Thursday, January 11, 2007

Andy Warhol

Paris-based cinephile/critic Harry Tuttle is hosting a Contemplative Cinema Blog-A-Thon.

In the fall, I got the chance to see an Andy Warhol exhibit curated by David Cronenberg at the Art Gallery of Ontario, and also catch some of the Warhol retrospective at Cinematheque Ontario. Before they fly out of my head entirely, I thought I’d set down some facts, impressions and general thoughts.

I’ve always been a big Warhol fan—especially of the ideas generated by and surrounding his artworks—but until recently I’d seen almost no films by him except a few Screen Tests. I remembered J. Hoberman’s line about Warhol (“the most influential unseen oeuvre in movie history”) and tried to make a special effort to take in whatever films I could. I also spent much time at the Cronenberg exhibit (on two separate visits) and picked up the audio CD of his remarkably insightful “audio tour.”

* * *

To begin with, some facts. Warhol bought a 16 mm Bolex camera and started making films in 1963. Almost all his films were made in the five-year period from 1963-1968. As Michael O’Pray has pointed out, these years can be roughly divided into three phases: (1) 1963-64: silent, relatively short B&W films made with the Bolex, like Kiss, Sleep, Eat, Haircut, Blow-Job, and the Screen Tests; (2) 1964-66: longer films, often an hour or more, with sound, like Beauty #2, Kitchen and The Chelsea Girls; (3) 1967-68: an attempt to build upon the commercial success of The Chelsea Girls, with a slightly tighter and clearer, more realist narrative, probably under the increasing influence of Paul Morrissey. Films in this phase include: My Hustler, Nude Restaurant and Lonesome Cowboys. Valerie Solanas shot Warhol in 1968, which abruptly ended his active, hands-on filmmaking activities. He did continue to sign Morrissey films like Flesh, Trash and Heat over the next couple of years.

* * *

Most people think of the little-seen Sleep (1963) as a single unchanging shot of a man sleeping for six hours. Actually, it was made over a period of several months, and is edited together from various takes and angles. Each shot uses static camera and lasts about three minutes, the length of a hundred-foot roll of film. Many shots are looped or repeated, so the film is not a faithful recording of ‘passing time’—time has been manipulated. I point this out because knowledge about the way Warhol’s films were made does add, I think, to the conceptual richness of his work. The film would be less interesting (for me) without knowing these production details since Warhol is in part (but not only) a conceptual artist.

I watched about a half-hour of Sleep at the exhibit. I have two points of concern about films that are part of an art exhibit these days: (1) more and more, they are being shown on DVD and not celluloid; and (2) sometimes (as for these Warhol films) there is no place to sit if you want to watch them—you have to stand, which quickly gets uncomfortable, not to mention the bustle of the circulating crowd around you....

* * *

Warhol’s brilliant stroke in his early films is to shoot them at 24 frames per second and then turn around and project them at 16 frames per second (silent speed). This has the effect of slowing down movement, stretching time and giving the image an ethereal languor. Cronenberg points out that even in a fixed-camera shot of utter stillness (e.g. a man sleeping), the image itself does not stay the same. Just as repeated silk-screened frames in a Warhol painting differ in markings and gradations of color, no two film frames are completely identical because the distribution of grain is unique and different in each frame.

* * *

A certain ‘purity’ about early Warhol. When a film does nothing but show an act like sleeping, eating or getting a haircut in life-like detail, it liberates the artwork from drama! The ‘narrative’ has no past and no future—only present. Just pure here-and-now-ness. There’s no backstory, suspense, psychology, central conflict or denouement. There is only the (intensely) material image, and there is duration (the passage of time). The freedom that this allows is unprecedented in movies and thus, more than a little discomfiting. What are we to do with such a work? What are we to do with the time—this lengthy, perpetual awareness of the present—that the work floods us with?

Also, these films weren't necessarily intended to be watched in a movie theater, from beginning to end, in one sitting. It is well-known that Warhol often projected his films at the Factory while he worked, or during parties. They were almost like moving paintings hanging on a wall, to be looked at intermittently. They moved in and out of one’s consciousness over the course of a few hours. Perhaps, each time, a particular (and different) detail might catch the eye. And spur a particular (and different) cinematic or extra-cinematic reflection or contemplation.

* * *

For me, the single most fascinating thing about Warhol’s work is its relationship to ideas of authorship. It’s ironic: experimental cinema, more than any other, is associated with hand-made artisanal production over which a single creator has an enormous degree of control. Warhol on the other hand seemed to find ingenious ways of giving up control! And the various ways in which he renounced control are not trivial but significant and interesting:

(1) Rather than carefully determining and varying the length of a shot according to some dramatic criterion (like almost all other filmmakers do), he used, arbitrarily, an element of technological chance: e.g. the length of a hundred-foot roll of film; (2) His famously ‘machinic’ manner of production: turn on the camera and leave, as he did for many of the Screen Tests. This industrial mode of production also shows up in the seriality of his work: repeated silk-screened images, or the standard format of the (400+) Screen Tests; (3) His use of ‘found’ elements. Instead of casting professional actors he often used friends and other artists. Liz Taylor (in his paintings) and The Empire State Building (in his film) were ‘found’ material alike.

Another thought: 110 years ago, the length of a single, unedited shot in the Lumière films—a little under a minute—was also determined by technological happenstance. Real time and cinematic time were equal in those films. But quickly, practices of continuity editing began to compress time. Warhol’s films reverse this process by uncompressing time, distending it, returning it to its original starting point, real time....

* * *

LINKS: (1) A fantastic essay on Warhol's films by Thom Andersen at Rouge; (2) A great post on Walt Disney by David Bordwell; (3) Lots of early Thomas Edison films (1891-1900) are handily viewable here (thanks, Darren!); (4) Jim Emerson says: "Up with contempt!"

* * *

I watched fewer films in 2006 than I did the year before. It probably had something to do with more time spent blogging, reading, etc., but nevertheless, I ask you: what good is a cinephile who doesn't watch a lot of films? So, I've made some new year's cinema resolutions: (1) Watch a film a day. On busy or long days, it can be a short film, even UbuWeb! (2) Religiously keep a film-log; (3) Within 24 hours of watching a film, jot down some notes about it.

Make any cinema-related new year's resolutions, however casual? Confess if you like.


Anonymous James Tata said...


My only film-related resolutions are not so much intentional as accidental: last year I bought a wide-screen, flat-screen TV and joined Netflix, and both have rekindled my former, semi-dormant cinephilia. Like you I'm also keeping a film log this year (I did in 2005 but not 2006, so I forgot much of what I watched).

January 11, 2007 10:50 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Hey Jim -- I hope you've been well!

You know, my TV is still lo-tech and over a dozen years old so I envy you your new equipment. And I kept a filmlog only sporadically last year (probably only about half the time).

I look forward to your Netflix-fueled filmblogging! (Actually, I look forward to all your omniblogging...)

January 11, 2007 11:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

well, my new year resolution started off last november when i promised myself to blog down my impressions of any films/tv-series i watch within 48 hours of having done so (I need time to digest a film)...

i wish i could afford the time to watch a film a day... i really envy you...

(DAMN world of warcraft...)

January 12, 2007 2:28 AM  
Anonymous Darren said...

I've sworn so many times to write notes on every film I see, but my enthusiasm for the project fades by the time I finish my first movie. As soon as I begin to feel the pressure to write, I wimp out. In the early years of Long Pauses I did a series of "short takes," which were just first impressions, usually knocked out quickly in a hundred words or so. Maybe I should get back to that.

My main film resolution this year is to devote 2007 to experimental, avant-garde, and "subversive" cinema. I say "subversive" in honor of the Amos Vogel book, which, along with all of the great Godard films I've been watching lately, has rekindled my interest in the political art of "1968" (early-'60s to mid-'70s, actually).

January 12, 2007 9:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cinematic resolutions:

-I will actually watch some respectable percentage of this year's Sundance shorts.

-I will stop putting off a serious consideration of auteur theory.

-I will go to the Toronto International Film Festival, even if I have to walk, sleep on the street, and beg for tickets from my cinephile friends (not that I'm anticipating having to do any one of those things).

January 12, 2007 10:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I already did the cinematic resolutions for 2007 thing elsewhere, so there are these ones, too.

January 12, 2007 10:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This year I am planning to do some reading on my favourite filmmakers. I already have Godard: a portrait of artist at 70 by colin mccabe and The passion of Ingmar Bergman with me. I am looking for some books on Antonioni and Bunuel, two of my other favourites. You have any specific suggestions? Books which give a comprehensive critical and contextual overview of their entire career?

January 12, 2007 11:50 AM  
Anonymous Filmbrain said...

Nice piece on Warhol, Girish.

I'm not yet sold on Warhol as a filmmaker. While I did enjoy the experience of seeing The Chelsea Girls screened as intended, it really didn't need to be 210 minutes long.

I saw an Italian DVD of Lonesome Cowboys last year, and found it to be embarrassingly awful.

A quick Andy Warhol anecdote. I met Andy once, when I found myself sitting next to him at a press screening of Jumpin' Jack Flash (yes, the Whoopi movie) in 1986, not long before he died. When the film (dare I even call it that?) ended, I looked over at Andy, who had a big smile on his face. "I liked it!", he exclaimed with as much enthusiasm I imagine Andy Warhol could muster.

Cinematic resolutions for 2007? To not waste time going to press screenings of shitty films. Like I did last night. (Smokin' Aces)

January 12, 2007 11:58 AM  
Anonymous Thom said...

Lots of food for thought here, Girish. I like the connection you've made to the Lumiére films. To me they are suspense films because we're aware that they only last around 50 seconds and even if little or nothing is occurring in the frame at the beginning we expect something will happen—a train will arrive, soldiers will dance, a camel will walk by, etc.—before the end. That creates a kind of suspense I think. With that in mind, it seems that Warhol stretches out a similar kind of suspense to its extreme or even ultimate end when we finally realize that nothing is going to happen.

My film resolutions are to reach the late 1960s in my year by year blog project (fingers crossed), and to see more films in general.

January 12, 2007 1:01 PM  
Anonymous Michael said...

Girish, as someone who's not familiar with Warhol's films, I really appreciated this post because you've given me an insight both to his process and to his results. Two things that you've said really stand out for me. The first is this notion of removing drama from a film. Generally speaking, film is a narrative art, or, at least, that's how we've come to think of it. It proceeds over time, and the vast majority of film (virtually all, really, save those that fall into the truly experimental or avant-garde genres) tell specific stories or explain situations. By removing drama, I suspect Warhol's doing something revolutionary, both in terms of the purpose of cinema, and also in terms of our experience with it. We're accustomed to narrative art; watching something from which drama has been removed forces us to re-calibrate our approach to film.

The other thing that stands out for me is sort of related to this lack of drama -- what you say about Warhol not intending his films to be watched in complete, uninterrupted viewing sessions. The film, for him, seems to become part of the spatial environment, the way (for example) that well-designed furniture or paintings and photographs do. If a film is just one part of this environment, then its role has changed; it is no longer the point of our environment. In other words, we typically enter a space (the theater) to watch a film, whereas in his conception we're entering a space to do other things, while also (occasionally) watching a film.

If my suspicions are right, or close to being right, then I think what Warhol's doing (or has done, to be precise) is conceptually groundbreaking.

Switching gears to the topic about film logs and notes, I decided in 2006 to write down the title, year, and director of every film I watched (along with the date on which I watched it), and I'm going to continue to do this in 2007. I usually write notes either while watching a film or shortly thereafter, though occasionally I'm left speechless by a powerful film and wait to jot anything down.

My two main cinematic resolutions this year are to be more vigilant about watching films regularly and (something I mentioned to Darren recently) see as many Claire Denis films as I can, now that I've discovered the wonders of L'Intrus.

January 12, 2007 1:07 PM  
Blogger That Little Round-Headed Boy said...

My 2007 goal, the same one I didn't do in 2006: Dig more into the complete works of an artist, be it musician, painter or filmmaker. I've got one mainstream Hollywood filmmaker whose works I'm slowly surveying through Netflix, and I have the entire Atlantic recordings box set of Ray Charles that I want to absorb. But, as usual, I'll probably hunt and peck, based on my mood. A cruel mistress, that mood.

January 12, 2007 1:42 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Thank you, everyone!

Noel & Darren -- Just speaking for myself, here's the logic I use to psych myself into taking notes after each film: "If you can spend 2 hrs watching a can afford to spend 10 minutes jotting down notes about it." Works often but not always.

I'm much more likely to take notes if the format is free-form and quick and easy: bullet pointed jottings, key words and ideas, not full grammatical sentences, etc. I could never pull off the "Short Takes" because I'd feel the need to shape the "capsule" (since it's for public view) and I'd end up agonizing over it, then wimping out and not doing it at all. Esp. for me with the film-a-day resolution, the notes have to be quick and dirty (and private), reminders of images, ideas, etc for a later time....

Andy -- How cool that you will join us in T.O.! I look forward to meeting you. And we can fill you in on the details of the TIFF bureaucratic machine over the summer.

Alok -- Re: Antonioni, I have the Brunette and Chatman books but they're not biographies (like the MacCabe) but instead film-by-film analyses & discussions. Re: Bunuel, there's a slim but good book by Raymond Durgnat (also film-by-film) and 2 others: one a book-length conversation with Bunuel (Objects of Desire) and the other his memoir, My Last Sigh, both highly recommended and great fun.

Maybe others will also add their recommendations...

Filmbrain -- I read your Andy story and thought to myself: "Only in New York!"

And I haven't seen any of the "last phase" Warhol films like Lonesome Cowboys. Chelsea Girls is the latest of his films I've seen....

Thom -- Not sure if you've seen Lumiere and Company but I like how those 40 filmmakers each manage the 50-second duration in a unqiue and different manner....not all of them work equally well (at all) but the results are interesting nevertheless....

Nice points, Michael. I agree with you: I think it *is* groundbreaking to try to renegotiate, so to speak, the terms of agreement that a film has with its audience, terms that almost always involve the 'supply' of drama to the audience. And the "re-calibration" idea is so true....

TLRHB -- Just like you and I did De Palma over the summer/fall, I'm looking to do a large-ish director filmography this coming summer. Not sure who it'll be just yet....

January 12, 2007 3:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Girish -

Your comments about being more likely to take notes if you don't have to subsequently shape them is interesting; the discipline I imposed on myself to produce a 'capsule' on each film I see has paradoxically been the spur to much more extensive note-taking about films, with most of the content, of course, remaining quick, dirty and private.

When I first started writing these capsules, I found it very difficult precisely because I was (self-) consciously shaping them as capsules, whereas now I compile masses of scribbled notes, let them sit for a few days, and something emerges from the fog, usually while I ride my bike to work; the capsule becomes a kind of public face, and the notes I've made for my own purposes are a very happy consequence of that public face.

January 12, 2007 4:48 PM  
Blogger aaron w graham said...

Firstly, my cinematic resolutions are not unlike everybody else’s: take notes after each film I watch, even if they’re scattershot and not fully formed; post more of these thoughts, once they’ve reached coherence; and, to engage more in my own filmmaking (I’m off to a great start on that last one already, as I’ve booked an editing suite to complete one project just next week, and am in the middle of planning for another shoot in Feb.)

And to give another recommendation re: Bunuel books: Bunuel: The Complete Films , by Bill Krohn, which was released late last year by Taschen, and which provided an invigorating text (along with first class behind-the-scenes photographs!) for me to revisit many of the director’s works. There’s a several page fold-out that deals with Bunuel’s themes and obsessions that I found most valuable.

January 12, 2007 7:50 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Gareth -- I'm finding the same thing. Some notes emerge "from the fog" as you put it, and coalesce into the shape of something bloggable, and others remain notes, until perhaps a thought or idea (later) provides an 'angle' into writing about the film....

Aaron -- Huge thanks for the Krohn book tip! I just sent away for it....I had the (very mistaken) impression that the Taschen books in that series contained mostly glossy stills and little else...

Good luck with the film!

January 12, 2007 11:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm embarrassed to admit it, but I've been keeping a film log since August 1996, when I didn't have any post-graduation plans and seem to have been concocting an impromptu plan to sabotage my degree.

A recent conversation with an ex about how strange we both were:
Ex: "And you were keeping track of all the films you watched.
Me: "Uh ... yes.... So have you heard from Susan lately?"

January 13, 2007 8:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My film related resolutions are more to do with writing than viewing: I want to post more; I want to write longer, better pieces, for an audience (though this involves writing more for myself - or, since I spend every free minute scribbling something somewhere - reworking my scrawl into something coherent and accessible, ie, typing it into the computer, preferably in complete sentences.) And be more active in the community - comment more online; go to more festivals, director appearances, lectures and so on in the atom world.

I am another long time film diarist: I taught myself filemaker somewhere back in the 90s by designing a film database, or suite of databases, with both a diary and a static collection of all films seen. I've kept it up through the years. I keep notes there, though they tend to be rather dry - plot summaries, a few impressions. I want to start keeping track of more specific details: striking moments, striking shots, exciting cuts, details about a performance - if I don't write them down, they get away sometimes, leaving just the impression of something extraordinary, but not enough detail to describe it to anyone else. Which bugs me.

And I want to see more films. Off to a good start there, especially in terms of hours logged in movie theaters (Satantango starts at 2). I'm always surprised by the fact that the more time I spend watching films, the more time I find to write about them - if I see 2 movies on a weekend, then no more for a week, I never write anything about them - if I see a movie Friday night and another (or a bunch) Saturday afternoon, I end up writing about them on the spot, and usually in more detail, and complete sentences. It's like exercise - the more you do, the more you can do.

January 13, 2007 11:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi girish,
I hope you don't mind if I steal some of your cinefils new years resolutions. one film a day.

January 13, 2007 1:24 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Thanks, all....

Tuwa -- Haven't seen Susan since '86 but by an odd coincidence I put it on my Netflix queue along with another Seidelman film I remember enjoying from way back, Making Mr. Right, with Malkovich.

Weeping Sam -- I should tell you that I have always enjoyed and profited from your long essay posts (and the short ones too, but esp. the long ones!), like your new one on Bela Tarr. So, I sincerely hope you'll be able to do more of them...

And you're right: I find that the weeks I'm stuck for blogging material are unsurprisingly the weeks I simply haven't seen many (or any) movies....

For me personally, the three elements that need to be in place to cross-fertilize (and synergize!) each other are, no surprise here: Watching, Reading and Writing. Partitioning my time each week between all three (not just devoting it all to one or two of these three) seems to make all the difference....

January 13, 2007 1:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I started taking notes on films about a year and a half ago, and I think it's helped immensely with both my recall and my writing. Thing is, though, I rarely take notes on films seen theatrically. Most of my notes are taken on movies seen at home, while the film is running. Helps me with specific shots and dialogue.

And resolutions! My major film resolution this year is to make a sizeable dent in my insane stash of unwatched movies (250 and counting!). To that end, I've shut off my cable -- I don't need to be taping every third film off TCM and only adding to the pile...

Also, I'm going to try and write about films soon after I see them rather than waiting for review backlogs to build up and then batching them out. I'm twenty-five films behind right now. I think it's gotten a bit out of hand. And I'm gonna participate in more blogathons this year too. (I'm working on a piece for the Contemplative Cinema blogathon now.)

Lastly: I'd also like to add to the voices endorsing Bunuel's My Last Sigh. It really is a lovely autobio.

January 13, 2007 1:50 PM  
Blogger Ryland Walker Knight said...

I'm returning to Berkeley to finish my undergrad, finally, so my cinephilia and blogging will have to take a backseat to studying, day-to-day, but they will never recess that far.

My hopes for the year are to

-- keep filling in my blind spot gaps: lots of big names like Rivette & Dreyer and "smaller"/"newer" ones like JAPON or more Claire Denis, whom I'm falling in love with, albeit in a tangential, random-fire piecemeal fashion.

-- get a set writing schedule.

-- visit the PFA more than the cineplex.

-- finish my damn SATANTANGO essay.

-- write a personal essay every month that may or may not reference film but engages some confounding idea / art / artist / growing pain / current life event. Whether the pieces go up on my blog or stack tucked away on my hard drive or get turned in for a class, I'd just like to generate more, and get more than daily notes out from my brain onto "the page". DISCIPLINE!

However: I've tried a film log but I don't really see the point since I don't watch nearly as many movies as I used to. Also, I'd rather invest that energy into exhausting an essay.

Also, btw, this Warhol essay makes me wonder whether or not I may, in time, warm to him as a filmmaker. But yeah, it's a long slog for me, too... Final thought: The real Edie Sedgwick was way more attractive than Sienna Miller.

January 13, 2007 2:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry, I wasn't clear. What I meant was that I was embarrassed so I changed the subject entirely to ask about a former fellow student. ^_^

January 13, 2007 5:41 PM  
Blogger aaron w graham said...

I've read some where that Andrew Sarris was the subject of one of Warhol's "screen tests". As you mention that there are over 500, is this one that's commonly shown during retrospectives?

January 13, 2007 11:41 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Gracias, everyone!
Very interesting to share and read about our note-taking/watching proclivities....

Aaron -- Yeah, the Cronenberg show also had many screen tests playing, among them: Sarris, Amy Taubin (who wrote an article in Film Comment on the show back in the fall), Jonas Mekas, Mary Woronov, Dylan, Lou Reed, Nico, Dennis Hopper, and Duchamp.

January 14, 2007 7:49 AM  
Blogger girish said...

The Unspoken Cinema Blog-a-Thon continues:
--Links list of posts.
--Roundtable #1: Contemplative or not Contemplative.
--Contemplation and genres.

--Joao Ribas at Expanded Cinema posts a 4-minute Kiarostami short film called "Two Solutions For One Problem" from 1975.
--Andy Rector posts an excerpt of Murnau's writing from "The Ideal Picture Needs No Titles: By Its Very Nature the Art of the Screen Should Tell a Complete Story Pictorially" (1928).
--Acquarello on Eugene Green's Le Pont Des Arts.
--David Lowery has a post on the leper scene from Rossellini's The Flowers of St. Francis, which I saw for the first time last week (Wow!). The Criterion DVD also has a marvelous 15-minute interview with Italian critic Adriano Apra....if anyone has a tip on Apra's writings, I'd be love to hear it....

January 14, 2007 8:07 AM  
Blogger girish said...

And Harry just started a third roundtable called "Aesthetic Economy."

January 14, 2007 8:40 AM  
Blogger girish said...

The Siren has a characteristically fun and sharp post on the best and worst of the Oscar Best Actresses.

January 14, 2007 12:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry for the late comment Girish, I'm working my way down the list of contributions. Thank you very much for participating in this blogathon, you, the inventor of the concept, one year ago! Bon Anniversaire ;)

Your post on Warhol is highly interesting, and provokes many thoughts, on cinema, art, time in the film ontology, serality, documentation, objective observation... I have seen only one short film of his I think. As you note, he's one of these filmmaker more talked about than projected on screen.

I guess that Warhol holds however a peculiar place in the history of what we could call "Contemplative Cinema"... There is probably an influence but his work is conceptual above all, his concerns aren't those of a fiction filmmaker like Tarr, Tsai, Dumont.

Thought the reference to Warhol films can help us to understand better the theory of "contemplation".
I've never thought of Empire as a "moving painting", it's fascinating. Like if he captured a slice of life, literally, for a readily available archive of a gone moment. Let's imagine projecting a loop on the wall of an underground atomic bunker to pretend a window on the world, for ever unchanged. There is this idea of time-capsule, but instead of recording the spectacular, he records the uneventful. And this is central to the aesthetics in our "Contemplative Cinema" trend, even if it takes another form (fictional and aesthetized).
The idea of the shot length determined by the reel size is also very interesting. Sokurov faced the same problem with Russian Ark (although with digital limitations). Or Garrel who shot his first films with the unexposed leftovers from other filmmakers' reels.

January 15, 2007 9:00 AM  
Blogger girish said...

--Sad weekend for jazz: Alice Coltrane and Michael Brecker have both died.
--Latest contributions to the Contemplative Cinema blog-a-thon: Tom Sutpen at If Charlie Parker Were A Gunslinger; and Brendon at My Five Year Plan.
--At J. Robert Parks' blog Framing Device:there have been several new posts (including two top 10 lists) in the last couple of weeks.
--Oggs Cruz on Rene Laloux's Gandahar.
--Year-end film and music lists at the blog JLT/JLT.

January 15, 2007 9:08 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Thank you, Harry!

January 15, 2007 9:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

New edition of Rouge


January 15, 2007 2:06 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Oh, goody....
Thanks for that, Anon.

January 15, 2007 2:17 PM  
Anonymous Phantom Lady said...

I love your blog, and the way films are discussed here. One of the best film blogs that I know. Y que dibujos tan fascinantes. Congratulations

January 15, 2007 4:40 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Thank you, Phantom Lady.

January 15, 2007 5:23 PM  
Blogger girish said...

In the tribute to Daniele Huillet at Rouge, what are the non-Gertrud screen caps? The Quiet Man? Ugetsu, perhaps? It's been a while since I've seen those....

January 15, 2007 9:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Girish, thanks for your comments on my Kaja Silverman post. I also have this long Thom Andersen speech, when he gave a keynote address in SFSU's grad cinema conference, I hope to upload it soon. I really enjoy the work you're doing here, and I also love your site's design: such elegance!


January 16, 2007 12:32 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Thanks, Miljenko. I look forward to the Thom Andersen lecture...!

Some links:
--Jim Emerson on Jonathan Rosenbaum's comments about Letters From Iwo Jima.
--Walter at Quiet Bubble on Thandie Newton and Chiwetel Ejiofor.
--Five for the day: Barbara Stanwyck.
--At Glenn Kenny's (new) blog: Yvonne De Carlo.

New semester starts today. Into the breach...!

January 16, 2007 7:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't identify the others just yet, but that is indeed The Quiet Man, while the fourth is from Sansho the Bailiff.

January 16, 2007 9:08 AM  
Anonymous acquarello said...

Gareth is correct about the film #4 being Sansho Dayu, but I'm pretty sure that the actual excerpt is from Costa's Where Has Your Hidden Smile Gone? when Straub talks about Mizoguchi (they cut to this particular sequence).

#3 is also from Where Has Your Hidden Smile Gone?, and the reference still that's being pointed to is Sicilia! (don't remember if this is Straub or Huillet's finger).

#5 is Straub/Huillet's Antigone, but it could also be a self-reference in another film (I don't think it's the self-reference from A Trip to the Louvre though, that one had two male actors, if I remember correctly).

#7 is Straub/Huillet's Black Sin.

January 16, 2007 10:36 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Wow, thanks, Acquarello and Gareth!

January 16, 2007 2:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I bow to acquarello's superior knowledge in such matters; I did wonder where the screengrab came from given how hard it is to find most Mizoguchi!

January 16, 2007 2:14 PM  
Anonymous Ben said...

Hey Girish,

We're making our first attempt at organizing a blog-a-thon and were hoping you could participate and maybe get some of your readers to participate as well. It's called the "White Elephant Film Blog-a-thon" and is going to be on April 1st.

More info can be found at:

January 16, 2007 5:14 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Hey Ben--I hadn't seen that; thanks for posting the link here!

January 16, 2007 5:37 PM  
Blogger girish said...

So, computer whiz Tuwa figured out how to generate RSS feeds for both posts *and* comments in Blogger. Scroll down to the bottom of this post at Andy's for details.

I can't seem to migrate to new Blogger but I haven't heard of anyone else who is having this problem...

January 16, 2007 7:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Girish, can I use you as a job reference?

Is yours a "particularly large blog"? This December entry says those migrations are being spaced out.... I was glad when I finally got to switch and could start labeling things (and publishing immediately as well as making immediate template changes).

January 16, 2007 9:22 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Tuwa, yes, apparently mine is, alas, "a particularly large" blog.....

January 16, 2007 9:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe they're just intimidated by excellence. Give it time....

January 16, 2007 10:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know Nathaniel has mentioned having a too-large blog.

By the way, I post. Sleep was the first Warhol film I heard about, back in high school. I've never been aware of an opportunity to watch it, or part of it. Of the films he directed, I've still only seen the Screen Tests that were on video exhibition at MOMA Queens back in 2003.

But I always like reading about Warhol's filmmaking; I somehow get the sense that if I ever get a chance to view more of them, they won't be "ruined" at all by too many preconceptions and expectations. And that, in fact, they were made to be read about at least as much as they were made to be actually seen.

I like what P. Adams Sitney had to say in his essay on structural film: "Warhol made the profligacy of footage the central fact of all of his early film," something that Sitney argues put him at odds with the structuralists even though they were doing something surfacely similar in their films.

January 17, 2007 12:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That should be "By the way, I enjoyed reading your post."

January 17, 2007 12:33 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Thanks for the observations, Brian. And like you, I also caught the Screen Tests at MoMA Queens back in the summer of '03...

Someone (I forgot who--Sitney? Stephen Koch? Gregory Battcock? One of them...) made another neat distinction between Warhol and the a-g cinema figures who came before him like Brakhage, Deren, etc which is that unlike him, they all used montage in a very careful and deliberate (and un-"profligate") manner....

Brian, have a great time in Utah, and I look forward to hearing about Sundance...

January 17, 2007 7:37 AM  
Blogger girish said...

--A great and fun David Bordwell post, with lots of screen caps:

"Most professional critics seem uninterested in the film shot as a shot. They might notice when the images call flagrant attention to themselves, as in Zhang Yimou’s recent films, or in those protracted walk-and-talk Steadicam takes. On the whole, though, reviewers prefer to talk about plot and acting.

"Granted, it’s hard to be aware of shots, especially if you get engrossed in the story. But if we want to be fully alert to how movies work on us, we should keep our eyes open. Back in 1968, I read The Moving Image by Robert Gessner, one of the first teachers of cinema studies in the US. There Gessner offered a sturdy piece of advice:Be shot-conscious.

"About twenty years later, trying to be shot-conscious and all, I started to notice a certain type of image becoming more common, especially in European and Asian films. Then it started to appear in US films as well, especially indie items. Now it’s very common everywhere, though it’s still not the predominant sort of shot.

"Here’s a fairly early example, from R. W. Fassbinder’s Katzelmacher (1969)...."

January 17, 2007 7:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's a fabulous pick on the Bordwell. Thanks for that -- might have missed it otherwise!

January 17, 2007 10:39 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Glad you liked that, Steve.

Also discovered this just-posted podcast interview between Annie Frisbie and Bordwell.

January 17, 2007 11:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tell me about those planimetric images Bordwell, and how Jared Hess uses to convey awkward, dead-pan scenarios. Now the genericness is becoming more lucid, and as such, some clue as to why he used objective close-ups in his Nacho Libre movie. Here I thought he was taking a note from Jonathan Demme (see: The Manchurian Candidate, amongst others). I don't find it too compelling, and for me it makes everything way too neat and cute and a quick visual motif signaling "this is supposed to be funny, in a subtle kind of way." I also like how Bordwell notes that this composition is also used to distinguish in America between Hollywood and non-Hollywood, if that is but one way of making such a distinction. Yo wassup homie, if you wanna be in my crew you got dunk it like that, a'ight?

January 17, 2007 2:25 PM  
Anonymous goatdog said...

I saw my first Warhol last year--Vinyl, which I really didn't know how to take. Maybe it's because I'm so unfamiliar with that kind of thing. It's his version of A Clockwork Orange, filmed in what looks like two or three shots in single takes. Actors change roles mid-reel, and Edie Sedgwick is gorgeous and mute on the right side of the screen. It reminded me of "films" my friends and I staged when we were kids (although we lacked a camera), where we'd summarize our favorite books or movies. It was deliberately amateurish (or at least I think it was deliberate), and the actors kept looking past the camera for cues from Warhol. But there was something about it that makes me wish I could have seen it again (that "something" likely being my almost complete sense of bafflement).

As for resolutions, I only saw six of the 27 I chose for last year, so I just carried them over. And I resolved to read my favorite blogs more often and be more active in the comments (so far so good).

January 17, 2007 11:25 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Goatdog -- If your library has it, Stephen Koch's book on Andy Warhol's films is worth a look. It talks about all his films, describes how they were made and also writes film-critical accounts of them. I haven't seen Vinyl but Koch talks about it in some detail....

January 18, 2007 8:09 AM  

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