POPULAR CULTURE

Cinema

 
WHAT ARE FILM STUDIES?

Part 1:


Film studies is an academic discipline that deals with various theoretical, historical, & critical approaches to films. It is sometimes subsumed within media studies, & it is often compared to television studies. In academic curricula, film studies increasingly includes televsion studies. Film studies is less concerned with advancing proficiency in film production than it is with exploring the narrative, artistic, cultural, economic, and political implications of the cinema. In searching for these social-ideological values, film studies takes a series of critical approaches for the analysis of production, theoretical framework, context, & creation. In this sense the film studies discipline exists as one in which the teacher does not always assume the primary educator role; the featured film itself serves that function.

Part 2:

For students who graduate from film studies courses possible careers include critic or production. Film studies degrees offer the chance to gain hands-on experience of film-making. The field of film studies also touches on such topics as: film history, theory and criticism. Students study everything from Hollywood blockbusters to art house movies, taking in screenwriting, critiquing and directing along the way.  You don't need a film studies degree to be the next Alfred Hitchcock or Quentin Tarantino, but it could put you on the right path. 
Famous graduates include Paul WS Anderson, director of video game adaptation Mortal Kombat. Anderson graduated with a degree in film and literature from Warwick University and is also behind such box-office successes as Resident Evil and Alien vs. Predator.

As well as practical film-making skills such as how to operate a camera and edit footage, film studies graduates develop skills which will make them attractive to employers in a wide variety of fields. These include good research and communication skills, critical thinking, project management & the ability to organise one's time effectively & work to deadlines. In addition, the publishing industry, including printed newspapers, magazines, online publications and websites, offer opportunities to write about films as a journalist, content manager or editor, or to work in film and picture research and archiving. Some business areas such as: advertising, marketing & communications, may also utilise the creative & analytical abilities of film studies graduates in roles such as: art directors, account managers, copywriters and market researchers. Teaching and lecturing are also potential career options and require a postgraduate teaching qualification.

Almost 60% of film studies graduates went into full-time employment in 2009. Of those, 12.5% found jobs within the art, design, and culture sector and, within the film industry itself, 2.1% became directors, 1.2% video/film recorder operators, & 1.4% broadcasters. Some 34% found work in retail and catering, perhaps as a temporary measure and an indication of the competitive nature of the industry. For more on this subject go to: http://www.theguardian.com/money/2011/jul/08/film-studies-degree


Part 2.1:

Film studies is usually just part of a general arts degree; the variety of programs can be Googled for interested readers. Film theory often includes the study of conflicts between the aesthetics of visual Hollywood, & the textual analysis of screenplay. Overall the study of film continues to grow, as does the industry on which it focuses. Academic journals publishing film studies work include: Screen, Cinema Journal, and the Journal of Film and Video. Readers are encouraged to read about the subjects of film or cinema studies, media studies and several associated topics to widen their knowledge if these subjects interest them.  I am no expert or specialist; I am a generalist across a wide range of subjects, as this website & its 100+ categories, its sub-categories of disciplines and topics, subjects and fields illustrates. For more on the subject of film studies: its history, modern film studies, the concept of a common film studies curriculum, film studies in the United States, world film studies, prominent persons in film studies, film makers, and film critics go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Film_studies

FILM STUDIES PROGRAMS

Berkeley’s Department of Film & Media offers innovative, interdisciplinary programs leading to a B.A. in Film and a Ph.D. in Film & Media.  It also provides curricular support for the Designated Emphasis in Film Studies for doctoral students in other departments. The Department teaches students to think historically, theoretically, and analytically about film and media within the broad context of humanistic studies. Students and faculty engage with all forms of moving-image culture, including film, still photography, television, and digital media. The Department also offers courses in screenwriting, curating, and digital video production. For more go to: http://fm.berkeley.edu/

SCREENWRITING

Screenwriting, also called script-writing, is the art and craft of writing scripts for mass media such as feature films, television productions or video games. It is frequently a freelance profession. Screenwriters are responsible for researching the story, developing the narrative, writing the screenplay, and delivering it, in the required format, to development executives. Screenwriters therefore have great influence over the creative direction and emotional impact of the screenplay and, arguably, of the finished film. They either pitch original ideas to producers in the hope that they will be optioned or sold, or screenwriters are commissioned by a producer to create a screenplay from a concept, true story, existing screen work or literary work, such as a novel, poem, play, comic book or short story.

The Journal of Screenwriting aims to explore the nature of writing for the moving image in the broadest sense, highlighting current academic thinking around scriptwriting whilst also reflecting on this with a truly international perspective & outlook. The journal encourages the investigation of a broad range of possible methodologies and approaches to studying the scriptwriting form.  I am a writer and author, online blogger & journalist, but I do not engage in screenwriting. For those who come to this part of my website, and think they might have some talents in this direction go to: http://www.intellectbooks.co.uk/journals/view-issue,id=2799/?utm_source=Film+Studies+newsletter+January&utm_campaign=Film

INTRODUCTION TO MY MEDIA STUDIES AND FILM STUDIES NOTES


Part 1:
 
Although my experience with the print and electronic media began, insensibly and sensibly, by 1950 after my conception in October 1943, the formal study of these media did not begin until I taught media studies at the Ballarat College of Advanced Education, now the University of Ballarat, from 1976 to 1978.  I was then in my early thirties.  In the 1980s and 1990s, first as an adult educator at the Open College of Tafe in Katherine, in Australia's Northern Territory, and then at the Thornlie College of Technical and Further Education(Tafe), now part of Polytechnic-West, I taught media studies yet again. By then I was in my forties, and then my fifties. I was soon to retire from FT teaching by the time I stopped teaching media studies.  Media Studies was just one in a long list of subjects, over 90 different syllabi, that I taught in my years of teaching in post-secondary schools and colleges, universities and institutions of learning, from 1974 to 2005.

Primary education is the first stage of compulsory education. It is preceded by pre-school or nursery education and is followed by secondary education. In North America, where I was educated, this first stage of education is usually known as elementary education. It is often followed by middle school, although not in Ontario back in the 1950s when I was receiving my primary education. Media studies is a recent addition to curricula in primary and secondary schools. 
In most countries, it is compulsory for children to receive primary education. The major goals of primary education are: achieving basic literacy & numeracy, as well as establishing foundations in science, mathematics, geography, history & other social sciences. Media and film studies, when they exist at these levels of the formal educational enterprize, are found under a social sciences umbrella.  It was not until the 1990s that media studies and film studies began to come into the curricula, although the study of newspaper & TV were found long before the 1990s. The relative priority of various areas, and the methods used to teach them, are an area of considerable political debate. For more on this subject go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Primary_education
 
When I retired from FT teaching in July 1999, I kept three arch-lever files on media studies. I labelled them: Volumes 1, 2.1, & 2.2.  I had accumulated the contents of these 3 files over the previous 25 years: 1974 to 1999, my years of teaching and tutoring, lecturing and working as an adult educator at the post-secondary level.  In the 20 years since I last taught media studies, 1996 to 2015, these 3 arch-lever files have now become six arch-lever files, and three two-ring binders. Anyone wanting to know the contents of these 9 files, divided now into more categories and sub-categories than it would be useful to list here, can view the table of contents that I keep in my computer directory.  I can send readers here any additional information, if they are interested; this information is the embryonic-base for what has become one of the major fields of my personal study in the first decade of my retirement years, 2006 to 2015, retirement from all of FT, PT and casual-paid employment.
 
Part 2:
 
It has been more than seventy years since the media first became a part of my life.  The radio and the record player, newspapers and magazines, journals and books were all part of my parents' experience when I was in the womb in 1943-4, and then in-the-cradle of early-childhood, so to speak, during the years 1943 to 1946. The lives of my parents began in the fin de siecle years of the 19th century and in the first years of the 20th century; my grandparents' lives began in the 1860s and 1870s. The story of the relationship between the print and electronic media, and my life, over these last seven decades, 1943 to 2015, is a long and complex one, far too long to write in any detail in an introduction to these many media studies and film studies files or volumes. They are topics, though, which I have often discussed in my vast oeuvre of many millions of words subsumed under the broad title-rubric: Pioneering Over Five Epochs.
 
As I go through my 70s in the years 2014 to 2024, and my 80s and 90s(if I last that long), I now draw on a base of information and analysis in these files for the study of this important part of my life, & the life of my society.  A significant part of my writing now results or emerges from this study, this research, this reading, and the cross-fertilization of this study with other aspects of my life, the life of my society, and the religion I have been associated with now for more than sixty years: 1953 to 2015.
 
As another five year Bahá’í Plan, the 2011 to 2016 Plan, goes through its final 9 months from 21/7/'15 to 21/4/'16,  I update this introduction yet again and, as I do, I think to myself, I live in hope, that this update will be followed by many an update in the years to come.  If I am granted a long life, if I live, for example, into old age, the years beyond 80 in 2024, to choose a timeframe in the lifespan used by psychologists in one of the many models of human development---there will be many Plans to come.  If I live to the age of 100, the year will be 2044, and the beginning of the 3rd century of the Baha’i Era(BE), and the 4th century of Baha’i history if one includes the lives of this Faith’s chief precursors beginning as they did as far back as the decade, 1743-1753.
 
Part 3:
 
Advertising and media ownership, radio and television, newspapers and journals, film and video, as well as a wide and general study of the print & electronic media, were aspects of media studies courses I taught.  I taught these courses: (i) in Ballarat Victoria at the then College of Advanced Education, what is now the University of Ballarat, in the 1970s, (ii) in Katherine, the Northern Territory, at the Open College of Tafe, (iii) at Hedland College in WA's Pilbara region, both in the 1980s, and (iv) in Perth Western Australia at what was then a Technical & Further Education College, TAFE, as it was popularly known in Australia, & what is now called Polytechnic West, Thornlie Campus.  These syllabi which I taught in the field of media studies generated an immense pile of notes. I kept the notes from those courses and, by 2015, some 20 years after I taught my last media studies course, they provided the core for my present media studies.  Most of the resources that I have now acquired in these subjects for my study, were obtained after I had retired from FT, PT and casual-volunteer teaching, during the years 2006 to 2015.
 
Part 3.1:

During my lifespan, the years 1943 to 2015, technology had widened the visual and auditory experience of millions of human beings, at least those in developed countries who owned the technology. These files, the resources they provide on a wide range of topics, are a type of celebration, and certainly a commentary, on my seventy-two years as well as the years in the lives of my parents and grandparents.  The enrichment provided by the print and electronic media is now, and has been, a miracle and a wonder.

Electronic media are media that use electronics or electromechanical energy for the end-user, the audience, to access the content. This is in contrast to static media, mainly print media, which today are most often created electronically, but don't require electronics to be accessed by the end-user in the printed form. The primary electronic media sources familiar to the general public are better known as: video recordings, audio recordings, multimedia presentations, slide presentations, CD-ROM and online content. Most new media are in the form of digital media. However, electronic media may be in either analog electronic data or digital electronic data format. For more on the subject of printing, the print media and the mass media go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Media_of_Australia , and: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Printing

 
Part 4:
 
My exposure to actors and filmmakers, producers and directors, the famous and infamous, the noteworthy and the also-rans, began it seems to me in retrospect in the late 1940s, say, 1947/48, the year of my first memory, if not before in some subliminal fashion.  That gives me nearly 70 years of different forms of contact with what you could call ‘the media studies--cinema studies-community’.  I may outline in more detail that story, my story, my life-narrative in connection with all these audio-visual resources, in a future introduction.  For now, what I write above and below, will serve as a brief summary.
 
The only years I had much to do with the formal study of film, what is now called by several names: film studies, cinema studies, the history of film, et cetera--was when this formal study was part of that media studies course I taught at that Open College of Tafe first in Katherine and then in South Hedland, and finally at the Thornlie Campus of Polytechnic West in Perth Western Australia on several occasions in the 1980s & early 1990s.  I drew on films and documentaries, video and TV programs, as well as radio and many forms of print, in my teaching all the way back to the 1960s. In my years as an internal(in contrast to my years as an external studies student: 1974-1988) student, 1949 to 1973, I rarely saw a film or a video of any kind in classrooms or lecture halls, tutorials or seminars. Those were the days, the years, before the now extensive use of electronic media by lecturers and teachers in classrooms.
 
Part 5:
 
It was not until I retired from all forms of teaching, FT, PT, and casual, as the new millennium turned its corner that most of my volumes on cinema studies emerged.  They had begun, they had their etiology as the medical world calls beginnings, with some notes, notes I had taken and compiled while teaching those courses to which I referred above.  By July 2015, 16 years into my retirement, these film studies notes had expanded extensively. They have begun to occupy all of Volumes 4 and 5 of my media studies files with three additional special 2-ring binders for Volume 4 and 5.1 films, Volume 5.2.1 directors, and Volume 5.2.2 Actors. A useful newsletter that I browse through is entitled Intellect Journals. It's at: http://www.intellectbooks.co.uk/page/index,name=home-FilmStudies/?utm_source=Film+Studies+Newsletter+July+1&utm_camp
 
The material on the Internet was burgeoning in the field of film studies and media studies by the time I retired in 1999; it had become impossible to cover in any detailed, highly comprehensive, and systematic way because of: (a) the wide ranging nature of my academic interests across many disciplines, & (b) the limitations of time and circumstance, the changes & chances of life, as well as my health & my several roles as I head through my 70s from 2014 to 2024. By July 2015, I had notes on dozens of films in Volume 4 and Volume 5.1 of my notes.  I also had access to 1000s of films, 100s of newspapers and online electronic journals. I had acquired notes on several dozen actors, several dozen directors, and an accumulation of unnumbered journal acticles.  I feel that my study of the field of film studies, as I rewrite this introduction, has really only just begun. The many aspects of film and its history were clearly an interdisciplinary field, and the notes in my study here in George Town Tasmania were bursting at the seams of their 2-ring binders and arch-lever files. Perhaps, if I was a member of the X,Y, Z or alpha generations I would not be a person who keeps notes to the extent that I do. But I am a war-baby who has been keeping notes since as far back as 1949/50, and it is now part of my DNA.
 
Part 6:
 
I now have files on the Baha’i Faith and the arts in Volume 3 and many files on the various social sciences and humanities, as well as the physical, biological and applied sciences, with their sub-sections on film and video, TV and radio programs.  They each & all had their beginnings at various times in the years since my retirement. Now, with several dozen film, video and DVD sites accumulated, there is obviously a great potential here, a potential hardly yet realized for posting, for commentary, for my writings as well as for publicizing the Bahá’í Faith among many other subjects on my religious and political, my academic and personal, agenda.  As I say, my studies in these vast fields and oceans of resources have just begun.
 
Ron Price
11/12/'13 to 15/7/'15. 


NETFLIX and INTERNET STREAMING VIDEO

Part 1:

Netflix is an American provider of on-demand Internet streaming media available to viewers in all of Australia, New Zealand, South America, Japan, North America and many parts of Europe. Flat rate DVD-by-mail is also available via Netflix in the United States, where mailed DVDs and Blu-ray are sent via Permit Reply Mail. The company was established in 1997 just as my website went online, with its headquarters in Los Gatos, California. It started its subscription-based service in 1999, the year I retired after a 50 year stdent and paid employment life, 1949 to 1999. By 2009, when I went on two old-age pensions, Netflix was offering a collection of 100,000 titles on DVD, and had surpassed 10 million subscribers.

As of July 2015, Netflix had 66 million subscribers.  Netflix has subscribers in over 40 countries with intentions of expanding their services internationally.  Netflix's success was followed by the establishment of numerous other DVD rental companies, both in the United States & abroad. Walmart and Blockbuster Video entered the U.S. online market early in the 21st century.  On July 22, 2007, Netflix dropped the prices of its two most popular plans in an effort to better compete with Blockbuster's online-only offerings. 

Part 2:

The rise of Netflix has affected the way audiences watch televised content. Neil Hunt, Netflix’s chief product officer, believes that Netflix is a model for what television will look like in 2025. He points out that because the Internet allows users the freedom to watch shows at their own pace, an episode does not need cliffhangers to tease the audience to keep tuning in week after week, because they can just binge straight into the next episode. Netflix has allowed content creators to deviate from traditional formats that force 30 minute or 60 minute timeslots once a week, which it claims gives them an advantage over networks. Their model provides a platform that allows varying run times per episode based on a storyline. This also eliminates the need for a week to week recap, and does not have a fixed notion of what constitutes a "season". This flexibility also allows Netflix to nurture a show until it finds its audience, unlike traditional networks which will quickly cancel a show if it is unable to maintain steady ratings. For more go to: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Netflix

Part 3:

Internet television in Australia consists of five major PPV providers. Pay-per-view (PPV) is a type of pay television service by which a subscriber of a television service provider can purchase events to view via private telecast. In addition to several niche television streaming offerings. Australia's five major networks all offer previously broadcast content to watch via the Internet or via podcasts - drawing on both domestic & foreign content. Downloads from the Internet are counted in Australia, with ISPs offering download quotas which limit the amount of downloads permitted. An   Internet service provider (ISP) is an organization that provides services for accessing, using, or participating in the Internet. Internet service providers may be organized in various forms, such as commercial, community-owned, non-profit, or otherwise privately owned. Video files are large. Some ISPs offer quota free options for partnered television services. This is known as "unmetered". For more go to: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_television_in_Australia

THE GOTHIC

In a field of study as well-established as the Gothic, it is surprising how much contention there is over precisely what that term refers to. Is Gothic a genre, for example, or a mode? Should it be only applicable to literary and film texts that deal with tropes of haunting and trauma set in a gloomy atmosphere, or might it meaningfully be applied to other cultural forms of production, such as music or animation? Can television shows aimed at children be considered Gothic? What about food? When is something “Gothic” and when is it “horror”? Is there even a difference? The Gothic as a phenomenon is commonly identified as beginning with Horace Walpole’s novel The Castle of Otranto (1764), which was followed by Clara Reeve’s The Old English Baron (1778), the romances of Ann Radcliffe and Matthew Lewis’ The Monk (1796).

Nineteenth-century Gothic literature was characterised by “penny dreadfuls” & novels such as Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818) & Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897). Frequently dismissed as sensational and escapist, the Gothic has experienced a critical revival in recent decades, beginning with the feminist revisionism of the 1970s by critics such as Ellen Moers, Sandra M. Gilbert and Susan Gubar. With the appearance of studies such as David Punter’s The Literature of Terror (1980), Gothic literature became a reputable field of scholarly research, with critics identifying suburban Gothic, imperial Gothic, postcolonial Gothic & numerous national Gothics, including Irish Gothic & the Gothic of the American South. Furthermore, as this special edition on Gothic shows, the Gothic is by no means limited to literature, with film, television, animation and music all partaking of the Gothic inflection. For more on this subject go to: http://journal.media-culture.org.au/index.php/mcjournal/article/viewArticle/880

GONE WITH THE WIND

The film Gone With the Wind  is "popular" and has been literally since its premiere in December 1939.  This may be all too obvious, but less clear is the meaning and sources of this popularity. America's relationship to Gone With the Wind is more complex than "popularity" suggests and might be characterized as one of love/hate--for the subject matter, the characters, even for the film's notoriety.  This love/hate relationship is rooted, so the author of this excellent commentary on the film, in the ways in which American myths, particularly those related to sex/gender, are both referenced & then violated in this film, particularly in the character of Scarlett O'Hara. For this article, one I enjoyed reading, in the online film & popular culture journal, Images, go to: http://www.imagesjournal.com/2002/features/gwtw/ 

My parents first met in 1939, or shortly after. For me, this film marks the beginning of the relationship between my father and mother. On a personal note, one of the great strengths of this film is the ending. Nothing less than the optimism Scarlett evokes would be as attractive to a North American audience. My mother and father needed & found this optimism. Scarlett's determination to face the future by returning to the past is equally attuned to the national mentality & this was, indeed, part of the conservatism of the Canadian character & its identity. The question of who or what triumphs at the end is sometimes raised & often answered in terms of an old/new dichotomy. Something older indeed prevails in the end. The romantic myth in its personification is Scarlett. All of this, of course, is speculation and anything could happen. Finally, with a view to the future in the final line: "After all, tomorrow is another day." For my parents, I was at the centre of their new day,


ZOMBIES

The zombie has been one of the most prevalent monsters in films of the second half of the twentieth century, and as many have noted, it has experienced a further resurgence, or should we say, resurrection, in British & American film in the last five years. Zombies are found everywhere, from video games and comic books to the science textbook. A zombie has become a scientific concept by which we define cognitive processes and states of being, subverted animation, & dormant consciousness. In neuroscience, there are “zombie agents”; in computer science there are zombie functions.  We even find “zombie dogs,” “zombie corporations,” and “zombie raves” in the news. The ubiquity of the metaphor suggests that the zombie had a continued cultural currency. A recent piece of humorous literature, Max Brooks’s The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead, is written as an instruction manual for defeating an onslaught of zombie attacks. The book also may come close to revealing what it is about the zombie that captivates.the human imagination:

The following essay investigates why this specter, this concept, has captured the imagination for over a century. In the online journal boundary 2, in its spring 2008 issue, this essay takes a deeper look at the zombie in order to suggest its usefulness as an ontic/hauntic object that speaks to some of the most puzzling elements of our sociohistorical moment.  It is a moment wherein many are trying to ascertain what lies in store for humanity after global capitalism—if anything. The essay also examines the links between the concept of zombie, post-humannism, some aspects of the Frankfurt School of sociology, as well as M. Foucault's Madness and Civilization. FYI go to: http://www.thing.net/~rdom/ucsd/Zombies/A%20Zombie%20Manifesto.pdf

SPIRITUALITY and HOLLYWOOD DISTORTIONS

Richard Matheson’s 1954 novel, I Am Legend, has inspired three official, & other unofficial, film adaptations. Hollywood has, however, consistently altered key elements, severely distorting the novel’s themes. Where I Am Legend is predictive of the anti-authoritarianism of the counterculture, Matheson’s later work aligns closely with spiritual elements of the so-called New Age. This article will show how Hollywood adaptations increasingly promote distinctly Christian symbolism in opposition to Matheson’s own spirituality, nascent in I Am Legend. For a paper in the Journal of Religion and Popular Culture(Volume 24, Number 1, Spring 2012) on this subject go to: http://muse.jhu.edu/login?auth=0&type=summary&url=/journals/journal_of_religion_and_popular_culture/v024/24.1.moreman.html 

FILM CRITICS

Part 1:

Film criticism is the analysis & evaluation of films, individually & collectively. In general, this can be divided into journalistic criticism that appears regularly in newspapers, and other popular, mass-media outlets and academic criticism by film scholars that is informed by film theory & published in academic journals. There are dozens of film critics who analyze and evaluate film, and many quite famous critics. For a list of these go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_film_critics For an overview of film criticism go to:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Film_criticism 

Siegfried Kracauer (1889-1966), friend and colleague of Walter Benjamin and Theodor Adorno, was one of the most influential film critics of the mid-twentieth century. Siegfried Kracauer(1889-1966) was a German writer, journalist,sociologist, cultural critic, & film theorist. He has sometimes been associated with the Frankfurt School of critical theory. This is where I first came in contact with his ideas back in the 1990s. Go to this link for more: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siegfried_Kracauer

Part 2:

Siegfried Kracauer’s American Writings: Essays on Film and Popular Culture(
with an afterword by Martin Jay, and edited by Johannes Von Moltke and Kristy Rawson) is reviewed in the London Review Bookshop as follows:  "Johannes von Moltke and Kristy Rawson have, for the first time assembled essays in cultural criticism, film, literature, and media theory that Kracauer wrote during the quarter century he spent in America after fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe. In the decades following his arrival in the United States, Kracauer commented on developments in American and European cinema, wrote on film noir and neorealism, examined unsettling political trends in mainstream cinema, and reviewed the contemporary experiments of avant-garde filmmakers. As a cultural critic, he also ranged far beyond cinema, intervening in debates regarding Jewish culture, unraveling national and racial stereotypes, and reflecting on the state of arts and humanities in the 1950s. These essays, together with the editors’ introductions and an afterward by Martin Jay offer illuminating insights into the films & culture of the postwar years & provide a unique perspective on this eminent emigre intellectual.

HAVE YOU HEARD OF THIS FILM CRITIC?

When he was young, in the late 1950s, David Thomson was into lists. He would sit in the British Film Institute(BFI) Library until it closed, mining American trade magazines, trying to match the films he'd seen to certain directors and cinematographers, filling up notebooks. No official lists existed then, no manuals, no overview of what was really going on in Cinema. Thomson did the archiving himself. Later, at the London Film School, he added to the lists, eventually publishing his seminal Biographical Dictionary of Film in 1975 - a thousand-page A-Z of the people involved in the industry, mini-essays which often end with the words "Here's the list" before socking you with dates and titles, and alternative titles. Further lists were involved in the writing of his new book, Have You Seen . . . ?, a collection of 1,000 short essays on films of note (for good or ill) - lists of movies recommended by friends, lists of suggestions from the publisher, films Thomson liked, films he'd forgotten he didn't, films he'd just been sent on DVD, the names at certain points in the process running into the many thousand. For more on David Thomson go to: http://www.newstatesman.com/arts-and-culture/2008/10/film-critic-quirke-thomson

FILM MATTERS

Film Matters is an exciting new film magazine, celebrating the work of undergraduate film scholars. It is published four times a year, by students and for students, and each issue contains feature articles, as well as a healthy reviews section. In addition, with an undergraduate audience in mind, Film Matters will include occasional service-oriented pieces, such as profiles of film studies departments, articles that engage the undergraduate film studies community and prepare students for graduate study in this field, and resources and opportunities that undergraduate scholars can pursue. In an effort to give undergraduate scholars real-world, applied learning experiences, all Film Matters feature submissions will undergo a peer review process.  For more go to: http://www.intellectbooks.co.uk/journals/view-journal,id=187/?utm_source=Film+Studies+newsletter+January&utm_campaign=FilmNewsNov&utm_medium=email

IMAGES: A JOURNAL OF FILM AND POPULAR CULTURE

Images publishes articles about movies, television, videos, and other popular visual arts. Images is a quarterly journal to which new articles and reviews are added every week. This online journal is a fusion of popular and academic approaches to film and popular culture. Images is a non-commercial Website created for everyone who enjoys movies and popular culture.  Images is a journal created because its publishers saw a void in the market place. Most film journals concentrate on recent movies, occasionally including an article about movies of the past, but more likely than not, confined exclusively to the most recent releases. For more on this online jounral go to:http://www.imagesjournal.com/

A SAMPLE ARTICLE FROM THE JOURNAL IMAGES

The following two paragraphs are the beginning of an article in Images entitled: "Modernity and the Maniac: The Fall of Janet Leigh." I have edited & paraphrased, personalized and altered the first two paragraphs. I'll leave it to readers with the interest to read the full essay itself at the following link. "I will never forget the night in September 1980 when I first saw Touch of Evil.  Nor will I forget the evening in 1960 when I saw Psycho.  I had a job at the local movie theatre, the Roxy, and enjoyed free tickets to all the movies. In 1960 I was 16, and in 1980 I was 36 years of age.  In the annals of 'mainstream movies' and of socio-cultural history, Psycho marked a turning point. It was the 'turn' from a conservative-liberal consensus to a 1960's 'liberal/alienation/uneasiness', and a turn from humanism to post-humanism."  I thank Raymond Durgnat and his A Long Hard Look at Psycho for this analysis, this overview.

"Like Louise Brooks and James Dean, Janet Leigh had come to embody a potent vision of cinematic modernity.  Actors who do this are not great in a theatrical sense, which is why Katherine Hepburn & Laurence Olivier could never have been icons in the way Brooks, Dean, & Leigh have become. Theirs is less the "presence by accumulation which characterises classical acting," as French theorist Nicole Brenez puts it.  More the vivid brush strokes of affect vivified by the dynamic interaction of presence and absence which only cinema can confer: the Brooks bob, her profile, that sad face glimpsed amongst a crowd of Weimar revellers. In short, they are products of the plasticity of cinema and the rush of modern urban life. It is significant that these actors' reputations rest on few films, for their renown also depends upon a cultural purchase so fleeting and astute that an entire oeuvre can diffuse the light." Readers who want to unpack Richard Armstrong's clever commentary on Psycho should go to his essay at:
http://www.imagesjournal.com/2004/features/janetleigh/

THE BAHA'I FAITH AND CINEMA: A CONTEXT

Part 1:

I would like to point out here that I regard myself as a writer who happens to be a Baha'i; I'm not a Baha'i writer.  In making this point I am reminded of the famous English novelist, playwright and literary critic Graham Greene(1904-1991). Greene objected strongly to being described as a Roman Catholic novelist rather than as a novelist who happened to be Catholic.  Catholic religious themes are at the root of much of his writing, especially his four major Catholic novels. Baha'i themes are also at the root of much of my writing. I am a writer and author, poet and publisher, online blogger and journalist who happens to be a Baha'i.  

I make the same point about Baha'is who make films. There are now, and have been, many Baha'is who make films: Mark Bamford, writer, director (Cape of Good Hope); Mary Darling, producer Little Mosque on the Prairie; Clark Donnelly, producer, Little Mosque on the Prairie; & Mithaq Kazimi, director, producer, 16 Days in Afghanistan. David S. Ruhe deserves special mention here as a producer of many medical films, and winner of the Golden Reel award, the Venice Film Festival award, and the Royal Photographic Society of Great Britain award for his productions. In the course of his work in medical education he was appointed Director of the Medical Film Institute for the Association of American Medical Colleges. For more on Ruhe go to:http://news.bahai.org/story/388  Neysan Sobhani, writer, director and producer of short films, Harold Lee Tichenor, producer; Phil Lucas, Native-American filmmaker, and Ken Zemke, TV producer round out a far from complete list of those Baha'is involved in cinema.  I could go on in relation to television, but I will leave that for the 'television' sub-section of my website.

There are now literally 100s, indeed, 1000s of Baha'is, famous and not-so-famous, known and unknown, who are involved in that expanding and expansive category "Artists." Here are some categories: bands, musicians, filmmakers, actors, architects, writers, and poets. Sometimes athletes and educators are included in this larger umbrella term "artists. Wikipedia sets down the name of each member of the Bahá'í Faith who is the subject of a Wikipedia article. For a list, and an index, of individual Bahá'ís with Wikipedia articles go to:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Bah%C3%A1'%C3%ADs#Filmmakers

Part 2:

Readers here might find useful the following online document: Arts: Compilation from other compilations by Bahá'u'lláh, Abdu'l-Bahá, Shoghi Effendi, and Universal House of Justice compiled by Continental Counsellors of Europe.  There are now massive quantities of print and images in cyberspace involving the arts. Here is one link for starters:http://bahai-library.com/Compilations Also you can go to this link, FYI, at: http://bahai-library.com/compilation_arts_bwc Readers can access a vast list of AV resources at:  http://www.bahaindex.com/index.php?option=com_bookmarks&Itemid=6&mode=0&catid=211&navstart=0&search=*  and at: https://www.google.com.au/#q=Baha'i+Faith+and+films

JEAN LUC-GODARD

Jean-Luc Godard(1930- )is a French-Swiss film director, screenwriter and film critic. He is often identified with the 1960s French film movement La Nouvelle Vague, or "New Wave". Like his New Wave contemporaries, Godard criticized mainstream French cinema's "Tradition of Quality" which "emphasized craft over innovation, privileged established directors over new directors, & preferred the great works of the past to experimentation." To challenge this tradition, he and like-minded critics started to make their own films. Many of Godard's films challenge the conventions of traditional Hollywood in addition to French cinema. He is often considered the most radical French filmmaker of the 1960s and 1970s; his approach in film conventions, politics and philosophies made him arguably the most influential director of the French New Wave. Along with showing knowledge of film history through homages and references, several of his films expressed his political views; he was an avid reader of existential and Marxist philosophy. For more go to: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean-Luc_Godard

The following paper about Jean-Luc Godard’s films discusses the idea of him as an artist who works with the moving image and perhaps, just as importantly, the idea of cinema as an irresolvable series of problems. Most obviously this ‘problematic condition’ of Godard’s practice is evidenced in the series of crises and renunciations that pepper the historical trace of his work.  It is a trace that is often characterised thus: criticism, the Nouvelle Vague, May 1968, the Dziga Vertov group, the adoption of video, the return to narrative form, etc. etc.  Of all these events it is the rejection of both the dominant cinematic narrative form, and its attendant models of production, that so clearly indicated the depth and intensity of Godard’s doubt in the artistic viability of the institution of cinema. Historically and ideologically congruent with the events of May 1968, this turning away from tradition was foreshadowed by the closing titles of his 1967 opus Week End: fin de cinema. Godard’s relentless application to the task of engaging a more discursive and politically informed mode of operation had implications not only for the films that were made in the wake of his disavowal of cinema but also for those that preceded it. For more of this paper go to: http://journal.media-culture.org.au/index.php/mcjournal/article/viewArticle/346

ORSEN WELLES

A. George Orson Welles(1915-1985) was an American actor, director, writer, and producer who worked in theatre, radio, and film. He is remembered for his innovative work in all three: in theatre, most notably Caesar (1937), a Broadway adaptation of William Shakespeare's Julius Caesar; in radio, the 1938 broadcast "The War of the Worlds", one of the most famous in the history of radio; and in film, Citizen Kane (1941), consistently ranked as one of the all-time greatest films. Welles directed a number of high-profile stage productions for the Federal Theatre Project in his early twenties, including an innovative adaptation of Macbeth with an entirely African American cast, and the political musical The Cradle Will Rock. In 1937 he and John Houseman founded the Mercury Theatre, an independent repertory theatre company that presented an acclaimed series of productions on Broadway through 1941. Welles found national and international fame as the director and narrator of a 1938radio adaptation of H. G. Wells' novelThe War of the Worlds performed for his radio anthology series The Mercury Theatre on the Air. It reportedly caused widespread panic when listeners thought that an invasion by extraterrestrial beings was occurring. Although some contemporary sources claim these reports of panic were mostly false and overstated, they rocketed Welles to notoriety.

His first film was Citizen Kane (1941), which he co-wrote, produced, directed, and starred in as Charles Foster Kane. Welles was an outsider to the studio system & directed only 13 full-length films in his career. He struggled for creative control on his early projects with the major film studios and later in life with a variety of independent financiers, and his films were either heavily edited or remained unreleased. His distinctive directorial style featured layered & nonlinear narrative forms, innovative uses of lighting such as chiaroscuro, unusual camera angles, sound techniques borrowed from radio, deep focus shots, and long takes. He has been praised as a major creative force and as "the ultimate auteur". Welles followed up Citizen Kane with critically acclaimed films including The Magnificent Ambersons in 1942 and Touch of Evil in 1958. Although these three are his most acclaimed films, critics have argued other works of his, such as The Lady from Shanghai (1947) & Chimes at Midnight (1966), are underappreciated.

For an essay on the following books in The New York Review of Books(24/3/'16)

B. Young Orson: The Years of Luck and Genius on the Path to Citizen Kane by Patrick McGilligan
Harper, 820 pp., Orson Welles: One-Man Band by Simon Callow
Broadcast Hysteria: Orson Welles’s War of the Worlds and the Art of Fake News by A. Brad Schwartz, Hill and Wang, 337 pp

Orson Wells, One-Man Band, Viking, 624 pp.,  by A. Brad Schwartz
Hill and Wang, 337 pp., Orson Welles’s Last Movie: The Making of The Other Side of the Windby Josh Karp
St. Martin’s, 336 pp., Chimes at Midnight a film directed by Welles go to: http://www.nybooks.com/articles/2016/03/24/looking-for-citizen-welles/


In 2002, Welles was voted the greatest film director of all time in two British Film Institute polls among directors and critics, and a wide survey of critical consensus, best-of lists, and historical retrospectives calls him the most acclaimed director of all time. Well known for his baritone voice, Welles was a well-regarded actor in radio and film, a celebrated Shakespearean stage actor, and an accomplished magician noted for presenting troop variety shows in the war years. FOR MORE:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orson_Welles

MY WRITING ABOUT FILMS


Part 1:

I have written about many films, attempting as I do, an integration of each film into the context of society in general and the context of my life in particular.  Three samples are found below. Readers can click on the links below these three prose-poems, if they want to read some of my efforts at integration of other films, several hundred now in cyberspace.  If I was younger, say in my 20s or 30s, and if I had not developed an anti-TV bias beginning as far back as the 1950s, partly due to my mother & partly due to being a teacher competing with the visuals, I think I would have enjoyed
making movies. The chance to exercise a part of my imagination and my powers in a way that I can't as a writer would have been attractive. But one can play the "what if" games with one's life, the game of hypothesizing in some land of fantasy, for many a long year.  I, too, play that game, but my indulgences are for very limited time-frames.

A visual sense, a structural sense, a musical sense: all this is part of film in ways not present for the writer and poet. The pleasure of working with people would have, could have, been enriching.  Writing is a very solitary occupation and, by the time I came to take it seriously in my late 50s, I liked it that way.  I had had my years of the social with wall-to-wall people, and I was happy by the 21st century to hang-up by guns and my belt, so to speak. By the time I came to writing and getting lots of readers for what I wrote, it was the 21st century, I was in my late adulthood(60-80), and I had retired from 50 years of wall-to-wall people: 1949-1999. 
I could not have made movies as I hit 60 in 2004, if my life depended on it; I did not have the talents and the imagination, the interest and the social network, the energy and the social interaction potential, among many other necessary & useful factors involved in film-making.

Solitude, and the act of writing which went with it, was my new modus operandi &, as I say, I really liked it that way. I had had enough of the social, the endless conversations and meetings, the hype & the necessary overt enthusiasms which were part of my life as a teacher & lecturer, a meeting-goer and talk-fest activist from morning 'til night. Part of my raison d'etre for this new modus vivendi were the medications I took for my bipolar 1 disorder; part was my fatigue, my tedium vitae, in relation to social interaction and what might be called "an excess of speech;" part was, perhaps, the aging-process, and part were many other aspects of the lifespan from birth to death. Each of us has their story to tell as they head into the evening of their lives before night falls and death's inevitability.


Part 2:


If I want to be in total control of something, I write---but I do not write as a script-writer for films, television or radio.  Of course, this question of total control is a complex one, too complex to deal with here in any detail.  I have neither the skill nor the interest in script-writing.  Filmmaking is an entirely separate kind of career from writing, at least the writing I do.  I've never been interested in films as a writer, as a director or a producer, as an editor or in central casting, among the dozens of others roles which go to make up a film.  Susan Sontag(1933-2004), a writer I have enjoyed for years, has written the scripts for two films, but that's not the side of filmmaking that interests her. The side that interested her, she said before her death, was film directing. "I start by having an idea for a film which interests me, and then I do it the best way I can. The audience is not part of my consideration," she said back in those fin de siecle years.  She went on to say that: "I'm not just making the film for myself any more than I'm making it for other people. I'm just doing it because I want to do it, because I like to do it, because I think it's worth doing. And then I hope people will like it. It's not that I want a large or a small audience; I want the audience that the film deserves."

I feel the same way that Sontag feels, but I feel it about my writing---but not writing for film. I've always enjoyed reading Sontag's provocative and stimulating, engaging and witty, writing. Her literary persistence is a model for me; she is exemplary. I have many mentors and models who stimulate my intellectual emporium in these years of my retirement from the world of paid employment, endless meetings and talking and listening from morning to night.

Part 2.1

Good films still come out of Hollywood. They are produced with millions of dollars, an advertising or promotion industry, and a technology that is second to none. I would have liked, as I said above, as I hypothesize, to work in wide screen & in color. I would have liked to make a science fiction film, or a western, or a political-social-issue film.  I'm quite involved in my opinions as many film-makers obviously are. I have a lot of opinions;  I consider my opinions to be a by-product of my work and my writing, my reading and my decades of experience with people & groups, life's highways & byways. The religion I have been associated with now for more than 60 years, 1953 to 2015, has been a major source, perhaps, the major source of my opinions, and certainly my assumptions, my principles and practices.

I don't think of myself as someone trying to persuade other people to share my opinions, except on very special subjects.  After half a century(1955-2005) of trying to get: (i) jobs and (ii) others to share my opinions, I'm not as enthusiastic about these processes as I once was. The power of the visual over print is something I have been aware of for decades. As a teacher I fought a losing battle to persuade students about the wonders of print when they preferred TV and the movies, sport and fun, food and gardening, galivanting & the social dimensions of their lives. As far as trying to get jobs, positions of paid-employment, it is a pleasure now not to have to think about those processes at all.


CINEMA'S FIRST 100 YEARS

Part 1:

Cinema's first 122 years(1893-2015) seem to have the shape of a life cycle: an inevitable birth process, the steady accumulation of glories and the onset in the last quarter century of an ignominious, irreversible decline---at least that is the view of some critics.  It's not that you can't look forward anymore to new films that you can admire. But such films not only have to be exceptions -- that's true of great achievements in any art. They have to be actual violations of the norms and practices that now govern movie making everywhere in the capitalist and would-be capitalist world -- which is to say, everywhere. Ordinary films, films made purely for entertainment, that is, commercial, purposes, are astonishingly witless; at least that is my view and the experience I have when they come into my visual field.

Although the vast majority of films fail resoundingly to appeal to me, there is still a core which I can enjoy in the late evening when my medications are taking effect and I want to go to sleep. We are living in a time of cinematic bounty. In multiplexes and beyond, movie lovers have a greater, more dizzying variety of choices — and of screens, large and small — than at any time in history.  
The surplus of screen entertainment can be thrilling, but also daunting. The New York Times published more than 700 movie reviews last year and is on track to do so again this year. It’s no wonder that the big studios burn money trying to attract the attention of moviegoers, flooding the zone with publicity and marketing, & carpet-bombing theaters with releases. At the same time, smaller-budgeted movies made on the digital cheap are opening in theaters just long enough to rack up reviews before going onto a theoretically more profitable ancillary afterlife. Given this glut it’s unsurprising that even the most talented filmmakers, especially those outside the mainstream, are sometimes relegated to semi-obscurity. Their art sees the light of day without quite being noticed.
Part 1.1:

Despite occasional critical claims to the contrary, the quality of contemporary cinema is as exciting as the quantity is intimidating. Filmmakers around the world are making movies that blur the boundaries between documentary and fiction, personal reflection and social advocacy, conventional narrative and radical experimentation. The generation of new filmmakers, the generation under 40, were born after 1974, on the eve of the home-video revolution, making them members of the first true on-demand generation. They have grown up with unprecedented access to movies from across the globe and from different epochs, an abundance of influences that informs their work and can make it difficult to pigeonhole them aesthetically or regionally. For an interesting review of some 20 film-makers from this generation go to this link:http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2013/09/05/movies/movies-20-young-directors.html?ref=arts


The soporific effect of cinema has a wonderful sleep-inducing effect. This is not to say that I don't enjoy films. I really enjoy some films and I often write about them in cyberspace. The cynically minded, the optimists and the pessimists, the entertainment oriented, the escapist, and the targeted audiences bring in millions and billions of bucks for the film companies.  I have been seduced for many a long year by the visual medium and will continue to be seduced and entertained like everyone else, at least like most people with access to this cornucopia of stimulation. Infotainment and entertainment have an important place in our society, and I am as appreciative of this role of cinema and the seemingly infinite visual world of electronic media.

Part 1.2:

While the point of a great film is now, more than ever, to be a one-of-a-kind achievement, the commercial cinema has settled for a policy of bloated, derivative film-making, a brazen combinatory or recombinatory art, in the hope of reproducing past successes.  Such is the view of some of the critical critcs. Cinema, once heralded as the art of the 20th century, seems now, as a new century goes through its second decade, to be a decadent art.  Such is the view of some of the harshest critics. Not all critics, though, are harsh; there are many for whom the film world is the best thing since sliced bread, as they say. 

For more of this harsh view, readers might like to have a look at this essay in The New York Times(2/'96), published three years before I retired in 1999 after a 50 year student and paid employment life. Go to the following link. The essay is by Susan Sontag, one of my favorite writers in the five decades of my adult life, 1965 to 2015:http://www.nytimes.com/books/00/03/12/specials/sontag-cinema.html

Part 2:

It was in the mid-1950s, after cinema had been going for a little more than 60 of its first 100-year history, that going to movies, thinking about movies, talking about movies became a passion among university students and other young people.  I was not a university student in the mid-1950s, but I was by the mid-1960s. In those mid-1950s I had a job in the local movie theatre and got free tickets to all the movies.  My love for movies was born back in those years. People fell in love not just with actors but with cinema itself.  This happened to my mother in the 1940s. She gave me the name "Ronald" after Ronald Coleman whom she had watched in the movies from the mid-1920s when she was herself in her 20s through the 1940s. She had me in 1943 in the lunch-pail city of Hamilton Ontario. It was called the lunch-pail city because it was a working man's town.

Cinephilia had first become visible in the 1950's in France: its forum was the legendary film magazine Cahiers du Cinema, a magazine followed by similarly fervent magazines in Germany, Italy, Great Britain, Sweden, the United States and Canada.  Its temples, as it spread throughout Europe and the Americas, were the many cinematheques and clubs specializing in films from the past & directors' retrospectives that sprang up. The 1960's and early 1970's was the feverish age of movie-going, with the full-time cinephile always hoping to find a seat as close as possible to the big screen, ideally the third row center. I took part in some of this fever, although I preferred sitting closer to the back than the front of the theatre......For more of this overview of cinema: 1895-1995, go to:http://www.nytimes.com/books/00/03/12/specials/sontag-cinema.html

Part 3:

Many writers and thinkers, in the first decades of film, say 1890s to 1930s, were skeptical and more than a little anxious about the changes that were taking place with the introduction of cinema, radio and their association with mass culture. In their minds, this mass-entertainment was degrading the more reflective sensibilities concentrated in literature and high culture. The characters that some writers skewered most savagely were usually those addicted to high-speed travel and mindless stimulation, the vapid nouveau riche. Edith Wharton, for example, wrote as follows: “life whizzed on with a deafening rattle & roar.” It’s not surprising, then, that the first industrial art form, cinema, struck her as akin to an overstimulation, a bombardment of the senses, which amounted to obscenity. Edith Wharton(1862-1937) was a Pulitzer Prize-winning American novelist, short story writer, and designer. She was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1927, 1928 and 1930.

Henry James(184301916), an Anglo-American writer who spent the bulk of his career in Britain, and a writer who was regarded as one of the key figures of 19th-century literary realism, was most fixated on the popular press: the tabloid papers and the “flood of books” produced for mass sale. James complained that US culture, unlike Europe, was dominated by the commercial imperative of publicity. This was the constant push to display, to sell, & to court the masses. He linked this “pestilent modern fashion of publicity” with mass education & what he called America’s "newspapered democracy.” There was certainly an anti-populist strain to his fixation.  He admitted to feeling “lettered anguish” at these changes. He recognized what the sociologist Jürgen Habermas has described as “the disintegration of the public in the sphere of letters” that occurred in this period. This was a process whereby market-driven publicity began to crowd out the kind of public discussions & reasoned debates conducted in “high literacy” publications. Long before Habermas, then, James worried about the way the mass press could manipulate public opinion for private ends. 

Walter Benjamin(1892-1940) made some interesting & critical observations about cinema. He was a German literary critic, philosopher, social critic, translator, radio broadcaster and essayist. He combined elements of German idealism or Romanticism, historical materialism & Jewish mysticism, and also made enduring and influential contributions to aesthetic theory and Western Marxism. He is associated with the Frankfurt School.  He saw cinema as the first art form to make shock a formal principle of artistic production. Wharton’s discomfort with the conditions of an emergent “risk society” was also the basis of a searing social critique of cinema.  She knew that modern risk, while by definition a matter of chance, is not distributed evenly.  In her fiction, the greatest damage from modernity falls on 2 particular groups: vulnerable women & neglected children. This was especially true, said Wharton, of those who, even within the most affluent classes, are the most expendable, the most easily cut off from the protections of wealth and position. For more of this early critique of cinema go to: http://www.americanpopularculture.com/journal/articles/spring_2013/bentley.htm

SOME BOOKS ABOUT CINEMA

The following 4 books were reviewed in the London Review of Books in June 1997, two years before I retired from work as a FT lecturer. The books were: Projections 7 edited by John Boorman and Walter Donohue, 300 pages, 1997; Cahiers du cinema. Vol. I: The Fifties. Neo-Realism, Hollywood, New Wave edited by Jim Hillier, 300 pages, 1996; Cahiers du cinema. Vol. II: The Sixties. New Wave, New Cinema, Re-evaluating Hollywood edited by Jim Hillier, 400 pages, 1996; Cahiers du cinema. Vol. III: 1969-72. The Politics of Representation edited by Nick Browne, 300 pages, 1996. These 4 books are just part of an immense literature on the subject of film: history, philosophy, politics and ideology, theory, genres, Hollywood, inter alia. Readers who want to study the cinema need to become more than a little familiar with this literature. The above review begins as follows:

In Martin Scorsese’s Casino, Ace Rothstein played by Robert De Niro remarks that Las Vegas is about ‘selling people dreams for cash.’  A memorable elaboration of this cliché goes as follows:  ‘Las Vegas does for people what Lourdes does for hunchbacks and cripples.’ Much the same has been said about the culture of cinema. How Scorsese’s film stands in relation to its subject is an interesting question. In fact, the marriage between movietown as the factory of illusions, and Las Vegas as the palace of dreams, is ostentatiously consummated in the credits sequence, as lights and camera-work produce a cascade of glittering special effects that mirrors the dazzle of Vegas itself. But the cascade is also enveloped by flames and this narrative allusion to the car firebomb that nearly finishes off Rothstein can also be read as a kind of hellfire, consuming both the world of Las Vegas and the cinematic image before us. It is accompanied on the soundtrack by an excerpt from the St Matthew Passion. This will not mean much to those who have not seen the film but, if readers are interested in following this review further go to:http://www.lrb.co.uk/v19/n11/christopher-prendergast/hitchcocko-hawksien

ALRED HITCHCOCK

Part 1:

Alred Hitchcock followed Vertigo(1958) with 3 more successful films. Two are now recognised as among his best movies: North by Northwest (1959) and Psycho(1960). The third film was The Birds (1963). By the late 1950s, I had began to enjoy the world of film due to a job I had at the local theatre, the Roxy, in my early teens, circa, 1957.  I was responsible for the theatre's marquee. A marquee is most commonly a structure placed over the entrance to a theatre. It has signage stating the name of the establishment and, in the case of theatres, the name of the play or movie as well as the artist(s) appearing at that venue. Hitchcock had been going strong for decades by the time I saw his films at the local theatre in the small town of Burlington, Ontario. By 1959 I had joined the Baha'i Faith and, by 1963, I had entered university, & begun my travelling-pioneering for the Canadian baha'i community.  His film Psycho was the most profitable black-and-white sound film ever made, and the most profitable of Hitchcock's career; Hitchcock personally earned well in excess of $15 million.  Films were then, what they are now, part of the backdrop to my life. Hitchcock died on 29/4/'80, in my first week as a Probation and Parole Officer in Tasmania's Community Corrections Service, and just as I was about to begin the last period of hospitialization for my bipolar I disorder.

Part 2:

In the 4 June 2015 issue of the London Review of Books David Trotter reviews the following books: (i) Alfred Hitchcock by Peter Ackroyd(Chatto, 2015, 300 pages);  (ii) Alfred Hitchcock: The Man Who Knew Too Much by Michael Wood(New Harvest, 2015, 150 pages); (iii)  Hitchcock à la carte by Jan Olsson(Duke, 2015, 260 pages); and (iv) Hitchcock on Hitchcock: Selected Writings and Interviews, Vol. II(California, 2015, 300 pages). Trotter begins: "Hitchcock liked assembly lines. In the long, consistently revealing interview he gave to François Truffaut in the summer of 1962, he described a scene he had thought of including in North by Northwest (1959), but didn’t.  Roger O. Thornhill (Cary Grant) is on his way from New York to Chicago. Why not have him stop off at Detroit, then still in its Motor City heyday?"  For more on Hitchcock(1899-1980), an English film director and producer, go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alfred_Hitchcock

"I wanted to have a long dialogue scene between Cary Grant and one of the factory workers as they walk along the assembly line. They might, for instance, be talking about one of the foremen. Behind them a car is being assembled, piece by piece. Finally, the car they’ve seen being put together from a simple nut and bolt is complete, with gas & oil, and all ready to drive off the line. The two men look at it and say, ‘Isn’t it wonderful!’ Then they open the door to the car and out drops a corpse!" For more go to: http://www.lrb.co.uk/v37/n11/david-trotter/hiatus-at-4-am

THE WESTERN AND ROMANCE MOVIES

The Western is a genre of various arts, such as art, comics, fiction, film, games, radio, and television. Westerns are devoted to telling stories set primarily in the later half of the 19th century in the American Old West, hence the name. Many feature American Indians, bandits, cowboys, lawmen, outlaws, and soldiers, and as well as spectacular mountain scenery. Some are set in the American colonial era. There are also a number of films about Western-type characters in contemporary settings, such as Junior Bonner(1972) set in the 1970s & The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada (2005) in the 21st century. The Western was one of the best-known Hollywood genres from the early 20th century to the 1960s. For more on the western go to:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Western_%28genre%29 For a commentary on Martin Ritt's Hud and John Schlesinger's Midnight Cowboy in the film and popular culture journal Images go to: http://www.imagesjournal.com/2004/features/masculinity/ For another commentary on 30 westerns in the genre go to: http://www.imagesjournal.com/issue10/infocus/default.htm

Romance films, or romance movies, are romantic love stories recorded in visual media for broadcast in theaters and on television that focus on passion, emotion, and the affectionate romantic involvement of the main characters. The journey that their genuinely strong, true and pure romantic love takes them through dating, courtship or marriage is at the core of the film. Romance films make the romantic love story or the search for strong and pure love and romance the main plot focus. Occasionally, romance lovers face obstacles such as finances, physical illness, various forms of discrimination, psychological restraints or family that threaten to break their union of love. As in all quite strong, deep, and close romantic relationships, tensions of day-to-day life, temptations (ofinfidelity), and differences in compatibility enter into the plots of romantic films. for more go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Romance_film

HORROR FILMS

Part 1:

Horror is a film genre seeking to elicit a negative emotional reaction from viewers by playing on the audience's primal fears. Inspired by literature from authors like Edgar Allan Poe, Bram Stoker, Mary Shelley, horror films have for more than a century featured scenes that startle the viewer. The macabre and the supernatural are frequent themes. Thus they may overlap with the fantasy, supernatural, & thriller genres. For a detailed overview of the genre go to:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horror_film  One horror film I saw in 1974 was The Exorcist released in December 1973. It was an American supernatural horror film directed by William Friedkin, adapted by William Peter Blatty from his 1971 novel of the same name. The book, inspired by the 1949 exorcism case of Roland Doe, deals with the demonic possession of a 12-year-old girl; her mother's desperate attempts to win back her child through an exorcism conducted by two priests is at the centre of the plot. The Exorcist was the first horror film to be nominated for Best Picture.

I have never been a fan of the horror genre. I watched this film just before turning 30. I went to the theatre with my wife-to-be and we walked-out as the horror increased in tempo. At the time I was in my year of separation from my first wife & was a tutor in education studies at the then Tasmanian college of Advanced Education in Tasmania.  After the film's success, rip-off films and The Exorcist franchise sequels appeared. I leave it to readers with the interest to access this information at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Exorcist_%28film%29#Sequels_and_related_films One of the most intriguing parts of the original Exorcist film came in its prologue. In this scene, an archaeological expedition made a discovery that brought many horrified expressions to the face of a Catholic priest.  Exorcist: The Beginning takes us to another archaeological dig site, providing an exotic setting for this newest entry in the Warner Bros. horror franchise. For a brief discussion of the Exorcist and The Exorcist: The Beginning in the film and popular culture journal Images go to: http://www.imagesjournal.com/2004/reviews/exorcist/ Needless to say I've not seen any of the sequels.

Part 2:

With more than 40 years of television in my home since it arrived in about 1950 when I was 5 or 6, there are some films of the horror genre which I have enjoyed to some extent: The Day of the Triffids and The Birds, Rosemary's Baby and The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Jack-the-Ripper and The Omen Series are six which come to mind and which I saw at some time in the 30 year period 1980 to 2010. TV had come back into my life after an absense of some 20 years(1956-1977). With the TV came a world of visual-words: werewolfs and witches, Frankenstein and fear, haunted houses and madhouses, zombies and zanies, dracula, death and demons, screams and satan, virgins and vampires, evil & effigies, graveyards & ghosts, beasts & blood, inter alia. Readers with the interest can access literally 100s of horror films beginning as far back as the 1890s.

SUPERHEROES

In modern popular fiction, a superhero is a type of heroic character possessing extraordinary talents, supernatural phenomena, or superhuman powers and is dedicated to a moral goal or protecting the public. A female superhero is sometimes called a superheroine. Fiction centered on such characters, especially in American comic books since the 1930s, is known as superhero fiction. For a detailed overview of this genre go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Superhero

Since 2008’s Iron Man, Marvel Studios has released an increasingly successful run of movies, culling from seventy-five years’ worth of material. As detailed in Sean Howe’s Marvel Comics: The Untold Story, these movies saved the company from bankruptcy and gave superheroes their widest audience since the Silver Age of comics in the 1960s and 1970s. Meanwhile, rival company DC Comics has struggled on the silver screen. Though Christopher Nolan’s Batman films are often cited as pinnacle works in the genre, flops like Catwoman and Green Lantern leave no doubt as to which company is winning the current race to put anything with superpowers on a screen.

Marvel is so confident that they released Guardians of the Galaxy in August 2014—a movie based on a relatively unknown and low-selling comics series that, yes, features a talking raccoon with a penchant for automatic weaponry. Meanwhile, DC did finally get around to announcing a Wonder Woman movie in October 2014 (for a 2017 release). However, without the good will that Marvel has built, fan forums are already filled with skepticism regarding DC’s ability to handle such an iconic superhero figure. For more of an analysis of the superhero genre in an article entitled: "Post-Postmodernism and the Market Popularity of Superhero Movies" in Enculturation: A Journal of Rhetoric, Writing and Culture go to: http://enculturation.net/post-postmodern-superheroes

WOODY ALLEN: A DOCUMENTARY IN 2012


Part  1:
 
In May 2014 on two consecutive Sunday evenings, I watched a total of 2 hours of a 3 hour doco entitled Woody Allen: A Documentary: Parts 1 & 2 (1).  This is Robert B. Weide's fascinating study of the multi-Oscar winning New York film-maker.  Weide(1959- )is an American screenwriter, producer, and director, perhaps best known for his Emmy-winning work on documentaries including profiles of American comedian, actor, juggler and writer W.C. Fields as well as comedian Lenny Bruce. Weide was born in 1959 some 4 months before I began my lifetime trajectory with a new world Faith that has its origins in Iran, and is now the second most widespread religion on the planet according to the Encyclopedia Britannica. I had to go to bed after the first hour of viewing on each of these Sunday evenings because my medications kicked-in making sleep my only serious option by 1 a.m.

Part 1 takes viewers from Allen’s family background and childhood up to 1980, and Part 2 takes viewers well into the 21st century.  Weide talked to Alan Yentob about making this definitive Woody Allen documentary which was first broadcast on BBC One on Tuesday 23 and Wednesday 24 July 2012, and internet readers can access that live interview, if they are interested.  Yentob(1947-) is a British television executive and presenter. He has spent his entire career at the BBC.  Weide talks with Yentob about gaining Allen's trust and getting him to talk candidly & revealingly about his life and work. I had my 68th birthday when BBC One put that documentary to air. 

After trying for three decades---as far back as the mid-1980s---Weide was given the unprecedented access he wanted to make Woody Allen: A Documentary. We see Woody Allen in Part 1: (i) in his childhood neighbourhood, (ii) working with Naomi Watts and Josh Brolin, among others, on set, and (iii) working at home with his 1950s Olympia Portable SM3 typewriter which he still uses for all of his writing. Weide also relates the story of Allen's idiosyncratic approach to picking his next script: trawling through scraps of paper kept in a bedside drawer, and his unusual script-editing methods. As a writer and author, poet and publisher, editor and researcher, I was particularly fascinated by this part of the doco.

Part 2:

Allen worked as a comedy writer in his late teens and early 20s, the 1950s, writing jokes and scripts for television and publishing several books of short humor pieces. In the early 1960s,  Allen began performing as a stand-up comic, emphasizing monologues rather than traditional jokes.  I knew nothing of Woody Allen in the 1950s, and early ‘60s, involved as I was in: (i) my childhood & adolescence from 1950 to 1964, (ii) my sport & school, family and life in a small town, and (iii) my first years, 1953 to 1964, associated with a new religion, a religion which claimed to be the newest of the Abrahamic faiths: the Baha’i Faith.

Allen's films span six decades, starting with 1965's What's New Pussycat? In the winter and spring of 1965 I was 21; I had my first of life's orgasms thanks to a 27 year-old divorced woman from the rich-side-of town in the lunch-pail city of Hamilton Ontario from February to April 1965;  I attended my father’s funeral in May, worked as an abstractor for the Canadian Peace Research Institute in July and August, and was also an electrician’s assistant for the Steel Company of Canada that summer.
 
I lived above a local restaurant after my father died, eating chilli-con-carne 4 times a week at 60 cents per serve, and finished my second year at university in an honours history and philosophy program. In September 1965 I began an honours sociology course. In October ’65 I also made the decision to teach primary school among the Inuit on Baffin Island after graduation, and after completing my teacher training at what is now the University of Windsor.  I still knew nothing of Woody Allen.
 
Part 3:

Allen is still going strong in 2015 at the age of 79.  I don’t need to give you chapter and verse of Allen’s extensive achievements over more than 60 years. Wikipedia has an excellent summary, if you are interested.  Meanwhile, the year 2015 sees me:  (a) retired after a 50 year student-teaching life, 1949 to 1999; (b) reinvented from the roles of teacher and tutor, lecturer and adult educator, to the roles of writer and author, poet and publisher, online blogger and journalist, reader & scholar, editor and researcher, & (c) nursing several bodily ailments but hoping, thanks to modern medicine, to last well into my old-age, the years after 80 according to one model of human development used by psychologists.-Ron Price with thanks to (1) ABC1 TV, 1-2 and 8-9 September, 11:50 p.m. to 1:15 a.m.

A lover of music and writing with
much pure joy in the process, much
self-deprecation, and much humour,
much shyness and much discomfort,
much psychoanalysis(37 years), one
more marriage, and several more of
many things than me: relationships,
children, wealth, decades of immense
creativity, fame and literary success.(1)


You were and are a wonder to behold,
Woody, and I thank you for your talents
and faculties, literary skills, & what you
have given to our planetary civilization
but, more importantly & in my personal
perspective, your modus operandi. The
way you go about directing has useful
ideas for me on how to go about living.

So does your capacity to put in a box
aspects of your life, put into separate
categories, so that you can create, &
have no emotional overload that will
interfere with your ideas which seem 
to bubble-up in the intellectual froth
that is part of that talent which is at
the centre of your modus vivendi, &
your veryraison d’etre.....Woody.(2)
 
(1) I leave it to readers with the interest to find out more about the several aspects of Woody Allen’s life to which I refer in the above prose-poem. His achievements are legion.
(2) These several Latin expressions used above, and translated as ‘way of operating’, ‘way of living’ and ‘reason for living’, I often find to be useful in literary work.

Ron Price
9/9/'13 to 21/5/'14.  


THE MAGIC OF THE MOVIES

Part 1:

Martin Charles Scorsese(1942- )is an American film director, screenwriter, producer, actor, and film historian. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest directors of all time. In 1990 he founded The Film Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to film preservation, and in 2007 he founded the World Cinema Foundation. Go to this link to read more about him:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Scorsese.  In The New York Review of Books(NYRB), 15/8/'13, Scorese has written a fine essay entitled: "The Persisting Vision: Reading the Language of Cinema." I will quote some of the introduction in the NYRB below, and leave it to readers with the interest to go to this link for the entire article  http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2013/aug/15/persisting-vision-reading-language-cinema/? 

"Whenever I hear people dismiss movies as “fantasy” and make a hard distinction between film and life," writes Scorese, "I think to myself that it’s just a way of avoiding the power of cinema. Of course it’s not life; it’s the invocation of life, it’s in an ongoing dialogue with life." Scorese continues: "
Frank Capra said, 'Film is a disease.' I caught the disease early on. I felt it whenever I walked up to the ticket booth with my mother or my father or my brother. You’d go through the doors, up the thick carpet, past the popcorn stand that had that wonderful smell—then to the ticket taker, and then in some of the old theaters there would be another set of doors with little windows and you’d get a glimpse of something magical happening up there on the screen, something special. And as we entered, for me it was like entering a sacred space, a kind of sanctuary where the living world around me seemed to be recreated and played out." Capra has described here my experience back in the 1950s and early 1960s, my adolescent years.

Part 2:

"What was it about the cinema?" continues Scorese. "What was so special about it?  I think I’ve discovered some of my own answers to that question a little bit at a time over the years. 
First of all, there’s light. Light is at the beginning of cinema, of course. It’s fundamental—because cinema is created with light, and it’s still best seen projected in dark rooms, where it’s the only source of light. But light is also at the beginning of everything. Most creation myths start with darkness, and then the real beginning comes with light—which means the creation of forms. Which leads to distinguishing one thing from another, and ourselves from the rest of the world. Recognizing patterns, similarities, differences, naming things—interpreting the world. Metaphors—seeing one thing “in light of” something else. Becoming “enlightened.” Light is at the core of who we are and how we understand ourselves."

"And then, there’s movement…I remember when I was about five or six, someone projected a 16mm cartoon and I was allowed to look inside the projector. I saw these little still images passing mechanically through the gate at a very steady rate of speed. In the gate they were upside down, but they were moving, and on the screen they came out right side up, moving. At least there was the sensation of movement. But it was more than that. Something clicked, right then and there. “Pieces of time”—that’s how James Stewart defined movies in a conversation with Peter Bogdanovich. That wonder I felt when I saw these little figures move—that’s what Laurence Olivier feels when he watches those first moving images in that scene from The Magic Box."

Part 3:

"The desire to make images move, the need to capture movement, has arguably been with us for perhaps 50,000 years since the cave paintings at Chauvet or the rock art in Australia. These were the artists' ways of creating the impression of movement. I think this need to recreate movement is a mystical urge. It’s an attempt to capture the mystery of who and what we are, and then to contemplate that mystery.
Edison was one of the people who invented film. There’s been a lot of debate about who really invented film—there was Edison, the Lumière brothers in France, Friese-Greene and R.W. Paul in England. And actually you can go back to a man named Louis Le Prince who shot a little home movie in 1888. And then you could go back even further to the motion studies of Eadweard Muybridge, which were made in the 1870s and 1880s. He would set a number of still cameras side by side and then he’d trigger them to take photos in succession, of people and animals in motion."

"Muybridge's employer Leland Stanford challenged him to show that all four of a horse’s hooves leave the ground when the horse is running. Muybridge proved they did. 
Does cinema really begin with Muybridge? Should we go all the way back to the cave paintings? In his novel Joseph and His Brothers, Thomas Mann writes: "The deeper we sound, the further down into the lower world of the past we probe and press, the more do we find that the earliest foundations of humanity, its history and culture, reveal themselves unfathomable." All beginnings are unfathomable—the beginning of human history, the beginning of cinema."  Scorese's essay is delightful and I leave it to readers to 'go the distance' with him, if they so wish.

FANTASY and FILM

Part 1:

Fantasy is a genre of fiction that commonly uses magic and other supernatural phenomena as a primary plot element,theme, or setting. Many works within the genre take place in imaginary worlds where magic & magical creatures are common. Fantasy is generally distinguished from the genres of science fiction and horror by the expectation that it steers clear of scientific and macabre themes, respectively, though there is a great deal of overlap between the three, all of which are subgenres of speculative fiction.  In popular culture, the fantasy genre is predominantly medievalist in form. In its broadest sense, however, fantasy comprises works by many writers, artists, filmmakers, & musicians, from ancient myths & legends to many recent works embraced by a wide audience today.

Fantasy is studied in a number of disciplines including: English, cultural studies, comparative literature, history, medieval studies. Work in this area ranges widely, from the structuralist theory of Tzvetan Todorov, which emphasizes the fantastic as a liminal space, to work on the connections (political, historical, literary) between medievalism and popular culture. For more on fantasy and fiction go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fantasy

Part 2:

Fantasy films are films with fantastic themes, usually involving magic, supernatural events, make-believe creatures, or exotic fantasy worlds. The genre is considered to be distinct from science fiction film and horror film, although the genres do overlap. Fantasy films often have an element of magic, myth, wonder, escapism, and the extraordinary. Several recent blockbuster Hollywood films feature teenage girls hunting and killing animals. This sub-genre of fantasy films includes: Hanna, Winter’s Bone, The Hunger Games, Twilight: Breaking Dawn II).  These films feature tough girls who stand up for themselves and who demonstrate their fortitude and no-nonsense attitudes by hunting animals.

What does it mean that Hollywood’s latest girl protagonists are more comfortable in the forest chasing animals than they are amongst their high school peers? And, how has Hollywood gone from Disney princesses who have a special bond with their animal friends to these Artemis figures wielding bows and arrows to take down their prey?  It is noteworthy that these girls also are being hunted. And although they are not killed, they are beaten and subjected to violence. They are both hunters and prey. How should we interpret these representations of strong girls who are also abused?  What is the relationship between their hunting animals and their being hunted? For an analysis of this sub-genre in "Hunting Girls:
Patriarchal Fantasy or Feminist Progress?" in the online electronic journal Americana: The Journal of American Popular Culture(Spring 2013, V12, No.1) go to:http://www.americanpopularculture.com/journal/articles/spring_2013/oliver.htm For an overview of fantasy films go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fantasy_film

FILM MAKING AND PRODUCTION

Filmmaking, often referred to in an academic context as film production, is the process of making a film. Filmmaking involves a number of discrete stages including: an initial story, an idea, a commission, scriptwriting, casting, shooting, editing, & screening the finished product. This screening of the finished product in front of an audience may result in a film release and exhibition. Filmmaking takes place in many places around the world in a range of economic, social, and political contexts, and using a variety of technologies and cinematic techniques. Typically, it involves a large number of people, and can take from a few months to several years to complete. For more on this subject go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Filmmaking

Film production involves an immense range of subjects & topics: cinematography‎, film production companies‎, costume design‎, casting, film crew‎s, film editing‎, film location shooting‎, f
ilm directors and producers‎, prop design‎, film scenes‎, scenic design‎, film production software‎, film sound production‎, and many other items of film and video terminology‎. For more on this subject go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Film_production

THE THEATRE: PRECURSOR TO THE CINEMA

Part 1:

As Anne Barton(1933- ), of Trinity College Cambridge and specialist in English Renaissance drama,  contends in Shakespeare and the Idea of the Play(1962), "Shakespeare found in the commonplace of theatrum mundi--all the world's a stage--a virtually inexhaustible means of expression, reflecting the multiple possibilities inherent in the dramatic situation itself.  He turned this into something individual and characteristically brilliant."  Barton also argues that Shakespeare’s contemporaries used theatrum mundi persistently to represent the theatricality of English political, social, and religious life.  They used it for: (i) the ideological display of public spectacle by princes, (ii) the sermons of divines dramatizing the splendour and transience of human life, and (iii) costume and stagecraft in the gulling of dupes, that is, to deceive those easily deceived.

Part 2:

Theatre, or theater in American English, is a collaborative form of fine art that uses live performers to present the experience of a real or imagined event before a live audience in a specific place. The performers may communicate this experience to the audience through combinations of gesture, speech, song, music or dance. Elements of design and stagecraft are used to enhance the physicality, presence and immediacy of the experience.  The specific place of the performance is also named by the word "theatre" as derived from the Ancient Greek, théatron, “a place for viewing”, itself from theáomai, “to see", "to watch", "to observe". The city-state of Athens, in the 7th to the 5th century BC, is where western theatre originated. It was part of a broader culture of theatricality and performance in classical Greece that included festivals, religious rituals, politics, law, athletics and gymnastics, music, poetry, weddings, funerals, and symposia. For more go to:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theatre


MUSIC AND CINEMA: COMPARISONS

Just as we separate music from its instruments,  cinema is the art of organizing a stream of audiovisual events in time. It is an event-stream, like music. There are at least four media through which we can practice cinema: film, video, holography, and structured digital code. There are many instruments through which we can practice music.  Music and cinema are thus conceived as the exterior consequences of creative and co-creative instrumental experimentation.  Musicians talk about improvisation in expansive terms, as an ethereal and ephemeral experience, that exists on the brink of failure; they see music as much an act of memory as it is of renewal. Many have similar thoughts and feelings surrounding the cinema.

Improvisation is the process of devising a solution to a requirement by making-do, despite absence of resources that might be expected to produce a solution. In a technical context, this can mean adapting a device for some use other than that which it was designed for, or building a device from unusual components in an ad-hoc fashion. Improvisation in the context of performing arts is spontaneous performance without specific preparation. The skills of improvisation can apply to many different faculties, across all artistic, scientific, physical, cognitive, academic, and non-academic disciplines. For more on the subject of improvisation go to: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Improvisation

Improvisation, to philosopher Gary Peters, is the "entwinement of preservation and destruction."  "It invites us," says Peters, "to make a transition from a closed conception of the past to one that re-thinks the past as an endlessly ongoing event or occurrence whereby tradition is re-originated (Benjamin) or re-opened (Heidegger).”  As long as manufacturers and technicians control the cinematic process then the practice of gathering, projecting, and experiencing images is predetermined by their commercial obligation. It assures that augmenting the “immense and unexpected field of action” comprising the domain of images is itself a predetermination.


The director Mike Leigh uses lengthy improvisations developed over a period of weeks to build characters and story lines for his films. He starts with some sketch ideas of how he thinks things might develop but does not reveal all his intentions with the cast who discover their fate and act out their responses as their destinies are gradually revealed, including significant aspects of their lives which will not subsequently be shown on screen. The final filming draws on dialogue and actions that have been recorded during the improvisation period. The film company ACT 2 CAM uses improvisation to create the characters, contexts and plot for their films. Improvisation also forms a large part of the final filmed product.

CINEMA LANGUAGE


Language comes to media not all at once but in fits and starts as technologies develop and practitioners discover---and create---the medium's specificity. The language of film evolved from the earliest cinema using stationary cameras through successive waves of technological development and creative experimentation, forging the grammar, syntax and rhetoric of today's special effects, digital animation, nuanced color, digitized sound and plethora of camera techniques. Cinematographers know that they can use shadow and light to create images resonant with emotional significance and meaning; the heightened sensitivity to gray tones is succeeded by the plunge into color, where the expanded palette allows for still more extensive use of the visible spectrum as a reservoir of signifying practices. Cinema often aligns its methods with those of journalists and historians, and it appropriates as drama undigested trauma and events in national and international life during the last several decades. For an article about the problem of translating history into film go to:http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2013/feb/07/disturbing-misleading-zero-dark-thirty/?page=1

LIST OF HISTORICAL-DRAMA FILMS

The historical period drama is a film genre in which stories are based upon historical events and famous people. Some historical dramas are docudramas which attempt an accurate portrayal of a historical event or biography. Of course, it is only accurate to the degree that the available historical research will allow. Other historical dramas are fictionalized tales that are based on an actual person and their deeds, such as Braveheart, which is loosely based on the 13th-century knight William Wallace's fight for Scotland's independence. For more on this genre go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_historical_period_drama_films#High_and_Late_Middle_Ages_.281000-1453.29

JOURNALS FOR CINEMA STUDIES

Part 1:

The number of cinema or film studies journals and magazines is burgeoning as western &, now, global culture spends more & more time watching films. Some skeptics and critics argue that society is returning more and more to an oral-visual culture, and is less and less occupied with print. In the United Kingdom, the journal Screen has, since the 1950s, been the main bibliographic source for the theorists of cinema. Film studies, mostly as an online and academic activity, exists throughout the world in over 20 countries. Due to the high cost of film production third world countries are left out of the film industry especially in the academic setting.  Despite this fact more prosperous countries have the ability to study film in all the aspects of film studies discipline.  Foreign films created outside one's home country, often reach home, if that home is, say, the United States and Canada, the U.K. and Australia, and their respective audiences as a result of the many foreign film schools.  Readers can go to this link for access to a new range of film studies journals that I was informed just recently, in November 2014: http://www.intellectbooks.com/?utm_source=Film+Studies+newsletter+October&utm_campaign=FilmNewsNov&utm_medium=email and to this link in 2015:
http://www.intellectbooks.co.uk/page/index,name=home-FilmStudies/?utm_source=+Film+Studies+newsletter+April&utm_camp

Part 2:

The discipline of film studies has become, in the last 20 years, virtually universal. In this sense the abstract analysis of film is taught in any accredited university worldwide that offers film studies. Discourse in film can be found in the schools around the world; very often international attention to the aesthetics of film emerge at film festivals; for example, the Cannes Film Festival is the most prestigious in the world. Though this discourse revolves around the film industry and promotion, and does not exist within an academic school setting, numerous aspects of analysis and critical approaches are taken into account on this international stage. For more on this subject and film studies in general go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Film_studies#World_film_studies

At the moment, there are many journals which are making room for themselves in the global arena of film publications. Internationality has become a key factor in the evaluation of journals.  In order to measure their level of internationality, four indicators are studied: presence in national and international databases, internationality of both editorial and scientific boards, internationality of contributions, and, finally, the existence of peer-review evaluation in the selection process of the manuscripts. For a list of cinema studies journals and magazines go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Film_studies_journals 

FILM INTERNATIONAL

Film International is an online elctronic journal which covers film culture as part of the broader culture, history and economy of society.  This journal address topics of contemporary relevance from historically informed perspectives.  It attempts to bridge the gap between the academy and the outside world, and encourage the participation of scholars from a variety of disciplines.  The dichotomies of 'high' and 'low', Hollywood and independent, art and commercial cinema are seen as facile simplifications. The journal discusses Hollywood films seriously, & 'art' movies critically. It aims at becoming a truly international journal, recognising local specificities, but also the ultimate interconnectedness of an increasingly globalised world. For more go to:http://www.intellectbooks.co.uk/journals/view-journal,id=147/

FILM MATTERS

Film Matters is an exciting new film magazine, celebrating the work of undergraduate film scholars. It is published four times a year, by students & for students, and each issue contains feature articles, as well as a healthy reviews section. In addition, with an undergraduate audience in mind, Film Matters includes occasional service-oriented pieces, such as profiles of film studies departments, articles that engage the undergraduate film studies community and prepare students for graduate study in this field, and resources and opportunities that undergraduate scholars can pursue. For more on this journal go to:http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/intellect/fm/2010/00000001/00000001#expand/collapse

TORTURE AND VIOLENCE IN FILM

Robert Gehl has written the following essay: “Why Aren’t We Seeing This Now?” Public(ized) Torture in The Passion of the Christ and Fahrenheit 9/11.  The essay is found in the September 2004 issue of the online journal Nebula; readers will find here an interesting discussion of torture in film. In 2004, Mel Gibson and Michael Moore both made films that had writers and commentators scrambling to discuss and understand the polarization of America, to look for the differences between Right wing & the Left wing Christians. Both Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ & Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11 took in hundreds of millions of dollars, despite being maligned in production as niche films at best.  Both films have inspired a vitreous flow of hateful criticism, furthering the belief that they are cultural representations of a bitterly divided nation. For more on this topic go to: http://www.nobleworld.biz/images/Gehl.pdf

Michel Foucault(1926-1984) was a French philosopher, social theorist, historian of ideas, and literary critic. His philosophical theories addressed what power is and how it works, the manner in which it controls knowledge and vice versa, and how it is used as a form of social control. Foucault is best known for his critical studies of social institutions, most notably psychiatry, social anthropology of medicine, the human sciences, the prison system, and the history of human sexuality. His writings on power, knowledge, & discourse have been widely influential in academic circles. "The age of public torture in the Western world," writes Foucault, "largely came to end by the mid 19th century." Still, the role of torture in recent years across many of the world's nations is still part of government policy. One example is Ervand Abrahamian's important and disturbing book Tortured Confessions(1999, 300 pages). Although Iran officially banned torture in the early twentieth century, Abrahamian provides documentation of its use under the Shahs and of the widespread utilization of torture and public confession under the Islamic Republican governments. His study is based on an extensive body of material, including Amnesty International reports, prison literature, and victims' accounts that together give the book a chilling immediacy.

Previously, public torture was used by those in power to discourage crime through the horrifying spectacle that it created. It was meant to mark the victim: "it is intended, either by the scar it leaves on the body, or by the spectacle that accompanies it, to brand the victim with infamy. Even if its function is to ‘purge’ the crime, torture does not reconcile; it traces around or, rather, on the very body of the condemned man signs that must not be effaced; in any case, men will remember public exhibition, the pillory, torture and pain duly observed. And, from the point of view of the law that imposes it, public torture and execution must be spectacular, it must be seen by all almost as its triumph.

CLIVE JAMES

TO BE A GOOD FILM CRITIC you have to have read a few books. No matter how many movies you have seen, they won't give you the truth of the matter, the historical matter, if the movie has a historical base because that truth can't be shown as action. To know what can't be shown by the gag and the script writers, however, you have to know about the world beyond the movies. The best critics know a great deal and have read a great deal. The 700+ page book AMERICAN MOVIE CRITICS: An Anthology From the Silents Until Now, edited by Phillip Lopate, The Library of America (2006) proves this. When we say that the non-theorists are the better writers, that's what we mean. That extra edge that a good writer has is a knowledge of the world, transmuted into a style. This is the last paragraph of a review of this book by Clive James in The New York Times, 4 June 2006 which you can read at:http://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/04/books/review/04james.html?pagewanted=all


THE GODFATHER PART III
And Our Ordinary Ordinariness

Part 1:

By some time in the late 1990s I had seen all three of the Godfather films. After I retired from FT(1999), PT(2003) and volunteer/casual teaching (2005), I wrote two prose-poems on each of the first two films in this trilogy. This prose-poem below offers another personal perspective on these films. This prose-poem also offers perspectives on the mafia and on the religion, the system of thought, I have been associated with now for more than six decades. The poem juxtaposed, in a strange and bewildering synchronicity which surprised me, the mafia and the Baha'i Faith. As I wrote the poem and as I investigated the parallel developments, the comparisons and contrasts between my religion and the mafia, several things emerged. It was impossible to fully understand either of these movements, except in part and through a glass-darkly, unless one was prepared to subject either of them to some degree of serious study. In our bewildering and complex world, at this climacteric of history, most people did not have the time or, more importantly, the interest. To a writer and author, though, it is not the interest of others that is crucial;  it is the writer's, his or her own, interest from which a poem flows.

The script for The Godfather Part III begins in 1979, the year I returned to Tasmania in the midst of yet another episode of bipolar disorder & nearly 20 years into my pioneering life for the Canadian Baha’i community. This last film in the trilogy began with a brief flashback on the life and family of the chief godfather in the film, Michael Corleone, a life going back to before WW2 in the entre deux guerres years with Corleone’s Sicilian connections; the film ends with the death of Michael Corleone who dies alone, an old man who has paid a high price for his sins. Some time not specified, but in the late 1990s, just before I retired from my work as a full-time teacher, the trilogy came to a close. The story, the history, of the Sicilian mafia and its American, its international connections, of course, goes on(1) but, for the time being, no more godfather films are planned.
-Ron Price with thanks to Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia, 7 April 2008; and (1) “The Modern Mafia In Italy,” Wikipedia, 7 April 2008.

Part 2:

As I watched these three godfather films
again in this new millennium and read
about the mafia which had always been
on the periphery, the far edges, of the
knowledge that I held in my personal
data-bank of memory for recall, I realized
that I belonged to an organization that had
a history more bloody than the one I had
just witnessed and viewed for my sensory
pleasure on a cool Tasmanian evening.

It was one whose mystic fane went back
to a routinization of charisma with origins
in another blood-stained story that was as
obscure and tragic, indeed, as intensely
dramatic, and as secretive, with poems
inadequate to the murder of so many, as
full of dire convulsions and of very real
terror and of debauchery and shame,
extremes of a commitment that fell into
history’s chaos with an anguish that was
as incomprehensible as Auschwitz.....so

...often nameless & blood-soaked bodies,
only their image left to streak across our
vision in this cinematic trilogy and tumble
endlessly before history's cocky jaywalker
which succumbs to bullets, knives & fists
on our screen with a careless technicolour
ease as our own lives pass by, but always
emerging in their unscripted, flawed, and
plausible celluloid safety and their always
immensely ordinary, humanly, ordinariness.

Ron Price
7/4/'08 to 12/11/'14


MY LIFE AT THE MOVIES: IN THE 1950S

Part 1:

I logged my first hours at the movies during the 1950s, and my writing about the movies has been predicated on the belief in film as a universal language. The famous American poet Walt Whitman once wrote about what he called his "dream of the great American audience.”  Now, in our global village, there is an immense planetary audience. In some ways I am practically Emersonian in my belief that movies have a unique potential to wake people up, to make them think for themselves, and help them learn to tell good from bad without having to hear it from an authority. Today’s audiences, at least most people under forty, probably had their first meaningful exposure to the movies not in theaters but at home, on a TV or, more recently, on a computer screen.

My childhood moviegoing, that I often recall with nostalgia, began in the 1950s. That moviegoing could be described as follows: “All week I longed for Saturday afternoon and the sanctuary of the movies.  That sanctuary consisted of the anonymity and impersonality of sitting in a theatre, just enjoying myself, not having to be responsible, not having to be ‘good.’” Now this happens, if it happens at all, in solitude, with a bevy of other, shorter, sloppier entertainments forever flashing on a Banquo-like succession of screens behind the main attraction.  Now moving images come at people by the 1000s. It's a language. We need to be able to understand what we’re seeing and find the tools to sort it all out.

We’re face to face with images all the time now in our media-saturated-world in a way that we never have been before.  And that’s why we need to stress visual literacy in our schools. Young people need to understand that not all images are there to be consumed like fast food & then forgotten. We need to educate people to understand the difference between moving images that engage their humanity and their intelligence, and moving images that are just selling them something.
 For young people getting to know movies today, the object, the hour, the manner of their viewing is theirs to dictate, and I suspect that those with real interest in movies approach them much the way that many used to approach nineteenth-century literature: with care, & in a spirit of curatorial idealism. There’s more than enough trash of the moving-image variety on TV, online, on smartphones, and in video-games to stimulate the senses.

Part 2:

I have always been interested in candidly documenting the effect all kinds of movies have on me; a vast proportion of my writing is entwined with evanescent objects, movies that probably still exist in certain video libraries but could hardly conjure for a viewer today the magic that I once experienced. This is the peculiar lot of the moviegoer. I still recall being thirteen, on the puberty cusp, and going to the cinema from my home about 100 yards from Lake Ontario, and only a five minute ride---on my bike, or a fifteen minute walk with a boyfriend---to see some grim World War II film, or to watch some western or romance narrative. I remember flakes of snow coming down in perfect slow motion as I staggered out of the theater & into the parking lot, just able to find the outlines of my car or bike. As overpowering as the movie seemed to me back then, that post-facto snapshot remains my chief recollection of the film now.

When I consult You Tube, and try to recreate this early thrill, what strikes me is the melodrama of the movie’s trailer, or the medley of scenes and costumes intended to evoke the horror of the Holocaust.  Of course I’d need to see the entire film in a theater full of people.  Maybe it would help to be thirteen again. One of the things my writing implies is that the intensity of the moviegoing experience—sitting in a dark, cave-like space, not unlike the inside of your head when your eyes are shut, yet surrounded by strangers whose presence heightens your own reactions—restores you to yourself and can be the source of not just cultural knowledge but self-knowledge. To me it is almost, almost secondary, now in retrospect, whether the desired rush I once felt at the movies came from the Grand Illusion of the movie or the experience of that Animal House, the theatre. It seems, as I look back more than 60 years after those first years of going to the movies, like a piece of sweet nostalgia with all sorts of bits & pieces in my memory bank. It's a kind of grey wash in the back of my head in the world of imagination and memory.


THE MOVIE AND THE BOOK

From his earliest days as a director, Bruce Beresford was intermittently active as a writer about movies. His articles on the subject were invariably informed by his thorough knowledge of the medium — he had seen almost everything, in all languages — and made especially vivid by his congenital inability to hedge his bets. If he thought a laurelled classic was a dud, he would say so. Similarly, he could spot the hidden success lurking in the work of an otherwise unfortunate name. Above all, he never fell for the auteur theory in any of its forms. What counted was the actual film, not the reputation. Unfortunately his written work about other people's movies had to be bludgeoned out of him by desperate editors who found that a promised article had to be postponed until one of Beresford's own movies was finished.

"It's worth pointing out," writes Bruce Beresford(1940- ), an Australian film director who has made more than 30 feature films over a 40-year career,
"that there is no intrinsic reason why literary-film adaptations should be particularly successful."  A high proportion of "quality" novels are not even suitable for transcription to another medium. Many novels are famous for their prose style, colorful characters, themes and so on: factors which can obscure the absence of other useful ingredients, such as a coherent plot. In a film, most of the characteristics that distinguish a literary work are stripped away, and this can reveal the lack of a well constructed story, or convincing dialogue — and be fatal.

"Almost all of the adaptations of Hemingway novels have been extraordinarily dull," writes Beresford.  "The delicate mood of Scott Fitzgerald's works has not been captured on screen, though the slight plot lines have been all too apparent. The Great Gatsby — so widely admired, such a fascinating novel — has been filmed four times, every version a disaster." Beresford goes on: "England has fared somewhat better, especially in adaptations of juicy and exuberant Victorian novels, often for television. Many of the films of the Dickens novels have been quite outstanding, despite the film medium laying bare Dickens's quite inept plotting, with its reliance on coincidence for resolutions. Jane Austen, needless to say, has been a continued and resounding success. The BBC does a new version of Pride and Prejudice every three or four years." For more of Beresford on books into film go to:http://www.clivejames.com/bruce-beresford/filming


MIA FARROW AND THE OMEN: 666

Part 1:

I saw The Omen(2006) in mid-January 2011 on Australian TV.  The movie did not start until 1 in the morning. I was too tired to watch the whole movie. Not having a taping facility I went to bed about 2 a.m. and missed the last half of the movie.  I read the story of The Omen on Wikipedia out of curiosity the next day.  I also read a digest of the other Omen films which have been available for film buffs in the 30 years from 1976 to 2006. The Omen, Damien: Omen II, Omen III: The Final Conflict and Omen IV: The Awakening as well as The Omen:666.  Now you can watch replays on TV. You can watch them on DVD and, if you are into the new technology, on your iPod or iPad. I’m happy to wait until movies come onto TV as The Omen:666 did, as I say, in January 2011.

Mia Farrow appeared as Mrs. Baylock, the Satanic nanny, in the remake of The Omen:666. Though the film itself received a lukewarm critical reception, Farrow's performance was widely praised, with the Associated Press(AP) declaring "thank heaven for Mia Farrow." Her performance resulted in, as the AP put it: "a rare instance of this new Omen improving on the old one." Filmcritic.com added: "it is Farrow who steals the show", and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer described her performance as "a truly delicious comeback from her role as Rosemary in Rosemary’s Baby. Mia Farrow is chillingly believable as a sweet-talking nanny from hell." -Ron Price, Wikipedia, 17 January 2011.

As I surveyed all these Omens(1)
I became more interested in Mia
Farrow......All this 666 stuff, this
Book of Revelation playing is a
very old game going away-back
to the 1st century with this piece
of apocalyptic literature. And it is
a game anyone can play with just
a little keen interest in the biblical
symbolism of.............this 666!!(2)

Part 2:

(1) Wikipedia and several other internet sites provided me with excellent overviews of the entire set of Omen films.
(2) I have come to favour ‘Abdul-Baha’s explanation that 666 applies to the first Umayyad Caliph who came to power in the year 666 of the Christian era. I have yet to come across a Christian sect or denomination who shares this interpretation.  Most people I have known in my travels through the secular wilderness have little interest in prophecy. Ali, it should be noted, was the true successor according to the Shi'ah branch of Islam. Muhammad publicly named him “Leader” or “Imam” a few months before his death. (See: M. Gail, Six Lessons on Islam 6.29)

After the assassination of Ali in AD 661, Muawiya seized power over the expanding Muslim world, proclaiming himself the first Caliph of the Umayyad dynasty and Empire in the notorious year of AD 666.  Muawiya’s destructive edicts crippled Islam spiritually. He made the Muslim capital unholy Damascus instead of holy Mecca, and for good measure desecrated the Mecca birthplace and the Medina tomb of Muhammad. His Umayyad Caliphate carved out the world’s biggest Empire at the time.  See: (1) Robert F. Riggs, “The Rise of the Caliphate,” in The Apocalypse Unsealed, Philosophical Library, NY, 1981, pp. 165-175; and (2) The Revelation History of Muslim Militarism | Apocalypse Secrets. The Umayyad Caliphate of Muawiya (CE 666–749).

Ron Price 17 January 2011 to 5 September 2011

DRAMA’S SUB-CATEGORY:CHICK-FLICKS

Part 1:

It has been 21 years, 1995 to 2015, since I last taught Shakespeare or any other drama content in my classes in an educational system. The drama I did teach from 1989 to 1994 was part of English literature at the matriculation level in Western Australia.  In these last 21 years, as I completed my teaching career and went through the first 15 years of my retirement from the world of jobs, I have accumulated additional notes on more than 2 dozen dramatists, several dozen directors and actors, and a host of films.

I can see a potential for my personal study of drama in the years ahead, as I head into the last years(70-80) of my late adulthood(60-80), and old age(80+), if I last that long.  This potential is especially due to my exposure to drama on TV in these years of my retirement, 1999 to 2015, as I say, from the world of jobs: 1959 to 1999 and, if I include my student years and part-time jobs: 1949-1999. 

The cinema is now too costly with my finances circumscribed by a pension which does not allow extravagances like movies, restaurants and trips to tourist destinations, although my wife indulges a little within the bounds, the bonds, of our limited finances.  I have a fertile base, though, for the study of drama which began to be built in the plays I studied in primary school as far back, if I recall correctly, as 1954, and at high school from 1957/8 until 1962/63, the year I graduated from secondary school.  This base was also built on the drama I taught in my years as a primary and secondary teacher: 1967 to 1973.  Drama was part of the school curriculum during those years and my job was to teach it.

Part 2:

During the 66 years I have been exposed to dramatic productions in one form or another, 1950 to 2015, I have rarely attended live theatre.  I can number on the fingers of one hand the major plays I recall seeing during those years: Waiting for Godot in 1974 at the Tasmanian college of advanced education, and two or three plays put on by Baha’i theatre groups in Perth Western Australia in the 1990s. There were, of course, the inevitable short dramatic sketches put on at innumerable Baha’i conferences and summer schools, in my own classroom and at schools where I taught or attended.  Such were some of the elements of the more than half a century of influences from the world of drama on my literary proclivities.

The first Shakespearean play I recall studying was in grade 11 at the age of 16 in 1961—more than 50 years ago.  From grade 11 to grade 13 one of Shakespeare’s plays was studied each year.  After 1962/3 I never studied a Shakespearean play again until 1989 to 1994 when I was teaching senior high school students. Television and radio, especially TV of course, has provided much of that fertile ground for dramatic productions of Shakespeare among other dramatists.  I have seen or heard a variety of dramatic productions in the electronic media as early as 1950 right up to 2015, with some 20 years off for the period when I had no TV and listened to little to no theatre, as far as I can recall, on the radio in the years: 1956-1976.  I have yet to build on this exposure to 40+ years of dramatic productions from TV and radio experiences, and my work as a teacher, although I have written several prose-poems about my experience of particular dramas.  I have always found TV productions of the Bard difficult to follow. 

Drama has never had a significant impact on my emotional and intellectual life, I must confess, & a confession it is.  There has been an expectation, at least in some of the circles in which I have moved for at least half a century, including my consanguineal family, although not my two affinal families, that I should get something out of drama.  I am inclined to think they are at least partly right.  I have, of course, done some studying of major dramatists, but much remains to be done as I have indicated above.  Since my retirement from FT, PT and volunteer-work in the years 1999 to 2005, I have come to study drama as a result of the daily TV programs that have become part of my life.  I now watch an average of two hours a day of TV and have done so since 1999, finally getting what you might call a balance of the electronic-visual medium after more than 30 years in my life with no TV: 1943-1949, and 1953 to 1978. 

Part 3:

Before that, before 1999, I had too many demands on my time, demands from: employment, the Baha’i Faith and family activities, as well as various social responsibilities.  Of course, this was not the case back in the early 1950s when my parents had a TV.  They got rid of it because they felt that 2 hours of TV-watching a day had a negative effect on my studies.  I'm not sure they were right, but I had no say in the matter back in my ealry childhood when the TV was sold. It did not return to my private life until 1978.

In the last 15 years, then, I have begun to make up for the lack of exposure to drama; the lack of my study of this important part of contemporary culture has begun to turn a corner in both exposure and study of this art form.  I hope in the years that lie ahead that I can continue to remedy my lifelong, my somewhat unfortunate, deficiency in this area of the arts and culture.  I must admit, as I pointed out above, to a curious disinclination in my earlier years to be part of live dramatic productions as audience or as student.  Perhaps this has been due to my many other intellectual interests and the simple demands of life. I feel an enthusiasm for only some things, ideas, fields and subjects.  My interests in drama have expanded, as I say, in the last 15 years due to the stimulus of TV and I look forward to a future enriched by dramatic productions and the works of dramatists.-Ron Price, Pioneering Over Five Epochs, 2/7/'12 to 21/5/'14.

The above statement makes no mention
of cinema, the pictures as it is called very
colloquially.   I started to get heavy doses
of movies at the Roxy theatre where I set-
up the marquee and got free tickets back
in the fifties, and for the next fifty years I
occasionally went to the movies…..As the
years went on I said to myself “I can watch
that on TV, if I just wait long enough;” and:

a lot  of good drama had moved to television
anyway as my pocketbook had also moved
to thinner-pastures with little cash to play
with, as I headed into & through the years
of my retirement…….And so it is that I am:

making-up for that dearth; I now have a
file nearly 25 years in the making with a
lot of notes on drama and the TV gives
me tons and tons of stuff for analysis!!1

(1) I wrote this piece, in the process revising an old-piece, after watching a study, a documentary on one of the seven categories of drama, melodrama, and its sub-category chick-flicks. The doco was entitled:
From Weepies to Chick-Flicks, ABC1TV, 3:55 to 4:45 p.m., 1 July 2012.

Ron Price
15/7/'10 to 21/5/'14. 


LOOK BACK IN ANGER

The movie Look Back in Anger was released in New York on 15 September 1959 three weeks before I joined the Baha’i Faith in Ontario at the age of 15. The movie was based on a play written by John Osborne (1929-1994), a play which premiered at London’s Royal Court Theatre on 8 May 1956.  The play was a strongly autobiographical piece written by a man who had five marriages and many personal battles in his lifetime---and it caused a revolution in British theatre, a revolution which Osborne felt was only on the surface. His work was part of “an unparalleled, mid-century period of dramatic brilliance.”(1)

My interest in Osborne has been due to several factors not the least of which were/are his two volumes of autobiography: A Better Class of Person (1981) and Almost a Gentleman (1991). David Hare, English playwright and theatre and film director, said in his 1995 memorial address at Osborne's funeral: “John Osborne devoted his life to trying to forge some sort of connection between the acuteness of his mind and the extraordinary power of his heart.” This connection between heart and mind is critical for any aspiring writer and poet, indeed, any human being.

I was just finishing grade 6 at the time Look Back in Anger hit the stage in London and looking forward to a summer of baseball as the homerun king in the peewee league of the small town of Burlington in Ontario’s Golden Horseshoe. In the early 1990s, by the time Osborne was finishing his 40 year long career as a playwright, I was setting my eye on finishing my 40 year long working life as a teacher among many other employment roles. -Ron Price with thanks to (1) David Hare, “A lifelong satirist of prigs and puritans,” Memorial Service Speech for John Osborne in June 1995.

I watched this movie this weekend.
I may have been working marquee
at the Roxy theatre in Burlington
when this movie came out in 1959.

I would not have wanted your life,
John, for all your popularity, fame,
and wealth. I had a tough enough
time with my own slings & arrows.

That world of false values depicted
in your plays, John, is still with us.
I’m going to look into those two
autobiographies--especially after
watching this weekend that turning-
point, yours, in that post-war British
theatre. Look Back in Anger and the
portrayal of a generation of angry
young men I did not see back then.

I had my anger later in the early ‘60s,
John, but it was dissipated, reoriented,
and channelled due to my espousal of a
new religion which had begun to grow in
the heart of a deeply conservative country,
a country which had been my home for two
decades by the time that anger came to the
surface and needed working in & through.

Ron Price
23 January 2011 to 5 September 2011


My posts on some movies are found below as well as the responses of others to my posts at various internet sites:
http://www.movieweb.com/u/ronprice ...I became too ill to add items here

http://www.talk-movies.com/comedy/8368-monty-python-deals-obsolescent-soon-forgotten-doctrines
(click on my photo and then on the words 'Find all posts by RonPrice--86 posts)

http://netflixcommunity.ning.com/profile/RonPrice.......I became too ill to add items here


http://www.empireonline.com.au/forum/tm.asp?m=129884&mpage=1&key=&NID=0#129887.......I became too ill to add items here


http://www.filmcrave.com/movie_talk_topics ...I became too ill to add items here


http://www.mobileread.com/forums/showthread

The First Animated Film: 1937  
(click on my photo and then on the words "Find all posts by RonPrice" to read many of my pieces at this site)

Beatrix Potter 
(click on my photo, then on the word statistics, & then on the words "Find all posts by RonPrice" to access posts I have written at this site over the years.)

The internet is now brimming with articles about cinema, articles from a host of sources. Here is one:

http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2011/jul/14/variety-movie-experience/



IS FILM ALL WE HAVE?

It’s been sixty years since the French writer and film-maker Alain Robbe-Grillet(1922-2008) declared the word “literary” a pejorative.  He insisted that the surface of things, as in a film, is all we can authentically know; and that presenting the psychology of the characters is somehow meretricious. Instead, what affects us, what persists in our memory are the gestures themselves, the objects, the movements, and the outlines.  As for the novel’s characters, they may themselves suggest many possible interpretations; they may, according to the preoccupations of each reader, accommodate all kinds of comment—psychological, psychiatric, religious, or political—yet their indifference to these “potentialities” will soon be apparent.

FILM CRITICISM


Film criticism is the analysis and evaluation of films and the film medium. In general, it can be divided into journalistic criticism such as appears regularly in newspapers, magazines and other popular, mass-media outlets & academic criticism by film scholars that is informed by film theory and published in academic journals. Film critics working for newspapers, magazines, broadcast media, and online publications, mainly review new releases, although some reviewers include reviews of older "classic" films. The plot summary and description of a film that makes up the majority of the review can have an impact on whether readers or listeners decide to see a film.

In the 2000s, the impact reviews have on a film's box office performance and DVD rentals/sales have become a matter for debate. Some analysts argue that modernmovie marketing, using pop culture convention appearances (e.g., Comicon) andsocial media along with traditional means of advertising, have become so invasive and well financed that established reviewers with legitimate criticism cannot be heard over this promotional content. Moreover, this has led, in part, to a decline in the readership of many reviewers for newspapers and other print publications. There are less film critics on television and radio in the last thirty years. Most of the discussion of film on television is focused on the amount of box office business a film does, as if financial success were the only criterion needed to define artistic success. Today arts criticism in general does not hold the same place it once held with the general public.

Today, fan-run film analysis websites like Box Office Prophets and Box Office Guru routinely factor in general public film review opinion with those of more experienced reviewers in their assessment of a film. Other websites, such as Rotten Tomatoes, combines all reviews on a specific film published online and in print to come up with an aggregated rating, which in the case of Rotten Tomatoes is known as a "freshness rate." Some well-known journalistic critics have included: James Agee (Time (magazine),The Nation); James Berardinelli; Vincent Canby (The New York Times); Roger Ebert (Chicago Sun-Times, At the Movies with Ebert & Roeper); Mark Kermode(BBC); Pauline Kael (The New Yorker); Derek Malcolm (The Guardian); Michael Phillips (Chicago Tribune); and Joel Siegel (Good Morning America).

Variety Film Reviews is the 24-volume hardcover reprint of feature film reviews by the weekly entertainment tabloid-size magazine Variety from 1907
to 1996. Film reviews continued to be published in the weekly magazine after the reprints were discontinued. For more:

 


Online film reviews

Some websites, such as Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic, seek to improve the usefulness of film reviews by compiling them and assigning a score to each in order to gauge the general reception a film receives. Other sites such as Spill.com review sites with ratings such as "rent it" or "matinée" to tell the viewer in what setting to watch the film rather than a numerical score. The Online Film Critics Society, an international professional association of Internet-based cinema reviewers, consists of writers from all over the world. A number of websites allow Internet users to submit movie reviews and scores to allow a broad consensus review of a movie. Some websites specialize in narrow aspects of film reviewing. For instance, there are sites that focus on specific content advisories for parents to judge a film's suitability for children. Others focus on a religious perspective. Still others highlight more esoteric subjects such as the depiction of science in fiction films. One such example is Insultingly Stupid Movie Physics by Intuitor. One Website, Everyone's a Critic, allows anyone to publish film reviews and comment on them.

Blogging has also introduced opportunities for a new wave of amateur film critics to have their opinions heard. These review blogs may focus on one genre, director or actor, or encompass a much wider variety of films. Friends, friends of friends, or strangers are able to visit these blogsites, and can often leave their own comments about the movie and/or the author's review. Although much less frequented than their professional counterparts, these sites can gather a following of like-minded people who look to specific bloggers for reviews as they have found that the critic consistently exhibits an outlook very similar to their own.

Many websites are now blurring the gap between movie blogs and movie review sites. These community based websites allow users to publish movie reviews from their own blogs the site, meaning the content is community-driven. This method gives amateur and professional movie reviewers an equal platform to express their opinions and comment on each other's work. These kind of websites allow smaller bloggers the opportunity to showcase their work to a wider audience, and submit their ratings on movies which help to establish an overall score for that particular movie. Community-driven review sites have allowed the common movie goer to express their opinion on films. Many of these sites allow users to rate films on a 0 to 10 scale, while some rely on the star rating system of 0–5 or 0–4 four stars. The votes are then culled into an overall rating and ranking for any particular film. Some of these community driven review sites include Reviewer, Movie Attractions, Flixster, FilmCrave, Flickchart, and Rotten Tomatoes. Some online niche websites provide comprehensive coverage of the independent sector; usually adopting a style closer to print journalism. They tend to prohibit adverts and offer uncompromising opinions free of any commercial interest. Their film critics normally have an academic film background. For more:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Film_criticism

 

A FILM SITE THAT WANTS TO LINK WITH THIS SUB-SECTION OF MY WEBSITE

From time to time film sites ask to link with my website. I don't link them all but the site below is the first:
http://www.meltedjoystick.com