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Sonic Outlaws (1995)

Director: Craig Baldwin
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Rating: Not Rated
Studio: Other Cinema
Genre: Documentary, Independent, Experimental/Avant-Garde
Running Time: 95 min.
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The motto of this fast-paced, often hilarious American documentary that examines the changing attitudes towards multi-media plagiarism is "Copyright Infringement Is Your Best Entertainment Value." To make his point, filmmaker Craig Baldwin presents a collage of interviews, illegally "borrowed" samplings, and legal cases, providing examples of each that range from a record company's lawsuit against an independent rock band's satirical samplings to cellular phone scanners, to "billboard bandits." Baldwin also points out historical examples of artist's stealing ideas from each other. ~ Sandra Brennan, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Exclusive Interview

Andy Spletzer has an "entertaining, exhausting, exuberant and ultimately edifying" conversation with Craig Baldwin about Sonic Outlaws and Spectres of the Spectrum, Other Cinema's screenings, DVDs and zine and the film he's working on right now. Full article >>

GreenCine Member Reviews

Take that, copyrights! by tboot May 5, 2005 - 12:36 PM PDT
4 out of 4 members found this review helpful
Craig Baldwin has found the perfect material on which to wield his mighty editing knife and vast found-footage collection. Sonic Outlaws begins as a free-wheeling portrait of Oakland-based noise-band Negativland, who were sued by Island Records for releasing an album which, Island claimed, infringed on the rights of one of their artists, U2. Its a great story; outrageous and richly ironic and, by itself, great material for a film. But thats only the beginning. Baldwin rockets through the whole world of copyright infringement, fair use and sound- and image-sampling from their roots in the Dada and Cubist movements in the early century to Andy Warhol soup cans, from Silly Putty to satellite downlinks, from billboard 'improvement' to do-it-yourself Barbie surgery. In the process, he lays out the foundation of a new 'electronic folk culture.' This is no public-TV-style documentary--far from it--because the whole film is processed through Baldwin's own brilliantly edited media barrage: monster movies, music videos, TV evangelists, Pixelvision, Daffy Duck, jackalope postcards and Casey Kasem cursing like a truck driver are but a few of his weapons. He's also ejected any pretense of documentary 'objectivity' -- his position is clearly one of total advocacy and his film is pure, unadulterated, culture-jamming propoganda. He showcases such articulate media pirates as John Osborn (creator of Plunderphonics), the tape-Beatles, and the Emergency Broadcast Network (whose own TV collages were used by U2 during their ZooTV tour). Its truly an astonishing film, both deeply thought-provoking and laugh-out-loud funny, and much more invigorating than any documentary is supposed to be.

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 7.17)
23 Votes
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