Will the circle be unbroken?

In which Neil Young, chair of the first online roundtable, concludes the discussion.

Czech films, Underground films, Hollywood films. Now people who take films seriously study skin flicks, TV commercials, scopitone. In the days of Wrath or Raft, there were just Hollywood films, “B” or “A”, Arthur Rank, and a few art directors like Renoir. The sheer bulk of what is known as film, plus the equal cheers for so many different types of film, has loosened everyone’s bowels.–Manny Farber, 1968

Dear all,

Well, we’re nothing if not eclectic around this here round table… My second contribution was bashed out as I prepared myself for Elliott Lester’s Blitz at a Sunderland multiplex (which turned out to be comfortably the worst new UK release of 2011 so far, I’m afraid to report), and Andrew’s saw him speeding out the door en route to a Berlin screening of Die Wahlverwandtschaften by Siegfried Kühn (cheers, IMDb!) at Berlin’s charming Babylon cinema. Of course, to a Brit of my age – even those of us brought up far from Brixton – the word “Babylon” has a certain degree of negative connotations, being the Rastafarian term for “any oppressive political and economic power structure”. Bad news… and thus incongruous when applied to Berlin, which must surely rank as one of the global hubs of worldwide New Cinephilia – along with Paris, New York, London (and presumably Tokyo) – and a model for other cities and towns to follow, in terms of respecting cinema as a major art-form, and respecting the fact that the discussion and analysis of that art-form is both a boost to the art-form and a desirable end in itself. Continue reading

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Reclaim The Screens!

Tropical Malady (Apichatpong Weerasethakul) 2004, Thailand/France/Germany/Italy, 118 mins

Postcard from Sydney, by Mathieu Ravier

Hi everyone,

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