Allen’s High Five: Videos to Watch

/ Jul 18, 2013

badlipreading

“Food Curated: Sky Ice: Daring New Flavors in Ice Cream”


A

From the foodie POV, there is a distinction when comparing cooking shows and food shows. Both should tell a story, but a cooking show’s aim is to introduce you to a new recipe, technique, or food stuff. A food show speaks to the culture or history of food with specific topics, such as farmers markets and artisan food craftspeople. As food shows go, “Food.Curated” is as damned close to perfection as possible. The story of Sky Ice, a Brooklyn ice cream revelation, is among the latest. The production is as tantalizing and appealing as the sublime flavor combinations created by the passionate ice cream maker; as a testament she eats her product for breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily.

The artist behind these brilliant mini documentaries is Liza de Guia who has a rare knack for displaying purity in her video storytelling that eclipses others in the food-is-life webisode space. Of the countless videos I have consumed, a few of my favorites are the story of a husband and wife salt farming duo from Long Island and the legend of Monk’s Meats, a vegetarian meat company in New York.


“The Single Life”

B+

After being fairly critical of Conde Nast’s attempt to video-tize its “10 Essentials” column, I have made an about-face as I heap some well-deserved praise on its Glamour web series, “The Single Life.” While the plot is fairly uninspired, two sets of twenty-somethings conspire, plot, and dish out advice on how to find a suitable person to date, using nothing more than your vast array of techy gizmos. The episodes to date are cute and breezy in an entertaining way; each segment focuses on some aspect of modern dating rituals, such as creating the proper Facebook profile. Even an old fogie like me got a grin when the woman part of the dating equation hunted for her possible match’s LinkedIn profile (I think he’s unemployed) while her male counterpart was in search of bikini photos (natch). My only issue with “The Single Life” is that anyone over 30 won’t grok an era in which dates can be arranged without a shred of verbal communication.

The star, or central character, is amiable Taryn Southern, an “American Idol” top 50 finisher and author of the viral YouTube video “Hot 4 Hill” in support of Hillary Clinton for president. Stun Creative handles production which includes some fairly funny on-screen pop-up annotations. The result is an adorable, engaging series of episodes lurking as the new couple try to work towards a relationship.


“Kip Kay, Mini Hacks: Mosquitoes”

B

Short, sweet, and relatively complete, we have Kip Kedersha who goes by Kip Kay, a master of solving everyday problems (as well as inventing some problems for which he offers fixes). The concept brings us Kip mashing up Bill Nye and McGyver and repurposing materials — such as sawing a two-liter soda bottle in half and adding some sugary goop to attract nasty insects.

The interweb says that Kip is the all-time leading grosser on Metacafe for his series of how-to videos and I suspect his popularity stems from his tongue-in-cheek, get-right-to-the point approach to these hacks. While many are useful, others are odd, and a few a tad unsavory. Teaching folks how to cheat on a test by turning your calculator into a voice recorder looks like fun, but it’s also enough to get you kicked out of school. For the most part, though, these mini hacks are entertaining and often useful. It got me to thinking about the various electronic swag I have in original packaging that could be hacked (or sold) for alternative uses.


“Bad Lip Reading”

A

One of the more poorly ripped-off genres is the adding or dubbing of a soundtrack to an original movie. Made popular by the folks behind MST3K (Mystery Science Theater 3000), it actually originated with Woody Allen’s masterpiece “What’s Up Tiger Lily.” Many have tried to copy these two brilliant creations and few have succeeded. I put “Bad Lip Reading” in the win column — maybe at the top of the win column.

BLR is a spot-on dose of piss-in-your pants hilarity created by an anonymous Texas music and video producer whose mother went deaf in her 40s, introducing him to the art of lip reading. Honestly, the videos have very little to do with lip reading other than synching outrageous words over the original sound — the result often delivers comic satire and water-out-your-nose laughter. BLR does not produce clips on a regular schedule with the most recent being “La Fwa,” a great spoof of Beyoncé’s national anthem renditions at President Obama’s inauguration. The first, and perhaps one of the best, is a smackdown of Rebecca’s Black’s “Friday” which debuted on YouTube on March 2011. That clip has been viewed more than eight million times.

BLR’s take on NFL is my favorite and better than anything you will find on “Funny or Die.”  It has been viewed more than 38 million times. I may account for half of those.


“It’s About a Girl”

 

A

At first I didn’t know what to make of Andrew Jenks’ new series, “About A Girl” starring the aforementioned Taryn Southern and the filmmaker himself. From a distance, we are watching a pretty music video that provides a backdrop to the story of a young man’s angst over living in an urban world of strange faces in which direct engagement with a woman is an abstract notion. Upon deeper reflection, the complexity of the story unveils itself, punctuated by the juxtaposition of fantasy and reality.

Chapter 2, “Take a Seat,” is a grabber as the two sides of the same coin come into deeper focus. As the haunting melody of “Haunted” by a remarkable band from Nashville, Leagues, gently fills the screen, our hero is on a rooftop deck having a romantic evening with the object of his affection, Ms. Southern. The fantasy dissolves into reality as the couple is locked in a romantic kiss against the sweeping skyline of Manhattan. Reality sets in as Jenks is on the subway exchanging furtive glances with a fellow female passenger, but is overcome with self doubt and the scene ends as his flirt-mate exits, the doors close and, the train car pulls away leaving our hero wondering what could have been but never will be.

Jenks is an accomplished filmmaker as well as the star of an MTV reality show, “The World of Jenks” now in its third season. It takes a big talent to distill a powerful story into a less-than-three minute video clip without dialogue, but this critic believes Jenks nailed it here.

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