Twenty-five years ago, Art Spiegelman created his Pulitzer Prize-winning book Maus. In this documentary-style book trailer, Spiegelman talks about the creation of this classic and we get to preview the soon-to-be-released MetaMaus which explores the materials that he used to write Maus and answers some of the most commonly asked questions about the author's creative process. Metamaus will be sold with a companion DVD that contains a digitized reference copy of The Complete Maus featuring audio interviews with Spiegelman's father, historical documents, and generous excerpts from the author's notebooks and sketches.
MetaMaus will be available on October 4th. Until then, you can find more material from the book on Spiegelman's Facebook page.
“Shut Up Little Man! An Audio Misadvanture” is a documentary about audio verite: the art of capturing and reproducing audio from day-to-day life without commentary. It centers around two young men, Mitch Deprey and Eddie Lee Sausage, who live in a cheap, run-down apartment in San Francisco in the late 1980s. Their neighbors, Peter Haskett and Raymond Huffman, are two old drunken men who belt out profane yet oddly comical arguments nightly. Mitch and Eddie record these arguments and begin sharing the resulting audio with friends. Although the circumstances around the arguments are disturbing and even mildly frightening, the material is also weirdly compelling and sometimes amusing as Raymond and Peter exhibit a unique and intricate style of verbal abuse. Over several years, the tapes are circulated via underground networks throughout the country and become a viral phenomenon that inspires songs, plays, comic books and essays by artists and writers as varied as Kevin Peaty, Daniel Clowes and Devo.
The film explores how the tapes spread so widely and the impact of the material’s popularity on the lives of both the recorders and the recorded. It also examines the thorny legal, artistic and moral issues around developing commercially successful projects from material that the artist found and recorded, but did not create.
It was directed by Australian filmmaker Matthew Bate who kindly answered a few of my questions about the film.
Follow this link to read our discussion.
What does this photograph suggest to you? If I told you that it was taken in South Dakota in 1936 by a man named Arthur Rothstein who was working for the Farm Security Administration, would that impact your answer? This picture was quite a source of social and political controversy in its day as many felt it had been posed to raise sympathy and support for FDR's programs. So what is this work of art, really? A meditation on light and form? Straightforward documentation of farm and weather conditions? Or subtle propaganda?
One man who has a unique talent for getting to the bottom of mysteries like this is filmmaker Errol Morris. His new book, "Believing Is Seeing (Observations on the Mysteries of Photography)", contains a series of essays that investigate the hidden truths behind a series of documentary photographs. Including this one.
The review from the LA Times summarizes it beautifully, saying: "[A]t its core . . ."Believing Is Seeing" is an elegantly conceived and ingeniously constructed work of cultural psycho-anthropology wrapped around a warning about the dangers of drawing inferences about the motives of photographers based on the split-second snapshots of life that they present to us. It's also a cautionary lesson for navigating a world in which, more and more, we fashion our notions of truth from the flickering apparitions dancing before our eyes."
Author and filmmaker Jon Ronson has started a fascinating documentary series called "Escape and Control". It's going to explore who controls the internet and how they do so. That would be interesting enough, really, but the manner in which he is making the documentary is equally intriguing. As you can see from this trailer, he will be releasing bits and pieces of the film as he makes it.
You can look for future episodes on his You Tube page, "Esc & Ctrl: Stories about People Trying to Control the Internet". In the video, Ronson says he will release the first hunk when he has something interesting to show; but his website says that his "first adventure will launch in early September."
Considering the number of compelling recent new stories on the subject, it's bound to be must-see web viewing.
Errol Morris is a celebrated director who has documented a wide range of subjects, from warfare in his Academy Award-winning film The Fog of War to your everyday eccentrics in Vernon, Florida.
In his newest film, Tabloid, he chases the truth in the tabloid story of Joyce McKinney. A former beauty queen follows her object of affection, a Mormon missionary, overseas and shakes things up with his alleged kidnapping and sexual assault. Joyce spins her version of the events of several decades and continents in the film, which is woven with interviews with tabloid reporters of the day, her alleged accomplices and contemporaries.
Errol talks to us bringing his subjects eye to eye with his audience using his patented Interrotron, seeking and preserving the truth of the first person narrative, and the work he feels he'll be remembered for (it's not what you think).
Tabloid is theaters now with limited release, and will roll out to more cities nationwide this summer.
JESSE THORN: It's The Sound of Young America, I'm Jesse Thorn. My guest on the program is Errol Morris, who might just be America's most gifted and acclaimed documentarian. His movies include The Fog of War, which won him an Oscar, The Thin Blue Line, which may have saved a man's life, and Gates of Heaven, which, according to the terms of a bet, forced Werner Herzog to eat a shoe live on stage.
Morris's new film is called Tabloid. In part, it's an investigation of narrative; in part, it's an investigation of a curious character. That, of course, has been a theme of Morris's films going all the way back to his first two, Gates of Heaven and Vernon, Florida.
The movie is the story of a former beauty queen named Joyce McKinney who fell in love with a Mormon missionary and followed him on his mission to England, bringing along a pilot, a muscle-building body guard, and a man who can only reasonably be described as a best friend/bondage slave. When she found the object of her affection, she either convinced him to come with her, or kidnapped him, then, either convinced him to sleep with her, or raped him.
The case was a sensation beyond words in the English tabloid culture of the late 1970s. Here's a tabloid reporter named Peter Tory who covered the story at the time for the tabloids in the late 1970s. In this clip from the movie, he explains how Joyce McKinney's misadventures captured the English public's attention.
Errol Morris, welcome to The Sound of Young America.
ERROL MORRIS: Thanks for having me on.
Above: Peter Bogdanovich talks about Orson Welles' cinematic essay "F For Fake." If you've never seen the film, see it. Like... NOW. One of my five favorite films of all time. It's a meditation on the nature of authorship, storytelling and authenticity. Issues that were important when Welles made the film, in the 70s, but have only grown more important since. It's also very funny, as well as profound.
Below is the scene that Bogdanovich alludes to in his remarks: an exploration of one of man's greatest achievements, the cathedral at Chartres.
Werner Herzog is an acclaimed (and prolific) film writer and director, known for narrative films like Aguirre, the Wrath of God as well as documentaries like Grizzly Man.
Herzog is known for pushing the boundaries of filmmaking and exploring humanity's extremes.
His newest film is a 3D look into the Chauvet Caves of France, where the oldest known cave paintings exist, practically untouched over thousands of years. Cave of Forgotten Dreams is in theaters now.
JESSE THORN: It's The Sound of Young America, I'm Jesse Thorn. Werner Herzog has always been known for pushing film making to its limits. His 60 feature films in 40 years have reveled in humanity at its extremes. From self taught naturalist Timothy Treadwell and the documentary Grizzly Man to crack-crazed madman Nicolas Cage in the crazy and fictional Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans. In his latest film, he's found a new human boundary to push: time.
Cave of Forgotten Dreams is a 3D look into the Chauvet Cave, home of the earliest known cave paintings in the world. With a tiny crew and jury-rigged 3D cameras, Herzog looks at some of the first images ever created. The caves are tightly controlled, only open to tiny groups of researchers approved in advance by the French government. It took Herzog years to obtain the permissions necessary to even bring in a skeleton crew. He takes this rare opportunity not just to present to us the beauty of the caves, and they are amazingly beautiful, but to consider what it means to create and how we define our own humanity. In this clip from the film, a research explains why the cave paintings are tucked so far back in the cave, and Herzog narrates his first look at a painting of a bear.
Werner Herzog, thank you so much for joining me on The Sound of Young America.
WERNER HERZOG: You're very welcome.
As some might know, I've been hosting the show "The Grid," which airs Thursdays at 7:45 Eastern / 4:45 Pacific on IFC. Above, you can check out an interview I did there with Julian Nitzberg, the director of "The Wild & Wonderful Whites of West Virginia," a terrifying documentary about a completely out-of-control family of party animal grifters. That's also kind of amusing. And amazing. And definitely tough to describe.
Below: Jordan's first piece for the show. He covered the "Boobs & Blood Film Festival," which celebrates exploitation movies of all kinds.
Last summer, Nathan Kuruna interviewed me for his documentary Everything By Everyone. It's about internet media, and particularly Newgrounds, a website which hosts independent flash games. As you might guess, he didn't ask me about flash games - he asked me about the future of media, and particularly independent media. It was a pleasure and an honor to be included in the project... and now he's got a trailer! Note the appearance by internet luminary Kevin "Sprinkles" Pereira.