Photo: Denis O'Regan/Getty Images

Manfrotto PIXI Mini Tripod

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When I started putting together our camera kit for this year’s Toronto International Film Festival, it became obvious that we would need a tripod solution—something very small and lightweight that could be set up on a tabletop. All the gear we used for our Facebook Live broadcasts (camera, microphone, laptop, etc.) needed to fit in my modestly sized backpack. What we opted for was a tiny inexpensive tripod called the Manfrotto PIXI. We used the larger model, the PIXI EVO, which has 2-section legs and could support the heavier weight of our Canon 5D Mk III; the standard PIXI mini has a reputation for being the best and sturdiest thing in its class for smaller cameras. (It’s my understanding that it can also bear a lot more than the stated 2.2 lb. maximum, though we didn’t want to risk it with an untested piece of gear, however inexpensive.) It’s not a replacement for a real tripod, but it’s cheap and easy enough to work with when you have to quickly set up a shot on a table or counter. Additionally, folding the larger EVO’s closed legs under the camera so that they’re running parallel with the lens makes it into a grip handle, which helped stabilize some handheld shots with the very body-heavy camera we were using. [Ignatiy Vishnevetsky]

Rebirth

One of my favorite genres of film is what I broadly refer to as “Serling stories”—i.e., movies that essentially play like long-form versions of an episode of The Twilight Zone. Often, these take the form of enlightenment narratives: I’m a sucker for anything where someone wakes up with no memory of where they are or how they got there, and spends the next 90 minutes slowly uncovering the answers. But the genre also incorporates the alternative, in which we start out wondering what something is all about, and then leaves you with more questions than those you started with. Rebirth, a terrifically enjoyable new film streaming on Netflix, falls squarely in the latter camp. Starring Fran Kranz (Dollhouse, The Cabin In The Woods), the movie follows a buttoned-up young guy (Kranz) who’s visited by his old college buddy (Adam Goldberg, doing his jittery weirdo thing) and exhorted to come along on a weekend retreat run by a mysterious self-help company called Rebirth. Marketed like a cross between Scientology and The Secret, nothing is known about what happens during these retreats, other than a video testimonial in which numerous people recount how the experience changed their lives for the better. To say any more would be to spoil the fun, but it’s safe to say, things are not what they seem. Even an abrupt left turn of an ending (it’s so hard to stick the landing with these types of stories) doesn’t dampen the exhilarating and dizzying head trip. It won’t be winning any awards, but for a certain type of movie fan (you already know if that’s you), it’s catnip. [Alex McCown-Levy]

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Rob Sheffield, On Bowie

Rob Sheffield—a longtime Rolling Stone writer and author of the memoir Love Is A Mix Tape—started knocking out On Bowie right after the icon died: It was on bookstore shelves just six months later. But the book isn’t some quickie cash-in; it’s more like a long essay on Sheffield’s relationship with Bowie’s music. While that might result in something annoyingly blog-like in a lesser writer’s hands, Sheffield doesn’t insert himself in annoying ways. And it’s not a slobbering reevaluation of Bowie’s catalog in light of the emotional punch of his death: It’s an honest reading from a diehard fan who has definite opinions on where Bowie went right and wrong. More than anything, it made me want to dip into the corners of Bowie’s catalog that I haven’t explored as much, and see if I find the same things that Sheffield so elegantly conveys. [Josh Modell]

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