Collapse Into… Blue

By Marco Portiglia

In March 2011 I went to see the fantastic Collapse Into Now Film Project at the Clocktower Gallery in New York City: a selection of films accompanying each song from the excellent  and critically acclaimed R.E.M. farewell album Collapse Into Now. Each film directed by a different noteworthy artist and filmmaker with his own unique take and viewpoint of the song.

I left the exhibition with just a little disappointment:  The film of Blue (directed by James Franco), my favorite song from the album was not shown: I was told It was still in the working and it would come up at a later time. Almost two years later the film finally surfaced: it was worth the wait!

James Franco perfectly captures the feeling and the spirit of the song:  the grainy, oblique and often out of focus images of a strangely unsettling but always beautiful City Of Angels at night melt fantastically with the track’s somber, wet but still optimistic mood  – “I am not giving up easy, I will not fold, I don’t have much but what I have is gold….20th Century Collapse Into Now” sings R.E.M. frontman Michael Stipe in his Kerouac-esque stream-of-conscious poetic verses with a renewed hope for the 20th Century. Peter Buck’s sublime distorted guitars in the background and the fantastic intense vocals of punk icon Patti Smith do the rest.

The almost six minute long film features Franco himself (dressed in drag with a blonde wig and bright red lipstick) and actress Lindsay Lohan posing as a super sexy and melancholic Hollywood muse for the controversial photographer Terry Richardson.

The video is a brilliant look into the darker side of Hollywood, its underground madness and its edgy wandering residents: blurry parties at Hollywood’s most famous hotspots like Chateau Marmont and Roosevelt Hotel are weaved in with an hazy, smoggy and disoriented collage of Los Angeles nighttime scenes. The whole video wants to paint a certain image of L.A. and Lohan presence helps to underscore and define this washed-up Hollywood star vibe that has already settled in long before she appears in the clip.

But the film is also a great tribute and homage to one of the greatest rock bands ever: R.E.M. that on September 2011, after 31 years together “dismantled” as friends. Michael Stipe, Peter Buck, Mike Milles and Bill Berry gave us some of the most beautiful songwriting ever produced. Several the references: from the opening and closing part of the video featuring a backward sign The End to the quick billboard shot Has Been in the central part of the video.

I love how this song and this video echoes their whole career: a beautiful but melancholic ending, as it is the color blue… blue blue blue blue blue.

Till I woke up on the concrete.

By Michael Traversa

Katy Perry: Part of Me pretty much follows the steps of Truth or Dare: In bed with Madonna as it’s very well structured between concert footage and Katy’s backstory on her shot to fame, her long struggle to achieve success, throughout different record labels and different ways producers wanted to market her. Here comes the problem though.
The movie walks a fine line between documentary and infomercial. How much of that is really true, how much the truth is bent to promote the Katy Perry brand? Truth be told nowadays just talent won’t cut it, you need to create a persona to stand out in the crowd. There’s even been a moment not too long ago when to differentiate all these pop stars each one had a different color in their hair: Avril Lavigne was green, Rihanna was red, Katy Perry was blue and so on. Katy didn’t want to be another Avril Lavigne, and yet she’s now this character, bubbly fairytale character all wigs and makeup, it’s not just about the music. We all know record companies want to find ‘the new’ of this and that and she wanted to be the first Katy. Well done. But in the end she did create a public persona that was far away from that cute girl playing a ‘good song’ on her guitar at the Hotel Cafe. Just like Lady Gaga did to get attention (watch her video of playing piano at young age in a similar club to get what I mean).

So did the story really happen the way it’s told? We may never know, regardless there’s real talent, persistence and dedication behind it. There are also a lot of little moments which can give an idea how she really is in real life. And what she was like growing up. I also liked seeing the environment she came from, her habit of rolling eyes already at young age showing a craving for more in life. Overall the movie is well done, her entourage is fun, more than anything I liked seeing her without makeup, she’s much prettier that way.

I was surprised to see Russell Brand in it, I figured she would want to cut him out, instead he’s very well in the picture; which may confirm the genuine intentions of a film that chronicles one year in her life. Like I said it’s a fine line between a documentary and big promo.
Some press has been looking into what she says about not wanting a baby (“I’m a baby. A baby can’t have a baby”) as a reason for her break up. I don’t believe that. That’s just a comment taken out of context, and the situation is much more complicated than that. I think what really happened only the two of them know and that’s the way it should be. Sure it might have played a part, as been far away from each other for long time. I like what she says that she firmly believed and somehow she still does, despite all, that (I’m paraphrasing here) when you find love the other should accept you for all you are, long trips around the world and desire for fandom approval included, there isn’t that much to figure out, otherwise it just a part of him/her you’re loving. Well said. Ah, the fairytale of love. Like a wise man said ‘It’s love, not Santa Clause‘.
I felt really sorry she didn’t get to enjoy her largest attendance at a show in Brazil because of her personal life getting in the way.

The 3D adds practically nothing, as this has been largely converted in post; songs are catchy though, it shouldn’t surprise all the number ones she managed to have in a row (itself a record, it’s said) and one can’t help leaving the theatre mumbling the words of Wide Awake, Katy Perry’s latest hit playing over the end credits.