In celebration of the YouTube Music Awards, the internet video giant released 13 commissioned music videos, their artists ranging from FKA twigs to Ed Sheeran. Some of these are better than others and, of course, we’ll count them through in our Best of March round-up at the end of the month (see the Best of February here).
Here’s the complete list of what was just released – it’s a strong group of music videos – but among the best of these is a bit of magic put out by MAX and Hoodie Allen. It’s called “Gibberish” and it uses clever choreography, special effects, and plain, old visual trickery to create a video that travels forwards and backwards in time all at once.
The metaphor it creates for how people in a relationship communicate past each other is pretty exceptional, but it’s always a complement to the music and dancing itself – it prioritizes style and a “how’d they do that?” factor over making you think too hard. In other words, it’s good to get you through the middle-of-the-week grind. Check it out above.
As we scour our way through dozens of music videos each week, we sometimes come across something we’ve missed. This site’s always been about trying different things out, especially when it means teaming different writers together, and late last year that means we gave music videos a break to try other things.
Now that we’ve brought that coverage back to stay, we’re finding a few gems we didn’t feature, like “Roundtable Rival.” In this case, that means discovering that Lindsey Stirling totally stole the idea that I was gonna steal from Six String Samurai. (No, it’s not really stealing.)
If you’re unfamiliar with Stirling, I could say something snarky like, “That must’ve been one comfortable rock,” but instead I’ll point you to her channel, where she combines playing the violin with her unique brand of hip hop and folk dancing – usually all at once – to create some of the most imaginative (and positive) music videos being made in the industry today.
I don’t want to tell you to go contribute to Save the Children. I don’t know how it compares to other charities. But their latest ad presents a moving 90 seconds of what life is like in war-torn countries. If we watch the news today, we see images of bombs dropping and exploding in false-color images as if the preview for a movie, in a purposefully desensitizing presentation honed over the last 25 years.
We have our objections and protests worn out through sheer attrition. War in the Middle East and, in particular, our involvement in war in the Middle East has become so standard that we wouldn’t quite know what to do if we weren’t involved in one.
Worst of all, whether you believe we should stay in or leave those wars, we fail to build any infrastructure in the countries we bomb – schools, hospitals, roads, emergency services. This failure primes conditions for another war in these areas 20 years later, our diving in feet first 20 years later, our emptying already-empty coffers 20 years later, and regional conditions where millions of refugees (2.3 million from Syria since 2011) are created generationally. And then we blame those people, those countries, those ethnicities, justifying in our own heads our racial and religious hatred, instead of understanding we have created a cycle that only benefits our politicians, our military contractors, our oil companies, at the expense of taxpayers and our schools and our hospitals and our roads and our emergency services.
We are now involved in a multi-sided civil war that spreads across Syria and Iraq, that is nearing Turkey and Iran, a war in which Iraq has chosen to coordinate military operations with Iran over the United States, a war in which our arch-nemesis of the moment, the radical terror organization ISIS, was originally a pet project of the Saudi royal family to harass the Syrian government, a pet project we indirectly funded with taxpayer-funded assistance and oil money.
The United States ascended during the Cold War and became the world’s premier superpower not because of our military. Our military simply extended the game of brinksmanship. We won because, after every military conflict, we would be the ones who rebuilt nations. We were good at projecting military power across the globe. We were even better at projecting infrastructure, re-creating cities, helping other nations. After natural disasters, we were the first ones in, we supplied aid and helped refugees, we organized the recovery, and we understood that building a better world resulted in unbreakable alliances.
Now we bomb, we invade, and we largely turn around and leave, creating rebooted nations with little to no support, dictators whose only incentive toward maintaining rule is terror instead of kindness. And we wonder why every installed ruler is overthrown, why we’re drawn back in again and again.
So give to Save the Children or some other charity or don’t give at all, but whatever you do, watch the above video and ask why we’re in these situations today, why a state of war is the American constant, why our greatest moments as a country coincided with our greatest international involvement and cooperation in building countries, and why our worst involve countries we bomb and then refuse to build. Keep all that in mind when you watch the news or read about politics. Keep what we briefly were in mind, and what we are now, and don’t just ask what’s morally or ethically better – that choice is obvious – ask what’s more effective. That’s the choice we never talk about.
What if Star Wars: Episode I had featured an epic dance battle, hard-partying Jedi, and a deranged C3PO obsessed with wearing the skin of Jar Jar Binks?
These are just a few of the important questions that Auralnauts asks and, I have to admit, I’m late to the party on this one. Let me back up a bit:
It’s funny how you come across new tastes. I was having a Facebook debate one day about Michelle Rodriguez’s insistence that minority actors “stop stealing all the white people’s superheroes.” While Rodriguez would later contextualize the statement in a way that was more reasonable (although still not realistic to me), it was obviously worth talking about.
My view? In superhero movies: Tony Stark’s adversaries were changed from Vietnamese to Afghans in Iron Man. Superman, arguably, should be Jewish. While 1930s comics publishing wouldn’t allow a superhero to be Jewish, his creators did everything that era allowed to hint he was an analogue for the Jewish immigrant experience. He’s never been portrayed that way on film. I heard not a peep when Latino character Bane was cast with Australian actor Tom Hardy, or when the Arabic Ra’s al Ghul was cast with an Irish actor in the Dark Knight series.
If you read here often, you know that I’m in favor of recasting regardless of race across the board. We may not be a post-racial society, but if movies treat it as normal, we may one day pick up the cue.
Regardless, the same voices that express moral outrage over white comic characters being recast fail to speak up when nonwhite comic characters are recast. While I don’t agree with that outrage, it would be nice if it were at least a consistent outrage.
So I insisted that Kevin Costner should appear to Superman in a dream Obi-Wan style and tell him, “Actually, we’re Jewish.” Have the Afghans appear in the next Avengers film and reveal themselves as Vietnamese secret agents. Have Tom Hardy’s lines in The Dark Knight Rises re-dubbed by Selena Gomez. Use CGI to replace Liam Neeson with Omar Sharif.
Once that’s all done, anyone who wants can complain about white superheroes being stolen or adapted, but not a moment before.
Needless to say, we haven’t fixed the world just yet, and I learned a valuable lesson: once you suggest Selena Gomez play Bane, any serious conversation goes out the window.
The number of Bane redub videos I’ve been sent since is…catastrophic. I really need to re-evaluate my life. Most of them were horrible. The only good one, to tell the truth, was by Auralnauts, and it featured the wonderful Bane rap at the top of this video.
So I checked out their channel, and it’s what I never knew I always wanted from redubs, and I never even knew I wanted redubs. Take a look at their reinterpretation of the Star Wars prequels, where the entire plot centers around Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon skipping the bill at a Space Hooters and regional manager Darth Maul becoming obsessed with beating them in a dance-off. I’ll start you at a good bit in the middle of the first one, so you can get a taste of what’s in store.
I haven’t looked at all their work – there’s a lot of it – but I intend on following them for a long time to come.
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers was beautifully stupid, but it used a diverse cast and kid-friendly themes to tell far-reaching stories about betrayal, disappointment, and how cheesy friendship could overcome it all. It’s not a classic in the sense that it was good, but its DNA is in the blood of every TV superhero franchise since its inexplicable popularity. I watched it religiously.
Joseph Kahn’s post-apocalypse bootleg short Power/Rangers reimagines their blood-soaked, exploitative future, complete with James Van Der Beek as a traitor and Katee Sackhoff as a grown-up Pink Ranger. Then enjoy the cries of fans waving their wallets in the air in the hope of kicking off a crowdfunding campaign.
If you’re anything like me, you’ve got about 40 feet of snow outside your door right now. You’re not sure if anyone is coming to get you. You’ve torn through your canned goods and you’re considering eating the cat while you’re still strong enough to take him.
Need something to while away the hours? Let me recommend Face Off. No, not the terrible Nic Cage/John Travolta movie where they toss doves at each other in slow motion. I mean the SyFy Channel competition where special effects makeup artists design new creatures and characters every week. They’re offering every episode free on the show’s homepage, and you should give it a try. I’ll give you three reasons why:
First off, many of the designs are incredible but more than any other competition show I’ve seen, Face Off delves into how they’re actually made. They make the design process accessible to laypeople and give you a sense of everything that can go right or wrong in the design, sculpting, molding, application, and painting phases. It’s an exciting look into the artistic process that shows like Star Trekand movies ranging from Beetlejuice to Guardians of the Galaxyemploy.
Secondly, there’s no drama. Let me repeat that, because it’s so utterly rare in competition shows: there’s no drama. The show regularly focuses on artists helping each other save a design or a mold, even though they’re in direct competition with each other. Where shows like Project Runway and America’s Next Top Model focus on (artificial) cattiness and petty sniping, Face Off just focuses on the creative process. There are occasional differences when artists work together, but Face Off presents those differences, shows how the artists work them out or fail to in relation to the design, and then moves on. It’s a big reason why I’m calling Face Off a competition show instead of a “reality” show. It’s a show about the artistic process of artists. If you’re looking for Real Housewives material, this is not the show for you.
Thirdly, the judges are people who make their living on their own designs. Glenn Hetrick has a practical TV makeup background including Angel and CSI. Neville Page is a creature designer and concept artist who’s worked on Prometheus and the recent Star Trek reboot. But they’re the appetizers. You really came for Ve Neill, who’s been nominated for 8 Oscars and won three: Beetlejuice, Mrs. Doubtfire, and Ed Wood. She lost on Edward Scissorhands, Hoffa, Batman Returns, and two Pirates of the Caribbean movies. Somehow, she hasn’t been nominated for The Hunger Games franchise. Maybe the Academy fell asleep. They don’t judge off personality, but focus on the artistry and screen-readiness of makeups, pointing out what they look for when designing for TV and film.
But the designs. I could tell you about them, or I can just share a handful of my favorites. If this is a subject that interests you at all, if you’ve ever watched a sci-fi or fantasy movie and wondered how they create characters, check out Face Off while they’re offering all 7 seasons of the show for free. Jump in anywhere, you won’t be disappointed. It is, arguably, the best competition show on TV right now.
You may not recognize Dan Gilroy’s name, but he’s been writing in Hollywood since 1992. Most recently, he wrote the story for the Hugh Jackman-starring, robot fighting Real Steel and the screenplay for Jeremy Renner’s crack at being Matt Damon, The Bourne Legacy.
It’s shocking that a movie like Nightcrawler emerges as his directorial debut. It’s a low-budget barn burner and dark comedy that focuses on character. Russ Fischer at SlashFilm interviewed Gilroy about what it’s like to write a sociopath for Jake Gyllenhaal.
The interview’s safe on big spoilers but you’ll get more from it if you’ve seen the film. Among other things, Gilroy talks about what it’s like to write without a character arc.
For our own site’s review of Nightcrawler, read here.
Every year, about 500 migrant workers die in the border crossing from Mexico to the United States. Rather than reforming immigration or cracking down on the companies that hire migrant workers, it’s more politically tenable to crack down on the migrants themselves.
As populated areas become more secured, immigrants attempt to cross through increasingly remote locations. This poses an increased risk of death to migrants and, since many carry false identification, many go unidentified.
Actor and filmmaker Gael Garcia Bernal retraces the steps of one migrant worker, reconstructing a journey to find work, in Who is Dayani Cristal?
This is so beautiful and artfully crafted! The only music video starring Pharrell, Emili Sande, Elton John, Lorde, Chris Martin, Brian Wilson, Florence Welch, Kylie Minogue, Stevie Wonder, Eliza Carthy, Nicola Benedetti, Jools Holland, Brian May, One Direction, Paloma Faith, Chrissie Hynde, Baaba Maal, Danielle de Niese, and Dave Grohl (among many others) in front of the BBC Concert Orchestra.
Kirk Baxter has edited every David Fincher movie since The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.
In fact, Baxter’s only edited four Fincher movies and a Fincher TV pilot. Everything he’s done has been nominated for an Oscar (he won in 2011 for The Social Network and 2012 for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) or an Emmy (House of Cards).
Gone Girl is going to be nominated for and may win another Oscar for its airtight editing. That’s a nice career, isn’t it?
He spoke to IndieWire’s Bill Desowitz about the strategies behind editingGone Girl and the different versions that were trashed along the way. Spoilers ahead, but if you have seen Gone Girl, READ THIS. If you haven’t seen it, what are you waiting for?