ayjay + film   12

Hayao Miyazaki’s Cursed Worlds
At its most fundamental level the movie asks: Can we live ethically in a cursed world? And if so, how? Princess Mononoke offers two related possible solutions. The first is simply to “Live!” (Ikiro!), the catchphrase emblazoned on the movie posters and uttered by the movie’s protagonist, Ashitaka, to the desperate wolf princess San as she struggles to deal with her fear and resentment of humanity. In context, it tells us we cannot give up, no matter what, a message that Miyazaki felt imperative in the emotionally apathetic landscape of nineties Japan. The second is “to see with eyes unclouded”—a challenge, as the movie presents both bloodthirsty beast attacks and relentless human industrialization, and asks us to observe all sides with clarity and objectivity.
film  from instapaper
11 weeks ago by ayjay
The Undeath of Cinema - The New Atlantis
Peter Cushing’s spare frame, sharp cheekbones, and long limbs are part of what made him him; they are essential to his Cushing-ness. Creating a convincing facsimile of his living, breathing, moving form after his death should not be undertaken lightly, any more than exhuming his corpse should be. The grave-robbing version is surely more egregious. Yet if it would be wrong to make a puppet of a dead man’s mortal remains, then it is also wrong to make a puppet of a dead man’s imitated form. A simulacrum is fraught with the dignity of the individual it represents.

Dishonoring the remains of the dead is a near-universal, but poorly articulated, taboo. Many people agree that it is wrong without having a metaphysical framework that justifies their belief in the dignity of the human body. But the widespread unease at the CGI Cushing testifies to the power and wisdom of this taboo, however inchoate.

The technology of digitally bringing deceased actors back to the screen runs counter to this humane impulse, this feeling that it is proper to allow the dead to remain buried. Perhaps it is not only technological advances but also the normalization of destructive means of disposing of dead bodies (like cremation) that allowed Industrial Light & Magic to contemplate Frankensteining Peter Cushing. The central violation of at-will digital resurrection is that it wrongs the dead subject by making him into a puppet.
film  tech  from instapaper
march 2018 by ayjay
Frederick Wiseman on the American Condition
Wiseman will sit down and look through every frame, sometimes as many as 250 hours of rushes. “That can usually take me six or eight weeks, seeing what’s there and taking notes,” he tells me. “By the time I’ve gone through the material, I’ll have put aside 40 or 50 sequences to edit. At that point I’m not thinking much about structure, only creating good-candidate sequences. Going from one hour of a sequence to four minutes, it’s rare that I get what I want in the first pass. Say it’s a group of people in a meeting. I’ll isolate all the parts of the exchanges, edit it verbally, edit it for language, and keep reducing it and reducing it until it’s exactly the verbal exchange that I want it to be. Then I’ll go through and pick out the cutaways, which allow me to edit the sequence to appear as if it took place the way you’re watching it until I get a rhythm that’s internal in the sequence. Then I begin to work on the structure. Different people work in different ways, but I’m not very good thinking about the structure in the abstract; I have to look at it. So after seven or eight months of editing the sequences, I know the material—every word spoken, every part of the frame—and I make an assembly relatively quickly, in three or four days. Then it’s six or eight weeks to polish the structure, so the internal rhythm within a sequence and the external rhythm of the sequences are working together. I’ll also tune up the shots between any of the major sequences. I’ll go back through all the discarded material and sometimes find things that solve some editorial problem, to connect this sequence to that sequence. And a lot of it, even after 50 years, is still trial and error. But once you begin, it’s totally consuming because you’re on the hunt for the film.”
september 2017 by ayjay
David Hare – nothing but the truth about a Holocaust denier | Books | The Guardian
Second, it was clear from the start that this film would be a defence of historical truth. It would be arguing that although historians have the right to interpret facts differently, they do not have the right knowingly to misrepresent those facts. But if such integrity was necessary for historians, then it surely had to apply to screenwriters too. If I planned to offer an account of the trial and of Irving’s behaviour, I would enjoy none of the film writer’s usual licence to speculate or invent. From the trial itself there were 32 days of transcript, which took me weeks to read thoroughly. Not only would I refuse to write scenes which offered any hokey psychological explanation for Irving’s character outside the court, I would also be bound to stick rigidly to the exact words used inside it. I could not allow any neo-fascist critic later to claim that I had re-written the testimony. Nor did I want to. The trial scenes are verbatim. To say that such fidelity represented an almost impossible dramatic difficulty – this trial, like any other, was often extremely boring – would be to understate. At times, I would beat my head, wondering why real-life characters couldn’t put things in ways which more pithily expressed their purposes.
[What a fascinating challenge Hare set for himself, or had set for him, in writing this screenplay]
history  film  writing 
september 2016 by ayjay
The 100 best films of the 21st century
The editors of BBC Culture polled 177 film critics from around the world about the best films made since 2000 and compiled the results into this list. The top film? David Lynch's Mulholland Drive. Here's the top 20:

20. Synecdoche, New York (Charlie Kaufman, 2008)
19. Mad Max: Fury Road (George Miller, 2015)
18. The White Ribbon (Michael Haneke, 2009)
17. Pan's Labyrinth (Guillermo Del Toro, 2006)
16. Holy Motors (Leos Carax, 2012)
15. 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (Cristian Mungiu, 2007)
14. The Act of Killing (Joshua Oppenheimer, 2012)
13. Children of Men (Alfonso Cuarón, 2006)
12. Zodiac (David Fincher, 2007)
11. Inside Llewyn Davis (Joel and Ethan Coen, 2013)
10. No Country for Old Men (Joel and Ethan Coen, 2007)
9. A Separation (Asghar Farhadi, 2011)
8. Yi Yi: A One and a Two (Edward Yang, 2000)
7. The Tree of Life (Terrence Malick, 2011)
6. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Michel Gondry, 2004)
5. Boyhood (Richard Linklater, 2014)
4. Spirited Away (Hayao Miyazaki, 2001)
3. There Will Be Blood (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2007)
2. In the Mood for Love (Wong Kar-wai, 2000)
1. Mulholland Drive (David Lynch, 2001)
august 2016 by ayjay
265 Free Documentaries Online | Open Culture
Watch over 200 free documentaries online. The documentaries cover everything from music and cinema, to literature, religion, politics and physics. They’re thought-provoking, eye-opening, and enlightening.
july 2016 by ayjay
Morphosis: Imitating Taylor Imitating McGregor Imitating Guinness Imitating
On the (rare) occasions when I teach cinema rather than my usual literature, I have been known (rarely) to offer students a more-or-less polemical abridged history of 20th-century film and television: an epitome of modern visual culture in three individuals. Given how saturated we all are, nowadays, in visual culture, how many tens of thousands of hours of TV and YouTube and movies and so on we have all assimilated before we even reach the age of majority, it's easy to forget how counterintuitive the visual text is. 20th and 21st-Century visual texts like films and TV shows are more different to the sorts of visual media that preceded them than they are similar to them: watching a play is not a nascent form of watching a movie; animated cartoons are much more than paintings that move. At any rate, I suggest that the three key innovations can be thumbnailed as: Eisenstein; Griffith; Chaplin. That's three men who, between 1915 and 1925, established the parameters that in the most crucial sense distinguish modern 'visual culture' texts from older, literary, theatrical and painterly ones. [...]

The kinetic montage and vitality of the cut; an unprecedented scope and scale of the spectacular; a new level and iconicity of superstar celebrity. On these three pillars was the monumental and eye-wateringly profitable edifice of 20th-century cinema erected; and lucrative, culturally important visual texts continue to be developed along these lines: of course they do. But the new visual cultures of the 21st-century are starting over, with three quite different pillars. I'm not entirely sure what the three are, yet. But I'd hazard a sense of new, immense, intricate but oddly unspectacular new topographies of the visual, what we might call the Minecraftization of visual culture, something much more concerned with the spatial than the temporal aspect of the medium. And I wonder about a new configuring of the balance between passive 'watching' and active 'engagement' as salients of the audience experience, with a new stress on the latter quality. And I wonder about a new mobilization of the visual, texts no longer a matter of public cinema or private TV, but disseminated into every tablet and phone and computer, literally in the pocket of everyone on the planet.

One of the main thrusts of Crawford's polemic is that this new digital culture is predicated upon an ideology of distraction. And this makes an immediate kind of sense: many people complain of a shrinkage of collective attention span, that plays into the hands of those who would prefer to get on with despoiling the environment and maximizing social inequality in the service of their own profit. What kind of collective reaction can we muster when reading anything longer than 140-characters prompts us to eye-rolling, sighing and 'tl;dr'; when we can be distracted by an endless succession of cut cat videos and memes and other such metaphorical scooby-snacks. Maybe Crawford is right about this. But by way of counter-example, I can only point to my son. He is precisely as easy to distract as any 8-year old. But he is also capable, when watching Dan TDM's sometimes immensely lengthy playthroughs of Minecraft, of paying close attention for literally hours and hours and hours. That's something.
film  modernism  theory  attention 
march 2016 by ayjay
Bearing New Images | The Curator
According to Web Japan, a Japanese information website, manga accounts for “36% of the volume of all books and magazines sold in Japan,” an astronomically high share of the market. And their stylings have stretched far into other mediums, deeply influencing even the content of novels, making manga, as Miyazaki put it, “no longer a subculture,” but, rather, “the originator of culture.” In Japan, manga imagery is ubiquitous—advertising, television, social media, toys, public festivals, conventions, and social groups—and travels with you via smart phones, tablets, handheld videogames, and countless other portable gadgets. “Everything,” Miyazaki said, “has become insubstantial and mangalike.”

Miyazaki recounts this to his own great shame. An extraordinary 96 percent of Japanese have seen one of his films. His fear is that he is greatly responsible for the fantasia of Japanese life. His hope, on the other hand, is that his films illuminate what others make dark. Miyazaki’s ambition is to make realist films that urge children toward reality.
film  animation  Japan  culture  from instapaper
august 2014 by ayjay
RUIN | OddBall Animation
This is the full short film introducing a much larger story in development.

For more on RUIN go to www.conceptruin.com
april 2014 by ayjay
La Jetée on Vimeo
Moyen métrage angoissant et mystérieux de Chris Marker. Sa particularité est d'être une série d'images fixes. Un trésor artistique! Ce film a inspiré le film de Terry Gilliam "l'Armée des 12 singes"
april 2014 by ayjay
Comedy's Greatest Era
In the language of screen comedians four of the main grades of laugh are the titter, the yowl, the bellylaugh and the boffo. The titter is just a titter. The yowl is a runaway titter. Anyone who has ever had the pleasure knows all about the bellylaugh. The boffo is the laugh that kills. An ideally good gag, perfectly constructed and played, would bring the victim up this ladder of laughs by cruelly controlled degrees to the top rung, and would then proceed to wobble, shake, wave and brandish the ladder until he groaned for mercy. Then, after the shortest possible time out for recuperation, he would feel the first wicked tickling of the comedian’s whip once more and start up a new ladder.

The reader can get a fair enough idea of the current state of screen comedy by asking himself how long it has been since he has had that treatment. The best of comedies these days hand out plenty of titters and once in a while it is possible to achieve a yowl without overstraining. Even those who have never seen anything better must occasionally have the feeling, as they watch the current run or, rather, trickle of screen comedy, that they watch the current run or, rather, trickle of screen comedy, that they are having to make a little cause for laughter go on awfully long way. And anyone who has watched screen comedy over the past ten or fifteen years is bound to realize that it has quietly but steadily deteriorated. As for those happy atavists who remember silent comedy in its heyday and the bellylaughs and boffos that went with it, they have something close to an absolute standard by which to measure the deterioration.
film  essays  from instapaper
june 2013 by ayjay
Inside the Crowded Cult of The Shining Theorists -- Vulture
There were levels to this game, as I would learn from Kevin McLeod, writer and video-game designer, whose lengthy Shining essay is one of the reigning texts on the topic. McLeod, who declined to appear in Room 237 because he “didn’t want to be included with a bunch of cranks” (but wound up liking the film anyway), and I had much in common. A pair of Queens boys, we both saw The Shining the night it opened, the then-12-year-old McLeod in the company of his mother at the now vanished Sutton Theatre on East 57th Street. We hit a snag, however, when I referred to Kubrick as “one of the three or four” greatest filmmakers ever. After a long period of silence, McLeod said, “Stanley Kubrick is not one of the three or four greatest filmmakers! Stanley Kubrick is a philosopher the equal of Heraclitus, a visual artist on the level of a Da Vinci.” Kubrick combined “all the great talents of a Velázquez and a Caravaggio,” McLeod contended.
Despite this rocky start, McLeod and I soon entered into an adept-initiate relationship regarding the formalistic-phenomenological nature of The Shining. Pedagogically, the problem was the twenty-year gap between our ages, McLeod suggested. My brain was simply too set in its outmoded way of seeing. The garden-variety theories expressed in Room 237, the “Native American vs. Manifest Destiny, mirroring vs. doubling, linear vs. continuum, supernatural vs. natural, text vs. visual, text vs. spoken word, fable vs. myth, cartoon vs. realism,” were not incorrect, McLeod wrote in his essay. What they lacked was a “neurophenomenological” overview to make them comprehensible on the level Kubrick intended. The movie was no less than “a primitive gateway to an entirely different mode of cognition beyond the limitations of speech and the written alphabet,” McLeod told me. Kubrick’s singular genius required its own aesthetic theory to be understood; McLeod aimed to provide it.
film  aesthetics  interpretation 
march 2013 by ayjay

Copy this bookmark: