Sigur Rós

The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman

Editor’s note: Our review of what was then called The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman originally ran during this year’s Sundance film festival, but we’re re-posting it now as the film opens in limited release today. A close up of a beaten and bloodied Shia LaBeouf (who plays the title character) hanging upside down is the first image of The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman and brings one question to mind: what did Charlie do? A voice over (from John Hurt) explains simply that “love is pain” as the story takes us “back to the beginning” to a stark hospital room where Charlie’s mother (Melissa Leo) lies dying. As she takes her final breath, something strange happens, and suddenly a healthy looking Leo sits next to Charlie to impart some last words and wisdom. This idea that Charlie can hear from the dead (complete with a tongue-in-cheek joke about The Sixth Sense) is touched upon throughout the film, but unfortunately ends up being more distracting (and sometimes laughable) than a necessary trope to help drive the story along. Charlie’s mom tells him he should go to Bucharest, essentially because she thinks he will “have fun” there. So he does.

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Aural Fixation - Large

You may have watched, or even just heard of, the slightly strange video featuring Shia LaBeouf and dancer Denna Thomsen that hit the web a few months back. The video features the pair dancing, fighting, and losing themselves to the almost sad sounding piano refrains of Sigur Rós’ “Fjögur Píanó” from the band’s latest album, Valtari. But even though the duo may have been performing to the music, the production was clearly more than a simple music video. Clocking in at a little over eight minutes, the video was directed by Alma Har’el (Bombay Beach) and is one of seventeen videos commissioned by Sigur Rós to be a part of their Valtari Film Experiment. Rather than simply going on tour to bring their latest album to the public, Sigur Rós had various filmmakers and artists take each of Valtari’s tracks and create their own visions inspired by them. Music and images have long gone hand-in-hand, with music used to score a film or images are used to depict the meaning behind a song, but when paired together, their impact becomes even greater. Sigur Rós, a band that has never shied away from experimentation, has taken the first step by creating the music and then released it to be re-imagined by others. Bands usually create music videos to accompany their songs and give fans a greater look at the song’s meaning, but this experiment allows those outside of the band have complete creative control to see what that freedom yields.

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Why Watch? Animation in service of a love story about intolerance, guilt and violent redemption, Seraph comes as part of Sigur Ros‘ Valtari Mystery Film Project – a challenge to a baker’s dozen of filmmakers to make a short using the music from the band’s new album. The result here from John Cameron Mitchell and Dash Shaw (whose animation work was in Rabbit Hole) is astonishing in its childlike visuals and moving in the story it tells. Wordlessly, a young man grows up questioning his sexual attractions with a father who uses his fists more than his compassion. Brutality begets brutality, and the young man’s life spins without an anchor toward the inevitable conclusion at the end of a pool cue. Fortunately and unfortunately, his actions aren’t the end of the road. Hat tip to IndieWire for featuring this excellent short. What will it cost you? Only 9 minutes. Skip work. Watch more short films.

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Aural Fixation - Large

There are a few things you can expect from a Cameron Crowe film – beautiful people, emotional speeches, memorable quotes and moving music. Crowe’s latest film, We Bought a Zoo, has all these elements plus a score by Sigur Rós front man, Jónsi Birgisson. This choice was a bit of a departure for Crowe who usually fills his films with music from various bands, singers and songwriters and while Crowe still has songs from different artists in We Bought a Zoo (Tom Petty, Cat Stevens and Bob Dylan, to name a few), the musical focus and backbone is mainly provided by Jónsi whose music is more about the impression of sounds rather than impact of lyrics.

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published: 12.23.2014
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published: 12.22.2014
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published: 12.19.2014
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