Thursday, July 26, 2007

Air Guitar for your mouth

Recently, in an odd pairing (though it seems catered to my specific pop culture tastes), Kanye West asked Zach Galifianakis to come up with an alternate version to his video for the upcoming Graduation's "Can't Tell Me Nothing". Now, when I first saw this video, I thought three things: #1) this is simultaneously the worst music video by Kanye, #2)this is the worst video directed by Hype Williams, and #3) this is the worst single Kanye has put out (despite the fact that he mentions the fictitious Cosby-attended Hillman College). But I digress.

Kanye caught a Zach Galifianakis show, and eventually asked him to take a few bucks, and come up with something. He came up with this!

As you can see, Zach went with the ancient artform of lip synching (while riding a tractor). And it got me thinking of other lip synching videos. As you'll see, Galifianakis is sort of the Yankees of this genre. Here's my Top 5:

#5 - Paul Simon - "You Can Call Me Al"

The forefather of the genre, this is probably the last funny thing Chevy Chase did.

#4: Fiona Apple - "Not About Love"

While Zach's lip synching is obviously stunning, it is my humble opinion that the alley dancing and water dancing makes the video.

#3: Backstreet Boys - "I Want It That Way"

Though not an official video from the musician like the others on this list, it was one of this first classic youtube videos that spawned this new artform. I also love the fact that the guy in the background never turns around. I like to think that he still doesn't know this ever happened.

#2 - Aimee Mann - "Wise Up"

This one is actually a scene from P.T. Anderson's Magnolia. Still, it functions as a music video. And I know, they aren't technically lip synching (you can hear them singing themselves), but what are you gonna do?I will say that it's much more powerful if you've seen (and loved) the film.

#1: Anita Baker - "You Bring Me Joy"

It was after seeing this video that Kanye (and probably Fiona) sought out Zach for his synching services. I DEFY you to watch this video and not laugh. The ferris wheel. Zach "Teenwolfing" that station wagon. Watching Wolf Blitzer in a bar. This video has it all. And I think that after watching, you'll agree no one lip synchs with more passion.

I encourage you to suggest any video I may have overlooked in the comments!

Monday, July 23, 2007

This is what happens...

...when prisoners in the Philippines get bored. They put their time in the clink to good use, and I think you'll agree they've been scared straight.

(check out more of their sweet moves, including renditions of Sister Act and Queen's "Radio Ga Ga".

...when caffeine drinkers get bored.
(#1: this documentary follows some dude named Winter, a guy with quite the case of OCD, as he tries to go to every Starbucks in the country)

(#2: Mark Malkoff made this 10-minute short film from a guy who tried to go to all 171 Starbucks in Manhattan in a 24-hour span. Oh, and keep an eye out for a cameo by Perfect Strangers' Mark Linn-Baker)

...when Lionel Richie-loving art students get bored.

(compare their surprisingly accurate sculptures to the original...and enjoy the bonus of the college-professor-turned-stalker-of-a-disabled-girl plotline!)

...and this blog is what happens when I get bored.

...and reading/watching this blog is what happens when you get bored.

Monday, July 02, 2007

This Is What You've Waited For

It's tough to film a musical that really connects with an audience. It's a challenge for any genre of film, but more so with musicals, most likely because musicals are, for the most part, devoid of realism. I can't think of anytime in recent memory when, while watching a musical movie, I've emotionally identified with any character, because they're obviously not based in reality. They can be technically brilliant but lacking any personal touch ("Chicago"). They can be fantastically over the top real-life cartoon ("Moulin Rouge"). But they're often fleeting.

This was my mindset until I saw "Once." A modern-day musical shot on the streets of Dublin, it's the best movie I've seen in ages. It's a pretty simple story: an Irish street musician meets a piano-playing single mom, and they make a record. But as with all great art, the brilliance is in the details. Every line, every scene is just perfectly real. It's a visceral experience watching the ups and downs of these two characters. Many of the reviews have remarked that the films feels almost like a documentary, which is probably due to the fact that the two leads (Glen Hansard of The Frames, and Marketa Irglova) are in fact musicians, not actors. The doc-feel is furthered by the directing of John Carney, who uses a lot of hand-held shots and long takes, as well as long-range lenses to showcase the two leads in amongst the foot traffic of Dublin. At the risk of sounding like Russell Hammond, everything is this movie is just real, man, real.

The most amazing aspect of the film is that it was made for $150,000 dollars, an astonishing figure when you take into account that most of that must have gone to the audio mix in post-production, so the actual shooting of the film must have been done on a shoestring. Consider the fact that Chris Columbus spent $40 million to throw together a God-awful adaptation of "Rent" and it's a true reminder that you can't put a price tag on creativity.

Granted, I may not be completely objective in my opinion of "Once", as it contains several traps that I'm a sucker for - the scenics of Ireland are picturesque, I've been a fan of The Frames for some time, and it features great songs being sung by a pretty girl. But the reviews have been ridiculously overwhelming so I'm not the only one charmed by it. I can't recommend it enough.