Friday, February 26, 2021

ZEBRAS IN AMERICA: EPISODE 157 CHARLES BURNETT RETURNS...


We’re honored to call legendary filmmaker Charles Burnett a RETURNING guest.

On the latest episode of Zebras we delve in to his seldom discussed late 90’s television period (NightJohn & Selma Lord Selma specifically), which also happens to coincide with black history month (this episode also aligns with the 25th anniversary of the release of NightJohn).

But Black history month or not, this is a timeless episode with plenty of replay value well beyond February.
Listen as we discuss everything from the importance of education & the distribution of information to the unsung careers of everyone from Bill Cobb to Clifton Powell.

Did you know Charles Burnett recently spoke with one of the most critically acclaimed active filmmakers working right now? Listen to find out who.

Click here or the image above to go to the episode...

Friday, February 19, 2021

THE SCHOOL OF CHANTAL AKERMAN: ENTRANCE

Jeanne Dielman... /
Entrance


Safe, Swallow, Silent Light and a handful of other indie/arthouse favorites are often listed as films influenced by Chantal Akerman’s Jeanne Dielman...
But outside of this blog and my own personal twitter feed, I seldom see the underrated slow burn horror masterpiece Entrance mentioned alongside the aforementioned films. And it should be...


Comparisons to Akerman, and Jeanne Dielman... are undeniable. We’ve been on record also citing the Dardenne brothers as huge influences. Both resonated as a mode of production style and atmosphere for us. 
Jeanne Dielman.../Lorna's Silence/Entrance
It focused in particular on a fascination with the day-to-day lived experience that was enigmatic on its own. There’s a certain vitality in watching someone carry out the well-practiced, work, chores, etc. When we were shooting Entrance, we would constantly encounter some sort of hiccup (construction crew showing up down the street to pour cement all day while we shot, the garage across the street burning and having a big tarp thrown over it in-between shoot days, rain, traffic, all of it), and Dallas [Hallam] would just keep saying; “Let it in. We gotta let life in instead of fighting it if we’re going to make this movie.” - Patrick Horvath, co-director of Entrance


Not only do both films share some of the same shots (with similar context), but the pacing is similar and both movies are quietly/sneakily depressive stories from the perspective of lonely/isolated women.

So as a follow-up to my recent post about Akerman’s subconscious influence on Joe Pera (click here), here’s a handful of visual comparisons between Jeanne Dielman... and Entrance.

Enjoy...



Jeanne Dielman... /
Entrance

Jeanne Dielman... /
Entrance

Jeanne Dielman... /
Entrance

Jeanne Dielman... /
Entrance

Jeanne Dielman... /
Entrance

Jeanne Dielman... /
Entrance

Jeanne Dielman... /
Entrance

Jeanne Dielman... /
Entrance

Jeanne Dielman... / Entrance

Jeanne Dielman... /
Entrance

Jeanne Dielman... /
Entrance

Jeanne Dielman... /
Entrance

Jeanne Dielman... /
Entrance

Jeanne Dielman... /
Entrance


Monday, February 15, 2021

ZEBRAS IN AMERICA EPISODE 155: SHAKA KING/JUDAS and the BLACK MESSIAH

Director Shaka King returns to Zebras to talk about his highly anticipated sophomore feature; Judas and the Black Messiah (if you’ve been paying attention to any recent entertainment news then you know it’s one of the most talked about films of the last few months).

At the time of this episode’s airing, Judas and the Black Messiah will be on HBOmax, and select theaters (be safe people).

Listen as we delve in to topics concerning the nuance of pulling off regional accents to the lasting impact that Fred Hampton made in such a short period of time.

Shaka is a not only a friend of the show but also a friend of ours in real life (if you aren’t familiar with his pre-Judas filmography we highly suggest you get familiar, and there are some links provided to some of them included here). In true Zebras fashion we also talk about everything from current rap music favs & and Scott’s film score work to memories of the last time we were all together in one place prior to Covid.

Click the image (courtesy of Saskia Khan) to go to the episode. Enjoy...


Also, make sure to DM me on twitter @PINNLAND_EMPIRE to purchase the final remaining Zebras t-shirts...



Wednesday, February 10, 2021

DOC'S KINGDOM



The most intriguing aspect about Doc’s Kingdom is it's timeless, borderline sci-fi ambiance. Part of the reason it feels so timeless is because the majority of the film takes place in a part of the world that time has forgotten (a regional of Portugal). The movie was made in the late 1980's but it could just as easily be 1960 or 2020. It’s almost like Tarkovsky’s Stalker. Not exactly but kind of. The architecture in Doc's Kingdom doesn't look dated and there aren’t any cars or other obvious artifacts to give away the time period. The clothes worn by the actors are basic white t-shirts, simple blazers, button down shirts and khaki pants. These are clothes that could be worn at any point in time. Even the music - a progressive mixture of electronic, live instrumentation and light sampling - makes it even more difficult to pinpoint a specific year. 
All of these elements combine to form a really cool fever dream of a movie.

Stalker /
Doc's Kingdom

Stalker /
Doc's Kingdom

Stalker /
Doc's Kingdom

Stalker /
Doc's Kingdom


In addition to Tarkovsky, there also appears to be a clear Bresson reference later on in the film...

The Devil Probably /
Doc's Kingdom


While there is a lot of seemingly pointless meandering throughout the film, the basic plot is about a young man (Jimmy) who sets out on a journey across the world (from New York City to Portugal) to find his estranged father (Doc) after his mother passes away.
Doc’s Kingdom feels like a first cousin to Claire Denis’ L’Intrus. In L’Intrus you have the estranged father/son relationship, a similar timeless feel and the same overall disorienting tone. Both movies take us across the globe in the same way. Kind of like in a dream. Sometimes when you dream you find yourself in different surroundings every few minutes and you can’t remember how you got from one place to next. In L’Intrus, one minute we’re in the French countryside and the next minute we’re in Korea. Then we’re suddenly on a nameless Polynesian island (L’Intrus also kind of does a reverse Doc’s Kingdom in that the last half of the movie is about an aging man looking for his son). The connection between the two movies is even stronger to me as Doc’s Kingdom features Claire Denis regular Vincent Gallo as Jimmy.
We see Jimmy sitting on the stoop of his New York City apartment and the next minute he’s landed somewhere in another country. Again - this approach makes things disorienting but in a way that keeps your attention & curiosity (the entire second half of the movie feels like a noir as we watch Jimmy follow his father at night, peeks through windows, etc).
The science fiction element of the story has to do with Doc’s mysterious disease. It isn’t clear how he got it. The symptoms of this vague disease (which include “transparent skin”) allows your mind to wander (to bring it back to Claire Denis for a bit - the disease in Doc’s Kingdom is similar to the disease in Trouble Every Day in that they’re both vague with odd side effects).
Jimmy’s intentions in searching out Doc are unclear. Does he want to make peace and get to know his father? Or does he want to confront him for not being around? Early on in the film we learn that Doc’s shady criminal past is part of what brought him to Portugal.


I’m a sucker for movies like Doc’s Kingdom. Besides the score, Vincent Gallo’s presence and it’s subconscious connections to the aforementioned movies, director Robert Kramer uses spotty & somewhat intentionally unreliable voiceover narration similar to that of Terrence Malick (Kramer is more of a political filmmaker so he doesn't strike me as the kind of person to intentionally reference other directors, but the similarities are still there).

I don’t want to call something I just watched a masterpiece but this is an excellent film that I’ll be revisiting very soon.

Monday, February 1, 2021

THE SCHOOL OF CHANTAL AKERMAN: JOE PERA TALKS WITH YOU


Jeanne Dielmann /
Joe Pera Talks With You

 

When I have a favorite television show I go through various stages. First it’s the initial viewing. Then I go back and watch it again. The third time is to see if I missed any of the details or small moments. After that I just have it on in the background as I’m doing something else because I’ve become so comfortable with it. After that I move on to something else for a while. Then it’s the re-discovery period which brings about a whole new appreciation.

This has been my journey with Joe Pera Talks With You.

Over the first wave of the pandemic in early 2020, adult swim played reruns of Joe Pera and I honestly forgot how perfect of a show it is.
What stood out the most during my re-watch were the visual similarities between it and the films of Chantal Akerman (mostly Jeanne Dielman... but quite a few of her other films as well).
Much like how everyone considers anything "weird" to be "Lynchian", I find myself calling anything slowly paced with long un-broken shots to be Chantal Akerman-esque. I know I need to stop doing that but in the case of Joe Pera it does make sense.

Some films are so influential that they’re injected in to the DNA of cinema to the point that some filmmakers don’t even need to see something to be influenced by it. This applies to everything from the films of Spielberg & Lucas to Fellini & Hitchcock. While Chantal Akerman isn’t exactly a household name like the aforementioned directors, her work (specifically Jeanne Dielman...) is often cited as one of the most influential films within the world of (slow) modern art house cinema. Akerman has been referenced quite a bit these days (Swallow, Joker, Mrs. America, etc), so it isn't that crazy to associate her with Joe Pera and it's brand of slow television.


Putting aside the obvious visual similarities presented in this post (coincidental or not), both Joe Pera Talks With You and Jeanne Dielman... are very hypnotic (although I will say that Akerman has close to 50 years of films under her belt that extend beyond the narrow world of just Jeanne Dielman...). The longer you stare at the shots the more you start to zone out (I made a point to use scenes/shots where the camera stays fixed in one position for an extended period of time).


Le Chambre / 
Joe Pera Talks With You

Jeanne Dielmann / 
Joe Pera Talks With You

Les Rendezous D'Anna /
Joe Pera Talks With You

Jeanne Dielmann / 
Joe Pera Talks With You

Jeanne Dielmann /
Joe Pera Talks With You

Jeanne Dielmann / Joe Pera Talks With You

Jeanne Dielmann /
Joe Pera Talks With You

Jeanne Dielmann /
Joe Pera Talks With You

The Golden Eighties /
 Joe Pera Talks With You

Saute Ma Ville /
Joe Pera Talks With You

Hotel Monterey / 
Joe Pera Talks With You

Jeanne Dielmann / 
Joe Pera Talks With You

Jeanne Dielmann / 
Joe Pera Talks With You

Jeanne Dielmann / 
Joe Pera Talks With You

Les Rendezvous D'Anna / 
Joe Pera Talks With You

News From Home / 
Joe Pera Talks With You

Jeanne Dielmann / 
Joe Pera Talks With You


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