Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Behind the Great Museum

Das Große Museum (2014) - Holzhausen
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Das Große Museum shows the painstaking preparation of Vienna's the Kunsthistorisches Museum's special exhibition of Hapsburg's treasures, named Kunstkammer in 2013. They did a total renovations inside this huge, multi-building museum complex from wall papers, floor, electric wiring to new modern chandeliers. We see there are hundreds of people involved in running one of the greatest museums in the world - archivists, restorers, accountants, construction workers, marketing people and so on. We are invited to their budget meetings- where one learns that Bruegel room has its own budget supported by Getty. We get the tour of thousands and thousands of ancient artifacts and paintings carefully handled by handlers and sweaty restorers- carefully removing dust and various insects eating away at old paintings, doing touch ups on a ceiling frescoes, counting all the pearls on an imperial crown and such. It's a fascinating watch. I remember spending a whole afternoon just in the Bruegel room alone. The place was massive and I didn't have enough time to see it all. :cry:

Spritual Music

The World According to John Coltrane (1990) - Palmer, Byron
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Focusing on his middle period with his original quartet (Elvin Jones on drums, McCoy Tyner on piano, Jimmy Garrison on bass), the World According to JC is still a satisfying doc for music alone. There are some uninterrupted long takes of My Favorite Things and some others. But it also shows his interests in music from different culture that shaped his later, post-Miles Quintet innovative period - India, Africa and shows interests in spiritual side of music. There's no info on his personal life except for his religious North Carolinian upbringing to Navy band player. The hodgepodge interviews are informative but pretty bare boned. But I'm not complaining. The music is glorious. As I am waiting for Sam Pollard's A Love Supreme: A Portrait of John Coltrane in 4 Parts to finish up, this will do for now.

Here is The World According to JC in its entirety on youtube:

They Look Like People - Well Done Buddy-Cohorrormedy

They Look Like People (2015) - Blackshear
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Don't let the Williamsburg hipster setting scare you. Perry Blackshear's economically executed buddy-cohorrormedy is an exemplary minimalist filmmaking at its best. The director knows exactly what he's got - no money, a great character driven, self contained script, fantastic actors. The film doesn't try to be anything other than a little paranoia thriller and it works superbly.

The film sets up its eerie mood in the beginning with Wyatt (MacLeod Andrews), looking at his fiancee in bed at night. We can't see her face because the shadows and how her face is positioned. This prolonged shot is extremely unsettling. Wyatt gets phone calls telling him that the world is going to be taken over by monsters, that he needs to prepare, that he can't trust his friends or family because they may be infected. He sets out to the city to meet his childhood best friend Christian (Evan Dumouchel), an office worker in an advertising agency whose overtly outward personality and fit physique hides his former nerdy loser self. Christian insists Wyatt staying on until whenever. Wyatt, still schizo, still getting phone calls in the middle of the night, starts to prepare for the worst in Christian's basement with knives, axes, duct tapes, ropes, sulfuric acid...

Everything seems normal for a while - Christian has sort of a date with Mara (Magaret Ying Drake), a cute co-worker at the office whose attraction he's buffing off at the moment because of his too self-confident personality he put on for himself. This date turns out to be spending all night in an emergency room because a friend of Mara (who was supposed to be Wyatt's date) slipped on ice and has a mild concussion.

So how does these two storylines - a schizo trying to prepare the end of the world and a former loser trying to overcompensate go together? Marvelously. With natural dialog and performances, They Look Like People slowly builds up its tension into a thrilling conclusion. And it even somehow ends up very touching. They Look Like People is now available on Netflix. Please check it out.