A triptich of films with Tokyo as their jumping off point. Each one by a different director: Michel Gondry, Leos Carax and Bong Joon-ho. Of the three, Critics seem to like Gondry’s the best, followed by Joon-ho and none seem to like Carax’s. For me the order is just the reverse. Usually, I love Gondry’s films but Interior Design was my least favorite of this trio. I’ve only seen one of Joon-ho’s films previously, the Host (worth a watch in it’s own right), here Shaking Tokyo was my second favorite. Of these particular three, my favorite was Merde by Carax. The film still above is from Merde. Maybe I liked it the best because it’s the one that “follows the debased exploits of an unsightly subterranean creature.”

All three tell unique stories, and are shot really well, particularly Joon-ho’s Shaking Tokyo. You can tell these are seasoned filmmakers who are each doing their thing. Gondry’s Interior Design had the necessary quirkiness, but Merde was just plain weird and that is what I like the best. My only criticism is that although in many ways the three films are distinctly Tokyo, they are also not Tokyo enough, in each, the city itself plays only a minor role which seems an odd thing to pass up since it is such a rich source and also happens to be the title of the movie! Two Frenchmen, and a Korean make a movie that is actually three, in Gibberish, French, German, Korean, and Japanese with English subtitles. (Maybe it’s too many cooks?)

I got to see a special screening at the French Institute but you can go see the movie when it opens on March 6th.

Shepard Fairey et al @ NYPL


Attended a Panel at the New York Public Library today, entitled “Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy” with Shepard Fairey, Lawrence Lessig and Steven Johnson.

This is my second event in this series, first one was with Zadie Smith, and I think it’s starting to be a trend. I certainly enjoyed Tonight, it’s super nice to be in a room full of smart people and be part of an intelligent conversation on important topics.

The important topic of the night being copyright and everyone’s right to be creative and remix. The panelists were generally in favor of intellectual property rights but also agreed that our current system is failing us and the legal system is really following the money and not at all looking out for the public good. I also learned Lawrence Lessig will never run for any public office, Shepard Fairy aims to make populist art with accessible metaphors, and Stephen Johnson introduced me to some underground writings of Thomas Jefferson and we all tried to figure out where to draw the line of acceptable use when making a remix.

watch Lessig’s excellent talk at TED
read any of Johnson’s Fascinating Books
make your own fairey-esque remix
check out other NYPL LIVE events


Energy Conscious


Here’s an idea how about every time you go to turn on the light, just by using the switch you will know- A: relatively how expensive your energy usage is, B: how much energy you and your entire neighborhood is using at that moment.

No, you don’t need a little led readout, you don’t need to do math, or worry about stats, you will simply by using this switch know. The same way you know where your arms are when your eyes are closed, the same way you have a general sense of which gear your car is in just by touching the stick.

How does the SmartSwitch do this? Easy. It simply makes it a little bit harder to turn on the light the more energy is in use at the moment. You go to turn on the light, there is a little bit of resistance, you think to yourself: “Do I really need this light right now?” and then you either turn it on anyway or you leave it off, “no not right now.”

Greener Gadgets Design competition
SmartSwitch Peter Russo & Brendan Wypich
Stanford University 2009
more info

The Five Obstructions


I really enjoy watching or reading first hand accounts of how an artist works. I like anything that gives me insight into an artist’s mind. Often times when you hear artists speak you get no tangible insight at all, but you do get the flavor, the cadence, the odd ways their minds put things together. Often there is an incongruity between what you see as their creation and what they are saying about it. I enjoy that and I like to compare my creative process to theirs. It never ceases to be fascinating to watch other people be creative.

I’m not a filmmaker, I know very little about that particular craft, so I was pleasantly surprised to be able to get so close to a filmmakers mind in this particular documentary. The five obstructions is about two artists getting together and one of them gives the other a series of five challenges to overcome. You get to see each challenge and each solution in a call and response fashion and it is just fascinating and enlightening to be able to see this process.

(also a must see if you like nordic accents.)

a film by Lars Von Trier
and Jørgen Leth
watch a preview



It was truly visually stunning. It was so rich in detail, it’s almost overwhelming to think about the amount of work that went into creating it. Every intricate detail and special effect is done using the “old-fashioned” technique of stop motion. The story is also engaging and has enough twists to keep you along for the ride. But mostly it is a visual feast, and doubly so when you view it in 3D. Overall a great slowly expanding, at times unsettling, gross and funny, adventure, full of quirky and diverse, engaging characters.

For some reason I thought this had something to do with Tim Burton, apparently the iconic look of Nightmare before Christmas has actually more to do with the director than Burton. In that case I have Henry Selick to thank for this fun and amazing movie.


outliersWhile reading Malcom Gladwell’s latest book I couldn’t really figure out why it is so controversial. Everything he said made a lot of sense to me. Perhaps he is just really good at laying our his arguments, he is a convincing writer, all the while expounding theories that fly in the face of the ideals that the United States is mostly built on, like The Myth of the Self Made man.

I think, just as he does, that it is important to acknowledge chance and good luck and unusual opportunities in people’s success stories. That way we can assure more success for more people by bringing those extra opportunities to everyone. I do wish he would have touched on some theories that maybe counter what he is saying, that is usually what a good thesis does.

Also, if I ever disliked flying, I am even more weary, having an even more first-hand account of all the things that can go wrong in the cockpit. I never thought “cultural legacy” was something I would have to add to that list. Gladwell devotes a whole chapter to this subject.