Lollapalooza gets smart (again)

A year after organizers of Lollapalooza (which has seemingly gone from pop music super-event to dated freak show and back several times) made a smart decision to stage a one-time event rather than a summer-long tour, they have further evolved the music festival with a greater inclusion of hip-hop in the 2006 lineup.

Lollapalooza has always had a kitchen-sink-included feel - even in the original tours they did manage to make room for Cypress Hill. But back then hip-hop mostly occupied its own separate niche from the alt-rockers. But with the underground creating its own appeal, hip-hop has never been safer for indie rock geeks.

Of course indie music geeks still don’t have THAT much money, so despite the gains indie has made in the mainstream Lollapalooza needed an act to really draw. So they went and booked the biggest hip-hop star on the planet, Kanye West.

This particular music geek thinks Lollapalooza has done a good thing. Any weekend festival that can present Sonic Youth, Sleater-Kinney and The Shins alongside Kanye and Lyrics Born is alright by me (even if I have to put up with the dull Common and obnoxious indie darlings Death Cab for Cutie). I may even have to consider a trip to Chicago on August 4-6, though I’m sure the busy nature of my job during that time of year will preclude those thoughts. I’m just not rock and roll enough, I guess. Curse the real world.

Gunplay, elaborate marketing and B-movies

Not that most movies released in February deserve anything more than nose-thumbing - if the studios know it blows, why should you care? - but I’ve been particularly perplexed by ads for Ultraviolet, starring sci-fi B-movie queen Milla Jovovich. My initial idea was that it was another in a quickly growing line of video games turned to movies (I’m eagerly awaiting the moment when reality completes its implosion and we get a film based on The Sims).

That thin argument for entertainment didn’t explain Ultraviolet, but IMDb’s trivia on the film opened up a far stranger can of wrigglies.

Milla Jovovich’s character uses a more authentic variant of “Gun Kata” - a unique blend of gunfighting and martial arts developed by director Kurt Wimmer for his previous film Equilibrium (2002).

Huh? Yes, Gunkata. Here’s the official description from the official site:

Gunkata forms can be used soley as a form of meditation and self-centering. In civillian applications, Gunkata can greatly increase your chances of coming out a gun fight alive. Sports such as paintball are a good applictaion for Gunkata techniques without the use of deadly force. Gunkata also teaches how to disarm an armed opponent, and has forms for using a weapon that has run out of ammo.

But before you start to wonder if these people are taking it all too seriously, the FAQ lets us all in on the joke insidious marketing. Gunkata, you see, was developed by director Kurt Wimmer (whose directorial debut was the Brian Bosworth vehicle One Tough Bastard) and fight choreographer Jim Vickers (who is credited as the stunt coordinator for such action spectacles as TV’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and “Joey“) for their 2002 apparent cult hit Equilibrium (the cast includes Maria Pia Calzone - I include her for name alone). The FAQ is kind enough to inform us that we can see gunkata in that film, which was released December 6th, 2002 in the United States to select cities.

If you want to know a little more about Mr. Wimmer - but shouldn’t One Tough Bastard be enough? - breathe in this nugget: For a man on film, there is no greater moment than the instant when he suddenly gives up everything he knows or thought he ever wanted and starts whipping ass for love or principle. I suddenly understand “Walker, Texas Ranger.”