The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida on August 11, 2007 · Page 50
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The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida · Page 50

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West Palm Beach, Florida
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Saturday, August 11, 2007
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Page 50
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4D THE PALM BEACH POST SATURDAY, AUGUST 11, 2007 For nerdcore, mainstream acceptance not the point NERDCORE from ID Wolfenstein 3D. Then nerdcore came along. Nerdapalooza A largely white subgenre of hip-hop that celebrates the solitary pleasures of science fiction, computers and bad teenage movies, nerdcore is emerging from the shadows of the Internet, where it spent the last half-decade as anin-joke. This do-it-yourself brand of rap, part self-expression and part self-satire, has inspired two documentary films, and its own festival, Nerdapalooza, in California. This month, MC Chris otherwise known as Christopher Ward, 31, the son of a finance executive from the affluent Chicago suburb of Libertyville, III will attempt an unprecedented nerdcore crossover when he joins mosh-pit-friendly rock acts like New Found Glory and Sum 41 on the Warped Tour. "I feel like the whole rap audience is me," said Ward, perched on a tattered sofa in the greenroom at Emo's before the show, wearing a Star Wars baseball cap. "White kids, playing video games, living in the suburbs. So what if one of them spoke their mind, what would happen then?" When he expresses himself on stage, in a breathy tenor that makes him sound like a 12-year-old waiting for his voice to change, Ward affects a tough-guy posture Ratner on playboy reputation: Tm not the guy they say I am' RATNER from id by the time the third movie in a series is made? "Well, Spielberg is now doing Indiana Jones 4" he responds in his defense. "But I love doing this. IU do Rush Hour 10 if they ask me. Working with these guys is the most fun you can ever have making a movie." And fun is very high on Ratner's value scale. He has a reputation in Hollywood as a party animal, a playboy, labels that he scoffs at "Yeah, I like to have parties, but I don't drink, I don't do drugs ever in my whole life," he says. "My picture gets in the tabloids because if they see me out with a girl, of course they say that's my girlfriend. But I'm not the guy they say I am." Still, he concedes that he had a 13-year relationship with actress Rebecca Gay-heart and more recently was romantically entwined with Palm Beach Gardens tennis pro Serena Williams. Although Williams has let it be known she is interested in an acting career, Ratner says she never hit him up for a role in one of his movies. "She's very shy around me about that" he notes. "I don't really work with people I have relationships with, I think that crosses the line a little." Tennis, anyone? No. Similarly, Williams would really rather not play tennis with Ratner. As he puts it "We'd go away somewhere where there were tennis courts and I'd go, 'C'mon, let's hit' or I'd carry around my tennis racket and she'd go, "What the hell are you doing?' I'd say, 'Don't you like playing with me?' and she'd go, 'Brett, I want to be honest with you, OK? There's nothing I hate more in life than playing tennis with you.' "I guess it's frustrating (for her) playing with somebody thats not a pro, ylcnow. She was just miserable." There is a hyper frat student air about Ratner, yet . he insists that image is misleading. His argument? "My grandparents live with me. How much of a party boy can I be when my grandparents are there in the house?" Ask him who his friends are and Ratner will mention some of the old lions of Hollywood, like producer Robert Evans, actor-director Warren Beatty and screenwriter Robert Towne. Of Evans, former Paramount Pictures studio head in the era of The Godfather atad Love Story, Ratner says, "He's been my mentor. I lived Miuu.. i mi uii.iiimmi lll mjjji .Him -----'-imriiiml" i - " IA .,...,,.... ,.. --J Nerdcore hip-hop rapper MC Chris performs last month at Emo's in Austin, Texas. Nerdcore, a largely white subgenre of hip-hop that celebrates the solitary pleasures of science fiction, computers and bad teenage movies, is emerging from the shadows of the Internet. This do-it-yourself brand of rap, part self-expression and part self-satire, has inspired two documentary films, and its own festival, Nerdapalooza. familiar to mainstream rap. As the lyrics to his song Geek go: "Stop pickin' on meBecause I'm a geekI'm strange to youYou're strange to meWell, one of these daysI'm gonna pack heat Your brains on the wallMy face on TV." In conversation, Ward was quick to point out that the term "nerdcore" coined by fellow rapper MC Frontalot in 2000 may be too self-limiting, because "nerds" are hardly the only children of the '80s who were raised on Transformers, Indiana Jones It ' hy4 yr Hll"llt.imii.iMm.i Photo courtesy Glen WilsonNew Line Cinema Director Brett Ratner studies a scene on the set of Rush Hour 3. His next project is a biopic of Playboy founder Hugh Hefner. in his house for two years and sat on his bed every evening and heard all his stories. Every day he says something profound, like 'Never trust a doctor whose houseplants have died.' He's a philosopher." Beatty "gave me the best advice ever," says Ratner. "I was like, "Why are people attacking me, I don't understand.' And he said, 'Brett, having success means people write bad things about you. Its like seasickness. You think you're going to die and the people around you think it's amusing.' " What does not amuse Ratner is how little respect most of Hollywood has for its own history and for filmmakers of a certain age. "The truth is with all these guys, they're kind of hung out to dry, because young Hollywood doesn't appreciate the talent that they have and the movies that they've made." says Ratner. "I love the old-school guys." Enter Polanski He relishes the fact that Oscar-winning director Roman Polanski (The Pianist) appears in Rush Hour 3, the culmination of a friendship that began nine years ago when Polanski called Ratner, praising the original Rush Hour. "Critics are snobs. Directors love a good movie no matter what the genre," he says. Phoning Polanski after arriving in Paris to shoot Rush Hour 3, Ratner idly joked that he should be in the movie. When the Polish filmmaker took him seriously, Ratner had screenwriter Jeff Nathanson insert the role of a French police inspector that did not previously exist "He hasn't been in a movie since (1974's) Chinatown,'' says Ratner emphatically. "He'd fiever been in a movie like this before. He was the movies, and Public Enemy. "It's so weird to talk about these as my specific influences, because they're not," said Ward, who earned an undergraduate degree in screenwriting at New York University and worked as a producer, animator and voice actor for late-night Adult Swim cartoons like Aqua Teen Hunger Force before turning to music full time in 2005. "This is everyone's story." 'Nerdcore for Life!' The growing number of most professional actor I've ever worked with. He was amazing." Next up for Ratner is a biopic of another elder icon he admires, Playboy founder Hugh Hefner. "The reason I wanted to do this is I don't think young people know his true values," Ratner explains. "He created the sexual revolution. He did so much for civil rights, for freedom of speech. It will be a movie of substance. It's not just going to be a movie about making a magazine and naked girls." Uh, but there will be naked girls, won't there, Brett? "Oh, of course," he shoots back. "That's a given." The only time Ratner gets a little huffy is when it is suggested that the Hefner project will be a departure for him. A man of many genres "I've done some very different types of movies," he insists. "Red Dragon was a psychological thriller. I did Family Man, which was a romantic fantasy. I did science fiction with X-Men. I don't just do action comedy. I don't think there is one action director who has done as many genres except for Spielberg as I have." If Rush Hour 3 is unlikely to bring him awards or show the industry a new side of Ratner, it will be another financial windfall for him and boost him a bit further up that A-list bankability ladder. But none of that seems to matter to Ratner. For him, it was all worth it when he got to work on the Eiffel Tower after hours, from midnight to 6 a.m. "The greatest moment of my career was turning the lights on and off on the Eiffel Tower," he says gleefully. "I called up my girlfriend back in the hotel, saying, 'Look at this, baby. Look what I'm doing.' " f haperstein6pbpost.com ' ERICH SCHLEGEL The New York Times nerdcore (or nerd rap, or geek rap) artists and fans seems to bear that out, said Dan lamoureux, 30, a filmmaker in Chicago whose documentary Nerdcore for Life! is in postproduction. When he started the project in 2005, he could find only a couple of dozen rappers who seemed to fit the criteria of nerdcore. Now, he said, there are hundreds, if not thousands. "I probably hear from a new rapper every day on my MySpace page," Lamoureux said. He added: "People had NOW B. HI AVIlin rUAUNCMAO inc mcAinc FLAT I H U 561 -776-4000 56 1 -833-7305 A CHARMING AND WITTY ROMANCE. Anne Hathaway is terrific as Jane Austen.' ' -OoudttPlHfl --' ,5 4 "ST FT EhfSrtuflerkglmrt IS A TRIUMPH BECOMING tefEHJR'!!MIHe(ff scion ,v;a JANE AUSTEN'S GREATEST INSPIRATION WAS HER OWN LOVE STORY : COBB BMC JUPITER 18 PGA CINEMA 6 I 800-FANDANGO190 561-776-4000 ; . " MUVIC0 REGAL PARISIAN 20 ROYAL PALM BEACH 561-833-0400 B00-FANDANGO 207 One Movie Dares to Rise Above the Rest! MfNIiaKIU JUflTU 18 aHEMAS KYKTON CINEMA KTNTOH KAffl 14 SSsSJUaW KTUNIIIUOIII IHMKCWStMII I Great ideas for your weekend. TGIF - FRIDAYS CLICK on JOBS been making geeky rap all along. They just didn't realize anyone had put a name on it" Many nerdcore anthems You Got Asperger's by MC Frontalot, Fett's Vette by MC Chris, View Source, by Ytcracker ("Eagerly awaiting my macro advancesrunning with my beta cuz I'm taking chances") are as much efforts at comedy as they are attempts at sincere hip-hop. From its early days, hip-hop has been an art form born from oppression and marginalization, where performers sought to turn limitations into strengths, and the harshest circumstances yielded the best material. While no one is going to compare life in the high-school computer lab to the streets of the South Bronx or certainly, wedgies to racism suburban dweebs have their beefs with society, too. And hip-hop has always been malleable enough to be modified by performers from any niche. If the category can make room for "hick hop" of Kid Rock, the jazzbo musings of Us3, and the neo-psychedelia of De La Soul, it can presumably squeeze in a few nerds, too as long as they keep to their side of the cafeteria. No stigma Being a nerd no longer merits a scarlet "N" in an era when Napoleon Dynamite and Ugly Betty have become teenage heroes, the Apple founder Steve Jobs is virtually a rock star, and Mf. i No NOW SHOWING CHECK DIRECTORIES FOR LISTINGS SCORES BIG TIME. IT'S HOT STUFF.' VK I K HAMMLIMII MMAIM "CAPTURES THE INTOXICATING a ' - SPIRIT OF THE SALSA EXPLOSION." y M " AGUSTTO GURZA. LOS ANGELES TIMES I -kf JM f NOW PLAYING ATA PALM BEACH THEATRE NEAR YOU! IWH1!IHilH.I,. TIRED OF LEFTOVERS? TRY THE MOVIE THAT'S 96 FRESH! For Theatres and Showtimes: Check Movie Clock or Directories or Text RAT with your ZIP CODE to 43KIX (43549) or Visit www.ratatouille.com OTeW$tfwfWrid I , ,,( NOW SHOWING n CHICK T7? From W v5 riTTPgHww':j:TllrJ,iirT1u;ig :;:,i-w- NOW PLAYING CHECK LOCAL LISTINGS FOR THEATERS AND SHOWTIMES ftOftRV, HO PASSU KCWTO PCM THIS fNOMUUMl r Hatch a.o. 9 YouTube has helped make every geek a star in his own mind. Almost all of nerdcore is self-published, and much of it is circulated for free among fans in chat rooms and in e-mail messages. The genre's Elvis-strolls-into-Sun-Studios moment happened alone, in a bedroom, behind a keyboard. In 2000, a 26-year-old Web designer from Berkeley, Calif, named Damian Hess was playfully rapping into his computer "for an audience of my monitor and a couple of Star Wars figurines" and strung together a song called Nerdcore Hiphop. ("I suffer hypochondriathink my UCCU9 lO OltlV. What started as a joke turned into a career, said the shaved-headed Hess, 33, whose signature accessory ; (as MC Frontalot) is a pair of giant, square, black-frame i glasses like those made fa-mous by the Hollywood agent Swifty Lazar. Hess is now scheduled to be one of the headliners at the Nerdapalooza festival, which features nearly 40 bands, in Eureka, Calif., on Sept 22 and 23. But mainstream acceptance, he said, was never the point. "By definition, nerdcore j has to be marginal," said Hess, who now lives in ; Brooklyn. But the margins these days can be wider than ever. "Because of the Internet," he said, "any cultural nllia nfin fin A oil O mi11Irn people who are fascinated by it." 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