Indie Angst For The Masses
The voices of ultra-inspired media misfits are being heard from a distance, with the folks at Palm Pictures taking a valiant swipe at getting bent indie material out to the consuming public in a palatable fashion. The New York based entertainment group has been a front-runner in the exploitation of the converging film and music formats; acquiring, distributing and showcasing some of the most innovative audio/visual content in the recent past. Theyâ€™ve managed to pierce into contemporary media veins and draw out a steady flow of fresh material since their inception in 1998. In doing so they developed RES Media Group (who are responsible for RESFEST and RES Magazine) and sputnik7.com, their web incarnation (where you can watch a whack of wicked short films and music videos). Though theyâ€™ve built their brand using these mediums, theyâ€™ve recently made a significant mark in a more traditional theatrical sphere, spawning a wave of big screen films sopping wet with indie angst.
Kevin Fitzgeraldâ€™s Freestyle: The Art of Rhyme is a junket into the inventive world of oral acrobatics. The short and grimy doc motors through the streets of New York, into the covert art of hip-hop lyricism. Fitzgerald drums the notion that this is a contemporary form that grew out of such diverse movements as 60â€™s beat poetry, the Baptist church and African tribal ceremonies. Compound these forms with the augmentation of the capitalist inner city structure and a genre that primarily thrives in the mainstream and out comes an explosion of cultured expression. Though chock full of brilliant performers, the film steers away from more notable names; with the exception of brief appearances from Mos Def, Black Thought and The Notorious B.I.G. The Art of Rhyme is now available on DVD, but the most discouraging thing is that the film was completed in 2001 and premiered in early 2002. Most of us are only able to see it now for the first time, nearly 4 years later.
Also, on DVD courtesy of Palm, is Ondi Timmonerâ€™s DIG! A 7 year visual diary on the parallel rise to stardom of two 90â€™s alterna-pop bands; Brian Jonestown Massacre and The Dandy Warhols. The irony in the tags of both bands echo the dichotomy explored by Timmoner in the film; the independents stick it to the mainstream. This erratic examination dives headfirst into what turns out to be a very shallow music industry and the one who hits his head hardest at the bottom is delusional Massacre front man Anton Newcombe. We follow Newcombe in his drug infused drive to self-destruction, however tragic, Timmoner manages to position the content in such a way that we are able to laugh. Newcombeâ€™s character is inherently both catastrophic and comedic and though extremely multitalented, he manages to let his fatal flaws undermine what would have otherwise allowed him to succeed.
Coming to the selected big screens in May (hopefully Vancouverâ€™s big screens will be selected) is paint can rant Bomb the System. This cinematic poem is the debut feature from 23-year-old director Adam Bhala Lough and one of the best films to deal with the world of graffiti since 1983â€™s Wild Style. Lough celebrates the notion of the artist as criminal, while his protagonists gleefully coat the streets of New York in vicious Technicolor strokes. The filmâ€™s theme is a manifestation of the prevailing attitude to wage war on those in power; using the paint as the spit of the subversive and the structures as the faces of those who tell them what to do and what not to do.