Posts tagged with video
The Paddling Machine: Berlin-Style Ping Pong
A couple years back, Allan Hough went to Berlin and came back to San Francisco a changed man. He had a snappier wrist. A lager-filled belly. And he was inspired. Why don’t we play ping pong the way they do in Berlin? he pondered. It sounded silly — but this is a man who takes ping pong seriously.
On a recent afternoon, Hough is leaning against a pool table, arms crossed, staring into the corner of his cluttered, Christmas light-laden garage in San Francisco’s Mission district. In a chaos of surfboards and bike wheels and beer cozies and wooden chairs, two emerald slabs — the gigantic halves of a brand new ping pong table — are neatly propped up against the far wall. “I think we’ll use the new one tonight,” he says matter-of-factly.
Finding Fulfillment in ‘Bending Steel’
Of the thousands and thousands of micro-cultures extant today, the pursuit of bending things is a particularly niche obsession. This is the world of Bending Steel, which follows the personal journey of Chris Schoeck as he tries to find path forward to improving his body, mind, and spirit. He locates this path via the traditions of the vaudeville strongmen of Coney Island, who were known to bend nails, horseshoes, and steel bars with their hands, legs, necks, or even their hair and teeth. As Schoeck trains and challenges himself to bend, he finds a family of sorts among other would-be strongmen — the kind of kinship and validation that had eluded him for his entire life. The story culminates in a strongman show on Coney Island where Schoeck attempts to bend a steel bar that has always defeated him before, in front of his friends and a crowd of strangers who represent all his fears and doubts. We spoke to director Dave Carroll and producer/cinematographer Ryan Scafuro about how Bending Steel became a film and what its narrative means for Schoeck and for themselves.
The Fine Art of Coffee Portraiture
Here’s more evidence to back up all those studies on boredom inspiring creativity: Meet Mike Breach, barista extraordinaire, who “paints” everything — and everyone — into his lattes. “I’m an esspressionist,” he proudly proclaims. Just last year, Breach was idling away his customer-less hours in the back of a hotel kitchen with only a dormant espresso machine for company. He was “so, so bored.” So he taught himself how to inscribe ornate hearts in coffee foam, with a bamboo skewer as his paintbrush. “People got so excited about it!” says Breach. He took it further; out came the teddy bears (“the girls just love those”), a portrait of that hotel boss (“I didn’t show it to him, but my coworkers and I laughed about it”), and Salvador Dalì, and Edward Scissorhands, and Beyoncé.
We’re at the Smile To-Go, and he’s frothing some milk behind the counter; the shushing of the machine almost drowns out his words. He reflects. “It’s like, if something is lacking, you’ve got to find a way to make it exciting and fun. Right? I mean, I’m so happy that my old job was so boring! Otherwise I wouldn’t be making these! And this is just the beginning. I want to start a movement.” The milk is now pillowy, foamy-soft — perfect for the latte Breach is about to pour. He stares into his empty chestnut-colored canvas, and suddenly looks up. “I’ve been wanting to try Snoop. Let’s do that, yea?”
Director Hannah Fidell Talks ‘A Teacher’
At this year’s Sundance Film Festival, half the dramatic competition finalists were brought to life by women. It’s about time, boys. One such feature was written and directed by precocious, feminist filmmaker Hannah Fidell. Her film, A Teacher, delves into the emotional hills and valleys a female teacher experiences while having an affair with her student, reversing all those American Beauty tropes we know so well. We sat down with Fidell — and the film’s star, Lindsay Burdge — to talk about turning the tides on the omnipotent male gaze.
From Manila to Tumblr with Love: What Isn’t There
While at Sundance this year, we were strolling the streets of Park City with our pal Te’devan when we ran into Marie Jamora and Ramon De Veyra. Turns out they had their own film, What Isn’t There (Ang Nawawala), over at Slamdance. In a rather amazing coincidence, it turns out their movie — set in their hometown of Manila — actually features one character gifting another with a Tumblr in a crucial scene. So of course, we had to sit them down and hear all about it.
What Isn’t There focuses on Gibson, a mute teenager who lost his twin brother, the girl who tries to draw him out of his shell, and the family, romance, comedy, and music that surround them both. It’s sweet without feeling trivial, and serious without being ponderous. Marie and Ramon tell us how it all came about and how they put it together in this interview. And if you’re in the neighborhood, you can check out the movie March 24 at the Southeast Asian Film Festival in Singapore.
Harmony Korine: Soldier of Cinema
It stretches credulity to continue treating Harmony Korine like some crazed enfant terrible of filmmaking — dude’s past 40, married, a father, and by now has written and directed a substantial number of features, shorts, and unclassifiable oddities over two decades plus. And yet Spring Breakers, which from anyone else would be treated as a radioactive experiment in violent depravity, is instead discussed as Korine’s play for mainstream respectability. Guess it all depends where you’re coming from.
Much has been made of casting Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens in this flick, and you can find ample chatter about that elsewhere. But who does Korine want to work with next? “Harrison Ford,” he says without hesitation. “Or Clint Eastwood.” After we got done imagining that, we talked with Korine about why and how he made Spring Breakers, how and why he makes movies at all, and his love of “liquid narrative.”