Go to this YouTube channel: Kino Lorber, click Playlists and then view the Free Documentaries (80 feature-length films) or the Free Movies on Demand playlist (145 films.) Kino Lorber is an international film distribution company; I thought it was a person when I first heard mention of this.
Now try this experiment: Pick a documentary (try Filmworker if you know who Stanley Kubrick is, M.C. Escher: Journey to Infinity if you have eyes, or Hieronymus Bosch: Touched by the Devil if painting is more your thing.) Watch the movie. Then reflect on the experience of watching a feature–length documentary, versus say, modern “serial” shows. I’ve relearned just how bad modern entertainment can be, when I reminded myself just how good film can be. (Surprise bonus-round: Watch The Atomic Café and be gobsmacked, horrified, and… some-other-feeling-I-can’t-quite-find-the-right-word-for in repeated cycles.)
[We] didn’t discover his work in the theater, much less at Cannes. Rather, we found it at the video store, ideally one that devoted a section specifically to his work—or at least to his signature genre of “body horror,” which his films would in any case have dominated.
Do you remember video stores? …I mean the individual stores, from before Blockbuster came along? Sections. You had to walk to the section in the store. New releases. Maybe there was a staple employee who knew every movie. Maybe you—like me—wondered if working there meant watching each movie before putting it out… what a job that would be!! Maybe there was a hand-written sign whose perennial message stands atop this missive. Maybe family movie nights? The lottery that was the occassional “doesn’t play” tape. “Tracking”—and then the magic of “Auto Tracking”. And all of that from two words: video store.
I’m deeply in lust for vignettes. I’ve quoted the opening of the short piece and I’m saying nothing further about it. Although, I’ll happily arrange a few more bytes about vignettes.
You see, I’m a sucker for cuts; Cuts in the sense where one visual transitions to another exactly in the way that the real world doesn’t. (With a hat tip to Douglas Adams if that last turn of phrase feels familiar.) Movies like Up, or Bicentennial Man—which I love, but most people seem to pan—or check out the “Epilogue” in the movie, Cherry, (on AppleTV. Get AppleTV for a month just to watch this movie.) I’m a sucker for Vignettes that give you just enough information for you to navigate… and leave to your own devices to pull up your own memories, and to yank on your own heart strings.
It’s true that such adaptations are now anachronistic; they have lost their relevance. But the trees have been slow to catch on; a natural consequence of the pace of evolution. For a tree that lives, say, 250 years, 13,000 years represents only 52 generations. In an evolutionary sense, the trees don’t yet realize that the megafauna are gone.
There’s an effect in film making which you’ve seen but may not have realized exactly what you were seeing: The dolly zoom shot. “The dolly zoom is a famous technique invented by Alfred Hitchcock for his 1958 film Vertigo. The shot is achieved by simultaneously tracking backwards or forwards while zooming in or out.”
Yes, I really should never be watching visual entertainment. But sometimes the day goes so insanely well, that I have to choose what to do with the last hour or so of my day: Start something else, or choose some entertainment. Why I sometimes choose entertainment is left for another day. I digress.
I watched this 10 minute long film called Meridian the other day. Film Noir. Clearly a new movie, but set in 1947 Los Angeles. Hard boiled detective and a green partner. Mysterious woman. Missing people. The ocean, freak storms. It was almost surreal—parts of it definitely were. It has a story, but no resolution. Sometimes you just have to Wikipedia…
oh! Now I get it. It is literally a digital codec test piece. Really, go read the short Wikipedia article on, Meridian (film).
If you do not know the cinema-history relevance of the movie, Rashomon—no, not Rushmore—please check out the Wikipedia article. I’m not suggesting you watch the movie; You will not like it. (If you are the sort of person who would enjoy the movie, then you have already seen it!)
The villain in Rashomon is humanity’s craven need to present itself in a positive light, even if it must perjure itself shamelessly to achieve this.
Some things just stick with you. If you know me well, you know I’m particularly fond of linguistic turns where the sarcasm comes back ’round to flip the original. “This is actually pretty good. [said of anything or anyone] It really grows on you.” Me, “yeah, like fungus.” Etc.. Anyway, that line from Monty Python has always stuck in my mind—something to do with the cutesie animation that goes with it, something about the rapid-fire delivery, and probably just mostly how it stomps all over our deep seated human love of the “seasons” metaphor.
“And now for something completely different.”
I was watching a movie about Ip Man last night. (Grandmaster on Netflix; Chinese-language film, it’s a kung fu film. Anyway.) Ip is narrating in various parts as the movie tells his story. At one point he says, “If life has seasons, the first 40 years of my life [where he was happily married with 3 kids] was Spring…” and all of the above popped into my head at, “…and the Japanese invaded in 1930 and things jumped straight to Winter.”
“Make hay while the sun shines,” is an old proverb; We’re still using it today, 500 years after it’s first written mention. It contains deep wisdom which counsels taking advantage of opportunities as they arise. It’s taken me a loong time to get used to the fact that what I see as an opportunity, and what I see as a chore, (or work—however you care to phrase that,) are quite fluid. There’s an ebb and flow to what I want to engage in. Some things which most [sane] people would consider a complete suffer-festival—”omg why would you want to do that?!”—are the things I skip happily towards when the proverbial sun is shining. A day or two later, the things I was skipping away from become the things I’m marching back towards to whistle while I work.
There are, I think, several reasons Hollywood movies often don’t get as much science input as they should. The first is that movie-makers usually just aren’t sensitive to the “science texture” of their movies. They can tell if things are out of whack at a human level, but they typically can’t tell if something is scientifically off. Sometimes they’ll get as far as calling a local university for help, but too often they’re sent to a hyper-specialized academic who’ll not-very-usefully tell them their whole story is wrong. Of course, to be fair, science content usually doesn’t make or break movies. But I think having good science content—like, say, good set design—can help elevate a good movie to greatness.
But first, how exactly does one represent in written from, that sound one makes upon encountering something both slightly surprising and interesting? “Huh,” seems more like the sound one makes upon hearing something about which one is incredulous. For example: “Your Goldfish is escaping on foot!” “Huh?” Instead, I feel I need a word with a little touch of an ‘n’ in it to downplay the puzzlement by making the word less punchy; “That spaceship hangs in the air much in the way bricks don’t.” “Hunh.” That reads better, yes? Obviously, this is easily resolved via inflection when spoken, but there’s no clear written convention. So, okay, I’ll go with “hunh” to express slight surprise with a dash of interest.
hunh. I stumbled over the movie Arrival in Netflix back in 2018, and sort of enjoyed it.
Say what you will about Stephen Wolfram. I’m not referring to the fact that he was directly involved as being a point for, or against, the movie. Rather, I’m interested in his point—which I’m loosely reshaping here—that people who have a good feel for people make good movies about people. Given that the vast majority of people are bad at science, then most people who make movies would make bad movies about science.
Ironically, I’d argue that Arrival is a good science fiction movie, but not a good movie about people.
The first step in clearing your head is to realize how far you are from a neutral observer. When I left high school I was, I thought, a complete skeptic. I’d realized high school was crap. I thought I was ready to question everything I knew. But among the many other things I was ignorant of was how much debris there already was in my head. It’s not enough to consider your mind a blank slate. You have to consciously erase it.
Sure, there are lies of expedience. (“What is thunder?” “It’s clouds bumping into each other.”) But it’s a water slide of lies when you start thinking about it. I know I never really thought about it; I certainly wouldn’t have expected a quick summary of the issues to be 5,000 words.
But there it is none the less, well done by Graham. It contains a litany of ways we all lie to children, (including those of us who don’t have or care for children in any way.) Frankly, some of the ways we all lie seem like an excellent thing to be doing. And if that’s the case, then we all have the we’ve-been-lied-to baggage Graham is describing.
Suddenly! (“It didn’t stop. It didn’t stop!”)
…I feel like I need to toss out the closets of my mind.
One of the functions of art is to give people the words to know their own experience. There are always areas of vast silence in any culture, and part of an artist’s job is to go into those areas and come back from the silence with something to say. It’s one reason why we read poetry, because poets can give us the words we need. When we read good poetry, we often say, ‘Yeah, that’s it. That’s how I feel.’
In the beginning, I watched 2001: A Space Odyssey — no, I’m not old enough to have seen it in the theater, thank you — and, in all honesty, I did not understand most of it. Later, I learned about the story, read the related books, etc.. I rewatched the movie and began a long period of wielding my understanding as a badge of pride. (“I understand 2001! Here, let me show it to you. Let me explain it to you.”) I eventually went on to learn to play the Blue Danube on the piano because the piece is so prominent and moving in the film.
… cross-fade …
Very recently, I saw a solar eclipse and I wished someone had queued up Also sprach Zarathustra — whose introduction, by the way, still gives me shivers. It would have been sublime to have had totality begin just as the creshendo strikes in the opening . . .
Also sprach Zarathustra is a tone poem and after the eclipse — perhaps in search of that sublime moment missed — I took the time to listen to it in its entirety.
…and that led me to adjust my living room for optimal viewing …to crank up the volume …and to cue up 2001.
It was just as awe-inspiring as I recalled. Just as awe-inspiring as I’d hoped.
…and then I read this piece — from the perennianlly stellar Brain Pickings — about le Guin’s conception of art.
Something clicked and I gained a new appreciation for the film: “Yeah, that’s it. That’s how I feel.”
A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky, dangerous animals and you know it. Fifteen hundred years ago, everybody knew the Earth was the center of the universe. Five hundred years ago, everybody knew the Earth was flat, and fifteen minutes ago, you knew that humans were alone on this planet. Imagine what you’ll know tomorrow.
For more than four decades, Hollywood insiders, financiers and dreamers have been obsessed by the quest to recover “The Other Side of the Wind,” the unfinished last film of Orson Welles. Cinema buffs consider it the most famous movie never released, an epic work by one of the great filmmakers.
Preemptive: To all my friends. Yes, I know about the movie “Tracers”. No, I have nothing nice to say about it. Imagine Hollywood used a generic formula to paste your favorite thing onto the big screen; Do you think you would enjoy it? Right. It pretty much highlights all the negative aspects of Parkour, and casts Parkour in a bad light. (That’s just my opinion of course.)
Let’s set aside the fact that a guy who gets convicted of a DUI is put in charge of a children’s hockey team, and instead focus on the fact that this bum of a coach managed to change the lives of the Mighty Ducks, and my life as well.
Today we’re going to learn from Coach Gordon Bombay (EMILIO!!) Charlie Conway (spazz!), Adam Banks (cake-eater!), Folton Reed, GOLDBERG!, and the rest of the Mighty Ducks about leveling up ourselves and our lives.