Prelude to Pixar

Good evening, gentle b-rollers! I know what you’re thinking: Hey! You promised us a Pixar post today! What the hell?!

Yeah. About that. Allow me to explain, darling readers. I had an excellent plan for my Sunday. Step 1: Call b-roll Dad and wish him a happy Father’s Day (duh). Step 2: Go for a bicycle ride around the DC Mall. (Sure, I’m wildly out of shape, but it sounds like fun, no?) Step 3: Sit down to write part 1 of my Pixar ranking. It was to be a full yet delightful day.

Well, here’s what happened. By the time I finished Step 1 (hi Dad!) and headed out for my bike ride, it was early afternoon on a gloriously sunny summer day. Now, if you’ve never been to Washington in the summertime and need some background, the weather here from June through August can best be described as “outer circles of Hell, but more humid.” So I rounded the Mall in scorching 94-degree heat, enjoying the ride – it’s a marvelous trek, to be sure, although if you plan to bike the Mall you should be prepared to dodge visitors who stop abruptly to open a map and wonder aloud/loudly which museum is which – and by the time I was done, I felt overheated yet pleased that I had both exercised and avoided picking off any stray tourists. I walked home on increasingly-wobbly legs and cooked myself dinner (another energy-utilizing task to which I am not usually accustomed), and climbed into bed with my laptop to start my Pixar list, congratulating myself on my productive and satisfying day.

And here’s where the wheels came off the wagon, b-rollers. I had the best of intentions to commit myself to blogging, but alas, the heat and exercise finally took over. A state of semi-catatonia washed over me and all I could do was channel surf between the Red Sox game and the movie Remember the Titans while brief, uncomplicated thoughts swam through my head. Pedroia! I like him. Buchholz is pitching well. My legs hurt. Inning change – flip. The championship game scene. That’s exciting. Oh, the paralyzed guy. That was sad. My legs hurt. Commercial break – flip. Pedroia! I like him. My legs hurt. It was not a good time for an insightful and witty analysis of Ratatouille.

So in summation: The Pixar list has been slightly delayed. But fear not, faithful b-rollers, as I’ll be bringing you the first part of my Pixar list on Wednesday, with the second half – the top 5 Pixar movies ITHOOBR (In The Humble Opinion of B-Roll) – on Friday.

And in the meantime, I bring you a peace offering – a short animated feature to whet your appetite. This was produced as a student film at UCLA, and it came to my attention when it won an award from my company last year, and rightfully so, because IT. IS. AMAZING. Most Pixar movies make me weep by the ninety minute mark; this film gets me after four. So enjoy Sebastian’s Voodoo, and please return on Wednesday for The Best of Pixar, Volume 1. Til then, b-rollers.

The Triumphant Return of b-roll

Happy Monday, gentle b-rollers! If you’re a regular visitor – and if so, God bless and keep you for your faithful patronage – but anyway, if you are, you’re probably wondering where the hell I’ve been. Well, I’ve been at the Tribeca Film Festival! Let’s all pause and take a moment to contemplate how that makes me sound far cooler than I really am.


Everyone good? Moving on. So yes, I was at the Tribeca Film Festival. That big festival in Tribeca. In New York City. With all the celebrities and media people and stuff. I WAS THERE. I saw eight films and seven celebrities. Well, I’m going to say seven and a half celebrities – I did not witness the blessed occurrence, but I was near two security guards in a theater lobby when one whispered to the other, “Mr. De Niro will be here in fifteen minutes.” I’m counting that as a half. And I was there. I’m still basking in the glow of being awesome-by-association. There will be no living with me for a very long time.

I’ll have some thoughts on the festival (in Tribeca) later this week, once I’ve had time to catch up on sleep and food (my weekend intake consisted mostly of bolting a slice of pizza from the nearby pizzeria and/or sprinting to the local Starbucks for caramel macchiatos between film screenings), because there are two interesting theses that I took out of the festival that I look forward to sharing with you fine people. I also owe you some follow-up thoughts on my Disney trip – I’ll give you a preview by telling you that the post will be titled “The Idiot’s Guide to Disney Etiquette” – and, of course, I’ll be live-blogging American Idol. Did you even doubt that I’d be back in time to do that? Silly rabbits.

But first, if you’ve really been paying attention, you know that I owe you a movie! Remember two weeks ago, when I started The Monday Movie? (Why didn’t you post a movie last Monday, you ask? I was flying back to DC from Disney World and was too tired to write a birthday card, never mind a blog post. So apologies.) Well, whether you do or not, here’s another documentary suggestion for all you Netflix subscribers. It’s a (controversial) doc that came out last year on HBO called Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired. It’s a fascinating story of the director’s life and the (also controversial) criminal charges that forced him to flee the country. The film definitely has a pro-Polanski bias, but you can’t disagree with many of their assertions – particularly those that the legal system failed to give Polanski anything close to a fair trial. I thought about this film this weekend at Tribeca (did I mention I was there?), when I was watching a documentary about Vidal Sassoon that was far more interesting than a documentary about hairstyles has any right to be, and Sassoon mentioned his friend Roman Polanski. I flashed right back to this film; as it turns out, my first reaction to hearing Polanski’s name is now to think, God, that was a fascinating film. What a riveting story that is. Watch the movie, and see if you don’t feel the same way.

See you back here tomorrow for the Idol live blog!

Artistic License

Hello, darling b-rollers! I’ll say Happy Monday because it probably will be by the time you read this (as it is, it’s almost Monday as I write it). Of course, “Happy Monday” is such an oxymoronic term that it’s hardly worth saying, but whatever. Let’s go with it.

I took the weekend off from blogging because I was terribly busy being sociable. Who has time to blog when there is shopping and brunching and gossiping to be done? I didn’t even watch much television this weekend. Take a moment and digest that. My roommates and I saw a Shakespearean play – Henry V, which was actually incredibly entertaining, far more so than Richard II, of which we spent the latter half thinking, Good God, would everybody just die already?! – and then, feeling all cultured, we met some friends to see Date Night. Not quite the same level of sophistication, but a shirtless Mark Wahlberg is poetic in its own way.

I do subscribe to the belief that television and film are art forms (Date Night, while very funny, notwithstanding); it helps me rationalize the minutes, hours, days spent in their pursuit. But this weekend, it was refreshing to spend some time in front of high-brow, honest-to-God art. The night before the play, I went with friends to an after-hours event at the Hirshhorn Museum, the Smithsonian’s modern art museum on the Mall. I am saddened to report that the stuff inside the Smithsonian does not, in fact, come to life after dark (thank God; some of those Picasso statues would have scared the holy hell out of me). And here’s a fun fact: Nothing will make you more cynical than modern art. Sure, there was some interesting stuff, but my reaction to the diamond-shaped painting of red, yellow and white (descriptively titled “Red, Yellow, White Diamond”) was less This painting has turned a light on in my soul than I wonder if I started painting triangles if I could convince a rich person that it was brilliant and afford a bigger apartment. In the end, my friends and I entertained ourselves by pretending we were the curators/tour guides and making crap up. You’ll see the evocative nature of the triangular lines. They were inspired by the kite festivals the artist used to attend as a child on the island of Nantucket. I know the placard says that he is from Petrograd, but you see, his family just loved to escape tsarist Russia by summering near the Cape…

I apologize to all fans of modern art; I respect that it’s a form that will be mostly hit-or-miss for me (usually miss), and I have tremendous admiration for those who really “get” it. But I think it’s clear that in terms of criticism and/or recommendations, I should stick to what I know. And so, in that spirit, I bring you a new feature of the b-roll blog: The Monday Movie. Yeah, the name needs work (I’ll keep you posted when I come up with something more creative). But here’s the drill: Each Monday, I’ll post a suggestion for a documentary that is free-ish (available for online streaming, either on a free site like Hulu or Snagfilms or the subscriber Netflix site), off-the-radar, and often provides a counterpoint to a more popular fictional film or genre. They might be frivolous, they might be probing and deeply emotional, but they’ll all be films that I’ve found worth the 90 minutes.

And since I spent a full paragraph talking about my bewilderment of modern art, my first Monday Movie is on that very topic. The marvelously-titled Who the #$&% Is Jackson Pollock? is about a California truck-driver – a hilarious pistol named Teri Horton – who bought a thrift-store painting for $5 only to discover that it might be a Pollock worth millions, and has been fighting the art establishment ever since. You could watch Teri for the entire film and be satisfied (her opening line, which might be on my list of favorite movie quotes ever: “Everybody knows that a fairy tale begins, ‘Once upon a time.’ But a truck driver’s tale starts out, ‘You ain’t gonna believe this shit!'”); but the insight into the art world is equally fascinating. If you saw Ed Harris’ biopic Pollock, it’s an interesting follow-up; if not, you’ll probably want to rent it after watching the documentary, to gain a glimpse into the life of the artist. Special b-roll shout out to Suzanne, who has been quoting Pollock obsessively for nearly ten years now and will be delighted with the selection.

And so the Monday Movie begins. Sip some coffee or pop some popcorn and enjoy the show. Happy Monday indeed.