Friday, September 28, 2012

Sound on Sight Podcast #309: Director Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘Shadow of a Doubt’ – ‘Psycho’ – ‘The Birds’

Sound on Sight Podcast #309: Director Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘Shadow of a Doubt’ – ‘Psycho’ – ‘The Birds’
Sound on Sight

Every month the Sound On Sight staff bands together to tackle a specific filmmaker, event and/or some sort of movie related theme. This month our focus shifts towards the “Master of Suspense”, Alfred Hitchcock.

After years of us promising to get off our asses and get it done, we’ve finally gotten our long-awaited Hitchcock episode done! Special guest and all-around movie knowledge hound Bill Mesce joins Ricky D and Justine Smith to chat up three of the maestro’s most famous chillers: Shadow of a Doubt, Psycho and The Birds.

To Listen to the Episode

Films We Want to See #11: Stoker (USA/UK: Chan-Wook Park, 2013)

Thursday, September 27, 2012

ENG 281 Week 7: Shortbus (USA: John Cameron Mitchell, 2006)

Shortbus (USA: John Cameron Mitchell, 2006: 101 mins)

"In the old days, when you couldn't show sex on film, directors like Hitchcock had metaphors for sex (trains going into tunnels, etc). When you can show more realistic sex, the sex itself can be a metaphor for other parts of the character's lives. The way people express themselves sexually can tell you a lot about who they are. Some people ask me, 'Couldn't you have told the same story without the explicitness?'. They don't ask whether I could've done Hedwig without the songs. Why not be allowed to use every paint in the paintbox?" --John Cameron Mitchell, "How to Shoot Sex: A Docu-Primer" (2007): Shortbus Region 1 DVD release (Th!nk Film)

Adams, Tim. "Everybody's Doing It..." The Guardian (November 26, 2006)

Aftab, Kaleem. "Shortbus." Collective (November 30, 2006)

Ballard, J.G. "Car Crash"; "Sex x Technology = The Future"; "Pornography"; "How I Work." Quotes (San Francisco: Re:Search, 2004: 238-247; 277-279; 332-333.

Benton, Michael Dean. "American Sex and Sexuality 2.0" Dialogic(May 27, 2010)

---. "Gender and Sexuality at the Carnegie Center." North of Center (January 29, 2010)

---. "Getting off on John Cameron Mitchell’s Shortbus: American Sex and Sexuality." North of Center (March 30, 2011)

---. "Review of Straightlaced: How Gender’s Got Us All Tied Up." North of Center (October 13, 2010)

Browning, Barbara, et al. "The Lure and the Blur of the Real." Philoctetes (March 13, 2010)

Crowell, Steven. "Existentialism." Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Revised edition: 2010)

Dargis, Manohla. "Naughty and Nice in a Carnal Carnival." The New York Times (October 4, 2010)

Deep Throat (USA: Gerard Damiano, 1972: 61 mins)

Dubowski, Sandi. "Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret: John Cameron Mitchell pushes the sexual boundaries once again in Shortbus." Filmmaker (Fall 2006)

"Existentialism." Wikipedia

Fauth, Jürgen. "Shortbus." About (No Date)

Foucault, Michel. "Of Other Spaces." (This text, entitled "Des Espace Autres," and published by the French journal Architecture /Mouvement/ Continuité in October, 1984, was the basis of a lecture given by Michel Foucault in March 1967.)

Hudson, David. "Sex in the Movies." Green Cine (2005)

Jhally, Sut. "Codes of Gender: Identity and Performance in Popular Culture." (Media Education Foundation, 2009) [documentary--available online]

Lewis, Jon. "Real sex: aesthetics and economics of art-house porn." Jump Cut #51 (Spring 2009)

Macio. "Redefining Our Relationships: An Interview with Wendy-O Matik." Revolution By the Book (February 19, 2010)

Oshima, Nagisa. "Sexual Poverty" Cinema, Censorship, and the State: The Writings of Nagisa Oshima. The MIT Press, 1993

Wikipedia (No Date)

"Sexual Orientation." Wikipedia (No Date)

Shaw, Richard. "Are the U.S.A.'s Independent Films a Distinct National Cinema?" The Film Journal (2002)

Williams, Linda. "Film Bodies: Gender, Genre and Excess." Film Quarterly 44.4 (Summer 1991): 2-13.

---. "Hard-Core Art Film: The Contemporary Realm of the Senses." Quaderns portàtils #13 (2008)

Wypijewski, JoAnn. "Sexual Healing: Carnal Knowledge." The Nation (September 9, 2009)

Monday, September 24, 2012

BCTC Students: Learn About Study Abroad Opportunities

*Tuesday, October 23: 2:00-3:00
Study Abroad Opportunities
Nathan Smith, OB 248

Have you thought about studying art history in China or French in the heart of Paris? This workshop will provide you the information and tools you need to begin that process. Learn about different programs, types of study abroad, scholarships and more.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Naked Lunch Radio #12 – Superstar! The Todd Haynes Story

Naked Lunch Radio #12 – Superstar! The Todd Haynes Story
Sound on Sight

... a very special look at director Todd Haynes and all his movies from Velvet Goldmine to his new smash hit I’m Not There. A ton of great queer related Canadian rock and enough Dylan cover songs to keep you warm under the cold winter.

Hosted by Crystina Benyo & Sic Ric!

To Listen the Episode

Friday, September 21, 2012

Andrew O'Hehir: "I Was Just Following Orders"

“I was just following orders”: Why are we so eager to obey authority, whether the boss, the TSA or the president? A new movie has some answers
By Andrew O'Hehir

All of us believe that we possess the strength and willpower to resist evil. Perhaps we do; who is to say? Most of us are not likely to face life-or-death situations out of Holocaust movies or “Star Trek” episodes. But a more important question – not to mention a more practical and ultimately far more disturbing one — is whether we will recognize evil when we encounter it, especially when it claims to be something else. As a former research subject wrote to Yale psychologist Stanley Milgram in 1970, “Few people ever realize when they are acting according to their own beliefs and when they are meekly submitting to authority.”

Every time I take my shoes off at the airport, and permit my person and possessions to be invaded by intrusive technologies for unclear reasons – meekly submitting to authority in the name of getting on the damn plane – I think about Milgram. (I am not suggesting that the TSA is evil, exactly, although you couldn’t really call it good.) By the time he received that letter, Milgram had become one of the most famous and controversial figures in the social sciences. In the early ‘60s, he had crafted a notorious series of experiments that suggested that most people, most of the time, were willing to obey the instructions of an authority figure, even when they involved delivering electrical shocks to strangers as part of a patently ludicrous “teaching” exercise.

Various complaints have subsequently been aired about Milgram’s ethics and methodology; while the electrical shocks were fake, the distress of his research subjects was all too real. Unfortunately for the human species, his findings have been replicated many times and in many contexts, and are now generally regarded as valid. While his colleagues and students predicted that only a minuscule proportion of experimental subjects would deliver the full (if fictional) voltage, more than 60 percent of them pushed the final button as instructed. It isn’t that we lack empathy or a sense of morality; most people in the Milgram experiments felt terrible about administering the shocks, and quite a few began crying or laughing or otherwise behaving erratically. But they went ahead and did it anyway, because a guy in a white coat was telling them to. (I don’t know whether this is mostly hilarious or mostly horrifying, but one post-Milgram experiment involved having subjects deliver real electric shocks to a real puppy — and most people did that too!)

It may be impossible to exaggerate the historical and political ramifications of Milgram’s discoveries about humanity’s misplaced faith in authority, which would seem to shed light on everything from Auschwitz to Abu Ghraib to the fact that we’ve apparently all agreed in 2012 that it’s OK for the president of the United States to kill whoever he wants to without providing a reason. (Milgram was inspired by the widely publicized trial of Nazi war criminal and Holocaust engineer Adolf Eichmann, a mild-mannered fellow who claimed to have no particular antipathy for Jews.) But on an intimate level these ideas can still prove shocking or unacceptable, as they do in “Compliance,” a nail-biting thriller from indie writer-director Craig Zobel that has been dividing, energizing and alienating audiences since its Sundance premiere earlier this year.

On one level “Compliance” dramatizes a Milgram-like scenario, but more importantly it acts out a psychological experiment of its own, right there in the theater. This film is not set in Nazi Germany or Iraq or Gotham City under the rule of a supervillain. It takes place in an unidentified American suburb or exurb, almost entirely inside a fast food restaurant whose employees are cajoled and coerced by an official-sounding voice on the telephone into imprisoning, humiliating, strip-searching and finally abusing one of their co-workers. As a fictional premise that may sound outrageous, but some readers will surely remember that there was a wave of such real-life cases in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Zobel is drawing primarily on the last and most notorious of these, an April 2004 episode at a McDonald’s in Mt. Washington, Ky., where a young female employee was detained for several hours against her will and subjected to escalating and improbable levels of degradation.

To Read the Rest of the Essay

Thursday, September 20, 2012

ENG 281 Week 6: Lady Vengeance and the Representation of Violence in Films

Lady Vengeance (South Korea: Chan-Wook Park, 2005: 112 mins)

Benton, Michael. "Violence and Film: Audience-Experience as a Factor in Our Reception of a Film." Dialogic (January 10, 2007)

Buruma, Ian. "Mr Vengeance." The New York Times (April 9, 2006)

Castillo, Elaine. "Last Words: Park Chan-wook, Sympathy for Lady Vengeance." Pank (December 3, 2010)

Castle, Robert. "Disturbing Movies or, the Flip Side of the Real: Disturbing movies shouldn't equivocate." Bright Lights Film Journal #44 (May 2004)

Ebert, Roger. "Evil in film: To what end?" Chicago Sun-Times (August 19, 2005)

Erickson, Steve. "Lady Vengeance and Its Critics." Undercurrent #2 (2006)

Grossman, Andrew. "Bleeding Realism Dry or How to Turn One's Back on a Tyrant: The cripplingly small-minded art of verisimilitude becomes crippled by its own technology." Bright Lights Film Journal #37 (August 2002)

Isaacs, Bruce. "Non-Linear Narrative." New Punk Cinema ed. Nicholas Rombes. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2005: 126-138. (In BCTC library)

Kehr, Dave. "De-finger the Piano Player." The New York Times (October 30, 2005)

Kim, Se Young. "A Sociohistorical Contextual Analysis of the Use of Violence in Park Chan-wook's Vengeance Trilogy." (A thesis presented to the faculty of the College of Fine Arts of Ohio University: June 2010)

László, Tarnay. "On the Metaphysics of Screen Violence and Beyond." Apertura (2008)

"NYFF Review: Sympathy For Lady Vengeance>" Like Anna Karina's Sweater (September 30, 2005)

Radford, Kristina. "ENG 282 Response to Lady Vengeance." Dialogic (October 12, 2010)

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Manohla Darghis and A.O. Scott: Film Is Dead? Long Live Movies - How Digital Is Changing the Nature of Movies

Film Is Dead? Long Live Movies: How Digital Is Changing the Nature of Movies
by Manohla Darghis and A.O. Scott
The New York Times

IN the beginning there was light that hit a strip of flexible film mechanically running through a camera. For most of movie history this is how moving pictures were created: light reflected off people and things would filter through a camera and physically transform emulsion. After processing, that light-kissed emulsion would reveal Humphrey Bogart chasing the Maltese Falcon in shimmering black and white.

More and more, though, movies are either partly or entirely digital constructions that are created with computers and eventually retrieved from drives at your local multiplex or streamed to the large and small screens of your choice. Right before our eyes, motion pictures are undergoing a revolution that may have more far reaching, fundamental impact than the introduction of sound, color or television. Whether these changes are scarcely visible or overwhelmingly obvious, digital technology is transforming how we look at movies and what movies look like, from modestly budgeted movies shot with digital still cameras to blockbusters laden with computer-generated imagery. The chief film (and digital cinema) critics of The New York Times, Manohla Dargis and A. O. Scott, look at the stuff dreams are increasingly made of.

A. O. SCOTT: In Jean-Luc Godard’s 1986 movie “Keep Up Your Right” a movie director (played by Mr. Godard) declares that “the toughest thing in movies is carrying the cans.” Those once-ubiquitous, now increasingly quaint metal boxes contained the reels of exposed celluloid stock that were the physical substance of the art form. But nowadays the easiest thing in digital movies might be carrying the hard drive or uploading the data onto the server. Those heavy, bulky canisters belong to the mechanical past, along with the whir of the projectors and the shudder of the sprockets locking into their holes.

Should we mourn, celebrate or shrug? Predigital artifacts — typewriters and record players, maybe also books and newspapers — are often beautiful, but their charm will not save them from obsolescence. And the new gizmos have their own appeal, to artists as well as consumers. Leading manufacturers are phasing out the production of 35-millimeter cameras. Within the next few years digital projection will reign not only at the multiplexes, but at revival and art houses too. According to an emerging conventional wisdom, film is over. If that is the case, can directors still be called filmmakers? Or will that title be reserved for a few holdouts, like Paul Thomas Anderson, whose new film, “The Master,” was shot in 70 millimeter? It’s not as if our job has ever been to review the coils of celluloid nestled in their cans; we write about the stories and the pictures recorded on that stock. But the shift from photochemical to digital is not simply technical or semantic. Something very big is going on.

MANOHLA DARGIS: Film isn’t dead yet, despite the rush to bury it, particularly by the big studios. Film does not have to disappear. Film isn’t broken — it works wonderfully well and has done so for a century. There is nothing inevitable or natural about the end of film, no matter how seductive the digital technologies and gadgets that are transforming cinema. A 16-millimeter film camera is plenty cool. A 35-millimeter film image can look sublime. There’s an underexamined technological determinism that shapes discussions about the end of film and obscures that the material is being phased out not because digital is superior, but because this transition suits the bottom line.

The end of film isn’t a just a technological imperative; it’s also about economics (including digital rights management). In 2002 seven major studios formed the Digital Cinema Initiatives (one later dropped out), the purpose of which was “to establish and document voluntary specifications for an open architecture for digital cinema that ensures a uniform and high level of technical performance, reliability and quality control.” What these initiatives effectively did was outline the technological parameters that everyone who wants to do business with the studios — from software developers to hardware manufacturers — must follow. As the theorist David Bordwell writes, “Theaters’ conversion from 35-millemeter film to digital presentation was designed by and for an industry that deals in mass output, saturation releases and quick turnover.” He adds, “Given this shock-and-awe business plan, movies on film stock look wasteful.”

To Read the Rest of the Conversation

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Week 5 of ENG 281 Ethics/Film: Pan's Labyrinth (2006)

[In BCTC's library on reserve at the front desk for ENG 282 is the two disc special edition of Pan's Labyrinth which has some of the best "making of" extras I have viewed -- highly recommended for anyone trying to understand/interpret/analyze thr film and Del Toro's creative process.]

“We need myths that will help us to identify with all our fellow-beings, not simply with those who belong to our ethnic, national or ideological tribe. We need myths that help us to realize the importance of compassion, which is not always regarded as sufficiently productive or efficient in our pragmatic, rational world” -- Karen Armstrong, A Short History of Myth (2005: 136-7)

Pan's Labyrinth (Spain/Mexico: Guillermo Del Toro, 2006: 119 mins)

Ahuja, Akshay. "Pan's Labyrinth." The Occasional Review (January 24, 2007)

Balthaser, Benjamin. "Fantasies of Empire." DarkMatters (September 11, 2008)

Calhoun, John. "Fear and Fantasy." American Cinematographer (January 2007)

Cattaneo, Ann, et al. "Transformations: How Fairy Tales Cast Their Spell." Philoctetes (November 30, 2007)

Emerson, Jim. "Pan's Labyrinth." RogerEbert (December 29, 2006)

"“Fantasy and Myth in Pan’s Labyrinth: Analysis of Guillermo del Toro´s Symbolic Imagery.” Interdisciplinary Net (February 2010)

Herrero, Carmen. "Pan's Labyrinth/El Laberinto Del Fauno (2006): A Study Guide." Cornerhouse (No Date)

Kermode, Mark. "'Pain should not be sought - but it should never be avoided'." The Observer (November 4, 2006)

Lightcap, Torey. "Pan's Labyrinth." Explore Faith (2007)

Mann, Michael. "Interview with Guillermo Del Toro." What's Up Mann (December 2006)

Miller. T.S. "Escaping into the Real: The Fantasy of Pan's Labyrinth." The Internet Review of Science Fiction (December 2008)

Newitz, Annalee. "Pan’s Labyrinth – Can Fantasies Rescue Us from Fascism?" Wired (February 7, 2007)

O'Flynn, Siobhan. "The Fragility of Faith in the Films of Guillermo del Toro." (University of Toronto Mississauga: CFC Media Lab) Tanvir, Kuhu. "Pan's Labyrinth of History." Edit Room (February 26, 2008)

Perschon, Mike. "Embracing the Darkness, Sorrow, and Brutality of Pan’s Labyrinth." Tor (May 25, 2011)

"Psycho-Critical Analysis of Pan’s Labyrinth: Myth, Psychology, Perceptual Realism, Eyes & Traumatic Despondency." Dona Majic Show (No Date)

Walsh, Colin. "Fairytales, Fascism, and understanding symbolism in Pan's Labyrinth." Moving Cinema (August 30, 2011)

Watson, Pete. "Pan's Labyrinth Character Symbolism." YouTube (June 18, 2012)

---. "Pan's Labyrinth Fairy Tale Elements." YouTube (June 13, 2012)

---. "Pan's Labyrinth Historical Background." YouTube (June 11, 2012)

---. "Pan's Labyrinth Regime Critique." YouTube (June 18, 2012)

White, Camiele. "Cinema Art: The Film Tapestry of Guillermo del Toro." Cinemascope (September 21, 2010)

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Michael Goldman: Harsh Realms -- 5 cinematographers contribute to the new season of HBO’s fantasy-adventure series Game of Thrones

Harsh Realms: 5 cinematographers contribute to the new season of HBO’s fantasy-adventure series Game of Thrones.
by Michael Goldman
American Cinematographer

HBO’s series Game of Thrones documents the political, military and emotional entanglements between rival ancient kingdoms on a fictional continent. As such, it’s a period piece, a fantasy piece, an ensemble piece and a production that relies heavily on location, design and camerawork to pull off the illusion. The show is so big that it has required the efforts of multiple cinematographers; three shot season one, and five shot season two, which began airing last month.

After the production of its pilot, which involved some film capture, Game of Thrones evolved into the first hour-long HBO drama to be shot digitally. Every episode has been shot with Arri’s Alexa, and the cinematography team has relied on a state-of-the-art, data-centric workflow to shoot, process and assess imagery as the show traveled the globe from its home base in Northern Ireland to locations such as Malta, Croatia and Iceland.

“We were well into prep on season one [in the summer of 2010] before we decided to go with digital capture,” recalls co-producer Greg Spence. “After [cinematographers] Alik Sakharov [ASC] and Marco Pontecorvo [AIC] did three days of tests with 35mm, the Sony F35 and the Alexa, we chose the Alexa. Alik and Marco were impressed with its dynamic range and resolution, particularly in the highlights, and they felt it would pick up our costumes and textures nicely.”

For the show’s second season, the production switched to a file-based workflow. Footage was captured to Codex data recorders and taken to the dailies colorist and editors in the cutting room in Belfast, where most of the show was shot. (Season one was captured to HDCam-SR tape, and digital-imaging technicians did color correction on set.)

“We’ve had multiple cinematographers and DITs handling multiple units in different countries, so in season one we sometimes ended up with dailies that had divergent looks, which caused some confusion,” Spence explains. “Therefore, for season two, we brought [dailies colorist] Jon Reid to Belfast to operate alongside editorial at Yellowmoon, the post facility where the picture editors were based. Jon worked closely with our cinematographers during prep and shooting so they could get what they wanted, and we got a consistent look in the dailies.”

This season, Kramer Morgenthau, ASC shot the first two episodes and material featured in several others; P.J. Dillon shot episode three; Martin Kenzie shot episodes four through seven; and Jonathan Freeman, ASC shot episodes eight and ten. A stand-alone episode separate from the other locations (largely because of a major sea battle) became episode nine, shot by Sam McCurdy, BSC. This collection of cinematographers was necessary because extensive portions of the season were shot in Dubrovnik, Croatia, and Vatnajökull, Iceland, and that material was used for multiple episodes.

Therefore, says Morgenthau, the cinematographers did their best to “watch each other’s work and stay true to a cohesive look. No two directors of photography will shoot exactly the same way, but the material was so good, and there was such a consistent vision, that we were able to [maintain] a cohesive thread.” The cinematographers were frequently able to compare notes during prep before embarking on their separate shoots. They also used the Pix System online-dailies platform to view each other’s dailies through a secure connection, making Game of Thrones “a completely interconnected production” across the globe, in Morgenthau’s words.

To Read the Rest of the Article

Monday, September 10, 2012

American Cinematographer: Seamus McGarvey brings the Earth’s mightiest heroes to the big screen for Joss Whedon’s The Avengers

Seamus McGarvey, ASC, BSC brings the Earth’s mightiest heroes to the big screen for Joss Whedon’s The Avengers.
by Jon D. Witmer
American Cinematographer

Dirt and soot blanket six lanes of smoldering rubble that run the length of a city block, and burned husks of cars and trucks lie atop slabs of concrete jutting skyward in front of shattered storefronts. The street signs indicate this is what’s left of Manhattan’s 42nd Street and Vanderbilt Avenue intersection, but in actuality it’s East 9th Street in Cleveland, Ohio, on the 79th day of principal photography on The Avengers.

In a nearby alleyway, Captain America (Chris Evans) stands near a row of cameras amid the bustling crew, and not far away, director Joss Whedon is consulting with cinematographer Seamus McGarvey, ASC, BSC in video village. When both filmmakers come over to greet AC, Whedon says of his director of photography, “Seamus is very fast, which I love, and his style is very particular. It’s not over-thought, but it’s just hyperbolic enough for this kind of movie, which is insanity grounded in reality.”

The Avengers builds on the foundation laid by the Marvel Studios features Iron Man (AC May ’08), Iron Man 2 (AC May ’10), The Incredible Hulk, Thor (AC June ’11) and Captain America: The First Avenger (AC Aug. ’11), and takes its cues from the long-running Avengers comic-book series, which first hit newsstands in 1963. In the film, Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division leader Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) assembles Captain America, Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) to face the global menace posed by Thor’s nefarious brother, Loki (Tom Hiddleston), who unleashes an extraterrestrial army in a bid to rule the world.

Principal photography began in April 2011 in New Mexico, and McGarvey says his three months of preproduction were “vital in terms of getting to grips with the scale of the project, and planning how we’d achieve certain sequences.” Shooting digitally was a given because of the extensive digital effects and the producers’ original plan to capture in 3-D. But when the crew tested a 3-D workflow by shooting the “tag” that followed the end titles of Thor with Red Epic cameras and Panavision Primo lenses in an Element Technica rig, “it was not a successful day of shooting,” says McGarvey.

“Although the native 3-D looked great, each setup took too long,” he explains. “I love when a crew picks up speed and creates its own inner dynamic. Joss, too, likes to keep the momentum up on the set. Shooting 3-D is like throwing treacle bombs into that beautiful élan. It wasn’t going to afford us the impetus and dynamism we needed.”

Marvel subsequently decided to capture in 2-D and convert to 3-D in post, and McGarvey abandoned the Epic for the Arri Alexa. “I preferred the look of the Alexa in terms of its range and its ‘roundness,’” he says. “I recognize [its image] as more akin to a film look.”

In fact, McGarvey was so impressed with the Alexa’s performance in his tests that he bought his own; christened “Schatzi de Bayer,” it served as the production’s A camera. The main unit also carried three Alexas (rented from Panavision Woodland Hills), one of which “was always rigged in Steadicam mode, and the other two were in studio mode and could easily be switched for handheld,” says the cinematographer.

“We shot with Primos, predominantly primes, but we also used 19-90mm and 24-270mm zooms, and occasionally we got a 3:1 long zoom,” he continues. “[With the zooms,] we tended to stay around 21mm and 27mm, or at the longer end, like 100mm.”

McGarvey typically maintained a T4 or T5.6 for day exteriors, and T2.8½ in other situations. “I shot everything at [the Alexa’s base ISO of] 800. When I tried to rate it lower, like at 400, it seemed to build up in the shadows, and I didn’t feel it had the same range. So I simply used IR neutral-density filters to bring down the stop for exteriors.”

The production also carried 10 Canon DSLR cameras, eight EOS 5D Mark IIs and two EOS 7Ds, all fitted with Canon EF lenses. Their footage was recorded to SanDisk Extreme Pro memory cards. “I prefer the 5D to the 7D,” McGarvey notes. “I like its larger sensor and the way the depth of field falls off quicker. But we used the 7Ds for any slow-motion work [that involved DSLRs].”

To Read the Rest of the Article

Saturday, September 8, 2012

ENG 281: Introduction to Film Studies -- Extra Credit Opportunities

[During the semester, additional opportunities will be added to this calendar]

Essays -- read and write a response

Darghis, Mahola and A.O. Scott. "Film Is Dead? Long Live Movies: How Digital Is Changing the Nature of Movies." The New York Times (September 9, 2012)

Bluegrass Film Society [All screenings at 7:30 PM in the BCTC Auditorium, OB 230]

September 12:
Dead Man (USA/Germany/Japan: Jim Jarmusch, 1995: 121 mins)

September 19:
Entranced Earth (Brazil: Glauber Rocha, 1967: 106 mins)

September 26:
Kill List (United Kingdom, 2011: 95 mins)

October 3:
My Neighbor Totoro (Japan: Hayao Miyazaki, 1988: 86 mins)

October 10:
Sleeping Beauty (Australia: Julia Leigh, 2011: 101 mins)

October 17:
The Devils (UK: Ken Russell, 1971: 111 mins)

October 24:
Tokyo Drifter (Japan: Seijun Suzuki, 1966: 89 mins)

October 31:
Beyond the Black Rainbow (Canada: Panos Cosmatos, 2010: 110 mins)

November 7:
Le Havre (Finland/France/Germany: Aki Kaurismäki, 2011: 93 mins)

November 14:
The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover (UK/France: Peter Greenaway, 1989: 124 mins)

November 28:
Amateur (USA/UK/France: Hal Hartley, 1994: 105 mins)

December 5:
The Elementary Particles (Germany: Oskar Roehler, 2006: 113 mins)

Other Special Showings in town:

September 10: Repo Man (USA: Alex Cox, 1984: 92 mins) [7:30PM Bingham-Davis House, part of the UK Gaines Center, 232 E. Maxwell St.]

September 12: Band of Outsiders (France: Jean-Luc Godard, 1964: 95 mins) [Showing at the Kentucky Theater at 7:15 pm]

September 19: Diva (France: Jean-Jacques Beineix, 1981: 117 mins) [Showing at the Kentucky Theater at 7:15 pm]

September 24: Crips and Bloods: Made in America (USA: Stacy Peralta, 2008: 92 mins) [7:30PM Bingham-Davis House, part of the UK Gaines Center, 232 E. Maxwell St.]

September 26: Knife in the Water (Poland: Roman Polanski, 1962: 94 mins) [Showing at the Kentucky Theater at 7:15 pm]

September 28: Halloween (USA: Rob Zombie, 2007: 109 mins) [Showing at the Kentucky Theater at Midnight]

September 29: Evil Dead II (USA: Sam Raimi, 1987: 84 mins)[Showing at the Kentucky Theater at Midnight]

October 3: Weekend (United Kingdom: Andrew Haigh, 2011: 97 mins) [Showing at the Kentucky Theater at 7:15 pm]

October 7th - Northsea Texas - Bavo Defurne (2011 Dutch with English subtitles) This film explores the discovery that you are different and what happens after that discovery. [This GLSO Queer Film Series will be shown at the downtown branch of The Lexington Public Library in the Farish Theatre on Sunday afternoons at 2 o'clock. Admission is free.]

October 8: Bread and Roses (UK/France/Germany/Spain/Italy/Switzerland: Ken Loach, 2000: 110 mins) [7:30PM Bingham-Davis House, part of the UK Gaines Center, 232 E. Maxwell St.]

October 22: They Live (USA: John Carpenter, 1988: 83 mins) [7:30PM Bingham-Davis House, part of the UK Gaines Center, 232 E. Maxwell St.]

October 28th - Heartbeats - Xavier Dolan (2010 French with English subtitles) This Cannes Film Festival award-winning dark comedy plums the depths, and explores the limits, of friendship and obsession. [This GLSO Queer Film Series will be shown at the downtown branch of The Lexington Public Library in the Farish Theatre on Sunday afternoons at 2 o'clock. Admission is free.]

November 5: The Omega Man (USA: Boris Sagal, 1971: 98 mins) [7:30PM Bingham-Davis House, part of the UK Gaines Center, 232 E. Maxwell St.]

November 19: Planet of the Apes (Franklin Schaffner, 1968) [7:30PM Bingham-Davis House, part of the UK Gaines Center, 232 E. Maxwell St.]

December 3: Bladerunner (Ridley Scott, 1982) [7:30PM Bingham-Davis House, part of the UK Gaines Center, 232 E. Maxwell St.]

Ongoing films/multiple nights in Lexington:

Arbitrage (USA: Nicholas Jarecki, 2012: 107 mins)

Bully (USA: Lee Hirsch, 2011: 98 mins)

The Campaign (USA: Jay Roach, 2012: 85 min)

Celeste and Jesse Forever (USA: Lee Toland Krieger, 2012: 92 mins)

Cosmopolis (France/Canada/Portugal/Italy: David Cronenberg, 2012: 109 mins)

Lawless (USA: John Hillcoat, 2012: 116 mins)

Looper (USA: Rian Johnson, 2012: 118 mins)

The Master (USA: Paul Thomas Anderson, 2012: 137 mins)

Moonrise Kingdom (USA: Wes Anderson, 2012)

The Perks of Being a Wallflower (USA: Stephen Chbosky, 2012: 103 mins)

Sleepwalk with Me (USA: Mike Birbiglia and Seth Barrish, 2012: 90 mins)

Snow White and the Huntsman (USA: Rupert Sanders, 2012: 127 mins)

Thursday, September 6, 2012

ENG 281 Ethics/Film: Week 4 -- Beyond the Standard Feature Film

Wisconsin "Budget Repair Bill" Protest from Matt Wisniewski on Vimeo.

Wikipedia: 2011 Wisconsin Protests

"Background Materials for John Bellamy Foster's "Education and the Structural Crisis of Capital" Dialogic (September 7, 2011)

Benton, Michael. "Bill O'Reilly and FOX News: Propaganda Fails Miserably." Dialogic (March 2, 2011)

Burke, Mike and Harriet Brown Rowan. "Wisconsin’s Uprising: A Guided Tour of the 11-Day Protest Encampment Inside the State Capitol in Madison." Democracy Now (February 25, 2011)

Burke, Mike and Nicole Salazar. "Walkouts, Bank Boycotts and Recalls: Wisconsin Protests Intensify as Union-Busting Legislation Pushed through State Assembly." Democracy Now (March 11, 2011)

Dennis, Brady and Peter Wallenstein. "Wisconsin governor urging others to take stands against unions." Washington Post (February 23, 2011)

Graves, Lisa. "A CMD Special Report: Scott Walker Runs on Koch Money ." PR Watch (February 19, 2011)

Hudson, Michael and Jeffrey Sommers. "Wisconsin Death Trip: The Plan to Steal Everything and Sell the People into Slavery." Counterpunch (March 11, 2011)

"Lawmakers Flee Wisconsin Capitol, State Police Pursue; Protests Swell to 30,000." AlterNet (February 17, 2011)

Meyerson, Harold. "Workers toppled a dictator in Egypt, but might be silenced in Wisconsin." The Washington post (February 15, 2011)

Nichols, John. "Why a Wisconsin Sheriff Refuses to Serve as Governor Walker's 'Palace Guard'." The Nation (March 2, 2011)

Rickman, Peter, Chris Larson and Kelda Helen Roys. "Outrage in Wisconsin: Thousands Flood Capitol After GOP Strips Public Workers of Bargaining Rights in Surprise Senate Vote." Democracy Now (March 3, 2010)

Zirin, Dave. "Wisconsin: Solidarity Among Workers … And Football Players." Yes! (February 17, 2011)

La Jetée (1962) from Augustus Brightman on Vimeo.

Bullock, Tori. "La Jetee Film Analysis." Film and History (May 4, 2011)

Christley, Jamie N. "Great Directors: Chris Marker Senses of Cinema (July 19, 2002)

Dillon, Brian. "Fade away: Chris Marker's La Jetée, a half-hour futuristic film that explores time and memory, seems to conjure an entire century's romance with the moving image." The Guardian (March 28, 2009)

"Listening to La Jetee." The Current (June 21, 2012)

Perry, Canaan. "Time, Memory and Time Travel in Chris Marker’s La Jetée." Space Zoetrope (2007)

Rowan-Legg, Shelah M. "Chris Marker, Filmmaker Behind LA JETÉE, Dies at 91." Twitch (July 30, 2012)

Schefer, Jean-Louis. "On La Jetee." Passages of the Image (1991: hosted on Paul Smith's Website)

Sellars, Simon. "Retrospecto: La Jetee." Ballardian (October 7, 2005)

The Universal Clock - The Resistance of Peter Watkins by Geoff Bowie, National Film Board of Canada

Biographical Sites and Official Websites:

Wikipedia: Peter Watkins

Peter Watkins: Filmmaker/Media Critic (Official Site)

British Film Institute: Peter Watkins

Resources by and about Peter Watkins and his films:

Estrin, Marc. "Peter Watkins' La Commune." The Rag Blog (March 29, 2010)

Keser, Robert. "Edvard Munch." Senses of Cinema (February 7, 2006)

La Commune (Paris, 1871) (France: Peter Watkins, 2000: available on Google video in multiple parts)

"Peter Watkins: La Commune." Chtodelat (October 31, 2008)

Peter Watkins: The Media Crisis Dialogic (October 3, 2007)

Rapfogel, Jared. "The Cinema of Peter Watkins." Cineaste 32.2 (Spring 2007)

Rosenbaum, Jonathan. "The Revolution Has Been Televised [Peter Watkins’ LA COMMUNE]." Chicago Reader (May 17, 2002)

Watkins, Peter. "Notes on the Making of La Commune (Paris, 1871)." Peter Watkins: Filmmaker/Critic (2000)

---. "Notes on the Media Crisis." Barcelona, Spain: Quaderns portàtils, 2010.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Lila Kitaeff: Three Kings -- Neocolonial Arab Representation

Three Kings: Neocolonial Arab Representation
by Lila Kitaeff
Jump Cut


Non-oppositional critique of the Gulf War

In general, Three Kings’ marketing and reception dwelt on its supposedly unconventional nature. By unconventional, I mean “oppositional” discourse and imagery in the sense of contrasting to those found in dominant cultural productions. Although I will argue that the film does not, in fact, deviate from a typical Hollywood film in its basic message and structure, Three Kings does occupy a somewhat tenuous position in terms of Hollywood-type unconventionality. At first glance, viewers might expect the film to be an action-packed adventure and war movie. The main actors are blockbuster action stars (with the exception of Spike Jonze, director of Being John Malkovich and several “Beastie Boys” videos). And director Russell’s previous films, Spanking the Monkey and Flirting with Disaster, were offbeat in their brand of dark comedy, if not particularly unconventional in form or plot.

Initially film reviewers considered the story original. They said this film had more to it than met the eye, that its message and structure differed from most Hollywood films. A typical review praised Three Kings for its “genre subversion, anarchic attitude and barbed political commentary… making cogent points about… America’s role as the world’s policeman.” This same reviewer even suggested that the film addressed “the amorality and lack of consistent principles in American foreign policy. No Hollywood film in memory has addressed such an issue” (McCarthy par. 4 and 18).

However, although Russell does make a certain social critique of the Gulf War, as I will explore below, it is based in mainstream rather than oppositional discourses. For example, he explained this as his goal:

Taking people’s perceptions of this war, and turning them on their head… all the assumptions that you had about this war need to be looked at and turned over, including the sense of satisfaction you had as a moral victor, as an American.

However, if one were to make an explanatory critique subverting mainstream perceptions of the Gulf War, one would have to take into account the struggle’s historical context and the economic and ideological interests behind U.S. intervention. Such an argument was made by Noam Chomsky and Michael Albert, for example, when they asserted that “the real reason for U.S. opposition to Iraqi occupation of Kuwait is… to keep Washington, Wall Street, and their allies in charge of setting oil prices” (par. 5). And as Chomsky and Albert further pointed out, the U.S. government also has an ideological interest in perpetuating militarism in order to maintain the status quo of military spending and interventionist foreign policy.

Three Kings does not offer this sort of explanatory critique. Instead, the film presents the protagonists as coming to a realization that the United States has failed to save Iraq and destroy Hussein’s regime. According to the film, the United States is mistaken not because it intervened in the Middle East but rather because it did not follow through in its mission to save the good Arabs and crush the bad Arabs, a mission perpetuating neocolonial ideals. The heroes of Three Kings, in terms of the film’s logic, right the wrongs of the United States by saving a small group of Iraqi civilians, thus reproducing “the [neo]colonialist structure of the heroes’ relation to the native… [to] sort out the problems of people who cannot sort things out for themselves” (Dyer 156).

Neocolonial themes and traditional cinematic themes

Neocolonial cinema encourages the spectator to identify with representations of the colonizing subject and, by partaking of the trajectory set up by the storyline, to posit the colonial project itself as desirable. For example, in the scene in which the U.S. soldier protagonists are shown first entering the village, the images largely present their point of view, inviting identification by literally allowing the spectator to see through their eyes. In this scene the Iraqi civilians are portrayed as dominated and submissive as they beg the Americans to stay and help them. Other Iraqis who want to fight seem incapable of acting on their own as they cry out, “The Americans are here. It’s okay to come out. We can fight Saddam!” Thus, all Iraqi civilians—those beaten down and those who are still resistant—are presented as entirely dependent on U.S. help.

As Shohat and Stam put it, such a scene functions to “mobilize” spectatorial desire to participate in the narrative line about the protagonists’successful “neo-colonial mission.” The mobilization of desire works in tandem with spectator positions. Just as the cinematic apparatus interpellates the viewer to identify with the characters and narrative, the desire for which the protagonists strive also becomes the viewer’s desire .

In its ties with other fictions, including novels, drama, and song lyrics, Three Kings integrates traditional U.S. cultural and cinematic themes, especially about the outlaw hero. The film also uses a common Hollywood script format for dealing with cultural crises, that of the “problem picture.” These script strategies further weaken the film’s critique of United States ideals. In terms of screenwriting, Robert Ray discusses narrative strategies common in Hollywood in which morally centered characters enact a drama against a background of contemporary social issues. This kind of script development is common in what Ray terms “problem pictures,” films that critique large social issues but ultimately have happy endings that belie those problems (147).

In films like these, the outlaw hero is a common character. Such a figure possesses his own moral code and works to “correct” socially unjust laws and authority figures (Ray 15). For example, as Richard Dyer describes the genre, in the Rambo movies that attempt to critique the Vietnam War, the protagonist Rambo is

doing the job… that the United States government should be doing. Thus he repeatedly upholds basic American values against the actuality of America” (Dyer 159-160).

In this way, Hollywood’s use of the outlaw hero as a solution to historical events distorts perceptions of those events as part of social history, that is, outside of their filmic portrayals (Ray 59-62).

To Read the Entire Essay

Jim Emerson: The great movies (almost) nobody voted for

The great movies (almost) nobody voted for
By Jim Emerson

OK, this is where it really gets interesting. Forget the consensus Top 50 Greatest Movies of All Time; let's get personal. Sight & Sound has now published the top 250 titles in its 2012 international critics poll, the full list of more than 2,000 movies mentioned, and all the individual lists of the 845 participating critics, academics, archivists and programmers, along with any accompanying remarks they submitted. I find this to be the most captivating aspect of the survey, because it reminds us of so many terrific movies we may have forgotten about, or never even heard of. If you want to seek out surprising, rewarding movies, this is a terrific place to start looking. For the past few days I've been taking various slices at the "data" trying to find statistical patterns, and to glean from the wealth of titles some treasures I'd like to heartily recommend -- and either re-watch or catch up with myself.

I know we're supposed to consider the S&S poll a feature film "canon" -- a historically influential decennial event since 1952, but just one of many. I don't disagree with Greg Ferrara at TCM's Movie Morlocks ("Ranking the Greats: Please Make it Stop") when he says that limiting ballots to ten all-time "best" (or "favorite," "significant," "influential" titles is incredibly limiting. That's why I think perusing at the critics' personal lists, the Top 250 (cited by seven critics or more) and the full list of 2,045 films mentioned is more enjoyable pastime.

It's wise to remember that, although the top of the poll may at first glance look relatively conservative or traditional, there's a tremendous diversity in the individual lists. Even the top vote-getter, "Vertigo," was chosen by less than one quarter of the participants.

I guess if you really wanted to make a "boring" list, you could start by asking a bunch of people what films they felt were most significant landmarks and they'd feel compelled to check off the usual suspects. You'd probably get results resembling the syllabus for an early intro-to-film-history course: "The Birth of a Nation," "Battleship Potemkin" ( #11), "Metropolis" (#36), "The Gold Rush" (#154), "The Passion of Joan of Arc" (#9), "Rules of the Game" (#4), "Citizen Kane" (#2), "Bicycle Thieves" (#33), "Rome: Open City" (#183), "Rashomon" (#24), "The Seventh Seal" (#93), "8 1/2" (#10) and other canonical classics that were officially endorsed as standard "texts" in the formative days of university cinema studies departments. Not that there's anything wrong with acknowledging such cinematic landmarks -- most of these also happen to be indisputably great movies.

Scott Tobias ("The radical visions in Sight & Sound ") addresses the complaints raised in some quarters that the list is safe and "stodgy" because there aren't enough post-1960s movies on the list:

But that argument is wrong, for two seemingly contradictory reasons: The list should be stodgy, and the list isn't stodgy in the least.... [T]he stability of the Sight & Sound list is a big part of what gives it value: For film critics and historians--and would-be critics and casual historians--the poll is the compass pointing north, the absolute baseline for an education on the medium. Every critic who submitted a ballot deviated from the Top 10 either partially or wholly--just as any film fanatic heads down their own personal tributaries--but the consensus of the many has given the study of film a useful foundation. A radically altered Sight & Sound list would be weak and destabilizing; breaking into the Top 10 should be slow and carefully considered. For now, just losing "Citizen Kane" [to second place, for the first time in 50 years] is radical enough, like having to orbit around a different sun.

Now here's the second point: Many of the films on this list are fucking crazy. If you can imagine yourself going back in time and seeing any of these films for the first time, nearly all of them are mini-revolutions, breaking so firmly with what people expected cinema to be that they were often misunderstood or hated. There's nothing "stodgy" about "The Rules Of The Game," which had to be removed and drastically re-edited due to mass outrage and a government ban. "Tokyo Story" and "The Passion Of Joan Of Arc" violate the most basic rules of how a film is supposed to be shot, the former by breaking "the 180-degree plane" and the latter by abandoning spatial relationships altogether. "2001: A Space Odyssey" attempts nothing short of accounting for existence itself--and doesn't even get to the space part until after a long prologue about a breakthrough in ape evolution. "The Searchers" remains an absolutely chilling rebuke to what we expect from John Wayne, John Ford, and the American Western itself. If you were to add, say, "Pulp Fiction," to the list, that would be a relatively stodgy choice in this company, despite being a sensation in itself.

To Read the Rest of the Essay and to Read Emerson's List of the 25 Favorite Movies That Nobody Voted for in the 2012 Sight & Sound Critics Poll