Saturday, July 3, 2010

Independence Day links

---22 movie making techniques

---the MacGuffin explained

---the critical debate

---Jake enjoys Godard's Week End:

"And in the middle of it all is an unending traffic jam, filmed in several tracking shots that reduce the frame nearly to a two-dimensional strip. In fact, Godard so magnificently draws out the first tracking shot to the point he begins to pass the same type of actions -- people tossing balls between cars, horrific wrecks, unruly livestock bleating and groaning in the backs of trucks -- repeatedly that the shot comes to resemble one of those old strips of background placed on rollers and spun on a loop behind static actors or budgeted animation to have a character move a large distance without having to either animate a massive number or cells or worry about tracking down a long street with one of the older, heavier models of a film camera. Week End has a sickly yellow hue to it, as if all the vehicular congestion has produced enough smog to make the air quality of Los Angeles seem that of a Himalayan hamlet. Chemically suffocating the brains of those already made fighting mad by the worldview placed upon them by corporate interests, the smog becomes both a catalyst and a byproduct of this vicious society, where people are so happy to get out of a traffic jam that they breeze through a puddle of blood coating the road from a nasty wreck just to get back up to speed.

After about 80 minutes, the couple finally reach Corrine's parents' house, only to find her father dead and her mother unwilling to share the inheritance. Without hesitation, Roland kills the mother, something Corrine not only does not object to but openly abets to secure her financial stability. Before they can celebrate, however, the two are captured along with some English tourists by a group of hippy guerrillas who display their contempt for humanity by engaging in cannibalism. After placing the conflict between Roland and Corrine on the back-burner, Godard saves his ultimate display of giddy nihilism for last as Roland finds himself in the hippies' stew pot and Corrine joins the band of cannibals and eats her husband without a second thought."

---existential Muppets

---cities of the imagination

---an innocent ad selling a boat

---Aaron Aradillas and Matt Zoller Seitz look at the nature of fame in movies

---Richard Brody considers Criss Cross

---Traister reflects upon the new single womanhood

---scenes from a drowned London 2030

---oil plumes and DeLillo's White Noise:

"When an accident in a nearby train yard spills 35,000 gallons of `Nyodene Derivative' (a fictional, highly toxic byproduct of commercial insecticides), creating an amorphous black cloud quickly named an `airborne toxic event,' Jack assures his family that they will be safe without fleeing home: `These things happen to poor people who live in exposed areas. Society is set up in such a way that it’s the poor and the uneducated who suffer the main impact of natural and man-made disasters. People in low-lying areas get the floods, people in shanties get the hurricanes and tornados. I’m a college professor. Did you ever see a college professor rowing a boat down his own street in one of those TV floods?' Even as the air currents threaten to send the toxic cloud toward his neighborhood, Jack insists that alarm would be out of step with his professional position, saying `I don’t see myself fleeing an airborne toxic event.'

Jack’s self assurance can be maintained only through an illusion of control. He assumes that the weather, government, and his socio-economic status will all contrive to protect him from the threatening black cloud. But this illusion is wrested from him after he learns that his two minute exposure to the toxin will likely jeopardize his health, though it will be fifteen years before the symptoms begin to manifest. `Scheduled to die,' Jack’s fear of death encroaches upon his ability to see himself among the living. Confiding to a fellow professor, he speaks of the trap he finds himself in: `It’s almost as though our fear is what brings it on. If we could learn not to be afraid, we could live forever.' Caught between the living and the dead, fear and uncertainty drive all of Jack’s actions after the exposure.

The victims of the Gulf oil spill are now trapped in the same epistemic gap in which Jack finds himself. Possibly the most confounding aspect of the disaster is that after two months there is still no certainty as to the extent of the damage. It is not merely a problem of tracking the massive, miles-long invisible plumes of oil that are suspected to be floating below the surface. A more essential problem is that the government and BP have been unable to determine how much oil is leaking from the well. There are only best and worst case scenarios separated by tens of thousands of barrels per day (as of this writing, it was estimated that between 12,600 and 40,000 barrels per day were bleeding into the Gulf before the riser was cut, and between 35,000 and 60,000 barrels per day afterwards).

Being unable to fathom such quantities, we are in a situation similar to Jack’s: things are bad, danger is lurking, but we don’t know its full extent. Like Jack’s, our exposure has been consummate, and fatal for the health and economic stability of many, but the final tally is not yet in."

---when film imitates art

---Meredith Andrew's sleep/wake portfolio

---interview with the worst director in the world, Mr. Boll

---crises of capital

---American democratic movies

---the Siren checks out women's costumes in the movies

---closing the digital frontier:

"All of this suggests that the era of browser dominance is coming to a close. Twitter, like other recent-vintage social networks, is barely bothering with its Web site; its smart-phone app is more fully featured. The independent TweetDeck, which collates feeds across multiple social networks, is not browser-based. As app-based usage climbs at the expense of the browser and as more content creators put their text, audio, and video behind pay walls, it will be interesting to see what happens to the Twitterverse and blogosphere, which piggyback on, and draw creative juice from, their ability to link to free Web content. If they don’t end up licensing original content, networks such as Twitter and Facebook will become purely communication vehicles. At first glance, Web sites like The Daily Beast and The Huffington Post will have a hard time once they lose their ability to hypertext their digests; on second glance, they will have an opportunity to sop up some of the traffic that once went to their now-paid rivals. Google, meanwhile, is hoping to find ways to link through pay walls and across platforms, but this model will clearly not be the delightfully free-form open plain of the early Web. Years from now, we may look back at these past 15 years as a discrete (and thrillingly indiscreet) chapter in the history of digital media, not the beginning of a new and enlightened dispensation. The Web will be here forever; that is not in question. But as Don Henley sang in `The Last Resort,' the Eagles’ brilliant, haunting song about the resortification of the West, `You call someplace paradise, kiss it goodbye.'”

---paradise regained

---concerning Keaton's Steamboat Bill, Jr.

---Rob Horning meditates on the future of intimacy



---the phenomenology of hashtags

---lastly, dubious ways to celebrate the Fourth: playing the chicken game and drunkenly handling explosives

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