>some favorite sites

>My sidebar keeps growing. I want to reduce the number of links, but I just can’t. So here are a few I like the most.

Recently I discovered Bike Snob NYC. This has got to be one of the funniest blogs I have come across – a little ‘off color’ (whatever that means) but at least I laugh and that’s what matters.

For those of you who like to jerry-rig broken things or laugh at those who do, I highly recommend There, I Fixed It. This blog is a testament to the incredible variety of human creativity when it is combined with idiocy.

Ever wonder why you feel a little at odds with the ‘exciting’ world of retail marketing? Well, you should check out Retail Anarchy. I find myself slightly aghast at what we have come to accept as ordinary: horrible products and horrible marketing ideas.

Somewhere between There, I Fixed It and Retail Anarchy is Item Not As Described. I guess one could say this is a kind of salute to Craig’s list, only not a salute.

If there is any blog where you can spend most of your life laughing, cringing, (once again) and aghast it’s at the Fail Blog. This is truly one of the best blogs in the universe of bloginess.

I’ll be back some other time with more links, but these will suffice for now.

>podcasts for the movie crowd


I have become something of a podcast nut lately. There is a ever growing number of podcasts on just about every possible topic, including movies. The following is a list of the movie-related ones I have discovered. All are available in the iTunes store for free. I’m sure most of you know about these already.

NPR Movies is of the typical NPR genre: Staid, subdued, intelligent, and hosted by emotionally controlled individuals who come across more as radio hosts than film buffs. Not only film reviews, this show has a magazine format which includes good interviews and pieces on various aspects of filmmaking and the film industry. As one would expect from NPR, the production quality is exceptional. NPR also has a the ability to interview film industry notables. What is lacks, however, is cinephilia passion as well as deep analysis of films. (Something that is largely lacking in all the podcasts. I address this more in my comments at the end.)
Content: 4
Creativity: 3.5
Production quality: 5
Total Score: 4.2

Filmspotting is maybe the most representative of the cinephilia ethos. Filmspotting is my pick for the best overall podcast on the list. The hosts are true film fanatics who exude a love of all things cinema, but also back it up with knowledge. They also have a good chemistry as they banter their way through reviews, opinions, poll results, and lists. What keeps this podcast moving is the combination of wit, pace, and the ability of the hosts to draw connections between many films – as any good cinephile can do. This is currently my favorite of the film podcasts though its overall score is the same as NPR Movies.
Content: 4
Creativity: 4.5
Production quality: 4
Total Score: 4.2

Movies 101 is a rather straightforward version of film reviewing. Three people talk about a weekly list of films in a roundtable format. The hosts are knowledgeable and congenial. This show does not have nearly the energy of Filmmspotting or the slick production values of NPR, but it is a decent and intelligent movie review show. I have to say this show is not geared toward the younger crowd or the cinephile crowd, but a thoughtful middle-aged-plus crowd that likes their low cholesterol popcorn.
Content: 2.5
Creativity: 2
Production quality: 3
Total Score: 2.5

Movies You Should See is a hip, edgy (what does that mean exactly?), roundtable discussion of old and new films by enthusiasts (though not cinephiles – if such a distinction can be made) who talk as much about themselves as about the supposed topic. Most of the shows take looks at older films, which makes me happy. Although the production quality is fair and the conversations can seem to go on too long at times, the group is funny and their language is sometimes hilariously profane. The format, however, is simply a small group of 20/30 somethings gabbing about movies the way most any intelligent group would, which makes it both interesting and leaves one thinking, “don’t I already get enough of this in my own life?” Still, it is worth keeping in one’s queue.
Content: 3.5
Creativity: 3
Production quality: 2.5
Total Score: 3

For the most part these podcasts are a great addition to other film-related resources, like blogs and film mags. On the other hand, what I would love to hear is a podcast that incorporates deeper film criticism rather than the hosts merely having a conversation about current films and entertaining us with an unscripted light-weight debate.

I would like to hear a podcast that considers trends in film theories, connections with academic currents, film history, and aesthetics. I would also like to hear a podcast that finds and explores the kinds of living connections films have with the other arts, with culture and society, with language and psychology, and with the social sciences.

In essence, I would love to hear a podcast that incorporates the best of the film and media professors I had in college with the best of the film critics doing a combination of an off-the-cuff as well as scripted show, maybe something like Radio Lab for movies. (Ah Radio Lab, maybe the best podcast in the world.)

Do you know of any others worth listening to?

>A through K links

Screening the Past’s
Field survey: the poll results
This has got to be one of the most interesting lists I’ve come across in a long time. It is an informal survey of key film-related writings and cinematic events over the past ten years or so as highlighted by film scholars. There is a lot here to chew on. Thanks Girish for posting this at Dr. Mabuse’s Kaleido-Scope.

stunning photographs by Chris Jordan

Cell phones #2, Atlanta 2005 44 x 90″

Fascinating photo collages of typologies of everyday life by Mark Luthringer.

The opening shot from The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser (1974), a.k.a. Every Man for Himself and God Against All:

This is one of my favorite opening shots. From the first time I saw it on video, somewhere in the mid 1980s, it has haunted me.

Art assignments for ordinary people. Yes, you too can get involved!

Photography by Michael Stipe (yes, that Stipe)

Delicate Situations

Extremely independent radio online: SomaFM

The Immigrant (1917)
Over at their blog Kristin Thompson and David Bordwell wish classical cinema a happy birthday. They pick 1917 as the key year. They list Chaplin’s The Immigrant as one of the important films of that year.

My next important project: How to Brew

My favorite segment from the 1987 ensenmble film Aria:
Directed by Charles Sturridge. The music is from G. Verid’s La forza del destino.

>elements and links

>I have been hunting through some old film theory books I have sitting on my shelves. One topic that always fascinates me is the question of what makes a film a film? Related is what makes a film cinematic? Other questions arise: What are the fundamental elements of cinema? or, What are those salient characteristics that make a film distinct from a non-film? I’ve dealt with some of these questions in my post on Jeff Wall. And somewhat less in my post on Cindy Sherman. Both of which deal with non-cinema art that has (debatedly so) cinematic qualities. Some other interesting comments and debate related to the topic are at Girish’s blog on the work of Michael Snow. In this spirit, and tangentially related, here is an interesting quote from one of those old film theory books:

But a problem surfaces at once regarding film. What are the elements? Most film aestheticians seem to think they have to start by identifying unique elements of film, thus defining cinematic specificity in terms of attributes and capacities of the medium or of what is urged as the viewer’s properly cinematic experience. Thus we have Rudolf Arnheim’s “distortions” or “restrictions” “of the images we receive of the physical world,” which properly exploit the “peculiar possibilities of cinematographic technique”; Eisenstein’s “shot and montage, [which] are the basic elements of cinema”; F. E. Sparshott’s “technologically determined” “alienated vision” of dreamlike film space and time; Bazin’s “filtered” imprintings, which are “fragments of imaged reality”; V. F. Perkin’s “opportunities of the medium,” which amount to the discipline implied by cinema’s recording/realistic and creating/illusionistic aspects in narrative mainstream films; Siegfied Kracauer’s “basic” and “technical” properties of the medium; and such precise specification of the cinematic elements as Christian Metz’s “audio-visual, moving, multiple, mechanical, iconic images.”

We agree on the importance of all of these aspects of film. Analyzing them, we can say much about what makes films filmic. But it seems to us that they are not minimal, but emerge from elements. What elements? Areas for the visual aspects of film design, sounds for the auditory, words for the verbal. We don’t think we need define special elements of film, though it is quite natural to use terms like those above in a very different context from determination of the elements of film. To use them is to discuss film history, to consider and report on what has been, is, or could be most characteristic of films. The terms are for what Christian Metz calls the “language” that has developed from film’s “fine stories,” a language of connotations deposited with the knowledgeable film viewer like Bazin’s “fine carpet of silt and gold dust,” as a set of special expectations of film experience.

-from Film Criticism: A Counter Theory, by William Cadbury & Leland Poague, (1982), p. 5


Some links for the curious:

Spark – according to the site: Spark is your guide to the Next Big Thing. On-air and online, join Nora Young for a surprising and irreverent look at tech, trends, and fresh ideas.

Photography of the Unexpected and Neglected Architecture – a fascinating photographic collection of old and abandoned buildings and structures. Each one could be the location for a film, or scene within a film.

Mars Hill Audio bonus interviews – great, thought provoking discussions on just about anything to do with the arts, culture, society, and faith.

Some stunning film miniatures by artist Sheri Wills.

An interesting tidbit on the scale & potential of solar power.

Some uplifting news from Reuters. It’s nice to know that someone is covering the important stuff in the midst of all the fluff.

I hope the food is as good as the view, or as valuable as one’s life.

Some of the blogs I’m reading:

The Amateur Gourmet is a witty, insightful, and refreshingly fun food blog. You will find restaurant reviews, recipes, personal anecdotes, and lots of observations on the world of food.

I just discovered Thompson on Hollywood. Anne Thompson is deputy editor at Variety. This is her personal blog where she can let loose a bit from all that professional industry insider writing she’s does at her day job.

Another great food blog, The Girl Who Ate Everything is full of excellent photos and fun stories.

>a pocket full of links (small pocket, good links)

>You thought statistics were boring? No way! Hans Rosling debunks myths about the so-called “developing world” using extraordinary animation software developed by his Gapminder Foundation.
>> talk given in
>> talk given in

“The implication here is that everyday people can’t see over their own biases and deliver objective reviews — but there’s no assurance that professional reviewers can, either[.]”
>>Amateur retaurant critics get the same flack as amateur film critics. Here

‘Two weeks ago I used a computer for the first time. I learned about Google and searched for “windmill” and “solar energy.” I was amazed to learn how many entries there were for both subjects. My friends showed me how to create an email address and now I am on Gmail. Now I am practicing sending and receiving emails when I have access to a computer.’
>>A great new blog from a young man in Africa who has built his own windmill to generate electricity for his family. Worth reading from the beginning. I am inspired.

“I point out that he is clearly unaware of the bigger picture. If he had read what I had (maybe on the internet) he’d realise that this is only the tip of the iceberg.”
>>A little historical perspective from Umberto Eco.

The Amateur Gourmet travels from New York to the Northwest on a film location-scouting adventure and writes about food, camping, rain, and more.

The Shins play in the streets ofParis here
Arcade Fire plays in an elevator here

Oh yes, I made it to the Friday Screen Test at DVD Panache!