Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Tokyo Story (Japan: Yasujiro Ozu, 1953)

Tokyo Story (Japan: Yasujiro Ozu, 1953: 136 mins)

Bordwell, David. "Watch again! Look well! Look! (For Ozu)." Observations on Film Art (December 12, 2013)

Catley, Anna. "Wes Anderson & Yasujiro Ozu: A Visual Essay." (Posted on Keyframe: March 30, 2015)

Cousins, Mark. "The Story of Film: An Odyssey - Yasujiro Ozu." BBC 4 (Posted on Youtube: September 28, 2011)

"Sight & Sound Poll 2012: Tokyo Story." Current (August 8, 2012)

Overstreet, Jeffrey. "#19: Tokyo Story." Arts and Faith Top 100 Films (2011)

Resources for January 28, 2014

Mark Harris for Grantland: "The Nolan Effect: Why the Larger Best Picture Pool Is Actually Shrinking the Number of Oscar Contenders"

Cinephilia and Beyond: provides a link to Stanley Kubrick's screenplay to his film Paths of Glory (1957) along with stills from the making of the film

Read, Jason. "Primer for the Post-Apocalypse: The Hunger Games Trilogy." Unemployed Negativity (September 5, 2011)

Mistich, Dave. "Appalshop's 'Chemical Valley'." West Virginia Public Broadcasting (January 24, 2014)

"From Jennifer Seibel, the director of Miss Representation, comes an exploration of American masculinity"

Fisher, Mark. "Exiting the Vampire Castle." The North Star (November 22, 2013)

ENG 282 2nd Week: Code Unknown (France/Germany/Romania: Michael Haneke, 2000)

Ebony Nava's response:

The fact that two viewings of "Code Unknown" (directed by Michael Haneke) were needed before formulating this response/review speaks to the thought provoking detail(s) of this film.

In retrospect, during my first viewing of “Code Unknown” I interpreted the film, in my opinion, superficially. I noted the credits at the beginning that rolled silently and assumed implied suspense, then, proceeded to expect some sort of climax. I noted the personality traits of the characters and attempted to analyze them. I was emotionally invested in every scene, even those that were later revealed to be “fabricated” (the casting call/the pool scene). I tried to decipher who the main character was.

Thus, I was left 1) frustrated by Haneke’s choices regarding what to/not to show the audience, 2) wishing each set of characters had been developed into their own respective full-length films, 3) attempting to fill in all the gaping blanks that were left hanging between the scenes and 4) feeling cheated (“it’s ALL fabricated, ” was my exact thought).

I started into the second viewing well aware that “everything was fabricated,” yet found I was still drawn to the various scenes with the exception of those that I knew had previously been revealed to be “fabrications” – even though the acting was equally “genuine” (and fabricated) in both. This puzzled me. How could I still connect with a film that Haneke had so clearly implied was a fabrication?

I decided to back up and look at the larger picture and consequentially began to see parallel experiences among the characters; Anna in her casting is told to “show your true face/a true expression” something Georges sets out to capture through his photography later in the film, this comes up again when Anna and her “high society friend,” Francine, could care less for the gore and raw emotions a war photographer documents, while Anna (at least), herself, is in the business (drama/acting) of recreating gore/horrors and raw emotion; both Maria (the Romanian) and Anna were disrespected by a young male; Anna’s career seems to be taking off, the farmer’s ending; Maria’s humiliation of the Gypsy and her subsequent humiliation by a wealthy man; Maria’s loss in a familiar place in Paris – and then Georges; . . .

I don’t think the parallels found throughout “Code Unknown” were accidental; instead, I saw them as a way to connect the characters of the film (beyond their chance encounters). Characters that Haneke went through great lengths to humanize – a french farmer and his sons, an actress, a Romanian illegal immigrant/beggar and her family, a young man and his family (African) dealing with racism . . . these are characters that are not often humanized (much less featured) in the same film, yet, this film goes even further and expresses that they – that we – are not all that different (aside from the perceived culture clash); we often share experiences as humans.

The editing style of “Code Unknown” must be credited for its role in provoking thought and engaging the audience. Scene segments were continuous, so a viewer had to slow down and process exactly what was taking place; then at the end of the scenes (which seemed to be cut mid/end sentence and scene at times) there was an obvious cut (blacked out screen) between each switch. This made the film’s segments memorable [to me] as I was thoroughly engaged in each part, and able to recall most of the film.

I don’t think “Code Unknown” is so much about the “whys” concerning what was “left out” (although filling in the blanks led me to find more parallel connections between the characters) because contemplating the details of the nature of relationships that are created and exist among people can be interpreted by outsiders just as many ways as there are viewers. Also, getting lost in the characters diverts from the deeper messages Haneke, I believe, was attempting to deliver.

Haneke took his characters, humanized them, connected them, and connected the audience to his characters (the actors/actresses appeared to “live” their roles); no small feat for a director, and I assume for no fickle reason. The messages I took away from “Code Unknown” are (in no particular order) a) be more thoughtful and kind/compassionate because our actions DO hold the potential to impact lives, b) unknown details can make all the difference, c) be aware of/care about other’s differing narratives, and d) we, as humans, have more in common with one another than not; we share similar experiences throughout the course of our lives . . . we share our humanity.

I will continue to think about “Code Unknown” and look forward to seeing it for a third time; to pick up on more detail, and to reevaluate what I took away.

Emily Hensley

“Code Unknown” is a compelling yet refreshing multinational film directed by Michael Haneke. In the beginning credits there is a caption at the bottom of the screen that states “Incomplete Tales of Several Journeys” this sheds light onto what the audience is about to see as this film actually follows the “Incomplete Tales of Several Journeys.” An unexpected opening scene starts out with a class of deaf children playing a game of charades. The camera focus’s in on the little girl with braids acting out some form of emotion. She looks startled and scared as she slowly crouches down, although it’s not all the way, but at least into a half fetal position; she could be shielding her body or preparing herself for something terrible as she has the look of fear in her eyes. Just when the audience is engaged the camera then switches onto the other children as a group, and then one at a time as the children begin to guess. These children use sign language, serious intent and extraordinary facial expressions to communicate their thoughts. It is evident with each child and each guess that the children really think they know what the little girl with the braids is trying to convey. These complex guesses don’t resemble the thought processes of young children, such as being alone, a hiding place, a gangster, being sad, having a bad conscience, and being imprisoned. The little girl with braids just shakes her head “No” as none of these guesses are correct. However, the answer is never known which sets the tone for the film “Code Unknown.” Watching this scene the audience is being sucked into the film, as there is already a question without an answer; leaving the audience wanting and needing more.

This masterpiece sweeps in and shifts… from clip to clip following several different people in their everyday life and how they collide with each other while doing so. There is an actress (Anne) and her boyfriend the war photographer (George), a farmer and his teenage son (Jean), a music teacher of African descent (Amadou) and his father the taxi cab driver (Youssuf), and an illegal Romanian immigrant (Maria). This film is set in Paris with only short meaningful clips into every character’s story. With these short clips the audience is brought into their lives, seeing and living for that moment and what makes each individual character tick. They surprise, enchant, confuse and at times enrage the audience. Every clip has something so real and humane about it that it can shake the audience to their core.

The style of this film is ironically rough around the edges but yet it somehow charms the audience bit by bit following its own time line of events. Every clip portrayed in a widescreen view allowing for angles of the background, environment, facial features and physical gestures portrayed by the actors. When the actors walk at times it feels as if the camera is briskly walking with them, trying to keep up. A great example of this is the 2nd clip of the movie where Anne and Jean are walking and talking down the street and the same feel repeats throughout the movie again and again.

On the contrary there are also scenes where the camera doesn’t follow the actors through the set. An example of this is when Jean’s father brings home a dirt bike, the camera stays put on the outside view of the barn. The shot shows his father walking into the barn but does not follow him, it only shows Jean coming out. Jean walks out and then he is no longer visible, the audience hears the dirt bike start up and then once again Jean is in the camera’s line of sight and it is visible that he rides away on the dirt bike. This is an interesting style that adds some mystery and is used more than once during the film. These scenes are captivating as the audience doesn't want to take their eyes off the screen, just waiting and longing for something to happen; although the camera never moves and the characters are only seen when they return to that particular view.

Another rare form is that directly after each scene the screen goes black before opening up to the next. Why does the Haneke do this? There are prevalent reasons for the screen to go black, first for the audience to take a split second to process what they just saw, next to guide the audience into the realization that the scene is over and that another is about to begin but also because the director wants a different feel for this movie, a raw appeal that he most certainly accomplishes. This movie has a real true grit gut feel to it. No overbearing or mind-blowing special effects here but this film flawlessly carries many imperfections. After the farmer killed the bulls, as he begins to walk out the barn one of the bulls turns its head. Was this intentional? Could it have been a reflex reaction of a dead bull’s muscles? Or was that a mistake that was just left untouched? Either way it doesn’t matter it just added to the realism of the film.

The most surprisingly genius component of this film is the twists with the actress Anne who is played by Juliette Binoche. This actress has the ability to make the audience believe something that they almost already know to be untrue. Several of the clips with Anne are films within a film where she is acting in her movie, on stage or attending her acting call. Especially riveting was the scene in the pool with her male costar. This scene has a way of distraction in the sense that the audience begins to believe that Anne is romantically involved with this man, when the audience knows that she is involved with George. Then abruptly this child unintentionally is trying to leap to his death; wrapped up in the rush of excitement the audience believes that this child is hers. The audience is fearful for her that this child is going to plummet off this skyscraper to his death. These trappings are crazy it is so innovating, impressive and by far one the most distinctive parts of the film. Just the fact that this scene, actress and director can take hold and grab the audience like this is truly amazing.

The sounds in this film are also remarkably authentic, for example in the scene where Maria is touring the house back in Romania as they walk and talk the audience profoundly can hear the squeaking of the floor boards. Another undeniable explosion of real sounds is near the end of the film when George is riding the subway photographing his “unknowing” canvases. These intrusive sounds of the subway cart going against the tracks is very loud. In some movies the directors will include the sounds that subways, trains, cars and other forms of transportation make but they are usually not so intense. An unnatural but significant ear shot is the drums, which beat and beat again like roaring thunder that has a clear point to be made.

Amadou the music teacher is shown playing these drums, this young man is a strong and powerful character in the film. He can be misinterpreted as in the scene with Jean he comes off as abrasive but also sensitive and humane. This takes place in the 2nd clip of the film, where Jean parts ways with Anne and begins to walk down the street feeling bitter. He rudely throws his pastry wrapper in Maria’s lap, who is sitting on the street corner begging for change. Amadou becomes furious at this act of indignity and he chases Jean down the street and tries to convince Jean to apologize to Maria. Jean is carelessly unresponsive and Amadou becomes somewhat physical. At the end of scene Jean walks away unapologetic, Amadou ends up in jail and Maria is deported back to Romania. This is a fascinating scene that exhibits many unspoken traits of the human condition. There are too many other scenes in this film that portray this very idea whether it smacks the audience in the face or is just a subtle breath of fresh air that requires thinking outside the box.

Michael Haneke’s brilliant vision was shared with the audience and will live on through this film. He wanted something that was not main stream Hollywood style but that creatively and artistically could touch on real issues that real people deal with. As each clip unwinds it is unclear if the audience is getting closer to understanding or further away from the true meaning of the film. Scenes may seem spaced out and sporadic individually but as a whole they do fit together like pieces of a puzzle. Not that this film ever really gives the audience what they need as questions continue to arise without answers. However, this is the beauty of this film “Code Unknown”, we are intrigued and provoked to think and question what really happened in the film; we are to try and break the code. We live in a society where Hollywood film is one of the highest paid and over publicized industries and because of this we think we know a lot about films, scripts and the messages that they bring to us but after seeing a really admirable film with a valuable message we should walk away with some sense of knowledge, integrity and desire to know more.

Seth Gardner's Response:

After nearly a week after seeing this film I'm still kind of torn. Simply, I didnt like this movie. At all. I completely understand the technical nature of the film and why the scenes were filmed the way they were, but I just simply dont find that entertaining. Long scenes that had nothing to do with one another, other than the cast and the complete lack of any kind of story being told.

The reason that we , as humans, like our stories told a specific way is because the way life happens, the way anything happens, is in a linear clean way and with context. Fact surrounding an event may not be totally clear but how those events happened were from one moment to the next and with reason. Thats why we enjoy being told stories like this. Saying fuck the system is cool with this movie, but the fact is, basic story telling, how we know it, isnt something that hollywood dictated 60 years ago. Its a form thats been practiced for thousands of years. Any book, any religious teaching, any legend has all pretty much the same form in how its presented to us in the form of a story. Something interesting happens. and it happens for a reason, and this is why. If something random happens, for no apparent reason and youre supposed to figure it out is boring.

As a technical exercise I certainly understand the interest one would have in this, but again, that doesnt make the film itself actually good.

Michael Benton's reponse to Seth

Seth, you make a lot of assumptions in this response. It is worrisome when limited to cultural narratives, but even more if you are applying the same type of thinking to political/social narratives (the stories we tell about our world). My responds to your response:

1) Why are you unable to directly respond to even one scene in this film or discuss a single character or one part of the style of the film. It seems to signify an unwillingness to truly engage with the film?

2) This is a college course. Is it our job to entertain you? Would you use this claim to dismiss something you are responding to in your other courses? Is Haneke critiquing a cultural force that creates passive consumers (definitely not critical citizens) who shut down unless they are "entertained" (and what does that concept mean)? Did you expect this was going to be a "popcorn" course?

3) It would have been very positive if you could have tried to even describe one scene, but there is no attempt to explain what you find problematic about them. Point out any scene in this film and I can explain for you how they are connected in multiple ways. In fact we could map out how they are thoroughly connected and how they reflect story/character development. Now, once again, are you asked to engage with the development of the plot and think about the characters - yes! What could possibly be Haneke's intent in doing this? I wish we could find out... I wonder if there is anywhere were we could learn more about this film

4) I'm hoping you really were not thinking about how ethnocentric this statement is: "The reason that we , as humans, like our stories told a specific way is because the way life happens, the way anything happens, is in a linear clean way and with context." Stories have been this way from the beginning of time and around the world -- really, you believe this? Humans prefer linear stories - really? You do understand that linear perception and narrative is a cultural construction and is not a universal perception/preference?

5) When does Haneke say fuck the system? He may say fuck Hollywood's colonization of people's consciousness... well, he doesn't say "fuck," but is concerned about mindless/passive consumption of pandering narratives that encourage people to shut off their brains. Is Hollywood the system?

6) "Any book, any religious teaching, any legend has all pretty much the same form in how its presented to us in the form of a story." -- what, surely you jest?

Seth, I appreciate your honesty in how you feel about the film, my critique with your response is more in the lack of thought involved in the construction of your argument about the film.

Seth Gardner's response to Michael

1) I didn't reference a specific scene because to me they all were similar enough in nature for me to give a blanket statement. After scene after scene I came away feeling the exact same thing. The opening scene, why black dude was so offended. Why his mother has anything to do with anything. His father driving a car in Africa. A farmer shooting his cows or a tractor tilling land for no apparent reason. Do all of those have significance with the movie? Yes. Do they tell a compelling story in any way that's even remotely interesting or thought provoking? To me they don't.

2. You're moving the goal posts on this one a little. There is no where in which you specifically ask us to review the movie in a technical manner and specifically asked us to just state how we feel about a film. You also stated on the first day that films at their basis are entertainment. Even if someone is just making a film to make a political or technical statement, theyre still trying to entertain or stir the minds of the people who would be entertained by it. You ask me how I feel about a film, part of that is whether or not I was entertained by it. As that is, to me is a legitimate criticism given the criteria you gave us. I dont expect any of these films to be standard hollywood smash and bang, but I do expect some of them to move me in some fashion beyond a farmer shooting his cows because hes disappointed, or finding out that the black dude (im sorry I cant remember the name of the character) isnt actually an overly aggressive asshole at all.

3. I think in my previous two points that Ive addressed this

4. Do you genuinely believe that the modern American culture is the first to tell their stories in this fashion and that its JUST cultural and NOTHING to do with who we are as humans an how we interact with the world?

5. Totally a lazy point I made. I concede that.

6. See point 4.

Patrick Reynold's response

The Children playing charades in the opening scene is much the way I felt during the film: trying to figure out a direction or plot: perhaps the intention. Now I think that the idea is nothing more than a commentary on life's non - sterile nature, and how every human action has a significant impact on those around us - most often in a negative way. From how standing up for what you believe (Amoui's defense of someone he does not know), to the crushing impact not following the dreams others have for you has on them (Jean's Father's fateful decision regarding the farm). Even George's ambivalent support of Ann's emotional needs ending in their separation can be seen in this light. The non-sterile nature, and technical difficulty of these type of films is something that is nurturing a new interest. I'm beginning to understand their brilliance, and even their beauty. My job now is to learn how to read and dissect them in a proper fashion - which is totally different than the traditional way I have viewed films my entire life.

Kelly Battiato's Response:

Code Unknown directed by Michael Haneke is a film about the lives of different people, all being connected through a single incident. I found it very interesting that throughout the whole movie there was music/film score, except for the beating of drums that a band plays in the film. The opening and closing scenes were both of the deaf children playing charades, trying to communicate to their classmates. I think that represented how people in everyday life try and communicate with each other and how so often they are misunderstood, or not understood at all. From there the story follows Jean, a farm boy, who goes to Paris to find his brother Georges. Jean meets up with Georges girlfriend Anne, and finds out that Georges is gone covering the story of a war. Jean does not want to return to his dads farmhouse and is upset and drops a piece of trash onto a beggar woman on the corner. Amadou a young black male gets upset at seeing this and he and Jean get into a fight. The police come and arrest Amadou and deport the beggar. From there the story follows how that incident effects the lives of Jean, Anne, Amadou and his family, Georges, and Maria (the beggar). I think Haneke really made this film relatable and captured the everyday nuances that made this movie feel so real and truthful. You can hear everything that the characters are hearing, like the iron hissing as Anne is using it, and food crunching as Jean's father eats. The scene with Anne ironing and not wearing any pants and she over hears her neighbors being abusive was so sad to me, but relatable...the scene for some reason stood out to me. I think because something about it just felt so real...

Right after that scene I really noticed how it was black in between each scene and how the cuts were so abrupt and quick when it jumped back and forth between stories. Kind of like how life is so fast paced and jumps from one moment to another. Amadou's family kept getting in trouble because of a white persons lies. I thought it was interesting that Amadous sister was deaf...and I don't know why his dad left? Jean ran away from his silent father...why did his dad kill his cows? I really liked Maria's family...I know she was Romanian but her and her family reminded me of my Italian side of the family in a way. I liked seeing her family and her. I wish she would have just stayed with her family instead of going back to begging. I really loved all of the pictures that Georges took of the people riding the subway...capturing all different kinds of people. Whenever Anne had an audition or it was showing her movies I got caught up and thought it was real...or I was confused for a minute thinking it was part of the movie and not just a scene of her acting. The scene towards the end when Anne gets sexually harassed was so difficult to watch and struck a nerve...people can be so cruel and ignorant.

I thought all of the acting was tremendous and a great accomplishment for having such long scenes with no cuts.

What does it say about the human heart? The human condition? I think that we all are human, we all have feelings, we all want to love and respect. That our words and actions have a ripple effect whether we are aware of it or not. That our seemingly little lives have a big impact in the long run. I think people are too wrapped up in their own worlds and can be very selfish...only looking out for themselves.

People need to realize that we are all more alike then we think.

Chelsea Toth's Response
The opening scene shows a little girl who proceeds to walk sideways towards a wall in the room and then crouch down beside it and grasp the wall with both hands. In this moment I was pretty confused at the intent of this first scene, and I was even more shocked that the movie started out in complete silence. It is soon found out that the little girl is deaf and so are the rest of the ethnically different kids that she is playing charades with. There is nothing too peculiar about this scene, but there is definitely a lack of thrill on the little girls face as she performs her charade in fact she only cracks a smile when another child guesses gangster. At first thought I did not realize the importance of this opening scene as it quickly cuts to the films title: Code Unknown – Incomplete tales of several journeys.

The following scene quickly introduces a few of the main characters in the film: Anne, Jean, and George. This scene has a lot of different elements to it, setting the groundwork for the rest of the film. We see Anne exit a building into the streets of Paris and Jean soon after approach her as if he had been waiting for someone at that particular place. At first glance watching these two walking down the streets of Paris doesn’t seem to different as to what you would expect an American city’s streets to look like, so far from a visual standpoint cultural differences appear minimal. We find out that Jean is looking for his older brother George, but he is in Kosovo for unknown reasons at the time, and we also find out that Jean has ran away from his home in the countryside where he lives with his father. He is asking for a place to stay with them in the city because he does not want to be a farmer like his dad wants him to be. Anne seems concerned about the boy’s situation, this is clear as they walk down the street and she stops to buy them both something to eat and then allows to him to go rest at her apartment, but is firm with him about the idea of him living with George and her in in the city is never going to happen.

If you are not paying close attention to their conversation and you don’t establish the connections right away of how everyone is related then you are going to be totally lost until later in the film. A misconception that I initially got out of this scene was actually that I thought Anne was Jean’s stepmother and not until many scenes later did I realized what a horrible mistake I had made.

Listening to their words is what sets the groundwork for cultural differences, and there are many scenes in this movie that prove this to be true. An apparent truth is that Jean does not want to grow up to be like his dad. This theme of adolescents wanting to find their own personal identity immediately jumped out to me as I’ve seen it plenty of times in American film, but the way Haneke sets it up was a new experience for me. The days of sustainable living in America today are just about gone; for the most part industrialization has taken over the American lifestyle. Since traditional living is no longer a part of American culture, so the mixture of both urban and rural backgrounds throughout this film really intrigued me. Even though I cannot relate to living on a farm and the tasks related to a farm in all the scenes between Jean-Pierre and his father my emotions ran rapid because my own family issues at home were so closely related to theirs. Financial struggles and the aspiration of breaking away from your parents to be independent are two things I could easily identify with in relation to Jean-Pierre.

The rest of this scene includes Anne giving her house keys to Jean-Pierre before she has to go and as Jean walks back down the street past the bakery they previously walked past he gets into a fight with a stranger who stopped Jean-Pierre after he threw a crumpled up bag into the lap of a woman that was sitting down outside of the bakery door. As the fight escalates the police show up and assess the situation, locate the woman in question, and then proposes that everyone go down to headquarters for further questioning. One of the policemen makes an effort to hold onto the stranger as they attempt to go the police station but the stranger does not allow it ungrasping himself from his power telling them that he can and will go willingly with them, but then the police officer attempts to grab the stranger again and this time when the stranger again tries to break away both police men wrestle the man to the ground and this is when I assume that he is definitely going to jail for resisting arrest. The stranger was simply trying to get Jean-Pierre to realize what an awful thing he had just done, humiliating the woman as the stranger suggests but in the end he was the one to get in trouble. Whether or not race played a role in these police officers decision to arrest the stranger is for you to decide, as the stranger is African-American.

A weird thing about this scene is its lack of shots the whole scene is one take as the main characters walk up and down the street. Although I noticed how the camera followed Anne and Jean at the beginning of the scene, the certainty of just one long take didn’t occur to me until Anne suddenly reappears into the scene before the police show up to the fight. I was bewildered by the fact that Anne suddenly was back in the scene as if she had to of heard Jean-Pierre yelling blocks down the street and decided to walk back and find out why, although the camera never showed Anne hearing Jean-Pierre screaming.

The next few scenes broaden the knowledge of how all of the major and minor characters are connected in the film, although I do admit it is quite confusing the first time screening this film. The title definitely does the movie justice because the first seven or eight scenes have a completely different setting and only three of the scenes clearly reintroduce characters previously met. It took a few times of me re-watching this film to understand everyone’s connection to each other. A scene of several different photographs reeled together in a slideshow introduces the voice of Jean’s brother George and it wasn’t until scenes later was I able to figure out that it was George who took these photographs, but I did not notice that the same stranger who got into a fight with Jean-Pierre is the person in the mirror teaching the group of kids how to drum.

Another example of how Haneke visually portrays similarities between American and international cultures only showing cultural differences through audio is the scene where Angie is ironing her clothes. You would not think too much of this scene if you were watching it with the volume turned down. However, everything seems normal until you hear a person’s screeching coming from the upstairs apartment, drowning out the sound of Anne’s television. The fact that Anne does nothing at all, besides briefly turn the television volume down, makes me believe there are huge differences placed on a persons’ privacy in international cultures. . If this had been an American film Anne probably would have called the cops for a possible domestic disturbance and somebody probably would have went to jail. Although Anne appears to be bothered by the sounds that mimic the screams of a little girl she does nothing at that moment to try to help, she simply puts a halt to her chores takes a drink of her glass of wine and resumes her ironing.

Overall I believe Code Unknown was a fascinating way to portray the troubling realities brought about when distinctly different cultures are forced to interact due to proximity. I believe this film is a great tool to help people understand worldwide stereotypes that exist still today stereotypes and Haneke did a remarkable job portraying the straightforwardness of these labels, and even American culture is not represented in this film the same social issues reflected in this are quite comparable to the social issues throughout American society such as racial tensions and lifestyle choices. I recommended this film as a must see to anyone in pursuit of understanding others, although I doubt you are going to fully understand their stories the first time viewing. Since each tale is left unfinished I feel as if there is an infinite amount of times to viewing this film without gaining a greater perspective each time viewing, I personally cannot wait to share this film with as many as I possibly can.

Credit for Chelsea Toth

Monday, January 27, 2014

Ikiru (Japan: Akira Kurosawa, 1952)

Ikiru (Japan: Akira Kurosawa, 1952: 143 mins)

Allie, Edward. "#9: Ikiru." Arts and Faith Top 100 Films (2011)

Ikiru Revisited." Mystery Man on Film (August 4, 2009)

Hogg, Trevor. "Epic Dreamer: An Akira Kurosawa Profile." Flickering Myth (March 24, 2010)

Kaufman, Aryeh. "A Study of Kurosawa’s Ikiru, Part 1 ~ What it Means to Live ~" Offscreen (April 30, 2009)

Richie, Donald. "Remembering Kurosawa." Current (Decmeber 9, 2009)

Zhou, Tony. "Akira Kurosawa - Composing Movement." (Posted on Vimeo: March 20, 2015)

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Medium Cool (USA: Haskell Wexler, 1969)

Medium Cool (USA: Haskell Wexler, 1969: 111 mins)

Beard, Thomas. "Medium Cool: Preserving Disorder." Current (May 21, 2013)

Kirschner, Jonathan. "The Whole World Is Watching: Haskell Wexler's Medium Cool on DVD." Bright Lights Film Journal #81 (August 2013)

Lustgarten, Abbey. "10 Things I Learned: Medium Cool Current (May 22, 2013)

"Three Reasons: Medium Cool." The Current (May 16, 2013)

Wexler, Haskell. "On Medium Cool." Current (May 21, 2013)

2001: A Space Odyssey (USA/UK: Stanley Kubrick, 1968)

2001: A Space Odyssey (USA/UK: Stanley Kubrick, 1968: 141 mins)

Beyl, Cameron. "The Directors Series: Stanley Kubrick, Pts. 1-5." The Film Stage (February 11, 2015)

Copley, Rich. "UK's presentation of '2001: A Space Odyssey' is a musical trip." Herald-Leader (January 29, 2015)

Darius, Julian. " On Jack Kirby’s 2001: A Space Odyssey Adaptation." Sequart (May 21, 2013)

Figueras, Mark Anthony. "Kubrick in Color." (Posted on Vimeo: January 2016)

Kaneria, Rishi. "Red: A Kubrick Supercut." (Posted on Vimeo: 2015)

Kuersten, Erich. "CinemArchetype #4: The Hanged Man." Acidemic  (February 12, 2012)

LoBrutto, Vincent. "Experimental Narrative: 2001: A Space Odyssey." Becoming Film Literate: The Art and Craft of Motion Pictures. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2005: 312-318. [BCTC Library: PN1994 L595 2005]

The Work of Stanley Kubrick from Stefano Westerling on Vimeo.

Resources for January 25, 2014

Jezebel: "Revenge Porn Purveyor Hunter Moore Finally Arrested by the FBI"

Ramin Setoodeh for Variety: "Julee Johnson gives her take on Lars Von Trier's movie"

Metanoia Films has the remastered version of Scott Noble's PsyWar online

The Power Principle: Corporate Empire and the Rise of the National Security State (Metanoia Films: Scott Noble, 2013: Part 1: Empire, 95 mins; Part II: Propaganda, 98 mins; Part III: Apocalypse, 70 mins)

Mr.Death "The Rise and Fall of Fred A. Leuchter" (UK/USA: Errol Morris, 1999: 91 mins) [To watch the documentary online]

The Marriage of Maria Braun (West Germany: Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1979: 120 mins)

Snag Films has a wide selection of free documentaries available to watch online

The Marriage of Maria Braun (West Germany: Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1979)

"One of the most prolific and influential European filmmakers of the second half of the 20th century, Rainer Werner Fassbinder completed nearly 40 feature-length films between 1969 and 1982 (the year he died at age 37) and left behind one of the most cohesive and provocative bodies of work in the history of cinema. In his many melodramas, gangster movies, literary adaptations, and even sci-fi films, he returned obsessively to themes of love, crime, labor, and social and emotional exploitation. He was similarly fixated on his beloved performers, many of whom—Hanna Schygulla, El Hedi ben Salem, Ulli Lommel, and countless others—comprised a repertory company whose fierce, complicated devotion to their visionary leader defies comparison." -- Film Society Lincoln Center (2014)

The Marriage of Maria Braun (West Germany: Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1979: 120 mins)

Brockmann, Stephen. "Die Ehe der Maria Braun." (1979) or West Germany Rebuilds." A Critical History of German Film Rochester, NY: Camden House, 2010: 356-369. [Professor has copy of the book]

Hancock, James, Mikhail Karadimov and Aaron West. "The Meteoric Career Of Rainer Werner Fassbinder." Wrong Reel #233 (February 2017)

Hoberman, J. "The Single Antidote to Thoughts of Suicide: Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s American friends." Moving Image Source (June 28, 2012)

Hudson, David. "Fassbinder: Romantic Anarchist (Part 1).” Keyframe (May 16, 2014)

Jones, Kent. "Heartbreak House: Fassbinder's BRD Trilogy." Current (Septemvber 29, 2003)

Leadbetter, Kate. "Fugitive Physicality and Female Performance in Werner Rainer Fassbinder's The Marriage of Maria BraunVeronika Voss and Lola." Movie (August 2010)

Mahani, Najmeh Khalili. "Mirroring History: Fassbinder’s The BRD Trilogy." Offscreen 17.2 (February 28, 2013)

Moeller, H.B. "Fassbinder's use of Brechtian aesthetics." Jump Cut #35 (April 1990)

Ruffel, Joe. "Great Directors: Rainer Werner Fassbinder." Sense of Cinema (May 2002)

Trocan, Irina. "Fassbinder's History Lessons." Keyframe (January 9, 2016)

Close Encounters of the Third Kind (USA: Steven Spielberg, 1977)

Close Encounters of the Third Kind (USA: Steven Spielberg, 1977: 132 mins)

Benedict, Steven. "The Techniques and Themes of Steven Spielberg." Vimeo (August 8, 2012)

"Close Encounters of the Third Kind and the Search for Meaning." Pop Culture Case Study (November 9, 2016)

Haskell, Molly, Michael Koresky and Violet Lucca. "Steven Spielberg." Film Comment Podcast (October 3, 2017) ["Looking ahead to the New York Film Festival premiere of Susan Lacy’s documentary Spielberg, this week’s Film Comment podcast considers the household-name auteur: the architect of the modern blockbuster, and a surviving (and thriving) master of the Classical Hollywood vernacular. Molly Haskell is on hand to impart wisdom from her most recent book Steven Spielberg: A Life in Films, which came out in the spring, as well as firsthand recollections of writing about Spielberg in the age of second-wave feminism. She joins Film Society of Lincoln Center Editorial Director Michael Koresky, who edited the Reverse Shot book Steven Spielberg: Nostalgia and the Light, published with Museum of the Moving Image this summer, and FC Digital Producer Violet Lucca for a discussion spanning Spielberg’s big marquee titles and his less appreciated works."]

Hynes, Eric. "Wishing On a Starship." Reverse Shot #31 (2012)

Kuersten, Erich. "The Primal Father (CinemArchetypes #8)." Acidemic (March 19, 2012)

Lee, Kevin B. "The Spielberg Face." (Posted on Vimeo: 2012)

Tracy, Andrew. "Depth Perception." Reverse Shot #31 (2012)

The Tenant (France: Roman Polanski, 1976)

The Tenant (France: Roman Polanski, 1976: 125 mins)

Bradley, S.A. "Nowhere Man: The Outsider in Horror." Hell Bent for Horror #30 (January 21, 2017)
["The Us vs. Them mentality is a backdrop for some really good horror stories. Frankenstein being a great example. The Monster is the outsider, but yet you sympathize with him. In these conflicts, horror is uniquely suited to tell some great stories, and give different results. What makes THEM…them? How easily can WE become THEM? “Civilized” society is a tough path to tread. In this episode I talk about Horror and the outsider. I bring up Frankenstein and then go from short stories to little known movies to popular movies of the last decade."]

Bradley, S.A. and James Hancock. "Roman Polanski's Apartment Trilogy." Wrong Reel #253 (April 2017)

Cairns, David. "Eternal Recurrence: Beginning at the end with Roman Polanski." Moving Image Source (September 8, 2011)

Del Valle, David. "Wig of a Poet: Un Polanski Rorschach." Acidemic #6 (2010)

Duvall, Jamey, Mike White and Alex Winter. "The Tenant (1976)." The Projection Booth #344 (October 10, 2017) ["Adapted from a book by Roland Topor (Fantastic Planet), the film also stars Polanski as Trelkovsky, a man in need of a new apartment. He finds one where the previous occupant has defenestrated herself. After her death, he's able to move in and finds that his neighbors don't like him being noisy... in fact, they don't like him being him at all. Some put this alongside Polanski's Repulsion and Rosemary's Baby as his “apartment trilogy” in which explores the terrors of urban paranoia."]

Fernandez, Ingrid. "Visions of the Other: The Return of the Abject in Roman Polanski's The Tenant." Bright Lights Film Journal #78 (November 2012)

López, Cristina Álvarez and Adrian Martin. "Roman Polanski: Cinema of Invasion." ACMI (October 13, 2016)

Savage, David. "A Polanski Guide to Urban Living." Cinema Retro (July 27, 2007)

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Resources for January 22, 2014

Smells Like Human Spirit #67: "Deconstructing Edward Bernays’ Propaganda (Part 4)" and Part 5

Benton, Michael Dean. "Astroturf and Front Group Research: The Center for Union Facts." Dialogic Cinephilia (January 20, 2014)

Meghan Neal for Vice's Motherboard: "Obama's Linguistic Loopholes"

"The ability to perceive or think differently is more important than the knowledge gained." -- David Bohm, quoted in New Scientist (February 1993): 42.

David Miller on Divine Salve: "My Speech at Martin Luther King Rally"

Merriam-Webster's Word-of-the-Day

gaffer \GAF-er\

noun 1 : an old man — compare gammer; 2 a: foreman, overseer — British b : employer; 3 : a head glassblower; 4 : a lighting electrician on a motion-picture or television set


Before the first day of shooting, the gaffer spent several days setting up all the lights.

"Meanwhile, almost a hundred crew members, gaffers, lighting and camera people, makeup artists, sound technicians, producers and security were outside creating scenes for 'Draft Day.'" — From an article by Michael Heaton in the Plain Dealer (Cleveland, Ohio), May 15, 2013

Though movie and cinema buffs associate "gaffer" with Hollywood, the word actually pre-dates motion pictures by about 300 years. The first recorded use of "gaffer" dates from the 16th century, when it was used as a title of respect for an older gentleman. Later it was used as a generic noun for any elderly man, and then it picked up the sense "foreman" (still used in British English), perhaps because the foreman was the most experienced and, most likely, the oldest person in a work crew. Today "gaffer" is usually applied to the head lighting electrician on a movie set. The gaffer's assistant is called the "best boy."

Brody, Richard. "A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Folk Singer" The New Yorker (December 5, 2013)

Merriam-Webster -- Word of the Day

wangle \WANG-gul\

verb 1 : to resort to trickery or devious methods; 2 : to adjust or manipulate for personal or fraudulent ends; 3 : to make or get by devious means : finagle


Somehow, Irene managed to wangle front-row tickets and backstage passes for the concert.

"He quits his job, wangling a huge pay-off by blackmailing his boss, and buys a ridiculous red sports car." — From a film review by Marc Lee at telegraph.co.uk, November 21, 2013

"Wangle," a verb of uncertain origin, has been used in its sense "to obtain by sly methods" since the late 19th century. Occasionally, one sees "wrangle" used similarly, as in "wrangle a huge salary," but more typically it means "to argue or engage in controversy." Did the "obtain" sense of "wrangle" evolve through confusion with "wangle"? Not exactly. "Wrangle" was used with the meaning "to obtain by arguing or bargaining" as early as 1624, long before "wangle" appeared in the language. The sense had all but disappeared until recent decades, however, and its revival may very well have been influenced by "wangle." The "obtain" sense of "wangle" is currently more common than that of "wrangle," but both are considered standard.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Michael Dean Benton - Astroturf and Front Group Research: The Center for Union Facts

I was searching for a video on Youtube and an advertisement started before I could watch it. I had my cursor hovering over the "skip ad" button as the necessary five second buffer ticked away, but I noticed the ridiculous nature of the ad and let it continue playing. The absurdity lay in its obvious distortion through child actors of the nature of union voting. There was obviously no pretense toward presenting an accurate picture of unions and it was obviously not designed to appeal to anyone other than rabid anti-union people. Furthermore it engaged in the depiction of gross ethnic stereotypes -- Greaser Italians and shade wearing African-Americans as union muscle/enforcers who are a threat to "our" democracy (I'll leave you to speculate who is the "our" population that is threatened by these ethnicities). My only conclusion was that it was designed to whip up hysteria in the already-faithful followers of this ideology and ensure that they did not waver from their support of the Employee Rights Act (notice the Orwellian doublespeak in Orrin Hatch's proposed bill that gives one the impression it is designed to protect workers). Most likely the creators of this ad hoped they might also sway some naive citizens:

At the end of the video it states that you can follow a link to find out more. The link takes the curious to the The Employee Rights Act website. This website once again does not provide any obvious information "about" (the requisite link/button that appears on any legitimate site) the organization behind the website and it is loaded with more videos (including ones that attempts to link unions with totalitarian societies like North Korea... once again so gross a distortion of reality one has to wonder who would buy into this disinformation). The Center for Union Facts is listed in name only as the organization that promotes this legislation and created the ads. They are attempting to appear as a citizens, grassroots group just looking out for workers' rights. They have many more thinly disguised websites, such as Labor Pains, seeking to amplify their voice online through the appearance of multiple organizations all joining in on the support of this legislation.

I decided to find out more about The Center for Union Facts and visited Sourcewatch to get some background on this organization. This is a secretive front group set up by lobbyist Rick Berman and is part of family of front groups under the umbrella organization Employment Policies Institute "created by Berman & Co., a Washington, DC public affairs firm owned by Rick Berman, who lobbies for the restaurant, hotel, alcoholic beverage and tobacco" industries. They are also behind one of the more notorious front groups Center for Consumer Freedom, whose efforts notoriously included running:

media campaigns which oppose the efforts of scientists, doctors, health advocates, animal advocates, environmentalists and groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving, calling them "the Nanny Culture -- the growing fraternity of food cops, health care enforcers, anti-meat activists, and meddling bureaucrats who 'know what's best for you."

Berman & Co. efforts to mislead American citizens is so egregious that they start off Sourcewatch's entry on what is a Front Group.

A reminder: research the information you are presented with, especially when it is so blatantly trying to sway your opinion. If an organization does not clearly represent to their audience who they are and what their purpose is, then there is most likely a reason why they are hiding their true identity. For instance, while googling the Sourcewatch website this advertisement appeared (it says "ad" in small letters next to the link, but the unaware/naive often miss that and it is placed strategically at the top of my search results). It claimed to have proven that Sourcewatch has a hidden agenda and funders. Click on the host website Judicial Hellholes "about" link -- it is a false link. Who is ATR, the organization behind the Judicial Hellholes website and why are they not forthcoming about their agenda/identity? What is Judicial Hellholes purpose -- seems obvious they are a site designed to advocate for "tort reform," but why are they once again so secretive about who is supporting this effort and what are their broader connections (for more on these misleading "tort reform" campaigns listen to an interview with documentary filmmaker Susan Saladoff.

As an example of a forthright group, check out Sourcewatch's "about" link. Notice how the first thing they do is mention their parent organization with a full link to its website and another link about their purpose/funding/members.

Once again, even without full research one can sense when a front group is trying to mislead citizens. I would like to encourage all citizens to develop the skills necessary to uncover the background to information they access and then share these skills with others so that we can protect ourselves from front group disinformation campaigns.

Paul Dean at The Sociological Cinema provides a good analysis of the purpose of this type of misleading/manipulative ad campaign: "Ideology and False Consciousness in a Super Bowl Ad"

Sunday, January 19, 2014

ENG 282 1st Week: Responses to An Oversimplification of Her Beauty (2012)

Michael Benton:

Literally blew my mind. Changed the way I think about films and filmmaking. Expanded my conception of storytelling and narrative. Revised my philosophical understanding of time experienced through relationships (or is that vice versa). I'm going to screen it again tomorrow for my students.

Patrick Reynolds:

First time attempting to review any film, but certainly one as creative and complicated as this. Complex for a neophyte like me, but certainly sense the passion with which it was done. Incredible how complicated with such simple technology. Brought long forgotten feelings/emotions to the forefront for me - these were expressed in a very unique but identifiable way ( e.g. "I would never go anywhere, but I am shrinking"). Certainly expanded my conception of what films can be. Would like to see it again. I sense the birth of an entirely new area of artistic appreciation in my life... One last thought: the use of animation was interesting; like much of the rest of the film, it went a direction I didn't expect.

Michael Benton response to Patrick Reynolds:

I'm listening to this song as I write this:

a re-interpretation by Sonic Youth of the tragic song by The Carpenters called "Superstar" (you need to know the fate of Karen Carpenter to understand the depth of this tribute). It is a part of my youth and reminds me of people that I have lost as I grow older. I've listened to it four times now because it is bringing up memories of then/now, people/places. dreams/desires, past/future, and it all flits through my consciousness and I attempt to hold on, but like Ulysses in the land of shades it is but a temporary visit with what is now lost, but still the promise of what will be beckons. Likewise this film, a film I have been struggling with, trying to think about and somehow your response unleashed another piece of my attempt to understand why it moves me so ... or perhaps it is slipping away again..........

Ebony Angel:

An Oversimplification of Her Beauty begins by asking a seemingly uncomplicated question, “How would you feel?” The question doesn’t mean much in the first five to ten minutes of the film, however, by the 85’th to 90’th minute the question has been transformed into something of an emotionally loaded accusation/appeal for empathy.

Terence Nance, the main character/director of this film, artfully (literally; drawings, animations, and stop motion clips are incorporated throughout the film) transforms the question (“How would you feel?”) by unraveling the psychological experience of a relationship and its uncomfortable ending . . . an experience most of us undergo, yet often deal with silently and in our own respective ways; typically simplifying and describing the ending/experience as cut, dry, and past-tense to others - if discussed at all.

Nance, instead, takes his relationship and its conclusion and shares it with the viewer in all of its messy, disorienting, painful, selfish, complex, and irrational glory – which is how the experience of a meaningful relationship actually is. Throughout the film repetition of scenes, phrases, and camera angles are used to relay how memories can haunt, even long after the relationship/feelings/situations have changed. The moments cherished most are remembered longest . . . in his case, her (his muse Namik’s) beauty, her lips, her smell, her taste, her way of intellectualizing her feelings to protect herself.

A clear timeline of events is not prominent in the film; which adds to the disorienting feeling that progresses throughout the film. This initially seemed somewhat problematic, but, in reality, timelines do only get more muddled with time. So, as with relationships, while it is frustrating that time deteriorates our mental timeline of events, I was left to ponder the actual importance of a clear timeline.

Similarly absent was an objective narrative of the relationship. Nance’s romanticizations of what he wanted/expected/hoped for/idealized along with good amounts of both self-doubt and criticism are tangled up in his largely one-sided representation of events. Also, the viewer only receives superficial glimpses of who Nance is. The viewer can only be involved with whom they are presented; a seemingly mysterious, and creative character. We, as viewers, are engaged with him (feeling, seeing, and experiencing through him) regardless of how flawed his perception of the experience may be in reality (although, it should be noted, the way in which the experience is presented, reality takes a back seat to perception).

While An Oversimplification of Her Beauty seems to be Nance’s way of ending – or more accurately – accepting the ending of his relationship with Namik, and while the film does a superb job of encapsulating the evolution and devolution of a meaningful (to at least one of the parties involved) relationship, I couldn’t help but wonder if my inclination to sympathize/connect with Nance’s portrayal of events had more to do with his abilities as a director, than his character as a person.

While I would have enjoyed hearing more of Namik’s perspective, there is no question that Nance is an incredibly skilled director and creative person. An Oversimplification of Her Beauty uses a unique combination of art, sounds, and breaks in film to trigger memories/experiences and to convey emotions and ideas that I doubt could ever be conveyed through simple scripted lines. While this film may not be for those unaccustomed to the abstract, I think it would be hard to find someone who couldn’t relate to some aspect of the film.

Michael Benton responds to Ebony Angel:

"How would you feel" - the question situates us in the creator's shoes immediately and the repetition of the question throughout the re-conception/re-vision of this tale about a possible romantic moment in the filmmaker's life/story continually re-situates us, asking us to repeatedly re-imagine our original and continuing responses to a situation.

"How would you feel" - this question now haunts my consciousness. How would you feel if I created a film/artwork/song/story that changed the way you understand the world? How would you feel if I suggested or screened a film that changed your understanding of the world? How would you feel if I critiqued or responded to something you thought you understood and with my words/ideas I completely changed that understanding throwing everything into question and re-beginning that narrative so that you must re-visit it with new "eyes."

"How would you feel" - so many people enter into our lives and touch us in so many ways. What are the traces of those intense moments in which they forever change us. How do we sift through the sediment of these moments...

Ebony, this is a fantastic response. You skillfully break down the film and ask important questions. In the extras to the film there is a commentary track by Namik in which she comments on the film. I think you hit on one of the best parts of this film for me. In our contemporary mediatized society we are encouraged to give ourselves up to the power/authority of the "controlling" narrative. We are constantly being pressured to just go along for the ride (if we want pleasure and enjoyment -- just sniff the poppy, acquiesce to the siren's song, don't question....) ... the lights dim, the film starts, our minds shut off....

How would you feel.... if someone questioned that process and continuously questioned the nature of filmmaking, relationships and our identities as they are produced/constructed and re-assesed/re-conceived over time.

Thank you for you response Ebony!

Rory Barron:

Honestly, I'm not entirely sure how to review this film. It's completely fantastic and it loosely reminded me of a few personal experiences that I find hard to put into words. From an artistic perspective, it's an original portrayal of love and how it effects the people involved (even if one does not love the other in the same way) in an intimate journey. I think I find reviewing this film difficult because I'm unable to clearly define the journey we experience throughout life and how our lives connect with others. This film is just one portrayal but it's amazing and definitely worth seeing.

Kelly Frances:

I had to think about this movie for awhile. My knee jerk reaction was that it annoyed me a little, but then the more I thought about it the more I liked it. I liked how weird it was, even though I was confused at some parts. I think this movie was the abstract mind of a guy and his thoughts and feelings on his past relationships. In particular, this one girl that I don't even know if they end up together or not. I think the repeating that keeps happening is the repeating thoughts that the main character Terence keeps having...and that made me think about all my past relationships. And how I used to get hung up on why they rejected me or why things didn't work out. And how I analyzed and wondered and obsessed. And I feel like that was what Terence was doing and thats what the film was about. I think is was a very unique and beautiful movie...but I have a hard time with these movies because I get distracted trying to analyze it instead of sitting back and taking it for what the movie is. I really would like to see it again because there is so much I kind of feel like I missed. The one thing that I keep wondering is if that footage/interview of the girl and him was real or scripted? Either way, I liked that part and love how the the writer/director/main character Terence really put his heart and soul into the film and did something experimental and something that is very thought provoking. The opening credits were my favorite part because the music and cinematography were so perfect and beautiful. If anything this film speaks to hearts and I would imagine anyone who has experienced love/lust/heartache will feel and get something from this movie.

Seth Gardner:

An oversimplification of her beauty is an intriguing film to say the least. There are some things I didn’t like that they did and some things that I did like. First and foremost Ill say that it is extremely refreshing to see a film about African-Americans produced by African-Americans that had literally nothing to with the fact black and was in no way about their blackness. This is just a dude who loves this girl. In the movie culture it seems that the only reason an African-American is cast is to be token black dude doing and saying stereotypical black things. So, for the purposes of this movie, that is one of the biggest takeaways that I got from the movie. As for the story itself, which the movie claims to be true, I thought the voice over was a little aggressive and constant and after a while I really had to concentrate on not tuning out what the voice over was saying. Between the voiceover and the extreme nature of the non-linear sequencing Ill say it was difficult to get into the movie for quite a while. The visuals were nice but they seemed to lack any real meaning that I got anything from and really clashed with the theme of the movie. In the end though, the story that is told of this young man and the fact that he made a movie to tell this girl he loved her only for her to still reject him is something that I definitely felt. If I had gone through all that trouble only to get rejected anyway I’d probably develop some sort of alcoholism. Overall though, I thought it was enjoyable and would probably show to my friends.

Jordan Rector:

This film was like nothing I've seen before. I can remember only a select few movies that focused on why we feel the way we do under certain circumstances. The first 20 minutes of the movie really stuck in my head. The repeating question "How would you feel?" is an important question when dealing with a persons feelings. It shows how the main character grows through past experiences with dating. I used to get so hung up on why my relationships didn't work out. Replaying old times together in my head over and over to try and understand what went wrong. I felt as though i had literally been in Terence shoes in some of those situations. The chronological order of things was a bit confusing at times but made more sense as he started to show the different kinds of people he's dated over the past. I enjoyed how in depth he got with his feelings. Sometimes maybe too deep because i couldn't have told you what the movie was about until the very end. Ill have to watch this movie multiple times to break down some scenes i felt were important and relate-able. I also wonder if the scenes where she was being interviewed is scripted. Some scenes you can clearly tell they're acting a part but in the interview scenes there was an enormous amount of attraction, connection, and passion between the two of them that it felt incredibly genuine. This movie is something that i will reference when some of those similar situations happen in my life. The cinematography and and pretty music accent this film very well with what Terence is trying show the audience.

Emily Hensley:

An “Oversimplification of Her Beauty” is a unique up beat film within a film that expands on ideas presented in Terrance Nance’s previous film “How would you feel?” Nance tells a tale of his journey dealing with and trying to express his undisclosed love for his lady friend, who just happens to already be taken. The narrative style engages, captivates and devours the audience with the young man’s opposition of feelings, emotions and past relationship experiences. While watching this film the audience is forced to ponder the question “How would you feel?” as this becomes a repetitive theme throughout the film. The audience is invoked to feel empathy for Nance, as most human beings have walked a day in similar shoes; falling in love or drowning out of love.

Nance’s past relationships come alive and practically jump off the screen with the use of several simple but mesmerizing visual effects; revealing how his past plays a role in the love triangle he experiences. Through the visual effects the audience is taken on an adventure traveling through Nance’s mind, memories and his realization of what truly occurred in his past relationships. There is also a very intimate appeal using photographs, old family movies and raw emotion as an artistic style. With that being said creativity just radiates throughout with the use of multiple artistic forms, poetic gestures, eccentric colors, visual effects, wooden puppets, and personal filmed interviews with Nance’s love interest.

Nance recognizes his faults and mistakes as he grows and learns as a human being. This concept is a great lesson to learn as in today’s vain society most people never take the time to analyze their past relationships or why they didn’t work. People never think they are at fault for failed relationships or how past relationships mold us into the partners we become. This feature I feel represents how relationships and their success can be defined and redefined as cause and effect from past to future. Although many aspects of relationships and love are presented in Nance’s vision, not all are clearly stated…which guides the audience to think and grasp their own ideas of what the film brings to them and their life using a fresh and hip style.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Resources for January 20, 2014

Carlos Miller for PINAC: "Bullied Student Files Internal Affairs Report Against Lying, Mocking Cop as Dad Records"

Smells Like Human Spirit Episode 60 – Deconstructing Edward Bernays’ book Propaganda (Part 1) and Part 2 and Part 3

Cara Buckley for The New York Times: "Armond White, Ousted Critic, Has Words on his Expulsion from the New York Film Critics Circle"

Wilson, Michael S. "NOAM CHOMSKY — ‘Everyday Anarchist’: The Modern Success Interview" Modern Success (August 20, 2013)

Lisa Wade for Sociological Images examines how the young man Mark Duggan killed by Police last week in London is visually framed and represented by the media: "Picturing Mark Duggan"

Cohn, Cindy and Parker Higgins. "Rating Obama’s NSA Reform Plan: EFF Scorecard Explained." Electronic Frontier Foundation (January 17, 2014)

Adrienne K. for Native Appropriations: "They give out oscars for racism now?"

Michael Pollen for Mother Jones: "Michael Pollan Explains What's Wrong With the Paleo Diet."

Friday, January 17, 2014

Resources for January 18, 2014

Electronic Frontier Foundation's scorecard on Barack Obama's January 17th "NSA" speech: "Scorecard: Will Obama Hit the Mark on Real NSA Reform?"

Life by Rheotaxis
by Wesley Houp

You were never a teacher,
always a pupil.
The only teachers you have
are the ones without words.
The only teacher on earth
is the earth.
Better to be humanly dumb
and earthly wise.
This I learned from Naiads,
water's lecturers.
Their lesson, slow
and oppositional,
does not instruct us to push on
but always to go back.

Mohosinul Karim for Dhaka Tribune: "Hijras now a separate gender"

The BBC reports: "Germany allows 'indeterminate' gender at birth"

The BBC reports: "UN panel confronts Vatican on child sex abuse by clergy"

Neil McDonald for the CBC: "Contempt of cop, America's defiance revolution: Like NSA leaker Edward Snowden, ordinary Americans pushing back against authority"

The 50 Best Films of 2013 (In Twenty Words) from Michael Mirasol on Vimeo.

Jennifer Levitz for The Wall Street Journal: As "West Virginia Begins to Lift Water Ban" Chemical Contamination Heads to Ohio and Kentucky

Noah Brand for The Good Men Project: "Five Important Things Women Don’t Know About Men"

Schippers, Mimi. "Compulsory Monogamy in The Hunger Games." Sociological Images (December 2, 2013)

Parker Higgins for Electronic Frontier Foundation remembers free and open internet activist Aaron Swartz one year after his suicide

Resources for January 17, 2014

"My own concern is primarily the terror and violence carried out by my own state, for two reasons. For one thing, because it happens to be the larger component of international violence. But also for a much more important reason than that; namely, I can do something about it. So even if the U.S. was responsible for 2 percent of the violence in the world instead of the majority of it, it would be that 2 percent I would be primarily responsible for. And that is a simple ethical judgment. That is, the ethical value of one’s actions depends on their anticipated and predictable consequences. It is very easy to denounce the atrocities of someone else. That has about as much ethical value as denouncing atrocities that took place in the 18th century." -- Noam Chomsky (2012)

Errol Morris: Believing is Seeing: Mysteries of Photography

Rebecca Schuman for Slate: "Even Ph.D.s Who Got “Full Funding” Have Huge Amounts of Debt"

King, Danny. "Clint, Caught in the Act: On The Beguiled, and Don Siegel's Leading Man." Bright Lights Film Journal #82 (November 2013)

Doctorow, Cory. "Judge rules TSA no-fly procedures unconstitutional". Boing Boing (January 15, 2014)

Brooks, Brian. "86th Oscars: The Full List of Nominees." Film Society Lincoln Center (January 16, 2014)

Merriam-Webster Word-of-the-Day: ostentatious \ah-stun-TAY-shus\

adjective: marked by or fond of conspicuous or vainglorious and sometimes pretentious display

Now that he has money, Edwin wears expensive designer clothes, drives an ostentatious car, and frequents the trendiest upscale nightclubs.

"'Washingtonians are more understated in their style,' says Pamela Sorensen, founder of the website Pamela's Punch, where she covers the local social scene. 'Being flashy or ostentatious is frowned upon.'" — From an article by Kimberly Palmer in the Washingtonian, January 2014

"Showy," "pretentious," and "ostentatious" all mean given to outward display, but there are subtle differences in the meaning of these show-off words. "Showy" implies an imposing or striking appearance, but usually also implies cheapness or bad taste. "Pretentious" suggests an appearance of importance not justified by a thing's value or a person's standing. "Ostentatious" is the most peacockish of all, stressing the vanity of the display.

Cory Doctorow for Boing Boing: "Dirty secrets of America's most notorious patent troll"

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Resources for January 15, 2014

Michael Parenti is featured on Smells Like Human Spirit: "Dr. Michael Parenti on the ‘Make-Believe Media’" -- "In this interview, he discusses the use of entertainment media as propaganda, and the relationship between government agencies and the production of such content. Later on in the talk, Dr. Parenti also provides his take on the media’s coverage of the Obama Administration’s escalating use of drones, and the recent death of Margaret Thatcher."

Stork, Mattias. "Space-Wars: Mapping the Aesthetics of Post-Cinematic City Space in Action Films and Video Games." Mediascape (Fall 2013)

Sabo, Lee Weston. "Abnormal Intelligence: Sam Fell and Chris Butler's ParaNorman." Bright Lights Film Journal #82 (November 2013)

Dima, Vlad. "Buried Alive in Space The Non-Story of Gravity." Bright Lights Film Journal (November 2013)

I am an imaginative existentialist-anarchist that feels that this video humorously gets to the heart of cat ennui, but also the anguish of the individual in a conforming society that restricts their ability to fully realize their autonomy

Dinner last night from a recipe on Just One Cookbook: "Omurice (Japanese Omelette Rice) オムライス"

Signs I Can No Longer Avoid
by Wesley Houp

Only the gasping crow
in Wendy’s parking lot
cares less for himself.

His murder leaves him to a last meal
and rides out the storm nearby
in a dead locust
like old snags of black plastic
left by a flood,
half notes on the staff
of an apocalypse.

The tornado touches down
in a blind-spot
and uproots a dusty barn
full of retired pigeons
with no insurance.
They circle twice
and return to roost in the ruins.

A long, harsh winter
followed by a cold, dry spring
wilts the crocus-tips of dreams.
Behind the urgent treatment center
a stray cat licks grease out of some ashes.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Resources for January 14, 2014

Ildari, Max. "Blue Is the Warmest Color 2: A Response to Lorrie Moore’s Review in the New York Review of Books." Bright Lights After Dark (January 10, 2014)

Bowen, Chuck. "The Cloud over THE WOLF: On the rise of the ‘Leonardo DiCaprio’ character." Keyframe (January 12, 2014)

Olavarria, C.M. "The Church of Holy Motors: A Transformation in Metafilm." Bright Lights Film Journal #82 (November 2013)

The Internet Archive features multiple parts of a long-lost (or at least hidden) Peter Bogdanovich interview with Orson Welles from 1969 - 1972

Amy Goodman for Democracy Now reports "The FBI, the NSA and a Long-Held Secret Revealed."

Carl Root and Edward Green for Uprooting Criminology: "On Academic Freedom and Sitting Ducks"

Huffington Post: "'What I Be' Project Reveals People's Darkest Insecurities In Stunning Photos"

Riley, John A. "Existential Lethargy: Hong Sang-soo's Nobody's Daughter Haewon (2013)" Bright Lights Film Journal #82 (November 2013)

Bordwell, David. "Understanding Film Narrative: The Trailer." Observations on Film Art (January 12, 2014)

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Blue is the Warmest Color (France/Belgium/Spain: Abdellatif Kechiche, 2013)

“Few films dig so deeply (and with such sense of intimacy) into the complexities of human relations, the joys and pains of self discovery and the hurtful realisation that our bodies and mind can yearn opposite things.” — Fernanda Solórzano

Blue is the Warmest Color (France/Belgium/Spain: Abdellatif Kechiche, 2013: 179 mins)

Beauvoir, Simone de. The Second Sex (1949: PDF copy)

Bell, Nicholas. "Blue is the Color of My True Love’s Hair: Kechiche Takes Us Deep Sea, Baby." Ion Cinema (October 25, 2013)

Berger, John. The Ways of Seeing. (1972: Summary/outline of this important book that studied how we are position to observe people and objects in art)

Blue is the Warmest Color Critic's Roundup (No Date)

Blue is the Warmest Color (Graphic Novel) Wikipedia (No Date)

Dargis, Manohla. "Seeing You Seeing Me: The Trouble With Blue Is the Warmest Color." The New York Times (October 27, 2013)

Dayoub, Tony. "The 51st New York Film Festival #3." The Cinephiliacs (October 13, 2013)

Hudson, David. "Abdellatif Kechiche’s BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOR: A coy coming-out drama this most definitely isn’t.” Keyframe (May 23, 2013)

---. "Abdellatif Kechiche’s BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOR: 'The experience of the film transcends flaws both real and imagined.'" Keyframe (October 11, 2013)

Ildari, Max. "Blue Is the Warmest Color 2: A Response to Lorrie Moore’s Review in the New York Review of Books." Bright Lights After Dark (January 10, 2014)

Jones, Kristin M. ""Review: Blue Is the Warmest Color." Film Comment (2013)

Kennedy, A.L. "Sartre and the Individual." A History of Ideas (April 15, 2015) ["Writer AL Kennedy on Existentialist ideas about the individual. Jean Paul Sartre argued that, for humans, 'existence preceded essence'. This means that there is no blueprint or template from which to work - humans are free to make themselves up as they go along. Being an individual comes from the way you negotiate this freedom and the choices you make in the face of it."]
Lee, Janet. "'Blue Is The Warmest Color'." Neon Tommy (October 22, 2013)

Mayer, Sophie. "Blue is the Warmest Colour: This part-adaptation of Julie Maroh’s graphic-novel saga of a lesbian love affair trades a new voice for the same old male gaze." Sight and Sound (February 20, 2015)

McCahill, Mike. "21st Century Directors You Need to Know About: Abdellatif Kechiche." Movie Mail (May 2, 2014)

McNeil, Jeremiah. "Blue is the Warmest Color" Dialogic Cinephilia (December 21, 2013)

Moore, Lorrie. "Gazing at Love: Blue is the Warmest Color." The New York Review of Books (December 19, 2013)

Rich, B. Ruby. "Blue Is the Warmest Color: Feeling Blue." The Current (February 24, 2014)

Roberts, Soraya. "Blue Is the Warmest Color is about class, not just sex." Salon (November 3, 2013) ["Sex and sexuality are only half the film's story. It's also about lovers from different economic worlds."]

Sartre, Jean-Paul. "Existentialism is a Humanism." (Lecture given in 1946: published in Existentialism from Dostoyevsky to Sartre, ed. Walter Kaufman, Meridian Publishing Company, 1989) Marxist Archive (2005)

Stern, Marlowe. "‘Blue is the Warmest Color’: See What the Sex Scene Looks Like In the Graphic Novel." The Daily Beast (October 28, 2013)

Thompson, Martha. "Blue Is the Warmest Color 1: Unresolved Alienations of Class." Bright Lights After Dark (January 2014)

Zaman, Farihah. "The Pleasure Principle: Blue is the Warmest Color." Reverse Shot #33 (2013)