Monday, February 24, 2014

Whit Stillman Interview by The Seventh Art


Good Guy Whit Stillman offers young filmmakers a story they can actually use. Here's a very practical interview on how one of the better American indie filmmakers got himself going. The first 12 minutes are free, the rest you have to pay to see on Seventh Art's Vimeo page.

I believe Metropolitan is currently on Netflix. It's very good. Go watch that too.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

You Just Missed It At Light Industry: Last Chants For A Slow Dance

Real independent films can be trying. The first issue is budgetary. You'll never really know where the money of a Hollywood film goes till you've seen a film made without any - without lights, without sound design, without a crew, without re-shoots, coverage, script supervisor, or real actors. Film history regresses, the crudities of silent and early sound film reappear. Without an experienced cinematographer who can organize the grammar of shots in his head with an intuitive, musical sense as much as a methodical technical one, the director can throw his Eisenstein and Pudovkin in the trash, montage falls apart on set and there is no guarantee it will recover in the editing room, especially when the director is doing that too.

The second reason is internal to the idea of independence itself. Real independence - not the $3 million Sundance movie kind, but the Alex Kluge or the Troma kind - represents a way of thinking that is fundamentally at odds with its society, or at least the public as the vertically integrated film industry has imagined and defined it. This can be equally as frustrating. This can be an excuse for the shots that don't cut together, scenes the drag on without a script or actors who can improvise convincingly, for poor exposures and soft focus.

Monday, February 17, 2014

You Just Missed It At The Spectacle: Supermarkt

SUPERMARKT (Roland Klick, 1974) from Spectacle Theater on Vimeo.

I was working a double on Sunday and a coworker was nice enough to let me slack off for 84 minutes to go around the corner to The Spectacle to see a movie I'd been waiting to see for a month now. I arrived when the lights were low and the previews were rolling, enough pale light flashed off the screen for me to recognize my friend standing in the isle. He informed me there were no more seats except in the front. We sat down and I immediately knew I was in trouble. The pixels for the trailers were the size of ice cubes. I could have reached up and grabbed a handful with my legs still touching my chair. I was hoping it was it was the trailer file, but the feature  wasn't much better. Ice cubes again, now mostly black, swallowing ever subtle difference in color Jost Vacano used to makes his character's sensible against the dark walls of the various squats, back alleys, and dirty bedrooms of the Hamburg Reeperbahn. As my eyes darted up from the subtitles at bottom of the screen to the image an unintentional rainbow of text stuttered over the rotting shit colors of 70's West Germany as the white projector light separated into bright red, green, and blue.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

You Just Missed It At The Spectacle: Carlos Suara's Honeycomb

This series concerns films shown in independent theater in New York (and possibly Philly). The website for The Spectacle can be found here.

Terror Involontaire

The disintegration of a couple in beautiful bourgeois home, the mode of European art cinema. One has to wonder if government subsidized filmmaking always comes with a historically preserved or recently repossessed mansion. What else are you going to do with it but use it to skewer to the bourgeoisie, to build from sexual confusion, failure, and vice the bedrock of the rest of society and the rest of the world? Like hubris in Greek myth, its a germ that produced as many great stories as there are great authors even though they all begin in the same place, take the same path, and arrive at the same end - from Rules of The Game, to Yo-Yo, to Beauty and The Beast, to Last Year In Marienbad, to L'Age D'Or - the bourgeois home is an artistic machine, a hurdy gurdy you either know how to play or wind up caught in its gears.

In Honeycomb Carlos Saura steps into that old arena, made as much for the battles of fairy tales as militant socialism, to bring the affects of the bourgeois past to bear on the present, not to indict past sins but the progression of those sins, of the sanitization of middle class decay represented in modernist design, brought about with the logic of market efficiencies.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The Age of Appendix or Why Youtube Comments Are Great (But We Need Something Better)

"Journalist" is just a nice way of saying "dilettante." A journalist is a culturally necessary intellectual that finds her place in the greater society as result of her incompleteness. In this society, we're only as useful as we are incomplete. Papers, magazines, and news sites would be incomprehensible if every story was written by people who were an expert in a given subject. Each field of expertise has its own language, it's own apartment up at the top of the tower of Babel, a good journalist can speak that language, but not well enough to go as far with a subject as an expert. We have to imagine journalist live with a certain kind of anxiety, that their usefulness to a societal whole also marks an incredible vulnerability. What if the experts turn on her? What if they bring the fights they have up in the ivory tower back down to earth? What if they start accuse her of the laziness, bias and vanity they accuse each other of? Or what if the the dilettante's that have had the time to go a little farther than her into a field of study subject her to the same treatment, without any respect for the scope of her work or the time frame she had to complete it in?


Kleist on Marianettes