Tuesday, January 02, 2007

2006: The Year In Film Reading

All year long we engaged in, linked to and talked about on-line film writing here in the blogosphere, so I thought I’d take some time and devote a post to print writing, especially books. But before I do that, let me say that 2006 seemed like the first year I spent more time on-line than with print: reading, writing, making friends, socializing, discussing, debating—discovering and enjoying being part of this quickly-growing on-line film culture. David Hudson’s year-end post handily provides a bookmarkable list of blog-a-thons that dotted the year. And I also tried to corral a fistful of on-line reading into this ‘archiveological’ post a few weeks back.

But so much of valuable on-line writing and comment exchange is widely dispersed, and proceeds to disappear quickly, as time passes, into the dark caves of the archives. It’s my one serious dissatisfaction with the blog format: I wish every blog contained a helpful table of contents page that conveniently listed or indexed all posts at a particular site. This year, I’d like to add a table of contents and index here; I'm assuming it won't be that difficult to do.

For me, the godsend of the year was RSS reader software—what a luxury to be notified within minutes of every new blog post! I started out using Bloglines, then switched to the Mac-only Newsfire. I think I’m subscribed to about eighty blogs, mostly film or arts-related. It’s the one piece of software I truly can’t live without.

* * *

Favorite film books read last year, in no specific order:

Movie Mutations: The Changing Face of World Cinephilia (ed. Jonathan Rosenbaum and Adrian Martin); Negative Space (Manny Farber); Film as Film (V.F. Perkins); Films and Feelings (Raymond Durgnat); Phantasms (Adrian Martin); Cinephilia and History: The Wind in the Trees (Christian Keathley); The Altering Eye (Robert Kolker); Poetics of Cinema (Raul Ruiz); Introduction to Documentary (Bill Nichols); Essential Cinema and Movie Wars (Jonathan Rosenbaum).

Books-in-process, that I’m in the middle of:

Visionary Film (P. Adams Sitney); The Material Ghost: Films and their Medium (Gilberto Perez); Movie Love in the Fifties (James Harvey); Artists in the Audience: Cults, Camp and American Film Criticism (Greg Taylor); Deadline at Dawn (Judith Williamson).

Books I’m looking forward to reading this year:

Abel Ferrara (Nicole Brenez); The Remembered Film (Victor Burgin); Ways of Seeing (John Berger); Theory of Film Practice (Noël Burch); The “I” of the Camera (William Rothman); Underground Film: A Critical History (Parker Tyler); How a Film Theory Got Lost and Other Mysteries in Cultural Studies (Robert B. Ray); French Film Theory and Criticism 1907-1939 (ed. Richard Abel).

Single most potent piece of reading last year:

Chapter 1 (30-odd pages) of Movie Mutations, a letter relay among Jonathan Rosenbaum, Adrian Martin, Kent Jones, Nicole Brenez, Alexander Horwath and Raymond Bellour.

* * *

Rosenbaum has been blogging at the Chicago Reader. I’ve collected a few choice posts; the comments discussions are also often interesting. In defense of spoilers; Film history that is open to the present; When you can't see what I saw; Difficult becomes popular; Avoiding movies about torture.

* * *

At the Fipresci site, several film critics including Rosenbaum, Adrian Martin and Chris Fujiwara list and discuss film books they feel close to. (via Matthew Clayfield.)

Martin writes about discovering, in his teens, two formative film books, V.F. Perkins' Film as Film and Noël Burch's Theory of Film Practice, and falling under their spell. He likens the experience to Jonathan Richman's "summer feeling" that will "haunt you for the rest of your life." The pair of books contains a fascinating tension:

Perkins represents classical aesthetics: style serves content, form is expressive, movies are about characters, destinies, symbolic worlds. Later, reading more of Perkins and his close colleagues on Movie (Robin Wood, Douglas Pye, Andrew Britton, Deborah Thomas, etc) from the early 1960s until now, I would be led back to the various formative influences on this school: F. R. Leavis, Paul Ricoeur, Stanley Cavell. This is a 'school' of criticism that always had (still has) trouble coming to terms with modernism in all its disruptive cinematic forms (Godard, forever the great divider, the deal-breaker). But, on the other hand, the legacy of classicism is inexhaustible, and I am still in thrall to Ophuls' Letter From a Unknown Woman, which Perkins has written about eloquently and frequently …

Burch, on the other hand, is an arch modernist. Even towards his own work: he appears to have regularly disowned his past achievements, wiped the slate clean, and started again. His intellectual inspirations in the period leading to Theory of Film Practice were people like the serialist composer Pierre Boulez, with his severe theory of a crest line of advanced artistic achievement. Starting roughly in the same period as Perkins (late '50s/early '60s), but in a completely different context (the French nouvelle vague, the American avant-garde), Burch trailblazed a film formalism: the classical/organic language of theme, style, character and so on meant little to him, while the sheerly material delight of framing, montage, image-sound counterpoint, camera movement, and all such parameters of filmic form were everything. It was through reading Burch that I came to know — and love — the thrill of off-screen space, of disjunctive sound, of long-takes and scene découpage …

[...] When I try to grasp now what I got from Film as Film and Theory of Film Practice, I see something that does unite them: in both there is a rigorous analytical sense, a demonstration of some form-to-content logic in every film they alight upon, often dazzlingly intuited and demonstrated. These days, film criticism — even the best-written — does little for me, finally, unless it can unearth, propose and in a way prove the existence of the logic that makes a film 'tick', as we say, that coheres it into some kind of whole work, whether classical-expressive or modernist-disjunctive. Godard, in fact, said it best in his challenge to Kael and, beyond her, all critics: "Bring in the evidence", he demanded. Film analysis or criticism without that logic, that evidence, is just assertion, and assertion is something I can take or leave (perhaps depending on whether or not I agree with it!). It is the work of logic that I still admire so much today in the best work of Jonathan Rosenbaum or Nicole Brenez.

* * *

If you're in the mood, please feel free to list some of your favorite film reading from last year (books or essays, print or on-line), and/or any film reading you're looking forward to doing this year. If we collect some titles and authors here, we might be able to introduce each other to some new and interesting reading....


Blogger Brian said...

I don't keep track of my reading as carefully as I do my viewing, to my regret (perhaps a worthy habit to pick up for 2007?) but four books come first to mind when thinking back on my year of film reading.

One is Film is Film by V.F. Perkins, which I cannot thank you enough for introducing me to earlier this year. In my quest to understand why it seems I react so differently to "classic" and modern-day cinema, this book feels monumental. Perkins' writing is very respectful but wholly unsentimental about "Golden Age" cinema, and is better than anyone I've read at clearly and directly addressing some of the changes Hollywood films were undergoing in the 1950s and 60s.

Another is Hollywood Flatlands by Esther Leslie, which is a historically-minded book about the connections between animation and the avant-garde. The cover shows Sergei Eisenstein shaking hands with Mickey Mouse. Perhaps it was the timing of it more than anything that made me like it so much; I read it sometime between your Avant-Garde Blog-A-Thon and my Friz Freleng Blog-A-Thon (though it ended up not really informing my writing in the latter much at all).

The other two books were ones I read while trying to prepare for a massive Robert Altman tribute post that I eventually realized I would never be able to get a handle on, at least not so soon after his death. They are Robert Altman: Interviews, edited by David Sterrit, and Altman on Altman, edited by David Thompson. As much as I learned from the outporing of Altman writing on the internet this year, reading the man speaking in his own words in various points in his career felt like the greatest education about his work I could have, aside from watching and rewatching his films, which I hope to continually do.

January 03, 2007 2:44 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Thank you, Brian. Great to hear that you liked the Perkins book. Zach turned me on to it over the summer, so he's the one we should thank. I've never heard of the Esther Leslie book, so I'm glad you mentioned it here. And yes, those two Altman books are a real joy. I also love the many Altman director DVD commentary tracks for the exact same reasons you cite. I could hear him speak for hours; there's a great 'life wisdom' in everything he says (all the commentaries having been recorded in his 70s) that is not self-important at all and feels really precious....

January 03, 2007 8:11 AM  
Blogger girish said...

And Brian, I like your recent musings on lists and list-making....

January 03, 2007 9:08 AM  
Blogger Brian said...

Thanks, girish. It feels like one of those posts that started small and just grew way out of control in what I hope is mostly a good way. I had fun writing it. Last month you wrote about the pleasure of "educating oneself in public" and I can't agree more. Often it seems it's only through the act of writing itself that any of my half-baked ideas get any closer to fully-baked (not sure this one's there yet, but you should have seen what it was at first!)

Thanks for reminding me to thank Zach, girish. Zach, if you're reading this, thanks!

I know what you mean about Altman's commentaries, though the one I heard most recently was for a Prairie Home Companion and that one began to, shall I say, peter out at the end there. He seemed to have grown bored by his own film! Maybe he was just getting cranky for another reason though.

I think my familiarity with Altman through his commentaries is one reason why, if I had to pick one of the two volumes of interviews over the other, it would be the Sterrit-edited one, because it includes his perspectives from a younger, perhaps more "self-important" perspective, which feels extremely insightful too.

January 03, 2007 10:09 AM  
Anonymous Peet said...

Speaking about "self-important" perspectives:

To start the year with a smile, I posted my first film-related cartoon up at Negative Space. I guess your drawings must have inspired me to pick up my fineliner again, girish!

Here it is.

Let me know if it made any of you chuckle, guys...

January 03, 2007 11:10 AM  
Anonymous Filmbrain said...

Though hardly a serious tome, Theodore Roszak's novel Flicker has a hell of a lot to say about the power of the moving image. This is a great novel for film geeks, and a lot of fun as well.

January 03, 2007 11:14 AM  
Blogger Maya said...

Roszak's been around forever it seems, influencing, influencing, influencing. Didn't he coin the term "counterculture"? And he turned me on to the pre-Socratics. Hmmmm. I should go talk to him.

Love the lamp, Girish!!

Books? What are books? Aren't those what movie adaptations come from?

My favorites on film this year: Cinemachismo, Asia Shock, The Film Snob's Dictionary and Phillip Lopate's anthology of American film criticism. Haven't had much time to read anything else.

January 03, 2007 12:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have both the Taylor and the Roszak right now!

What did I read this year?

American Movie Critics, everything Pauline Kael wrote and a book of interviews with her (Conversations with Pauline Kael), Jonathan Rosenbaum (Moving Places, Placing Movies, Essential Cinema), The Film Snob's Dictionary, Richard Dyer's Heavenly Bodies.

Reading: Movie Mutations, The Biographical Dictionary of Film.

January 03, 2007 3:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Re: Blog table of contents--

To now I've actively avoided using tags or a table of contents on my site. In fact, I only reluctantly added a "recent posts" section (and only after I realized that I was writing on a more or less daily basis). I fear that this kind of organizational structure will change my approach to blogging--that instead of regarding my site as a journal open to the public I'll begin to think of it as a storehouse for my "collected writings."

It's a subtle difference, but for me it might prove a crucial one psychologically. I'm afraid that I'll begin to feel pressure to provide content of a specific quantity and quality and that I'll begin to expect the blog to reciprocate the time and effort I put into it with returns that increase in (perceived) value directly proportional to my progressively more valuable contributions.

January 03, 2007 3:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't seem to read anything like as much film writing as I'd like to - reading books about beer will do that - but one book I loved last year was David Bordwell's Planet Hong Kong, which opened my eyes to aspects of HK cinema that I'd never previously noted; it's not a brand new book but it's exceptional stuff. I'm looking forward to Stephen Teo's Hong Kong Cinema as a complement.

As for Andy's comment above about tags, etc. on my diary the tags are there specifically because it is indeed my diary and because the tags are handy ways for me to find my notes on previous movies of a similar kind (or at least a similar national origin); in other words, for me they actively reinforce the sense that it's a journal open to the public.

January 03, 2007 4:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just received Berenz's book on Ferrara in the mail today - I got it with one of my many Christmas gift cards. I can't wait to dig in, although I bought Barthes' Camera Lucida along with it, and I might tear through that one first. Oh, what the hell, I'll read both simultaneously!

Flicker was indeed a lot of fun. I hope they never turn it into a movie, although I know Aronofsky has the rights and Jim Uhls wrote a script for it.

January 03, 2007 4:54 PM  
Blogger aaron w graham said...

A recent reissue of "Flicker" is emblazened with "Soon to be a Major Motion Picture from the director of 'Pi' and 'Requiem for a Dream'", so perhaps Aronofsky is going ahead with making it sooner rather than later.

Shame, like you, I always hoped it would remain unadapted.

January 03, 2007 5:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As for Andy's comment above about tags, etc. on my diary the tags are there specifically because it is indeed my diary and because the tags are handy ways for me to find my notes on previous movies of a similar kind (or at least a similar national origin); in other words, for me they actively reinforce the sense that it's a journal open to the public.

Hmm... maybe I'm being too literal with my definition of "journal" and maybe I'm too hung up on the notion for just the notion's sake. Right now the only way to browse my site is to "flip through its pages" by navigating backwards in time. You can flip one page at a time by moving through recent posts or flip back a few sections by using an "Archives" section organized by month. I'd have to think long and hard (and I will think long and hard) about the implications of restructuring...

January 03, 2007 5:36 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Thanks, everyone, for the suggestions and ideas.

I bought Roszak’s Flicker last year after I saw it on Filmbrain’s sidebar but have been daunted a bit by its size since. Sometimes I’ll gravitate (wimp-like) towards slim books, like the Perkins book, that I think I can get through quicker, which is foolish because so many slim books are deceptively so (Barthes!).

Maya –- Got one of my Mom’s dry-wit emails today: “Girish, it is now clear to us that you like lamps….”

And I forgot all about the Lopate anthology when I wrote this post...

Andy, Gareth and all –-

I guess I see a table of contents as something I’d like to do less for myself than for the ease of others (readers).

For example, let’s say I’m trying to get my hands quickly on one of Andy’s old posts (the one where he blogged about John Landis’ vampires-in-Pittsburgh film? Or where he outlined the four approaches to blogging: altruistic, social, etc?). I would have to go through the archives pages, month by month. Or use Google...

Another point: readers who have left comments here on specific topics might perhaps find those comments more easily at a later date (if they wished to) if there were a one-page table of contents and/or index by topic. And since the volume of posts and comments can only grow (and quickly!) the longer a blog is in existence, ease of searching becomes more of an issue...

Not trying to sway you here, Andy, just sharing some concerns I have with the current blog format, to see what might make things a bit easier for readers. Like you, I view our blogs as our journals meant for others to see, interact with and use...

January 03, 2007 6:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's off the original topic entirely, but I think we're more in agreement than my first comment might have implied; I created the tags for myself, but probably partly on the assumption that others would also find them handy in the same manner (like the index of a book). The tags occasionally change, even in a blog like mine, though if it were less tied to a film-by-film diary format I might well have some concerns about what tags to use and what they implied.

But I agree wholeheartedly that on a fine blog I frequently wish to return to a particular posting and simple, helpful tags (e.g. "Pittsburgh", in reference to that great Innocent Blood post!) are great. If you can reconcile your own feelings on the matter with the potential desires of readers, so much the better...

January 03, 2007 8:47 PM  
Anonymous Peter Nellhaus said...

One book that I read last year very much worth mentioning is A Panorama of American Film Noir (1941-1953) by Raymond Borde & Etienne Chaumeton. It was interesting to see how film noir was originally defined, and which films were discussed.

January 03, 2007 9:31 PM  
Blogger Brian said...

My reluctance to begin using tagging for my own blog is simply a reluctance to engage in yet another organization task.

And finding Andy's Innocent Blood post is easy: just get there through Nathanial's Vampires Blog-A-Thon. ;)

January 04, 2007 1:27 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Peter, thanks for the noir tip...

Good point, Brian. Actually, I'm not sure I'll even use tags! (Too much work! Especially going back and doing it for all past posts....) I'm leaning towards doing nothing but a straightforward "list of posts" page...

January 04, 2007 5:27 AM  
Blogger girish said...

--Discovered this cool a-g blog: Expanded Cinema.
--Chris Cagle on studio "house style."
--Walter at Quiet Bubble announces a Kieslowski blog-a-thon in March..

January 04, 2007 5:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm about 89% of the way to swayed re: tags... my first post back from "vacation" will address the issue further!

January 04, 2007 10:27 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Cool blog: Zigzigger, run by film/media studies prof Michael Z. Newman.

January 04, 2007 4:39 PM  
Anonymous Adrian said...

Terrific list, Girish - some many end-of-year lists (particularly on the internet) ignore reading, but the blog community that you are in is refreshingly different. Here are some things that I have enjoyed reading this year: the JEAN-LUC GODARD: DOCUMENTS book edited by Nicole Brenez and Michael Witt: many treasures there. Laura Lulvey's DEATH 24X A SECOND - Mulvey gets an unfairly bad rap for what she wrote 33 years ago (!) in 'Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema', but she's come a long way from there; Alain Bergala's marvellous book on Bergman's SUMMER WITH MONIKA, which sums up a lifetime of reflection on the 'creative process' in film direction; and the prodigious work, little known in English, around the relatively young French critic Jean-Baptiste Thoret - the film magazine he edits with Stephane Bou, PANIC, is one of the best in the world at present (ROUGE translated Thierry Jousse's 'Fish in the Aquarium' from there), and Thoret's book on American cinema of the '70s (published by CAHIERS) is equally important. Of the internet magazines, I have particularly enjoyed Chris Fujiwara's UNDERCURRENT, and the Spanish MIRADAS DE CINE. Keep up the great work in '07, Girish!

January 04, 2007 5:01 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Thank you so much, Adrian.

I picked up the Laura Mulvey book after reading your review of it in Cineaste.

I envy your facility with other languages, especially French! It has inspired me to go down to the basement and retrieve my old French textbooks...! (One of my New Years resolutions this year.)

I'd be remiss if I didn't take this chance to tell you that your writings and your cinephilia (both oh so enviably vast!) are a great inspiration to us in the blogosphere....

January 04, 2007 7:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of the internet magazines, I have particularly enjoyed Chris Fujiwara's UNDERCURRENT


Keep up the great work in '07, Girish!

And seconded!

January 04, 2007 8:58 PM  
Blogger Brian said...

Just noticed I'd written Film is Film, not Film as Film in my first comment. Oops!

Is anyone keeping track of all the upcoming blog-a-thons? Off the top of my head (though looking up the dates) I'm remembering:

Supporting Actresses Jan. 7
Contemplative Cinema Jan. 8
Krzysztof Kieslowski Mar. 2-5
William Shakespeare April 23.

Am I missing any?

I'm thinking of hosting a modest blog-a-thon on a single film (I still haven't settled on what film exactly, but it will be one by a current Asian filmmaker) relatively soon, and was thinking March 14th might be a good date, but if February's more blog-a-thon-less perhaps I ought to aim there...

January 04, 2007 9:11 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Thank you, Andy and Brian!

Brian, it was a good idea to collect links to those blog-a-thons in one place; I didn't think of doing that. Either of those two options (Feb/Mar) look good to me where I stand. And you've got me in suspense about the Asian filmmaker and film you're going to pick...!

January 04, 2007 9:35 PM  
Anonymous davis said...

Girish, great idea for a post. I love the Movie Mutations book, and you've made me want to take it off the shelf and reread it.

I haven't read as much film stuff as I'd like to, but this year I enjoyed a tiny little book on Resnais whose name escapes me at the moment. I found it at a used book store, and as a 4x4" square it's small enough that I carried it around in my bag for months and finally left it at home just yesterday. And this evening of course I want it again. I enjoyed Werner Herzog's On Walking in Ice for all of its poetic obsession (the same reason I like his movies). And I keep dipping into Film as a Subversive Art which was a wonderful gift.

By the way, anyone interested in this thread should also read Acquarello's post on Our Films, Their Films by Satyajit Ray. I really know Ray only through a couple of his films (too few), but this collection of essays sounds great.

January 04, 2007 9:39 PM  
Anonymous davis said...

Sorry that's Of Walking in Ice. The prepositions in that title get me every time.

January 04, 2007 9:45 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Rob, I haven't read Ray's book since I was a teenager growing up in Bengal; I had seen nothing by De Sica, Renoir, etc when I read it so I've been meaning to revisit it for years now.

Recently, I picked up in Toronto this newly-published collection of essays by Ray called Speaking of Films (Rob--at "Pages", next to the Korean sushi place at which we lunched on Queen St.). It's unavailable in the States, as far as I know.

January 04, 2007 9:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another blog-a-thon: There's a "Lovesick Blog-a-Thon" at 100 films on Valentine's Day (14 February).

January 04, 2007 11:48 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Thanks for the tip, Andy.

--Jonathan Rosenbaum:.
"In Pan's Labyrinth, Guillermo del Toro makes genre work for him. In Children of Men, Alfonso Cuaron lets it get in his way."
--Doug Cummings posts a collection of links inspired by the book Animation Unlimited: Innovative Short Films Since 1940..
--Eclectic, links-filled post from Walter at Quiet Bubble.
--Chuck Tryon and Zigzigger on David Denby's essay on the future of film in the New Yorker.
--Digital Poetics: Textual Triumphalism.

January 05, 2007 8:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for the notice on the Contemplative Cinema Blogathon, it's on monday and I hope to see you all there! For a change, the deadline is January instead of single day, so take your time to post. We'll see how this format works out.

re: blogathon
We talked last year about having a headquarter keeping track of all blogathons... it would definitely be helpful for references and for schedule planning. Anyone wants to keep a blog for this?

re: tags.
I find it a crucial evolution of the blogosphere mechanics. Hopefully it will help to weed out unrelevant results from a Google query, by refining our search in a specific theme rather than just pulling (polysemical) words out of context. Sometimes it's possible to subscribe to tag RSS feeds (not on the BetaBlogger though), so you get alerted for the one topic that interest you in multiple topics blogs.
As for the blog organisation, It's not so much to retrieve a known post (the word search will do fine), but to review blog archives for posts we missed or sift a blog by topic.
The "journal approach" is like the ticker headlines rolling before the eyes of whoever is present to read, it implies that readers read what you write at the same moment. Once currency moved past the front page, it's virtually lost for late comers. It's not about the quality of the currency, everyone should be able to catch up with the currency at their own pace, without being synchronized with all writers of all blogs. There is too much to read at the same time. The table of content helps customized access to reading is great.
There is the "organized" internet, and the free-for-all internet, we can only search successfully through one of them. Like Girish said, the blogosphere is not only a business of publishers, but we'll have to keep in mind readers, and readers of a later time too, not just the happy elite who happen to be aware of your blog when publication is live.
For instance I've never had the time to look back on Girish's first year of blogging, I can't even keep up with the currency (120 feeds on my Bloglines!)

January 05, 2007 10:43 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Thank you, Harry!

Yes, I plan to do something for the Contemplative Cinema blog-a-thon--Not sure exactly what just yet but I'm working on it. And I'm defining "contemplative" very loosely and flexibly....

The new Blogger won't allow me to migrate just yet (size of blog too large, it says)...

Well, I'm glad you think a table of contents might be of use, Harry...

"For instance I've never had the time to look back on Girish's first year of blogging.."

Trust me: you're not missing anything!
For one thing, there are no comments; it took me about a year to turn comments on....Have no idea what the hell I was thinking...!

January 05, 2007 5:33 PM  
Anonymous Peter Nellhaus said...

I have no idea which directors Brian is considering, but the only Asian filmmakers I can think of at the moment with enough films to inspire a wide range of coverage are Takashi Miike and Tsui Hark.

January 05, 2007 8:51 PM  
Blogger Noel Vera said...

Contemplative seems pretty soon for me, despite the end of January deadline. I asked if I could recycle an article, with revisions.

Shakespeare I'd love to do--is anyone else doing Chimes of Midnight, or is that a too obvious choice?

January 05, 2007 10:00 PM  
Blogger Brian said...

Peter, my idea is actually to try out a blog-a-thon in which participants focus in on a single film, rather than spread out to cover an entire body of work or segment of filmmaking. I like broadly-ranging topics for blog-a-thons (your Shakespeare idea is a great one) but I also want to see what comes of taking a different approach.

I'm not considering a Miike or a Tsui film. But I'd love to join a blog-a-thon on either one of those directors, if someone were to propse it!

January 06, 2007 4:38 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Mubarak Ali has a wonderful new layout and a couple of great Straub-Huillet posts, especially on their new (and final) film.

January 06, 2007 8:25 AM  
Blogger girish said...

--Year-end list-posts by Harry Tuttle at Screenville and David Pratt-Robson at Videoarcadia.
--Zach's new post: The Worker's Body".

January 06, 2007 8:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you Girish for the idea to add quick menu in the sidebar for my Fallacy series. I'm looking forward to your table of content.

Noel, recycling is ok. Compiling texts on the subject is one of the purpose of the team-blog. So links, past articles, books, everything is welcome.

It would be great if Adrian Martin joined in with us for a blogathon, to add serious insights to our informal speculations. I'm looking forward to your upcoming website. Blogathons could be the opportunity to meet with the print critics, who understand the interest in blogs, like David Bordwell or Jonathan Rosenbaum, if they are reading this, they are warmly invited to join too! why not? we can always dream...
Like David Hudson and Girish said, it has been a great year for the blogosphere.

January 06, 2007 10:25 AM  
Anonymous Darren said...

Girish wrote: "I envy your facility with other languages, especially French! It has inspired me to go down to the basement and retrieve my old French textbooks...! (One of my New Years resolutions this year.)"

On Wednesday morning at 8am I will attend my first session of French 150. It's been a long time since I last took an undergraduate course, but I've finally accepted the fact that I'm never going to learn French on my own. I need the discipline of a daily class.

My favorite film read of the year was definitely the collection of Godard interviews edited by David Sterritt. Also, I'm about two-thirds of the way through Sterritt's Films of Jean-Luc Godard and am enjoying it as well. A Talent for Trouble, Jan Herman's biography of William Wyler, was another fun read.

January 06, 2007 12:05 PM  
Blogger Mubarak Ali said...

Girish, thanks for the continued shout-outs!

And what a great, inspiring post+comments, full of great suggestions! I completely agree about the Movie Mutations letters - I must have come back to them more times than anything else I've read over the past couple of years. Over the last year, some of my most memorable readings include: Cinema: The Archaeology of Film and the Memory of a Century (Jean-Luc Godard, Youssef Ishaghpour), Abel Ferrara: The Moral Vision (Brad Stevens), Poetics of Cinema (Raúl Ruiz), The Erotic Dream Machine: Interviews With Alain Robbe-Grillet on His Films (Anthony N. Fragola, Roch C. Smith), and I have yet to finish Deleuze's Cinema 1 and Cinema 2, and Noël Burch's Life to Those Shadows. Also, can't wait for the new Brenez!

January 06, 2007 6:18 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Thank you, Harry, Darren and Mubarak.

Darren, we're in synchronicity again (like many other times before). Perhaps we can help reinforce each other's French-education motivational curves as the year passes...!

Mubarak, those are some really great suggestions....And thanks also for reminding us of Jonas Mekas' video-a-day project on his site.

Just added three Netflix new releases to my queue: Pialat's Van Gogh; Mike Judge's Idiocracy; and The Illusionist, which Rosenbaum liked a lot.

On the cards today is a movie day-trip to Rochester and Eastman House to catch a double bill of Old Joy and Army of Shadows.

January 07, 2007 8:05 AM  
Blogger girish said...

A nice thing about the 'blogiverse': thought production, every day, 24/7. Zach writes about The Searchers, after his fourth viewing.

January 07, 2007 11:39 AM  
Blogger Noel Vera said...

My ideal magician movie would have little to no CGI and feature Ricky Jay (come to think of it, my ideal magician movie is probably the show Mamet directed of Jay's act). That said, I liked The Illusionist ; I think it's miles beyond Nolan's clunkier (and longer) magic flick (Jay designed some of the tricks for both films, of course).

January 08, 2007 4:39 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Knockout Eastman double bill yesterday--dreamt about Army of Shadows last night! Needless to say, awoke in a sweat...

News of the day: Contemplative Cinema Blog-a-Thon hosted by Harry Tuttle at Unspoken Cinema.

Kristin Thompson: "Snakes, No, Borat, Yes: Not All Internet Publicity Is the Same."

Not sure when I'll have something ready for the blog-a-thon but it's looking like Wednesday...

January 08, 2007 8:10 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Michael Z. Newman at Zigzigger has a terrific post on musicals, contemporary and classic:

"The problem with making Hollywood musicals today is the audience. The core ticket-buying group for American movies, young males, does not just dislike musicals but is apparently made uncomfortable by them. Some spectators titter at the moment characters break into song. One guy in the front row at the Dreamgirls screening I saw last week in Toronto got up and wandered out of the auditorium a few times when characters began to sing. When I used to screen Meet Me in St. Louis on the first day of a film history class, some of my male students would exhale loudly and shift uncomfortably in their seats as the numbers were beginning. I asked one group of students why people had that response, and some earnestly answered that it's just not realistic for characters to sing. Not realistic for characters to sing! This from a generation that has grown up on South Park, Star Wars prequels and first-person shooters!

"What's really going on, I surmise, is that musicals have become a challenge to heteronormative masculinity. Over the past few decades, gay male culture has made showtunes into a signal of gayness, and as gay culture has gained visibility so has the musical as its emblem. According to a widespread cultural cliché, there is no better evidence that a man is in the closet than a stack of Sondheim cast recordings. As a generation has grown up more aware than in the past about "alternative lifestyles," it has protected itself from seeming gay by disavowing its comfort with the genre. Some high schools apparently now can mount a musical production only if all the parts, male and female, are played by girls."

January 08, 2007 8:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This from a generation that has grown up on South Park, Star Wars prequels and first-person shooters!

That has to be the most incisive statement I've read all year. Or at least the past eight days thus far. This "trinity" of delusion is quite evident of the irony regarding those darn kids when they dislike things for not being realistic. In fact, they don't even live in reality anymore. Reality ceased to exist six years ago, and the only people who have any idea of what it once was is at least over the age of 25 and all but repellent in the face of modern-day entertainment. By the laws of their media diet, they must concede that musicals aren't realistic (much like their coveted South Park and Star Wars, you know, cool stuff that's immortally in vogue) and thus worthy of a second look, which will ultimately lead to their full appreciation.

The audiences, especially those pesky young audiences, are indeed being shamefully prejudiced and homophobic in their attitudes toward musicals. It's not most of them like think musicals may be as equally campy as say, South Park? Um, General Hospital? Who knows? It's better to make much more broad analysis than anything precise. It's a mass conspiracy, a cultural virus that's trying to eradicate the homosexuals and the vocally-talented of society. And all those darn kids are a party to that. What a shame! The musical is still a thriving! It should be. With master strokes like High School Musical and Dreamgirls, how come no one cares for my career?

January 08, 2007 2:55 PM  
Blogger Noel Vera said...

A stack of Sondheim records indicates the man has good taste. Maybe you mean Andrew Lloyd Webber.

January 08, 2007 3:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Glad you managed to see Army Of Shadows on the big screen, Girish. It didn't give me any nightmares, but it did (of all things) inspire the old would-be songwriter in me to compose a piece of music based on it!

January 08, 2007 5:35 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Thank you, Anon, Noel, David.

David, it wasn't a full-blown scary nightmare but instead one of those relentless 'morally queasy' dreams that seems to go on forever...

I've often wondered how people's dreams change after they become cinephiles (given cinema's powers to reach into the unconscious, etc...)

And I had no idea you were a songwriter.

January 08, 2007 6:02 PM  
Blogger girish said...

--Nick Rombes: The Replication Machines.
--The Contemplative Cinema blog-a-thon includes posts by Doug Cummings on Quixotic and Harry Tuttle on Chantal Akerman's Là-bas.
--Acquarello on José Luis Cuerda's The Education of Fairies (2006).
--Filmbrain on Chloe, director Go Riju's adaptation of French surrealist Boris Vian's L'Écume des Jours.
--Discovered this filmblog by Oggs Cruz.

January 09, 2007 8:38 AM  
Blogger girish said...

--In the new issue of Film Comment: TERRA INCOGNITA: 19 Films to Look Out For.
--Jan at Jahsonic points us to a new and interesting filmblog he discovered: Esotika Erotica Psychotica, subtitled "Sex, art, horror and experimentation in world film."

Busy day today (faculty meetings chock-a-block) but if I manage my time decently, should be able to post by this evening. Have a good day, everyone.

January 10, 2007 8:09 AM  
Anonymous acquarello said...

Whoo hoo! New Kiyoshi Kurosawa (Retribution) film screening at FCS next month (accordign to the Terra Incognita article). I'm so there! :)

January 10, 2007 8:34 AM  
Blogger girish said...

You lucky dog! :-)
Hope it gets picked up for distribution...

January 10, 2007 8:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I ordered a subscription to Film Comment a few months ago, and I thought that this would be my first issue. Should I be concerned that I haven received one yet?

January 10, 2007 1:27 PM  
Anonymous acquarello said...

I haven't received my magazine either, but that's normal. I usually see the online stuff going live about a week before I get my physical copy.

January 10, 2007 1:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did you see Kiyoshi's previous one (Loft)? It just came out this month here. It feels like the average B movie to me. Is it supposed to be great? Cahiers says Retribution will be much better than Loft though.

January 10, 2007 2:31 PM  
Anonymous acquarello said...

Alas, I missed the screening of Loft at last year's FCS, it was a trade-off between week #1 with Battle in Heaven and Ruiz's new films or week #2 with that and The Forsaken Land. I knew that the response to Loft was tepid going in, but missing out on the Jayasundara film was a huge missed opportunity. :(

January 10, 2007 6:17 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Forsaken Land is a strong film. Didn't knock me out at the time (I was baffled by it--still am somewhat) but it's really stayed and strengthened in the memory. I suspect (hope) it will get distributed at some point; given the Cannes award, I'm surprised it hasn't so far...

Killer day at work. Chances of posting tonight are low to none but tomorrow (barring Murphy) should be a cinch...

January 10, 2007 7:39 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Sujewa has announced a Jim Jarmusch blog-a-thon on Jan 22.

January 10, 2007 7:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, believe me you didn't miss much with Loft (perfect for TV viewing I'd say). The other films in conflict were incomparably more interesting. You did good. ;)

January 10, 2007 8:11 PM  
Blogger girish said...

A. ~ I agree with Harry. You picked well. I haven't seen Loft but those Ruiz films are probably really hard to see...

--Weeping Sam watches Rivette.
--Thom at Film Of The Year on the very first Technicolor film, The Toll Of The Sea (1922).

Off to go work on a blog post; back later today.

January 11, 2007 10:11 AM  
Anonymous acquarello said...

Yeah, it's always a toss up on what to see, but since Ruiz screenings tend to be a rarity in the FSLC programming lineups except for FCS, I figured it was worth the schedule juggling. Anyway, the 2007 program should be finalized soon, come on Costa! :)

January 11, 2007 11:28 AM  
Anonymous Thom said...

I have so many books to read thanks to you guys!
Thank you also for the link, G. I took a page from your book and began a new category list on my blog that groups the films by decades (since I'm doing a chronological blog) to make searching through the postings easier. I'm looking forward to seeing how others delineate their posts.

January 11, 2007 5:02 PM  
Blogger Campaspe said...

Girish, I think I am a little in love with your mother. Wish she'd reappear in your blog, I watch for her like a favorite supporting actress.

I don't read a lot of critical works, but Peter's film noir book suggestion sounds very much my style. Right now I am reading David Shipman's The Great Movie Stars: The International Years, jumping around from entry to entry while I feed Ben. I hope you get a chance to submit a list to Edward Copeland's Best of the Best Actresses survey. It is fun, and prompted me to finally sit down and watch Sunrise, so clearly it is a force for good in the world.

January 11, 2007 8:58 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Acquarello, I'm sure the Costa is a done deal for FCS, what with all the strong press it got last year...!

You're welcome, Thom. That sounds like a good and useful way of categorizing your posts. I'm still working on my table of contents design, and wondering if I should add any index(es)....

Campaspe, you'll get a kick out of this. My mom wrote to say that she's been burning through her Barbara Stanwyck collection (again!). She worhips Stanwyck and Myrna Loy. And who could argue with her...?

January 11, 2007 11:12 PM  
Blogger Campaspe said...

Your mother is wise indeed. If you need an excuse to call her today, TCM seems to be running some Stanwyck rarities for most of the day. Right now I am looking at her in the Pre-Code "Forbidden."

January 12, 2007 10:07 AM  

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