Thursday, June 25, 2015

summer links

---#Charlestonsyllabus

---musicless Taylor Swift

---"we’re distracted because our souls are troubled. The comedian Louis C.K. may be the most famous contemporary exponent of this way of thinking. A few years ago, on 'Late Night' with Conan O’Brien, he argued that people are addicted to their phones because 'they don’t want to be alone for a second because it’s so hard.' (David Foster Wallace also saw distraction this way.) The spiritual theory is even older than the material one: in 1874, Nietzsche wrote that 'haste is universal because everyone is in flight from himself'; in the seventeenth century, Pascal said that 'all men’s miseries derive from not being able to sit in a quiet room alone'" --Joshua Rothman

---Celluloid Ceilings and a guide to cult female filmmakers

---William Gibson on La Jetee

---Jim Jarmusch's 10 favorite films

---"the celebrity is a curiously contradictory figure, entitled to enjoy all the benefits a consumer culture has to offer while being merely another product for sale in the marketplace." --Brad Stevens

---“'These white folks, they think the world belongs to them,' Grandma told me 12 hours after Susie Jackson, Ethel Lance, Clementa Pinckney, Tywanza Sanders, Cynthia Hurd, Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, Depyane Middleton Doctor, Daniel Simmons and Myra Thompson were murdered in a black Charleston church by a cowardly white American thug. 'White folks been misusing us since I been in this world, if you wanna know the truth, Kie. If you expect any thing more after all they done, you the world’s biggest fool.'” --Kiese Laymon

---Fantasia of Color in Early Cinema

---"I consider Vera to be noir’s most subversive femme fatale, a repellent yet magnetic calamity of a woman whose unfettered ferocity makes us realize just how conventional so many other bad girls really were."  --the Nitrate Diva

---"Dr Aled Jones, the Director of the Global Sustainability Institute, told Insurge Intelligence: 'We ran the model forward to the year 2040, along a business-as-usual trajectory based on ‘do-nothing’ trends — that is, without any feedback loops that would change the underlying trend.

'The results show that based on plausible climate trends, and a total failure to change course, the global food supply system would face catastrophic losses, and an unprecedented epidemic of food riots.

'In this scenario, global society essentially collapses as food production falls permanently short of consumption.'" --Louis Dore

---"All of these are potential conflict scenarios and it all comes down to food — all these scenarios are driven by food. I can see huge mayhem and larger use of violence in the future, and I’m perfectly prepared to believe that would include nuclear violence, but more likely it will be the death of a thousand cuts … most things are." --Gwynne Dyer

---Meet the Villain

---"Star Wars sucks. There, we said it." by Jaime Weinman

---"Fickleness is always something to reckon with in the digital age – fickleness in its many mutations from month to month. We have seen, on this very blog, conversation ebb away and migrate somewhere else (mainly to Facebook), as some (including myself) have noted or complained. I am all too aware, in my own daily digital habits, of an ever-growing tendency to bookmark or download texts rather than actually read them – a constant ‘deferral’ which didn’t happen, by and large, when I actually bought the darn things to have and to hold. Digital fickleness is a complex phenomenon linked to many too-easily-evoked-but-less-well-understood things: distraction, novelty, spectacle, and the kinds of long-range and short-span mental ‘retentions’ that Bernard Stiegler discusses (sometimes in a rather old/high culture fashion) in his work. I was recently introduced (thanks to Catherine Grant and Chiara Grizzaffi in a conference at University of East Anglia) to the ideas of Kenneth Goldsmith, guru of ‘uncreative writing’, who joyfully argues for the benefits of media-age distraction, on the basis of roughly Surrealist reasons: being suspended between multiple ‘inputs’, navigating between them, is something akin (for him) to the Surrealist practice of the willed, waking dream-state, open to the drifts and sparks of the creative unconscious. But fickleness in action has, naturally, its callous, oblivious, indifferent side, too – and that can infect our efforts at creating a film culture when we least expect it." --Adrian Martin

---trailers for Rock the Kasbah, A Deadly Adoption, Trainwreck, The Stanford Prison ExperimentQueen of the Desert, LegendThe Runner, The Secret Life of Pets, Sicario, Boulevard, and Final Girl

---"The Fisher King: In the Kingdom of the Imperfect" by Bilge Ebiri

---Coda

---Cinephilia and Beyond celebrates Sweet Smell of Success

---an oral history of Clueless

---Dope, which premiered at Sundance and arrives in theaters this week, is every inch a coming-of-age story, but it’s about being black as much as it’s about growing up. Writer / director Rick Famuyiwa (The Wood, Brown Sugar) has created a heady hybrid of a John Hughes teen comedy and a John Singleton hood drama: his characters are as concerned about going to prom and getting the girl as they are with surviving in the midst of ever-present gang violence." --Kwame Opam

---Children of Men: Behind the Scene

---"Buster Keaton's Cure" by Charlie Fox

---Roger Ebert on Ego

Friday, June 19, 2015

Blood Sacrifice on the Pepsi-saurus Ride: 5 Notes on Jurassic World

1) On May 31st, almost three weeks before the record-breaking release of Jurassic Park, I predicted the infinite forgettability of this blockbuster, mostly due to the depression I sank into every time I watched the movie's trailer. Two days ago, I actually went and saw the thing, and was happy to note that writer/director Colin Trevorrow created a much more self-aware blockbuster that partially mocks itself, thereby somehow making its mix of frequent product placement, sanitized blood sacrifice, '90s nostalgia, and amusement park ride aesthetics slightly more palatable than I expected.

2) (spoiler alert) The highly emotional little boy Gray (Ty Simpkins) is the true villain of the movie because he programs the kid viewers (and the child inside the adult audience) to get excited by the Park's spectacle. Dinosaurs will run amok soon enough, and yet here's Gray racing to the front of the train to see them under controlled conditions. Here's Gray laughing and smiling as a Mosasaur eats a captive shark, thereby scattering water all over the thrilled spectators. Basically, Gray telegraphs to everyone that the spectacle is worthwhile. He's the perfect consumer even before the product proves seriously dangerous, yet he's never really threatened because the bloodlust has been sanitized, PG-13-ized, and Spielberg-approved with some anti-corporate snark thrown in for good measure. Gray and his older brother (Nick Robinson) are going to be okay. They can scream and run from the deadly dinos, but Gray especially serves as the emotional core of the movie, the one that the infantilized audience can identify with. Adventure in Jurassic Park takes the form of Gray appearing in the same frame with the raptors and the Indominus Rex amidst all of the fetishized devouring. We never for a moment expect that the boy and his teenage brother will run into serious grief--they have their parents' eminent divorce to contend with, after all.

3) After we realize that our heroes are safe from attack, then there's just the pleasure of counting the amount of product placements that Trevorrow can cram into each shot, how many Mercedes Chris Pratt needs to stand near (as poor Robert Pattinson had to keep appearing with the immortal Volvos in the Twilight franchise), how many Cokes Pratt must drink, and how many shots of the Margaritaville bar that the poor park-goers run near in the midst of a pterodactyl attack. One pseudo-hipster named Lowery (Jake Johnson) in the park's control room makes some cracks about the corporate cooptation of every aspect of the park, mentioning "Pepsi-saurus" ironically, which was refreshing but also cynical. Corporations don't mind some light mockery of their methods just so long as the central hypocrisy remains. Colin Trevorrow has discussed how the genetically modified and particularly vicious new centerpiece Dominus Rex exemplifies corporate greed and the public's desire for ever more extreme monsters.

4) I liked the scene where Chris Pratt (as the relatively dull hero Owen) and coldly corporate tour guide Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) do their best to comfort a dying apatosaurus who looks up at them with sorrowful eyes as they pet its head. The movie is full of these soulful moments of communion with velociraptors, a T-Rex, etc. The dinosaurs appear far more emotional than many of the humans.

5) It makes sense that executive producer Steven Spielberg would go for the large dinosaurs in the Jurassic franchise since they combine the size of the sinister semi of his first movie Duel (1971) with the perfect killing machine with teeth, the great white shark of Jaws (1975). Jaws succeeded so well because it blends that lethal creature with tourists frolicking in the summer sun in such a way that invited the audience to think that the pleasure-seekers in some way deserved to be eaten. Consumption of humans on the screen mirrors the consumption of the viewer in the cineplex, and everyone goes home happy--shark, dinosaur, and spectator all unified in their satiation.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

montage links

---JohnnyExpress

---Aspirational

---In The Fridge

---Dawn of the Planet of the Zombies and the Giant Killer Plants on Some Serious Acid trailer

---"Their approach is the height of simplicity: place unglamorous female characters in the storylines and genres generally dominated by men. The perspective allows Feig and McCarthy to give audiences familiar worlds while the genderbent setups offer a rich playground for challenging sexist habits in progressive ways. Bridesmaids juxtaposed classic feminine stereotypes with an audacity that ripped to the heart of traditional feminine etiquette. The Heat played with manifestations of female strength while busting open the male buddy cop world. The newly released Spy dismantles 007’s masculine domain while cutting to the very heart of society’s often reductive treatment of women."
--Monika Bartyzel

---True Detective: Comparisons and References

---100 Iconic Movie Lines

---"The relationship between any private language and a public discourse is a tricky one, and Farber’s consistent efforts to speak to his contemporaries through the chosen media have always had to contend with the skewed perspective inevitable to any parallel readings of film history and art history, with their radically different time frames and patterns of development. If Farber has generally commanded more attention as a movie critic than as a painter, this may have less to do with his grasp of the vernacular in each realm than with the deposits of time and place which locate his verbal pizzazz and iconographic slang in widely dissimilar modes of address and reception, where they register with distinctly different impacts." --Jonathan Rosenbaum

---Andrei Tarkovsky: Shot by Shot

---How to Direct a Dinner Scene

--"There is a new generation coming up; they want to be famous, above all. They don’t want to make something serious or important; above all, they want to be famous. I was also, of course, attracted by being famous, but nowadays, that’s what young filmmakers want, and it doesn’t matter what they do. It’s hard to say so, but that’s my opinion." --Roy Andersson

---Goodbye

---"Hit Me With Your Best Shot: Amadeus"

---"the Internet Research Agency had industrialized the art of trolling. Management was obsessed with statistics — page views, number of posts, a blog’s place on LiveJournal’s traffic charts — and team leaders compelled hard work through a system of bonuses and fines. 'It was a very strong corporate feeling,' Savchuk says. Her schedule gave her two 12-hour days in a row, followed by two days off. Over those two shifts she had to meet a quota of five political posts, 10 nonpolitical posts and 150 to 200 comments on other workers’ posts." --Adrian Chen

---The Auteur's Tea Room

---No Film School

---She Stands at the End

---"[Hitchcock] thought that montage was cinema at its most pure. In theory, his method involved a subordination to the capacities of the camera upheld with such completeness and consistency at each stage of the production process, from script and storyboards through principal photography to editing, that it became a kind of mastery. Before cinema, montage meant the action of assembling mechanical components. Hitchcock defined it as the ‘juxtaposition’ of ‘pieces of film that went through a machine’ in such a way as to create ‘ideas on the screen’. His own conjuring was by sleight of machine rather than of hand. ‘Emotions of many varying sorts, shades, degrees and colours have to be manufactured,’ he said, ‘and all must be photographically clear.’ Montage used the machine against itself, creating out of its excess of indifference (the seventy set-ups for the shower scene) a spectacle guaranteed to wring the heart." --David Trotter

---"The Empathetic Camera: Frank Norris and the Invention of Film Editing" by Henry Giardina

---trailers for Suffragette, Mistress America, Z for Zachariah, Pawn Sacrifice, The Martian, and Listen To Me Marlon