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2FL Short & Video: Dave Gourdoux

Below is a collection of 2FL Short and Video reviews originally posted on 2FL's Facebook page.

February 5, 2013
2FL SHORT: TCM 31 Days of Oscar
by Dave Gourdoux

For movie history geeks like me, Turner Classic Movies (TCM) is a year round treasure. They not only show movies you can’t find anywhere else, they also treat every film they show, from the lousiest b-movie western to classic Bergman and Fellini, with the same respect. All movies are aired without commercial interruption, they run the credits at normal size and speed, and there are no annoying voice-overs or distracting animation or logos on the bottom of the screen. You get to see the movies how they were meant to be seen, and they’re never edited for content or running length.

February represents the best of TCM, as it runs its annual “31 Days of Oscar.” For 31 straight days, 
TCM shows only movies that received at least one Oscar nomination, from famous best picture classics to little seen and long forgotten gems that maybe only received an art direction or sound nomination. This year they are featuring films from a different studio each day, from Hollywood giants like Warner Brothers and MGM to lesser known studios like Walter Wanger Productions to Sweden’s Svensk Filmindustri.

TCM has created a web site with the complete schedule for the 31 days that includes, for each film, an article, a video clip, archived images, and a list of Oscar nominations. For us movie history geeks it’s an all you can eat buffet, for everyone else, it’s an opportunity to see some great films


November 13, 2012
2FL SHORT: The Temple of Air, by Patricia Ann McNair
by Dave Gourdoux

The Temple of Air, by Patricia Ann McNair, is a collection of short stories, loosely connected to each other by setting, a fictional Midwestern small town, and by characters who’s paths collide and intersect with each other over a roughly 40 year span. But the real thread connecting the stories is the distinctive voice of the author. McNair has a knack for bringing to life details that are achingly familiar - the slamming screen doors, the headlights illuminating the dotted line asphalt of the highways on the outskirts, the high school gymnasiums, the murmur and glow of distant televisions, the late afternoon shadows of an empty house – but her real gift is the creation of the deceptively familiar and complex characters who inhabit this fever dream of a landscape. It’s one thing to create characters we recognize, it’s remarkable when these characters consistently surprise us, when they make choices that are at first shocking but then, after we absorb it, we recognize as the only possible choice they could have made. McNair’s characters, like real people we know, are flawed and inconsistent, but she gives us enough information to understand the sources of the flaws and inconsistencies. From teenage kids at the carnival and the high school prom and on weekend visitations with divorced parents, to young married couples and middle aged cancer victims and survivors, they all are given psychological and emotional depth that makes the unexpected twists and turns her stories often take believable and credible. The stories are horrific and absurd and tragic. In the end, it’s the respect McNair has for these characters and their attempt to hang on to some shreds of faith against overwhelming odds and their ability to literally float above their circumstance that stays with you, that resonates and inspires.


2FL Short & Video: John Bloner, Jr.

Below is a collection of 2FL Short and Video reviews originally posted on 2FL's Facebook page.

May 2, 2013
2FL VIDEO: Jason Silva's The Beginning of Infinity
by John Bloner Jr.

When the Voyager space probes were sent on their missions, like the launching of a bottle into a cosmic ocean, said Carl Sagan, they carried discs with them that contain music (Mozart and Chuck Berry), spoken greetings from world cultures and images to represent our beautiful blue home. Should NASA or some private entrepreneur wish to fling another bottle into the deep dark galactic sea, I hope they send Jason Silva's reveries about art, science and wonder inside it, so other sentient beings may encounter this new breed of philosopher, billed as "Part Timothy Leary, part Ray Kurzweil, and part Neo from 'The Matrix". 


April 25, 2013
2FL VIDEO: Everything's Waiting for You
by John Bloner, Jr.

When the smash song "Downtown" chirped out of my sister's transistor radio in 1964, I became forever smitten with its singer, Petula Clark, the cherubic Brit who spread her optimism over the airwaves about a place with which I could identify. I was too young to know about love, heartbreak or the appeal of fast cars, but I knew of a place called "downtown" and somehow that part of town has held a special place in my heart ever since, due, in large part, to this song. Pet has rerecorded the song with the Saw Doctors and most recently, nearly 50 years after "Downtown" went up the charts, for her new album, "Lost In You". She's slowed the tempo, fitting for an evening stroll through the streets where "everything is waiting for you". Let's join her, won't you?


November 29, 2012
2FL VIDEO: Pat Metheny, Giulio Carmassi and "The First Circle"
by John Bloner, Jr.

Jazz guitarist Pat Metheny makes it look easy. His best compositions, of which there are many, seem effortless, spontaneous and instill a sense of the heartland (Metheny is a Missouri native), stitched with the bossa nova, the Beatles, and the music of Steve Reich. Metheny recorded "The First Circle" as the title track to his 1994 record and says it carries "a special feeling that is unlike anything else in our book." Metheny made his musical magic with the talents of keyboardist Lyle Mays, bassist Steve Rodby, drummer Paul Wertico and the astonishing wordless vocals of Pedro Aznar. Musician Giulio Carmassi cites Metheny as "his biggest musical influence growing up." Earlier this year, Carmassi created a cover version of "The First Circle", playing all of the instruments and singing the vocals by himself. It begins with the clapping of hands (a nod to Reich's early piece,"Clapping Music") and evolves over more than nine minutes with a transformative grace. It looks so easy and feels so good.

November 1, 2012
by John Bloner, Jr.

Australian mash-up artist, Nick Bertke, shouldn't need an introduction. His music videos on YouTube have reached 65 million views, and Disney, Pixar, and others have commissioned his work. Under the alias, Pogo, he cuts up visuals and sounds sourced from popular films such as "Alice In Wonderland", "Up" and "Toy Story" and creates new works from them, often repeating certain sonic textures, words and images.

Recently, he's applied his approach to the World Remix Project, whose purpose, in his own words, is to capture the "sights, sounds, voices and chords" of cities around the globe and "use them to compose and shoot a track and video for each major culture of the world". His creation, Kadinchey, transports the viewer over two and a half minutes to the Himalayan nation of Bhutan with its sounds of Tibetan bells, overtone chants, young and old voices, and colorful sights of sacred dances, prayer flags, temples, a tea ceremony and Bhutanese monks.

He told the website, Pro Video Coalition, this year, “My art simply continues a tradition that stretches back to the beginning of human culture. We make art out of what we find around us. I do that today with sonic and visual elements.”

October 9, 2012
2FL SHORT: The Power of the (Polish) Poster
by John Bloner, Jr.

Pity the poor theater poster. Either you're forgotten like many movies you promote or become a piece of memorabilia, more regarded for the price you command than the merits of your image.

In Poland, however, the art of the poster has played a vital role in graphic design. Smashing Magazine reports that Jan Wdowiszewski, organizer of the 1898 International Poster Exhibition, wrote of the "power of the poster to act like a mirror for society's physical and mental way of life." www.smashingmagazine.com/2010/01/17/the-legacy-of-polish-poster-design

The Website, The Vine.com, informs that Polish artists of the 1950s and 60s expressed themselves through poster design, escaping the watchful eye of communist officials because they were working for the studio. www.thevine.com.au/entertainment/movies/30-awesome-polish-movie-posters

View vintage Polish posters at www.polish-posters.co.uk

While the heyday of Polish posters may have passed, Polish artists continue to create works for film, theater, opera and exhibitions that not only promote art but become objects of art themselves. www.polishposter.com

September 27, 2012
2FL VIDEO: Trixie Whitley -- "I'd Rather Go Blind"
by John Bloner, Jr.

She's tiny, huddled over her guitar with a black hood up, like she's in a cave and wary of being discovered. Then . . . she opens her mouth to sing, "With my knife so dull, I'd kill it if I could." She kills this song, in the best possible way; she slays it, turns it upside down and shakes it for all its worldly good. Damn, she's good! She's more than good. She's nasty. She's Trixie Whitley, daughter of the late Chris Whitley, who at the age of 25, wears a voice that would have made Memphis Minnie nod in time and Big Mama Thornton dance around in her fancy dress. Here's Trixie singing "I'd Rather Go Blind" at the Bing Lounge in Portland, OR, accompanied by Daniel Lanois, her band mate in Black Dub. I'm looking forward to hearing a lot more of her music in years to come. Sing it, Trixie, and see my knees go weak. 

2FL Short & Video: Jenny Bootle

Below is a collection of 2FL Short and Video reviews originally posted on 2FL's Facebook page.

February 14, 2012
2FL SHORT: At Last by The Dø
by Jenny Bootle

All secret romantics will love “At Last” by The Dø – everyone’s favourite French-Finnish indie-pop duo! I confound you not to be charmed by this song’s music video.

The Dø have been performing together since 2005. “At Last” featured on their 2008 album, “A Mouthful”, which topped French charts. In 2011 they released their second album, “Both Ways Open Jaws Extended”.

Singer, Olivia Merilahti’s, sweet up-beat delivery of the song disguises its dark undertones so that the lyrics of the final verse only hit home after several listens.

2FL Short & Video: Tony Ramos

Below is a collection of 2FL Short and Video reviews originally posted on 2FL's Facebook page.

November 22, 2011
2FL SHORT: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
by Tony Ramos

With "The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao", Junot Díaz wrote a Pulitzer Prize winning novel about a 1st generation born Latino in the U.S. In it, we meet the fictitious young c
haracter, Oscar de León. Oscar is a young Latino who doesn't fit the stereotype that a lot of Latin men have. He is overweight, doesn't know how to dance, isn't smooth with the ladies, and to top it all off, he's a fantasy/science fiction nerd.

Throughout the novel, the narrator of the story (a college friend of Oscar's) named Yunior, chronicles Oscar's nerdy ways and his ever quest to find love with a girl ... any girl. The novel also includes chapters that deal with Oscar's sister Lola, his mother Belicia's tragic life in the Dominican Republic, and his grandfather Abelard's trouble with a dictatorship government.

This prestigious novel is touching, funny, and heartbreaking. It full of Latin energy, experiences, and language (Diaz uses a lot of bilingual language). Nevertheless, readers from any cultural background will truly enjoy this novel because it is full of characters seeking the most universal of human desires. The desire to be accepted. More importantly, the desire to be loved, especially romantically by another human being.

2FL Short & Video: Lisa Adamowicz Kless

Below is a collection of 2FL Short and Video reviews originally posted on 2FL's Facebook page.

July 30, 2013
2FL SHORT: Kmart "Yo Mama" Commercial
by Lisa Adamowicz Kless

I know that I'm probably pushing the boundaries of what can be considered art by posting a commercial, but this one, advertising back-to-school layaway at Kmart stores, cracks me up so much that I can't help it. Maybe it's because I'm old enough to remember when "Yo Mama" slams *were* traded on the playground like this on a regular basis, or because of the twist they put on it in the commercial. Whatever it is, kudos to the marketing crew behind this particular concept; it's great!


June 7, 2013
2FL VIDEO: Fitzcardboardaldo
by Lisa Adamowicz Kless

Generations of kids have known a universal truth: that the things that can be created with a simple cardboard box are nearly infinite. They have almost magical potential, limited only by one's own imagination. Robin Frohardt seemed to tap into this timeless concept when she created, shot, and edited the short "Fitzcardboardaldo", combining cardboard artistry with puppetry to bring a delightful little film to life. (Special thanks to 2FL reader La Bibi for bringing this one to my attention.)

May 7, 2013
2FL TRIVIA: Tami Stronach
by Lisa Adamowicz Kless

If you're a fan of the 80s-era movie "The Neverending Story", you know Tami Stronach well. Granted, you might not recognize her name, but if I mentioned the Empress, you'd instantly know who I mean. What happened to Stronach after that iconic role though? Except for a role in a Czech television movie and some more recent onstage acting in New York, Stronach went back to her roots as a dancer after "The Neverending Story", and now has her own dance company in Brooklyn. You can check out her website here: www.tamistronach.com

April 23, 2013
2FL SHORT: "The Pocket"--Andy Grammer
by Lisa Adamowicz Kless

So many of the times that I've discovered new music have been when friends or family suggest something to me. I thought that this was the case again, when I recently got an Andy Grammer CD from a friend. To my surprise, this wasn't brand-new-to-me music after all; after listening to a few tracks, I realized that I knew some of Grammer's songs. I'd heard them on the radio and liked them, but just never knew the artist behind them. "The Pocket" is one of my favorites from his self-titled album, released in June of 2011.


April 18, 2013
2FL VIDEO: "History of Rap"--Justin Timberlake & Jimmy Fallon
by Lisa Adamowicz Kless

I'm not exactly a superfan of either Justin Timberlake or Jimmy Fallon on their own (although I do like the silly sense of humor they both have). But when the two get together and do an installment of "The History of Rap" on "Late Night With Jimmy Fallon", well...I will go ahead and 'fess up to being a superfan of those. Nostalgia kicks in when I hear songs that I know and love, and the interplay between Timberlake and Fallon always cracks me up. I don't know how long they'll keep doing it, but there are a few decades worth of material that they can draw from. And I'll keep watching and laughing as long as they do.


April 16, 2013
2FL SHORT: "American Music"--Violent Femmes
by Lisa Adamowicz Kless

The music of the Violent Femmes took up a big part on the soundtrack of my teenage years. When a concert was announced in a neighboring state, a group of friends and I crammed as many of us as we could into a van and drove to the show; I still consider it one of the best that I've ever been to. Band member Victor DeLorenzo left the band shortly after, and when "differences" erupted between other members Brian Ritchie and Gordon Gano, the Femmes didn't play together again until 2007. All of that changed a few days ago though, when they reunited to perform at Coachella. And if that wasn't enough to warm a Femmes fan's heart, it was announced that they'll also be playing Summerfest this year, a music festival that's only a short drive away for me. Time to load the car up again and head on out...


April 5, 2013
2FL VIDEO: The Muppets: Cårven Der Pümpkîn
by Lisa Adamowicz Kless

I was reminded of this video when I recently had to re-watch it about five times in a row per my son's request. As any parent forced to watch a video somewhere in the neighborhood of seven gazillion times (give or take a few) can tell you, those re-watches get old fast. But in the case of this video and other Muppets clips, I don't get too tired of them. I get to step back down memory lane, back to when I was a kid myself, and can appreciate the humor with a now adult viewpoint. And, really---you've gotta love the Swedish Chef. "Bork, bork, bork!"


March 26, 2013
2FL SHORT: Irving Harper paper art
by Lisa Adamowicz Kless

I'm a writer (and not that great of a visual artist), so paper being used as anything except a medium on which to capture words is always interesting to me. I have a cousin who makes some fascinating paper sculptures and objects a la "Between the Folds", so when I stumbled upon the paper art of long-time designer Irving Harper, I couldn't help but be intrigued by his work too. Making his paper designs during his time off of work, Harper estimates that there are about three hundred of his pieces in his house and in a neighboring barn. To read more about the artist and a book that is in the works featuring his paper creations (and to see more photos), go to: www.nytimes.com.

March 5, 2013
2FL SHORT: Karen Woods (oil paintings)
by Lisa Adamowicz Kless

At first glance, you might think that Seattle artist Karen Woods' work was simply a picture that somebody snapped on their cellphone, bored in the passenger seat while riding along on a rainy day. You have to look closely to realize that the pieces are actually oil paintings, so realistic that it's easy to dismiss them as just photos. Woods was inspired after driving around her city, and wanted to capture some of the beauty in an every day commute. The result is indeed beautiful; her paintings full of contrasts like luminosity and shadows, sharp edges and soft bends, all blending together to stunning effect. To see more of Woods' series of paintings, go to www.lostateminor.com.

February 28, 2013
2FL VIDEO: "To This Day"
by Lisa Adamowicz Kless

Spoken word poetry is a genre known for being hard hitting, emotional, and thought provoking. Canadian poet and author Shane Koyczan stays true to the craft; the video for his piece "To This Day" has gone viral, thanks to its powerful, to-the-point, but hopeful message about being bullied. Koyczan has built on the attention that the video has garnered and begun the "To This Day Project", as a way to stand up to bullying.

Koyczan also has three books to his credit: "Visiting Hours", "Our Deathbeds Will Be Thirsty", and "Stickboy", a novel in verse. Check out his page here on FB, and/or his website at www.shanekoyczan.com (where you can sign up to receive a new, free poem every month).

January 29, 2013
2FL SHORT: Elin Ruth
by Lisa Adamowicz Kless

Elin Ruth is a thirtysomething singer/songwriter/musician, originally from Sweden. She began her "music career" playing the piano at four years old, later taking a guitar from her dad's studio, spray painting it red, and creating her own music. Mixing hints of country, gospel, soul, pop and more into her songs, Ruth *just* released her fourth album, "Bang EP", in the U.S. and Canada, but has five to her credit in Scandinavia. She currently lives in New York with her husband, and has her own record label, Diver's Avenue Music. "Love" (video below) is a single from 2009's "Cookatoo Friends".


January 4, 2013
2FL VIDEO: "Shame"--Jill Scott
by Lisa Adamowicz Kless

Singer-songwriter Jill Scott began her career reading her own poetry, a gig that evolved into her recording her first album, "Who Is Jill Scott? Sounds and Words, Vol. I" in 2000. She's gone on to release four more albums, as well as act in several movies and the HBO TV series "The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency" (based on the book of the same name by Scottish author Alexander McCall Smith).

This video, from her new album "The Light of the Sun", was filmed at a recreation center in Philadelphia where Scott spent time as a child. Always expressive and never timid about conveying her thoughts and self-worth, Scott adds a little old school doo wop flavor (with the help of the A Group) to this song, with what reminded me of a hint of the equally expressive and never shy old-school duo Salt 'N Pepa (channeled by Eve). "Shame" has become a new favorite of mine, and I've also found that it's an excellent song to help liven up the boring chore of washing dishes.


December 20, 2012
2FL VIDEO: Target Women (series)
by Lisa Adamowicz Kless

It's the holiday season again. Time to prove your love, men, with the gift of jewelry...or not. One of my friends introduced this video series to me a couple of years ago, and I wound up watching most of them in one sitting. "Target Women" is a snarky, funny take-down of commercial marketing that's targeted at women, hosted by Sarah Haskins. Whether she's poking fun at Brinks/Broadview Security Systems ("Their moral is easy to spot...You can buy an alarm system for only $99, or, you and your young, innocent daughter can be assaulted in your own home. Still on the fence? The second key pad is FREE!"), or recreating Paris Hilton's infamous Carl's Jr. writhing-around-on-a-car-while-eating-a-burger commercial, Haskins' matter of fact dry humor gets me every time. I encourage you to check out the series; if for no other reason than to find out why yogurt is "the official food of women".


December 4, 2012
2FL SHORT: Joshua James--"Meet Me In the Middle"
by Lisa Adamowicz Kless

I can't quite remember how I stumbled upon Joshua James' music, but this lovely song was the first that I heard. And I keep going back to this simple video of just the artist and his guitar, strumming away while he breaks my heart with the lyrics, and with his voice still soft and gentle despite being so heavy with emotion. While his work is still fairly new to me, that should change soon; my iPod is newly loaded with a handful of James' songs.

November 27, 2012
2FL SHORT: Melissa McCarthy
by Lisa Adamowicz Kless

Actress Melissa McCarthy's role as Sookie St. James on the TV series "Gilmore Girls" was what first endeared her to me. McCarthy added layers and depth to what could have easily been a o
ne-dimensional character, if left in lesser hands. A fantastic physical comedian who may be somewhat overlooked by the mainstream, that tide seems to be shifting a bit; McCarthy has had roles in other series such as "Samantha Who?", and was recognized for her laugh-out-loud performance in the movie "Bridesmaids". Currently one of the titular characters in the TV show "Mike & Molly", McCarthy is related to a more well-known entertainment personality (Jenny McCarthy is her cousin), but deserves her own time in the spotlight to keep doing what she does so well: breathe life into characters who we can relate to, and laugh with (or often, laugh at), because they're just "everyday people" like ourselves.

November 8, 2012
2FL VIDEO: Annie and the Beekeepers--"Come On"
by Lisa Adamowicz Kless

Watching this video, you almost feel as if you've been invited to take a peek at some film that someone found in a dust coated box, tucked into a forgotten corner of a cobweb-filled attic. The intimate feel and sound of Annie and the Beekeepers' "Come On" comes from their latest album, "My Bonneville", which was released this August.

October 18, 2012
2FL VIDEO: Greg Laswell--"Take Everything"
by Lisa Adamowicz Kless

Sometimes, there's just not much to say about a video. Not because it's not well-made, or clever, or doesn't evoke emotion. In this case, for me, the main pull of the video is that it's simply fun. I won't ruin it for you before you even watch it, but the technique that they use gives the whole thing a certain appeal that I can watch again and again. (It also doesn't hurt that I'm a huge fan of Greg Laswell's voice and lyrics.)

October 4, 2012
2FL VIDEO: Destiny
by Lisa Adamowicz Kless

If you're at all familiar with the movie "Groundhog Day", you can't help but make comparisons to this short, created by French film students. Don't assume that it's a cheap rip-off though; there's plenty that's unique and refreshing in this little film, including a lot of lovely details and a pace that starts slow and builds momentum nearly perfectly. For all of us that have ever wished we could have a do-over in life, this one hits close to home (pardon the bad pun).

September 25, 2012
2FL SHORT: Joey Ramone--"New York City"
by Lisa Adamowicz Kless

Using over 1,600 photos taken throughout the city, Greg Jardinan, an award-winning filmmaker, directed this fun stop motion video for the late Jeffry Ross Hyman (better known as Joey Ramone)'s "New York City". Featuring cameos from New York residents, it also includes people like Tommy Ramone, Anthony Bourdain, Andrew WK, Joey Ramone’s brother (musician and author Mickey Leigh), and Ramones producer Ed Stasium. All in all, over one hundred people starred in the making of this quirky homage to Joey and NYC.

August 30, 2012
2FL VIDEO: The Camera
by Lisa Adamowicz Kless

When I first started watching this short film about a girl who goes into an abandoned beach house and makes a mysterious find, a voice of reason in my mind kicked in and started asking questions: "How does she know it's abandoned (it looks awfully well-furnished)?"; "Isn't she creeped out, wandering around this house alone?". Once I squelched that and let suspended disbelief take over, it was easy to see this for the charming piece of cinema that it is. Filmmaker Peter Lewis made this with no crew, on a budget of about fifty dollars, and cast his sister as the lead. Even more wonderful, to me, is the fact that the gorgeous score was also done by the filmmaker himself, a classically trained musician. It was well worth putting logic on hold for a little while.

August 14, 2012
2FL SHORT: J.D. McPherson--"North Side Gal"
by Lisa Adamowicz Kless

For me, this track from J.D. McPherson's album, "Signs & Signifiers", is a little spooky; his ability to channel old-time rock n' roll so masterfully is just that uncanny. Had my eyes been closed the first time I heard this song, I would've sworn that I was a kid again, in the backseat of the family car with one of my dad's "oldies" cassettes playing. Raised on an Oklahoma cattle ranch, McPherson played in a punk band in high school and soon became fascinated with the sounds of artists like Little Richard and Fats Domino. It seems that it's all come together, in McPherson's special brand of rockabilly that's much less nostalgia and more like a form of musical time travel.

August 9, 2012
2FL VIDEO: Beastie Boys--"Make Some Noise"
by Lisa Adamowicz Kless

Twenty-five years after the Beastie Boys insisted that we all fight for our right to party, they created a "sequel" video with "Make Some Noise". The video not only pokes fun at the trio's alter egos circa 1987, but is a hefty dose of nostalgia for anyone who grew up with the Beastie Boys' music as part of the soundtrack of their teenage or young adult years (nostalgia that is especially bittersweet after Adam Yauch/MCA's death in May 2012). Seth Rogen, Danny McBride, and Elijah Wood play Mike D, MCA and Ad-Rock in the video, along with more celebrity cameo appearances than I could list. If you're a fan, check out the extended version of the video for even more crazy fun and cameos.

July 26, 2012
2FL VIDEO: The Chase
by Lisa Adamowicz Kless

This French short film, directed by Philippe Gamer, toys with viewers' expectations and is bound to turn them upside down. It follows four women involved in a breakneck police chase, with sharp CGI animation and tons of action packed into its few minutes of run time. The great twist at the end is the crown jewel of the entire piece, adding a perfect dose of comedy.

July 17, 2012
2FL SHORT: Brigitta Richter
by Lisa Adamowicz Kless

Brigitta Richter is a visual artist who was born in Germany and resides in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Using a variety of media, including oil paints, pastels, ink, acrylics, and even clay, Richter creates lovely, delicate paintings and sculptures that can best be described as having an ethereal, almost magical quality about them. To see more of her work, visit her website at www.wunderbarart.com.

July 12, 2012
2FL VIDEO: Regina Spektor--"Us"
by Lisa Adamowicz Kless

Directed by Adria Petty, the music video for the song "Us" feels a little bit like a trip through the looking glass, Regina Spektor-style. Combining mixed media, animation, still motion, and a whole bevy of other effects, it's definitely fun to tag along though. It would probably take dozens of viewings in order to catch all of the intricate details packed into the four minutes of video, but if you're a fan of Spektor's quirkiness and powerhouse voice, it's a challenge that you might just be up to.

July 3, 2012
2FL Short: Kan Door Huid Heen (Can Go Through Skin)
by Lisa Adamowicz Kless

Showing a young woman's attempt to cope after suffering trauma, this film from the Netherlands, directed by Esther Rots, had a few spots that felt disjointed and left me with some questions. However, Rifka Lodzeizen is absolutely compelling in her portrayal of main character Marieke's turmoil and struggle, and setting, camera usage, and lighting only heighten the viewers' tension. Though it's not exactly a "feel good" film, for me, Lodzeizen's acting, the raw emotion, and the brutal honesty of the storyline made it worth seeing.

June 21, 2012
2FL VIDEO: La Queue de la Souris (A Mouse's Tale)
by Lisa Adamowicz Kless

The storyline of this French short is very similar to an Aesop-like morality tale that I recently heard on a children's CD (a mouse promises to help a lion, in exchange for not being eaten), except the way it's told here is much more entertaining. Add to that the sharp, clean lines of the animation and the striking use of only a few bold colors at once, and you've got four minutes of lovely artistry on film.

June 14, 2012
by Lisa Adamowicz Kless

This short from the UK was a graduation project, and is poignant and touching in its simplicity. Directed by Luiz Lafayette Stockler, it tells the story of growing up with his Brazilian grandfather (or vovô). Through a quiet voiceover and uncomplicated line drawings, it shows the universal truth of how powerful, treasured memories often come from seemingly ordinary, every day moments.

June 12, 2012
2FL SHORT: Jacob Two Two
by Lisa Adamowicz Kless

Based on a series of children's books by Mordecai Richler, "Jacob Two Two" is an animated Canadian TV series that originally ran from 2003 to 2006. The shows focus on the title character, who's nicknamed "Jacob Two Two" because he's the youngest in his family, and often has to repeat things twice just to be heard. With a large cast of quirky characters and a mix of both every day and extraordinary adventures, it's a clever children's series that both parents and kids can truly enjoy watching together.

May 29, 2012
2FL SHORT: Steve Moakler--"Run"
by Lisa Adamowicz Kless

One of my newest favorite activities is playing musical roulette online. Through sites like NoiseTrade or YouTube, I take a chance on artists that I've never heard of; sometimes I get lucky and sometimes I'm out. When I happened upon Steve Moakler's music recently, luck was with me. A singer-songwriter based in Nashville, Moakler has a certain earnestness in his voice and lyrics that kept me clicking on song links; and thanks to free downloads from the artist, some of those songs have found a new home on my iPod.

May 24, 2012
2FL VIDEO: Papiroflexia
by Lisa Adamowicz Kless

Taking the notion that one person can change the world literally, "Papiroflexia" (Spanish for "origami") is a sweet and fun little short by Joaquin Baldwin. Viewers might find themselves wishing that they, like Fred, could rework their world so easily.

May 17, 2012
2FL VIDEO: Kiss: A Love Story
by Lisa Adamowicz Kless

Telling the story of a meeting between the sun and the moon, "Kiss: A Love Story" is the stunning first short released by Racecar Films, an Oslo based studio. With Norwegian singer Bendik's song "Stille" as the soundtrack for the mesmerizing (mostly) black and white 3D animation, you may find yourself so enchanted by the exquisite tiny details that you can't help but click "play" again once the film ends.

May 8, 2012
2FL SHORT: Leonard Cohen--"Banjo"
by Lisa Adamowicz Kless

From his album "Old Ideas" released this year, Leonard Cohen's track "Banjo" is a delightful dichotomy. The music and vocals are somewhat dreamy and, at face value, seem perfectly suited for kicking back on a lazy summer's night. The lyrics, however, are slightly ominous, adding a little bit of edge to the song. This is definitely one that I'll be listening to again and again.

May 3, 2012
2FL VIDEO: will (animated short)
by Lisa Adamowicz Kless

The sparseness of sound and dialogue is used poignantly in this animated short by Eusong Lee, adding another dimension to an already heartbreaking story about a young girl who has lost her father in the September 11th attacks on the US. In the beautifully hopeful, wishful thinking of a child, she imagines a reversal of events as she plays with one of her last gifts from him.

April 25, 2012
2FL SHORT: I Was Told There'd Be Cake
by Lisa Adamowicz Kless

I can't remember where I got this book, but I do remember taking it with on vacation a few years ago, and not being able to put it down once I started reading it. A collection of essays by writer Sloane Crosley, the topics cover everything from career and romance to family and moments of feeling like you’re just fumbling along in life. Witty, irreverent, and almost always laugh out loud funny, readers will quickly see why this book became a New York Times bestseller.

April 19, 2012
2FL VIDEO: Luminaris (Short)
by Lisa Adamowicz Kless

This charming and imaginative short by Argentinian director Juan Pablo Zaramella was created using pixilation stop motion, a technique by which real actors are animated, frame-by-frame.  Zaramella found inspiration for the film in "Llluvia de Estrellas", an instrumental tango from the 1940s. After taking two years to painstakingly create, the film won three awards from international film festivals, and was also named to the Oscar shortlist for Best Animated Short Film (an honor that was won by "The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore", spotlighted over on our main site this week).

April 3, 2012
2FL SHORT: The "Mr. Putter and Tabby" Series
by Lisa Adamowicz Kless

Children's literature is a part of my everyday life. As in any area of literature, there are great books, and those that make one pause and question the publishing industry. The "Mr. Putter and Tabby" series by author Cynthia Rylant deserves to be near the top of the list of the greats though. The books focus on Mr. Putter, an older gentleman who lives alone except for his equally aged cat, Tabby, as well as their neighbor, Mrs. Teaberry and her "good dog", Zeke. Each volume has Mr. Putter and Tabby tackling a problem that crops up in their everyday life, or having some sort of low-key adventure. The books are funny and sweet, with subtle lessons on how we build community with those we surround ourselves with (whether human or a pet), and Mr. Putter's memories of his childhood and his life as a younger man. With at least 15 books in the series and wonderful, expressive illustrations by Arthur Howard, it's not just children who enjoy them; it's always fun to stumble across a volume that I haven't seen before.

March 29, 2012
2FL SHORT: Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress
by Lisa Adamowicz Kless

A semi-autobiographical novel by Dai Sijie, it follows the lives of two teen boys who are sent away for "reeducation" after the Chinese Cultural Revolution. Their
days of tedious manual labor are broken up by interactions with the daughter of the local tailor, whom they both quickly become enamored with. The stakes are raised when they find out that another friend is hiding foreign novels deemed forbidden by the government, and they convince him to lend them one by the French author Balzac. Though set in more modern times, this novel has a distinct folk tale like narration that I really enjoyed. It was also adapted into a film of the same name in 2005.

March 22, 2012
2FL SHORT: Pray For These Little Children (Perforce They Live Together)
by Lisa Adamowicz Kless

This piece of visual art by American artist Ivan Albright (1897-1983) is in the collection at the Art Institute of Chicago. Oil on silk, the eye doesn't quite know where to go first when one sees it; the detail is so intricate that this is a piece you could look at again and again, yet still come away with something new from each viewing. Even the artist's signature is intertwined amongst the objects and bursts of color in this fascinating still life.

March 13, 2012
2FL SHORT: "Here and Heaven"
by Lisa Adamowicz Kless

Cellist Yo-Yo Ma heads up a group of gifted string players for this lovely, spirited song, influenced by bluegrass music. Among those joining him are Aoife O'Donovan, vocalist for the bluegrass/string band Crooked Still, and Chris Thile, mandolinist and singer for the progressive acoustic trio Nickel Creek.

March 8, 2012
2FL SHORT: Kasia Drake-Hames
by Lisa Adamowicz Kless

A visual artist who works primarily in traditional fiber techniques such as weaving, silk painting, felting, etc. and paper crafts (including the traditional Polish paper-cutting art called wycinanki that I highlighted in a previous 2FL Short), Drake-Hames' art is vibrant, animated and welcoming. This seems to be a true reflection of the artist herself; as an instructor, her enthusiasm for helping others discover or further their creativity is palpable. To view some of her work, check out her blog at www.kdhartstudio.blogspot.com.

January 31, 2012
2FL SHORT: Pearl and the Beard--"Sweetness"
by Lisa Adamowicz Kless

This is one of those songs on my iPod that I just can't skip past; I always have to let it play at least part way through. The strings at the outset of the song never fai
l to hook me and pull me in, and the metaphors in the lyrics make the poet part of me smile. This live version of the song is great, but to get the full strength of the vocals, you may need to check out the radio version.

January 17, 2012
2FL SHORT: Jane and the Dragon
by Lisa Adamowicz Kless

Based on a series of books written by Martin Baynton, "Jane and the Dragon" is an animated series that ran on Australian and Canadian TV, and currently runs in the US on the Qubo network. It follows the adventures of a young girl named Jane, and her 300 year old best friend, Dragon. Jane has been able to break free of the standard expectation to become a lady-in-waiting, and is instead training to be a knight. I was a little put off by the type of CGI animation they use for the series when I first saw it, but was quickly won over by how smart, fun, and creative the storyline is, with a great sense of humor to round it all out.

January 3, 2012
2FL SHORT: Löwendenkmal
by Lisa Adamowicz Kless

Located in Lucerne, Switzerland, Löwendenkmal is a monument to fallen Swiss Guards who defended King Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette’s Parisian palace in 1792, as the royals tried to escape the French Revolution. The anguish on the dying lion’s face is so detailed, animated and clearly expressed that it’s incredible that an artist was able to render such intense emotion in stone. Dedicated in 1821 and seen by countless numbers of people from all over the world since, it’s a stunning piece of sculpture in its own right.

December 6, 2011
2FL SHORT: Nuit Blanche
by Lisa Adamowicz Kless

This is a piece of art that needs to be experienced more than it should be explained. Simple black and white creates the perfect atmosphere in this stunning short film that interprets the imagined connection between two people in amazing slow motion detail.

December 1, 2011
2FL SHORT: Donnie Brasco
by Lisa Adamowicz Kless

While Johnny Depp may be best known for notoriously choosing quirky roles, he had a decidely dramatic turn in 1997's "Donnie Brasco". Based on a true story, Depp plays undercover FBI agent Joe Pistone, who's able to infiltrate a Mafia faction and function as one of their own. Al Pacino is opposite Depp as "Lefty" Ruggiero, the "made man" who befriends and vouches for him. When suspicions arise that a mole might be in their midst, the already intense pressure Pistone is under is ratcheted up to almost unbearable levels. Not being a huge fan of crime drama, this movie still kept me riveted beginning to end.

November 26, 2011

2FL SHORT: Amy Stroup--"Hold On to Hope Love"
by Lisa Adamowicz Kless

After hearing at least a dozen of Amy Stroup's songs, this gorgeous song stands out as my favorite thus far. Stroup's delicate voice has an underlying strength, and th
e strings in this song compliment the emotion of the lyrics and her singing so well. Check out "Just You" too (although you may already recognize it from the TV show "One Tree Hill" or an eHarmony commercial).

November 10, 2011
2FL SHORT: Wycinanki
by Lisa Adamowicz Kless

Wycinanki is a beautiful form of Polish folk art that incorporates paper cutting inlayered, often complex designs. Two main styles of the artform are the more basic Kurpie, which utilizes just
one color, and Lowicz, which is more elaborate and uses many different colors. In the past, wycinanki had a practical function: it literally used to decorate people's homes. Walls were whitewashed, then wycinanki was glued directly onto them, bringing new meaning to the term "wallpaper".

November 4, 2011
2FL SHORT: Smell Like A Monster
by Lisa Adamowicz Kless

Sesame Street made me giggle as a kid, and it still does, thanks to snarky spoofs on pop culture like this one. Grover channels the "Old Spice Guy", Isaiah Mustafa, in this video that's supposed to teach tots about the word "on". Compare this clip to the original commercial (www.youtube.com/watch?v=owGykVbfgUE) and you'll appreciate the humor even more.

October 25, 2011
2FL SHORT: Florence Parry Heide
by Lisa Adamowicz Kless

A prolific and accomplished writer of childrens' books and other work, Florence Parry Heide graced the world with her warmth, humor and endless encouragement of other writers for 92 years. Though she recently passed away, she leaves a legacy of many, many fond memories of those whose lives she touched, whether in person or through her writing.

October 12, 2011
2FL SHORT: Young Frankenstein
by Lisa Adamowicz Kless

If you've never seen this film--oh! The horror! (If you really *are* expecting horror though, you definitely won't find it here.) This movie is full of comedic genius from beginning to end. Directed by Mel Brooks, it starred Gene Wilder as Dr. Frankenstein, supported by a stellar cast including Cloris Leachman, Marty Feldman (as Igor), Peter Boyle (the monster) and Teri Garr. Madeline Kahn, as the love interest, paired perfectly with Wilder; their hilarious interactions alone make this a must see.

October 9, 2011
2FL SHORT: House of Wax
by Lisa Adamowicz Kless

Though there are some modern horror films that I really enjoy, there's something to be said for the slow build up of suspense that helped amp up the sense of dread in the films of yesteryear.  With the irreplaceable Vincent Price in the lead, the original "House of Wax" is a must see for the Halloween season. (Interesting fact: this was Warner Bros.' first 3D movie, filmed by director André De Toth--who was blind in one eye, and thus couldn't see the effect.)

October 5, 2011
2FL SHORT: Corpse Bride
by Lisa Adamowicz Kless

Though this can't top my all-time favorite Tim Burton undertaking (pun intended), "The Nightmare Before Christmas", there's still a lot of similar stop motion animation magic in "Corpse Bride" too. Bringing Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter and more of the usual suspects together again, this film is worth its 77 minute running time for the quirky characters, Danny Elfman soundtrack and other unexpected fun.

September 27, 2011
2FL SHORT: Hey, Porter
by Lisa Adamowicz Kless

Recorded in 1954 and released in '55, Johnny Cash wrote this song about returning home after a four year stint in the U.S. Air Force. The tempo of the music and the lyrics capture the excitement and anticipation of returning home beautifully, and a few of the lines ("I smell frost on cotton leaves") are simple but poetic.

September 21, 2011
2FL SHORT: Rosi Golan--"Think of Me"
by Lisa Adamowicz Kless

I've probably stumbled upon more new music and artists on YouTube in the past year or so than I ever have before. Rosi Golan is amongst those discoveries, and "Think of Me" was the first song that I heard from her and my favorite of any others that I've listened to since. The Hansel and Gretel-like trail of paper hearts that she leaves behind in the video may be sort of sappy, but I like it. I can use a dose of mushy sentimentality once in a while.

September 16, 2011
2FL SHORT: Kenosha Festival of Cartooning
by Lisa Adamowicz Kless

MAD magazine. Editorial cartoons. Disney animation. Comic strips "Pooch Cafe", "Between Friends" and "The Brilliant Mind of Edison Lee". They all converged into a terrific mishmash in Wisconsin as part of the Kenosha Festival of Cartooning. Artists shared their work, talked about their processes, lectured at local universities and, true to their art form, kept audiences laughing throughout the three day event that ended tonight.

September 13, 2011
2FL SHORT: Jan Brett
by Lisa Adamowicz Kless

Jan Brett is one of my favorite children's book authors/illustrators. I especially enjoy how her incredibly detailed, gorgeous drawings often contain a bit of foreshadowing in the margins, adding to the suspense and fun. To find out more about the artist and her work, visit http://janbrett.com/biography.htm. (And go ahead--print off a coloring sheet and grab a box of crayons while you're at it; why not?)


September 1, 2011
2FL SHORT: The Tell-Tale Heart
by Lisa Adamowicz Kless

One of my most treasured books was a volume of the complete works of Edgar Allen Poe. I wouldn't be able to choose a favorite piece by Poe, but "The Tell-Tale Heart" is high on the list. The horrific premise of the story combined with the unreliable narrator is exquisitely suspenseful. If you've never read this classic short story, it's a must.

August 30, 2011
2FL SHORT: Everett Thomas--"Firesong"
by Lisa Adamowicz Kless

"Firesong" is a creation of St. Louis born and raised and now Wisconsin based Everett Thomas. Themes of truth and self-discovery weave throughout many songs on his albums; 2007's "Fools And Thinkers" and 2009's "Visions of the Sea". Check them out on iTunes, and learn more about the artist behind them on his FB page or over at www.everettthomas.com.

August 25, 2011
2FL SHORT: Reverse Graffiti
by Lisa Adamowicz Kless

Is it vandalism if an artist is producing work by *cleaning* a dirty, soot-covered or dusty surface? Reverse graffiti sparks so many intriguing questions. While some examples aren't that far removed from "Wash Me" scrawled on somebody's dirty car, other pieces are pretty remarkable (no pun intended).

August 23, 2011
2FL SHORT: The Muppets: Pöpcørn
by Lisa Adamowicz Kless

Who'd have thought that seafood could actually be cute? From the "shrimpees", to the Swedish Chef's faux accent written out in captions, to the caption writer's own personal asides, there's so just so much to love about this video. Hats off to the folks at The Muppets Studio for continuing to create lots of laughs for new generations of Muppets fans.

August 21, 2011
2FL SHORT: Foux De Fa Fa
by Lisa Adamowicz Kless

Flight of the Conchords' Bret and Jemaine have great comedic timing between them and are able to play off of each other with hilarious results. If you enjoy plain old silliness, these guys have you covered.

August 15, 2011
2FL SHORT: The Man Who Cried
by Lisa Adamowicz Kless

A Johnny Depp fan since my teens, I've got an internal "Depp Film Scorecard". Some are absolute favorites (Edward Scissorhands, Alice In Wonderland), some not so much (Nick Of Time, From Hell), then those falling in between (Sleepy Hollow, Don Juan DeMarco). The Man Who Cried is in my latter category; it has flaws, but also moments of dark beauty that stand out.

August 13, 2011
2FL SHORT: Travels With Charley
by Lisa Adamowicz Kless

John Steinbeck journeyed throughout the U.S. in 1960, recounting it in this bestseller. Some people debate the accuracy of certain things that he wrote, but none of that crossed my mind as I read it. As Steinbeck said, "memory is at best a faulty, warpy reservoir." If he took some creative license, that's okay by me. I just enjoyed being along for the ride.

August 10, 2011
2FL SHORT: The Swell Season--"Low Rising"
by Lisa Adamowicz Kless

Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova first recorded together in 2005, then acted and wrote music together again for 2007's "Once", one of the most successful indie films that year. Since then, they've continued touring as The Swell Season. (Special thanks to Dave Gourdoux for bringing this song and their new album, "Strict Joy", to my attention.)

August 7, 2011
2FL SHORT: Sara Bareilles & Ingrid Michaelson--"Winter Song"
by Lisa Adamowicz Kless

I don't know if there could be a better complement to the melancholy of the strings and sparse piano in this song than Ingrid and Sara's voices. The wistfullness of the music and lyrics is tempered by the charming animation in the video though, making an already *really* good thing great.

August 5, 2011
2FL SHORT: The Dark Crystal
by Lisa Adamowicz Kless

As a little girl in the early 80s, no other film both frightened and enchanted me quite like "The Dark Crystal", filled with fantastic creatures locked in a classic good vs. evil struggle. The special effects fascinated me: the villians were downright scary, the magical elements amazing; a true testament to the painstaking work put in to creating this movie. 

July 28, 2011
2FL SHORT: Melissa Czarnik w/ Eric Mire Band--"Thunder Summer Storm"
by Lisa Adamowicz Kless

Not only does this song fit nicely with the weather we've been having in SE Wisconsin lately, it's also a perfect introduction to Milwaukee based Melissa Czarnik's very poetic lyrics. Check out the eclectic collection of her music at melissaczarnik.com and stay tuned for an article about her on 2FL's main site in the future.

July 25, 2011
2FL SHORT: Brandi Carlile--"Dreams"
by Lisa Adamowicz Kless

There's so much that I like here that it's a challenge to distill it down. Brandi's another "accidental discovery" whose music I keep seeking out, and the setting brings back memories of the first time I visited, and fell in love with, New Orleans. Her voice, the song and the incredible floats are a whole lot of wonderful packed into just a few minutes. 

July 22, 2011
2FL SHORT: Zen Shorts
by Lisa Adamowicz Kless

Written by Jon J. Muth, this children's book is page after page of enchanting watercolor illustrations with a captivating story to match. When a giant panda suddenly becomes their neighbor, three children befriend him and learn valuable lessons through the stories he tells. Kids and adults alike will appreciate the fun illustrations and gentle humor.

July 21, 2011
2FL SHORT: Eagle-Eye Cherry--"Save Tonight"
by Lisa Adamowicz Kless

After concentrating on acting in his earlier years, Eagle-Eye Cherry began writing songs in his mid-twenties and had a hit in 1998 with the bittersweet "Save Tonight". Music is in the family's blood; he's the son of musician Don Cherry and brother of Neneh Cherry. Born in Sweden, Eagle-Eye returned there in 2002 and is working on his fourth album.

July 20, 2011
2FL SHORT: Bicycle Thieves (a.k.a. The Bicycle Thief)
by Lisa Adamowicz Kless

In post-World War II Rome, Antonio Ricci (Lamberto Maggiorani) is struggling to support his young family. Overjoyed when he's hired for a coveted job, his elation turns to desperation after his bicycle is stolen, putting everything in jeopardy. A tense, gritty film, it leaves viewers guessing until the end.

July 11, 2011
2FL SHORT: Parc Guëll, Barcelona
by Lisa Adamowicz Kless

Parc Guëll is a fascinating mish-mash of nature alongside visual art, designed by Antoni Gaudí. A failed real estate venture meant to be a garden village, the city turned it into a public park in 1922. Filled with whimsical mosaic pieces, unique structures, fountains, a plaza and so much more, it's incredibly easy to get caught up in the wonderment of it all.

July 5, 2011
2FL SHORT: Israel Kamakawiwo'ole--"What A Wonderful World"
by Lisa Adamowicz Kless

I've heard many covers of this song, but the beautiful simplicity of Israel "IZ" Kamakawiwo'ole's version is my favorite. The ukulele and IZ's gentle voice seem to remind us that even in the midst of difficulties, it will pass, and a truly wonderful world remains. "IZ" left a legacy of eight solo albums before his death in 1997. 

July 3, 2011
2FL SHORT: The Mysterious Lady
By Lisa Adamowicz Kless

Greta Garbo was indeed a striking beauty, but it’s talent that she brings to her role as a conflicted spy endangering herself for love in this film from 1928. The story line is a little clichéd, but the costumes and sets are opulent; it's easy to get lost in this cinemagraphic piece of a bygone era.

June 29, 2011
2FL SHORT: Mo Willems
By Lisa Adamowicz Kless

The “Piggy & Elephant” series of children’s books by Mo Willems make my son laugh so hard that, for a few tense seconds sometimes, I wonder if he’s going to start breathing again. I can't blame him; the lively, silly humor cracks up adults too (surely it's not just me?). Another Willems' character/series that's a whole lot of fun? The perpetually conniving Pigeon.


June 26, 2011
2FL SHORT: Damaged Goods
by Lisa Adamowicz Kless

Artist Barnaby Barford modifies existing ceramic figurines into all sorts of cheeky, satirical and witty configurations. In his charming and eloquent short film from 2008, a love story involving some of his creations plays out in a thrift shop, between a top-shelf porcelain lady and the bric-a-brac boy who adores her from afar.