When a film calls

From Melissa Anderson:

Michael, in response to the question you posed to me—“How has the new accessibility of cinema changed your way of taking it in, or, as you put it, your ‘bingeing,’ and how has that affected your writing and consideration of film?”—my answer is simple: not at all. I don’t collect DVDs, am not a member of Netflix, don’t have cable, and own few gadgets (my home/portable screens are limited to a TV and a laptop). Keeping up with my journalism assignments requires me to watch three to ten films a week; the average skews higher if I’m covering a series. Most of the films I review I see in screening rooms, though occasionally titles are available only on screeners. Continue reading

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The illustrated man

Everyone has a relationship to movies. One of our goals at Project: New Cinephilia has been to invite contributions from artists, writers, and others across non-cinematic disciplines to share with us the ways in which film has shaped or informed their creative practice. At Edinburgh’s Festivalhouse@Teviot on June 16, we’ll be debuting a new exhibit entitled “At the Movies with Marcellus Hall: Illustrations from The New Yorker, 1993-2010.” Accompanying the illustrations are annotations we’ve commissioned from Hall that speak to both his process and, at times, the impact of the films he has been assigned to cover. Below are two pieces that ran in other magazines, three from The New Yorker, and one previously unpublished work, debuted exclusively online by P:NC. Continue reading

Eyes Wide Shut: Notes Toward a New Video Criticism

By Damon Smith

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

Re-making criticism

From Kent Jones:

Before I write another word, I want to acknowledge the quality of everyone’s responses. This has been a really interesting discussion.

I want to begin with Daniel’s inversion of my badminton birdie metaphor. I think he’s absolutely correct on that count. What’s being swatted around is the film-under-consideration itself – swatted and batted and kneaded and punched and rolled like pizza dough, ranked in a series of endless beauty contests with other movies, categorized and re-categorized, but never quite looked at. Continue reading

Cinema is what we make of it

From Michael Koresky:

First of all, thanks to all of you for what is so far an incredibly engaging, provocative, and insightful discussion. Despite the depths you’ve all plumbed in terms of defining strains and eras of cinephilia, we’ve only scratched the surface. Or rather, I feel we can take these fascinatingly nebulous diagnoses about our affliction/gluttony/passion and apply them to where we are now. Continue reading

Certified Copy: Film Preservation in the Age of New Cinephilia

By Leah Churner

My cinema education was backwards: from a primal attachment to video in the suburban backwoods, I discovered film in 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

What is the birdie?

From: Daniel Cockburn

What aspects of filmmaking do I think are most often overlooked – or, conversely, belabored – in film criticism?  That should be an easy question to answer, but for some reason I’m drawing a blank . . . which might mean that I’m repressing something.  So I’m going to speak to a couple of previous points that struck me, and hope that something gets uncovered.

Melissa says “eventually you realize that it’s impossible to ingest – or love – it all”; the conflict/overlap between ingestion and love is something I’ve been struggling to come to terms with for a long time, which I suppose is common to people in our wide field.  This echoes Kent’s mention of the anxiety around list-making.  And I can’t help, when thinking about things like this, to think of IMDb comment threads, which I tell myself, for the sake of sanity and hope, are not representative of contemporary human movie-thinking, but which nevertheless are the ne plus ultra of some sort of current thought-mode.  Comment threads like “Neil Jordan’s top 10 films, in order”, where commenters post a series of lists and the discussion’s high point is “I agree with your list except I would make Interview with the Vampire #2, and The Crying Game would be #5”.  An endless stream of data posing as content… but why do I keep reading? Continue reading