Elevate Difference

Cantankerous Titles and Obscure Ephemera, Volume 1

This DVD of short documentaries by Joe Biel was probably the best thing that’s come in the mail for me this month. I mean that; I don’t even get a lot of bills! Maybe, as someone who enjoys interviewing people, I am a bit biased, but I really enjoy the subjects Biel presents, as well as the way personal commentary figures in, yet is not contrived.

Among them, Martinis In The Bike Lane is probably the highlight of the collection: a short about the improvisational graphics in Portland’s “bike only” lanes, and the crew who made them. Of Dice and Men explores the competitive world of the board game RISK among anarchists and college students who would normally consider themselves rational, anti-imperialist and non-competitive.

Although a really good concept, the interviews - with women about their interactions with family members and men who seem to change faces when playing the game might be of interest to those exploring, but it goes on for a bit too long (almost forty minutes). Also noteworthy is the tongue-in-cheek Central Kansas: Canvas Central, about patches as media and the punk relationship with them. It’s really worth checking out, especially for fans of Christy C. Road or Aaron Cometbus.

Written by: Janine Ohnoski, March 20th 2007