movies

A Very Murray Christmas

From Variety:

Netflix has picked up “A Very Murray Christmas” — an homage to classic variety shows starring Bill Murray as himself — set to debut on the streaming service Internet TV network this December.

The special is being written by Sofia Coppola, Bill Murray and Mitch Glazer and directed by Sofia Coppola. In “A Very Murray Christmas,” the comedian worries no one will show up to his TV show due to a massive snowstorm in New York City. Through luck and perseverance, guests arrive at Gotham’s Carlyle hotel to help him — dancing and singing in holiday spirit.

Last Week Tonight's John Oliver on Climate Change, Scientific Consensus

Priceless. More, please.

Grand Budapest Hotel Visual Effects Reel

Pretty cool little reel. Lots of nice little touches. Shows a pretty deft touch at utilizing VFX to augment, not overwhelm, some great scenes. Unfortunately not embeddable. Watch it on Vimeo.

From @ihnatko

British Pathé's films on smog and air pollution

From Variety:

British Pathé, the U.K. newsreel archive company, has uploaded its entire 100-year collection of 85,000 historic films in high resolution to YouTube.

The collection, which spans 1896 to 1976, comprises some 3,500 hours of historical footage of major events, notable figures, fashion, travel, sports and culture. It includes extensive film from both World War I and World War II.

Naturally, I looked for some videos about smog, air pollution, and the environment. The Archive doesn’t disappoint. There are pieces called “The Smog Menace”, “Smog Detector”, and a documentary called “Guilty Chimneys” (part 1 + 2, part 3).

There’s a lot of fascinating stuff in the archive beyond smog and air pollution. Pretty cool.

A Klubeck here, a Klubeck there

Continuing the trend of Wes Anderson related posts, I noticed the following in Fantastic Mr. Fox:

and we know about this in The Grand Budapest Hotel:

What (or who) the hell is a Klubeck? Screen Forever tells us that Rich Klubeck is a Partner at United Talent Agency… and that one of his clients is Wes Anderson:

Rich Klubeck is a Partner in the Motion Picture Group at United Talent Agency in Los Angeles where he has worked since 2003. Rich’s clients include Joel and Ethan Coen, Wes Anderson, Angelina Jolie, Ewan McGregor, Uma Thurman, Mike White, Scott Z. Burns, Drake Doremus, Lynn Shelton, Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, Paolo Sorrentino, Nicole Holofcener, Craig Gillespie, David Mackenzie, Miranda July, David Michod, Mike Mills, Dror Moreh, Sam Gold, Sergio Sanchez, Ziad Doueiri, and Fatih Akin. He also represents leading video developer and publisher Electronic Arts.

Behind the Scenes: The Grand Budapest Hotel Miniatures

A collection of shots of the miniatures from the film as they were being created. The details are pretty incredible.

The Grand Budapest Hotel

Beth and I went and saw Wes Anderson’s newest film, The Grand Budapest Hotel, at our customary and preferred pre-noon showtime. In attendance were a healthy set of other 30 somethings and a substantial number of significantly older clientele. I love Anderson’s films without reserve. This one did not disappoint; in fact, it has stuck with me in peculiar ways.

The film is typically quirky, beautiful, and flagrantly not of this reality: set in a made-up eastern European country, it takes place slightly before a large conflict that draws from both the first and second world wars. The external, wide shots of the hotel and many of the sets are clearly models — though exquisitely detailed ones. The story floats through history, moving us back in time somewhat quickly. At the beginning, a young woman visits a statue of a dead author, paying tribute as the snow falls around her in a somewhat drab courtyard. She holds a book - The Grand Budapest Hotel - by ‘The Author.’ We see a picture of him on the back cover, than cut to him behind a desk, alive and recounting how he came to the story of the hotel and its owner (and seemingly breaking the fourth wall as he describes storytelling). These scenes are all shot in a typical, modern aspect ratio. We cut to the past, where Jude Law plays a younger version of The Author. The aspect ratio changes and Law becomes the narrator. We learn a little about the hotel, a quieted place of fading glory, ornamentation discarded for brute utilitarianism; and of its proprietor, Zero Mustafa. Zero recounts how he came to the hotel as a lobby boy, and we shift further back in time. F. Murray Abraham, who plays the older Zero, takes over as narrator. Zero, now played by Tony Revolori, is a refugee from an unnamed somewhere. The casting is smart — in no human world does Revolori grow into Abraham, but both convey otherness and outsider. We meet his flirtatious, bisexual, at times well-mannered and at times flagrantly vulgur mentor M. Gustave, portrayed with brilliant aplomb by Ralph Fiennes. The aspect ratio changes again — this time dramatically, to one slightly taller than wide. A striking, uncommon effect. The combination of shifting aspect ratios and narrators helps the viewer organize the periods of the film, but also confuses. A neat way of depicting the manic and wily sands of memory, transposing and mixing up bits and pieces of recalled experience.

The story goes off the rails from there — in fun and memorable ways. There’s a thug who removes some of another character’s fingers, a love story between a savant baker and Zero, a prison break, incredible sets and many, many familiar faces. To describe any of it in detail would be tantamount to pilfering little bits of delight. Like all Anderson films, there’s subtle humor, detail, and insane exposition.

So why’s it bugging me? I’m not sure. Anderson doesn’t address the obscenities of history directly, but lightly and from glancing angles. This pisses people off (not me), especially those who think Anderson’s films are superficial nods to aesthetes. There are palpable senses of loss and longing: for older Zero, an understandable one; an equivalent saudade for Gustave, who by wily strength of charm maintains his bizarre interpretation of old-world decorum and propriety at the Hotel. He lives by a code, as it were, and watches the world crumble around him.

The melancholy extends to the connection between Zero and Gustave, to the Hotel and the world it represented, and to a perceived brightness of a forgone time. It permeates throughout the film and ultimately gives way to an acknowledgement of passing. If Anderson’s worlds of whimsy are creations of joy, then the drab scenes set in the ‘present’ of the film (mid-80s) and in the recent past of Law’s Author seem to come from a muted woe daubed with signs of former glory.

That last bit sounds remarkably abysmal — it’s not, at all. I’m keen for a repeat viewing. The film’s a delight and the best I’ve seen in quite a while.

"CASTELLO CAVALCANTI" by Wes Anderson

Christmas in early November. Enjoy!

Beauty of Mathematics

Pretty awesome little video from a French video production and graphic design firm. Not entirely sure about the veracity of the math or the visualizations… but that’s perhaps missing the forest for the trees.

Best viewed fullscreen.

via Colossal

Michael Chabon's introduction to The Wes Anderson Collection

This beautiful tome arrived today. The New Yorker summarizes it best:

Were it only for the text of his introductory essays and extended interviews with Wes Anderson, Matt Zoller Seitz’s book “The Wes Anderson Collection,” which discusses all seven of Anderson’s feature films in copious detail, would be an indispensable resource, as well as a delight….

But the text isn’t all there is to it: the book is entirely in the Andersonian spirit—it’s a beautiful object, not a coffee-table book (except in size) but one that’s designed and thought out to its slightest detail, with its amazingly wide and deep offering of visual documentation. (Far be it from me to diminish the images and artifacts by calling them “illustrations.”) Still photographs from the set, frame enlargements, storyboards, influences (from “Peanuts” to Holbein to Welles), references (record covers, school insignias), and memorabilia (newspaper clippings, casting snapshots) are matched with informative and discursive captions that play like stage whispers, and all are brought together with taste, insight, and joyful celebration.

The introduction by Michael Chabon praises Anderson as much as it reflects on aging and growth:

The world is so big, so complicated, so replete with marvels and surprises that it takes years for most people to begin to notice that it is, also, irretrievably broken. We call this period of research “childhood.”

There follows a program of renewed inquiry, often involuntary, into the nature and effects of mortality, entropy, heartbreak, violence, failure, cowardice, duplicity, cruelty, and grief; the researcher learns their histories, and their bitter lessons, by heart. Along the way, he or she discovers that the world has been broken for as long as anyone can remember, and struggles to reconcile this fact with the ache of cosmic nostalgia that arises, from time to time, in the researcher’s heart: an intimation of vanished glory, of lost wholeness, a memory of the world unbroken. We call the moment at which this ache first arises “adolescence.” The feeling haunts people all their lives.

Everyone, sooner or later, gets a thorough schooling in brokenness. The question becomes: What to do with the pieces? Some people hunker down atop the local pile of ruins and make do, Bedouin tending their goats in the shade of shattered giants. Others set about breaking what remains of the world into bits ever smaller and more jagged, kicking through the rubble like kids running through piles of leaves. And some people, passing among the scattered pieces of that great overturned jigsaw puzzle, start to pick up a piece here, a piece there, with a vague yet irresistible notion that perhaps something might be done about putting the thing back together again.

Two difficulties with this latter scheme at once present themselves. First of all, we have only ever glimpsed, as if through half-closed lids, the picture on the lid of the jigsaw puzzle box. Second, no matter how diligent we have been about picking up pieces along the way, we will never have anywhere near enough of them to finish the job. The most we can hope to accomplish with our handful of salvaged bits—the bittersweet harvest of observation and experience—is to build a little world of our own. A scale model of that mysterious original, unbroken, half—remembered. Of course the worlds we build out of our store of fragments can be only approximations, partial and inaccurate. As representations of the vanished whole that haunts us, they must be accounted failures. And yet in that very failure, in their gaps and inaccuracies, they may yet be faithful maps, accurate scale models, of this beautiful and broken world. We call these scale models “works of art.”

“The ache of cosmic nostalgia.” “The bittersweet harvest of observation and experience.”

Goddamn.

Read the whole thing.

The Grand Budapest Hotel Trailer

The first trailer for Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel was released today. Looks positively Wes Anderson-errific. Can’t wait.

Errol Morris's The Unknown Known

Errol Morris is at it again. From an interview at The Daily Beast:

… Of all the so-called nefarious characters within the George W. Bush administration, why Rumsfeld?

If I’m asked to think about the two major Secretaries of Defense of the last fifty years, it’s Robert S. McNamara and Donald Rumsfeld—two Secretaries of Defense who presided over disastrous wars and were major public figures. People are going to say this is The Fog of War 2. One very big difference between [McNamara and Rumsfeld] is that McNamara says the war was a mistake, it was wrong. He didn’t say it at the time, but has subsequently said it. Rumsfeld? Not so much. I always say it’s Tabloid 2.

The topic of war seems to fascinate you. Why are we in a seemingly constant state of war?

Because I think people are crazy. I talk very briefly about Shakespeare, and with Shaskespeare, the motivating force of history is insanity, greed, jealousy, hate, power. Rumsfeld said, “Well, maybe that was true then, but it’s different now.” Then he reads this memo to Condi Rice where he basically tells her to shut up, you’re not in the chain of command, nobody wants to hear from you, and if you continue to talk out, I’m going to the president and I’m going to have you muzzled.

This is going to be fascinating. And terrifying.

via kottke

66 Behind the Scenes Pics from The Empire Strikes Back

there is so much amiss in this photograph.

I don’t know if this is a curated collection or just a fan finding every behind the scenes image he can from ESB… but it doesn’t matter. The pictures are amazing. Enjoy.

via Daring Fireball

And now this: Goats Yelling Like Humans

From kottke.org and our pal Pat:

The Drive Back from Bear Valley

Last weekend, the Lovehardsteins, ChAriel, Beth and I went to Bear Valley for a weekend of skiing, hot tubs, and some fantastic team cooking led by Ben. I x-country skied, but that’s a story for… never. On the drive back, we encountered a lot of outstanding randomness, including the following:

1) a large number of cows, walking in a straight line, down a path, despite huge swaths of trodable land surrounding them;

2) a boy on a dirt bike, racing parallel to us, in a field;

3) some very, very large birds;

4) a murmuration.

Today, kottke.org coincidentally featured a cool video about murmuration (posted below).

Bill Murray on Gilda Radner

Via kottke.org, Bill Murray discussing Gilda Ratner:

Gilda got married and went away. None of us saw her anymore. There was one good thing: Laraine had a party one night, a great party at her house. And I ended up being the disk jockey. She just had forty-fives, and not that many, so you really had to work the music end of it. There was a collection of like the funniest people in the world at this party. Somehow Sam Kinison sticks in my brain. The whole Monty Python group was there, most of us from the show, a lot of other funny people, and Gilda. Gilda showed up and she’d already had cancer and gone into remission and then had it again, I guess. Anyway she was slim. We hadn’t seen her in a long time. And she started doing, “I’ve got to go,” and she was just going to leave, and I was like, “Going to leave?” It felt like she was going to really leave forever.

So we started carrying her around, in a way that we could only do with her. We carried her up and down the stairs, around the house, repeatedly, for a long time, until I was exhausted. Then Danny did it for a while. Then I did it again. We just kept carrying her; we did it in teams. We kept carrying her around, but like upside down, every which way—over your shoulder and under your arm, carrying her like luggage. And that went on for more than an hour—maybe an hour and a half—just carrying her around and saying, “She’s leaving! This could be it! Now come on, this could be the last time we see her. Gilda’s leaving, and remember that she was very sick—hello?”

We worked all aspects of it, but it started with just, “She’s leaving, I don’t know if you’ve said good-bye to her.” And we said good-bye to the same people ten, twenty times, you know.

And because these people were really funny, every person we’d drag her up to would just do like five minutes on her, with Gilda upside down in this sort of tortured position, which she absolutely loved. She was laughing so hard we could have lost her right then and there.

It was just one of the best parties I’ve ever been to in my life. I’ll always remember it. It was the last time I saw her.

There’s a great consistency in the way Murray describes little life vignettes. A nice and subtle combination of melancholy and honesty permeates his public story-telling.

Bill Murray in NYT

The snarglr of all snarglrs, Bill Murray, in the NYT:

David Itzkoff:

After Mr. Murray’s interview with another interrogator ran overtime, I was invited to accompany him to an evening appearance at Florence Gould Hall — and onto the stage of its theater, where a private chat turned into a public spectacle for a few hundred members of the Screen Actors Guild. (Imagine accompanying Mr. Murray on a version of the famous tracking shot from “Goodfellas,” through the back rooms and bowels of an unfamiliar building until the moment you expect to part ways and take your seat in the audience, only to realize then that you’re part of the act.)

Lucky bastard. My favorite excerpts follow.

Q. Are there days where you wake up and think: “Nothing good has come to me in a little while. I’d better prime the pump”?

A. Well, who hasn’t woken up thinking, “God, nothing good has come to me in a while,” right? When I feel like I’m stuck, I do something — not like I’m Mother Teresa or anything, but there’s someone that’s forgotten about in your life, all the time. Someone that could use an “Attaboy” or a “How you doin’ out there.” It’s that sort of scene, that remembering that we die alone. We’re born alone. We do need each other. It’s lonely to really effectively live your life, and anyone you can get help from or give help to, that’s part of your obligation.

Q. Did you ever think that the lessons you first learned on the stage of an improv comedy theater in Chicago would pay off later in life?

A. It pays off in your life when you’re in an elevator and people are uncomfortable. You can just say, “That’s a beautiful scarf.” It’s just thinking about making someone else feel comfortable. You don’t worry about yourself, because we’re vibrating together. If I can make yours just a little bit groovier, it’ll affect me. It comes back, somehow.

Dieter Rams: Less and More Interview

This video is a couple of years old but was recently featured at The Atlantic. For those who don’t know, Rams was the influential product designer at Braun whose simple, minimal designs have widely influenced modern industrial design. In the mid-80s, Rams articulated a set of 10 design principles focusing on utility, aesthetic simplicity, and understandability. In the short video, Rams is quirky, thoughtful, and intriguing. Read more about his ten principles for good design here.

Disney to Acquire Lucasfilm, Ltd

Holy shit.

“For the past 35 years, one of my greatest pleasures has been to see Star Wars passed from one generation to the next,” said George Lucas, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Lucasfilm. “It’s now time for me to pass Star Wars on to a new generation of filmmakers. I’ve always believed that Star Wars could live beyond me, and I thought it was important to set up the transition during my lifetime. I’m confident that with Lucasfilm under the leadership of Kathleen Kennedy, and having a new home within the Disney organization, Star Wars will certainly live on and flourish for many generations to come. Disney’s reach and experience give Lucasfilm the opportunity to blaze new trails in film, television, interactive media, theme parks, live entertainment, and consumer products.”

Under the deal, Disney will acquire ownership of Lucasfilm, a leader in entertainment, innovation and technology, including its massively popular and “evergreen” Star Wars franchise and its operating businesses in live action film production, consumer products, animation, visual effects, and audio post production. Disney will also acquire the substantial portfolio of cutting-edge entertainment technologies that have kept audiences enthralled for many years. Lucasfilm, headquartered in San Francisco, operates under the names Lucasfilm Ltd., LucasArts, Industrial Light & Magic, and Skywalker Sound, and the present intent is for Lucasfilm employees to remain in their current locations.

Kathleen Kennedy, current Co-Chairman of Lucasfilm, will become President of Lucasfilm, reporting to Walt Disney Studios Chairman Alan Horn. Additionally she will serve as the brand manager for Star Wars, working directly with Disney’s global lines of business to build, further integrate, and maximize the value of this global franchise. Ms. Kennedy will serve as executive producer on new Star Wars feature films, with George Lucas serving as creative consultant. Star Wars Episode 7 is targeted for release in 2015, with more feature films expected to continue the Star Wars saga and grow the franchise well into the future.

Stop-motion Video of Space Shuttle Endeavor

From Matthew Givot, who posted the video on his Vimeo account:

A very special thanks to the City of Inglewood, Chief of Police Mark Fronterotta, Lieutenant James Madia, Sergeant Dirk Dewachter, and to the Men and Women of the Inglewood Police Department. None of this would have been possible without them.

This project was only made possible by the help of a truly amazing and talented timelapse team which included; Joe Capra, Chris Pritchard, Brian Hawkins, Andrew Walker, Ryan Killackey and myself.

This truly was a once in a lifetime opportunity that we are so happy and honored to have been be a part of.

The endeavor started on Thursday night and went on until Sunday night, with very little sleep to no sleep. The only thing that kept us going was pure love of the art and adrenaline. One thing that stood out the most for me, while I was shooting, was the people of Los Angeles. It was so powerful to see the excitement on peoples faces and the pride of their home town. No matter how many times I would see the Shuttle it would never get old.

This has been an amazing experience that I will never forget. My hope is that this film will show you the amount of dedicated people and teamwork that it took to get the Endeavour to its new home. Enjoy.

Kanye Wes

What happens when you add Kanye lyrics to frames from Wes Anderson films? Hilarity and madness.

See more here.

Via kottke.org

Samsara

I first saw Baraka in college and was blown away by the imagery and the format — a beautiful 70mm film, silent, relying solely on the power of its images to carry narrative force. It succeeded. The follow-up - 20 years later - took five years to make and was filmed in 25 countries. From the creators’ website:

SAMSARA is a Sanskrit word that means “the ever turning wheel of life” and is the point of departure for the filmmakers as they search for the elusive current of interconnection that runs through our lives. Filmed over a period of almost five years and in twenty-five countries, SAMSARA transports us to sacred grounds, disaster zones, industrial sites, and natural wonders. By dispensing with dialogue and descriptive text, SAMSARA subverts our expectations of a traditional documentary, instead encouraging our own inner interpretations inspired by images and music that infuses the ancient with the modern.

Expanding on the themes they developed in BARAKA (1992) and CHRONOS (1985), SAMSARA explores the wonders of our world from the mundane to the miraculous, looking into the unfathomable reaches of man’s spirituality and the human experience. Neither a traditional documentary nor a travelogue, SAMSARA takes the form of a nonverbal, guided meditation. Through powerful images, the film illuminates the links between humanity and the rest of nature, showing how our life cycle mirrors the rhythm of the planet.

The filmmakers approach non verbal filmmaking with an understanding that it must live up to the standard of great still photography, revealing the essence of a subject, not just its physical presence. SAMSARA was photographed entirely in 70mm film utilizing both standard frame rates and with a motion control time-lapse camera designed specifically for this project. This camera system allows perspective shifts to reveal extraordinary views of ordinary scenes. The images were then transferred through the highest resolution scanning process available to the new 4K digital projection format that allows for mesmerizing images of unprecedented clarity. SAMSARA will be a showpiece for the new, high-resolution 4K digital projection, the HD format, as well as standard digital and film projection.

Yahoo Video: The Lego Wire

The Wire, reimagined by snarky Legos. Click above to watch (requires Flash).

From Yahoo, via kottke.org.

Perfection: Xaver Xylophon's "FOR HIRE! BANGALORE RICKSHAW"

This short animation captures the cadence of local travel in India perfectly. It nails those conflicting sensations of monotony, adventure, and relief.

Green, yellow, black. They are the blood in the veins of Bangalore: the 450,000 rickshaws and their drivers. Knocked together from bits and pieces, decorated, ready for the junk heap or carefully maintained like antique cars, the vehicles are as charismatic as their owners, who brave the monstrous traffic of this metropolis daringly, sleepy, chattering or stoic, making sure the passanger’s trip from A to B will be full of memorable experiences.

Based on days of riding around in rickshaws and drawings made locally, this animation captures the tough workaday life of a rickshaw driver, seen through the eyes of a European visitor.

Result of a one month trip to Bangalore, India as part of the project “The Law of the Market” at the University of Arts Berlin Weißensee, 2011

Astronaut Don Pettit's Photos from Space

“My star trail images are made by taking a time exposure of about 10 to 15 minutes. However, with modern digital cameras, 30 seconds is about the longest exposure possible, due to electronic detector noise effectively snowing out the image. To achieve the longer exposures I do what many amateur astronomers do. I take multiple 30-second exposures, then ‘stack’ them using imaging software, thus producing the longer exposure.”

Fascinating and striking. Also, Don Pettit seems like the coolest imaginable dude. Megan Garber reported in the Atlantic that

Pettit has found a totally worthwhile way to pass the time not spent berthing space capsules, installing scientific equipment, being a bold explorer into the final frontier, etc. Pettit has been orchestrating space-based science demonstrations, broadcasting them to earth via YouTube in a series he calls Science off the Sphere.

Pettit is clearly incredibly excited about these demonstrations — and his enthusiasm makes for buoyant viewing, even in zero gravity. A couple weeks ago, the astronaut, chemical engineer, and Eagle Scout took zero-gravitied water droplets and used sound waves to manipulate them. It was beautiful and powerful and weird. Yesterday, though, Pettit outdid himself — by stripping down to a seemingly self-cut muscle T, taking a vacuum cleaner hose, and using said hose to create a makeshift, spaceborn didgeridoo.

None of that is a typo.

Alan Alda's Flame Challenge

When actor, scholar, and activist Alan Alda was eleven, he asked a teacher a question that had been plaguing him. “What’s a flame? What’s going on in there?”

The teacher paused, as Alda recollects, and replaced one unknown with another, commenting, “It’s oxidation.” Alda notes that as an encounter with the failure of scientific communication.

Unbeknownst to me, Alda has pursued science communication pretty actively over the last few years, between interviews on Scientific American Frontiers and work at SUNY Stony Brook. He wrote recently,

I began to think that clarity in communicating science is at the very heart of science itself. And I wondered if written and oral communication skills could be taught systematically throughout the entire length of a student’s science education. The State University of New York at Stony Brook picked up on this idea, founding the Center for Communicating Science. I became part of the teaching faculty, and we began experimenting. We are now teaching communication courses for credit to graduate students in the sciences. Students learn to distill their message and write without jargon. They also experience an innovative course in improvisation, which teaches them to communicate with a live audience with the ease and familiarity of an animated conversation. The intention, of course, is not to turn scientists into actors but to allow them to be more authentically themselves in public inter- actions. Most of all, we discourage any form of “dumbing down” the science. The goal is to achieve clarity and vividness.

He also returned to that original question about flames and opened a competition. The winner is embedded below — pretty outstanding little video created by Ben Ames, an American PhD student studying quantum optics.

Beamer for Mac

Beamer’s tag line sums it up: “Play any movie file directly via Apple TV.” A bargain at $7. Drop AVIs, MKVs, etc on Beamer and it shoots them over to your AppleTV. Started an mkv movie and watched an episode of TV using it — works like a charm. All it needs is some volume control and it’ll be golden.

Funny or Die: The Wire: The Musical

Michael Kenneth Williams stars alongside Sonja Sohn, Larry Gillard Jr., Andre Royo & Felicia “Snoop” Pearson from The Wire in The Wire: The Musical where they will allow you to experience America’s failing drug war through the magic of song!

Yes, yes, yes. So ridiculous, so hilarious. Faizon Bell as Stringer Bell is a particularly good touch. As is Michael Kenneth Williams’s ridiculous dancing.

Postcard 2: Golden Gate's 75th Birthday, Slacker Hill, Marin Headlands, California

Song: When The Northern Lights / Jasper And Louise

Around 6p yesterday, I decided to head over to the Marin headlands to catch the Golden Gate Bridge’s 75th Birthday fireworks display. I wasn’t the only one with this idea — dozens of photographers and other Bay Areans were in the Headlands. The usual mix - beat-boxing Marin teenagers, reformed Hippies and Beats, wine and cheese toting young and old couples.

The hike to the lookout atop Slacker Hill is a short, uphill jaunt from the intersection of Conzelman and McCullough. The trail is, for the most part, wide and sandy. It climbs quickly to a vista with one of the best 360º views of the Bay Area. On a clear day or evening, it is truly a spectacular site. Even before the explosions began, it didn’t disappoint.

I talked with a few fellow photographers up there, everyone anxious to know where the fireworks were coming from - a barge west of the bridge? small boats in the Bay? - and commenting on the ‘cold.’ A pleasant, self-selecting bunch - after all, it takes a certain type to lug chairs, coolers, tripods, and themselves up a hill on a brisk night.

I wandered off for a while, catching a beautiful sunset that bathed the hill in radiant yellow, orange, and pink hues. When I returned, there were many more photographers; the area under the bridge on both sides had been cordoned off from any sea traffic. The bay was full of boats of all sizes, a school of tiny lights twinkling like rubies and emeralds, gently swaying in the ocean.

A little after nine, the bridge was emptied and all of its lights were turned off. A pretty neat sight, and as a fellow onlooker noted, a short break for grandpa golden gate after 75 years of service. We sang the bridge happy birthday.

Suddenly, streams of light poured off the bridge, bright white streaks quenched by the deep blue. The stalwart red scaffolding caught the light, blazing phosphorescencently. Much to our collective surprise, the bridge itself was fully equipped with pyrotechnics of its own, supplementing the small firework-festooned fleet flinging explosives. Meanwhile, the Slacker Hill onlookers flung strings of excitement-tinged expletives. I thought briefly about the air quality, valiantly trying to quiet those impulses.

The show lasted 30 minutes or so, ending with a spectacular display and a long, slow drive home.

The Dark Side

So dope.

Anchorman 2, confirmed.

Ron Burgundy, on Conan last night:

I actually have an announcement. I want to announce this to everyone here in the Americas. To our friends in Spain, Turkey, and the UK -- including England -- that as of oh-nine-hundred mountain time, Paramount Pictures and myself Ronald Joseph Erin Burgundy have come to terms on a sequel to Anchorman. It is official. There will be... there will be a sequel to Anchorman. There will be a sequel.

Postcard 1: Palwal, Haryana, India


Song: From 553 W Elm Street, Logan, Illinois (Snow)

24 Postcards in Full Color

In an attempt to more frequently update this blog, I'm kicking off an idea I had years ago. In 2008, composer Max Richter released "24 Postcards in Full Colour," an album of 24 songs that is ~34 minutes long.

Richter's website describes the album as

Max's ringtone album. Fragmentary and partial by nature, 24 postcards is a varied collection of evocative miniatures. The longest track is just under three minutes, whilst the majority clock in at around just sixty seconds, a series of sketches on the nature of time and memory, stitched together to form a series of jump-cuts and foldbacks. As though extracting the absolute essence, simple, plaintive piano and string melodies butt up against passages of rich, borderzone ambience - radio static / voices leaking through dense, shifting drones.

After a few listens to the album, I thought it would make a pretty nice little project to create companion videos to go along with Richter's short compositions. The videos would necessarily be primarily single shots and most likely a bit distant from the music. They would be disjointed, unrelated pieces capturing approximately a year of where I went and what I did.

That was two and a half years ago. Finally getting around to it now.

Tree of Life

Terrence Malick's latest film -- The Tree of Life -- is set to be released in May, with a screening at Cannes. The trailer feels imposing and weighty in the short span of a couple minutes. Among numerous interesting facts about the film, ranging from production issues to recasting to tremendous distribution-related hurdles, a number of little bits of trivia have emerged.

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