This past summer saw the debut of Project: New Cinephilia, a day-long symposium at the Edinburgh International Film Festival preceded by essays, online discussions 1+2, sound, video and artwork, as well as a hefty library of cinephilia resources on this website and discussion on the forums of MUBI.
As we consider where the project may lead, we’d like to thank everyone who took part as writers, readers, speakers, audience members and forum commenters. If you would like to get in touch you can find our contact details here or follow us on @ProjectNC.
Cinema is a medium tied to temporality. We experience a film one frame at a time, and barring a projector meltdown or remote control mishap, we watch it from start to finish in the order designed by the film’s creators. Comics, on the other hand, are a profoundly spacial medium. Time is read between the lines and between the panels, but it is the space of the page that we primarily consume. Over a two-page spread, all moments are one, and page-time is traveled as the eye darts back and forth across the page. Continue reading →
Art about art-or better put, art through art–is a tradition as long as artistic and literary history itself, extending back through many centuries of literature and visual representation and forward into film history, from well before John Keats’s ode on an urn to well after Buster Keaton’s comedies about a film projectionist and cameraman.[i] Like its forerunners, film’s versions of this reflexivity both create and participate in their own aesthetic principles, overlapping their representations of other artistic and aesthetic experiences with their own cinematic processes and frequently reflecting those processes as a reflection on film itself. Continue reading →
To pick up on Daniel’s question, what is the birdie that we cinephiles swat around? Or as André Bazin put it more bluntly, what is cinema? It’s interesting to me how this question continually crops up long after the medium’s many deaths, from the various proclamations of critics and filmmakers throughout the twentieth century to the now-undisputed technological end of celluloid (first heralded by television, video, and finally, the digital turn). If anything, the end of the cinematic century has only opened new questions as to what cinema was, or continues to be in augmented forms. For historians of early cinema, these lines of inquiry have been particularly fertile: in an era of multiple viewing platforms, for example, how might we reconsider the history of cinema as that of a screen practice, as Anne Friedberg and Charles Musser have done? And when we look at the long history of the medium, what might we anticipate for its future? Continue reading →
A few years ago, a French friend, in introducing me to a new word, helpfully elucidated the distinction between two terms: cinéphile versus cinéphage—a lover of movies versus someone who consumes them voraciously and indiscriminately. Terence Davies recalls such an insatiable appetite in Of Time and the City, his exquisite 2008 documentary about Liverpool, his hometown: “At age seven, I saw Gene Kelly in Singin’ in the Rain. I discovered movies and swallowed them whole.”
This kind of gluttony, it seems to me, is a necessary first step to being a film critic: devouring cinema (and being devoured by it), sampling and discovering as much as you can. But eventually you realize that it’s impossible to ingest—or love—it all; after a period of prolonged bingeing, you should know what you really crave and what satisfies you. Continue reading →
Thanks so much, Kent. Daniel, I’d obviously like for you specifically to keep in mind Kent’s closing words regarding filmmaking and its critical appreciation existing on what seem like two different planets. Considering you’ve played both sides of that fence, you seem well positioned to talk about this….especially considering that you refuse to play both sides of that fence….your critical writing is not about evaluation per se, but rather, like your feature You Are Here, it’s about searching for a way to describe a form. Or at least it seems to me. Continue reading →
Each post on the Project: New Cinephilia is linked at the bottom of the page to a topic on the MUBI Forum. You’ll find P:NC discussions grouped here and one that managed to get away here. In Feedback Loop we’ll be pointing to some of the forum debate and first up its the burning issue of academia. Continue reading →
Much to chew on here. Will return to matters of cinephilia in a moment, but I wanted to address the issues of criticism that have been raised. While I agree that critics, particularly those that write for online-only outlets, are under pressure to turn in copy while the topic is still “fresh” it’s reached rather ridiculous levels of late, and one only need turn to Cannes coverage for proof, particularly the morning of 16 May, when Malick’s The Tree of Life was unspooled for critics. At 10:05am (CET) Fabrice Leclerc’s review appeared on the L’Express site, even though the film still had about another 30 minutes to go. No idea how that happened. Was he filing from the screening, or did he decide he’d seen enough around the ninety-minute mark? Continue reading →
How rewarding to read your words, such interesting ideas bouncing back and forth across time zones (and hemispheres!).
I’m thrilled about how information technology is changing the way films are made, seen, disseminated and talked about. It’s opened up new opportunities for many who were previously excluded from this creative universe. It’s turned cinephilia from a secret club for the privileged to a “Broad church” in which anyone can worship.
I don’t think access, even defined as overexposure, poses a threat to thoughtful criticism. Those sensitive to its charms had to seek it out in the past, they will seek it out in the future. The same can be said of contemplative cinema. Isn’t part of our role to aggregate, demystify, point the way? If anything, I think the abundance of un-sponsored, unedited, multifaceted voices helps bridge the gap between an audience too often treated like a market, and a cinema too often marginalized by its inability to compete for attention in a media-saturated landscape. For all the trash that washes up on its beaches, the internet is still a place where one can access treasures of cinema, gems of criticism. It’s an ocean of information, not a tidal wave. Continue reading →
Thanks Andrew (and everyone else – I’m humbled to be in such eloquent company),
Greetings from a wet, grey-skied, chilly Sunderland, on a late May day that looks, sounds and feels more like early November. It’s been raining on-and-off all day, including a massive cloudburst about an hour ago. Likelihood is, when I step out of my front door in 90 minutes or so, I’m going to have to have the hood up on my sou’wester-ish rain-slicker.
My destination: the Empire Cinema in Sunderland city centre, which is a 25 minute walk at the brisk clip which precipitation usually engenders.
My target: the 4.40 screening of Blitz, a violent British cop-thriller starring Crank 2 : High Voltage‘s Jason Statham that received (predictably) mixed-to-negative reviews from the British critics when it opened last week, and which will linger in our multiplexes (late-night shows only) for another week before making the 21st-century version of what Variety used to be called the “fast trip to half-inch”. Continue reading →