“At a certain point, even if you keep up-to-date with new releases (books, records, films), even if you keep broadening your horizons, even if you manage to keep up with the latest things, you realize that these latest things can never be more than that, that they stand almost no chance of being the last word, because you actually heard-or saw or read-your personal last word years earlier”—Geoff Dyer, Zona (via russmarshalek)
One of the world’s most prolific bootleggers of Hollywood DVDs loves his morning farina. He has spent eight years churning out hundreds of thousands of copies of “The Hangover,” “Gran Torino” and other first-run movies from his small Long Island apartment to ship overseas.
“Here’s the thing about jokes. They only work when they’re aiming up. I wrote this in another piece recently, but I’m just going to plagiarize myself: People in positions of power simply cannot make jokes at the expense of the powerless. That’s why, at a company party, you never have a roast where the CEO is roasting the janitor (“Isn’t it funny how Steve can barely feed his family? This guy knows what I’m talking about!” [points to other janitor]). Because that would be GROSS, and both janitors would have to work late to clean up everyone’s barf. Open-mic comedians, I know you think you’re part of some fresh vanguard in alternative comedy who just discovered that a lot of black ladies don’t like it when you touch their hair, but pleeeeeeease just stick to stuff about how your stupid girlfriend is a bitch. (Just kidding. Please never speak again.)”—
There is no honest discussion that can be had about this Hobbit footage without emphasizing the 48fps presentation. The film was shot this way and will be digitally projected this way, as well as presented in 3D. So what does 48fps movie footage look like as opposed to your usual 24fps theatrical movie experience? In this reporter’s opinion, it looks like live television or hi-def video. And it didn’t look particularly good. Yes, this is shocking, but I was actually let down by the Hobbit footage, as were a number of the other journalists that I spoke with afterward.
It looked like an old Doctor Who episode, or a videotaped BBC TV production. It was as shocking as when The Twilight Zone made the boneheaded decision to switch from film to tape one season, and where perfectly good stories were ruined by that aesthetic. Here, there were incredibly sharp, realistic images where colors seem more vivid and brighter than on film, but the darker scenes were especially murky (and the 3D only dims that image even more). Frankly, it was jarring to see Gandalf, Bilbo or the dwarves in action against CG-created characters or even to move quickly down a rocky passage. The whipping of a camera pan or the blur of movement was unsettling.
”—~ Jim Vejvoda after watching 10 minutes of The Hobbit presented at its native 48 fps (rather than the normal 24 fps)
Brief Thoughts on Architecture and Cinema and Everything Else
Space has a curious relationship with film criticism. Much has been made of the viewer’s status as ‘voyeur’, but, as Giullana Bruno argues in ‘Site Seeing: The Cine City’, much less is made of our simultaneous status as ‘voyageurs’. For in film we don’t merely look onto scenes, we look through them. The camera, after all, is not static: it moves through space, and with it we do too. But what of cinema’s relationship with that major delineator of space, architecture? Below, I briefly consider two very different cinematic takes on our urban environments.
Man With a Movie Camera, Sergei Eisenstein’s much discussed 1929 film, starts with the titular man and his camera. The very next scene takes us inside a movie theatre. As the projectionist sets up in the projection room, hordes of people enter the space. A live orchestra begin to play as their film, and our film, begin. We see a series of shots of the city awakening: newborns in their cribs, homeless people waking up, empty streets being cleaned. The daily birth of the city is equated with no less than the birth of children. In fact, Eisenstein constructs the city’s rhythm out of the rhythm of the movie theatre that is the beginning of the film’s setting. As Bruno puts it, “the life of architecture is the life of (the city’s) residents”. Distinct parallels are not only being drawn between the city’s architecture and its inhabitants, but between the urban environment and the cinema itself. Eisenstein did say, after all, that the closest form of art to cinema is not theatre or photography, but architecture.
The city space of Man With a Movie Camera is thus constructed out of the intersection of 3 distinct areas, all of equal importance: the camera, the architecture, and the people. But what if you take the latter element out of the equation?
Michelangelo Antonioni does just that in the famed ending to his L’Eclisse (1962). For the vast majority of the film’s running time, we follow a stylishly shot, if somewhat conventional, love story between the ennui-ridden Vittoria and her polar opposite in many ways, Piero. Yet the film’s final sequence is something altogether different: the film stops following the protagonists, replacing their story with various vaguely ominous shots of the fascistic architecture of their Roman suburb. Here the urban environment continues to exist absent of the human agency we have been following. The indifference of the city to its inhabitants is a profoundly disturbing thought.
Not only that, but the indifference to the city from the constant allusions to nuclear catastrophe (the newspaper headline, the mushroom shaped building) is even more so. Antonioni underscores the fragility of Eisenstein’s whole exercise: the camera, the architecture, the inhabitants: none of these things will matter in the face of the catastrophe that will, one day, inevitably befall us all.
“Into The Abyss is not overtly about capital punishment. Herzog describes it more as “an American Gothic” – a survey of a Texan landscape of poverty, intoxication, incarceration and death.”—Classic Werner Herzog.
“All those Oscar-type actresses over 50 are only on the tube because they were drummed out of Hollywood. It makes watching their shows a bittersweet experience … Thanks to the plethora of military channels, we have 24-hour coverage of World War II…”—41 Other Reasons American TV Sucks by Michael Musto
When Mike and I started Instagram nearly two years ago, we set out to change and improve the way the world communicates and shares. We’ve had an amazing time watching Instagram grow into a vibrant community of people from all around the globe. Today, we couldn’t be happier to announce that Instagram has agreed to be acquired by Facebook.