Here are some links about ads replaced with art, the creative mindset, and focusing on process:
By Jessie Roth
Take a look at where some of Hollywood's best and brightest got started. (All of the following ten titles are available for stream on Netflix instant.)
1. Hard Eight (Paul Thomas Anderson)
Paul Thomas Anderson took the independent movie scene by storm with his successful breakout film Boogie Nights in 1997, but it was his first movie Hard Eight (alternatively titled Sydney) that launched his career one year earlier. Expanded from the 1993 short Cigarettes & Coffee, which earned an invitation by Sundance to make a first feature, Hard Eight contains all of the early stirrings of the prolific and talented PTA making movies today. The premise is simple: an old man meets a young man outside a diner. The two hit it off and proceed to share casual conversation over cigarettes and coffee. The young man needs money and the old man can teach him how to get it. A quasi father-son friendship develops, repeatedly tested by a series of rather unfortunate events, but this movie isn’t one driven by plot. Instead, Paul Thomas Anderson flashes his dexterity at constructing a subtle yet nuanced story with convincing characters and transports his audience to life’s classroom to learn a light lesson about human nature, all the while delivering a thriller with brilliant style. It's not difficult to see why the young director was granted the privilege of final cut with only his third feature Magnolia. (Edit: this title is no longer available on Netflix Instant)
2. Following (Christopher Nolan)
Christopher Nolan is the Hollywood Renaissance man responsible for acquainting art house filmmaking with blockbuster moviemaking. It is equal parts enlightening and engaging to experience the modest 70-minute movie that precedes box office hits such as The Dark Knight trilogy and Inception. Nolan shot his 1998 debut Following on a budget of just $6,000, assuming screenwriting, directing, editing, and photographic responsibilities, and allotting the majority of his money to 16mm film stock. A proven master of mass appeal, Nolan exercises obvious early abilities here by crafting an accessible movie with an immediately engaging storyline. Following traces the steps of a man named Cobb, a young thrill seeker who thrives off of infiltrating the lives of strangers. He breaks into homes and burglarizes at random, defending his criminal activity with the assurance that his actions teach his victims to reevaluate their lives. Nolan’s established auteurism is already evident in his first feature, with emphases on nonlinear structure, unreliable narration, cinematic realism, and distinct visual style.
3. Reservoir Dogs (Quentin Tarantino)
Widely renowned for his cult classic Pulp Fiction, which catapulted independent cinema into its golden age in 1994, Quentin Tarantino established himself as one of film’s frontrunners two years earlier with his first feature Reservoir Dogs. Both movies explicate Tarantino’s trademark style: nonlinearity, glorification of violence, heavy pop culture reference, genre mixing, and obvious homage to neo-noir aesthetics. Reservoir Dogs is a pure, unabashed crime film that depicts the events before and after, though not actually during, a diamond heist. The movie opens with group of eight men, most of whom mask their identities with aliases, seated around a diner table discussing organized crime over breakfast. The rest plays out as an erratic conversation intermittently interrupted by stressful confrontations and graphic assault. Though Reservoir Dogs was mostly met with immediate praise and later gained regard as one of the greatest independent films ever made, Tarantino knows his abrasive and provocative style isn’t for everyone. In a 1992 interview for The Seattle Times he explained, "for some people the violence, or the rudeness of the language, is a mountain they can't climb. That's OK. It's not their cup of tea. But I am affecting them."
Image via Agência Brasil, Wikimedia Commons
Contrary to what was covered in the media, Spike Lee didn’t just address the issue of Brooklyn gentrification last Tuesday at the Pratt Institute in Clinton Hill. The famed film director critiqued Black youth culture’s relation to education, discussed the politics of accurate depictions of people of color in film and talked about his come-up in the film industry. However, instead of contextualizing the discussion, the media sensationalized Lee’s remarks. Then, three days after his frank observations about racial, economic, and cultural transformations of Brooklyn neighborhoods were published on all major news networks and blogs, from CNN to Gawker, Lee’s father’s home in Fort Greene was vandalized. “Do the Right Thing” and the anarchy symbol was spraypainted on the street level of their brownstone.
“Why does it take an influx of White New Yorkers in the South Bronx, in Harlem, in Bed Stuy, in Crown Heights for the facilities to get better?,” was the quote that lassoed the crux of his passionate remarks on gentrification. The question seemed relevant as Lee was addressing an audience at one of the premiere art and design schools in the nation that has facilitated much of the gentrification in Clinton Hill and its surrounding areas. Most news outlets described it as an emotional “rant,” another outburst from an angry minority and left it at that. But those remarks were couched in a hotbed of information about Lee’s background growing up in Brooklyn when there weren’t cake-pop stores or fancy vegan, gluten-free bakeries. In the Fort Greene of Spike Lee’s adolescence, Myrtle Avenue was called Murder Avenue.
Image via David Kadavy
Last week, David Kadavy hosted a webinar called, "Freeing Your Creative Mind," which focused on offloading the banal and unimportant tasks we deal with in life to make more time for the creative endeavors. He spoke with Ari Meisel from The Art of Less Doing about productivity and what holds us back, as well as what motivates us to get things done. Their conversation surfaced so many helpful perspectives and tools that I'm sharing some highlights of what I found the most useful.
Meisel began speaking about multitasking and that it's really just rapidly switching between tasks and not doing various things at once. This type of work style isn't conducive to being productive. Creativity is something in us that is innate. Answering emails, paying bills, and taking care of other related tasks is not in our nature so this drains and inhibits creativity.
A crucial step is to optimize, which Meisel described as finding the sources of the problem (what is inhibiting you from being productive and creative). Then you automate if can set it and forget it. This involves using a service to automate or outsource your tasks. There was another part in this sequence of steps that I didn't catch but these two are already an effective starting point.
Meisel stated that to-do lists go against productivity because you just see what hasn't been completed, causing a Zeigarnik Effect, and creates cognitive dissonance. They also cause the brain to be overwhelmed but not know why. As a firm user of Todoist, I don't completely agree this because I find to-do lists effective but the negatives are important to keep in mind when deciding what tools and approaches to use for maximum and effective productivity.
Self tracking was also something that was discussed that fits into optimizing. Making a record of allergens, moods, the times you feel better, etc. can help you figure out what the best times to have meetings, make phone calls, and email are. FollowUp.cc was reccommended as a service that automates email reminders. Other helpful email tools mentioned were Boomerang and MX Hero.
At this point Kadavy asked Meisel how to get over having to pay for services and Meisel brought up a few valid points. He said that some of these services are better and more efficient for taking care of tasks. We should start where we are comfortable and decide from there what services work for well for us. We should also ask ourselves if the money we're spending on these services means we'll be making five times the amount while working on other things. If so, they are worth considering or trying out since many of them offer free trials.
Most of the talk in "Freeing Your Creative Mind" revolved around productivity and tools that aid in automating and outsourcing tasks that are unrelated to being creative. Kadavy has a valuable post about how "productivity is less about time management than it is about mind management." Meisel has a wealth or resources on his site about mastering the art of less doing and more living. I'll be putting some of these recommendations to the test and reporting back once I have spent more time freeing my creative mind.
Hey there, just wanted to check in with a quick note and talk about Artlux. We're continuing to work on site improvements and new content, most of which will take place in March. In the meantime, there will be posts this week for a recap on a webinar about freeing your creative mind, the first of a monthly music playlist, and more weekend links. We're also going to be using our Tumblr page as way to document our process and progress and continue to post art from other sites and blogs.
We're excited about the upcoming updates and growth for Artlux. Until tomorrow...
Indie rap kingpins Atmosphere released the one-off track "Bob Seger" back in July and now have visuals to accompany the moody, evocative piece, one of their strongest individual songs since 2008's When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold. Slug had the following to say about the Andrew Melby-directed clip:
"(The video is) about how the legend of Paul Bunyan began. Babe wasn't really a blue ox, it was a blue axe. But the northern accent made it sound like 'ox'. Blue from the blood of the evil Canadian soldiers. It was filmed on the northern Minnesota iron range."
Atmosphere is currently in the middle of their annual Welcome to MN Tour alongside Toki Wright, Big Cats, No Bird Sing, deM atlaS and Jimmy2Times. Catch the remaining dates below.
CONS Project: Brooklyn came to a close Friday night with performances by El-P and The Bots at Converse Rubber Tracks. The three-month creative workshop offered emerging artists the opportunity to learn from the best in the fields of audiovisual, production and recording.
Hailing from Los Angeles, the young punk-blues duo known as The Bots rocked the Williamsburg performance space for the better part of an hour. Their gritty, wise-beyond-its-years repertoire included a song about a girl from their school that used to cut her feet and put her blood in the cupcakes she sold on campus.