Monki checks out NERDCORE RISING, BLIPFEST and SECOND SKIN from SXSW '08!
Published at: March 24, 2008, 2:36 a.m. CST by quint
Greetings humans, Monki here with a look back at a trio of "geeky" movies I caught at SXSW this year.
As most of you know, I'm the video game guy here at AICN, and this year during SXSW I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of videogame related films that were presented. Three in particular I managed to catch were NERDCORE RISING, SECOND SKIN and BLIPFEST.
All three took on a particularly different look at games and geek influence in today's pop culture. NERDCORE RISING took a look at a new form of hip-hop called Nerdcore...geek rap, basically. SECOND SKIN is an investigative piece into the massively multiplayer online role-playing game World of Warcraft. Finally, BLIPFEST is an exciting concert film of chiptunes artists (guys who make music with videogame hardware) absolutely rocking out at a festival of music.
Nerdcore Rising follows the first US tour for MC Frontalot, one of the premier Nerdcore rappers. What is Nerdcore you might ask? Nerdcore is the geekiest hip-hop you'll ever hear in your life, but in the hands of a master of rhymes like Frontalot it is twisted into beauty. Seriously, when was the last time Ludacris dropped the word "braggadocio" into a rhyme?
The doc follows MC Frontalot's trials and tribulations across the country playing dive bars and dealing with various fires that need to be put out along the way. We are there in the van with the entire band bouncing around from New York to Atlanta to Washington and everything in between and it makes for a hell of a fun ride.
Director Negin Farsad has created an awesome documentary here that is constantly moving and is full of excellent music and visuals. This turned out to be one of my favorite South By films this year, I'd love to see it screen again somewhere in Austin followed by a show from MC Frontalot...that would be cool...wouldn't it Tim League??
I enjoyed the hell out of this movie, and if you want a screening to make it's way through your town, check out the Nerdcore Rising website, and let them know you'd like to see this on the silver screen in your city.
I'm really happy that we've reached the point where videogames have become fodder for a documentary. Seriously, nothing is cooler than having one of your favorite hobbies be featured in a doc.
Second Skin is a documentary about the other worlds in which millions of people have been living in. The worlds of Warcraft...Everquest...Second Life. This doc features a look into a few threads revolving around these virtual worlds.
We track four buddies who have been playing Warcraft together for a while and totally freak out over the new expansion that hits during the course of filming. We meet a couple who fell in love over WoW and are meeting each other for the first time, and finally we meet a man who partially blames his addiction to video games on his downward spiral of a life.
The four buddies are probably in their late 20s or early 30s, but they live their life just about as close to that of a college kid as possible. They have loads of junk food to keep them going in raids in WoW and all of their computers are in the same room so they can yell at each other while playing together. They are living the fantasy of a high school geek. (Okay, maybe my fantasy when I was a high schooler was the play videogames all day.) But as the doc progresses we start to see some cracks form in this chain of friends. One is getting married, the other has a baby on the way...all of this leads to the guys to start questioning their priorities in life.
The story between the lovebirds makes for an interesting one. The filmmakers talk with other couples who met through online games and how love can form between two people sitting behind keyboards. It certainly makes for an interesting peek into the intimate lives of these people. Anyway, this newly formed couple makes for some awkward times during the movie. The male in the relationship certainly comes across as a creepy mofo at times...
Probably the most interesting plot thread is that of the guy who was addicted to the World of Warcraft. He talks of times when he would play for eighteen hour stretches. He stopped going to work, he stopped hanging out with his "real" friends in favor for his WoW buddies. This guy was hooked. He actually went to have his addiction "treated" by a woman who blames videogames for her son's suicide.
In a documentarian's dream situation we watch as the subject's nephew begins playing World of Warcraft. This guy who had had his life practically demolished by this game watches as his kin falls in to the same spiral he has managed to get himself out of. It is seriously twisted to watch one of the men rise as the other falls.
This is by far the best documentary of the online gaming phenomenon known as MMORPGs out there. The filmmakers touch on just about every angle of these online games as they could. Quick bites of information on stuff like gold-farming (paying someone to collect money for you in-game) keep the flow moving along although the movie did jump around quite a bit from thread to thread. Overall though I really dug this movie.
BLIPFEST: REFORMAT THE PLANET
Blipfest is a movie you need to watch with your sound system cranked up as high as you can.
This is a documentary about a chiptunes festival in New York City. Chiptunes are made with videogame equipment...Gameboys, Ataris, NESes...all hacked to produce new sounds. If you want to get an idea of what chiptunes can sound like, check out Bitshifter or Tree Wave and then come back with a smile on your face.
Blipfest is a multi-day festival of chiptunes music from all over the world that has grown exponentially over the past few years. Chiptunes artists gather from all over the world for a weekend of insanity and 8-bit music.
This documentary captures the spirit and sound of these artists in a very raw form...and it is very badass. If you are a fan of any kind of electronic or experimental music you NEED to check out this flick.
The doc begins with a quick history of chiptunes and an explanation as to how the show began and evolved and then quickly it proceeds to delight your ears with music from all over the world. From sweet lullaby sounds to what amounts to a Gameboy SCREAMING at you...it's all there.
These three movies combined to make an excellent triple-feature and I highly recommend any of the three for you to check out.
Alright, that's all I got for you now, until next time, back up the tree I go!