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Los Angeles Film Festival: I Want My MTV 

Fest’s music-video showcase takes things back to basics

Wednesday, Jun 17 2009
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As the music industry wheezes on life support, musicians (particularly indie artists across different genres) draw inspiration from the rough-scrabble early days of MTV, when music videos were: (a) actually programmed; and (b) an aesthetic hodgepodge drawn from DIY necessity, the self-conscious referencing of freshly minted art- and film-school educations and cross-cultural scavenging. This year’s Eclectic Mix programs, among the finest LAFF has programmed, are filled with music clips that find that old-school template in full effect. Oren Lavie’s aptly named “Her Morning Elegance” (directed by Lavie himself) glides through a dreamscape played out against a white-sheeted bed, with human bodies, pillows, clothing and instruments moving in hypnotic stop-motion as the song plays. The dazzling Afro-futurism of Gnarls Barkley’s “Going On” (directed by Wendy Morgan) fuses tribal face paint, skinny jeans, suspenders and hoop earrings to evoke Africa, Jamaica and global black youth culture, its barren outdoor settings conjuring both desolate shantytowns and bombed-out urban centers. Paris-based electronic-music duo Justice’s hugely controversial clip, “Stress” (directed by Romain Gavras), in which a gang of young housing-project males “of color” prowls city streets in an escalating rampage of violence, assaults the viewer relentlessly; it’s easy to see why it elicited furious cries of racism when it was released in France last year. While a few efforts beg the question of their inclusion, this year’s programmed videos mostly range from gorgeously cinematic to cheekily homemade, often within the same three-minute running time. Other highlights: Feist’s “Honey, Honey”; Pistol Youth’s Golden Girls homage, “In My Eyes”; Langhorne Slim’s “Restless”; Depeche Mode’s “Wrong”; Tapes n’ Tapes’ “Hang Them All”; MGMT’s “Electric Feel”; Modest Mouse’s “Little Motel”; and Gnarls Barkley’s “Who’s Gonna Save My Soul.” Eclectic Mix 1 screens at the Italian Cultural Institute on Saturday, June 20 at 7 p.m., and at the Landmark on Sunday, June 28 at 5 p.m. Eclectic Mix 2 screens at the Italian Cultural Institute on Saturday, June 20 at 9:30 p.m., and at the Landmark on Sunday, June 28 at 7:15 p.m.

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