Sunday, April 4, 2010

Easter links

---"It’s about time for new heroes! With contract-based service in Ukrainian armed forces!"

---the joys of urban camouflage

---from David Shields' Reality Hunger: A Manifesto (a quote that appears to have originated with William Gibson):

"The opposite of broadcast: the distribution economics of the internet favor infinite niches, not one-size-fits-all. The web’s peer-to-peer architecture: a symmetrical traffic load, with as many senders as receivers and data transmissions spread out over geography and time. A new regime of digital technology has now disrupted all business models based on mass-produced copies, including the livelihoods of artists. The contours of the electronic economy are still emerging, but while they do, the wealth derived from the old business model is being spent to try to protect that old model. Laws based on the mass-produced copy are being taken to the extreme, while desperate measures to outlaw new technologies in the marketplace “for our protection” are introduced in misguided righteousness. This is to be expected: entire industries (newspapers, magazines, book publishers, movie studios, record labels) are threatened with demise, and not all will make it. The new model is based on the intangible assets of digital bits: copies are no longer cheap but free and flow freely everywhere. As computers retrieve images from the web or displays from a server, they make temporary, internal copies of those works. Every action you invoke on your computer requires a copy of something to be made. Many methods have been employed to try to stop the indiscriminate spread of copies, including copy-protection schemes, hardware-crippling devices, education programs, and statutes, but all have proved ineffectual. The remedies are rejected by consumers and ignored by pirates. Copies have been dethroned; the economic model built on them is collapsing. In a regime of superabundant free copies, copies are no longer the basis of wealth. Now relationships, links, connection and sharing are. Value has shifted away from a copy toward the many ways to recall, annotate, personalize, edit, authenticate, display, mark, transfer, and engage a work. Art is a conversation, not a patent office. The citation of sources belongs to the realms of journalism and scholarship, not art. Reality can’t be copyrighted."

---Dana Stevens appreciates Fantastic Mr. Fox as David Thomson wonders why Olivia Williams is in "some danger of going unnoticed"

---authoritarian regimes and the internet:

"The horizontal nature of the internet, whereby ordinary users can easily generate and disseminate content, empowers citizens in ways that traditional media cannot. It makes the flow of information far more difficult to control. At the same time, however, controls on digital media are more intrusive and directly affect much larger numbers of people than restrictions on traditional media. Internet censorship, for example, infringes on the rights of a great many citizens as content producers, not only as consumers, and online surveillance allows authorities to monitor personal communications as well as to track what citizens read. Through surveillance on the internet, state security services can infiltrate online networks, monitor discussions about planned civic actions, and identify members of opposition groups. Facebook, the most widely used social networking service, allows users to create private groups but does not offer secure login. State security services could hack the Facebook page of a known activist and in the process identify that activist’s entire network of friends and contacts.

Control over the internet has grown far more sophisticated in recent years. It is not simply a matter of preventing citizens in repressive environments, such as China, from reading the websites of Amnesty International or the New York Times. It is increasingly focused on impeding the spread of domestically generated content that authoritarian regimes find objectionable, such as news about government incompetence or online discussions about abuses of power, and obstructing the organization of political opposition. Internet censorship and surveillance are used first and foremost by authoritarian regimes to silence their domestic critics and to prevent the emergence of political alternatives."

---Splice looks like an updated Alien as I Am Love supplies the one guilty pleasure amidst grim social realism

---FREEwilliamsburg assesses the April releases

---a dictionary of accepted film ideas:

"criticism: Either dying or useless.

deep focus: Invented by Renoir.

early films: Always a director's best.

Eastwood: Crypto-Leftist.

Eisenstein: Invented almost everything.

editing: The more obviously grounded in existing theories, the better.

experimental film: New and fresh even when recycling 80-year-old ideas.

film stock: Proof of seriousness. Looks better than HD.

French cinema: A genre.

Griffith: "While no straightforward, consistent political stance is in evidence in the Griffith oeuvre, there is a theme that runs through his major works. That theme is Family."

handheld: How we see the world.

horror: See "comedy."

innovation: Important in old films, to be ignored in new ones.

Japanese cinema: Contemplative, because of Buddhism or Shinto or whatever their religion is called."

---defending the chick flick from manic pixie dream girls with their girl-band-movie cliches

---Bellamy and Howard brood on the two Christs in time for Easter

---a Billy Wilder webliography

---Mexican narco cinema

---lastly, T.S. of Screen Savour considers Buster Keaton's Steamboat Bill, Jr.:

"The film takes a turn and improves above its ordinary beginnings after Bill Sr. is arrested after attacking King in anger, and shortly after he’s put in jail, the cyclone arrives. Keaton wanted to end the film with a flood, but due to tragic floods in the United States shortly before and the prohibitive costs, Keaton substituted in the cyclone. It is the superior choice for numerous reasons, primarily because it reinforces what Roger Ebert calls “a universal stillness that comes of things functioning well, of having achieved occult harmony.” Keaton and his crew destroy an entire town. There are strong winds that prevent walking, creating a strange but metaphoric conflation of stillness and movement. There are flying boxes, collapsing walls, and swinging fence doors. He becomes caught in a bed that’s blows around the town. He latches onto a tree that is uprooted by the wind and blown into the river while he hangs onto the trunk. It is nature having its way with the short man who does everything he can to avoid being swept away."

4 comments:

Sam Juliano said...

Thanks for the reminder on T.S.' latest Keaton essay, which I'll admit I have been waiting for. I'll get over there pronto.

As far as Ed Howard and Jason Bellamy, unquestionably two of the internet's most brilliant writers and insightful film scholars, I have stayed away from their latest conversation simply because I abhor Mel Gibson's THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST, a theological NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD. The film is inhabited by unending and gruesome violence that exploits the material. I did like Gibson's subsequent APOCALYPTO, so I'm not sour on him, but PASSION was a failure. Of course Scorsese's film is a major achiecvement, without a doubt.

FilmDr said...

Thanks for your thoughts, Sam.

I saw on Wonders in the Dark that you didn't mind Clash of the Titans as much as others, and I'm inclined to agree. It is too ludicrous to be completely hateful. I hope to write a post on the movie soon.

Scott said...

@FilmDr: Clicked through to your blog. Excellent stuff. I've added to my Friends blogroll. Keep up the good work!

Scott Myers
Go Into The Story

FilmDr said...

Thanks, Scott.