Project: New Cinephilia invited music journalist and book author Michael Azerrad (Our Band Could Be Your Life; Come As You Are) to create an audio/video installation that spoke, in some fashion, to the way that rockers are depicted in the movies. As co-producer of Kurt Cobain About a Son, a documentary based on his marathon conversations with the Nirvana frontman, we figured he would have something provocative to say about such representations, and we weren’t disappointed. “Hot Freaks: Fictional Rock Stars on Film” is an annotated guide to a very prevalent, but under-noticed conceit in the movies. It will be on display at Festivalhouse@Teviot from June 16-23, 2011, as part of the Edinburgh International Film Festival.Continue reading →
Why would we ever want a website? That was the question that arose among Reverse Shot’sfounding editors in 2003. It had been almost six months since we, along with our friends Neal Block and Erik Syngle, started what we had then dubbed, somewhat grandiosely, “the new magazine of film culture,” but until that moment we hadn’t much considered the possibility, let alone the necessity, of establishing a web presence. But now we knew we had to give it serious consideration. Reverse Shot was at this point a staple-bound, 8.5 x 5.5–inch twenty-plus-page print magazine with a “widescreen” design, self-published and hand-distributed around New York art-house theaters and museums; those who knew about it knew because they had grabbed a free issue after a screening at Film Forum or Brooklyn Academy of Music’s BAMcinématek, or after a shopping trip at dearly departed Kim’s Video on St. Marks, the Valhalla of rental stores (its contents currently taking up space in Sicily). Continue reading →
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 →
In the embarrassment of riches that is the new digital age, we are not lacking for critical voices. There are far too many good blogs and web sites and film-news outlets to keep up with at present, many built on the ashes of defunct print magazines and journals (Bright Lights or Movie: A Journal of Film Criticism, for instance), others erected by thoughtful cinephiles (Girish Shambu) or maintained by seasoned professionals (Dave Kehr, Jonathan Rosenbaum) who have much more to say than the shrinking newshole at their current or former outlet normally allows for. Consider those published in Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, French, German, Hindi, Arabic, and other major languages, and it’s easy to be not only awed by the choice and variety of quality sites devoted to cinema, but almost oppressed by their multitudinous manifestations. On the Internet, anyone can operate a fanzine or film journal, and for the most part, we benefit immeasurably from this cinephilic outpouring. 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 →
My cinema education was backwards: from a primal attachment to video in the suburban backwoods, I discovered filmin the city. This trajectory, from small screen to large, comes with its own fundamental logic. As Thomas Elsaesser observes in his essay “Cinephilia, or the Uses of Disenchantment,” published in a 2005 anthology called Cinephilia: Movies, Love and Memory, the contemporary breed of movie love has matured at a time of academic purgatory–critical theory’s aftermath–and a dumpster-diving impulse seems to be one of its distinguishing characteristics.
These things are related. In college (I studied art history) it seemed to me that everything had been said, challenged, reiterated, and reworded again: an echo chamber of theory. I craved tactile discovery, historical aura. I wanted to plunge into the obscure to find something less mediated, more authentic, that hadn’t been pawed threadbare already. Continue reading →
As a film critic I’ve always rued having missed out on one particular professional rite of passage: a single revelatory, life-changing encounter with cinema. One constantly hears of such experiences from people deeply involved with movies, whether it be directors, actors, critics, programmers and scholars who profoundly remember the initial eureka moment that got them hooked on the art form: a Lubitsch retrospective that warmed them during a particularly harsh and lonely winter; an apparent act of divine intervention in a midnight airing of The Night of the Hunter on local TV; a pirated VHS copy of Scorpio Rising lent by a friend, subsequently horded and never returned.
In contrast, my own interest in movies bloomed slowly over many seasons. Granted, a few seminal films marked my adolescence, the time when one usually starts to watch and think about cinema with intellectual, artistic, or emotional purpose. Slacker was the first film I strongly related to for its eccentric cultural vantage point (I was 15 and, though half an hour from New York City, dying to find my own private Austin) and unconventional narrative; 2001: A Space Odyssey was the first film to transport me through vast imaginings of time, being, and human destiny; Eraserhead was the first film that simply—yet powerfully—showed me you could create something like that. Continue reading →