“The first video news I watched on a cellphone was a smoke signal. I saw it in the back of a cab. The Pope had died, and CNN had its cameras trained on the chimney over St. Peter’s Square. Viewers were told to expect white smoke when the cardinals had elected his replacement.
The sight of this primitive signal on a screen the size of a Saltine in a taxi in New York City was mind-blowing. I peered into the machine in my hand. I could make out the image. I could understand it. It needed no translation.”
One of the best YouTube moments for me this year was the recut trailer for Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining.
Lately, trailers have become mockeries of themselves, either giving away too much of the movie (I feel like I’ve already seen all I need to of the new Bond) or falling into a formulaic pattern that often renders a good flick into generic drivel. It seems that very few films are willing to take a risk and get creative with how they promote their work, instead surrendering to the tried and true.
But all that aside, it turns out that the recut trailer as an online genre is alive and well with dozens of titles going under the knife for a new spin. Some are dreadful; others brilliant. Here are a few of my favorites:
Sleepless in Seattle as a horror.
Garden State as a thriller.
Swingers as a psycho drama.
Taxi Driver as a romantic comedy.
I have been well aware lately that my media viewing habits are turning increasingly from my television to the computer. Even those few shows that I do enjoy from the paltry mainstream offerings are generally viewed on my own time by downloading episodes from p2p and watching them on Quicktime.
And then there’s the Youtube phenomenon. I am a complete addict. The variety, freedom and sheer excitement of hunting down some rare or nostalgic clip takes the concept of channel surfing to a whole new level. It comes as no surprise that Youtube was just named Time Magazine’s “Invention of the Year” and its recent acquisition by Google for $1.65 billion only confirms its projected significance in the grand scheme of online evolution.
But the beautiful and possibly most important effect from this influx of available media is the availability in itself. An old clip of Laurel and Hardy for example suddenly finds new life. Great classics are discovered by a new generation. And footage that might have been lost forever, is digitally preserved (albeit in a compressed format that often makes it barely viewable).
Stepping away from Youtube for a moment, check out this contributor at Dailymotion named Alternativa who has over 150 videos featuring an amazingly rare and eclectic selection of music footage from artists ranging from the Pharoah Sanders Quartet to The Roots, to Art Blakey; not to mention a long time personal favorite: Santana live at Woodstock featuring one of the best drum solos I’ve ever heard. Far out.
A search for “skateboarding” on YouTube garners almost 70,000 results, which is not surprising seeing as the hand held video camera has been a required component of the sport since the very beginning. Most of the clips that you’ll find are homespun amateurs documenting clumsy kick flips off the sidewalk curb. But others such as Rodney Mullen, Daewon Song or Stefan Janoski, are pure poetry.