Amoeblog

UNDERDOGS, COMMON THEME IN DOUG PRAY'S FILMS

Posted by Billyjam, June 18, 2007 08:31am | Post a Comment

Los Angeles based documentary film-maker Doug Pray (Hype!, Scratch, Infamy)'s latest release is Big Rig, a documentary about the subculture of contemporary truck-drivers. The film premiered at Austin's SXSW fest in March. Pray's latest production, Surfwise, is a documentary about the dynamics of a unique surfing family. The filmmaker says that the distinct common thread between each of his documentaries is that each tells the story of misunderstood individuals. "They're all subcultures... groups (that) have been misperceived. I see their characters as underdogs," he said. His first film was the 1996 documentary Hype!, which was literally about the hype behind the North West's underground "grunge scene" and how exactly that music was transformed, neatly packaged, and sold to the gullible masses. His next and even better known film (which won numerous awards) was Scratch, about the the rise and history of the hip-hop DJ/turntablist. It was followed by Infamy, a documentary about six graffiti artists plus one anti-graffiti activist.


To director Pray there is an obvious common thread between each of the films' subjects. Speaking of Hype!, Scratch, and Infamy, he said, "They're all subcultures which I never set out to do but it is interesting how things turn out. All three groups were misperceived in general and I think that's what's in common with all three. Like the way people in Seattle felt that their movement had been packaged and kind of sold to the masses as something that it wasn't -- that was a reason to make a movie because I was there and I thought 'You know what?' What the world thinks about this music community is not what they're saying it really is!' Same thing with the deejays in Scratch. It was sort of like everybody, as in mainstream America, thought they knew what hip-hop was and what the hip-hop DJs were saying was really different from this perception...It's all the same thing -- same thing with Infamy about the graffiti artists."

 
Before he began shooting the director mistakenly thought that Infamy would turn out to be an upbeat celebration of bright, beautiful graffiti art. Instead, it turned out be an engrossing, dark portrayal of obsessed artists who commit felonies, constantly risking jail time just to create their art. "Graffiti artists are manic depressive," confesses graffiti artist Saber in one engaging scene. Infamy is unlike other graffiti films. "Most graf films are made in such earnest from a graffiti art fan's perspective that they often overlook the human element," said Pray, who deliberately limited the number of subjects profiled in his film. "I didn't want to have 30 artists in there and just get to know a little about (each of) them. I wanted to really focus on just six artists. I wanted to make a movie where you really got to know the person, their family, their peers, their crew...One of the differences with graffiti and others is that it is really demented...It is an obsession and it is both very stimulating and it leads to trouble...it is unlike any other art because it is a felony."  

Infamy didn't get nearly as warm a reception as its predecessor (Scratch) and outside of a handful of screenings (mostly at small film fests), it went straight to DVD last Fall. Nonetheless, it is a wonderful film and well worth seeing for both graffiti and non-graffiti fans alike. Also recommended for all audiences is the critically acclaimed aforementioned Scratch, which truly is an amazing film that captures the soul of the dedicated hip-hop DJ. (Full disclosure: the writer of this AMOEBLOG is one of the subjects in the film and also credited for giving the film its title.) The DVD version boasts an additional disc with four bonus hours, including the ever engaging turntable instructional "How To Rock A Party" with Z-Trip. Scratch, which can still be seen occasionally on the Sundance Channel, can be found both as a single DVD at Amoeba and other new and used DVD outlets and also in the nicely packaged hip-hop DVD set along with the film Freestyle**

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the best movies of the 80's...the first of many lists

Posted by Brad Schelden, June 17, 2007 12:58pm | Post a Comment
I am a bit obsessed with making lists of things. As a small child I remember making lists of everything. It might have something to do with my need to organize my life. I just like to remember things and to organize them into nice little lists. So this will be the first of my lists that I offer to you. There was recently a list of movies going around on myspace. It was a random list of mostly blockbuster movies that you were to check off the ones you had seen. This got me thinking about what would go on my list of movies. So I decided to go through that list inside my brain and write down my favorite movies of the 80's. A very formative period for me and many others. It was a decade of many great movies. Movies that simply can't be made now. Most of them are great simply because of the memories attached to them. Many of them seen in theaters and then many more times on TV. Many of them rented from one of my favorite video stores. Most of them watched late at night with my friends. Some of them watched again in the theater at midnight screenings. Many of them watched with directors commentaries on DVD years later. Many of my favorites were made in the late 70's and 1979 specifically. Alot of the great horror movies like The Omen and The Exorcist came out in the 70s. David Cronenberg and John Waters made some of their best films in the 70s. 1979 was not only a great year for music but for film as well. 1978 was the year of Halloween, Dawn of the Dead, and Piranha. In 1979 came Aliens, The Warriors, Over the Edge, Amityville Horror, and The Brood. But it was really all about the 80's. I don't know where I would be without these movies. It was really hard to put them in order. But they are roughly organized starting with my favorite.

top 100 movies of the 80s





Heathers (89)
Michael Lehmann


                        Escape From New York (81)
                            John Carpenter











Manhunter (86)
Michael Mann
                                   

                      Pee-wee's Big Adventure (85)
                         Tim Burton
 










Aliens (86)
James Cameron


                      

                                        Times Square (80)
                                               Allan Moyle










The Breakfast Club (85)
John Hughes




                                                Vacation (83)
                                                  John Hughes






                                                         


Tootsie (82)
Sydney Pollack






                          Some Kind of Wonderful (87)
                              Howard Deutch








The Terminator (84)
James Cameron




                                        The Lost Boys (87
                                          Joel Schumacher








         


The Fog (80)
John Carpenter



                                              The Thing (82)
                                                John Carpenter









Polyester (81)
John Waters




                                        Krush Groove (85)
                                          Michael Schultz









                                                            
                                               
Beetlejuice (88)
Tim Burton






                     The Legend of Billie Jean (85)
                       Matthew Robbins







                                                          


Running on Empty (88)
Sidney Lumet

 
                                           Paris Texas (84)
                                             Wim Wenders









                                                          
     
River's Edge (86)
Tim Hunter



                            Best Little Whorehouse in
                                 Texas (82)
                                  Collin Higgins









                                                          

Valley Girl (83)
Martha Coolidge




                                    Suburbia (83)
                                      Penelope Spheeris










  



A Nightmare on Elm Street (84)
Wes Craven












Pretty In Pink (86)                                                            
Purple Rain (84)
Videodrome (83)
Little Darlings (80)
Flashdance (83)
Teen Witch (89)
Goonies (85)
Better Off Dead (85)
9 to 5 (80)
Blue Velvet (86)
The Empire Strikes Back (80)
Return of the Jedi (83)
Scarface (83)
The Dead Pool (88)
Planes Trains & Automobiles (87)
The Shining (80)
Karate Kid (84)
Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains (81)
Tenebre (82)
Phenomena (85)
Night of the Comet (84)
Sleepaway Camp (83)
E.T. (82)
Labyrinth (86)
Hairspray (88)


Gremlins (84)
Rocky IV (85)
Friday the 13th (80)
The Outsiders (83)
Footloose (84)
The Hunger (83)
Perfect (85)
Satisfaction (88)
Hellraiser (87)
First Blood (82)
Breakin' (84)
The Pirate Movie (82)
Poltergeist (82)
Romancing the Stone (84)
Gleaming the Cube (89)
Sixteen Candles (84)
Desperately Seeking Susan (85)
Ferris Bueller's Day Off (86)
The Muppets Take Manhattan (84)
Ghostbusters (84)
Princess Bride (87)
Stealing Home (88)
Airplane (80)
Children of the Corn (84)
Batman (89)

Tron (82)
War Games (83)
Prom Night (80)
Clue (85)
Little Shop of Horrors (86)
Mystic Pizza (88)
Back to the Future (85)
Angel (83)
Blade Runner (82)
Christine (83)
Patty Hearst (88)
Superman II (82)
A Fish Called Wanda (88)
Mask (85)
Raising Arizona (87)
Less Than Zero (87)
Vision Quest (85)
Raiders of the Lost Ark (88)
The Clash of the Titans (81)
Say Anything (89)
Time Bandits (81)
Sid & Nancy (86)
Foxes (80)
Beat Street (84)
Streets of Fire (84)

Sundays, pretty Sundays

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, June 17, 2007 10:08am | Post a Comment
For my sister, Jill, and all of her echoing 8 track tapes; I love you.

-Brickly

The Employee Interview Part VI: Miss Kelly

Posted by Miss Ess, June 16, 2007 02:34pm | Post a Comment
Miss Kelly
3 years employment
International Rock Goddess/Cashier


Q:  What music was playing your house when you were a kid?

Miss Kelly:  Like Ratt and Prince.  I had a brother and sister that were 12 and 13 years older than me and my brother was practicing drums all the time.  He was in a band, a metal band.

Oh yeah, lots and lots of Madonna too. My sister once performed Madonna's "Lucky Star" at the food court in the mall and she won the contest and got lots of money.  She had this black lace bustier that she looked killer in and she used to make all the ladies salivate at the lady bars because she was in a lesbian band called Upside Down and Inside Out.

Wow.  Where is she now?

She lives in Virginia with her girlfriend and all of their baby animals.  She plays ukelele now.  We all kind of picked up the ukelele at the same time in the last few months.  We have this fantasy that when we meet up at the family reunion this summer we are all gonna play ukelele together.  It's kind of Uni's fault.

Wow that's rad. So how did you start listening to japanese pop and international rock?

I used to be really into punk rock and I was in this punk rock cafe that was literally under ground and one day on the jukebox this Pizzicato Five song was on and no one knew who it was and it made me so happy.  Ever since I was a child, since I heard "La Bamba", I wanted to sing it even though I didn't care what it meant, so foreign languages have always kinda turned me on.  So after I heard Pizzicato Five I couldn't find that song again until I heard it like 5 years later on the radio at my brother's house and that's when I found out who it was. I went to the indie record store in Richmond, Va -- Plan 9-- and they had it and I got really into it.  It's kind of like this insane musical; I love the showmanship of their sound.

Who were some other artist you were into early on?

I like Buffalo Daughter and Takako Minekawa.  She's now married to Cornelius and I am sure their kids will be awesome musicians. ... and the Boredoms of course too cause they were kind of punk and I was still really into punk.

What is the best thing you have ever found at Amoeba?

OOIOO Feather Float on turquoise vinyl.

What is your favorite place to see music in town?

Great American.

What's your favorite local band?

That's kind of hard!  I think I have to say Or, The Whale right now.  Their cd is really good and i wanna go see them play soon! [Ed. note: You can purchase their cd here on the Amoeba website!]

Yeah I really like them too.  Nice guys n gals.  So I think you are maybe even over-qualified to tell me, what is the best karaoke bar in San Fran?

Do Re Mi, bring your own drinks -- sneak em in!

Do they have private rooms there?

Yes, it's box [style] and you can sing in Japanese there!  In Japan they have these happy hour specials where you can rent a room about $4 a person with all you can drink cocktails from like 3-8 pm-- it's amazing!   It's a shame we don't have that here.  But I don't know if Americans can deal with that kind of thing though!  Japan is a country where they have drink machines on the street where you can buy beer.  That would never fly here.

I can see why you are into Japan!  What is your favorite song to perform?

"Southern Cross" by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, and I also like to sing a lot of Dolly Parton and Madonna cause they are totally in my range so no matter how drunk I get I can sing em.

What are some more recent bands you have gotten into?

Agent Ribbons I really like.  I''ve been listening to a lot Stan Rogers even though he's [not recent].  It's like folky sea shanty stuff.  And the new Tujiko Noriko is really great. 

Do you have any musical guilty pleasures? You seem pretty upfront, not much into guilt.

Yeah, god I don't think I feel guilty about anything that brings me pleasure at all!  Why live if you have to be guilty about that?

What is the best live show you have ever seen?

Gosh that is really difficult.  In the last year there have been so many good ones.  Probably Blonde Redhead at the Fillmore when Buffalo Daughter opened for them because Blonde Redhead played for like 2 hours and i love them to death.  Buffalo Daughter was at their very best that I have ever seen them and I went by myself which kind of made a huge difference.


Cause you didn't have to worry about anyone else having a good time?


That and it was all on my level.  I walked the whole way home that night from the Fillmore to Chinatown.  It was one of those hot summer nights that we never have.  Everything was perfect!

Cool.

I'll tell you one more thing-- my first show I ever saw was one of the best too.  It was Aerosmith with Skid Row and I was probably as close as you could get!  I was in middle school and I saw people smoking pot openly for the first time and drinking out of pony bottles and sexy ladies in leather mini skirts.  It made such and impression on me.  I was into hair metal for a while but that's ok because....it pretty much rocks too!

What is your favorite thing about working at Amoeba?

It's like being a kid in a candy store I guess.

Thank you for your time.

Las Vegas Weekend

Posted by phil blankenship, June 16, 2007 01:04am | Post a Comment
 







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