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Down and Nerdy: "Copyright Criminals" and Satoshi Kon

IN WHICH sampling is sampled, and an anime master is remembered

Briana's pick: "Copyright Criminals"

If you’re a hip-hop loving music nerd like me then you are pretty familiar with a little game I like to play called “name that sample.” Sampling (using a segment of someone else’s musical recording as part of one’s own otherwise original recording) didn’t necessarily start with hip-hop (rock and roll is pretty much based on borrowed melodies and even the Beatles “Revolution 9” involves sampling) but it (and the turntable) certainly popularized the technique.

Copyright Criminals examines the creative and commercial value of musical sampling, including the related debates over artistic expression, copyright law, and (of course) money.” (I just stole that description off the documentary website by the way, note the quotes—respect.) It’s an intelligent and well-rounded look at the subject from the viewpoint of the artists who sample (Public Enemy, De La Soul, DJ Qbert), the artists who are sampled (George Clinton, Clyde Stubblefield), the people who produce them (Steve Albini, Tom Silverman—CEO of Tommy Boy Records) and finally the lawyers who sue them. Regardless of whether you are into rap or not, it’s a great doc that examines who stole (or remixed) the soul.

James' pick: The films of Satoshi Kon

One of the greats of Japanese animation – no, scratch that, animation in general – passed away last week just shy of his 47th birthday.

Satoshi Kon made animated films that regularly stepped outside of the already-blurry lines drawn around anime as a genre. "Tokyo Godfathers" is about three homeless people who find an abandoned baby and struggle to figure out what to do; "Paprika" is a mind-bending fantasy that is more than a little similar to Christopher Nolan's "Inception," although it predated it by several years.

All of his films are worth a rental, but I'm personally most fond of his 13-episode TV series, "Paranoia Agent." Previews below … Oh, and if you have a few minutes, you can read his absolutely heart-rending final blog post, written when he knew the end was in sight and needed to say his farewells. It's worth a read even if you don't care at all about animation.