As a cinephile who spends considerable time on the Internet, I accumulate, without realizing it, a staggering number of bookmarks. (I discovered recently that I've filed away over 2500 links in the last 2 years!) I manage to read only a small fraction of the pieces I bookmark, so I’ve always longed for a good archiving tool that would allow me to call up and work with this material efficiently.
Of late I’ve been using a free service called Diigo to build an archive of bookmarks, and have been appreciating its convenience and its features. Diigo is what they call a “cloud-based database management system”. It allows you to store all your bookmarks on the web (and off your computer). You can tag them anyway you like, and you can even “highlight” passages that you find particularly important or worthy. I’ve begun to chip away slowly at archiving (or disposing of) those 2500 links in the past few weeks.
In the last few months, I’ve begun another process of archiving: I’ve been recording, in a personal film journal, a couple of pages of notes and thoughts about every single film I see, within 24 hours of seeing it.
I’m shocked by the discrepancy between how forcefully a film and its elements can sometimes register with me immediately after I’ve seen it, and how quickly these impressions (so vivid and strong the day of the viewing) can evaporate from memory. Flipping through my journal today, my eyes randomly alight on a note I made a few weeks ago: that two Italian films of the early 1960s, Ermanno Olmi’s Il Posto and Mario Monicelli’s The Organizer, both begin with rural Italian mothers rousing their teenage sons from sleep very early in the morning because the world of work calls. It turns out that by chance, the two films contain several correspondences, alignments and oppositions which struck me only because I happened to watch them back to back one evening by coincidence. If I had not made note of these details, I honestly know that I would have little memory of them today. This is more than disconcerting: I find this aspect of the film experience — a movement from strong registration and impact to fogginess and oblivion in just a few days or weeks — to be positively frightening. I suppose that recording and archiving my immediate impressions is a small gesture against this terrifying ephemerality.
I would love to hear from cinephiles about personal archiving practices — both traditional (paper) and online. What kinds of material do you archive? Do you have any system or regimen for recording and storing cinema-related materials, e.g. a personal journal? How do you manage the incredible amount of material that a cinephile encounters — especially in this Internet/DVD era? I’m curious to hear your thoughts and accounts.
-- David Hudson rounds up the Cannes award winners.
-- Kevin Lee has made a short video of Jonathan Rosenbaum speaking about Satantango, one the films on his Sight & Sound list of greatest films.
-- Catherine Grant posts a tribute to recently deceased film scholar Paul Willemen; and a collection of Antonioni links to mark the centenary of the filmmaker's birth.
-- Nicole Brenez's essay "Ultra-Modern: Jean Epstein, or Cinema “Serving the Forces of Transgression and Revolt”" in the recent collection published by Amsterdam University Press has now appeared at MUBI. An Epstein retrospective starts up soon at Anthology Film Archives.
-- Brooklyn-based Punctum Books has released a new "small book" by the filmmaker Milcho Manchevski called Truth and Fiction: Notes on (Exceptional) Faith in Art, with an afterword by Adrian Martin. The book is available for free download and for purchase at this page. Adrian himself has a book coming out soon in the same series; it's titled Last Day Every Day: Figural Thinking from Auerbach and Kracauer to Agamben and Brenez.
-- At the blog Beyond the Canon, an international group of cinephiles and critics lists films that deserve wider attention. (Lots of obscure and interesting titles here.)
-- I revisited an old post by Miriam Bale at MUBI on Resnais, Rivette and games; and a Matthew Flanagan post that excerpts from interviews with James M. Cain, Thomas Bernhard and Godard.
-- Jaime Christley has a post comparing Netflix and Hulu streaming services, ending with an informative list of movies available to stream at Netflix.
-- The Japanese filmmaker Kaneto Shindo has died. (I'm reminded by Aaron Gerow that he was also a film historian and the author of several books on Japanese cinema.)
-- The late Carlos Fuentes on Buñuel's The Milky Way.
-- Just discovered that the great film scholar Francesco Casetti has a website.
-- There are several articles from back issues of the Canadian film journal CineAction available to read online, including Peter Harcourt's "Analogical Thinking: Organizational Strategies Within the Films of Jean-Luc Godard".
-- Michael Koresky is writing a weekly blog column called Here & Now & Then.
-- At the Frieze blog: "Who Do You Write For? A Survey of Art Critics in the Media".
-- Patrick Keiller has curated an exhibit called "The Robinson Institute" at the Tate Gallery.
-- Imogen Smith on Erich von Stroheim at Alt Screen.
-- Dennis Lim rounding up Cannes at Artforum: "All told it was hard not to read the jury’s conclusions as polemical. In picking Haneke’s Amour over Carax’s amour fou, Moretti and company opted for an allegory of the death of the art film (and its audience) over a glimpse of its possible future reanimation. Maybe this isn’t such a bad fate for Carax, a cinéaste maudit in his youth and clearly no more assimilable in middle age. He gave no interviews in Cannes and, at his press conference, was asked one inane question after another about the meaning of his film and the wisdom of making something so strange for a movie-going public. With one terse, haunting response he captured the moribund gloom of this year’s festival: “I don’t know who is the public. All I know is it’s a bunch of people who will be dead very soon.”"
-- J. Hoberman on 16 mm: "The colors in 16mm movies are denser and more concentrated while black and white 16mm seems more ethereal (yet at the same time, rawer and more material). There’s a sense in which 16mm, which is naturally more impressionistic or even pointillist than 35mm, photographs atmosphere. The pronounced film grain makes the image softer and more forgiving—not only of faces but mistakes which, as retakes are limited, cannot but be accepted."
pic: A drawing of Jean Epstein by Jean Mitry.