18 November 2010

Now Playing: Arcade Fire's "The Suburbs"

A new video by Spike Jonze for Arcade Fire's "The Suburbs" was released this evening on the band's blog, which has featured links to annotated versions of T.S. Eliot's The Wasteland alongside memorable articles from the past few years on the death of the suburb and Hollywood's antagonistic views towards suburban life.

The beginning was quite slow and I feared the entire video would be nothing but a look at teenage boredom. As the song changes its tone and mood from apathetic to anxious fear, so do the images. Jonze has taken the mention of bombs literally and transported these teenagers into some sort of military state. People are being arrested, homes evacuated, and those who are the age where you're aware and yet still helpless just sit and wait in fear.  And yet life continues normally, with bikes, and parties, and romance, and jealousy.  I often wondered what the image would be for the final moments of the song would be.  As Win Butler is belting out "In my dreams we're still screaming" over and over again, it became clear that the sudden and relentless beating couldn't have captured the anxiety of the final part of the song any better.

Watching this video, Spike Jonze has managed to convey that whole "harrowing life of a teenager" concept more effectively in 5 minutes and 15 seconds than James Franco could in the entire 196 pages of Palo Alto.

16 November 2010


I too go tree shopping in the snow in heels and socks with bare legs and an unbuttoned coat. 

(via J.Crew)

09 November 2010

Dressing in Dodecahedra

SWINTON would be all over this dress.

Geometry fashion!

(via Amelia Hrustic and Make)

08 November 2010

The Music Video

MTV wants to bring back the music video with a new series called Supervideo, according to Vulture, which would pair a famous director with a popular musician in hopes of creating something great. 

Sound familiar? It should. As much as people like to joke about the lack of music videos on MTV and VH1, MTV's Making the Video was on air from 1999 till 2007 and kind of did exactly this. The goal of Supervideo seems to have artistic ambitions that are loftier than merely observing the mediocre videos that 'Nsync or Jennifer Lopez were going to make anyway, but I have my doubts. 

MTV is claiming that they want to give a voice and a lift to new directors in the way that earlier in the decade, music videos really did help to launch the careers of Spike Jonze, Mark Romanek, and Michel Gondry, but at the same time, they clearly want to get more established directors and artists in order to make the series enticing. Their first attempt was released late last week (and hyped for weeks in advance on Pitchfork): LCD Soundsystem's "Pow Wow" directed by Training Day writer David Ayer starring pretty young Oscar nominated starlet Anna Kendrick. 

Sure it's cool and expensive-looking, but I think the way we consume music videos has fundamentally changed, and for the better. Music videos are thriving on YouTube and Vimeo thanks to both artist-funded productions and the success of talented amateurs and their fan videos.  MTV is trying to recreate a world that only existed in the absence of MP3s and video sharing sites, and I think will just come across as some antiquated albeit well-funded bully trying to reestablish their old hierarchy of distribution. Unless they somehow manage to get some really unbelievable pairings (Martin Scorcese and Yeasayer? Sofia Coppola and Lady Gaga??), I fear that it'll only be a matter of time before the show turns into another vehicle for Miley Cyrus, Justin Bieber, McG, and those other Twilight media whores.  

05 November 2010

Now Playing: "Just Like Anyone"

Because I'm suddenly feeling nostalgic for middle school here is a My So-Called Life era Claire Danes starring in Soul Asylum's video for "Just Like Anyone."

 I also felt the need to remind that Natalie Portman was not the first girl to grow wings...

03 November 2010

Having Tea with Graham Greene

Women Reading should be the kind of site that I love. And yet, after spending some time there, my enchantment quickly turned to annoyed rage.

The images in and of themselves are indeed lovely and are pulled from a wide variety of sources like paintings, magazine spreads, and flickr. But looking at shot after shot of extremely styled waifs half-reading in the middle of various sun-soaked fields starts to get both tiring and comical after the third page. They all look so SERIOUS and SELF-CONGRATULATORY, and really are kind of funny when you start to realize that they all kind of fit into a few categories.

Women Reading The Little Prince

Women Reading in Fields 

Women Reading in the Woods

Women Reading Scripts 
(because they are actresses) 

Women Not Really Reading
(but just happen to be near lots of books)

Women Reading in Pastel 

Women Peeking Coyly Over the Book that they're Probably Not Reading

02 November 2010

HIMYM: The Comedy Problem

My review of last night's episode of How I Met Your Mother is up on TheAtlantic.com.  It is a corny show, and clearly not the best comedy on television, and yes sometimes the best characters on the show (Jason Segel and Neil Patrick Harris) just seem like they're being held back by their own dialogue, but in spite of the flaws, I find it oddly compelling. The characters are endearing, the comedy is goofy, and the writers make sincere efforts to address the real lives of twenty and thirtysomethings living in a city (in the hyper-reality world of a sitcom). They just seem to choose all the wrong moments to try to promote the show...

01 November 2010

Songs and Clothes

A friend recently sent me Joanna Newsom's "Does Not Suffice," a mournful song about a relationship dissolving and the methodical, sentimental act of packing and moving out.  In the song, Newsom uses lovely and specific words ("coats of boucle, jacquard and cashmere") to describe the materials and adornments that she is packing away, adding an easy poetry to a type of song that we've heard many times before.

Clothes are not an uncommon subject for songs - they can add an immediate sense of context and specificity to stories made intentionally bland to uphold some sense of universality. What this song gets so right  is the reliance on fabrics names that are fundamentally pretty words, and the consequence of adding a level of reality to the emotions she is trying to convey. Newsom could have made the song vulgar as many modern singers do by adding brand names and associations with specific styles. But she doesn't - we just get glimpses of of the "gilded buttons" she is tucking away, and the generic silks that she is binding in shapeless bales and wrapping in reams of tissue.

So what other songs get clothes right?  (And not in the Kanye West, "Material Girl" kind of way...)


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