Archive for June, 2014

God’s wrath against dildos and porn and parking violations

June 27, 2014

I found this on Facebook, captioned “Haha! Here’s a pic of storm damage on I-75 near the Huntsville-Oneida exit.”

The storm is real. Look how green that grass is. All the dye in LA can't give a lawn the glow of real rain.

The storm is real. Look how green that grass is. All the poisonous lawn dye in LA can’t give a lawn the glow of real rain.

Oh, how I wish it weren’t Fake. This is a rare case of me being on the same page as Christians, but mostly because I think it’s so funny, and I love coincidences. But if you want REAL punishment from God, for accidental crimes, when you least expect it, check out how much this LA tow van looks like it’s hauling a crucifix, on which it will one day crucify your car.

Suffer and die, crappy car that can't afford a garage...

Suffer and die, crappy car that can’t afford a garage…

I got towed, recently. Cost me almost $600 – that’s about 10 days work at what I get paid at the moment, gone, just for being a few inches over a red line. And if you don’t pay your fines here, they put you in jail. For real. It’s kinda depressing, that you could go to jail just for being too poor to make mistakes everybody makes, while celebs can get wasted and drive into lamp posts and walk free the next day.

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Hollywood Video. It’s for the birds.

June 23, 2014

Back in South Africa, you still get video rental places – and not just in the dodgy parts of town, and they don’t make most of their money from porn.

That’s because there’s no netflix, no Amazon Prime, no HBO Go, no Hulu, there. Just Video rental places, the tiny selection on DSTV’s on-demand, and piracy. Piracy offers a much better range, so it’s popular even though it’s slow and gives you cooties. And I’d forgotten, till I popped in with a friend on a hungover day after Christmas, how damn frustrating video stores are. Everything good is ALWAYS out on Thursday nights, everything else is hard to find, and it’s all so damn expensive.

I stopped for groceries at a late-night Ralphs near The Wiltern, and noticed that the Hollywood Video sign light wasn’t even on. It was still serving a purpose though. Pigeons nest there after a long, hot day of scavenging for food in Koreatown.

It must have been buzzing 20 years ago.

It must have been buzzing 20 years ago.

hollywoodvid_cu600

It’s for the birds, now. Literally. Like drive-ins, and if they keep making those disappointing, overpriced failed blockbusters, movie theaters soon, too.

 

 

 

Shut up please, I don’t care who you think you are in #palmsprings

June 19, 2014

It’s a film festival. Not a bar. But some people… you know how it is?

If you love short films, this is an amazing banquet of talent. If you love parties, there's one every single night. If you want to chat to your friends, maybe during another film's screening isn't the best time?

If you love short films, this is an amazing banquet of talent. If you love parties, there’s one every single night. If you want to network, there’s plenty of that too, but maybe during another film’s screening isn’t the best time?

Call me weird, but I’m one of those people who doesn’t go to the movies to listen to other people’s conversations. In fact I dislike listening to them so much that I almost never go with anyone to movies, in case they try to talk to me during the film.

So I am at the Palm Springs International Shortsfest. I decided to attend, to check out what made it in, since they are only 2 hours from LA and have swimming pools and really cheap hotels. And I’m glad I did. One of the best shorts I’ve seen is a really touching documentary called, Joanna, a Polish film directed by Aneta Kopacz , about a woman with cancer’s long farewell to her boy, and his to her. Sounds more depressing than it is – it’s actually very life affirming. I loved the film, but I kept getting taken out of it because, behind me, two old men were having an ongoing conversation.

I am guessing from the tone that their conversation wasn’t even about the movie. It seemed tedious. Maybe they were recommending each other golf courses, or plastic surgeons, or retirement villages. All I know is that they were ruining the film for everybody around them, and they didn’t care. In fact, they seemed to be having fun doing it.

You all know how it goes – there’s a hierarchy of ways to get people to shut the hell up during films. I and others tried them all.

Tactic 1 – Turn and look: This, they noticed, but completely ignored.

Tactic 2 – Turn and stare: This time, I did it for longer, and received a smirk in response. I wasn’t the only one, but they seemed to be enjoying the attention they got!

Tactic 3 – Turn, look and “Shhhht”!: This wasn’t me. The woman behind me cracked first. This caused them to laugh and keep talking.

Tactic 4 – Polite desperation: “Can you be quiet, please or go outside, guys?” This was me. The response was to first drop to a quieter voice, and gradually increase in volume until the end of the film.

As the titles rolled, I attempted tactic 5.

Tactic 5 – Public shaming part I: “Would you guys not start another conversation, please?” This really amused them, and a few people around me agreed with me. The old boys laughed mockingly, but shut up for the remainder of the screening.

Unfortunately, the best film had already been ruined. The others were mostly interesting – the best of the rest being the Lion’s Mouth Opens, which I’d already seen at Sundance. Only one film felt like it didn’t belong – a 17-minute-long schmooze-fest about a local celeb photographer called Michael Childers, who while worth honoring has to be the only reason they programmed the ‘radio with pictures’ documentary full of shots of the interviewer grinning at Childers and Childers talking about how famous he and his friends are. Local is lekker, as we say in South Africa.  But this film stood out by not fitting into the line-up except to get local bums on seats. I watched in silence, distracting myself by hoping that the two noisy old guys would leave before the Q&A so that I wouldn’t have to see their smug faces again.

And what do you know? Not only did they not have the sense to leave, but when the presenter asked, at the end of the screening, for all those involved in all the films and present to stand, the two old men who’d been talking through vastly superior films by fellow film-makers stood to celebrate their achievement in Michael Childers: Hollywood in the Desert Sky.  I don’t know what their role was. All I know is that I couldn’t believe they had the gonads to identify themselves.

So this was when I had to raise my hand and out them for their rudeness to the entire theater. Ordinary rich trash out for a bit of culture after too many mimosas at breakfast? No problem. Idiocy is expected. But going to a film festival as a filmmaker and then disrupting another artist’s screening to a paying audience has to be the most disrespectful, and amateurish thing you can do. This would have been a good time for them to apologize.

But their response to me and others who vocally supported me? A sarcastic comment: “Ooooh. Such a purist”.

I had to leave, because staying there would have driven me insane. Yes, I’m a purist. I love movies. I won’t apologize for this, and I paid #12 for my ticket and came all the way to Palm Springs. I don’t care who you think you are or if you’re famous in Palm Springs – you simply have no right to ruin another filmmaker’s screening for me.

I hoped for a chance to see Joanna again without them there, but sadly, it only screened once. Look out for it at other festivals. Even disruptive chatter didn’t prevent it moving me to tears and laughter and I know it’ll be showing all over the world this year.

Johanna

Michael Childers: Hollywood Under a Desert Sky

Who’s the best? Art Contest in a Koreatown Mall

June 1, 2014

“A Brighter Future” – that’s the topic assigned by Korean bank BBCN, who sponsor the national baseball team and also this student art contest. The winners and honorees were displayed in my local mall, the Galleria. I wandered in there late at night while killing 15 minutes before an appointment for a foot massage.

It happened to be a time when I was thinking a lot about winners and losers, and not feeling like much of a winner. What’s great about what I saw is that I realized that the judges are crazy. The winners deserve their prizes, but that doesn’t mean the “losers” don’t deserve to win as much or more.

This got me to thinking that you can’t make good art if you do it for the sake of approval, and not for the sake of passion. I recently saw a film that cost about $2 million to make. The filmmakers stated up front that they wanted to make a commercial film. Everything about it screamed manipulation, right down to the fact that the music was like an action movie trailer soundtrack looped for about 90 minutes. Watching it, I felt dirty and annoyed. What a waste of money and all the participants’ talent. No, you don’t make art “for yourself”. It needs to be seen. But you also don’t cynically make it to score points, or it will suck.

With that, you be the judges.

I had the gallery mostly to myself.

I had the gallery mostly to myself.

I like this one. It's very teenaged - like the kid had to conform to the "Bright Future" thing but was in hormonal mood on the day.

I like this one. It’s very teenaged – like the kid had to conform to the “Bright Future” thing but was in hormonal mood on the day.

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A prize winner. I like it, but it is feels mostly decorative and doesn’t move me much. I predict this artist could probably make a living, though, unlike most, as nobody wants to hang trauma on their walls.

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This is really cool. I love the speeding devil-bull. By Heather Choi. Title is in Korean.

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Again, lovely for a lounge. Not sure why it’s a winner but I like it. Ashly Haine, “Italy Trip”

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I think this is brilliant. I love the sense of perspective, the choice of angle, the sky POV and the family of birds hanging out right there with her. This should have won a prize. Can’t read the artist’s name but the title is “Helping Hands”

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I picked out this one because it reminds me of the kinds of things my brother used to draw as a kid. He was really talented but went into Medicine, leaving me to flounder around in the art world. Andrew Kim’s “Energetic Crane”.

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Hilarious – a protest against the horrors of homework. I remember feeling like that, like I’d die if I had to do my maths problems. I’d avoid it until 10pm every time. Of course, not quite suitable for BBCN bank’s yay the future theme. by Theresa Oh. Can’t read the title. “… Camp”

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This being a school art contest, I saw a lot of eyes, hair, and clocks. Being a kid is difficult as you get older. You are not free, but you have all this pressure on you. People who feel their school years were the best of their lives puzzle me. I always liked learning but institutions blow. Can’t read the title or artist name… sorry.

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This is awesome. So many stories in this, like a memory of riding the bus, or of one day around town. Again unfortunately the title and artist name are blurred!

A playground picture. I like it a lot.

A playground picture. I like it a lot.

Sweet. A self portrait.

Sweet. A self portrait.

A prize winner. I am surprised this one. It is interesting, but not really on-message. It reminds me of Kentridge or Jane Alexander. Can't read the text.

A prize winner. I am surprised this one. It is interesting, but not really on-message. It reminds me of Kentridge or Jane Alexander. Can’t read the text.

I think the overhead is fun. A portrait of a life that seems crammed with possibilities.

I think the overhead is fun. A portrait of a life that seems crammed with possibilities.

The title of this is something like "families reunited" and I suspect it is to do with North/South Korea. I loved it and I think it should have won something.

The title of this is something like “families reunited” and I suspect it is to do with North/South Korea. I loved it and I think it should have won something.

Hilarious. That french bread looks like a you know what.

Hilarious. That french bread looks like a you know what. And the dude on the stomach seems really surprised by how big it is. I don’t think this was the artist’s intention. But that’s another thing about art – you can’t control what you make, entirely.

Joyce Yo, "Drowning without Soul". Weird. I don't know if I get it. Is it about prostitution?

Joyce Yo, “Drowning without Soul”. Weird. I don’t know if I get it. Is it about prostitution?

So cool. A girly giant lizard.

So cool. A girly giant lizard.

While I was looking at this, a random guy came up to me and asked "Is that your daughter's picture?" I was really insulted at the time, because it looks like a portrait of an addict mother. Why do strangers think it's okay to ask you personal questions like that? Then again, what kind of weirdo wanders around an empty mall on a Saturday night.

While I was looking at this, a random guy came up to me and asked “Is that your daughter’s picture?” I was really insulted at the time, because it looks like a portrait of an addict mother. Why do strangers think it’s okay to ask you personal questions like that? Then again, what kind of weirdo wanders around an empty mall on a Saturday night.

The eye thing again. There were a lot of them.

The eye thing again. There were a lot of them. This seems like a portrait of a talker. Or is it a lonely person watching a group of friends and wishing they could be there, with them?

This picture is so vary LA - "Urbanization of Sophistication" by Erica Lee. I love it.

This picture is so vary LA – “Urbanization of Sophistication” by Erica Lee. I love it.

Jennifer Bae "Movie Theater" captures a moment from Frozen, which the Sound Designer on my thesis film, Christine Hals, worked on. I love this because it captures the magic of movies as a child, the way they fill your head and your heart.

Jennifer Bae “Movie Theater” captures a moment from Frozen, which the Music Composer on my thesis film, Christine Hals, worked on. I love this because it captures the magic of movies as a child, the way they fill your head and your heart.

Cell phone age art. All those smileys seem to be chattering, overwhelmingly and annoyingly happy. Not sure if that's what Kyle Son meant by "Smart Phone with Emoties".

Cell phone age art. All those smileys seem to be chattering, overwhelmingly and annoyingly happy. Not sure if that’s what Kyle Son meant by “Smart Phone with Emoties”.

There's a singer like this on a hundred stages like this in LA right now. The color and style reminds me of Kandinsky. Allen Manjae Chun "If I were a singer".

There’s a singer like this on a hundred stages like this in LA right now. The color and style reminds me of Kandinsky. Allen Manjae Chun “If I were a singer”.

Another awesome teenage self portrait by Scarlett Chang. I love the energy of this picture and I would probably have given it a prize.

Another awesome teenage self portrait by Scarlett Chang. I love the energy of this picture and I would probably have given it a prize.

Earnest, interesting. Not really sure about it. Well executed though, and the bank note probably helped make it a winner.

Earnest, interesting. Not really sure about it. Well executed though, and the bank note probably helped make it a winner.

"Face Painting at a Korea Party" - the colors in this remind me so much of the pictures sold at traffic lights in SA. By Jaimie Yoon.

“Face Painting at a Korea Party” – the colors in this remind me so much of the pictures sold at traffic lights in SA. By Jaimie Yoon.

This by Paul Seo won a judges award.

This by Paul Seo won a judges award.

So you see what I mean. They’re all lovely – I photographed all the winners and then all the ones I thought were interesting. I enjoyed this little exhibition easily as much as any I’ve seen in a famous museum. I wonder where these kids – some of whom are six years old now – will be in 20 years. Who knows, they might be famous film-makers, artists, animators or photographers. I hope they are happy, whatever the future holds.