Last week saw the announcement that the National would be releasing a DVD chronicling the making of their most recent album, Boxer. Directed by Vincent Moon, the documentary should bring some of his visual aesthetic to a larger audience by making the leap from online auteur to commercial director. By and large this usually means good things for Moon, but what does it do for the prospects of online cinema? So far, the web has allowed people who normally would not have access to the funding required to produce commercial films the ability to create good enough quality films that speak to a more immediate concern.
Often times the direction of these films lean towards comedy, but more and more “serious” content is brought to the front of the portal. I am in no way arguing against Vincent Moon’s decision to move to a format that will garner the band a larger audience and may even legitimize himself as a director in the eyes of the old money who have just that. What I am disappointed in is the lack of options for a project like this to turn to.
The effort put into this project (judging by the exasperated comments in the trailer) demands a grand entrance into the world, an entrance the Internet is unable to deliver. Currently, there are some innovations in the music/film continuum online, but most content is created for offline purposes and will maybe use outlets online as a part of their distribution plan. Sites like iFilm and Metacafe make it easy for user-generated content to find an audience in a similar fashion to the gorillas of You Tube and Daily Motion. As for online film-making, Zoie Films is a good example of what an all-Internet film festival can be like. Now, I would always prefer to go to a film fest and see the content on the big screen, but if the film is made digitally then on your computer is just as good and even more appropriate.
But, since we here at LMB like music just a bit more than film, we are always asking how film can service music. This is why I chose to address this particular concept of an online cinema this week because I regularly watch two “channels” of online television that are forever utilizing the two media well. VBS TV has been around for a bit and is brought to you by the jaded folks at Vice, which also runs the magazine and the label. My only gripe with VBS is that they always feature the artists on their label. Black Lips gets a story in the mag and a filmed concert on the web. No big deal because Black Lips are great, but you have to ignore ethical concerns about objectivity. Vice has never adhered to any type of code, so it’s not really surprising or detrimental in the long run. Plus, they feature original content created exclusively for the site and often stray into non-music programs as their magazine does. VBS rarely disappoints and often surprises.
The new kid on the block is Pitchfork.tv. I have been enjoying this spin off site for the two weeks it has been live. Their collection of music videos on-demand grows every day and consists of both new and old videos, like they’re catching up on all the stuff that has ever been in a Forkcast. Like VBS, original content is the norm. They stole Juan’s Basement from Plum TV and they host various performances, special presentations and interviews in various locations. The issue of objectivity springs up again, as many have noted, how does a band say no to doing a performance for one of the largest taste-makers on the planet? Will Pitchfork only work with bands they give favorable reviews to? Maybe they should? It’s their prerogative as an independent company.
While The National may have made an excellent documentary, most of the online community will have to wait until it makes it to Pitchfork.tv’s One Week Only feature. Speaking of, the Air documentary is playing this week, which is very similar to Radiohead’s Meeting People is Easy except that the guys from Air take all the monotony and pressure like Frenchmen where the boys from Oxford (actually just Thom) freak out constantly.
Did I miss any sites that work as a utopian online cinema? Ones that actually feature great content and not the work of certain alums of American Movie?