Ninja Assassin is exactly what an action movie should be. Too often, most Hollywood Big-Budget action films spread their stories so thinly that they come off as silly and tacky. Sure, the argument could be made that they’re supposed to be mindless, so the lack of development is passable, but it is more than just a lack of development. Most of the time, action films try to at least give the appearance of having a real plot or emotionally complex characters even when all they are concerned with is fight scenes and big explosions. The difference with a film like Ninja Assassin is that there isn’t even anything here to even spread thin. The plot already barely exists. There is no pretense. Rather than feigning a narrative, it gets right to the point understanding that it is a waste to put any energy into an aspect of the film that is not in the slightest important.
Basically, there is a secret society that steals children and raises them to be trained ninja assassins. A “Europol” forensics reacher, Mika (Naomie Harris) uncovers a worldwide conspiracy involving multiple governments hiring these ninjas to carry out assassinations and she becomes a target. She eventually comes to be protected by a defector, Raizo (South Korean pop star Rain) of the group who betrayed his master when ordered to kill a traitor. The stories converge when not only do the assassins attempt to stop the investigation but try to kill the defector as well. Beyond that there is a thinly written lost love story and relationships between Raizo, Mika and Mika’s coworker developed only on the most superficial level. There is just enough to keep the story moving along at a reasonable pace while waiting for the next action scene.
The action scenes are fantastic. They are violent and gory without being gratuitous. Since much of the action takes place in shadows or in the dark, what would have otherwise have been over the top is rendered subtle and suspenseful. The editing is kinetic and unlike most action films, the action is not effaced by hyper ADD cuts. There are times when the camera doesn’t cut at all during action sequences. For example, during a scene in a large warehouse, instead of cutting to different shots, the camera circles Raizo and intermittently smash zooms into him. The scene also uses the slo-mo technique, but it is not overdone.
While the darkness of the action sequences can be scene as a problematic since most of the action is obscured, it turns the ninjas into something more than human. The feeling I got during some of the scenes, particularly everything in the warehouse, was that I was watching Aliens or Predator. It wasn’t that the ninjas had a supernatural quality, but their stealthness imbued them with a horrific quality. Seriously, the scene with Naomi Harris and the soldiers in the large corridors when the red lights are flashing reminds me so much of the scene in Aliens when the Xenomorphs are bearing down on the marines when they are coming through the ceiling.
The last thing I can think to say is in appreciation of a minor detail of the film. If only to add to its own awareness of its pulpy nature, the blood in the film was not only unrealistic but reminded me of the bright viscous blood of 70’s films that resembled paint more than it resembled blood.
We are a collection of amateur filmmakers and video-making enthusiasts, recreating the Kevin Bacon classicand releasing it this summer. Different filmmakers from “around the world” have divided the original 1984 Footloose into 54 different scenes. 54 different filmmakers. 54 different Ren McCormack’s.
In October 2008 it was announced that Paramount Pictures and Dylan Sellers Productions would be remaking the classic Footloose, starring Zac Efron. We were fed up. The Hollywood remake machine was going to take another solid movie, put it through the ringer, and make a buck from a younger generation.
We decided “Let’s beat them to the punch. Let’s do this remake our way.”
Originally slated to release in June 2010, director complications have pushed the release of “The New Studio Remake Footloose” back to 2011. Hollywood can’t make it by 2010? We can.
Our fifty-four filmmaker “The Footloose Remake” will hit Los Angeles in June, taking the place of Paramount’s release.
You know, it makes perfect sense that Chloe Sevigny plays the main character in this film. She is the iconic “celebrity hipster” that I guess is supposed to represent the whole Vice/Williamsburg Hipster Chic (Emphatically so when you consider that not only did she do the cover of Vice only a few months ago, but it was for their “90s throwback” anniversary issue. The whole “appropriation of the past” thing as a trend is perfectly on display here). Ironically enough, however, she is probably the least interesting character in this film with the least to say among everyone else. In fact, she is extremely boring. But maybe that was the point?
Last Days of Disco is, as the title suggests, about the waning days of Disco and how a group of friends are trying to get by in the big city while this is all happening. As I began to watch the film I cringed at the heavy handedness of the token era markers reminding everyone that this is a period piece. There is a point where self awareness becomes mere indulgence and artificiality. The characters come off as too obviously aware of the era they are living in and wax pseudo-philosophical through out the whole film about what this whole Disco era is supposed to mean.
And yet, as the film progressed, I became more drawn in and began to reevaluate this hyper awareness. Was the film aware of its own hyperawareness? Did many of these character come of as superficial albeit ironically self-aware because that very same awareness was what was superficial about them? The characters themselves are played seriously without a tinge of irony or self-effacement, but I get the feeling that the film as an object itself doesn’t necessarily respect these characters very much.
The reason I mentioned Chloe Sevigny first and in the way that I did is because if this is really at all what it was like in the 70s in New York City during disco, then not much has changed since then. Or maybe it did all change and it has finally come back. And in that sense, the film itself is very prescient. It came out twelve years ago and it represents every cliche or stereotype or judgement you will hear leveled at the Brooklyn Hipster set nowadays. And these cliches, stereotypes or judgements are impossible to deflect or to ignore especially when considering a film like this because of the level of awareness that are at play.
What I mean is, from many of the conversations I have had over the “hipster issue” you get so bogged down those levels of awareness that it ends up turning into an infinite regress that descends into meaningless. And from the proceeding dialogue the film itself is just as aware of this phenomenon as the characters it is critiquing:
Des McGrath: Do yuppies even exist? No one says, “I am a yuppie,” it’s always the other guy who’s a yuppie. I think for a group to exist, somebody has to admit to be part of it. Dan Powers: Of course yuppies exist. Most people would say you two are prime specimens.
And to a lesser extent:
Des McGrath: Yuppie stands for “young upwardly mobile professional”. Nightclub flunkie is not a professional category. I wish we were yuppies. Young, upwardly mobile, professional. Those are *good* things, not bad things.
It’s unavoidable and impossible to even talk about. It’s not worth the fight, there will never be any resolution between either side. Just take my introduction for example. I come off as judgmental and critical but I don’t necessarily believe everything I said or agree that if those critiques were true that they would be a bad thing.
Among these shallow moments of self-awareness however, there are some that shine as at least seeming to be sincere. Maybe because this is a question I have asked myself before, but this piece of dialogue really stood out for me:
Des McGrath: You know that Shakespearean admonition, “To thine own self be true”? It’s premised on the idea that “thine own self” is something pretty good, being true to which is commendable. But what if “thine own self” is not so good? What if it’s pretty bad? Would it be better, in that case, *not* to be true to thine own self?… See, that’s my situation.
But now that I think of it again, and when you consider that it was this Shakespearean quote along with “Et Tu Brut” that were chosen by the characters to discuss, you realize that although each character comes off as intellectual, they’ve just chosen quotes that even people who haven’t even read Shakespeare know. They’re all pretense. It’s as if they’re both complex and shallow at the same time.
This is especially exemplified by what Tom says to Alice after they meet again in the club after having sex. He saw right through her attempt to be the shallow sex prowler at the club and called her out on it later on. (Uncle Scrooge? Sexy? Ridiculous!) She has chosen to be shallow even though she is intelligent. Although by the end of the movie she’s moved on (Or has she?)
The film ends with with a monologue that is one of the worst era-aware perpetrators. It sounds so artificial, so after-its-time, that it just sounds written. Nobody talks like this when they’re living in the era they are talking about. It sounds like a thesis. Eras for the most part are usually named or qualified years after they have disappeared or evolved.
Josh Neff: Disco will never be over. It will always live in our minds and hearts. Something like this, that was this big, and this important, and this great, will never die. Oh, for a few years - maybe many years - it’ll be considered passé and ridiculous. It will be misrepresented and caricatured and sneered at, or - worse - completely ignored. People will laugh about John Travolta, Olivia Newton-John, white polyester suits and platform shoes and people going like *this* [strikes disco pose] Josh Neff: , but we had nothing to do with those things and still loved disco. Those who didn’t understand will never understand: disco was much more, and much better, than all that. Disco was too great, and too much fun, to be gone forever! It’s got to come back someday. I just hope it will be in our own lifetimes. [Des, Charlotte, Dan, and Van stare at Josh like he’s crazy] Josh Neff: …Sorry, I’ve got a job interview this afternoon and I was just trying to get revved up, but… most of what I said, I, um… believe.
It’s down right silly to hear him talk like this. It can’t be real. But maybe it is. You can see that he plays it off as if he was just revved up and went off on a silly thought that he decided to expand upon. But even after this he states that he believes it. Self-Awareness and Irony get to a point where you start intellectualizing your own era before it’s even over. You become aware of the fact that you are aware no matter how silly you sound in the effort. He puts up a wall to shield himself from his own sentimentality by reframing it ironically. And people talk like this even now. I know I have been guilty of it. You try so hard to explain or describe something large than you, without realizing how futile the attempt is. You still do it no matter how shallow you may sound.
In the end you either fool yourself into believing you’re ready to become normal or you embrace your own shallowness and accept it. Probably the two most sincere characters are Des and Charlotte. “Settling down is just a way of killing your night life”. They know how shallow they are and they don’t care.
Everything Charlotte says in the movie comes of as so quantified and explanatory of everything that she seems to reduce it to a formula which if anything foregrounds her own artificiality and her own awareness of it. And everything Des says everyone else sees right through as a way of putting on a front to get things.
Josh Neff puts it perfectly when he’s meeting with Alice.
Josh Neff: Did he tell you the story about how he was traumatized by a Radcliffe girl taking off her shirt, suddenly revealing her largish breasts, which he never thought about before? He tells that story all the time. To get sympathy and to justify himself as if he were the victim of female aggressiveness and duplicity.
Josh Neff: No, it was true. He was the victim of female aggressiveness and duplicity, but so was everyone else. Not everyone then went on a rampage exploiting the opposite sex.
Alice Kinnon: He thinks his problem is just that he falls in love a lot
Josh Neff: Well a lot of people fall in love a lot.
Des creates something out of nothing by using his own problems as a pretense when his problems aren’t really problems, they’re simply the kind of thing that any normal person goes through. It’s strange that the two most shallow characters in the film end up being the more honest with themselves.
Alice Kinnon and Josh Neff seem to believe they are becoming “normal” when it fact they are just as superficial in their attempts to become what is quantifiably normal. Alice through out the entire film, like I said, barely says anything. Everything is just going on around her and she becomes a tableaux for that influence to impress upon her. But she isn’t even aware of it. Josh appears to be starting to become aware of this about himself, but like I mentioned above, he corrects himself by reaffirming his beliefs.
The Ipad is just the first step in making productions more interactive. And it’s that very interactivity that will actually incentivize the actual purchase rather than pirating of material. When individuals are allowed to participate they are more willing to contribute or give back. Give the power of the creative process or production to the amateurs and they will no longer feel like passive consumers. This is important. Not only does incentivizing encourage participation but it creates a community of creatives and subsequently a plurality of ideas. The more ideas, the more possibilities and the more variety in art.
There are some people who opposed this idea (Ahem, Lanier) and believe instead in the elevation of the individual genius as a way of retaining the spirit of the artwork. As if incentivizing that individual success and impact of the individual’s creative work at the detriment of other people somehow fuels the value that artwork is supposed to have. I fundamentally disagree with this idea especially since this idea of the individual genius is so exclusionary. The value of an artwork isn’t directly synonymous with economic success. The more people who fancy themselves creative, the more that creativity spreads and the less stifled and passive people will feel.
We are living and will continue to be living in an “idea culture”. The more people who are willing to participate in this kind of community, the better. The more people who feel as though they have something to say instead of quieting themselves in the shadow of a “genius” the more potential we have as a society for a more colorful and multifaceted culture. It is wrong to believe we should be passive consumers of the the genius’s work. That is intellectually oppressive and narrow-minded. There should be just as many ideas as there are people and just as many works of art as there are people. And each of those works of art should not be a passively framed painting on a wall but something that in its own functionality recontributes to society.
Here are some key quotes from the article:
there is more of a future in media consumption for those producers who create the whole environment. This has definitely been done by many movies and shows but usually with more of a consumption-of-information about the show, rather than a rich interactive experience where fans of the show are as important as the producers.
Such an experience would be almost a cross between a typical television program and a video game environment. Sure programming is part of what can be consumed on the site; but there are competitions, games, back stories;
Any unauthorized distribution of content will only be distribution the content, not the experience of the program in its full glory.
…summarize their approach as CwF + RtB = financial success: Connect with Fans and give them a Reason to Buy some scarce goods.
I agree that CwF + RtB is part of the future: we can’t charge for infinitely distributable digital goods but we can charge for scare goods (or services) promoted by the music.
Physorg has an interesting article about how Hollywood movies follow a mathematical formula that “lets them match the effects of their shots to the attention spans of their audiences.”
Here is an excerpt:
“Psychologist Professor James Cutting and his team from Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, analyzed 150 high-grossing Hollywood films released from 1935 to 2005 and discovered the shot lengths in the more recent movies followed the same mathematical pattern that describes the human attention span.” … “Cutting made his discovery by measuring the length of every shot in 150 comedy, drama and action films, and then converted the measurements into waves for every movie. He found that the more recent the films were, the more likely they were to obey the 1/f fluctuation, and this did not just apply to fast action movies. Cutting said the significant thing is that shots of similar lengths recur in a regular pattern through the film.”
A Serious Man (Minor Spoilers at the End of Review)
There isn’t much I can think to say about this film at the moment, which is not to say there is nothing to say about it. A Serious Man is a film loaded with meaning, too much for me to go into here, especially since it’s been days since I watched it.
However, I found it both peculiar and fascinating how little appears to be happening in this film. It is as if the entire film is building up to some large explosion, but without ever showing the explosion. It could really be summed up up by pointing to the scene(s) of the bully chasing but never catching Danny Gopnik. Which is then even more emphasized by the fact that when Danny can finally give the bully the 20 dollars he owes him, probably the most dramatic event in the film prevents him from doing so.
A pointlessness, or rather an insignificance permeates the film. Each of the characters are trying to get somewhere or be something, or earn something, but it never leads to anything profound. It never leads to a resolution. The only resolution the film has is to heap tragedy on all the characters right as it is ending. The profundity of their lives is sucked right out just and there lives become just as superficial as the Rabbi’s story of the carved teeth. It doesn’t matter if the message means anything, but nothing matters. It just is. No matter what good or bad happens, these are personal judgements imposed upon an indifferent reality. Nature and sickness happen.
It reminds me of how I felt after seeing Watchmen, but in a more positive light. When I left that film, the only thing I could think to say about it was, “Watchmen is -“. That’s it, it was so hollow of any real meaning that it was impossible for it to do anything but exist. It was a major problem for a film whose source material had so much purpose and character development. It wasn’t simply reduced to its most superficial qualities, it also meandered and moved places without any real resolution. Things just happened with no resolution or reason. But not because they couldn’t have resolution or reason, just that nothing was fleshed out in any satisfying way. It was like floating in space but not even knowing how you got there, not even feeling like a dream. You really just materialize into space with no explanation.
But I digress. While that feeling of nothingness and shallowness was a problematic for the film Watchmen, it the foregrounding of that very same feeling that is A Serious Man’s most important quality. It is perfectly aware of its own insignificance. It starts off profound through the period prologue suggesting a trope that will continue through the film. However, it never really does. Everything escalates, then deflates, and after a kind of normalizing during the third act of the film, the final two bombs are dropped right before the end credits.
Later in the night after watching the film and processing it, I texted my friend Matt asking him if he thought the film was about “nothing”. I wish I had not erased my inbox or else I would have posted his brief response. The reason I had asked him, however, was that I was motivated by his explanation to me of the “Seinfeldian Nothing”. Seinfeld is a show that calls itself “A Show About Nothing”. Well obviously, things are happening in the show, but what makes it different from other sitcoms is that that kind of dramatic turns that would typically occur are either absent or reserved for the conclusion of the show. There is nothing climatic or overdrawn about episodes of the show. This concept of nothing then operates relativistically to the type of drama that one expects from a television production. Nothing functions as something more realistic when compared to the artificiality to the events that occur typically on a sitcom. Profundity is stripped away for simple “happenings” that we are used to in our everyday lives which would explain why most fans of the show find it so easy to compare to their own lives.
(minor spoilers now)
It is interesting that two of the most important plot points that are both revealed at the beginning of the film are not only not resolved/unresolved until the end of the film, but they barely remain present through the entire film. They only come back later on to remind the characters of their own insignificance when it is assumed things may finally be looking up.
In other words cancer doesn’t care if you’re granted tenure and nature, in this case a tornado, doesn’t care if you can finally pay the bully back.
I once had a professor at SVA who said the problem with many great directors is that as they get older they stop being great directors and become great cinematographers. This notion is especially poignant since if I remember correctly, the film he used as an example (or maybe what motivated him to make the point), was Martin Scorsese’s The Aviator. I would say, my opinion of Scorsese’s contemporary work is much more kind, but I thought it was worth mentioning considering what I find most laudable about Shutter Island.
First, I think it’s important to say that this is a very difficult film to review since for it to really “work” it requires you to know as little as possible going in. I suppose the fact that what I want to focus on are its technical merits that it will be easier to assuage those concerns.
One of the things that immediately jumped out at me at the beginning of the film was how it felt as though it jumped right into the suspense. Rather mundanely, and typically, the film begins with the two U.S. Marshall’s traveling on a ferry to Shutter Island. However, the editing is tense, yet quick and only subtly fragmented. There is a snapshot quality to the cutting that suggests something unrealistic to the quality of the scene. It is more of a recall than it is a linear unfolding of the plot. It isn’t until the Marshall’s arrive at the island that there are any long, sweeping establishing shots suggesting a more realistic presentness that exists on the island. This really makes me want to go back and focus more closely on Thelma Schoonmaker’s editing in Scorsese’s earlier films because it really is masterful here.
This isn’t even to mention the incredible score of the film yet either. One of the great qualities of this film is the ‘haunted house’ tone that permeates it. Although this is not a supernatural film (unless you consider how one defines “supernatural”), the overall tone of the film is extremely haunting. It is as if there is always the threat of something bubbling just below the surface, as if everything portrayed on screen is only pretense for what is looming in the shadows. The score and the sound editing in general add wonderfully to this effect. It is tense and quiet, yet sudden and jarring. It’s omnipresent as if an actual quality of the asylum and the islands. The diagenic sounds of the record player act as a harbinger of bad memories forcing Daniels to conjure up memories of his time as a soldier in World War II.
It goes without saying when considering the score that the film’s visual aesthetic has the same appeal. Although the setting is an asylum for the mentally ill, it looks and feels like a haunted house. The Gothic quality of the settings and location is emphasized especially by the fact that the film takes place in the 1950’s. The colors even when drab are gorgeous and the architecture has a life of its own. The first thing I thought when I was watching the movie was something akin to the first Resident Evil video game, but now that I think about it more it more closely reflects Silent Hill.
The last thing I can really say about the film is how important and how brilliant the point of view is. The audience is totally complicit in Edward Daniel’s perspective. And for the entire film we are never sure how reliable he is as a narrator. Many critics suggest this is a film that requires at least two viewings or more to fully understand it, but I think that misses the point. This film is not a matter of picking out the red herrings or looking for clues. It’s about having the same perspective as the main character and the consequences of that state.
There is something extremely troubling about a film shoot being so important that it begins to affect the actual lives of people in no way involved. Especially when it involves moving PRISONERS. I mean seriously, it’s just a fucking movie.
of every film that has so far been announced as being converted/released in 3D. If only for my own cataloguing purposes. So I can at least see how far the trend has spread.
Somewhat inspired by this post on Cinemablend since it really does seem that a film being released in 3D isn’t news anymore. Which is scary. I don’t think it’s that simple to rush into something that has only just been perfected, much less so when it was only utilized the right way by someone who invented his own god damn technology.
Plus, I’d rather films use 3D practically rather than as a novelty. But this is Hollywood we’re talking about so what do I know. Although I would expect more from Martin Scorsese. Maybe that’s my problem then.
I have been thinking a lot lately about social networking and integrating it with film production and film appreciation. Of course there is already overlap among these communities, but I have been trying to think of ways to give power to a collection of individuals rather than to a select few who speak to those communities, separately.
There are already people who love film enough that they will either produce their own, dedicate blogs to writing about it as well as those who become full fledged critics or journalists to write about it. Beyond that there are also those people that are willing to write short blurbs for either films they have watched online or elsewhere, as well as providing ratings through websites such as Netflix and You Tube or IMDB. You Tube and IMDB in their own way provide a voice to those people who aren’t cinephiles but simply want to consume video mediums and give the least amount of input. Similarly, Netflix provides people a way to rate films they have watched but in a very narrow way through a star ratings system. Netflix also enables users to write reviews if they so please.
However, most people who are willing to write about film or other media are already writers in their own respects and not everyone is a writer nor chooses to be. On the other side of the coin, those people who provide input on You Tube videos or frequent the IMDB message boards aren’t necessarily contributing any opinions or ideas of substance, or even to a large group of people.
The problem with the types of forums that IMDB and You Tube have provided their users is that in many cases the commenting descends into mere trolling without any real content to take away from it. And the problem with the Netflix starring system is that simply giving a star rating doesn’t tell anyone that much about the film.
Even with IMDB’s rating system and top lists, it only serves to hierarchically categorize the films in a uniform way. It doesn’t say much about the films beyond whether a group of people liked it or didn’t like it. That doesn’t say much about the film.
There must be a way to create a more collective opinion in a more specific way, without the skill required to criticize a film. A collaborative way to describe and comment on a film without the writing of actual articles or papers. A simpler way where opinions don’t get bogged down in useless argument. I want to create a more strict, yet personalized way of leaving feedback that doesn’t only express an opinion, but defines the film based on user interaction. I want it to be as interactive and community based as possible without giving a larger voice to any single individual or individuals.
Along side of this concept, I want to be able to put both amateur film and professional film on an immanent plane of appreciation. Or rather, I do not want to give precedence to one or another. I want each to be accessed equally through the same channels and in some cases, for those films to somehow lead into one each other through a type of networking or criticism.
Everybody consumes, loves and watches films because they are such a large if not basic part of our culture. I want to make all of these people equally as important and in some cases make non-appreciators into appreciators simply by connecting through this community.
Simlarly, I want it to be a community that connects people for the sake of actual filmmaking. Not just a job board or a network dedicated to those who are already filmmakers, but a way to give everyone an opportunity to share in the process of making film whether they be actual filmmakers or not.
I’m not yet sure how I can do this, but it is something I will continue to brain storm. And it is something that excites me.
I’d like to get this off my chest quickly. There isn’t much I can think to say on the subject.
This was a great action flick. It was a great war film. It was tense, jarring, edge of your seat, blah blah blah. I enjoyed it thoroughly.
However, I really don’t understand why it’s receiving the acclaim it is. It is what it is. But the best movie of the year? The best directed? I don’t think I agree. (It’s one of the best reviewed films of the year: 97% on RT)
This pretty much locks her for the Best Director Oscar considering the history of the award (as noted by Roger Ebert here
It’s also interesting that not only will/would she be the first woman to win the award, but for her to win for a gritty war movie is interesting as well.
Beyond all that, I would rather not James Cameron won for Avatar. Brilliant movie, but not the best of the year. Most of what makes it the best is its technological innovation. It still has a hammy script and as this article notes, we may very well look back at how hammy the script is when the technology catches up.
So yes, let Bigelow win, if only for symbolic purposes. Actually fuck symbolic purposes, she needs to be redeemed for being shafted for not even getting a nod for Point Break.
If her winning means the director of Point Break has an Oscar than she better win.
Up is a tale about an old man’s journey to fulfill his and his late wife’s dreams of adventure. Inspired by childhood hero, Charles Munz (Christopher Plummer), Carl (Ed Asner) dreams of traveling to exotic locales all over the world. As a child, he meets his soon to be lifelong sweetheart, Ellie, who shares in his dreams of adventure. They grow up together, get married and settle down. Unable to have children, they decide to save up to finally fulfill their childhood aspirations of travel with the lost land of “Paradise Falls” to be their destination. However, they are continually hampered down by money problems and Ellie dies before they are able to finally attempt their journey. After a period of mourning, as a way of retaining her memory, he decides to go on their unrealized dream adventure.
I’m not sure how I feel about this necessarily. The Ghostbusters films are a couple of my favorite movies ever. I would love to see a great sequel, but I’m not sure how possible that is at this point. Considering some of the stipulations regarding the sequel (as per Bill Murray’s requests) I’m not sure it’s going to turn out very well.
What is odd about this is the fact that of all parties involved, I’d say Bill Murray is the most well respected. When he drops a bomb saying he refuses to do a sequel unless he comes back as a ghost you wonder what his intent was. It almost seems like an elaborate joke to make the writing of a decent film all the most difficult.
I simply have trouble imagining a film where Bill Murray is a ghost as really being that great. It is far too hokey of an idea and will require quite a bit of creativity to be done well. I trust Bill Murray which is why I distrust the seriousness of him coming back as something supernatural. He has clearly moved on past that even if doing another Ghostbusters movie means going back to his less serious past.
Then again, reading this interview snippet with Murray, I wonder if coming back as a ghost was even his idea, or just being killed off.
Considering the writers of the screenplay are the same people behind the Office and the critically panned Year One, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was their idea. The Office has definitely degraded in quality since it began. It’s attained the status of hit-or-miss for me at this point and I’m rarely even that excited to watch it anymore.
I am still excited if not cautiously skeptical about this film. Typically when it comes to sequels I can be won over simply won over by having the characters return. I’m easy to please. However, this is only the case if the film is at least mildly entertaining and not down right garbage.
to forgo the original intent of this Tumblr and to transmute the idea simply into a twitter account. This way I don’t embarrass myself with my poor InDesign skills and I can use Twitter my effectively to produce 140-character constrained pieces of writing using only words from Word of the Day generated updates. Maybe occasionally I will use something like Wordle to create clouds, but since it generates the clouds automatically, I feel like I’m cheating. So I suppose I will just stick to writing for the most part.
That Twitter account is right here, although I am still perfecting it:
As in, “A Day/Haiku” like Word a Day Haikus. Silly I know, but it makes some sense.
However, I would like to shift the purpose of this Tumbler at least somewhat. I still want to maintain it, but I want to focus on film and a potential crossroads it may have with other digital arts & social media, especially interactivity and community as it pertains to film production and criticism.
I have discovered that lately that I have been brainstorming a lot with how to make the production process more interactive, or the joy of engaging in film studies more interactive. Obviously film itself is already a collaborative process and there are already communities and websites out there that serve the purpose of bringing people together in that way.
However, I feel as though it can go further, and I would like to explore that myself in this forum. I’m still not 100% sure how I want to do this, but the seeds have been planted and they are beginning to grow.
I haven’t even finished reading this article yet, but I as soon as I read this paragraph, I had to post it. The author of the book poses this as a danger/problem, but I think it could simply be the future of how “art” and “writing” are defined:
Like Andrew Keen in “The Cult of the Amateur,” Mr. Lanier is most eloquent on how intellectual property is threatened by the economics of free Internet content, crowd dynamics and the popularity of aggregator sites. “An impenetrable tone deafness rules Silicon Valley when it comes to the idea of authorship,” he writes, recalling the Wired editor Kevin Kelly’s 2006 prediction that the mass scanning of books would one day create a universal library in which no book would be an island — in effect, one humongous text, made searchable and remixable on the Web.
Now read this article by Conceptual Writer Kenneth Goldsmith:
An introduction to the 21st Century’s most controversial poetry movements.
by Kenneth Goldsmith
Start making sense. Disjunction is dead. The fragment, which ruled poetry for the past one hundred years, has left the building. Subjectivity, emotion, the body, and desire, as expressed in whole units of plain English with normative syntax, has returned. But not in ways you would imagine. This new poetry wears its sincerity on its sleeve … yet no one means a word of it. Come to think of it, no one’s really written a word of it. It’s been grabbed, cut, pasted, processed, machined, honed, flattened, repurposed, regurgitated, and reframed from the great mass of free-floating language out there just begging to be turned into poetry. Why atomize, shatter, and splay language into nonsensical shards when you can hoard, store, mold, squeeze, shovel, soil, scrub, package, and cram the stuff into towers of words and castles of language with a stroke of the keyboard? And what fun to wreck it: knock it down, hit delete, and start all over again. There’s a sense of gluttony, of joy, and of fun. Like kids at a touch table, we’re delighted to feel language again, to roll in it, to get our hands dirty. With so much available language, does anyone really need to write more? Instead, let’s just process what exists. Language as matter; language as material. How much did you say that paragraph weighed?
Our immersive digital environment demands new responses from writers. What does it mean to be a poet in the Internet age? These two movements, Flarf and Conceptual Writing, each formed over the past five years, are direct investigations to that end. And as different as they are, they have surprisingly come up with a set of similar solutions. Identity, for one, is up for grabs. Why use your own words when you can express yourself just as well by using someone else’s? And if your identity is not your own, then sincerity must be tossed out as well. Materiality, too, comes to the fore: the quantity of words seems to have more bearing on a poem than what they mean. Disposability, fluidity, and recycling: there’s a sense that these words aren’t meant for forever. Today they’re glued to a page but tomorrow they could re-emerge as a Facebook meme. Fusing the avant-garde impulses of the last century with the technologies of the present, these strategies propose an expanded field for twenty-first-century poetry. This new writing is not bound exclusively between pages of a book; it continually morphs from printed page to web page, from gallery space to science lab, from social spaces of poetry readings to social spaces of blogs. It is a poetics of flux, celebrating instability and uncertainty.
Yet for as much as the two movements have in common, they are very different. Unlike Conceptual Writing, where procedure may have as much to do with meaning as the form and content, Flarf is quasi-procedural and improvisatory. Many of the poems are “sculpted” from the results of Internet searches, often using words and phrases that the poet has gleaned from poems posted by other poets to the Flarflist e-mail listserv. By contrast Conceptual Writers try to emulate the workings and processes of the machine, feeling that the results will be good if the concept and execution of the poetic machine are good; there is no tolerance for improvisation or spontaneity.
Flarf plays Dionysus to Conceptual Writing’s Apollo. Flarf uses traditional poetic tropes (“taste” and “subjectivity”) and forms (stanza and verse) to turn these conventions inside out. Conceptual Writing rarely “looks” like poetry and uses its own subjectivity to construct a linguistic machine that words may be poured into; it cares little for the outcome. Flarf is hilarious. Conceptual Writing is dry. Flarf is the Land O’Lakes butter squaw; Conceptual Writing is the government’s nutritional label on the box. Flarf is Larry Rivers. Conceptual Writing is Andy Warhol. No matter. They’re two sides of the same coin. Choose your poison and embrace your guilty pleasure.—KG
Wisdom of the Questioning Eye Five books from the 1960s, by found poet Bern Porter (1911-2004)
What to call Bern Porter? Found poet? Visual poet? Mail artist? Book artist? Pop artist? Concrete poet? He was each of these, and he will take his place in the histories of their genres (histories which have only begun to be written). And while it is true that the boundaries of these genres are permeable, allowing one to impregnate another, if we look for Porter’s singular achievement, the one he delved into deeper and with more consistency than his contemporaries, it was as a found poet. As such, he is arguably the most significant found poet of the 20th century, if not all time.
Found implies lost. What others discarded he appropriated and claimed its authorship. He combed through trash (often at the post office, after sending off a fresh batch of mail art) to find new poems. In his life he scavenged for everything, not just language and imagery, but also food, clothing, and rides. (An ecologist before it was fashionable, he deliberately did not learn to drive or own a car.) He was living proof of his assertion, “Nuggets of value in the waste are everywhere for the looking, if only the viewer can develop his or her wisdom of the questioning eye.”
He was born on Valentine’s Day 1911, in Maine’s northernmost county, Aroostook, to a family of potato farmers. From such bedrock emerged a physicist (tormented, post-1945, by his participation in the Manhattan Project), independent publisher (of the San Francisco Renaissance, publishing Henry Miller, Robert Duncan, Kenneth Patchen, etc.), and word art genius (being a pioneering book and mail artist from the 1940s onward). In the late 1970s, those who knew and were inspired by his work dubbed him, jokingly, “the poet laureate of the universe;” but they were also serious. Porter’s vision was not tied to a specific place; his poetry could be of anywhere or everywhere, depending upon the source that he used for his founds. Theoretically, all words from all languages and all times were fair game (as were images and objects).
Though he created hundreds of titles, Porter and his books are surprisingly unsung. When he died on June 7, 2004, in Belfast Maine, his hometown for the last 30-some years of his life, a majority of his manuscripts had yet to be published or exhibited. They still exist, however, many as one-of-a-kind artist books, primarily in the collections he boxed and sent from age 33 onward, first to the special collections library at UCLA, and then to those at Maine’s Bowdoin and Colby colleges.
Bern Porter was contemporary and mentor to many of the artists on UbuWeb. In acknowledgement, and gratitude, I am publishing five of Porter’s books from the 1960s here on UbuWeb, three of them for the first time anywhere.
1. Aphasia (Bowdoin College Collection, 1961). 2. Scandinavian Summer (Bowdoin College Collection, 1961). 3. 468B Thy Future (Colby College Collection, 1966). 4. The Wastemaker (1926-1961) (Abyss Publications, Somerville MA, 1972). 5. Dieresis (Bern Porter Books, Rockland, ME, 1969, edition of 100).
Each of these titles exudes what Johanna Drucker in The Century of Artists’ Books called Porter’s “complex and multilayered eclecticism.” As reproduced here on UbuWeb, you can all but touch the books. What was prohibitively expensive almost fifty years ago for Porter-the full-color reproduction of his pages-is today’s electronic commonplace. You can view his titles as a series of double-page spreads, not so foreign from the experience of holding and turning a Bern Porter book with your “real” hands.