I started using my GoPro recently, so I decided to put up two of my old hiking videos that I re-uploaded starting with this one. I hope to start recording each hike and putting it up on my YouTube channel. To avoid copyright issues, I have simply used the public domain music directly available from YouTube themselves.
Recently I was offered the chance to become a contributor to Lisa Marie Bowman’s blog Through the Shattered Lens. I took her up on the offer. At present, that is where you can find my writing. I have no intention of shutting down this blog, but I’ll have to think about what I want to post here that I won’t post on the other site. You can follow this link to see all that I have posted.
I know I haven’t posted here in awhile so let me catch you up. I completed TSPDT’s Top 1000 in 2014 and I’m now officially out as a transsexual. Onward!
Four years ago I got my panties in a twist over music videos not really being in IMDb. I don’t know why I even thought of it, but once I did, I realized it was ridiculous that they weren’t there. They’re just a short film. I purposely picked one I knew I could argue for. In this case, I chose Metallica’s music video for their song One. That’s the one that pieces black and white footage of the band playing their anti-war song together with the early 70s anti-war movie Johnny Got His Gun. Of course I met resistance. If you’re curious, here’s the thread.
I stopped pushing too easily, but I checked a year or so later and it was in the database. The other night I wondered if maybe IMDb had changed their policy. I looked up Buddy Holly by Weezer which was directed by Spike Jonze and it was there. I thought maybe something had changed. So, once again, I picked a video I could argue in favor of if necessary. I went with Take On Me by Ah-ha directed by Steve Barron (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles). It was accepted in about 20 minutes. I submitted another one and it was accepted again. I kept going. When I submitted Total Eclipse Of The Heart by Bonnie Tyler directed by Russell Mulcahy (Highlander) I refreshed their new contribution tracker and it was instantly accepted. A few days in to submitting I was told to keep it up by two data editors at IMDb, but to follow a couple of conventions:
Mark it as “Made for video”
Set the genres to “music” and “short”
Make the title “Artist: Song”
I was fine with that at the time and continued to submit. I use the movie social network Letterboxd. I am hardly a heavy user, but enjoy it. The site pulls it’s data from TMDb. It’s another movie database that doesn’t use an editorial staff to check over user submitted content. It’s like Wikipedia in that sense. I started adding videos there that I wanted to mark as being seen on Letterboxd. When I started doing this, a lady who I had just recently met on Letterboxd pointed out that she once had a list composed of Michael Jackson videos that had been gutted because someone manipulated the data on TMDb and thus, Letterboxd destroyed those entries. I didn’t think a whole lot of it. Figured if it came up, then I would deal with it then.
It came up. I was having difficulty adding any crew members that worked on a film other then the ones who were in the art department. I went to the TMDb forums and explained I was having difficulty adding directors to music videos. They explained what to do which was fine, but the mention of music videos also received a response. Of course, I started to defend their inclusion. The idea of them being there wasn’t too big of a deal. I mean IMDb allows it, so it seems they were pretty much okay with it. Not entirely, but pretty much. What got things really going was that they wanted them marked as video. Just like IMDb does. It wasn’t an issue for me with IMDb, but Letterboxd doesn’t import things that are marked as video. Now it was an issue. You can see it here.
None of their arguments hold water, but they seem to want to follow IMDb and it looks like they don’t want to possibly anger their customer: Letterboxd. That, I understand. Well, I don’t understand the need to follow IMDb because they already aren’t doing that, but the financial issue I do understand. I guess it’s time to go talk to both IMDb and Letterboxd, but before I possibly do that, I wanted to put down some things here. Mainly, I want to bring up some of the arguments against the inclusion of music videos and marking them as “made for video”. Some of these are ones that have actually been presented to me, and others I am anticipating. Please do leave any you can think of in the comments.
There must be millions of them and the database can’t handle it.
I have a degree in EECS (Electrical Engineering and Computer Science). Databases aren’t easy, but we also live in 2015 where very large scale databases are doable. IMDb must add enormous amounts of titles and data every single day and their searches are faster than ever. What was the last amount of videos in terms of their lengths added up that are uploaded to YouTube per day? This is a technical issue that if you can’t deal with, then excluding music videos is not going to save you.
We don’t include music videos for the same reason we don’t include home movies, student films, and similar things.
Someone at IMDb told me this. Luckily, I know full well they do. Anyone who knows Stan Brakhage knows the film Window Water Baby Moving. It is a home movie he shot of his wife giving birth to their first child. Student films? What about Killer of Sheep by Charles Burnett? He made it while he was a student at UCLA. So, obviously they do accept them under certain conditions. I’ll come to that one last.
But Killer of Sheep won an award
To name one, MTV has held award ceremonies for music videos since 1984. Music videos do win awards.
But MTV has a vested economic interest and thus it’s awards aren’t as valid as say, Cannes
Did anyone watch the Grammys this year? Notice when they stopped for a speech about how apparently artists are being ripped off left and right and as an industry they plan to go to Congress and manipulate copyright law in their favor? Felt like it was the late 90s again. Where was Lars Ulrich? Didn’t need him cause artists in the audience were bobbing their heads. Award shows are tied to economic interest for the things they are giving awards to. It doesn’t render the awards meaningless.
But if we add music videos, then people will want to add things like commercials and trailers
Boo hoo! It’s probably only a matter of time before someone wants to take up that fight. They’re just short films designed to sell something. Kind of like The Wizard, which was a feature length ad for Super Mario Bros. 3 and the Power Glove. Yeah, remember that one! What about Warner Bros. Silver Jubliee? It’s a short film that advertises the studio and it’s movies, also known as a commercial. And of course there’s the film that’s considered to be the first film advertisement. It’s called Dewars Scotch Whiskey on IMDb. It came out in 1897. Commercials have been a part of film since the beginning. Oh, and as for music videos possibly being ads themselves. Remember that music videos actually give you the product in it’s entirety and add value with the video. I don’t think people think of ads this way.
Trailers? Does anyone even have to be reminded of that trailer they would swear was a different movie from what they saw in theaters? Not to mention the trend in the past ten years or so of making fake trailers to make a film appear to be something it isn’t. I love the one for The Shining that makes it looks like a family comedy. I think of movies that are entirely made from another movie. Jacques Rivette recut Out 1 to make Out 1: Spectre. Oh, and there is also Rose Hobart and Alone. Life Wastes Andy Hardy made up of clips from other films. Movies recut from other movies to tell you something that isn’t necessarily what the film it’s cut from is about. But I’m not here to argue for the inclusion of trailers. Someone else’s fight.
But then people will claim any video clip on YouTube or Vimeo is a valid entry
Again, boo hoo! Simple put, doing something that doesn’t make sense in the hope that it will avoid a debate down the road is nonsense. Besides, what constitutes a film is always in debate and flux. Not submitting music videos and marking them as “made for video” isn’t going to do anything about that issue.
When was the last time you saw a music video at a film festival?
Well, you got me there. I have never attended a film festival. I don’t have any interest and I’m disabled. But I think the people who attended, or will attend these film festivals probably have or will:
And these are just a few I grabbed from the first page of Google results for “music video film festival”.
But notice they specially list them as music videos. Even though they are similar, they are distinctly different.
Yes, and they also label shorts, features, documentaries, animated, dramatizations, and other types of films separately. Last time I checked, both the Academy Awards and the Golden Globes make all these distinctions in the awards they hand out.
We mark them as “made for video” because they have video in the name
Seems absurd, but it’s the only reason I can think of. When I see something marked as “made for video”, then I think of DVD or VHS collections of films that have been released. Not the films themselves! Does anyone remember going to the store or receiving music videos on VHS or DVD in the mail? Sure, you can buy collections, but in reality, you mainly saw them on TV. They were made for TV just like any TV movie or series. Today we also get them through video streaming services like YouTube and Vimeo. Maybe since we call them YouTube videos? But the Angry Video Game Nerd series is just a bunch of YouTube videos. I know James Rolfe makes them available elsewhere, but that’s like claiming your main source of music videos wasn’t MTV in the 80s and 90s. Yet, here is AVGN listed as a TV Show on IMDb. And it’s not alone. We call this adapting to the times. Why are we adapting here and not on music videos? Human nature. How many progressive things can you think of that should have made something just as valid because something else was just marked as valid, but people fight you to the death about it?
We mark music videos as “made for video” because they never had a screening
You mean like when they were shown on TV? Like a TV Movie is? I doubt anyone would make this claim, but I’m grasping at straws for why people seem to want to fight like the fate of the world is at stake over this label of “made for video”.
But directors like Michel Gondry started making music videos then evolved into feature length film directors
Like a Pokemon? Look up just about any director and you’ll probably find that they started with shorts. Many keep making shorts while doing features. But of course it’s a specific kind of short we are talking about called music videos. Well, Spike Jonze and David Fincher still do music videos. Oh, and I mentioned Michel Gondry because that’s the specific example I was given for a director who started in music videos then evolved. Except, he still makes music videos.
But these are only directors who started with music videos
Did you know Brian De Palma and William Friedkin made music videos after already being established directors? Yeah, De Palma actually directed Bruce Springsteen’s Dancing In The Dark. You know, that one with that actress named Courteney Cox. De Palma did it because he was a huge fan of Springsteen. According to IMVDb, Friedkin made three of them. One for Laura Branigan’s Self Control, Wang Chung’s To Live And Die In L.A., and Barbra Streisand’s Somewhere.
But IMVDb already handles music videos
And I’m sure Hong Kong Movie Database does a great job too. Does that mean we shouldn’t have movies from Hong Kong? Of course not. Besides, do you think Huong Hoang sued IMDb because not many people would notice her age was published there? Of course not. She sued because IMDb is the place everyone goes to find who has done what in the entertainment industry. Before music videos were allowed at all, these things were relegated to a smattering of text in the “other works” section. Yeah, check that section recently? You know, maybe in the place it doesn’t exist in the iOS apps. Since at least 1981, many people have worked to make these short films. They deserve to be properly credited in IMDb and elsewhere. Simply put, they are robbed of this by music videos not being included. Then if they are included, they are told their work must be set aside from all other films simply because they happen to be a particular kind of short film. In this case, that means a social network for movies like Letterboxd acts like they don’t exist.
Lack of story?
Pat Benatar’s Love Is A Battlefield tells a story. Just to name one.
Lack of dialogue?
Again, Pat Benatar’s Love Is A Battlefield. It was the first one to do it, back in 1983. MTV started in 1981.
Too straightforward? They’re often people just performing.
And musicals are any different? Remember Herbie Hancock’s Rockit? I’d call that a fine piece of experimental filmmaking set to a good jazz fusion song.
How many can you name? How about Soul Asylum’s Runaway Train or Pearl Jam’s Jeremy. I sure remember Madonna’s Like A Prayer making a big impact. Maybe N.W.A’s Straight Outta Compton? I’m sure a few women felt a little empowerment at seeing a Salt ‘N’ Pepa video like Let’s Talk About Sex. Feel free to add yours in the comments. I’m sure you can think of ones that are much better than these.
I was actually told that tradition is a reason. Just because something has been done for a long time doesn’t mean it’s correct. This is true for something small to things of great social significance. I know it’s like whipping out the Nazi example any time someone says they were just doing as they were told, but it was tradition for blacks to be slaves. A strong one too. Women as chattel? Oh, and a tradition we are still getting out from under: people who are transgender are mentally ill or at least confused as is often said of kids who figure it out while they are still children.
The big and final argument.
I have been told by IMDb that public interest is the ultimate deciding factor whether something is allowed into the database. What do you think people are watching on YouTube in droves? There’s a reason MTV came into existence and why we now have things like Vevo. People have a lot of interest in music videos. You can come up with reason after reason that satisfies public interest.
Why is there any debate over whether music videos should be allowed into any general movie database?
Why do we strangely mark them as “video”?
I don’t know. I don’t get it. For crying out loud, Super Mario Bros. 3 is in IMDb, but these particular brands of short films either are left out or marked as something they aren’t.
That’s enough for now.
Until recently, I had never seen an Esther Williams movie. I knew that she was famously called the “bathing beauty”, and was known for her swimming, but that was the extent of my knowledge. I decided to rectify this and went to Netflix to see which films of hers that they had. There were 14 of them. They went right into my queue. Last night I finished number 14 and I want to jot down a few things about Williams.
Esther was just okay as a dancer, singer, and actor. She was magic in the water. Despite this obvious fact, MGM kept putting her into roles that kept her on dry land. It’s no surprise that Million Dollar Mermaid is the best film I watched because they kept her in the water. A friend of mine said that maybe she was afraid of being typecast, but I doubt she had the kind of clout in Hollywood to do that. I think Hollywood just didn’t know what to do with her so they came up with a few swimming scenes, then wrapped a generic film around them. While Million Dollar Mermaid was the best Esther Williams film I have seen, she was best not only in the water, but when it was a fantasy sequence. This would mean full hair and makeup combined with an orgasm inducing swimsuit. After watching as many of her films as I have, you feel frustrated that Hollywood consistently avoided playing to her strength. I don’t need to see her next to a comedic Red Skelton, or a romantic Ricardo Montalban, or listen to yet another song from Xavier Cugat. I just want to watch her swim.
Still on a pre-code binge!
Sorry about the lack of screenshots, but I recently got a hospital bed and have become addicted to watching on the TV as a result. As you’ll notice, I’ve been watching a lot of pre-codes. I love them so much! Oh, and coming soon, I am going to do a sequel to the Deanna Durbin punishment posts with a series Esther Williams punishment articles. I think I can get my hands on about 16 of her films.
1. The Dark Knight Rises (2012) – Not Recommended: More like the Dark Knight takes an elephant-size dump on its viewers. This movie is garbage. It’s no better than Lincoln or Iron Man 3. In fact, it’s worse because we actually have high expectations going in to it. What were they thinking following up a well-made film noir with this cartoonish comic book shit? Joseph Gordon-Levitt is completely unbelievable as a cop. Catwoman doesn’t even belong in this iteration of Batman. She simply cannot be taken seriously and just reminds us of how bad the film is with every frame she appears in. Batman spends the majority of the film ruminating and being fed spiritual claptrap from wisemen stereotypes instead of doing anything. Bane struts around like an ass, then disappears while we are supposed to be overwhelmed by the “revolution”, except we’re already lost to the film and are laughing our assess off at its incompetence.
The only redeeming thing about Christopher Nolan’s unholy piece of crap is Bane’s voice. That’s it. This movie is a joke.
2. Distant (2002) – Approach With Caution: You just end up talking to the screen, saying things like, “He’s watching TV next to a pillar rather than talking to the other guy…DISTANCE!” It’s very brick to the head obvious and pretty boring with a few nice landscape shots thrown in for beauty.
3. Vampyros Lesbos (1971) – Not Recommended
4. The Last of the Mohicans (1936) – Worth A Look
5. Trial by Trigger (1944) – Worth A Look
6. Funny Games (1997) – Not Recommended: Was that supposed to be startlingly or horrifying? To me, it was just boring. Predictable as clockwork.
7. Bridesmaids (2011) – Approach With Caution: Enough poorly done low brow humor that it drags down the whole film.
8. Bad Boys (1983) – Recommended: A good, realistic, no highbrow BS look at juvenile prison. I enjoyed it. Sean Penn did a good job in the lead and I loved Clancy Brown in a supporting role.
9. Bad Teacher (2011) – Worth A Look
10. The Castle (1999) – Recommended
11. Dirigible (1931) – Worth A Look: The scenes at the South Pole are something to behold. Great cinematography and unusually good performances for the 1930s. Worth slogging through the stupid parts for the extraordinary ones.
12. Roaming the Emerald Isle with Will Rogers (1927) – Approach With Caution
13. Chaplin Shorts: Kid Auto Races at Venice Beach (1914); Cruel, Cruel Love (1914); Tango Tangles (1914); The Star Boader (1914); His Prehistoric Past (1914); A Film Johnnie (1914); His Favorite Pastime (1914); Between Showers (1914); His Trysting Place (1914): They are all pretty much an approach with caution.
14. The Last Flight (1931) – Highly Recommended: This is shockingly good. It follows several post-WWI pilots as they drink their way from Paris to Lisbon along with a beautiful woman. The film does a good job showing how the men have had their eyes open to horrors they won’t forget and how their bodies and minds have been changed so they can’t forget. An example of how the pre-code era was a mini Hollywood Renaissance. A must see of the period.
15. Central Airport (1933) – Worth A Look
16. The Story of Film: An Odyssey (2011) – Not Recommended: It gets a little better in the last 5 parts, but this really is one of the worst documentaries I have ever seen. It’s incredibly biased, heavy-handed, and ill-informed. And that’s coming from someone who has watched the documentary I Love Dollars where the director spends an inordinate amount of time showing us a financial institution’s front door because it has a street address of 666.
There is no reason to see this awful documentary. You can find the films to see elsewhere. And any teacher who shows it should be ashamed of themselves.
The story of film is not one of innovation. It’s a history. That means what happened, happened, and sometimes that means steps backwards, to the sides, and even in crazy zig zag patterns. Also, there is nothing super special about a particular time or place. Good, bad, and innovative film is made everywhere and at anytime. Don’t let your mind and film education be constrained by one man’s narrow and biased view. Mine included.
I disliked this movie enough that I made a little parody:
17. Private Lives (1931) – Highly Recommended: Fucking amazing! One of the finest pre-codes I have seen in a long time. It’s loaded to the hilt with things that couldn’t be done a few years before, and certainly couldn’t be done under the code. Norma Shearer and Robert Montgomery are hilarious as a former couple who were once married. They meet while they are on their honeymoons with their new spouses, and run away together.
Great movie, and an essential for anyone studying film. This film is the pre-code era in a bottle.
18. Complicated Women (2003) – Worth A Look: A decent TCM documentary about pre-code Hollywood.
19. Washington Merry-Go-Round (1932) – Recommended: This isn’t a great film, but wow! It’s relentless in the way it indicts the US government for being corrupt. This is another classic example of a film that couldn’t be made after the production code. It ends with the main character telling someone there’s a gun in a drawer and you should probably use it, he does, and then an arm is extended around a girl for this happy suicide ending.
I love pre-codes!
20. The Merry Wives of Reno (1934) – Highly Recommended
21. The Merry Widow (1934) – Recommended
22. The Tenderfoot (1932) – Approach With Caution: This is a shitty pre-code. Enough said.
23. The Lost Squadron (1932) – Worth A Look
24. Topaze (1933) – Worth A Look
25. The Big Trail (1930) – Approach With Caution: Gorgeous cinematography that makes everything huge in scope. The fact that it is in widescreen helps too. Unfortunately, it’s pretty boring. Really boring, and the acting isn’t too good either.
26. Moby Dick (1930) – Approach With Caution: I thought the whale ate him at the end? It doesn’t in this one.
27. The Star Packer (1934) – Approach With Caution
28. The Lost Patrol (1934) – Recommended: An early implementation of the formula that says, “stick a bunch of people in an isolated location and have them picked off one by one by an unseen enemy.” It works, pretty much. Karloff is annoying and helps to ruin the film. John Ford could have also done much more to build tension and suspense. Still, quite good.
29. Jimmy The Gent (1934) – Approach With Caution
1. Emmanuelle Exposed (1981) – Not Recommended: Pointless and boring! The only thing of redeeming value in this movie is the upper crust Spaniard gentleman who is so convinced of his superiority that he just knows he’s the best. He doesn’t look down on others, but he also can’t be convinced his beliefs are false. That includes when he gives a less than satisfactory performance in the sack. He is the narrator and is usually quite humorous. The rest, just stinks.
2. Iron Man 3 (2013) – Not Recommended: Granted, there was a mentally challenged guy who was disrupting the audience throughout the film. And granted, the theater failed to remove him despite being informed on three different occasions, by three separate people that he was making a lot of noise. However, this movie still sucks! A few laughs. There wasn’t much of the derided action that people are always complaining about in such films. Just boring Robert Downey Jr. out of the suit, doing impressions of himself in his old mug shots and calling it PTSD from the events of The Avengers. No thank you, get in the suit and kick some ass next time.
Oh, and hire better writers. It was nice to see Guy Pearce, but his villain was worthless. I’m not even sure I got a reason for what he was doing.
Yuck, and that’s all I have to say about that!
This is a not a good movie. The film is about the passage of the 13th Amendment. Major problems creep in because the film tries to also be about Lincoln and the Civil War, but ends up covering them in a half-assed manner. Lincoln is a two-dimensional joke that has a couple good speeches and a load of stupid little stories. It’s kind of sickening to see such a great man reduced to a caricature. And every other character is the same. Just oversimplified pawns in an uneven and unnecessarily comical presentation of one of the most important moments in the history of the United States. I was gonna give this film two stars, but the more write, the more I realize how much I disliked it. I wouldn’t recommend this film under any circumstances.
I can’t believe I am giving this film three stars, but in the last four minutes or so they played Roy Orbison and suddenly it worked for me.
Always nice to see the beautiful Lina Romay, but she alone can’t save this film.
Sad and beautiful. A people in chains because of backwards culturally and government instituted rules. In many ways, horrifying.
It’s basically a shot for shot Turkish remake of the episode from The Original Series with the shapeshifting monster who needs salt. The only difference is that a Turkish bum is brought from the past and thrown into the mix. This is priceless. It actually means that the Turks adapted Star Trek into a film before the US did. Hilarious!
A lousy and very loose adaptation of Marquis de Sade’s Justine.
9. The King Of Kings (1927) – Recommended: I’m not what Elton John called a Jesus freak, but it’s always interesting to see how different directors handle the story of Christ. Particularly, how they handle Pontius Pilate and Judas. Pontius is portrayed as the guy who bends over backwards to try and not execute Jesus, but ultimately has his hands tied. Judas is not portrayed as evil, but someone who is only weak. I can understand why Scorsese tweaked his role in The Last Temptation of Christ. In that film, Jesus asks Judas to betray him because he knows that it must happen and none of the others have the stomach for it. It makes more sense then Jesus knowing Judas will betray him and will kill himself out of guilt. This film does an excellent job of telling the story without becoming big studio epic The Ten Commandments or the awful force it down your throat Song of Bernadette.
10. Schoolgirl Report Vol. 5: What All Parents Should Know (1973) – Approach With Caution: This is my third Schoolgirl Report film and they don’t get any better. They are the weakest and lamest form of soft core porn. They have their humorous moments, but it’s largely a waste of time.
And since I always prefer to show, rather than tell. Here is a sampling of some of the delicious junk I watched.
That pretty much brings you up to date. From now on this blog will not only be for movies, but for anything Valerie Troutman. Right now, that means film, hiking, photography, and hopefully Let’s Plays. I hope that’s ok with everyone. See you soon.
I wasn’t going to walk as far as I did. Honest, I wasn’t planning to choose the “peak” trail rather than the valley. Yet, I did both, and it was amazing. Briones Regional Park is one of the most beautiful places in the East Bay, and it’s big too. I have been back many times and I still have trails to explore.
After my trip to Briones, I did a little more park hopping, but mainly I stuck to hiking. It’s amazing how many places to hike there are in my area. I swear that Contra Costa county is really a giant park with squatters on it.
But hiking isn’t the only story here. Comcast lifted their data cap for me during this period and I wanted to see how much data I would actually use if I wasn’t worried about the cap. Also, there were good weeks where it was way too hot to hike and I didn’t have a choice but turn on Netflix instant streaming. It began with the Roger Corman/Traci Lords film called Not Of This Earth (1988). But it would get worse.
Much, much worse.