Category Archives: Movie

Movie Review: Copyright Criminals

Copyright Criminals Boxed Set CoverSaw Copyright Criminals on Netflix Monday night while cooking up a mushroom risotto. Isn’t that the best time to watch a documentary, while you are waiting for something to boil or stirring occaisionally? Anyway, it’s a great great hip hop history, looking at the ways that copyright and remix culture intersect. You get interviews with all sorts of great turntabilists and producers like Public Enemy, De La Soul, and EL-P, but then you also get the side of guys who made the beats in the beginning like George Clinton and Clyde “Funky Drummer” Stubbelfield.

It turns out that if you cover a song, you are in the clear. Just don’t change any lyrics, you’re legally ok. However, if you lift a guitar riff, distort it and change the tempo or stutter it, then you’re a copyright criminal and you can’t make any cash off your music. There is a really good bit where the head of Tommy Boy and De La Soul are interviewed, discussing how the legal implications of sampling definitely changed the music they were making. Samples became more distorted to hide their origins, some songs are abandoned just because you can’t hope to clear the rights to a popular track. It’s strange to think of all the ghost songs floating out there that were smothered in their cradles before they could be heard or developed.

One last bit of the movie I really loved were the visual breakdowns of remix and mashup songs. Nothing makes it clearer how much actual artistry is happening than seeing the interleaving, distortions and tweaks in all the clips visually.

Back from Africa!

We got back Sunday at 6 in the morning and have been frantic since.  This weekend we can hopefully get some brewing done and sort through the huge pile of pictures.

We got to see many many things during our two 15 hour flights, 4 days in Kruger National Reserve, 4 hour bus ride, and all the rest of the excitement. We’ve met an amazing amount really good folks and had some fantastic experiences but on the flight back I was shocked at how many books and movies I’d consumed during just the travel and downtime.

Animals

  • Spotted Ginnet
  • White Rhinocerous – Last chance to see, I find it hard to imagine they will be around for my grandchildren.
  • African Elephant – Nothing prepares you for how huge and awesome these are.  Also, I was disappointed to find out they are jerks.
  • African Buffalo
  • Kudu
  • Impala
  • Batalieur (Short Tailed) Hawk
  • Lion – These murder machines are intensely powerful up close.  I had one eyeball me for 30 seconds and it was all terror.
  • Giraffe – Surreal in person.
  • Monkey
  • Hippopotamus
  • Warthog
  • Steenbok

Movies

  • Thor
  • Jozi – A really great South African comedy about drugs, recovery, and one man’s relationship with Johannesburg
  • The Beaver – Sam and I loved this movie, which does not mean we want to hang out with Mel Gibson.
  • Midnight in Paris – This was brilliant. Particularly Hemingway.
  • Bride Wars – Trapped on a bus. This occupied time and kept us from hearing the incessant beeping of the bus falling apart.
  • Tyler Perry’s The Family that Preys – Ditto.
  • Green Lantern – less than 15 minutes. Amazing that it was released.
  • Hangover 2 – I can’t believe this is happening again.
  • The Departed
  • The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford – This finally helped me get some sleep. Thank you soundtrack made of drones!

Books

  • Tucker Max Assholes Finish First – A male heavy drinking narcissist tells funny stories about his horrible behavior. Very funny. A bunch of great stories that belong in a bar at 2 am. His only redeeming quality is his honesty.
  • Dan Ariely The Upside of Irrationality: The Unexpected Benefits of Defying Logic at Work and at Home
  • Lauren Beukes Zoo City – Great! Loved this Noir detective story set in a Johannesburg full of people who get familiars when they commit a crime. Feels like Robert Parker meets Philip Pullman in South Africa.
  • David Cross  I Drink for a Reason – Without his delivery, his routines are less compelling.
  • Lev Grossman The Magicians – Best thing I read. A Harry Potter style story that has real people, with actual characters. What would a magic academy full of actual teenagers be like? What happens once you actually graduate? Also, great villains and call outs to Narnia.
  • Chelsea Handler  My Horizontal Life – A female heavy drinking narcissist tells funny stories about her horrible behavior. Very funny, but I wonder if gender roles limit the pride that shines through in Tucker’s stories.
  • Christopher Hitchens  The Portable Atheist: Essential Readings for the Nonbeliever – Worth it for the bits of Lucretius.
  • Richard Kadrey Butcher Bird – I had read a previous version for free online. It’s still good and very weird.
  • Sir Terry Pratchet  The Wee Free Men – I don’t even know that it’s very funny, but I think I will read these books till he dies.
  • Sir Terry Pratchet  Wintersmith
  • Cherie Priest  Boneshaker – It’s got all the elements of steampunk, but it didn’t feel like it had a heart.
  • Philip Pullman  The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ – I like Pullman and I like inversions of religious stories. Why couldn’t I get into this book?
  • Kathryn Stockett  The Help – Second best thing I read. I read this out loud to Sam while I was sick in bed for a few days. Full of great mysteries and little gold coins all along the way.

The Dark Passenger

At the party, Blakely said that she had always wanted to do something new, like write a movie. I make things happen, so I got her to imagine a thriller that we could easily film in NYC. She’s probably a bit sick of the subject by now.
You can read The Dark Passenger in this S5 presentation.

If you’ve got some suggestions, just add them into the text version of The Dark Passenger and mail me. I’ve written it in markdown format, a no big deal way to write text. Pandoc can read it and turn it into the presentation above. No big deal, but I thought you should know.

Movies: Black Sheep

Dear Internet,

I am watching a random horror movie called “Black Sheep” that is the funniest thing I’ve seen in ages. It’s a New Zealand horror film about horrible mutant carnivorous sheep. Their bites turn victims into were-sheep.

Were-sheep. The bottom rung of horror monsters.

Also, the acting – it is surprisingly good for a concept this ludicrous. Much better than Peter Jackson’s “Bad Taste” and a thousand times funnier.