Rusty-James’ brother and idol, The Motorcycle Boy, wanders through the film in a v-neck cable sweater vest, occasionally covered by a two-button tweed sports jacket – with the collar upturned, naturally. The sweater feels like a grown-up version of the youngster’s vest: an evolution in the uniform of rebellion which echoes the characters’ relationship. This line from younger to older brother can be drawn further when their alcoholic father (Dennis Hopper) turns up in a trilby, rumpled striped suit with waistcoat and open-necked shirt. As a logical progression from Rourke’s sweater and jacket, Hopper’s costume provides a warning to his sons and a subtle signifier to the audience of what may lie in the boys’ future.
Beginner's Guide to International Cinema [via]
The canon and Criterion Collection are not the law. There are numerous issues with how people assume that these are but I’d like to point to how they are overwhelmingly skewed to films from France, UK, & the US and more than that, lack a complete racial diversity. As a result, even from the US you will get one of the gravest omissions, films from a scene likethe LA Rebellion scene that is completely ignored. And in general, you will get at the most one or two directors from a non-western country like Satyajit Ray (India) or Apichatpong Weerasethakul (Thailand).
I was inspired by and definitely knew I would use Laura Mulvey because I was very interested in the whole idea of the gaze. She has a book that’s a few years old, Death 24x a Second, which is also about freezing and looking at frames. I needed a few anchor points so that [the project] would not be completely random, and she was one. [Roland] Barthes was another one, of course, with “The Third Meaning,” that great essay of his where he slows down The Battleship Potemkin and looks at the stills. You take a still out of a film and freeze it, and it’s not a part of a film and it’s not a photo; it’s a third thing, which is very elusive. That was really important in my thinking, and I knew I wanted to return to him. So those were the two main [influences] I knew I would quote, but I didn’t know I would go into the poets. I had no plan from the beginning of bringing in Brigit Pegeen Kelly or Roberto Bolano or those sorts of folks. In the beginning, I thought [the series] would be mostly theoretical, but I found that a lot of the fiction and poetry I was reading was sort of what we would call “theoretical” in a way. It was offering a theory of the world, of reality and how we fit memory into it. So those sort of morphed in, in real time, whereas Mulvey and Barthes where definitely there from the beginning.
So much great film criticism from the pre-digital era is based on memory. Bazin and others would say, “I saw this film two years ago and I’m going to write about it as best I can.” I’ve been really interested in the way that digital technology gives us absolute control the same way we have always had over a book, in that you can go back to it over and over again. Maybe it’s something I never got over as someone who started teaching film when you needed a projector and it was so difficult to get the actual films. When DVDs came out, and streaming video, and the ability to own films and freeze them, that really opened up a new way of looking at film, and it changed our relationship to film time. We have taken back control. So that’s something that I think runs through all the projects—exploiting to its maximum potential the ability to seize back film and not be, in a sort of Marxist way, “under its spell.” Or, to break its spell without breaking our love for it. To even love it more. That’s really, for me, the common thread: using this technology and exploring what else we can do besides putting extras on a DVD. What else can we do in terms of film theory or scholarship to seize back the film?
I’m interested in what blocking reveals about a movie’s theme — and Hawks’s theme, as Jacques Rivette was the first to point out, is “the adventure of the intellect”; specifically, the drama and comedy that result when a highly civilized society (i.e., one marked by wit, irony, and sexual sophistication) is invaded by an avatar of altogether less civilized forces. In His Girl Friday, bland insurance man Bruce Baldwin (Ralph Bellamy), Hildy’s fiancé, is the avatar of such forces. For those worried, at whatever level of consciousness, that Weimar Germany’s fate might one day be America’s, the blocking in this scene — in which Grant inserts himself bodily between Hildy and Baldwin, then comically arches his eyebrows, smirks, and waggles his cigarette until Hildy begins to fall out of love with Kulturand back in love with Zivilisation — is propaganda of the most dramatic and welcome kind.
Film blogging and its discontents 1:
But what surprised me as I combed through the Long Pauses archive is that vast swaths of the original blogosphere are gone. Many of the sites I once included on my blogroll of “daily reads” have been deleted entirely, and the authors have vanished right along with them. Presumably, they’ve settled into new phases of their lives – like me, they’re now raising children or managing greater responsibilities in their professional lives; like me, they’re in their forties – while others simply lost interest after a short-lived burst of blogging enthusiasm. The Wayback Machine salvages bits and pieces of the wreckage, but the Internet, it turns out, is an ephemeral place. Moreso than I’d imagined. (I was disappointed to discover a few days ago that someone has beaten me to the punch: Internet Archaeology is already a thing.) Our virtual world is indeed a palimpsest.
Film blogging and its discontents 2:
I rather fool-heartedly assumed that I would return when the "time was right," when the desire to write would be so consuming I wouldn't be able to stop my fingers from running wild across my keyboard. Of course that never happened. It wasn't that I didn't wish to write any longer; I've done plenty of writing in my free time. It was that, among other things, I wasn't sure what I was doing with the blog any more. Although, truthfully, I just didn't like what I was doing with it. In the same way my fingers didn't start writing on their own, a clear idea of what I did want to do with the blog never came either, and its absence just gave me another excuse to delay making a decision about whether to return to the blog or bid it a fond farewell. I'm not sure what finally got me to realize that, if the universe had anything to say on the matter, it probably wasn't going to tell me in the ways I had been waiting for.
Long live the working class hunk:
Renner's rise to stardom is indicative of an industry-wide re-embrace of working class American masculinity. Compare his career and look to those of Tom Cruise, George Clooney and Matt Damon, who he replaced in Bourne. Renner's two Oscar nominations are for playing a member of the military and a Boston low-life—men who, one, two generations before, would have toiled in the factory or the mill, but America's post-industrial turn forced them overseas, or to the streets.
We see this embrace in the resurgence of "mancrafting," we see it in the eroticization of Bon Iver's Justin Vernon, with whom women fantasize about living a quiet existence in a backwoods cabin. It's in True Blood's Alcide, and in the return of the 80s "hardbodies" in The Expendables.
We even see it in this summer's Magic Mike, in which a man who yearns to work with his hands is driven to exploit his body as stripper. Behind the gyrations, Mike despairs at the demise of the feasibility of a working-class life. On the construction site, the main character is boxed out by non-union, under-trained labor, and his all-cash stripping-income makes it impossible to get a loan to build his own furniture. He's good at stripping, but in ten years, that job, too, will leave him behind.
You Tube and Archives, Scarcity and Abundance:
Watching videos online isn't the only way of accessing the moving image culture of the past, but we can do a lot with what we have available. Yes there are problems. There is the bias of the present to contend with - YouTube only has what people in the past seven years have deemed worth sharing. This bias applies to archives too, and YouTube is much more democratic, its "curators" and "archivists" representing much broader constituencies than those of institutions. There is often a question of provenance and completeness and identifying information. Sometimes we don't know what we're looking at on YouTube, and I never know if I can trust the YouTuber's facts - how do they know this was on TV in 1977? There is an ephemerality, too - things that were there once are gone, things that are there now might vanish tomorrow, and the copyright regimes of the future might end the freedom of access we now enjoy.
Annnnd, the Scott Baio Essential Eight:
It's a musical. It's a gangster movie. It's a children's film. It's Bugsy Malone, the bizarre effort from Midnight Express director Alan Parker that delivers the grit of The Godfather to the "Sesame Street" set (instead of bullets, Parker stuffed his tiny heels' tommy guns with cream pie filling). Baio plays the title role, of course, with just a taste of the spark we would later see in his fully realized interpretation of Charles "Chachi" Arcola. Sure, Jodie Foster acts circles around him, but humankind has yet to prove Foster isn't the result of extra terrestrial technology gifted to us decades ago by the Zeti Reticulans. It should be noted the Michael Jacskon in Bugsy Malone who plays Razamataz is not the late pop sensation of Thriller fame but in fact just some poor kid with the same moniker who never worked again.