Our favorite things this week include skateboard videos, new Otis Redding and old Jon Stewart.
Skateboard Cinema: My most recent obsession has been the skate videos directed by Brett Novak and starring Killian Martin. Martin, a Spaniard who incorporates a background in gymnastics into nearly all of his tricks, presents a style of skating dominated by handstands, spins, and balanced maneuvers that comes across more like a ballet than a punk kid's skate demo. Novak’s camera work in these short films compliments Martin’s style, focusing not only on the tricks, but on the specific location for each film. They're the opposite of the wipeout videos that started Spike Jonze's career.
It’s not only the skating and camera work that keep me rummaging through YouTube for all things Killian Martin. The soundtracks for these videos have also been refreshing. Songs by Other Lives, Emerald Park, and The Poison Tree add a haunting, isolated element to each film. In Martin’s "Altered Route" video, where he wanders an abandoned water park to Patrick Watson’s falsetto-packed “Adventures in Your Own Backyard.” The films are so well edited by Novak that they often look like choreographed music videos. (Halnon)
Otis Almost on 45: For years, Rhino Records was the state of the art where reissue repackaging was concerned. Since it has largely become the Warner Brothers reissue label, that mantle traveled with Richard Foos, who sold his share of Rhino to TIme Warner and founded Shout! Factory Records. Recently, Shout! Factory released Otis Redding's The Complete Stax/Volt Singles Collection, packaged to look like a stack of 45s. Each of the three CDs has the image of a 45 label for the first song of the disc on it, and each CD slides into the book to look like one of the singles. Rather than try to tell the story or drop some trivia for all the songs, each is simply represented by a photo of the record. As such, the set is short on information, but it collects fetish items - 45s - in a format attractive enough to become a fetish item itself. Not sure what to say about Otis at this late date other than that I was surprised not to find a bum track or fallow stretch in the set. (Rawls)
Fear of Faculty: I remember being scared by the same preview on my favorite VHS every time I watched it when I was a kid. The preview was for '90s alien flick The Faculty, and it was mortifying, even in fast forward. I never imagined that I'd come across The Faculty again, but as we all learned quickly, instant streaming services like Netflix are gateways to older movies everyone seemed to forget.
Imagine my surprise when my roommate put on The Faculty one day, and I was instantly sucked in. I had no idea it was directed by Robert Rodriguez, known for genre films such as Desperado, Sin City, and Machete. I also didn't anticipate its myriad of cameos, from Jon Stewart to Salma Hayek. The last thing I expected, though, was to enjoy it. It's no surprise that 6-year-old me blew its scariness out of proportion; The Faculty is more self-aware than frightening. Still, it was oddly cathartic to have Netflix ease my fears of the scary movie previews that haunted my dreams as a kid. (Sibile)