Anthony Bourdain's show
Parts Unknown is (partially) back on Netflix right now.
If you've never watched it, treat yourself. It's an interesting series. One of the things I love about it as an always-learning editor is that Bourdain liked to play around with genre influences. For an episode featuring Francis Ford Coppola as a guest, for example, he combined Spaghetti Western themes with a Godfather-esque feeling. These influences played out both in cinematography and editing choices.
The episode I watched tonight on West Virginia, though, had none of that. Very straightforward in structure and look, it felt like it would've been right at home on between the other CNN shows. In fact, I could very much see Anderson Cooper doing the exact same show. The difference would've been in tone and personality and that's about it.
So it took me some time after I watched it to understand why it also felt like one of his more impressive episodes.
I remember an interview with Stewart Copeland of The Police stating that the drumming work he was most proud of was on Every Breath You Take.
As you can hear, as drums go it's pretty straightforward. None of the flashy fills Copeland is known for. Why is he proud of it? He said that it's harder to keep time with one straightforward pattern that stays the same throughout the song than to play around with it. I'm not a drummer, so I don't know if he meant harder for him or harder in general.
But it was this interview that I came back to when trying to figure out what made the West Virginia episode so good.
The structure is simple. They stick to the basic format of the show, Bourdain goes to an unfamiliar place, eats local food, and has dinner conversations with local people.
But this is West Virginia. Shot within months of the Trump election. Bourdain has made no secret in previous episodes of how he felt about Trump. Again, so far Anderson Cooper could've made this episode and it would've been one of his more forgettable outings.
The difference is that Bourdain isn't a journalist. He never pretends at objectivity. He wears his New York liberal status proudly on his sleeve in every conversation.
Why is the episode so good? Because he listens. He asks questions and then gets out of the way. He lets them speak for themselves even when it's clear he doesn't agree with them. He always, and I mean always treats them with respect. No poverty porn. No condescension. No looking down his nose or ironic juxtapositions in editing.
I think Bourdain himself was a pretty cynical guy. But there is nothing cynical about the way this show was done.
They got the simple stuff right, and got out of the way.
Sometimes that's the hardest thing to do.
Back in 2016 I was given the opportunity to shoot some footage as a videographer for a great location: the NASA Village at the Chicago Air & Water Show.
Due to scheduling conflicts the footage didn't get released until this summer, in preparation for this year's NASA Village return to the Chicago Air & Water Show, which I also got to shoot.
So the following videos are from those 2 shoots.
I did video and audio but no stills for the 2016 videos. The 2018 video I shot most of the video, other than a couple of the air show shots at the end. (I did the heart.) Jessica Carey shot the other 2 plane videos.
More videos to come with more interviews.
This was a class project from last quarter. The assignment was a horror film with no dialogue or music. There was talk of submitting it to some festivals but we're all too busy with this quarter's projects.
I did all the post-production, including editing, visual effects, sound design, and color correction. Most of which was done within about 48 hours.
Hope you enjoy it!
If you'd like to work with me, please email me at email@example.com
First I will answer the unasked question: Yes. I am obsessed with Say Anything. Obsessed with all of Cameron Crowe's pre-divorce movies, in fact.
To start, a couple of definitions:
"The Manic Pixie Dream Girl exists solely in the fevered imaginations of sensitive writer-directors to teach broodingly soulful young men to embrace life and its infinite mysteries and adventures."
The Cameron Role is a sort of autobiographical stand-in for Crowe himself. Originally called out by Campbell Scott referencing his role in Singles, it's always the lead role. Assumed to speak most directly for what Cameron believes and is trying to say with the movie.
Basic housekeeping is out of the way, huzzah! On to Random Movie Theory #1.
Lloyd Dobbler is the male lead. John Cusack's coloring matches that of Cameron Crowe. Lloyd makes a lot of idealistic pronouncements, many of which fall solidly into the moral center of the Crowe universe. So he's the Cameron, right?
Not so fast.
Cusack's performance as Lloyd is charismatic, electric even. He's the emotional center of the movie. But it isn't actually his story. It's Diane's.
The main character is the one who grows the most through the course of the movie. Diane is the one facing her father's betrayal. Diane is the one whose worldview changes. She's the character who has growth and is a different person at the end of the movie.
Also, compare Diane to William Miller, Crowe's literal autobiographical stand-in from Almost Famous. Brainy child prodigy, somewhat socially awkward, hasn't spent a lot of time in high school with the other students.
In contrast look at how outgoing and magnetic Lloyd is. We never see any of Diane's friends, while Lloyd obviously has connections throughout the school, in the same way that Penny Lane has obvious connections throughout the music industry. Lloyd is a catalyst for Diane to loosen up and embrace life in the same way Penny does that for William.
Lloyd Dobbler is a Manic Pixie Dream Girl. And Diane Court is the Cameron role.
When Taylor Swift's song "Look What You Made Me Do" everyone was trying to figure out who it was about. Every time I heard it I just thought she'd been binge-watching Game of Thrones like the rest of us.
So I did this for a class project:
Chris babbles about movies,pop culture, life, and weird stuff that occurs to her. Oh, and occasionally something useful happens.