They weren’t quite The Beatles, and they didn’t go out in the same style. (Catch The Beatles’ rooftop gig here.) But R.E.M. gave us 30 good years (ok, maybe 15), and, after calling it quits earlier this week, we thought it worthwhile to present their final live moments. So here it goes: R.E.M.’s final encore played in Mexico City back in November, 2008. It’s a 36 minute set that features “Supernatural Superserious,” “Losing My Religion,” “I Believe,” “Country Feedback,” “Life and How to Live It,” and “Man on the Moon.”
Between 1964 and 1966, the pop artist shot close to 500 short movies — or what he called “screen tests” — of friends, celebrities and models. (Find screen tests of Lou Reed, Nico, Edie Sedgwick, and Dennis Hopper here.) And then he shot a series of longer films, or rather “anti-films,” that challenged the conventions of filmmaking. No three act structures here. Above, we start you off with his first film, Sleep (1963). Originally Warhol wanted to make Brigitte Bardot the star, but he eventually settled for his friend John Giorno, and you get what the title promises. 40 silent minutes of Giorno’s long slumber.
Next in the loose trilogy comes Kiss, a 54 minute film built out of a series of shorter films. It’s all couples kissing. Men & women. Women & women. Men & men. And it’s all silent again.
Then we cap things off with Eat (1964), 40 minutes of watching the starving pop artist Robert Indiana gnaw on a raw mushroom and nothing more. The trilogy-ender was first screened at the Washington Square Gallery, along with another long-take film, Blow Job….
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Frank Woodruff Buckles was born on February 1st, 1901. At the age of 16, he enlisted in the U.S. Army by convincing recruiting officers that he was, in fact, 21. In this short film, Buckles recalls this time so long ago and the last year of the Great War. There are two particularly moving passages in this documentary: when he talks about the difficulties veterans experienced after returning home, and when Buckles voices his opinions on war in general, and particularly war today (“How did we get involved in this thing, Iraq? It was crazy, we have no damn business in there.”)
Frank died on February 27th, 2011, at the age of 110. The last surviving U.S. veteran of World War I, he was properly laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery (find video of the ceremony here). There are two tributes to Mr Buckles that offer more insight into his life: a short video by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs and an obituary in the Washington Post.
By profession, Matthias Rascher teaches English and History at a High School in northern Bavaria, Germany. In his free time he scours the web for good links and posts the best finds on Twitter.
On a cold day in January 1969, The Beatles, who hadn’t played live since 1966, took to the rooftop of the headquarters of Apple Records, located at 3 Savile Row, in central London. And there they played an impromptu last gig, much to the delight of Londoners on nearby rooftops … and to the chagrin of the police.
At the time, The Beatles were recording their album, Let It Be, and the rooftop show let them run through various tracks from that last effort. Songs played during the set include “Get Back,” where the Beatles were accompanied by Billy Preston on the keyboards, and “Don’t Let Me Down,” “I’ve Got A Feeling,” “One After 909,” and “Danny Boy.” And finally “Dig A Pony” and another version of “Get Back.” We have the last song above. Watch a full playlist of videos here.
Famously, The Beatles’ live legacy ends with the police shutting down the show (it was a noise violation, you know?) and John Lennon uttering the immortal words, “I’d like to say thank you on behalf of the group and ourselves, and I hope we passed the audition.” That’s going out in style…
A little David Sedaris on your mobile device? Yes, please!
Last week, Hachette Digital released David’s Dairy, a new app that brings six animated short films inspired by David Sedaris’ diary to your Apple and Android devices. The films are short — most run about 45 seconds. They’re characteristically quirky and artfully designed. And the complete app costs runs only $1.99. But, at minimum, you get the longest video in the collection here for free and then this:
Bonus Material: In our collection of Free Audio Books, you will find two readings by David Sedaris. Here they go:
“The Mouse and the Snake” from Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Modest Bestiary – Free MP3
“Solution to Saturday’s Puzzle”from When You Are Engulfed in Flames – Free MP3
Earlier this week, NASA astronaut Clayton Anderson tweeted a 14 second time-lapse film of the Aurora Borealis taken from the International Space Station. The short clip called to mind a more extensive view of the Northern Lights shot by Don Pettit, also working in the ISS, back in 2008. (Watch above.) And it raised the basic question: What causes the Aurora Borealis anyway?
The beautiful natural phenomenon starts deep inside the core of the sun, and the rest of the story gets explained in a five minute animated video created by Norwegian filmmaker Per Byhring and the Physics Department at the University of Oslo.
The Israeli mashup artist Ophir Kutiel, otherwise known as Kutiman, strikes again. His latest creation, “This is Real Democracy,” offers a multimedia commentary on the messy state of world affairs. Which way will bankrupt democracies and nascent democratic movements take us? It’s unclear and a little unnerving, or perhaps a reminder of Churchill’s famous dictum “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried.” The mashup captures that sense in its own unique way…
Today, we’re rewinding the videotape to the early days of cinema. We’re starting in 1878 and then moving forward, watching eleven cinematic firsts, the moments when entire traditions in film were born. The first horror film. The first western. The first sci-fi film. And all of the rest. Some films we have featured here before, others not. All appear in our collection of 400 Free Movies Online. Sit back and enjoy…
If you’re looking for the first movie ever made, you can look back to The Horse In Motion, created by Eadweard Muybridge in 1878. Muybridge was asked by Leland Stanford (railroad magnate, California senator, race-horse owner, and eventual founder of Stanford University) to answer a popularly debated question: When a horse trots, do all four hooves leave the ground simultaneously? Muybridge’s stop motion film made it clear that they do.
A great film tradition – the Western – started in 1903 with The Great Train Robbery, Edwin S. Porter’s 10 minute film that combined western themes with innovative cinematic techniques (narrative storytelling, parallel editing, minor camera movement, location shooting, etc.). The film famously took its inspiration from an event that became the stuff of legend: Butch Cassidy’s 1900 train heist, which ended with Cassidy blowing open a safe and escaping with $5,000 in cash. Starting in the 1920s, John Wayne began shooting the first of many Westerns and took the genre to new heights. You can find 25 Free John Wayne Films right here.
A year before the Wright brothers launched the first airplane flight in 1903, Georges Méliès, a French filmmaker with already 400 films to his credit, directed a film that visualized a much bigger human ambition – landing a spacecraft on the moon. Loosely based on works by Jules Vernes (From the Earth to the Moon) and H. G. Wells (The First Men in the Moon), A Trip to the Moon (Le voyage dans la lune) invented one of our favorite cinematic genres – the science fiction movie. Today, many film critics consider Méliès’ short movie an enduring classic. The Village Voice ranked it #84 on its list of the 100 Best Films of the 20th Century, and you’ll almost certainly recognize the iconic shot at the 4:44 mark.
Chalk another one up for Georges Méliès. Even before he brought sci-fi to motion pictures, Méliès shot Le Manoir du Diable, or The Haunted Castle, in 1896, which many now consider the first horror movie. In this three minute film, a bat flies into a medieval castle, turns into Mephistopheles, then gets chased away by a crucifix. There you have it, the essential ingredients of the vampire film.
100 years ago, J. Searle Dawley wrote and directed Frankenstein. It took him three days to shoot the short, 12-minute movie (when most films were actually shot in just one day). It marked the first time that Mary Shelley’s literary creation was adapted to film. And, somewhat notably, Thomas Edison had a hand (albeit it an indirect one) in making the film. The first Frankenstein was shot at Edison Studios, the production company owned by the famous inventor.
In early 1920, Robert Wiene premiered in Berlin his silent film The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. Ever since, critics have lavished praise upon Caligari, calling it a model of German expressionist film, the greatest horror film of early cinema, and an important influence on directors later working in the film noir tradition. And, what’s more (spoiler alert), Wiene’s film introduced the first ‘twist ending’ to cinema. Today, you can watch this groundbreaking film in its entirety above, or by downloading it from the Internet Archive.
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