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.