Sunday, 29 January 2012

Conversations from the REMIX CINEMA Workshop

In conversation with Richard Misek at the Remix Cinema Workshop 2011

Film Studies For Free took a little break to meet a few deadlines in the last two weeks. Normal service resumes this week, thankfully.

In the next days, there will be an entry of links in memory of Theo Angelopoulos who sadly died last week. So, do please come back for that.

Today, though, FSFF posts links to some recently uploaded audio files which very valuably record great interviews with the contributors to an important workshop conference that took place last March at Oxford University.

The event explored the topic of Remix Cinema: the collaborative making, deconstruction and distribution of digital artefacts, and was part of a wider project exploring the role of audio-visual remix practices in contemporary digital culture.

Thanks to everyone taking part for making these excellent resources available to everyone working in the field.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Vertigoed! The film scholarly value of mash-up?

Last updated January 20, 2012

A psychosexually obsessed man wanders the streets of 1950s San Francisco; he spies [on] seemingly unavailable blonde women; he makes a woman fall from a height; she drops into water; the scene is filled with circle imagery, especially circles within circles.....  [See the original sequence]
As Film Studies For Free's readers may have heard, Kim Novak, co-star of Vertigo, took out an ad in trade magazine Variety to protest about the recent use of an excerpt from Bernard Herrmann's score for Alfred Hitchcock's 1958 film in Michel Hazanavicius’s 2011 modern silent film The Artist. "I want to report a rape," went the headline. "I feel as if my body - or at least my body of work -- has been violated by the movie, The Artist," Novak wrote. She went on to criticise the “use and abuse [of] famous pieces of work to gain attention and applause for other than what they were intended.”

There was quite a strong international reaction to Novak's intervention. Some were dismayed by her recourse to the lexicon of rape; others were more sympathetic to her stance and background as someone very much not from the digital age of remix and creative appropriation; still others remind us that, in 'Scene d'Amour', the musical Vertigo theme in question, Herrmann was, of course, inspirationally reworking some of Richard Wagner's motifs from his Tristan und Isolde and Parsifal. Good artists copy; great artists steal?

Enter the story the PRESS PLAY blog which launched a contest inviting readers to re-use Herrmann's "Scene d'Amour" music in their own mash-up, inspired by the idea that "Bernard Herrmann's Vertigo score is so passionate and powerful that it can elevate an already good scene -- and a familiar one at that -- to a higher plane of expression."

Film Studies For Free's author was only too happy to have a go, joining the legions of those who, like Hazanavicius, have used Herrmann's music in their work, in large or very small ways. Her choice of film sequence? One borrowed from The Sniper, Edward Dmytryk's 1952 film noir, with its own, obsessed, wandering male protagonist and San Francisco setting.

The Sniper was one of the films that probably directly inspired Vertigo, as well as Hitchcock's 1960 film Psycho -- see critic Dave Kehr's thoughts on this. The above mash-up chooses, then, to marry Herrmann's lush Wagnerian romance with the key 'amusement park' sequence from Dmytryk's brilliant film, with its astonishing performance of overt misogyny by Arthur Franz as Edward "Eddie" Miller -- perhaps the perfect, filmic, mirror-image of James Stewart's unforgettable, unconsciously misogynist, John "Scottie" Ferguson.

FSFF's author was excited to experience at first-hand the scholarly possibilities of remixing film clips in this way (the contest rules state that the original film sequence cannot be re-edited in any way -- except, if you choose to, by removing its sound -- in order not to cheat with the creative re-juxtaposition process).

Remixing is an astonishingly good (and amazingly easy) way of really -- almost literally -- getting inside a film sequence. It is thus a truly great exercise for all students of film with access to the right digital tools. Analysing just how the mash-up adapts the meaning of the original music and original sequence is rather educational and fun, too!

If you get your skates on with the Vertigo score exercise, there are still three days left for Press Play's contest entries. Click here to watch the (over 60) entries at present.

FSFF's favorite entry to the contest, so far, is a mash-up which, rather like its own, plays on the conscious or unconscious connections between an earlier film and Vertigo. It's Matthew Cheney's wonderful work with Mädchen in Uniform (the brilliant 1931 film by Leontine Sagan). But there are loads of other imaginative and highly satisfying remixes that you will enjoy checking out. UPDATE: the videographic legend that is Steven Boone just added a late Vertigoed entry which is FSFF's new favourite: a scene from Rise of the Planet of the Apes.

If you want to see even more brilliant, Vertigo mash-up work -- actually, a work of remix in a completely different, utterly sublime class -- you simply must check out The Vertigo Variations by remarkable critic-filmmaker B. Kite.

And, for more vertiginous sublimity, don't forget FSFF's very own Study of a Single Film: Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo entry.

The mash up video at the top of the post was made according to principles of Fair Use/Fair Dealing, with non-commercial scholarly and critical aims, and was published under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License in January 2012. 

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Latest issues of KINEMA: von Trier, Czech cinema, Romanian cinema, Woody Allen, cult cinema, de Mille, Schnabel, Practice vs. Theory

So bad it's good? Framegrab from The Room (Tommy Wiseau, 2003). Read Rod Stoneman's study of cult cinema "Inside The Room and Beyond"

Film Studies For Free continues to catch up with (fairly) recently published issues of online Film Studies journals. Below are links to the articles from the Spring and Fall 2011 issues of Canadian journal Kinema.

Lots of good stuff here, and even some good stuff on bad stuff, but FSFF especially recommends Mette Hjort's wonderful article on Lars von Trier.

Fall 2011
Spring 2011

Friday, 6 January 2012

40+ Essays on Film, Moving Image, and Digital Media in the Sarai Readers

Framegrab image of early action heroine "Fearless" Nadia (née Mary Ann Evans) in Miss Frontier Mail (Homi Wadia, 1936). Read Rosie Thomas's 2007 article on this film.

Today, Film Studies For Free focuses on, and links to, some remarkable film and digital media studies essays commissioned and edited by the Sarai Programme at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS), Delhi.

The Sarai Programme was initiated in 2000 by a group consisting of internationally renowned cinema scholar Ravi S. Vasudevan, Ravi Sundaram (both fellows at CSDS) and the members of the Raqs Media Collective (Jeebesh Bagchi, Monica Narula and Shuddhabrata Sengupta), a Delhi based group of media practitioners, documentarists, artists and writers.
Sarai's mission is to act as a platform for discursive and creative collaboration between theorists, researchers, practitioners and artists actively engaged in reflecting on contemporary urban spaces and cultures in South Asia. Its areas of interests include media research and theory, the urban experience in South Asia: history, environment, culture, architecture and politics, new and established media practices, media history, cinema, contemporary art, digital culture, the history and politics of technology, visual/technological cultures, free and open source software, social usage of software, the politics of information and communication, online communities and web-based practices.
The below collection of articles -- painstakingly drawn from the numerous, openly accessible Sarai Readers produced by the collective -- reflect the above interests, but have been curated here by FSFF because of their particular, potential relevance to scholars of cinema and related moving image and digital media studies.

    Thursday, 5 January 2012

    FILM VERSUS FILM Series with Dustin Morrow, Chris Cagle, David Cooper Moore and Matt Prigge

    The Film Versus Film crew tackles the question, "Who's the best drunk character in all of film?" Is it the antihero from Red Lights or the matriarch from La Cienaga? The panel raises issues of gender representation as they discuss the characters from Sex and the City, and discuss such functional drunks as Paul Newman in The Verdict and Anne Bancroft in The Graduate. Paul Newman's Cool Hand Luke also comes up, as does Dudley Moore's Arthur.

    Film Studies For Free is a big fan of the work of film scholar and blogger Chris Cagle (see his website Category D: A Film and Media Studies blog) and so was curious about the below press release when it landed in its inbox.
    Lively New Web Series Focuses on Film Discussion
    Film versus Film is an exciting new web series centering on the discussion of popular cinema. The show’s panel is made up of filmmakers, professors, film critics and film scholars. The panel’s discussions stem from tongue-in-cheek, pop culture-oriented “categories” like Best Use of a Pop Song in Film, Film Failure that Should Have Spawned a Great Franchise, Most Unpleasant Christmas Movie, and Hammiest Performance Ever by a Film Actor
         The series was the brainchild of Portland filmmaker and professor Dustin Morrow, who thought there might be an audience for the funny, passionate, good-natured arguments he was having at the pub with his fellow cinephiles over such film-obsessive questions as What’s the best film ever made starring an animal?, What’s the most uncomfortable nude scene on film?, and What films have actually been elevated by the performances of Keanu Reeves? 
         The series is shot in Philadelphia, and features in addition to Morrow, professor and film scholar Chris Cagle, media educator and documentarian David Cooper Moore, and journalist and film critic Matt Prigge. The series is directed and edited by filmmaker Matt Boyle. Each Monday’s webisode tackles one question, and runs five to ten minutes. The series can be seen on YouTube, Vimeo, and at The series can also be followed on Facebook and Twitter.
         For more information, the Philadelphia Daily News recently ran a full page interview with series producer Dustin Morrow in both its print and web editions. 
    Having now enjoyed a few of the Film Versus Film panel discussions, FSFF (who, when it's not bringing you quality film scholarly links, is almost always down the pub having discussions like these with its mates -- slightly less dudecentric ones, it must be said ...) was only too happy to convey the news about this fun and lightly informative web series to its readers.

    Tuesday, 3 January 2012

    Repulsive Film Studies? New issue of FILM-PHILOSOPHY on Cinematic Disgust

    [Tarja] Laine’s insights on disgust have important implications for thinking about the aesthetic paradox of unpleasure. In her assessment, [Repulsion (Roman Polanski, 1965)] offers a particularly pertinent limit-case in which disgust is not readily convertible into pleasurable cognitive satisfaction. Ultimately, her reading of the film suggests that we may need to re-think theories that construct unpleasure as antithetical to aesthetic experience. In this, she joins Korsmeyer and other thinkers who have recently suggested that we may need to abandon the pleasure-unpleasure binary, in favor of thinking about disgust as ‘modifier of attention, intensifying for a host of reasons some experience that the participant would rather have continue than not’ (Korsmeyer 2011, 118). Indeed, as Laine puts it, it is possible that what we value in cinematic renderings of disgust is precisely the ‘vivid and immediate experience’ that it offers us, ‘regardless of its non-pleasurable, non-rewarding features’. [Tina Kendall in her editor's 'Introduction: Tarrying with Disgust' for the Film-Philosophy special issue on Disgust, discussing Tarja Laine's brilliant article for that issue, as well as citing Carolyn Korsmeyer's Savoring Disgust: The Foul and the Fair in Aesthetics (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011)]
    Many of you will already have heard about the new issue of Film-Philosophy that came out in late December, but Film Studies For Free is obsessively completist in its mission to bring you news of notable, open access, film studies, hence this, otherwise possibly superfluous, entry.

    Besides, it's a brilliantly provocative special issue which successfully takes explorations of filmic disgust well beyond the, to date, canonical or entrenched Film Studies approaches to film horror. Despite some of the attractions of these approaches, for those of us marking undergraduate essays on horror cinema and television from time to time, this greater plurality of conceptual pathways into these topics is a Very Good Thing - that is, in FSFF's ever so humble view.

    Thanks so much for that, and more, Film-Philosophy!

    Vol 15, No 2 (2011): The Disgust Issue

    Guest Editor: Tina Kendall


    Book Reviews
    • Dina Iordanova, David Martin-Jones and Belén Vidal (2010) Cinema at the Periphery PDF Rowena Santos Aquino
    • Richard Greene and K. Silem Mohammad, eds. (2010) Zombies, Vampires, and Philosophy: New Life for the Undead PDF Caroline Walters
    • Joseph Mai (2010) Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne PDF R. D. Crano
    • Boaz Hagin (2010) Death in Classical Hollywood Cinema PDF Richard Lindley Armstrong
    • Peter Lee-Wright (2010) The Documentary Handbook PDF Wes Skolits
    • William Brown, Dina Iordanova and Leshu Torchin (2010) Moving People, Moving Images: Cinema and Trafficking in the New Europe PDF Alison Frank
    • Richard Misek (2010) Chromatic Cinema PDF Robert Barry
    • Alain Badiou (2010) Cinéma PDF Manuel Ramos
    • Annie van den Oever, ed. (2010) Ostrannenie PDF Lara Alexandra Cox
    • David Martin-Jones (2010) Scotland: Global Cinema: Genres, Modes and Identities PDF John Marmysz

    New Issue of CINEMA: Journal of Philosophy and the Moving Image

    Jeff Wall's photograph A Sudden Gust of Wind (after Hokusai), 1993 (courtesy of Wikipedia)

    Today, in its continuing series of catch up posts on new offerings from open access film e-journals, Film Studies For Free brings you links to the contents of the latest issue of Cinema: Journal of Philosophy and the Moving Image.

    Of particular interest, this time, are Tom McClelland's clear-eyed account of the respects 'in which the medium of film and the discipline of philosophy can intersect', Agustín Zarzosa's detailed evaluation of Rancière’s criticism of Deleuze, and Temenuga Trifonova's terrific discussion of the ways in which contemporary photography, like that of Jeff Wall mentioned above, 'seeks to reclaim the cinematic within the photographic from within the twilight of indexicality'.

    Cinema: Journal of Philosophy and the Moving Image, No. 2 (2011)

    Abstracts and Contributors

    • Questions for Jacques Rancière around his book Les écarts du cinéma (English version and French version): Conducted by Susana Nascimento Duarte
    Conference Report
    In Portuguese: 

    Monday, 2 January 2012

    New Issue of MOVIE: Lang, Preminger, découpage, PSYCHO and its remake, and filmmakers' choices

    Frame grab from Bonjour Tristesse (Otto Preminger, 1958). See Christian Keathley's article on découpage in this film here

    Film Studies For Free was thrilled that a new issue of MOVIE: A Journal of Film Criticism -- the best yet of this relaunched journal -- has recently hit the online newstands.

    Issue 3 contains part 2 of the marvellous Fritz Lang Dossier, with contributions by, among others, V. F. Perkins, Adrian Martin, Peter Evans, Stella Bruzzi, Ed Gallafent, and Deborah Thomas.

    There are also excellent articles on Preminger's film art, Psycho and its remake, and filmmakers' choices by Christian Keathley, Alex Clayton and John Gibbs.

    Links to all items are set out for you below.

    This issue edited by Douglas Pye and Michael Walker. Designed by Lucy Fife Donaldson, John Gibbs, and James MacDowell.

    New WORLD PICTURE on 'Wrong'

    A Fire in My Belly is an awkward work that at first glance can appear to be both hyperbolic or overreaching and inconsistent or contradictory. This short film resembles a travel log, an illustrated lecture, or an educational slide show that mixes the unpitying gaze of a mondo cane film (unwrapped mummies with gaping mouths, unusually disabled bodies performing daily tasks, animals forced into fighting by their human captors) with the deliriously overwrought expressionism of 1980s music videos (spinning eyeballs aflame, strobed flashes of milk splashes). The film also recalls major moments in the visual avant-garde of the twentieth century by invoking 1920s surrealist iconography, aping Eisenstein’s clunkier intellectual montages, and echoing the idolatry of Kenneth Anger’s films which themselves borrow from the formal idioms [of] religious and exploitation films. A Fire in My Belly overtly conflates symbolic registers and gains momentum by joining documentary footage of workers performing precarious tasks or snakes devouring their prey to staged studio shots of symbolic transactions involving leaking blood, throwing money, spinning globes, or torched marionettes.  [from Karl Schoonover's essay 'David Wojnarowicz's Graven Image: Cinema, Censorship, and Queers'; hyperlinks added by FSFF]

    Following its much appreciated seasonal break, a rather bleary-eyed but well-rested Film Studies For Free wishes its readers a very happy new year.

    Its first few posts of 2012 will be devoted to catching up with some new issues of online film and moving image studies related journals, starting with a listing of links to a new collection of work from one of the most original of such journals: World Picture on the concept of 'wrong'.

    FSFF particularly liked Schoonover on Wojnarowicz's A Fire in My Belly, (as above), Schwartz's riff on Pasolini, Malsky on dystopian sound, and Manon and Temkin on glitch art.

    WORLD PICTURE 6, 2011: Table of Contents