne County apart. Three stations with a diverse lineup that ranges from government meetings to church services, free-form poetry to public health info - high-quality production studios, a highly professional and knowledgeable staff, and a huge pool of willing volunteer producers...cool stuff. (Evan and I took the producer training course there a while ago and had high hopes of working on a few different programs, but they still haven't materialized as yet.) It's also a glaring omission from my post on public dialogue in Richmond; surely the existence of this resource provides endless opportunities for improving the quality of the conversations we have and what we learn about our each other. I hope with the station's recent rejuvenation in staff and programming, it comes to be appreciated for the gem that it is and can be.