Judah and the Lion’s latest music video, “Suit and Jacket” continues the folk-hop band’s 7-year conversation with youth, adulthood, death and meaning within the context of a new outer-space theme. The video, off their new Folk Hop and Roll Deluxe album, features an opening scene with band members Judah Lee Akers, Nate Zuercher, Brian Macdonald and Spencer Cross sitting in a small blue-lit bedroom. Akers sings, “I ain’t trading my youth for no suit and jacket.” His is a common refrain within the lyricism of the band. He continues, “I ain’t giving my freedom for your money and status,” folding imaginary bills in his left hand.
Not often do fans of the infamously melancholy Lana Del Rey get to hear a song that is genuinely happy. Yet this is precisely the kind of song that the singer’s new single “Love” is. For the girl known for penning songs like “Sad Girl” and “Pretty When You Cry”, “Love” couldn’t be more pleasantly opposite.
Del Rey, who released the song as a lead single for her upcoming album Lust for Life, has made a notable departure from her typically depressive, sultry style to create something blissful: an unadulterated love song. “Love,” a tribute to young romance, speaks straight from the mouth of enamored youth itself, as the chorus goes: “You get ready, you get all dressed up / to go nowhere in particular/ Back to work or the coffee shop / Doesn’t matter because it’s enough to be young and in love.”
It’s officially summer here in the northern hemisphere and to kick it off, this week’s Trailer Tuesday brings us the 40th anniversary of the first ever summer blockbuster movie, Steven Spielberg’s 1975 masterpiece, Jaws.
Courtesy of MovieClips Trailers on YouTube comes a “Modern Recut” trailer for this classic film. Incorporating modern sound effects and editing styles, this trailer gives it the old college try at making the film look as though it may be hitting theaters for the first time ever. Sadly the film’s greatest asset, John Williams brilliant score, is missing throughout. The music that is used over powers the dialogue, feels out of place and for a film 4 decades old and beloved by many, to not even offer a taste of Williams’ classic score is downright criminal. Ultimately the trailer fails, as the final 15 seconds looks to promise not a bonafide cinematic achievement, but a laughable SyFy midnight movie. After watching this Modern Recut, go ahead and cleanse the palate with the original trailer from 1975 just below it and you’ll realize that it’s hard to improve on perfection, even when it comes to marketing.
Last week the video hosting website Vessel.com opened it’s doors to the world, for $2.99 a month. It’s a bold move, charging a monthly fee for access to videos that will usually end up on YouTube after 72 hours. Some of YouTube’s most successful content creators were invited to be a part of this new video venture and provide Vessel viewers exclusive early viewing rights to their latest video on Vessel before anyone else can see them for free on YouTube three days later.
One of those YouTubers, Derek Muller of Veritasium, describes it as paying a premium to see the latest film in theater before it hits DVD and then your television months or years later. While I understand the comparison, it’s not entirly correct. Vessel is using the same medium as YouTube – my computer or smartphone screen. So if Vessel wants me to pay $2.99 a month, their “venue” has to exceed YouTube’s much like a movie theater exceeds my living room. So, after signing up for a 30 day trial I can report back that the player appears to run smoother than YouTube, there are no pop-up annotations, ads you have to X out of, or any of the other annoying distractions you find on YouTube. In fact, it’s almost exactly like Vimeo – which, last I checked, costs zero a month. So, I’ll stick it out for the 30 days and have a more detailed report for you then. If you want to check it out yourself, watch Veritasium’s video to find out how to get your 30 day trial.
Late last week, a wrench known as late postal service has kept me from getting “Perfect Blue” delivered to my apartment in time for me to write the article. So, I was left without a film to review, and I didn’t want to skip a week. So on Friday night, I started flipping through the rolodex of my brain, thinking of all the old animated films I’d seen. The longer I thought, the more I wanted to just log onto a message board or plug “The Best 25 Animated Films” into Google, because that’s what this list should be about, right? The best of the best?
But after really considering things, I decided that the “best” animated movies weren’t really standout ones on my list; they were films that I thought were memorable. Aside from Miyazaki films, my list was obscure, strange, and sometimes only watchable on YouTube. But now that I think about it, I would say that’s a good thing. I wouldn’t want to lie to you, reader, and tell you to go see a film that I’d find boring or similar to every other animated film out there. No, I want you to see all the sides of animation – and that’s where “Cat Soup” comes in.
“Cat Soup,” or “Nekojiru-so” was a 30-minute film created in 2001, directed by Tatsuo Sato and inspired by the work of manga artist Nekojiru. With a hefty amount of awards endorsing it, including taking the “Best Short Film” award at the 2—1 Fantasia Festival, I was surprised I had never heard of it when a friend recommend this short film to me in college. I was also supruised that I couldn’t find the thing anywhere. Video stores, Netflix, Hulu – the thing was nowhere to be found. But I finally managed to find a full recording of it on YouTube. I remember that it was a rainy day, my roommate was out on a grocery run, and I was particularly bored, so I went for it.
The story itself is a simple one that we’re introduced to in the first 5 minutes of the film—a young cat finds out that his ill sister is being led by the spirit of death to the edge of their town. He attempts to save her, but is only able to keep a half of her. The mysterious death spirit explains that a certain orange flower can save his sister’s life, and the brother goes searching for it.
What follows can only be described as 26 minutes of animation – that’s all I can say. It’s not pretentious, it’s not plot-driven; it’s just…odd. The brother and sister journey through strange worlds and obstacles, from a flood to escaping the clutches of a very – odd – man who wants to make them into soup. There’s no dialogue, save for some indiscernible chattering and a few subtitles depicting location. The style is surreal, beautiful, and at times even a little disturbing. In short, this film is perhaps the weirdest but most magical collection of animated images I’ve ever seen.
But the reason I’m including this film on the list isn’t because it’s perfect. Yes, it’s won some great awards, and when you’re watching it, it’s easy to see why. But is it something I would put on all the time like I do with “My Neighbor Totoro?” Of course not. This film is on this list for an entirely different reason than the others I’ve mentioned so far. Though the animation is beautiful, I just want someone else to see this film. I want someone else to say, “This is the oddest thing I’ve ever seen” and then never be able to forget it. There are several scenes and images in this film that will stick with me forever. Not because they move the plot, not because they bring out a particular emotion – except perhaps for confusion, which might be the point – no, I’m including this because it has this different type of captivating effect on me, as both an animator and a animation viewer. It definitely isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but I will say that if you don’t like it, it’s only 30 minutes of your time, and I really do think it has something to say about the strangeness and awe that people experience when they watch animation.
So, reader, I could chalk this post up to being about a lot of things: wanting to get people to watch something different, what it’s like to experience animation, or – you know – an excuse for why Netflix hasn’t delivered “Perfect Blue” to my mailbox yet. But I think if anything, I’d like this post to give the impression that I’m not into playing safe with this list. Yes, I’m going to recommend some Miyazaki to you, and films like “Akira,” but I’m also going to throw some “Cat Soup” at you too. Because I should represent all the flavors of animation, even the odd ones.
You can find “Cat Soup” on YouTube, or if you’re really interested, you can purchase it on FYE or SecondSpin.com.