Bunny Magic: The Most Spectacular Magic Hat Trick Ever!

Bunny Magic: The Most Spectacular Magic Hat Trick Ever!

Bunny Magic is a delightfully funny animated short film created by Philip Watts. It’s the oldest, but here the most spectacular hat trick ever seen. The talented magician performs his own version of “the bunny out of the hat” trick before a large, entranced audience. What could go wrong? Well, just watch and see!

Bunny Magic: The Most Spectacular Magic Hat Trick Ever!

Please Share This:

Share

Springtime in Chicago: Little Tuffy Frolics with the Big Guys

Springtime in Chicago: Little Tuffy Frolics with the Big Guys

Well, springtime has finally arrived in Chicago, and Little Tuffy gets to frolic with his big bestie, Miss Olive, at the Wiggly Field doggie park in Chicago’s Lincoln Park. And when some of the other big guys think about picking on Little Tuffy, he’s up for a little bit of play-fighting that teaches them not to mess around with the little guys!!

Springtime Frolics: Little Tuffy and Big Miss Olive

Springtime Frolics: Little Tuffy Takes on the Big Guys

Please Share This:

Share

Bless You: Setting the Hungry Cat Amongst the Pigeons

Bless You: Setting the Hungry Cat Amongst the Pigeons

Bless You is a delightfully humorous animated short film by Philip Watts. The little film tells the story of an urban architect, who decides his architectural model needs to be spiced up quite a bit. Bless You ends up being a very cunning mix of traditional animation, tilt-shift photography and something pretty much like Flash. Ultimately, the film is great fun and executed with great panache.

Bless You: Setting the Hungry Cat Amongst the Pigeons

Please Share This:

Share

Toy Stories: Home Is Where We Start From

Maud: Kalulushi, Zambia

Julia: Tirana, Albania

Tangwizi: Keekorok, Kenya

Reanya: Sepang, Malaysia

Stella: Montecchio, Italy

Chiwa: Mchinji, Malawi

Toy Stories: Home Is Where We Start From

Photography by: Gabriele Galimbert

Toy Stories, by Italian photographer Gabriele Galimberti, captures a number of young children’s lives through their prized toys, artfully arranged around them in the homes where they live. It’s an intimate and revealing look at the world’s diverse cultures as experienced by children.

Toy Stories is the kind of work that traverses many levels: it’s a study in photography, socio-economic situations, anthropology and finally, childhood. To the extent that a child’s toys are viewed in terms of a means of play, their use as transitional objects opens pathways to the capacity to be alone and distinctions between “me” and “not-me,” as well as the use of illusion, symbols and objects later in life.

Years later, they will walk out from home looking for the world. For many, an optimistic idealism will witness the real world’s cruelties and heartbreaks, and yet some will find much room for hope.

Toy Story 3: Trailer

Toy Story 3: Partysaurus Rex

Photo-Gallery: Toy Stories: Home Is Where We Start From

(Please Click Image to View Photo-Gallery)

Please Share This:

Share

Les Blank Dies at 77: Created Sensuous, Lyrical Films of America’s Periphery

Les Blank Dies at 77: Created Sensuous, Lyrical Films of America’s Periphery

Les Blank’s sly, sensuous and lyrical documentaries about regional music and many other idiosyncratic subjects, including Mardi Gras in New Orleans, gap-toothed women, blues musicians and the filmmaker Werner Herzog, were widely admired by critics and other filmmakers if not generally known by moviegoers. Blank died on Sunday at his home in Berkeley, California at the age of 77.

His 42 films mostly depicted slices of folk culture, but his best known, Burden of Dreams, documented director Werner Herzog’s fanatical making of Fitzcarraldo. When Les Blank arrived in the lush, untamed Amazon in 1981 to make a documentary about Werner Herzog’s film, he knew the German’s reputation as a daredevil director. Herzog had chosen the remote jungle locale, plagued by tribal skirmishes and the perils of nature, for authenticity.

Burden of Dreams became a telling portrait of a filmmaker’s mad descent into obsession and raised serious questions about ethics in making movies. In 1982, Blank won an award from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts for Burden of Dreams, which sent shock waves through the cinematic community for its unflinching portrayal of Herzog’s blind pursuit of art while filming Fitzcarraldo.

Read more about the life and works of Les Blank in the New York Times here.

Dry Wood: Creole Life in French Louisiana

Dry Wood (1973) is Les Blank’s fascinating look at black Creole life in French Louisiana, where food and music are the featured elements. The film is awash with deftly framed portraiture, cunningly observed social scenes, beautiful nature photography and the poetic juxtaposition of imagery and sound. Pleasant, slow scenes of rural life are held together by the wild, insistent music of Bois-Sec Ardoin and Canray Fontenot.

Dry Wood: Creole Life in French Louisiana

Lightnin’ Hopkins: The Sun’s Gonna Shine

The Sun’s Gonna Shine (1969) brilliantly captures the great Texas bluesman Lightnin’ Hopkins. In this deeply moving film, Blank reveals Lightnin’s inspiration and features a generous helping of classic blues. The Sun’s Gonna Shine is a lyrical recreation of Lightnin’ Hopkins’ decision at age eight to stop chopping cotton and start singing for a living.

Lightnin’ Hopkins: The Sun’s Gonna Shine (1969)

Gap-Toothed Women: Societal Attitudes toward Standards of Beauty

Gap-Toothed Women (1987) is Blank’s charming valentine to women born with a space between their teeth, which ranges from lighthearted whimsy to a deeper look at issues like self-esteem and societal attitudes toward standards of beauty. Interviews were conducted with over one hundred women, including super-model Lauren Hutton and Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.

Gap-Toothed Women: Societal Attitudes toward Standards of Beauty (1987)

Always For Pleasure: An Intense Portrait of New Orleans’ Street Celebrations

Always For Pleasure (1978) is Blank’s intense insider’s portrait of New Orleans’ street celebrations and unique cultural gumbo: New Orleans has a gut-level mythic quality, a resonance unique among American cities. Always For Pleasure amplifies that resonance with second-line parades and Mardi Gras madness, featuring live music from Professor Longhair, the Wild Tchoupitoulas, the Neville Brothers and more. This glorious, soul-satisfying film is among Blank’s special masterworks.

Always For Pleasure: An Intense Portrait of New Orleans’ Street Celebrations (1978)

Burden of Dreams: A Shocking Portrait of a Filmmaker’s Descent into Obsession

Burden of Dreams (1982) is Les Blank’s extraordinary feature-length documentary about the messianic German director Werner Herzog struggling against desperate odds in the Amazon basin to make his epic feature, Fitzcarraldo. The documentary sent shock waves through the cinematic community for its unflinching portrayal of Herzog’s blind pursuit of art while filming Fitzcarraldo, a film about a man obsessed with hauling a steamship through the jungle to strike it rich in rubber. Burden of Dreams was honored with a British Academy Award for Best Documentary of 1982, and many critics consider it Blank’s most awesome film.

Burden of Dreams: A Shocking Portrait of a Filmmaker’s Descent into Obsession (1982)

Please Share This:

Share

God of Love: Cupid’s Semi-Tragic Tale of Magical Darts and Unrequited Love

God of Love: Cupid’s Semi-Tragic Tale of Magical Darts and Unrequited Love

Curfew, by writer/director Shawn Christensen, is a tale of redemption and unconditional family love, which won the 2013 Oscar for Best Live-Action Short Film. This year’s Oscar awards program for live-action shorts was hosted by 2011 winner Luke Matheny, writer/director of God of Love, one of my all-time favorite short films. Ironically, Matheny’s appearance at the awards program gave a new breath of life to his own wonderful film, prompting me to once again present the humorously romantic short film here.

God of Love is a comical, quirky short film by the funny young director Luke Matheny, which won both a 2010 Student Academy Award and the 2011 Academy Award for Best Live-Action Short Film. Matheny is a New York University film school graduate who also plays the lead in his film, which features several pop-jazz standards and a “Woody Allen-type” humor. The film follows the amorous misadventures of Raymond Goodfellow, a lounge-singing championship dart player who is desperately in love with a fellow band-mate, but she only has eyes for his best friend. The crooner prays daily to God for a way for his beloved to fall in love with him. Finally, one evening his prayers are answered when he’s given a box of magical darts with supernatural Cupid-like, passion-inducing powers. Raymond decides to attempt using the darts to make his own love connection, which leads to a comically cosmic questioning of whether even the gods can force love to happen.

God of Love: Cupid’s Semi-Tragic Tale of Magical Darts and Unrequited Love

Please Share This:

Share

Legendary Chicago Film Critic Roger Ebert Dies at Age 70

Legendary Chicago Film Critic Roger Ebert Dies at Age 70

I know [my death] is coming, and I do not fear it,
Because I believe there is nothing on the other side of death to fear.
I hope to be spared as much pain as possible on the approach path.
I was perfectly content before I was born, and I think of death as the same state.
What I am grateful for is the gift of intelligence, and for life, love, wonder, and laughter.
You can’t say it wasn’t interesting. My lifetime’s memories are what I have brought home from the trip.

I will require them for eternity no more than that little souvenir of the Eiffel Tower I brought home from Paris.”
–Roger Ebert, 2010

Roger Ebert, who reviewed movies for the Chicago Sun-Times for 46 years and on TV for 31 years, and who was without question the nation’s most prominent and influential film critic, died Thursday in Chicago at the age of 70.

On Tuesday, Ebert blogged that he had suffered a recurrence of cancer following a hip fracture suffered in December and would be taking “a leave of presence.” In the blog essay, marking his 46th anniversary of becoming the Sun-Times film critic, Ebert wrote “I am not going away. My intent is to continue to write selected reviews but to leave the rest to a talented team of writers hand-picked and greatly admired by me.” “We were getting ready to go home today for hospice care, when he looked at us, smiled, and passed away,” said his wife, Chaz Ebert. “No struggle, no pain, just a quiet, dignified transition.”

Ebert had been in poor health over the past decade, battling cancers of the thyroid and salivary gland. He first had surgery to remove a malignant tumor on his thyroid in 2002, and three subsequent surgeries on his salivary gland, all the while refusing to cut back on his TV show or his lifelong pride and joy, his job at the Sun-Times. He lost part of his lower jaw in 2006, and with it the ability to speak or eat, a calamity that would have driven other men from the public eye. But Ebert refused to hide, instead forging what became a new chapter in his career, an extraordinary chronicle of his devastating illness that won him a new generation of admirers. “No point in denying it,” he wrote, analyzing his medical struggles with characteristic courage, candor and wit, a view that was never tinged with bitterness or self-pity.

My newspaper job,” he said in 2005, “is my identity.” But as always with Roger Ebert, that was being too modest. He was a renaissance man whose genius was based on film but by no means limited to it, a great soul who had extraordinary impact on his profession and the world around him.

Kindness covers all of my political beliefs,” he wrote, at the end of his memoir, Life Itself. “No need to spell them out. I believe that if, at the end, according to our abilities, we have done something to make others a little happier, and something to make ourselves a little happier, that is about the best we can do. To make others less happy is a crime. To make ourselves unhappy is where all crime starts. We must try to contribute joy to the world. That is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances. We must try. I didn’t always know this and am happy I lived long enough to find it out.”

Read more about the life of Roger Ebert in the Chicago Sun-Times here.

CNN’s Anderson Cooper: Roger Ebert’s Influence and Legacy

When film critic Roger Ebert lost his lower jaw to cancer, he lost the ability to eat and speak. But he did not lose his voice. In a moving talk from TED2011, Ebert and his wife, Chaz, with friends Dean Ornish and John Hunter, came together to tell his remarkable story.

Roger Ebert: Remaking My Voice

Please Share This:

Share

%d bloggers like this: