Check out this cool custom gate that caught my eye as I was walk around in Chelsea the other day: the design is based on the iconic image of the Man in the Moon (with a space capsule embedded through one eye) from the 1902 French adventure film, A Trip to the Moon.
Spotted on 21st Street between 8th and 9th Avenues in Chelsea, NYC.
If you’ve seen the two previous feature films by writer/director team Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead, then you understand that these guys enjoy being meta. Both their 2013 breakout sci-fi flick, Resolution, and 2014’s body horror/romance, Spring include references to a common character (“Shitty Carl”) who is never seen onscreen, and the duo even appear together in one scene in Resolution. Impressively, their new film, The Endless, takes meta to a delightfully mind-bending level. Not only do audiences finally get to meet Shitty Carl, but the two main characters (and one minor character) from Resolution appear in a few pivotal scenes of The Endless, reprising their roles from the previous film. Stephen King does this type of cross-referential thing in his novels all the time as a way to expand and validate his fictional worlds, and here the device works well to let The Endless serve as both a possible sequel to Resolution, while also letting it stand alone as a solid, separate story that contains a few winks and nods for hardcore fans. You don’t need to see one to ‘get’ the other, and to infer that this reveal is a ‘spoiler’ would be like saying that seeing Rogue One spoils the plot of Star Wars.
The Endless stars Benson and Moorhead as brothers Justin and Aaron Smith, roommates who own and operate a small housecleaning business, but struggle to pay the bills. Although they appear to be about the same age, it is inferred that Justin is the elder sibling by, say, ten years. One afternoon, Aaron receives a battered package in the mail, containing a video tape on a format that is long obsolete. After hitting up a couple of yard sales, he finds a device that will play the tape, which shows footage of a young woman who speaks to the camera about an unspecified, upcoming event. Aaron recognizes her as Anna (Callie Hernanadez), whom he knows from a cult-like commune that took-in the brothers after their parents died in a car accident. It’s unclear how long they lived at the commune, but suggested that ten years have passed since they left – or was it ‘escaped’?
Aaron shares the tape with Justin, insisting that the two make a return visit to the commune so that he can gain some type of closure, and also make sure that Anna and the other friends they left behind are all okay. Justin has zero desire to go back, but indulges his younger brother on the condition that the trip be limited to just one day. Right.
There Might Be Something in the Lake Other Than Fish
Though it’s not immediately obvious that the group worships or follows the teachings of any particular figurehead, guru or phenomena, things get weird right away. First off, Justin quickly observes that residents of the commune appear to not have aged a day in the ten years since the brothers left. Aaron sees flocks of birds flying in odd, circular patterns, and surprise photographs and other recorded media containing images of the two just kind of ‘show up’ randomly. And, oh yeah, isn’t that a second moon up in the sky? What’s that about? And who, or what, is on the other end of the rope in that midnight Tug-of-War ritual?
Make that Three Moons
The Endless is one of those films that’s comprised of multi-layered mysteries and plot twists that you won’t see coming no matter how much you think you know what is going on. The subtle horror, slowly-mounting suspense and ever increasing sense of dread will have you on the edge your seat, and it’s really best to go into the theater knowing as little about what happens as possible. While it could be described as Cabin in The Woods meets Primer, The Endless will also appeal to those intrigued by the exploration of cults and cult-mentality, as addressed in the Netlfix documentary series, Wild Wild Country. It is certainly a film that invites multiple viewings, and it will leave you with lots to discuss with fellow viewers long after leaving the theater.
The Worley Gig Gives The Endless 4 1/2 out of 5 Stars!
The Endless Hits Theaters on Friday April 6th, 2018. Find a Showing Near You at This Link!
Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead Direct and Star in The Endless.
In the 1986 documentary The Unheard Music, filmmaker W.T Morgan brilliantly captured the Los Angeles Punk Scene using the band X as a focal point. This Pink Handheld Radio was featured in the film and included on the promotional items in support of the documentary
Pink Transistor Radio was Photographed as Part of the Exhibit X: 40 Years of Punk in Los Angeles at the Grammy Museum in Hollywood, California.
A few weeks ago, we went over to The Fashion Institute of Technology to check out the 2017 MFA in Illustration Visual Thesis Exhibition, which was entitled 13 Stories. It is while visiting the exhibit that I discovered a cool Pink Thing created by FIT student and MFA candidate Necdet Yilmaz, who is a native of Turkey. Necdet’s visual thesis, Happy Tank, is a story about a little machine built for war that doesn’t want to fight. Happy Tank must be sent to war, but refuses to fire at a large building where a child is seen crying. For disobeying the order, Happy Tank is decommissioned and melted down. The story concludes with Happy Tank being recycled and used to construct a playground years after the war is over.
Screen Shots from Happy Tank Animated Film (Above and Below)
Necdet explains that this project “is related to my written thesis, War Themed Childrn’s Books and Propaganda. In wars, children are often affected and exploited as a propaganda tool. However, my project is in opposition to what I researched in my thesis. Personally, I am inspired to create these piece because of my background. My home country, Turkey, is located near the Middle East where there is constant war. This instability affects people in the region, like myself, economically, socially and psychologically.
“This body of work is executed in three different mediums: animation, print in the form of a children’s book and toy design. Using pdf software and animation for the first time while I was creating this work was an exciting challenge for me. I learned a lot about myself while discovering the intricacies of unfamiliar technologies. In particular, especially, when I created the animation I learned how designing three-dimensional characters, objects and environments, using different camera angles, lighting and sound in combination enhanced my creative skill.”
Given our political climate today, Happy Tank could be considered more relevant now than ever. You can see more projects by Necdet at his website, located at This Link.
Photographed in the Museum at FIT, Located on Seventh Avenue at 27th Street, as Part of the 13 Stories Exhibit, which is now Closed.
If you’ve been around long enough, you might remember a genre of extremely clever novelty records — super popular during the ’70s — that parodied current events and news stories with fake interviews made up of audio clips taken from charting pop songs. Those early mash-up records were lots of fun, and if you miss them, and wonder why somebody hasn’t picked up on that idea for a long-form project, then a new animated film called The Stolen Lyric is going to really turn you on.
Directed by Chase Peter Garrettson, The Stolen Lyric is an animated retelling of the Robin Hood fable, set in the rock music world, and taking on corporate greed as its chief nemesis. While the film’s plot and episodic structure closely follow Howard Pyle’s 1883 novel, The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood, in The Stolen Lyric, Robin H is the lead singer of a rock band called The Merry, whose members include Tucker (Friar Tuck), LJ (Little John) and Will Scarlet (Will Scarlet). What makes The Stolen Lyric absolutely groundbreaking is how the film’s dialogue is based exclusively on 555 song fragments from 129 different iconic recording artists. Imagine listening to a mind-blowing, deep-catalog mix CD that was created by a pop music audiophile with a ten second attention span, and that might give you an idea of the sweet nostalgic ride that is The Stolen Lyric.
Here are just a few of the artists whose songs you’ll hear in The Stolen Lyric:
The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Rolling Stones, The Who, Television, Sex Pistols, Ramones, Simon and Garfunkel, Jethro Tull, Queen, The Doors, Iggy Pop, Pink Floyd, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Weezer, Radiohead, Outkast, Beastie Boys, Beach Boys, Elton John, Janet Jackson, Peter Frampton, Jefferson Airplane, Alice in Chains, Joy Division, Fiona Apple, Nine Inch Nails, Buzzcocks and MGMT.
I must admit that I was very surprised to recognize a few song clips from the hyper-litigious Metallica, so perhaps the filmmakers are biding their time until the lawsuits start to flow in from that camp.
Because the film immediately immerses you in a familiar auditory environment, the action can be a bit fuzzy at first, so here’s an outline of major plot points:
Originally, The Merry included a fifth member, Sherriff (The Sheriff of Nottingham) who, pre-fortune and fame, become disillusioned with a lack of commercial success, and quit the band to take a music business office job. Years later, the guys discover that Sheriff (who is now a wealthy corporate exective) has stolen a lyric from one of The Merry’s songs — “Time to Trade in Your Bike in for the Ride of Your Life” — and sold it for use in a car commercial. In their quest to get their owed-royalties from Sheriff, the story of The Merry unfolds in a series of flashbacks, and we see that Sheriff is also now with Rob’s former girlfriend who, for some reason isn’t named Marion, but Lorraine, as referenced in the lyrics to Lou Reed’s “Wild Child.”
Here’s a bit of interesting trivia on the film: The characters in The Stolen Lyric were designed to look like hybrids of the traditional characters and modern-day rock personalities, with Rob’s look inspired by Alex Turner of the Arctic Monkeys, LJ’s look inspired by Joshua Homme of Queens of the Stone Age, Will Scarlet’s look inspired by David Bowie, Tucker’s look inspired by Jonathan Davis of Korn, and Sheriff’s look inspired by Nick Valensi of The Strokes.
I think that the most fun you can have with The Stolen Lyric is to watch it with group of your best record-collecting-music-nerd friends (adding lots of alcohol into the mix) and see who gets stumped the most when trying to identify the more obscure songs and artists. You could even make a drinking game out of it! Very fun! Although there are scattered swear words throughout (which most kids already know if they have ever ridden the subway in NYC, or own records by even one rap artist), and one fairly tame sex scene, I would say the film is age-appropriate viewing for mature 13 year-olds and up. It would absolutely be a terrific way to introduce kids to a top-shelf and somewhat eclectic collection of classic tunes that they are never going to hear anywhere else.
I watched The Stolen Lyric twice and enjoyed even more the second time.
Don’t let anyone make the excuse that this is a kids’ camera, because this Hello Kitty face with a lens sticking out of it is a big fucking hunk of camera that is much too unwieldy for tiny child-sized hands. But, whatever; this is a film (not digital) camera manufactured by Fujifilm and you can buy it online at Amazon right now for about $80!
If you enjoy the slow reveal of a real-life mystery that unfolds with greater intrigue and a higher ‘WTF’ factor than the most oblique, multi-layered David Fincher script, then Author: The JT LeRoy Story is your wet dream of a documentary film. Author is the true story of wunderkind picaresque novelist JT LeRoy and the elaborate machinations behind the facade that disguised the Literary Hoax of the Century. Because, despite being one of the most popular and critically lauded writers of an entire decade (1996 to 2006), JT LeRoy never existed: he was merely an elaborate persona created by author Laura Albert to take credit for stories she wrote from the perspective of an emotionally and psychologically traumatize teenage boy. When the JT LeRoy books reached a level of mega-success that required LeRoy to do press and make personal appearances, Albert got to work on fabricating one of the most brilliant and convoluted schemes ever conceived in the mind of someone who was hiding behind a pretty hefty stack of neuroses.
Savannah Knoop as JT LeRoy, with Laura Albert as Speedy
Backed into a corner, Albert, with assistance from her husband Greg Knoop and sister-in-law Savannah Knoop, created a physical world that JT LeRoy could move around in, with Savannah portraying JT in public (Albert had already been impersonating him on the phone for years) and Greg playing the part of JT’s lover/roommate, Asher. Albert took on the role of JT’s handler/sidekick, the British-accented ‘Speedy‘ (Albert is American). Together, the trio fooled everyone.
JT and Bono
What makes Author: The JT LeRoy story such a complete success is that you don’t need to know anything about the backstory coming into it, to become thoroughly transported into the world of Laura Albert’s dual realities, and to stay engaged and outraged as those world’s fall apart over the course of two hours. This film is just amazing on so many levels. There’s no doubt that Albert is, well, crazy; but that doesn’t make her any less of a creative genius. The lengths that Albert and her family went to to keep the JT LeRoy ruse alive, and the degree to which dozens — if not hundreds — of huge celebrities were either authentically duped, or, like Smashing Pumpkins front man Billy Corgan, were just playing along is nothing short of mind blowing.
Actor Michael Pitt, JT and Film Director Gus Van Sant
Currently, Author: The JT LeRoy Story is tied with Wiener as the best documentary I’ve seen so far this year.
The Worley Gig Gives Author: The JT LeRoy Story Five out of Five Stars!
Author: The JT LeRoy Story Hits Theaters on September 9th, 2016 and will be Showing in NYC at both the Landmark Sunshine Cinema and Lincoln Center’s Elinor Bunin Munroe Theatre. Directed by Jeff Feuerzeig, the Film has a Running Time of 110 Minutes. Watch the Trailer Below!
Did you know that here on earth there are three gates to hell: one in the desert, one in the ocean, and one in Jerusalem? I had no idea, and I’m betting that Israel’s tourism board wants to keep that nugget of information on the down low; because it would surely be bad for business if word got out.
Unfortunately, no one tipped off Sarah and Rachel, two young American tourists on their way to a carefree vacation in Tel Aviv, who instead get a one-way ticket to the End Times in Jeruzalem, a new independent film directed by Israeli brothers Yoav and Doron Paz.
Rachel (Yael Grobglas) and Sarah (Danielle Jadelyn) Pose for One Last Selfie before Departing to Jeruzalem
On the flight over, the girls meet a sexy and charismatic anthropologist named Kevin (Yon Tumarkin) who convinces them to take a detour to the old city of Jerusalem for some historical sightseeing before continuing on to the serious partying in Tel Aviv. Sarah and Kevin hit it off, and Jerusalem is seemingly filled with all kinds of hot guys for Rachel to flirt with, so it’s kind of a no brainer. They plan to stay only 48 hours, but their second night in Jerusalem happens to be Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, and that is when all hell, literally, breaks loose.
While Sarah, Rachel, Kevin and new friends from the hostel where they’ve been staying make a frantic attempt to escape the walled city, it’s equally frightening to imagine that the Apocalypse will be documented via Google Glass, which, as worn by Sarah, serves as the first person-perspective from which the entire movie is shot (be forewarned that if shaky, hand-held camera movements make you nauseous, you might want to drop a Dramamine before the film even starts).
It’s somewhat distracting at first, especially when Sarah does one of her many face-plants while running after, or from, something, but the device serves to further the narrative in interesting ways; providing facial recognition, maps, Wikipedia entries, music videos, social media and panicked Skype calls from Sarah’s concerned Dad, which all get tossed into the mix.
I really don’t want to spoil anything except to offer that Jeruzalem features truly mind-bending moments of psychological terror (the scene where Sarah searches frantically for Kevin in a derelict mental institution is particularly unnerving), and more than a few instances where smart people inexplicably decline to run away when confronted with nightmarish physical horror, such as menacing giants and undead Monsters with Wings.
If you liked Cloverfield, you’ll love Jeruzalem.
Jeruzalem opens at NYC’s Cinema Village on January 22, 2016, when it will also be available on VOD. Rated: R, Runtime: 94 minutes.
If you’re the parent of small children and are looking for a fresh and fun Christmas film to watch with them, you might want to check out HOLY NIGHT! A family-friendly adventure film appropriate for children of all ages, HOLY NIGHT! takes place on Christmas Eve. Two toy worlds live together in the living room of a house. Two traditions confronted. On one side, the Christmas tree, home of Santa Claus and his elves. On the other, the Nativity Scene with the Three Wise Men and the rest of its inhabitants.
When everyone is ready to celebrate a quiet Christmas the alarm goes off: somebody has stolen Santa’s sleigh and Baby Jesus has been kidnapped! Follow our heroes, Sam and Sarah, in an incredible adventure to save the most magical night of the year! Sounds like fun, right?