January 25th, 2011

Academic

Here comes the rain again.

     Keen viewers may notice that that last time I posted here, it was raining quite intensely on the morning of my sister's wedding (I still feel vaguely Godfather-ish whenever I use that phrase  "You come here, on the day of my only sister's wedding..."). Well, that went away for all of about an hour, and then returned at the beginning of the reception. It then kept up, without stopping, for thirty hours. It's nowhere near as bad as Australia's ordeal, but there has been some impressive flooding around the country and in the Hawke's Bay we managed to get seven inches of rain in twenty-four hours.

     But, the wedding. I realised that there was no way I was going to be able to use any of the venues I'd originally anticipated for the photography (I took a trek out at ten a.m., five hours before the ceremony, to have a look at the most covered one, a park. Five seconds after getting out of the car, my sneakers had completely soaked through and by the time I got as far as the location itself, the field had sodden my jeans from the knees down. I'm lucky I wasn't wearing my suit). This meant that my father and I were going to have to locate a new one, and fast.

     The day was quite easily the longest day of work I've ever experienced - thirteen hours all told. I jaunted back and forth between the bride getting hair and make-up done to the groom having a last drink of freedom to the bride getting into her dress and my mother crying and my brother teaching my father how to tie a full Windsor knot. The ceremony was short and, with my eyes behind the camera all the time, all I really remember is the actual snapshots. I honestly don't recall hearing the vows, which is a bit of a shame.

     At the reception, after the bridal shots were taken, I was seated with three cousins and their significant others, making me the only person at the table without a plus-one (Caleb, being a vegan, couldn't be slotted into the dinner at such short notice after my fiance and I split). Two of the three were planning weddings, and thus were remarking on the choices that had been made. My new brother-in-law's family are hardly speechmakers, the groom's father being one of those people that you don't want to converse with: equal parts inappropriate and downright strange, with a broad streak of thinking he's funny. The best man, it seems, hadn't actually prepared a speech. But aside from that, the reception got the approval from the soon-to-be married couples. And, of course, as the night was winding down, the third couple got engaged. I'm pretty sure that suggesting to Caleb that we tie the knot 'because everyone else is' might not go down well.

     The morning rush, and the stresses of redesigning a wedding shoot with no time, meant that I crammed an entire evening's worth of drinking into about two hours. But to be honest, my father and I had managed to finagle a rather cool-looking location that we could drive the vintage Fords into, was under shelter, had some interesting backdrops, and gave the whole thing a Bugsy Malone slash industrial look.

     And that's why my sister's wedding photography took place in a kiwifruit packhouse.
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Academic

Music Videos #30: In Which There's Tears Before Bedtime

1. Ratatat, 'Drugs'
Directed by: Carl Burgess
From the 2010 album LP4
Watch at YouTube

There's something a little weird going on in this video. I'm not sure precisely how to describe it, but it's similar to that feeling I get when I have to type a word repeatedly in rapid succession: after a while it begins to look as though it's spelled wrong. About a minute into this video, something strange happens - the faces of the actors temporarily look disproportionate, like their mouths are too wide or something. It may be in my head. And then, when that subsides, the video piles weird on weird: against the not-entirely-unpleasant synthesised droning of the song, we see extreme close-ups of extreme emotion. The actors are angry or crying. Beneath the obvious inspiration of a day at the studio for stock photography, there's something hidden away here: something almost sinister, Stepford Wives-ish. An exploration of the too too perfect.

2. Godley & Creme, 'Cry'
Directed by: Kevin Godley and Lol Creme
From the 1985 album The History Mix Vol. 1
Watch at YouTube

This video struck the well of morphing technology long before Michael Jackson's 'Black or White' did, and to much more impressive effect. Here's a very simple idea for a very simple song, and yet they're both so satisfying simply through sheer repetition. The song tells us 'You don't know how to ease my pain', and we're told through the lyrics and through the people staring at us, delivering the words with such impassioned faces that we can't help but feel it. The fact that the actor who really is crying is overacting a little doesn't harm the video in any way - it's as though everyone has turned the emotion up to eleven anyway. We really do feel it, even from the Mr. T lookalike. And this song was directly responsible for the Flight of the Conchords song 'I'm Not Crying'. What more could you ask for?

3. St. Vincent, 'Actor Out of Work'
Directed by: Ian Kibbey and Corey Creasey
From the 2009 album Actor
Watch at YouTube

I found that this video shot straight to the top three favourites for 2009 - mostly because I'm an occasional actor and have been in audition like this. They're quite intense, and when you find yourself stuck in a room with a dozen people forcing themselves to tear up in various ways, it tends to heighten the emotion. This is why these two-and-a-half minutes are so powerful: because we're very close to the emotion, even though we know it's fake. The music soars with a wonderful backing vocal as we get closer and closer to the brink of the horrible emotion, and Annie sits there, almost mocking us with the lyrics. 'You're an actor out of work' is a literal line, and yet has a ring of subtext to it: someone who she used to love is manipulating her, and these auditions are really just a way of proving it.