Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Monday, December 29, 2008

Film review: Slumdog Millionaire

The independent film Slumdog Millionaire is about to receive an Oscar nomination, is it:

a.) a heartwarming rags to riches tale of a boy from the slums.
b.) a predictable plot-driven story which relies on an old school gimmick.
c.) a exotic tale of romance which spotlights the diverse change in a growing region.
d.) all of the above.

Well, as you may have guessed the answer is d.) all of the above, but despite it’s shortcomings the film is a great success and a big winner just like it’s heroic main character, Jamal Malik. The film which was directed by Englishman Danny Boyle follows the lives of three young children from the slums of Mumbai, India (formerly known as Bombay) as they come of age in a changing nation.

The story begins on the set of India’s version of “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” where the protagonist, Jamal sits about to win 20 million rupees and the plot is told through a series of flashbacks as the police forcibly question him about how he knew the answers. The main character Jamal is played by Dev Patel as an adult and Tanay Chheda, and Ayush Mahesh Khedekar as a youth and he is something like a smarter Indian version of Forest Gump. The object of his affection is Latika (played by the gorgeous Freida Pinto as an adult and the adorable Tanvi Ganesh Lonkar and Rubiana Ali as a youth) who is lost throughout much of the film vying to survive. Jamal’s less honorable elder brother Salim (played by Saurabh Shukla as an adult along with Ashutosh Lobo Gajiwala and Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail as a youth) acts much like a counterpoint to Jamal at every critical moment and completes the main trio of characters.

The story is complex as the film occurs over many years but underneath it all the film is a classic tale of absolute determination and love amidst impossible means. It is a film about believing in one’s destiny and it is this theme which results in the audience’s willingness to suspend their disbelief. The acting is often necessarily flat but the younger actors deserve mention because it is through them which the audience grows attached to the characters. Without question the film is a gimmick, but an extremely well crafted gimmick and although the voyage is as impossible as the result is predictable, the film remains fun to watch.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

My first music video...

Watch more Yahoo! Music videos on AOL Video

Here's the very first music video I worked on for Walt Mink back in 1997 complete with my "big college hair" cameo.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Tim Needles Project 366- 10 Days Left

There's only 10 days left of the year and my photographic experiment, Project 366, is nearly over. I've been taking a picture using only my point and shoot Nikon Coolpix everyday this year and posting them to my website. It's taught me to be a better photographer while occasionally driving me a bit mad. I was honored to have a few of the photos published especially having one chosen to be included in the Photographer's Forum 2008 Best of Photography Annual. Check out the results here and let me know what you think- I'm almost there!: Tim Needles Project 366

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Life with a cat

This is an awesome animation by Simon Tofield who perfectly states what it's like to have a cat. I have two and they are learning to work together so it's only a matter of time until they take over.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Sesame Street Sings Simple

I always love how Sesame Street works with simple sounds in music. Here are 2 of the best: Beaker from introducing kids to the "Ode to Joy" and the classic "Ma Na Mah Na".

Friday, December 19, 2008

Illustration Friday: Voices

Here is a portrait of Billy Collins, one of the best contemporary voices in poetry. He is a fantastic writer and an inspiration. I included an amazing animation of The Dead which he worked on with artist Juan Delcan, one of my favorite poems! (If you like it there is a great series of them)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Governor David Paterson's 21st Century Budget

This week New York's new governor David Paterson was irritated by the harsh spoof on Saturday Night Live. First of all learn how to take a joke, secondly I think SNL may have been onto something after hearing about his new budget plan.

Three days after the show he announced his new budget which adds taxes on itunes, soda, juice, the spa, and increases the tax on gas, movie tickets, live sports, taxi rides, beer, cable television, satellite radio, and satellite TV. In addition he wants to cut school funding by nearly 700 million dollars, raise tuition at state and city colleges and universities, and eliminate the STAR rebate homeowners get on their school taxes.

All these new changes seem like an unfit way to balance the state budget plus the state plans on increasing spending next year. The governor really appears out of touch with the 21st Century but on the plus side he is making former Governor Spitzer look better.

R.I.P. Bettie Page

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Patti Smith documentary premiere

Tonight the Cinema Arts Center in Huntington will be showing the Long Island premiere of the film "Dream of Life", by well known celebrity photographer Steven Sebring at 7:30. Here's a preview of the film which is an intamate look at the life of the American musical icon. The director will be present and will speak about the film which has been making waves on the festival circut winning a documentary cinematography award at Sundance.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Vampire Weekend @ Terminal 5 (with Fiasco & Air Bombay) 12.06.2008

With one of the best albums of the year, New York’s own Vampire Weekend concluded their 5 night sold-out run Saturday night at Terminal 5 with a spirited hour long set. The first snow of the season didn’t slow down the crowd a bit and the venue was packed for the two warm-up local bands which the audience seemed very familiar with- Air Bombay and Fiasco. Vampire Weekend took the stage around 10pm and their performance was energetic and vibrant. Their upbeat sound which mixes together off-beat percussion with bright guitar rhythms was even more fun in person and the eclectic crowd danced along with exuberance throughout the show.
The foursome started off their set fittingly with “Mansford Roof”, the single that started it all for them and they continued with tracks off their freshman album including: “I Stand Corrected” and their hit “A-Punk”. Midway through the show the band welcomed out a string quartet which added an interesting spin to songs like: “M79” (about the uptown bus line) and “Ottoman”, their cut off the Nick and Nora’s Soundtrack album. They also mixed in two very diverse but interesting covers songs- Blondie’s “X-Offender” and Fleetwood Mac’s late 80’s hit “Everywhere” which they pulled off with verve. They closed the show with their fan-favorite “Walcott” and thanked the crowd for all the hometown support.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

DVD Review: John Adams

Here's a review of HBO's John Adams mini-series that I did for Short & Sweet NYC:

The second president of the United States and “voice” of the Declaration of Independence, John Adams, is a figure that often falls in the shadows of America’s better known forefathers. This perception might be as true now as it was then and it’s in part why the 7-episode HBO miniseries that follows John Adams life from his early days as a colonial lawyer in Boston through his presidency and his life after office is as interesting as it is moving.

John Adams is a truly spectacular piece of work from top to bottom and succeeds to push the genre of the mini-series itself with its production value and attention to detail. The success of the series is beyond any one element but the acting, writing, and cinematography are all extremely effective. The special effects also play a major role and go beyond that of many feature films even though you might not notice them without the “making of” feature included on the DVD.

The story itself is very well constructed following Adams, a man with as much virtue as ego and pride, through history from the Boston Massacre in 1770 through his death in 1826. Indeed the only major criticism of the series is by taking on such a large span of time, gaps occasionally develop in the timeline. Paul Giamatti, who first came to national attention in the film Sideways, is perfectly cast in the role of Adams and portrays his character without bias with his misgivings married to his philosophical brilliance. The true character of Adams is seen in context with his relationship with his wife Abigail (played marvelously by Laura Linney) and their interactions with their children- notably John Quincy Adams who later becomes president himself. The supporting cast is equally as impressive, especially Stephen Dillane’s performance playing Thomas Jefferson, Tom Wilkinson’s portrayal of the off-beat Ben Franklin, and David Morse’s uncanny depiction of George Washington.

The filmmakers manage to take the audience in to witness the fragile birth of our country in a way no other work has yet to accomplish. The series, produced by Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman, is based on the Pulitzer Prize winning book written by David McCullough and features an excellent documentary on the author. The historical accuracy of the series makes it a true learning experience adjusting some of the misconceptions that are common about the period, but beyond that, the series is a moving work of art. One need not be interested in American history to enjoy the characters and drama of the story. I’m sure this series will have a long life in American history classes but this amazing story of love, ambition, ego, and ultimately loss is one anyone can enjoy.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

BLU and you...

MUTO a wall-painted animation by BLU from blu on Vimeo.
This short piece entitled MUTO from Buenos Aires artist BLU is one of the coolest marriages between graffiti and animation ever so I have to share it.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Tim Needles T-shirts

I have a bunch of new t-shirts that are now for sale up on MySoti. I'll be adding more soon so I hope you like them!
Tim Needles Tshirts

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Tim Needles Top of 2008 List

Well, it's Thanksgiving and we are quickly nearing the end of another year so here are my favorites in the music category so far this year. I was asked to put together a list by one of the blogs I work with but I thought I'd share them here as well.

2008 Top Albums
01. Vampire Weekend – Vampire Weekend
02. Tokyo Police Club – Elephant Shell
03. TV on the Radio – Dear Science
04. What Made Milwaukee Famous – What Doesn't Kill Us
05. Kristoffer Ragnstam – Wrong Side Of The Room
06. Coldplay – Viva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends
07. The Walkmen – You & Me
08. Metallica – Death Magnetic
09. The Whip – X Marks Destination
10. Nas – Nas
11. Ryan Adams & The Cardinals – Cardinology
12. Mates of State – Re-Arrange Us
13. Late Of The Pier – Fantasy Black Channel
14. The Roots - Rising Down
15. MGMT - Oracular Spectacular
16. The Black Keys - Attack & Release
17. Death Cab For Cutie - Narrow Stairs
18. Qtip - The Renaissance
19. Lil Wayne - The Carter III
20. Beck - Modern Guilt

*Radiohead's album In Rainbows would certainly be high on the list but it was officially released in 2007.

2008 Best Music Video:
Gnarls Barkley – Who’s Gonna Save My Soul

2008 Best Rock Single:
Vampire Weekend - Oxford Comma

2008 Best Pop Single:
Katy Perry - I Kissed A Girl

2008 Best Hip-Hop Single:
Kanye West - Love Lockdown

2008 Best EP:
The Decemberists – Always the Bridesmaid

2008 Best Reissue:
Buena Vista Social Club – Buena Vista Social Club

2008 Best Music Bio Film:
The Rolling Stones - Shine A Light

2008 Best Benefit Show:
Dave Brubeck Benefit for Long Island Music Hall of Fame – Brookhaven Amphitheater 8/22/2008

2008 Best Live Show:
REM, Modest Mouse, & The National – Jones Beach Theater 6/14/2008

2008 Best Music Festival:
Rock the Bells – Jones Beach Theater 8/03/2008

I'll be putting together a list of films for the year shortly but so far my leading contenders are The Wrestler and The Dark Knight. Now back to the turkey!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Interview with Andy Ostroy of the Adrienne Shelly Foundation

In February 2006 accomplished actress, writer, and director Adrienne Shelly was tragically murdered when she walked in on a robbery in her office. Adrienne, best known for roles on television and in Hal Hartley’s films had just finished directing and acting in the feature film Waitress which was released to acclaim posthumously. Adrienne’s husband, Andy Ostroy, started the Adrienne Shelly Foundation in her honor to support female filmmakers.
Monday night the second gala will be held at N.Y.U.’s Jack H. Skirball Center for the Performing Arts and will feature performances from actors and singers such as: Cheryl Hines, Mary Louise Parker, Keri Russell, Dana Parish, and Lili Taylor. Tickets are available at:

I had a opportunity to interview Andy Ostroy about Adrienne's career, the foundation, and the upcoming gala for Short and Sweet- here's a exerpt from my interview.

Tim Needles: I wanted to start by asking you a little bit about your wife, Adrianne. I know you started the foundation in honor of her, could you tell me a little bit about her and the kind of person she was? I wanted to know how she progressed in the industry from an actress to a writer to a director.

Andy Ostroy: Well, her first love was writing and directing was always her goal. I think she came to New York and very quickly landed the starring role in Hal Hardly’s Unbelievable Truth and from that landed Trust (in which the part of Audrey was written for her by Hal based on their operation in Unbelievable Truth). Ever since that moment Adrienne was writing plays and screenplays and quickly started her theater company called Missing Children down in the West Village. Her focus was always screenwriting and play writing with an eye to eventually direct film. She started with directing plays and moved into doing her three short films which she wrote and directed and from there developed into features.

T: What about her philosophy?

A: Acting for her was always sort of a secondary priority- a means to an end. Which it is for most actors who eventually want to direct- it’s almost like being an employee as verses the person who owns the company. Same mentality- it’s the matter of wanting to control your own destiny and get your own creativity out there, to exercise your own vision rather than being a piece of someone else’s vision. She always had a very strong vision and amazing creativity in terms of writing and concepts and how to make them happen. And then as a director, of course, directing is all vision. She knew early on what she wanted to do and in this pint-sized little woman- it was quite interesting to see her on a movie set directing 60 or 80 big, burly gaffers and grips- telling everyone what to do (laughs). She had a lot of vision and a lot of courage and a lot of determination packed into that little body of hers.

T: That’s funny. I always wonder why you don’t see more women in film but it sounds like Adrienne had a fairly smooth progression. Did she have any difficulty getting the directorial jobs or did it happen organically?

A: Well, I think the answer to the first question you just asked is that much of anything in this world, be it Hollywood films or independent films or Wall Street or Madison Avenue, is that a lot of it is controlled by men. It’s a power thing and ego thing- they don’t want to give up the control or the glory and all that good stuff. This is why you don’t see a lot of women in the power seat in a lot of places. Yeah, she faced a lot of struggles because of that. Women in general, especially attractive women, they are objectified in many ways. Certain men like to look at women not as someone with a brilliant mind but a pretty face and sometimes the brilliant mind gets shot down when someone is just trying to keep you as a pretty face. I think being in an industry where pretty faces are in high demand, you know at some point she was taken very seriously as an actress but found it hard to be taken seriously as a writer and director. I think it’s all about the work. I think Waitress, which should have been her coming out party, and it was in a sense anyway, she just wasn’t around to experience it, but I think if you look around at the reviews of Waitress, and all the Top 10 lists it made over the year, that’s when she got her due as a filmmaker, as a director, as a writer and so her struggle was basically getting to that point. And even thought she got to make a few films before that, Sudden Manhattan and I’ll Take You There, they didn’t really achieve any kind of acclaim or notice. Some of them were not even theatrically released- so just as an artist, as a filmmaker, there were naturally struggles but being a woman in that maze made it that much harder, and being an attractive woman made it that much harder because certain places and certain people wanted to keep her in that little box that she was in- but she broke out of it. I always said she was 5’1” but stood tall in an industry that had mountains to climb for her. Had she lived, it would have been a much different story for her, she would have quote-unquote arrived even after a 20 year journey so Waitress was her, would have been her launch pad.

T: I remember reading about her death and aside from being tragic as an artist I just found it frustrating on a lot of levels. I wanted to ask you how you managed to deal with it and what lead you to create the foundation.

A: Well, I dealt with it on two levels. One was personal which was horrific. With me, our daughter, our families, and friends- what they went through was unfathomable horror. On a professional level I was always able to have a little piece of me that could step aside from my own pain and grief and say how tragic it was. To recognize the tragedy of this woman who finally did arrive and after I watched her struggle, and get to that point- that’s why all the success that she had at Sundance with Waitress was incredibly bittersweet- because she wasn’t there to experience it. It didn’t really matter at that point that anyone else saw it, it was heartbreaking that she couldn’t see it. Just as a human being, detaching myself from her as her husband, to accept that here’s this person who worked so hard and finally achieved greatness in an area where most people don’t get to skim the surface like she did and she was just cut down so early and tragically. So no matter how you look at it, it was just a horrible tragedy and terribly unfair but legacies live on after people pass and part of that legacy will be the foundation in her name that we funded. We helped fund a film that won an Academy Award this past year.

T: Wow!

A: Yeah, we will have the filmmaker at our gala on Monday and she’s going to speak. You know she’s going to say that without the money from the Adrienne Shelly Foundation she couldn’t have finished her film and go on to win an Oscar. I mean that’s profoundly gratifying to hear, not just as someone who runs the foundation but more so as someone who runs the foundation named after a beautiful person who now can touch other people in some way similar to the way she touched people when she was alive. The organization was really formed after people said to me- how can we contribute money somewhere in her name? The circumstances of her death made me not want to just blurt out Save the Whales or The American Cancer Society because to me that cheapens everything so I just asked people to patient. Then I had a moment of clarity amongst the chaos about two weeks after she died and it just dawned on me that I need to help women filmmakers. I didn’t know about the existing organizations that help filmmakers, particularly women filmmakers. I had no idea that Women in Film existed that IFP existed, that wasn’t my world. When I put together a board of directors and an advisory board, it quickly became my world because these people helped me navigate through that maze of organizations. We ended up partnering with these groups because it was easier for me to say let’s start a foundation I didn’t know to tell people, why don’t you just send checks to Women in Film in Adrienne’s honor. It’s been great, it’s just been a great element to Adrienne’s legacy that hopefully will be for many years.

T: Excellent, well thank you very much and good luck with the event- it should be pretty exciting.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Tim in the Snowstorm

Here's a self-portrait I took of myself with my point and shoot camera during this winter's big snowstorm for my project 366. I posted it up on JPG magazine in the severe weather contest for publication so drop me some votes!

Illustration Friday: Pretend

Sometimes i like to pretend I'm a colonial barrister (and Batman is my dad).

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Interview with Late of the Pier

Inspired in part by classic rock and 1980’s synth, Late of the Pier have an original sound that is making a big impact with listeners globally. The young English foursome recently released their first album, Fantasy Black Channel, a diverse collection of songs that is on the forefront of electronic music. I had an opportunity to have a conversation with topics ranging from: music to social and political ideas with singer Samuel Eastgate and drummer Ross Dawson for a talk during their most recent stay in New York. Here is an excerpt of the full interview that will appear soon on Short & Sweet NYC.

T: Your music definitely has an 80’s feel to it. How did you incorporate the sound into what you do? What’s your process like?

S: Most importantly it’s not completely 80’s- I think the best few moments of the 80’s are remembered in our music for that kind of sheer individualism. People just looked ridiculous in the 80’s and sang ridiculous songs and played ridiculous guitar riffs and things like that. I think when we make music it’s bad to always veer away from that. I think a lot of musicians think they’re being cool and veer away from those more obscene kinds of sounds which were so popular in the 80’s. When we make music we want to go to those extremes, the 80’s being one extreme- a synth sound or a type of production and we juxtapose that against things from other decades like classical rock from the 60’s and even a modern, more electronic club sound. I think we just have this love and hate affair with every decade of music.
R: yeah, that’s true, it weird

T: The funny thing about the 80’s is that much of the music was kind of shallow and in a way it represented the culture. People often mention the same influences when they speak about your music, do you feel a stigma with the 80’s influence?

S: Some of that is just repeated journalism that might’ve happened a lot in America. One English interview says something like “this song sounds like Gary Newman” and it’s been recycled a few hundred times and now we’re just some Gary Newman tribute band.
R: Yeah, people try to lump us in with New Wave and that kind of thing as well and really we just sound nothing like it.
S: The best way to battle against that is to just play our music for people.

T: As a visual artist I wanted to ask you what some of your influences are outside of music.

R When we were younger, we used to discuss all sorts of art forms, varying from film and photography. Me and Sam both studied art for a time.
S: I did photography and for a long time we were definitely considering being artists instead of musicians at the start of the band.
R: You were leaning towards graphic design and I was leaning more towards photography.
S: I kind of hated graphic design in some respects because I was too arty for graphic design and too graphic for art so I always did an odd sort of mixture, then I did photography as well. Actually the best thing I ever did was when I found this website called “Deviant Art” - it’s a huge website now but when I was young it wasn’t, do you know it?

T: Yeah, sure.

R: I wonder if they’re still up there, they probably are?

T: Yeah, they should be they- that stuff stays up forever.

S Do they? Well they’re probably still up there. I’ll let people try to find them themselves. Yeah, so we really just didn’t know if we were going to be a band. It’s funny, of course we design all our record covers also.

T: Well that seems to make sense from the clips I saw online your live shows are almost performance art piece at times.

S: We try to make every gig memorable
R: You never know what you are going to get.
S: I remember one gig when we hit the nail on the head completely. We built this huge purple castle out of cardboard- went through all the pain, got a crown, and then I had those wooden slats that I play hanging from the ceiling- it was a spectacle. We had this wooden horse that we found in a skit in London and all these crazy things. At the end of the gig amazingly the support band came on with hammers and smashed the castle to pieces, we didn’t ask them to do that but…
R: God, I nearly got hit in the head with a hammer- this hammer was like woof past my head (laughing) “careful!”
S: Some days it’s better than others, you know. We’ve really been put on the treadmill recently which is something we are really eager to just step off and maybe get back to doing what we do best which is probably one-off shows and a bit more writing. Next year, apart from the U.S. tour, which is going to be in March, it will be much more of an onslaught.
R: I think we’re definitely into the idea of making the U.S. tour different from what we’ve done so far
S: We don’t want to play the same gig like a hundred times

T: This year is an election year here in the U.S. and there’s some tension in the air. I wanted to ask you guys, coming from England, about some social and political issues. Do you talk about any social issues?

R: Yeah we have a lot of political and social ideas.
S: We’re very strong minded about things like that. Education is one of the things we usually talk about. People ask about how you start as a band and one of the things we say is that we were bored [in school]- we feel that not everybody has to go to University.
R: I guess everybody wants to say they were going through some kind of rebellion.
S: Once upon a time, University was only for a few select people, nowadays there are so many people going to University that it kind of loses its meaning for a lot of people. Although it’s good for them to be around like minded people I think sometimes it gets watered down. People now want something more than University, something more suited to them. For us the only way we could get that was just to leave it behind- I think that’s the way we became friends as a band.
R: People are just scared thought really, to get off the road of education.
S: It’s not an easy thing for people to say no to University. We found it extremely hard.

T: Did you guys meet in University?

S: No we met before A-level
R: We were about 16 or so.
S: We really got together I guess because we were the kids who were a bit worried about whether it was right for us to go to University considering we had such unconventional ideas.
R: I hated school really.
S: We went to a bad school really.

T: That’s interesting because I teach art and film in high school and I always have students ask me if they really need to go to college and even when they aren’t sure I tell them it’s a good idea to go- even for just a semester or a year to know whether you should go or not.

S: Well I had a couple of amazingly good teachers. The last teacher that I had before I quit school basically said “well you’re a really good student you should stay but I think you probably want to leave for a good reason”. He still sends me emails now and then. He’s supportive of us. We always talk about how education could be better for people. I think because of the growing number of people it puts a stress on schools and the education system. It’s the same problem in England.

T: Yeah, I’ve heard.

R: Well you should probably just not be there if you don’t want to be there. It would probably make it easier for everyone wouldn’t it?
S: But also there’s the obvious problem that teachers nowadays are told more and more strictly what to teach and how to do things.
R: Which is the problem we had with ours. I used to get C’s and it used to just really get me down. I’m not a C student.

T: I’ll end with the question of what advice do you have for musicians or artists coming up in the industry?

S: Just keep plowing your own path and understand that if people tell you there’s one way of doing things they’re probably being forced to say that by the government.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Decemberists @ Terminal 5 11.5.2008

The Decemberists celebrated Obama's victory last night in Manhattan with a show at Terminal 5 in midtown. The show featured a special dedication of "Valerie Plame" to the end of Bush administration and an Obama standee that was crowd surfing during the "Mariner's Revenge Song" and . The performance highlighted many of the group's singles that were just released on a compilation and highlights included great renditions of "16 Military Wives", "The Engine Driver", and "O Valencia".

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Party Visuals

I did some visuals for a Halloween party by DJ Chaotic this weekend which featured a performance by Ancient Tongue. It was a really cool space in the basement of an industrial building complete with awesome costumes and laser lights.

A Vote for Change

This election feels like a decisive moment in history, a fight between traditional ideas vs. progressive ideas. I cast my vote earlier today and now it's history in the making.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Europe's Electronic Madness

Last night (or I suppose early this morning) I saw a fantastic show at the Fillmore at Irving Plaza. It was CMJ's Music Marathon's Insiders Electronic Music Showcase and I was really blown away by the cutting edge music coming out of Europe. The show was hosted by BBC Radio 1's Peter Tong and featured: The Whip, Luciano, Late of the Pier, Rob da Bank, 2 Many DJs, James Lavelle, and Soulwax.

I had never heard of Manchester band The Whip but I was floored immediately. The were amazing and made such an impression that I found myself downloading tracks when I arrived home at 5am this morning. Italian dj Luciano was also pretty awesome with his laid back mixes of junglesque sounds and tradition Indian albums. One of the other big highlights was a band that I just recently interviewed for Short and Sweet NYC, Late of the Pier. I really love their weird mix of 80's synth with hardcore rock and everything in between. I'll post the full show review and the interview on Short and Sweet soon but now I need some sleep.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Film Review: The Wrestler

In the world of celebrity it’s said the bigger you are the harder you fall and in the early 80’s there was no one bigger than professional wrestlers. This sentiment is the basis for Darren Aronofsky’s new film The Wrestler which focuses on the story of fictional powerhouse pro wrestler Randy "Ram" Robinson (Mickey Rourke) twenty years or so after his prime. The film follows the Ram as he tries to pull his life together while working poorly promoted local matches, VFW autograph signings, and a part time job at the local supermarket. The Ram develops a relationship with a stripper, Cassidy (Marisa Tomei), who is also past her prime and finds herself at a turning point in her life. Part of the magic of the movie is the clever juxtaposition of the world of exotic dancing and professional wrestling, both which glorify a false sense of glamour. The performances by Rourke and Tomei are truly remarkable and the depth and subtlety of the characters make the story relatable to nearly any audience. The film works ultimately because of the strength of these two main characters and the plot becomes almost secondary at times. There are some issues with the film such as the Ram’s underdeveloped relationship with Stephanie (Evan Rachel Wood), the daughter he deserted years ago and tries to win back but they are minor. The film does a superb job in illuminating the nature of performing and the painful real world of professional wrestling with all its inner workings. With all of it’s unflinching realism and the caliber of the performances I’d be surprised not to see a few Oscar nominations here even if it doesn’t play to wide audiences.

Illustration Friday: Broken Robot

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

New Music: Dear Science On The Wrong Side Of The Magnetic Death

I've been reviewing a ton of albums lately and there's a few that have really impressed me. The 3 standouts are from Metallica, TV on the Radio, and Kristoffer Ragnstam. Alright so first off- I have eclectic tastes obviously because these groups couldn't be more different but I'm a music lover so I dont care.

Metallica’s new album, Death Magnetic, is like a greatest hits album but all the songs are new. In the first track, “That was just your life,” one can hear that the band is back and hasn’t lost a thing. The signature Hammett guitar solos have returned and the songs have a sense of energy that has been absent for a decade. The album has some flaws but it's a gift to all the old school fans who should reach deep into their dresser drawers and pull out some classic Kill ‘Em All t-shirts because Metallica is back.

I never understood the hype about TV on the Radio but when I first heard their new album Dear Science it all started to make sense. Their last album Return To Cookie Mountain showed potential but now it has turned kinetic with a great textural bend of orchestration and improved sense of lyricism. The New York based band has really come into their own and in the process they’ve created one of the most interesting and original albums of the year. Dear Science is a welcome surprise and the album reveals its intelligence and complexity more and more with each listen.

Finally- Kristoffer Ragnstam’s new album Wrong Side Of The Room is a relevant and modern rock album that should turn a few heads. The songs have a wry intelligence and the sound is a terrific blend of classic rock, electronica, and modern indie. Kris proves himself as an important up and coming artist with a number of excellent tracks such as the funky “Disco Fiasco”, “2008”, and “Swing That Tambourine”, which is a hit song waiting to happen. It’s just a matter of time until some big company grabs one of these songs for a big commercial and everyone begins to notice it.

If you want to read any of the full album reviews check out the blog Short and Sweet NYC.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Firewire drive

This week my firewire drive with all my images from the last 2 years broke after a 4 foot fall- devistating...

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Illustration Friday: Late (that's how I like to sleep)

Teaching art and film is fantastic but there's nothing worse than having to wake up early every day that's why my weekends are dedicated to sleeping late whenever I can.

Wednesday at the Presidential Debate and the Pulse Magazine Party

I spent most of Wednesday night photographing the presidential debate at Hofstra University in Nassau County in addition to attending the Pulse Magazine party at the Carlyle in Bethpage Black golf course. The craziness outside the campus was pretty interesting with protesters screaming at each others next to people trying to sell merchandise with the secret service and loads of police watching.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Monday, October 6, 2008

Barroom Heroes Art Show Saturday

I'll be participating in a charity art show for a young boy with leukemia this Saturday at the new Velvet Lounge space in Lake Grove. There's some live music and an auction of artwork from local artists.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

New Illustration in November's Pulse Magazine

I illustrated a futuristic short story about the nature of our government titled Nix Six in this month's Pulse Magazine. It's pretty timely with the upcoming election- you can get a free copy of the magazine at the Smith Haven Mall or request on online on the Pulse's website (of course you can also buy one at Barnes and Noble or Borders).

Sunday, September 28, 2008

A Difficult Goodbye to Shea Stadium

It's a somber day for Mets fans stuck closing out Shea Stadium with a devastating loss that killed our postseason hopes- difficult but not entirely unexpected. I love the Mets and I know it's a team you have to love because there's no other way to stomach the ups and predictable downs that we deal with through the years.

Sure Yankee fans have the dead heros and the miles of championship banners but they don't have the gritty determination of the Mets fans. Only a Red Sox or Cub fan can really understand our drama. It's strange seeing Shea Stadium, the park where I saw my first game, close after taking it for granted through the years but I guess that's progress.

Something tells me that if I can ever get a hold of seats to the new Citi Field Park and have a cup of Starbucks and a gourmet meal (that I'm sure will burn through my wallet) I'll learn to love it- at least we have Santana next year...

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Perfect From Now On

Last night I saw one of my favorite band's- Built to Spill perform at Terminal 5 in Manhattan. It was great to see them perform their quintessential album Perfect From Now On as well a few of their classics such as The Plan and Carry the Zero which was followed by a half hour jam with Dinosaur Jr. and the Meat Puppets.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Arnold Newman

I posted some new photographs up on JPG's website including a sentimental photo I took a few years ago of the great photographer Arnold Newman. I had a chance to meet Arnold Newman up in Maine shortly before he died. He was always an inspiration for me with his ability to bring photography to the realm of fine art and have the two medias interact. He was also a wonderful person and his positive attitude was terrific to be around. This image shows him getting his slides ready for a lecture and I always liked it because it captured a little bit of his jovial personality.

Friday, September 19, 2008

IF: Clique

As a high school teacher I know something about cliques. I've found that in a big school every social group has it's own clique.