Friday, February 27, 2009

what did helvetica tell you today?

talking with my drawing teacher during an extended water break several years ago in the old brimhall building, i noticed a sign for a "typography" class.  i could only surmise that this was the study of type, but that didn't make much sense; what was there to study about type?
a few years later, a friend was telling me about her typography class, learning about serifs and other such things; things i had never considered, but what sounded strangely interesting.  it was around this time that i also read this article, following through the design process, and i realized that i had an innate fascination with typography and graphic design.

a few weeks ago on itunes i was watching the trailer for daft punk's electroma and noticed a related link to a movie called "helvetica".  only recently did i learn that was a type font, but didn't know enough to know there could be a movie about it.  
the trailer looked good.
the orem library had it.
i loved it.

it never occurred to me that people actually design fonts, or that they're still designing fonts.  like so many other things, it's a subject that you don't think about until you start thinking about it.  but up until this personal paradigm shift, i figured that most fonts were discovered within a reasonable time after gutenberg.  certainly helvetica, the most ubiquitous and invisible of the them all, had been around centuries.
actually, it turned 50 in 2007.

the documentary looked at where the type came from- designed in switzerland, the name is a slight modification of the roman name for switzerland, and you can walk to a room, open the cabinet, and literally hold "helvetica" itself in your hand.  the movie talked with designers around the world about how and why this font very quickly spread everywhere and into everything.  why it looks so nice, why we respond it, and why it's responsible for the war in iraq (the lady said that one with a wink).

while it is about type, graphic design, and helvetica, these topics very easily slid into how we think and react, and what society tells us, often without realizing it in any way.  fonts are the messenger for everything we read.  as one of my earlier posts this year showed, it can be fun to look a little wider and notice the typography all around us.  helvetica is everywhere: i was pointing it out on the way to the draper temple open house today.  watching a japanese movie this morning, i noticed that the subtitles were in helvetica.

there's something very exciting about the first cracks into an entirely new field of knowledge, taking the initial realization of how little you know, and how fresh it is.  if any of this is remotely interesting to you, check out the movie.  it's 80 minutes long, and i will eventually own it.  i'm happy to loan it.

in my 2-D design class, our first assignment was to design an alphabet.  had i known what i know now, that would have been a much harder assignment (and i probably would have done a much better job).

Thursday, February 19, 2009

picture of a thursday morning

i dreamt in animation last night.
that was a new one.
it was in "family guy" style animation.
and when i woke up, i was late for work.
so, there you go.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

a good example

we watched to kill a mockingbird tonight for movie night.  i want to be like atticus when i grow up.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

movie night

the seventh seal
children of heaven
monty python and the holy grail
grand illusion
punch drunk love
searching for bobby fischer
dead of night
the shawshank redemption
citizen kane
wild strawberries
little miss sunshine
lost in translation
lawrence of arabia
the abyss
the royal tenenbaums
dr. strangelove (or how i learned to stop worrying and love the bomb)
raiders of the lost ark
the man who planted trees
fanny and alexander
the sting
duck soup
my neighbor totoro
double indemnity
groundhog day
the dark crystal
spirited away
singin' in the rain
bill and ted's excellent adventure
the cup
to live
32 short films about glenn gould
mystery science theater 3000: the movie
the muppet family Christmas carol
not one less
pieces of april
blood diamond
joe vs. the volcano
minority report
shall we dance
raising arizona
mr. smith goes to washington
he loves me, he loves me not

it all began two years or so years ago, when i would hang around after church and talk with our executive secretary, who served his mission in sweden.  i mentioned that there was a swedish director i liked, and, after weeks of saying we should, we did get together one night and watched the seventh seal.  trevor, mark, and i enjoyed it enough that we got together the next week and watched hero.  another friend came.  then some girls wanted to come.  thus, movie night was born.

for me, it's a chance to watch my favorite movies with my friends.  for them, it's a chance to see something they probably would otherwise never see, a chance to get together, or time to catch a nap.  and, since tim and i went to best buy in july, it's a chance to play rock band afterward.
i try introduce the movies with a few notes or insights, to put the movie into context, help people understand why it's "great", or give things to look for.  when i'm off on a movie, mark and tim take over as host.  and, showing my roots as a byu film grad, i try to have a discussion about the film afterward.  sometimes it goes well; lost in translation brings plenty to talk about, and traffic's discussion went in a different direction than i planned.  other weeks, no one really has anything to say and we break out the guitars and drum set.

for the sake of the variety of interests, i try to balance between the black and white art film and movies that are more mainstream but may have been overlooked.  it took a lot of courage to show solaris, yet everyone who came really liked it.  there are people who want to see the ponderous international films and others who generally prefer color and, if possible, english.
and while everyone comes at their own free will, if people aren't enjoying the show, it's hard for me to enjoy it.  as a result, showing 2001 a few weeks ago didn't go quite so well.
uhf was, i think, the least popular.  thankfully, my dad reassured me that the movie is, indeed, a classic.  conversely, babel is, by far, the most popular.  it's been shown at least four times, and people always want to see it yet again.  he loves me, he loves me not kind of freaked out a friend (as it's prone to do on occasion) and made fans of a few others.

the attendees have rotated through at least two full times, as is prone to happen in a the young single world of provo, with the exception of mark, who has been here since the beginning.  i used to worry i'd run out of movies, yet the turnover rate allows me to show my favorites again, and i still seem to have a plentiful list to keep it going for quite a while.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Friday, February 06, 2009

stormy pinkness

when a series of unfortunate events came out several years ago (which i surprisingly enjoyed), a radio movie critic said "be careful taking the kids, because this movie is DARK."
i'd say the same for coraline.

at the beginning, i loved it.  the animation seemed jerkier than nightmare before Christmas, but i didn't mind.  i loved the familiarly skewed world, that coraline herself had issues and frustrations, and that the movie didn't insist we instantly love her.  but as the movie progressed, the story becomes more ominous, the yang to nightmare's yin.  the story of jack skellington is superficially scary, one of vampires, werewolves, and jellied brains. but at its core, the world of halloweentown is fun and friendly.  coraline looks like a fantastic dreamworld, but reveals to be a much truer nightmare.
although i think it was really the naked aged burlesque starlet that was too much for me.

perhaps it's that my friends now have children, or maybe that i'm maturing more myself, but i do think more about what i see.  mark was very surprised when, afterward, i mentioned that it was rated pg.  and i agree with him--treat this as a pg-13 movie.  and i think coraline knows it's for older kids.  it's a story for those who love neil gaiman: people like that guy down the hall here.  the publicity department didn't quite think to mention that part, however.
and, like the ring, don't feel safe even when you think you're safe.

with that said, there was a lot that i did like and love.  like corpse bride, i loved the bold, brilliant colors of the "other world".  i loved the other garden, loved that john linnel sang the other dad song.  i loved the bat dogs, the way things turned to sand, the mouse circus show, the design of the gloves that coraline liked.  wybie's motorcycle mask, the cat who disliked rats even the best days, the cotton candy cannons.  i liked their utilization of 3-d at times and how the other world deconstructed into a matrix-esque void.  i was even more impressed when i flipped through my american cinematographer issue and learned that that was not cg: the dissolution was actual set design.

i liked how everyone wasn't perfect at the end.  in fact, that was the idea: that "perfect" isn't really perfect at all.

perhaps it wasn't as dark as i recall.  but it was darker than i was expecting.
mostly, though, it was the old lady in the stage show that pushed me away.  definitely wasn't expecting that....

p.s. up comes out may 29th.  = )