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Uncovered Gem of the Week: Tarsem’s The Fall

25 years of cinematographic obsession, or what Nike has to do with a 6-year-old Romanian girl.

Chances are, you’re already familiar with legendary director Tarsem (pronounced tar-SAME) and his prolific commercial work for brands like Guinness, Nike, Levi’s and Motorola RAZR, as well as music videos like R.E.M.’s famed Losing My Religion.

thefallWhat you may not be familiar with is his colossal pet project. The Fall, inspired by 1981 Bulgarian movie Yo Ho Ho, took 25 years to make and was shot on 26 locations across 18 countries. The film was quietly released in 2006 and swept the festival circuit, polarizing critics and audiences with its dramatic avant garde style and odd head-scratcher of a plot. And while The Fall sets a whimsical playground for the bizarre, the macabre and the idiosyncratic, what’s even more fascinating than the film itself is the story behind it.

If Tarsem‘s style, however distinctive, seems vaguely familiar, it may be because he keeps rather famous company. His posse includes iconic director Spike Jonze and filmmaker David Fincher of Se7en, Fight Club, and Zodiac fame. The two were, in fact, instrumental to making the The Fall happen by getting Tarsem to finally move from obsession to production.

The FallWe have a hard time pegging The Fall — it’s part The Wizard of Oz, part Maya Deren’s Meshes of the Afternoon, part Bjork, part something else entirely. And while it’s just as likely to leave you overwhelmed with sheer awe as it is to make you underwhelmed and confused, it’s worth the watch even merely for the breathtaking cinematography, the phenomenal locations, and the brave play of light and color.

Watch The Fall and stay tuned for Tarsem’s new project, Greek epic War of Gods, now in production.


Coming to a Best-of-2009 List Near You

What an Anglo-Irish bard has to do with one of 2009’s yet-to-be-declared greatest albums.

After a roundup of last year’s music best-of’s, it’s time to start filling our 2009 list with hidden gems and discovery goodies. First up, Chicago-based alt-rock getup Company of Thieves.

Company of Thieves

Company of ThievesFull of raw rock power, socially conscious, and brimming with fascination over history’s misunderstood heroes, the trio nails every box on the hipster checklist. Not to mention they’re not too shabby looking, either.

Their sound is distinct yet familiar — Evanescence meets The Cranberries meet an angrier Ingrid Michaelson, with a twist all their own.

Company of Thieves is vocalist Genevieve Schatz, guitarist Marc Walloch and drummer Mike Ortiz.

Ordinary RichesCheck out their Ordinary Riches album and grab “Oscar Wilde,” one of the strongest tracks on it, as a free download on iTunes.

These guys will hit the Big Time in ’09, mark our words – SXSW, primetime drama soundtracks and TV commercial scores, here they come.


Objectified: Dissecting Design

What cinema vérité and toothbrushes have to do with the truly transformational.

UPDATE: Objectified is now out on DVD — and it is just as excellent as it promised to be.

Imagine picking the brains of the world’s most innovative, influential, brilliant designers. The ones who transcend the realm of greatness and rise to the level of genius.

Now imagine not having to imagine that.

Objectified LogoFrom Helvetica director Gary Hustwit comes Objectified, a new design documentary that delves into the magic of what is loosely known as “industrial design” — a term perhaps poorly suited, in its crude connotation, to a field that gives us anything from inspired toothbrushes to revolutionary tech gadgets, all held together by the common thread of being something more than mere objects to those who use them.

Objectified picks apart notions like creativity, identity, consumerism and sustainability — terms tossed around rather frivolously these days, but truly grasped and appreciated by few — examining them through film vérité and revelatory conversations with some of the world’s most influential designers.

The film features legendary designers like Karim Rashid and Naoto Fukasawa, world-changing design studios like IDEO and Smart Design, and some of our own deeply, deeply revered design idols like MoMA curator of design Paola Antonelli.

Objectified Screen PrintWe’re rather excited for Objectified — because besides being deeply inspirational by way of exposure to pure genius, the film also makes us commonfolk look within ourselves for that peculiar force that makes us relate to the world and to each other through objects, using beatifully designed artifacts as extensions of ourselves, as badges, as fundamental pieces of self-definition.

Objectified premieres worldwide in March. Grab the production’s RSS feed or jump on the email newsletter to stay in the loop.

Thanks, Alek.


Birth of an Idea: The Ride

Flying cars, exploding brains and how the creative process comes to life.

New year, new idea playing field. So instead of the standard, contrived wishes of prosperity, health and love — who the hell needs those anyway? — we’ll wish you a year full of big ideas that take flight, boldly and blindly and ever so freely.

idea1And because those in the business of ideas know the beautiful chaos of the creative process, some have taken it upon themselves to bring it to life.

Courtesy of Santa-Monica-based motion graphics and design studio King & Country, here’s The Ride: A wonderful animation short that captures the magic of the formation, ripening and fruition of a great idea — from the unrefined roughness of the seed to the polished brilliance of the final product — taking us along for the ride.

(Download the hi-def Quicktime here… it’s worth it.)

Here’s to the life of the mind and a brand new canvas for the art of creative vision.


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