Thursday, April 24, 2014

Theme: Film

  • Originally I intended for this piece to be a statement in regards to form. I remembered enjoying Exley’s book when I first read it, and was quick to identify myself as his fan; I thought a literal application of this title would be a fun and easy project for me. I have a very active way of consuming text, in which I scribble and underline frequently as I read. I often use cheesy acronyms, such as “vom,” “wow” and “omg.” I also like to fold the top parts of my favorite pages as I encounter them, so that I can easily find them the next time I decide to look at a book I have read before. Even emoticons are fair game!Read more
  • Against a black background, part of the face of a fair-skinned woman. The tone and texture of her skin. The curve of her lips. Especially the black of her eyes — as if we could look through her. All these exceed not only what we expect to see when we begin to watch a film, but what we desire to see. Even before the camera slowly swings upward from her mouth to her eyes, even before we realize that those are not opaque black pits but irises.Read more
  • As we move deeper into the twenty-first century our world seems evermore bifurcated between the known and the hidden, and this visible divide characterizes our own psychotic state. On the one hand, as the Snowden documents show, we are all of us watched by groups whose names we don't even know, for purposes that remain obscure. Read more
  • Joss Whedon’s recent Much Ado About Nothing embodies the question: can movies made from Shakespeare still find a wide audience? It has been a long trajectory since 1948 when Laurence Olivier's Hamlet got seven nominations and three Academy awards, including Best Picture and Best Actor, to the late ‘90s when Baz Luhrmann's Romeo and Juliet drew $150 million and Shakespeare in Love brought nearly $300 million to studio coffers. Read more
  • One of the best films of 2013 was released in 1914. Edward S. Curtis, well known for his documentary photographs of the dying traditions of the native peoples of North America, turned to motion pictures for this quasi-documentary set among the Kwakwaka’wakw of Vancouver Island. The film has, Curtis’ fame as a photographer notwithstanding, remained in obscurity since its brief initial release. Read more
  • Instead of traveling solo, the heroines in Thelma & Louise (1991) escape together from social constraints and obligations from work, home and a controlling marriage. Instead of merely reflecting on their lives, throughout the movie Thelma (Geena Davis) and Louise (Susan Sarandon) encounter real threats and real adventure (though far from comical); their short vacation quickly turns into a nightmare. Instead of chasing love, they are chased by the FBI for shooting the man who attempted to rape Thelma.Read more
  • The film is unflinching in its portrayal of brutality. Noosed, strung up, and choking with just his toes touching the dirt in punishment for attacking the overseer Tibeats, Northup seems to hang forever, as daily life goes on about him. Women caught up in the obscene sexual and property relations of slavery are as sadistic as the men. And yet, the film itself does not avoid sentimentality.Read more
  • It's hard to watch Sofia Coppola's 2013 The Bling Ring, which came out on DVD about a month ago, without feeling like you're at the end of a chain (no, I didn't say human chain) of recycled celebrity worship. The film tells the story of a group of vapid and glamour-obsessed teens in LA who figure out just how easy it is to break into celebrities' houses and abscond with their blingiest objects: their antique Rolexes, their Alexander McQueen sunglasses, their Louboutin heels.Read more
  • Do we see (have) these kinds of moments of seeing in real life or do they happen only in camera space? In the fiction of movies. Is the face of the lover loving and seeing the lover restricted to mise-en-scène? Is the lover's face just another visual trope? Two visual tropes = Love. Seeing the seeing. It’s true, love is also a reaction shot. But who is witness to the reaction shot off-screen? And what is our reaction to love off-screen? In real life there is maybe only the diegetic. Read more
  • In Antigone, King Creon makes a lot of bad calls, but his first and most damning mistake – the pilot light that burns his house to the ground – is refusing to bury one of his sons. This is supposedly punishment for the son’s role in a succession war, but according to the spirituality of the ancient Greeks, it’s borderline pathological: he’s denying his son entry into the land of the dead, a punishment that was the sole prerogative of the gods themselves.Read more
  • The prolific François Ozon’s fourteenth feature is a companion piece to his popular hit from last year, In the House, in which a schoolteacher discovers the sensual writing talent of one of his pupils. Young and Beautiful (its English title is far more ungainly than the original) treats in a similar way nascent sexuality and literary awakening, which, once again, go hand in hand. 16-year-old Isabelle (Marine Vacth), takes to prostitution soon after losing her virginity through a holiday fling, but the film is also punctuated with the familiar texts of a French teenage literary education: Les liaisons dangereuses, Madame Bovary and Rimbaud’s poem ‘Roman’, with its famous opening line ‘you’re not serious when you’re just seventeen’.Read more
  • Joshua Oppenheimer’s The Act of Killing has made ripples in the West not so much because it’s a good film (though there is much about it that is very good) but because the impunity it portrays in such glaringly uncomfortable detail is so alien to the average Westerner’s post-Nuremberg sense of justice and faith that barbaric acts will ultimately be punished. The gangsters and militia men that Oppenheimer meets and films speak openly and unrepentantly of their part in the mass killing of over one million people accused of being communists in the wake of the failed military coup in 1965.Read more
  • In 1959, by pure accident, Roger O. Thornhill was mistaken for another man. Actually, he was taken for a man who did not and had never existed. Thornhill’s initials spell ROT, which is printed on his monogrammed matchbooks, and when asked what the O stands for, he replies, “Nothing.” That O in the center of his name zeros in on Thornhill’s lack of identity, an all-style-no-substance absence that first allows and then forces him to be whomever anyone else wants him to be. Read more
  • Augustus Phillips stars as the Doctor in the first ever film adaptation of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, written and directed by J. Searle Dawley.Read more
  • When Welles came to Hollywood, in 1939, at the age of twenty-four, he was already famous for his radio work—not least for the great “War of the Worlds” hoax—and heralded as the next big thing without having made a movie. (In F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 1940 short story “Pat Hobby and Orson Welles,” members of the Hollywood old guard, high and low, see him as a “menace” and a “radical.”)Read more
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