Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Notable film and media links--February 3, 2010--nearly Oscar nomination-free edition

---Betty Davis blooper reel

---Steven Poster shares the secrets of his cinematography in films that include Donnie Darko:

"A turning point in his understanding came in Charles Potts’ photography course, when Potts began the semester by announcing softly, “Light is a law.” Steven’s talk for us, he explained modestly, was a “profoundly simple subset” of Potts’ course. Put it another way: In the Bauhaus spirit, he showed how simple principles yield subtle results. Armed with only a white ball, a white cube, and a white cylinder, he gave us a tutorial in the delicate modulations of vision.

There are, Steven suggested, basically only two kinds of light: direct and indirect (or diffuse). Sunshine yields direct light; a cloudy day yields diffuse light. And when light falls on an object, the encounter has five components. The object gains a highlight, the bright region that suggests the direction of the light source. The object also acquires a shadow area. Between the highlight and the shadow is the boundary, or core—an important hint about the quality of the source light. (If the core has a crisp edge, the light is hard; if the core is a mild transition, the light is softer.) The fourth component is the shadow that the object casts on another surface. Finally, there is the specular or incident highlight, a spot of reflected light within the lit region."

---the existential nihilism of Bill Murray

---Thanks to an unexpected best picture nomination, Neill Blomkamp's thoughts are of interest again

---13 blogs that became books

---Hokahey's difficulties when producing a high school stage production

---8 videos of Wes Anderson discussing Fantastic Mr. Fox and 1 of Scorsese directing the much anticipated Shutter Island

---Ann Hathaway talks of Alice in Wonderland

---Roger Ebert writes of how to read a movie using Giannetti's Understanding Movies:

"In simplistic terms: Right is more positive, left more negative. Movement to the right seems more favorable; to the left, less so. The future seems to live on the right, the past on the left. The top is dominant over the bottom. The foreground is stronger than the background. Symmetrical compositions seem at rest. Diagonals in a composition seem to "move" in the direction of the sharpest angle they form, even though of course they may not move at all. Therefore, a composition could lead us into a background that becomes dominant over a foreground. Tilt shots of course put everything on a diagonal, implying the world is out of balance. I have the impression that more tilts are down to the right than to the left, perhaps suggesting the characters are sliding perilously into their futures. Left tilts to me suggest helplessness, sadness, resignation. Few tilts feel positive. Movement is dominant over things that are still. A POV above a character's eyeline reduces him; below the eyeline, enhances him. Extreme high angle shots make characters into pawns; low angles make them into gods. Brighter areas tend to be dominant over darker areas, but far from always: Within the context, you can seek the "dominant contrast," which is the area we are drawn toward. Sometimes it will be darker, further back, lower, and so on. It can be as effective to go against intrinsic weightings as to follow them."

---Anne Petersen explains how to make a Valentine's Day movie

---pictures of abandoned Soviet military bases

---gaming Dante's Inferno

---processing words instead of writing them. Multitasking instead of reasoning:

"Nass is skeptical. In a recent unpublished study, he and his colleagues found that chronic media multitaskers—people who spent several hours a day juggling multiple screen tasks—performed worse than otherwise similar peers on analytic questions drawn from the LSAT. He isn't sure which way the causation runs here: It might be that media multitaskers are hyperdistractible people who always would have done poorly on LSAT questions, even in the pre-Internet era. But he worries that media multitasking might actually be destroying students' capacity for reasoning.

"One of the deepest questions in this field," Nass says, "is whether media multitasking is driven by a desire for new information or by an avoidance of existing information. Are people in these settings multitasking because the other media are alluring—that is, they're really dying to play Freecell or read Facebook or shop on eBay—or is it just an aversion to the task at hand?"

When Nass was a high-school student, decades ago, his parents were fond of an old quotation from Sir Joshua Reynolds: "There is no expedient to which man will not resort to avoid the real labor of thinking." That is the conundrum that has animated much of his career.

"I don't think that law students in classrooms are sitting there thinking, Boy, I'd rather play Freecell than learn the law," Nass says. "I don't think that's the case. What happens is that there's a moment that comes when you say, Boy, I can do something really easy, or I can do something really hard."

---the disappearance of silence

---a virtual jam session

---lastly, the fan-made Technotise trailer

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