31 October 2014

Movies Starring Movies: Horror Movie Special


Halloween is finally upon us and who doesn’t like a scary movie on this night, of all nights? This has something of a twist, however.

The guys at Portal Party have taken a load of DVD covers and made them the actors in their horror homage. Will the heroine escape or will tonight turn into a blood soaked nightmare for one very unlucky movie?

The Tower of London Poppies: Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red

At the beginning of August a major art installation began to take shape on and around one of London’s most historic landmarks – the Tower of London.  Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red by ceramic artist Paul Cummins now dominates the whole area.  Since the longest-serving yeoman warder at the tower placed the first ceramic poppy in the summer it has been followed by hundreds of thousands of others. On 11 November, Armistice Day, there will be 888,246.  Each one represents a British or Commonwealth soldier killed during the First World War.

The project, which has sadly not been short of detractors, is simply breath-taking. A drop of red for each of the men who perished in what was supposed to be the war to end all wars, this artwork does not seek to lionize these soldiers but to solemnly remember them and their sacrifice. It is always, despite the naysayers, forward looking.  Each and every poppy has been bought by members of the public: six armed forces charities will benefit to the sum of over £1 million each, to assist and support ex-service men and women in the future.

Stop Worrying about Colony Collapse Disorder: Now we have New Bees


Why are bees dying? Our sibling site the Ark in Space today features a documentary about Colony Collapse Disorder.  However, we don’t need to worry about that, to be frank.  Thanks to technology we now have New Bees which are more efficient than their predecessors and, even better, we don’t have to worry about being stung anymore. Hurrah!

(Yes, this is for real. Honestly.)

Happy Halloween

Image Credit Kevin O'Mara

30 October 2014

Find Out What Farmers Have to Do to Make Cauliflower White

Call me ignorant (no, actually, don’t please) but I thought that cauliflower came to our markets and shops as nature intended.  I did not realise at all that, but for the intervention of our farmers, that they would be a different color.  Here, the lovely folks from How Does It Grow? travel to one of America's biggest organic farms to uncover the secrets of growing cauliflower.

Manhunt


Imagine if all the animals we, as a species, have killed over the millennia came back to exact their revenge, what shape would it take?  This is the question posed in Manhunt by Northern Lights.  It is a dark, surrealistic revenge fantasy of animals on humans for the mess they have made.  There are some early scenes of animals suffering so don’t watch if you are easily upset.


Get Your Handkerchief Out: You’re Going to Need It


A little girl wants to get a cake for her grandfather’s birthday but the family are poor and not able to afford it.  If you want something that will make you shed a tear and brighten up your day at the same time, you have probably come to the right place. Created for Share and Care, an initiative in Singapore to create ripple effects of kindness I am not ashamed to say this had me reaching for the hankies…

Lunar Leftovers: How the Moon Became a Trash Can

We hear about the amount of waste floating around space all the time. However, the biggest trash can outside of earth’s atmosphere is in fact the moon.

The moon has only been accessible for decades, rather than hundreds of years. However, in the short time available to humanity it is estimated that we have left over one hundred and seventy thousand kilos of debris on the surface of our once pristine satellite. Here are some of the more notable pieces of trash on the moon.

Luna 2 – 1959
If HG Wells and others were correct and there were civilizations on the moon then they would have expelled a communal gasp of horror in 1959 when the first piece of man made technology hit the moon dust. Looking now like some steam punk version of what we regularly send spinning in to space, Luna 2 was launched by the Soviets when the Cold War was at its height. The collision with the moon at least proved one thing – that our nearest neighbor in space has no appreciable magnetic field. To add insult to injury, half an hour after Luna 2 hit the moon, so did the third stage of its rocket.

29 October 2014

Ebola: A Poem for the Living


For many in Africa, Ebola is surrounded by misinformation and even superstition when it comes to treatment. This video, created by Firdaus Kharas and Brent Quinn is designed to educate those affected by or in the line of the virus in a non-coercive way and through a wholly African voice and as such has been broadcast in a number of languages – this is the English version and it’s heart-rending but beautifully and sensitively made.

A Girl Tries to Understand Why her Boyfriend Can't Talk to her Anymore: His Reason Will Surprise You!


And now for something quite French. We have all come to that certain point in a relationship when we sense that our partner may not be that for too much longer. Such is the case for Odile: she decides to confront long-term boyfriend Michel and ask him the question she has been longing to ask: why he can no longer talk to her. His answer will, I think, surprise you. Odile et Michel was directed by Danny Sangra and stars Antoine Gouy and the very pretty Flore Bonaventura.

Why Should We Remember the First World War?


You may have seen the sea of ceramic poppies outside the Tower of London which we will be featuring on Kuriositas this weekend.  The installation is known as Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red, and marks the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War. This video accompanies the display at the tower and asks you to ponder three questions.  See what your answers are.

28 October 2014

What Teddies Do While We Sleep...


There was no way I could pass by an animation with the title Mean Teddies without watching – and I have to say it didn’t disappoint.  Thanks to Tyler Novo, a student at Sheridan College, we get to glimpse in to the other life of our teddy bears, the one that we will hopefully never get to see.  For, while we sleep, that little collection of wool, cotton and thread is out fighting for our very existence.  Given the opposition, no wonder they have to be mean teddies!

Mount Nemrut – Home to Gods Beheaded

The Adiyaman Province of Turkey in the south east of the country is not wealthy – it is still classified as a developing rural region. Yet 25 miles from the small town of Kâhta the visitor discovers the remnants of once fabulous wealth.  High on the summit of Mount Nemrut is a huge but little visited necropolis, home to the beheaded gods of the past.

27 October 2014

If You Have Never Wanted to Visit Moscow, You Will After Watching This


Moscow in the summertime has never looked so good.  Timelapse and commercial maker Alexander Spirin takes us on a breathless ride through the capital of Russia taking in the sites such as Saint Basil's Cathedral, Novodevichy Convent and of course Red Square - as well as many other sights.  Seamlessly mixing time-lapse and hyperlapse, this is certainly a ride to remember.

Spooktacular: An Animated Alphabet


Here comes Halloween and for some reason, people seem to get a little lost for words let alone letters at this time of year. Consonants seem to go out of the window to be replaced by elongated vowel sounds uttered at ear-drum shattering volume and strangled-cat pitch. So, take a trip through a spooktacular alphabet created by motion designer Adam Osgood to remind you that all 26 letters are still available for use even on Halloween.

26 October 2014

The Hellbender: Giant Salamander of the United States

This is the only species of giant salamander to be found outside Asia – and it is called the hellbender.  With a name like that it’s an appropriate Halloween feature on our sibling site, the Ark in Space even though despite its name and size there is really nothing to be frightened of (apart from its name and its size – it can grow up to 30 inches in length!).  With its story, together with lots more pictures and a fascinating short documentary, head over to the Ark in Space.

Image Kerry Wixted

The Colors of Evil


Vivian is not a happy girl.  She is put upon bullied at school by one of the prettier girls and badly wants revenge.  Another horror movie trope is put in place and our expectations are raised! Good job, then, that Vivian has Devil Summoning for Kids among her books at home.  Unfortunately, the devil that she summons isn’t quite what she was expecting.  However, if this animated short by Alyse Miller and Phillip Simon, teaches us – patience is a virtue. Oh, and possibly never judge a book by it cover too.

The Colors of Evil was created by the pair as part of the Computer Animation Program at the Ringling College of Art and Design in Florida. It’s a stunning job (who would guess this was a student film?) and bodes very well for what we might expect from Miller and Simon in the future.

The History of Horror Movies


Horror movies have now had over a hundred years of frightening the lives out of us and here John P Hess introduces their history, from the books which inspired them to the way that they evolved throughout the decades.  This is a fascinating look at a genre which, come Halloween, is always a staple of TV schedules all over the world.  Grab some popcorn and take in the visual history of horror movies.

Running the Gammatar


When you are a self-absorbed 20-something with a huge sense of entitlement little is going to get in the way of the centering of life, the universe and everything around Number One.

That includes the Gammatar, the giant, fire-breathing Japanese monster (Jabba the Hutt must have had a fling with Godzilla, methinks) which has been bringing terror and barbecue to the streets of the city for months.  Written and Directed by Joe Kramer, Running the Gammatar is as much about monstrous egos as it as about the monster. It's also wry, funny, perceptive and doesn't take itself at all seriously (well, we're in trouble if it does), in striking opposition to its protagonists.

25 October 2014

The Incredible Glasswing Butterfly

It never ceases to stagger me what nature can come up with and the glasswing butterfly is just that – staggering.  The name speaks for itself – the glasswing’s claim to fame is that its wings, spanning up to six centimeters, are almost completely transparent. That’s right, you can see just about right through them.  The Ark in Space, our sibling site, has a feature today on this extraordinary creature.

Image Credit Naz Dore

Watch as WiFi Unites Nine Musicians on the New York Subway for a Memorable Performance


Writer, director and video editor Chris Shimojima and his team searched New York City for a variety of subway musicians to unite for a live experiment. They stationed them at nine different subway stops with wifi and had them simultaneously connect to composer Ljova. He led them in a performance of Signal Strength, an original piece he wrote for them.  The result is an arresting piece of performance art which you don't get to see every day of the week by any means.

Wake Up Call


I can’t count the times this has happened to me – metaphorically at least.  I am awoken from my reverie (usually in front of a PC) by the phone ringing and, as I tend to sit in positions most would consider awkward, this wake up call often leads to sudden and inexplicable contortions which I could never do if I simply attempted them without the shock of the sudden noise.  Watch this animated short by Kevin Jackson if you are still not sure what I mean.

When the End of the World Becomes a Love Story


Although I am the first to revel in the gore-fest that is The Walking Dead, the end of the world does not necessarily have to be all about which body parts can splatted the most distance – and Eric Nichols’ short film The Survivors shows that the zombie apocalypse (or whatever disaster has befallen us this time!) can be an opener for a relationship to begin and blossom.  Shot amid the dazzling Colorado landscape, it’s a languid glimpse at how, when catastrophe comes calling, so can love.

24 October 2014

Living Rock – Massive Monuments Carved In Situ

Most buildings and sculptures are made out of stone which is quarried and then taken somewhere else to be carved or used in construction. Not so these places, where the sculpting took place on site to give us some of the most remarkable sites in the world.

The Giant Buddha, Leshan
China has many a Buddha dotted throughout its extraordinary landscapes but the Giant Buddha of Leshan is unique in that it was carved directly out of the cliff face. The sculpture, which is seventy one meters (or over three hundred feet) tall dwarfs the tourists that flock to see it. It is positioned so that it faces Mount Emei and stands at the meeting place of three rivers.

19 October 2014

India Timelapse


This is a fascinating time lapse of the sights of Tamil Nadu in India.  The area (which is the size of Greece) is home to almost seventy million people and has been the home of the Tamil civilization for three and a half thousand years. The capital, Chennai, is perhaps more familiar to some by its old name - Madras.  It is home to many enormous Hindu temples built in the dravidian style.

The timelapse is the work of Visualmondo and is accompanied by a sound track is accompanied by perhaps the most different version of Johnny Cash's Ring of Fire (by Ramesh Weeratunga) that you will ever hear.  Altogether it makes for intriguing viewing.

Lavatory Lovestory


It is said that some men lead lives of quiet desperation - and the same could be said of some women too.  I must say that the title of this Oscar nominated animated short film did put me off a little but I should not have worried that I was going to see something that I would have preferred not to.

It tells the story of a single, middle aged lady who works as a lavatory attendant.  To all intents and purposes it looks as if there is little else in her life but her mundane job and she longs for company.  Making matters worse, of course, is that she is surrounded by unavailable men for the duration of her working day.  Then, one day, she finds flowers in the jar that is used to collect the payment for using the facility.  Is her life about to change?

I never thought that the words toilet and charming would go together, but this really is.  Simply drawn in black and white (except for, well - you will see) this animated short film has pathos and humanity in buckets (and it has buckets too, believe me!).

It was created by the Melnitsa Animation Studio, which is based in St Petersburg in Russia.  You may know them for the animated feature film Little Longnose which was released in 2004. It was directed by Konstantin Bronzit and produced by Alexander Boyarsky and Sergey Selyakov.

Enjoy!

18 October 2014

A Fisher Cat is Haunted by all the Worms it has Killed


Halloween is almost upon us so you can expect a few more shivers than usual at Kuriositas.  This is by the Tom Fun Orchestra and is for the title track from their latest album Earthworm Heart and animated by Alasdair and Jock from Trunk Animation.  Although most cats would heartily disagree despite the fate of this feline fisher, perhaps vegetarianism is an option after all.

13 October 2014

A Typical San Francisco Morning


San Francisco has never looked more stunning than in this wonderful aerial project shot by Toby Harriman during two morning flights during the month of October.

As you glide over the city you get a feeling of what we can achieve as a species – but for me it was the fog, rolling through the streets and around the tall buildings, that I will remember. Just gorgeous.

Hitchhiker


Liam and Aurora are meteor spotters and on their way to Lake Frost when they bump in to – literally – a rather odd hitchhiker.  They soon begin to wonder what they have let themselves in for as they near the lake as their passenger, not to mention those in other cars, act more than a little strangely.  Hitchhiker is an entertaining animated short by a group of LISAA students.

Pray You Never Have an Anniversary like This One


May I make a suggestion? Don’t watch this if you are either feeling a little squeamish or if it is your wedding anniversary today, particularly the latter.

Itches come in many shapes and forms when it comes to marriage but it’s fairly rare, when it comes to thoughts of separation, for one partner to imagine herself alive and the other dead. However, such is the case with the individuals who make up this couple: after ten years, this lady wants to cut her losses (rather literally, I'm afraid - and take that as a warning), and call time on her marriage – not to mention her husband. 

Written and directed by Jonathan Mills, Anniversary has something of an unexpected twist in its tail and one of the best last lines I have heard for quite a while.

If you enjoyed this, then why not check out another film by Jonathan that we have featured on Kuriositas, A Short Film about Love and Fate and Death.

12 October 2014

UK Teachers to Swear Oath: They Already Do, Regularly!

Here in the UK the shadow Minister for Education Tristram Hunt has just spent five minutes in Singapore (where teachers are respected to the point of idolization) and decided that back in the UK they should all swear an oath – to emphasize the moral calling and the noble profession of teaching.

Well, Mr Hunt, teachers in the UK swear oaths regularly – and above are just a few of them.  Yet I think that this idea could be amenable at some point in the future – just as soon as politicians take an oath to work to ethical standards.  What do you say, Tris?

Here are a few of the responses at #teacheroath





Here is one way it could be done!

When The Time Comes


The semi-nomadic Samburu tribe of Kenya still practices female circumcision, despite the fact that it was made illegal in 2003 by the Maputo Protocol (which was ratified by 37 African countries).  However, slowly but surely brave women (with the support of a number of men) are speaking up for their rights and demanding that their daughters are not put through this coming of age ritual any longer.

This may sound like something of a depressing way to spend ten minutes of your time, but I guarantee that you will be uplifted by this very human story.  The debate among the tribespeople is intergenerational with one of the male village elders (inadvertently, I think) giving the game away when he says that a circumcised woman is easier to control – and that is, ultimately what this ritual is all about.  One woman cleverly counters this with an argument with which few red-blooded men would be inclined to disagree.

Beautifully directed by Charles Gay, this short documentary shows a usually hidden side of a secluded culture – it is very brave of these women simply to talk about the subject let alone commit their opinion to film.  It also reveals a colorful and vibrant culture in the throes of change. The amazing traditional clothing worn by the often very beautiful Samburu women is a feast for the eyes, while the subject gives us much food for thought.

Forward March!


When you are proudly marching through the streets in your ceremonial uniform, the one thing that tops off your general resplendence is the bearskin, the tall fur cap that has been used by the guards regiments of the British Army for centuries.  However, when one of the bearskins takes on a life of its own, there may be trouble ahead.

Created by students at ESMA in France, Forward March gently ribs the British (yet the propensity for tea at a certain time might be said to help save the day here).  However, it’s the crazy bearskin come alive that steals every scene here.  Pierrick Barbin, Rimelle Khayat, Loïc Le Goff, Guillaume Lenoël and Garrick Rawlingson are the students responsible for Forward March. So, if Mr Angry of Tunbridge Wells is reading this, those are the names you may wish to include in your hopping-mad missive to the French Embassy…

Sunday Short Movie: Barbie Boy


Bobby’s parents are very understanding – he enjoys playing with Barbie and Ken dolls rather than with robots and soldiers – although his father warns him that other boys might not be quite so empathetic when it comes to his choice of toys. However, they mostly leave him to it.

However, Bobby recognizes that his choice of toy does not truly meet with their approval.  He goes on a personal journey to discover what he should be playing with. Barbie Boy is about growing up, identity, and the delicate balance of letting go.

Directed by Nick Corporon, this is a coming of age tale that many boys will recognize but perhaps will not so readily admit. A short film about growing up, identity, and the delicate balance of letting go, Barbie Boy has been shown at festivals around the world. 

It was also the recipient of the Alfred C. Kinsey Award for its major contribution to the discussion of gender.

11 October 2014

The Stairs to Nowhere

Most people are familiar with the expression the road to nowhere, but the stairs?  It does not seem to have made it in to the vast panoply that is English idiom in quite the same way as its more metaphorically obvious relation. Yet perhaps we should make room among the myriad of English expressions for one more. After all, stairs to nowhere are more common than you might at first imagine.

God Only Knows the BBC Music Launch Video Must Have Cost a Fortune


...But now I have got that off my chest I can just revel in the whole 'spot the famous singeriness' of it all.  Although,  goodness only knows how much it really did cost to bring all these famous faces together in one video. That is not to mention the fact that we should now, on some sort of subliminal cultural level, be bored to tears with this kind of self-satisfied celebrity orgy.

So what, you might be thinking - but if you live outside the UK you may not realize that the BBC is funded by the British taxpayer and this video no doubt brought the Mr and Mrs Angries out in force to complain about its unjustified cost.  Well, I'm not going to try and justify it either but as I'm generally happy with the BBC as long as they keep making new episodes of Doctor Who, I'm going to let it pass..

All told there are 27 icons of twenty and twenty first century music singing their little hearts out for the launch of BBC Music.

Created in collaboration with The Mill by director Francois Rousselet it is, admittedly, lovely to look at and not at all a bad cover of one of the best songs ever written, The Beach Boys’ God Only Knows.

You might be wondering exactly who is who in the video, so here are the names of the stars appearing in it.  Accompanying Brian Wilson, the song’s writer, are Sir Elton John, One Direction, Stevie Wonder, Pharrell Williams. Jake Bugg, Lorde, Emeli Sandé, Chris Martin, Kylie Minogue, Paloma Faith, Sam Smith, Florence Welch, Chrissie Hynde, Brian May, Dave Grohl, Alison Balsom, Martin James Bartlett, Danielle de Niese, Nicola Benedetti, Eliza Carthy, Baaba Maal, Jamie Cullum, Jaz Dhami, as well as the BBC’s Zane Lowe, Lauren Laverne, Katie Derham, Gareth Malone and Jools Holland.

Phew.

Breakfast in Paris


When you are a teenager you might be tempted to skip breakfast.  However, when you are from a certain city and, moreover, your mother has superhero powers, you had better not forget breakfast in Paris. This is a very capably made animated short by a group of French students who obviously know better than to leave home in the morning without having had their petit déjeuner.

Morgan Freeman Narrates the Greatest Story of Our Generation


This is an interesting video simply for the fact that there seems to be no ulterior motive other than encouraging us to do something to help save the planet before it is too late for us as a species. Morgan Freeman narrates the greatest story of our generation – and I have to say, it is difficult to argue with hyperbole sometimes.  It was created by Films for Action, a community-powered learning library for people who want to change the world.

Thunderbirds 3 Recreated in Balloons to Celebrate the Show’s 50th Anniversary

Thunderbirds started filming half a century ago this year and although it was not first broadcast until 1965, events are already starting to happen to celebrate its fiftieth anniversary.  And how do many choose to do that? Why, with balloons of course!

10 October 2014

If Driving Instructors Dread the Teenage Test Now, Watch What Happens When Cars Can Fly


Even when flying cars have (finally) been invented there will still be teenagers desperate to pass their driving test and instructors even more desperate to get them out of their vehicle.

So when serial-failer Gavin’s test date rolls round again, Hank hopes this might be the last time he sees him. An unexpected passenger puts the proverbial cat among the pigeons in Crash Course, an entertaining short from students at the Media Design School in Auckland, New Zealand.

Animator vs. Animation IV: The Stick Figure Goes for Facebook


The stick figure fighting the desktop thing is back in its fourth installment.  This time, however, it’s creator Alan Becker’s Facebook account he is after, not to mention traveling onto his iPhone via USB cord, and drawing animations of his own to dismantle the animation interface. 

Can Alan avoid the destruction of another computer and restore some balance to the stick universe? You had better watch and see.

Oh and don’t be put off by the length – this is something with real pathos: it also has lots of gratuitous stick figure violence too, of course. This is something which wraps the series off beautifully.... if, indeed, it is truly the end...
Amung Feedjit
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