Saturday, December 29, 2007

Favorite (Year End) Lists List

1. The 20 Worst Album Covers of 2007 - Pitchfork Media

2. 100 Awesome Music Videos (ever)* - Pitchfork Media

3. 70 Ideas of 2007 - New York Times

4. Top 25 Documentaries (ever)* - International Documentary Association

5. The Year In Online Video 2007 - Wired

And just in case you still didn't get enough lists: you can find hundreds of lists listed on's 2007 Lists.

* compiled in 2007

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Beowulf 3D - Do it.

Just in case you haven't seen it yet and don't mind some rather graphic violence applied to pretty realistic looking animated characters, DO see Beowulf in 3D.

I don't think it even matters if you usually like action films, animation or flashy special effects. The 3D look of the film (so unlike the old "four layers of 2D give the impression of 3D" are so amazing, you don't want to miss this ride no matter what your usual tastes are.

By experiencing this "new dimension" of film viewing I actually relived some of the wonder and excitement from when I went to see my first movie. My mom took my brother and I to the big city to go to a movie theater and watch Bernard und Bianca (The Rescuers). In that film especially all the scenes with the albatross evoked the feeling of it all being so fantastic yet seeming so real. Mind-blowing when you're 5. Those were the days of true Kino! Beowulf almost gave that wonder back. (Except that with Bernard und Bianca I cherished the drawings my mom made of all the characters on our train ride back home and I now don't really need any drawings of Angelina Jolie or Ray Winstone in the semi-nude.)

Of course, you'll have to see it at the theater that offers it in 3D (or even in IMAX & 3D).

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Wallstrip's Year in Review

A definite year-end highlight from the show Scott is currently producing: Wallstrip.

A perfect example of their slogan "where stock culture meets pop culture" - and entertaining and funny even if you're not into stocks.

Congratulations to everyone at Wallstrip for putting this show together - especially to Amanda and Jason for the song!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Münzviertel Video

NDR's Hamburg Journal, a German television show airing in the city of Hamburg, has been running a series about all the different neighborhoods in Hamburg (with an award winning complementary series printed in the newspaper Hamburger Abendblatt).

When they were recording the segment about Klostertor, a neighborhood that practically doesn't exist anymore as it's been eaten up by other developments around it, they instead discovered the thriving quarter of Münzviertel (right behind the main train station) and my father, Günter Westphal, an artist and activist, who has been instrumental in reviving the neighborhood and making it attractive to artists and students and people in general.

Of course, the segment is in German; but even if you don't speak it, you might enjoy seeing this lively corner of Hamburg, Germany.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Emirates Airlines, DON'T GO!

Somewhere between HAM and JFK

Just when I had discovered the pleasures of an Emirates Airlines direct flight from New York's JFK airport to Hamburg's Fuhlsbuettel airport without any 6-hour layovers in Amsterdam or 13 hours in London (long story), Emirates Airlines announces that they're going to cancel the flight again.

What? No!

How could I ever travel to Germany again without:
  • the harmonious color scheme of the plane's interior
  • the sizable airbus
  • the modelesque multi-national crew
  • having two seats to myself (in the front row with enough legroom that strangers would come into my row to look out of the window!)
  • socks, toothbrush, eye patch etc. in a canvas bag like in the olden days of luxurious trans-Atlantic flights (you remember, pre-9/11)
  • 50 or more digital movies, TV shows, games on individual screens (ok, at least KLM and AirFrance offer that)
  • watching the entire flight unfold via a camera in the front of the plane and one beneath the plane viewed on your individual screen (What? you ask. I know!)
  • delicious Vegetarian meals (I would have ordered seconds if I had been able to finish all the food in the first place)
  • massage chairs as the standard seat in business class (or was it just 1st?)
  • paying $400 for a round trip
  • and last but not least: an 8 hour sunset as we were flying west
So please, Emirates Airlines, don't go. I know there are rumors of Lufthansa taking over that flight. But the last time I flew with them we circled over JFK for an additional hour after a 9-hour flight and then were stuck on the ground inside the airplane for another 3 hours. On Valentine's Day.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Lost Connection

I had barely been back in New York and my Internet connection went out. By sheer coincidence the email on my Blackberry stopped working at the same time. Frighteningly paralyzing.

No better way to honor the return of all my connections (and the ability to finally download Quicktime 7.3, which FCP suddenly required and without which I couldn't even edit) than to watch's classic net_work episode "Lost Connection":

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Last Night Out

The National at Knust (Hamburg)

On Wednesday night, after just barely missing the closing time of UPS because converting the rough cut to DVD took a few hours longer than expected, I went to the show I had anticipated the most during my stay in Germany: The National (with support Hayden). The DVD being in my bag the whole time I'd like to believe will be good luck.

The show actually went quite beyond my expectation. I just didn't imagine that they would have such unrestrained energy. The change from high to low was quite a ride. The picture below seems quite mellow but happens to be from one of the more intense pieces during the encore. If you look close you can see singer Matt banging on the ground.

Matt Berninger and Aaron Dessner (The National)
Knust, Hamburg

Knust is one of my favorite smaller venue in Hamburg now (aided by the fact that I've seen some of my favorites there, The Decemberists and Damien Rice). Nice touch is the bar in the front; inviting enough to make you stick around after the show is over. I ended up hanging out for quite a while talking to some of the guys and their manager, some of whom live in my neighborhood and all of them very nice. Talking about Brooklyn made me realize how much I miss it and that I'm pretty ready to go home. Clearly Hamburg has its advantages, like being able to just meet bands after their shows... (not to mention my family, my friends, the harbor, the cheap Astra...)

To close out my last night in the city I stopped by Meine Kleinraumdisco (my small room disco) where old friend and now DJ Birgit was just playing the last band of the night: Cats on Fire, which apparently she's quite fond of. :-)

Rough Cut Finished

Rachel Iannelli (1996 & 2006) in All's Well and Fair

Wednesday I officially finished a cut of All's Well and Fair.

I even sent off the film already - crossing fingers or "Daumendruecken" heavily encouraged. Sending it to anyone is a bit unnerving since it's still very rough (and on Thursday I discovered some ridiculous spelling errors). But there are always those pesky deadlines.

No one has seen this cut (except for my dad who watched the first 15 minutes but doesn't speak much English) and I tried some new things that are a bit experimental, possibly risky, potentially silly. But in this isolation I was forced to just listen to myself. So I decided to just run with some gut instincts and not worry too much about the decisions, which I found very freeing. Now however it'll be interesting to see how other people react.

I'd like to have another screening later next week when I'm back in New York.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Die Fantastischen Vier

Die Fantastischen Vier, Colorline Arena (Hamburg)

On Monday I received a spontaneous invite to tag along with my friend Cordula and her friend Bine to the Colorline Arena in Hamburg and try to get some last minute tickets for Die Fantastischen Vier, the probably most popular German hip hop band. I had completely given up hope that I'd find someone to go with since everyone had already seen them in smaller venues and wasn't into the idea of a stadium show.

Since I made it to the end of a rough cut draft that day, I was ready to celebrate. We scored amazing tickets very close to the stage (relatively speaking, of course, it is an arena). And the show was, well, fantastic. They rapped, they jumped, they entertained.

German hip hop has quite a different feel than American hip hop. German words for the most part have more syllables and the rhythm of emphasis is different as well. Also, the subjects of the lyrics are different. Less gangster, more deepish thoughts, less ho's more... fun for all, I guess. At least with this band.

Die Fantastischen Vier, Colorline Arena (Hamburg)

And it actually was quite fascinating to be at a stadium show, with all the fancy lights and projections and thousands of people jumping along. The guys also had a camera on stage that sent a feed with a minimal delay to a huge pixelized screen behind the stage. Had a very cool PXL Vision feel.

I was a little disappointed that they didn't play "Lass die Sonne rein", a song I always listen to first, when I run (which isn't often enough - neither the running, nor the listening to that song, which is a true picker-upper).

Also a bit of a let-down that I didn't get to talk to anyone from the band after the show like I somehow managed to do after the other three shows I saw during this trip. But I guess with an audience of 12,000 it was a bit overwhelming for them. :-)

Here are some terrible sounding and blurry videos taken with my "still" camera.




Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Rainbows and Rough Cuts

Yesterday was just one of those great days.

I got started with editing real early and everything just flowed.

It rained for most of the day. Over the vast flat lands of the Northern German country side that can be quite beautiful. Several times I looked out of the window throughout the day and saw rainbows. They took me by surprise every time. Amazing how living in a big city full of tall buildings you not only miss out on some natural phenomenons but you actually forget that they are real (and not just cheesy pictures).

Of course, if you live a in a tall building in New York you might still see rainbows. I wonder.

Oh, and here are some cheesy pictures I took:

Later that day I finished a new cut of All's Well and Fair. Actually I had to keep working on it today - tweaking a few things and adding more b-roll. But it is now a coherent piece of 97 minutes.

What a day.