From Tugboats to Polar Bears

Portland filmmaker and Peripheral Produce ring-leader Matt McCormick makes films that combine found and original sounds and images to fashion abstract and witty observations of contemporary culture. In his recent documentary Towlines, which features an original soundtrack by James Mercer, Matt explores the role of the tugboat in modern society, while in American Nutria he examines the plight of an imported species and chastises capitalism’s tendency to create its own disasters. The Subconscious Art of Graffiti Removal makes the observation that the process of destroying one art form unwittingly creates another, while The Vyrotonin Decision, created with scraps of 16mm television clips from the early 70’s, reflects on some the advertising world’s more embarrassing moments. Matt’s work has screened in film festivals, galleries, and d.i.y. art spaces around the globe, and his film The Subconscious Art of Graffiti Removal was named as one of the ‘Top 10 Films of 2002’ by both The Village Voice and Art Forum magazine. Matt has also worked and collaborated with several artists and musicians, including The Shins, Miranda July, The Postal Service, Avalon Kalin, and Calvin Johnson.

Vanessa says: “Thanks to cousins Michael and Maria for sending us this little slice of interesting.  My favorites were The Subconscious Art of Grafitti Removal and The Vyrotonin decision.  Thanks so much for passing this on. Please feel free to leave your own reviews in the comment section. I give it 3 stars.”

Ava says:” I thought that the movie From Tug Boats to Polar Bears was a great movie.  Sincerely, Joe P. Bear was the best part of the movie because the polar bear’s voice was very funny.  I would like to thank Michael and Maria for this movie because I never knew about ‘The Art of Graffiti Removal.’ I would give it 3 1/2 stars.”

Payton says: ” From Tugboats to Polar Bears was an interesting movie. Or should I say, movies. There were several short films on the disc including: ‘Sincerely, Joe P. Bear, The Subconcious Art of Graffiti Removal,’ and, ‘American Nutria’ . My favorite short film was ‘The Vyrotonin Decision’. This film was just 36 commercials from the 70’s mashed together. It was very interesting to see what commercials were like back then compared to how they are now. Thanks Michael and Maria for sending us these movies! I thoroughly enjoyed them! I would rate these films 3 1/2 stars.”

Jack says: “I loved the movie. it showed to make art is to create something that is beautiful, and that art doesn’t have to always have a reason. I also just learned that tugboats do an important job.  A tugboat in Pearl harbor saved a whole battleship from sinking! I also liked that the movie had a sense of humor in some scenes. I rate the movie from tugboats to polar bears 4 3/4 stars! P.S. thanks for the movie Michael and Maria! It was great!

Sean says: “Dear readers,  I found these short films to be intriguing.  The (big word on it’s way) anthropomorphization of the tugboat didn’t appeal to me that much (except for the mention of the usefulness of used tires).  The music was a little rough on my ears, but complemented most of the subject matter, so it was well chosen.  My favorite piece was “The Subconscious Art of Graffiti Removal” — it was a great joke: I especially enjoyed the predictable but inescapable comparison to Mark Rothko, because I honestly don’t know what to make of any of his paintings. At the same time it did bring attention to something that, when we think about it, is a quite interesting accident of the graffiti artist and the civil servant;  I’ve been taking notice of the great pieces I pass in Brooklyn every day:  the constantly evolving pieces, and the ones that are just waiting to be born.  “Sincerely, Joe P. Bear” was strange and oddly funny;  I think the director had a lot of fun recording that voiceover of the film and it made me laugh to think of some of the strange things I might  have thought of a as a soundtrack to weird film clips from the past.  Thanks Michael and Maria for these;  they were enjoyable to watch and talk about.  I give these 3.5 stars.

One thought on “From Tugboats to Polar Bears

  1. We’re glad everyone liked the DVD!
    ”Sincerely, Joe P. Bear” always brings a tear to my eye but I have to agree, his voice IS pretty funny 🙂
    In case you are wondering why we chose this particular DVD, it is because of something we read here at the Galileo School. In the review of “The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill” (another favorite of ours), Vanessa talked about the effect of the non-native animals on the ecosystem which made me think of American Nutria which is on the DVD.

    We love reading your reviews!


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