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Cinema Direct vs. Cinema Verite - The Quest for Cinematic Truth

Posted by Eric Brightwell, October 15, 2007 12:55pm | Post a Comment
Today marks the one billionth time the term "cinema verite" was applied incorrectly. This time it was in reference to a commercial for blue jeans or cell phones or something. I know what you're saying: "They're just words, man" or, "why do we have to categorize anything?"

Jay Ward's "Cap'n Crunch and Friends" $13.98 at Amoeba

Yeah, I see your point, Mr. Manson. Why don't I prepare for you a fro-yo topped with Cap'n Crunch, which is my term for rat poison? They're just words, after all. Oh, and the yogurt isn't really yogurt.

My point is, what is most often referred to as cinema verite is not only philosophically diametrically opposed to actual cinema verite but (more damningly), it conflates irreconcilable understandings of the nature of reality, God, the universe and everything else!

Cinema Direct -or- what pretty much everyone erroneously refers to as Cinema Verite

Cinema Direct is documentary genre that began in Quebec in 1958. The Quiet Revolution, a cultural assertion of the French-speaking majority under the rule of the Anglo-minority, encouraged the development of a distinct Quebecois identity.

The most unfortunate by-product of la Revolution Tranquille

As part of this cultural expression, filmmakers sought to re-instill truthfulness in the documentary genre, which, by the 1950s was usually studio-based propaganda rife with dramatizations and mickey mousing. In 1922's Nanook of the North, for example, Nanook (actually an Inuit named Allakariallak living in Inukjuak, Quebec) was built an oversized igloo to share with his wife (who wasn't really his wife) to allow a camera crew and sufficient lighting inside. He was filmed hunting with a harpoon. In the scene, Allakariallak looks in the direction of the camera laughing and smiling memorably. He only knew how to hunt with guns. You can almost hear Robert Flaherty taking him aside and asking, "Could you act... you know... more Eskimo?"

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THE MOMENT THAT CHANGED POPULAR HIP-HOP FOREVER

Posted by Billyjam, October 14, 2007 06:21pm | Post a Comment

If there was one moment in hip-hop that changed the direction of the genre forever it would have to be in late '92 when thdr dre nuthin but a g thange advance promo single from Dr Dre's first major post-NWA project, The Chronic, surfaced. Just weeks in advance of the December 1992 release of that classic rap album, which went on to sell over four million copies and fully cross over gangsta rap into pop music territory, white label copies of "Nuthin But A 'G' Thang" featuring the then little known young Long Beach City (LBC) rapper Snoop Doggy Dogg (heard only before this on the Dre produced Deep Cover soundtrack/single) got serviced to DJ's across the country. I was one of them and I will never forget the reaction the record got both on the radio and in clubs at the time. One night back then I was DJing at the Kennel Club (now the Independent on Divisidaro in SF) and people who normally didn't care for rap were banging on the DJ booth window demanding to know "Who/what the fuck was that?" Music fans went crazy for that addictive combo of Dre's dope production (fully utilizing the Leon Haywood "I Wanna Do Something Freaky To You" sample) and of course Snoop's hypnotic, laidback rap drawl (check out how young he looks in the video above!) that suddenly made street/gangsta themes digestible to all. 

Of course, the album that spawned "G Thang" and which took its name from sodr dre the chronicme sticky icky Cali weed, The Chronic would truly crystallize this turning point in hip-hop -- taking both West Coast and gangsta hip-hop to commercial heights undreamed of before this point. To many, this point represented the downfall of hip-hop since we have never fully recovered from its influence on popular rap. To me, as a fan of both "gangsta" and "conscious," or of both "rap" and "hip-hop," its success is bittersweet. I love good music no matter what its lyrical content might be, but I long for variety within popular hip-hop and I especailly miss the popularity of more positive hip-hop groups like Brand Nubian, A Tribe Called Quest and Gang Starr.

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Exterminators Of The Year 3000

Posted by phil blankenship, October 14, 2007 12:57pm | Post a Comment
 



Thorn EMI Video TVB 2304

THERE'S A RIOT GOIN ON: IN THE CABBAGE PATCH

Posted by Billyjam, October 13, 2007 04:38pm | Post a Comment

Originally created in 1978, the Cabbage Patch Kids and the mania that surrounded them didn't fully kick in until 1982 when the cute or spooky (depending on your perspective) looking, needle-molded fabric "Little People" (their original name) were made widely commercially available across North America. They consequently caused consumer mayhem like in the above video clip from 1983 when a riot at Zayre's department store in Wilkes-Barre, PA broke out in which shoppers had limbs broken and teeth knocked out-- all in an effort to get to these "adoptable" lil creatures. The above video (c/o of CBC's news archives) also briefly traces the history of the dolls that were created by Xavier Roberts and you can see from it how they ecabbage patcharned the name "cabbage patch" at the "hospitals" they arrived from.

Cabbage Patch Kids became the biggest toy phenomenon of the eighties and anyone reading this most likely remembers them and the whole hysteria about them, either fondly or with disgust. Personally, I find the level of consumer mania that the manufacturer's marketing department created over these butt ugly items mind-boggling. But then, this is the USA -- home of consumerism, where people buy into the hype of fiending to be the first on the block to have something, be it Cabbage Patch Kids or Xbox or iPhone etc. etc. Of course, the fact that the Cabbage Patch Kids were marketed as being "adoptable" was a very shrewd move on the part of the manufacturers.

garbage pail kids And remember the later fun but deliberately evil-looking spin-off of the Cabbage Patch Kids: the Garbage Pail Kids bubble gum cards? You might remember that they didn't last forever in their original design since the makers of the Cabbage Patch Kids sued them and as a result the Garbage Pail Kids had to be toned down and graphically altered so as not to resemble the "kids" anymore.

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Randy Van Horne 1924 – 2007

Posted by Whitmore, October 13, 2007 12:16pm | Post a Comment

A couple of weeks ago Randy van Horne passed away at the age of 83. You might not recognize his name but you would certainly recognize the sound and work of the Randy Van Horne Singers, one of the most in-demand studio session vocal groups of the 1950s and ‘60s. They can be heard on countless television and radio commercials, jingles and station identification spots many of them written by Van Horne. But they’ll always be remembered for singing the themes to many of Hanna-Barbera’s iconic pop-cultural cartoons like The Jetsons, The Huckleberry Hound Show, Yogi Bear, and The Flintstones. Hey, it’s Yabba-dabba-doo time, kids!

The Randy Van Horne Singers also worked with some of the biggest names of the era including Mel Tormé, Dean Martin, Martin Denny, Jimmy Witherspoon and Juan Garcia Esquivel, who twisted jazz and lounge into a quirky genre we now call Space Age Pop. Serious fans of Esquivel will know his trademark "Zu-zu-zus," crooned by the Randy Van Horne Singers.

The group included some of the most famous session singers (yet almost completely unknown to the public!) of all time including Marni Nixon. She was singing voice for Natalie Wood in West Side Story, and sang for Deborah Kerr in The King and I. Thurl Ravenscroft - the voice of Tony the Tiger for Kellogg's Frosted Flakes commercials, and he sang You're A Mean One, Mr. Grinch from the classic animated television special, How the Grinch Stole Christmas and B.J. Baker who worked with Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Bobby Darin and Sam Cooke, among others. She was also Miss Alabama in 1944.

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