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Friday, February 24, 2017

The Language Of The New Music - Documentary about Wittgenstein and Schoenberg, 1985


This is a film about Ludwig Wittgenstein and Arnold Schonberg; two men whose lives and ideas run parallel in the development of Viennese radicalism. Both men emerged from the turmoil of the Habsburg Empire in its closing days with the idea of analyzing language and purging it with critical intent, believing that in the analysis and purification of language lies the greatest hope that we have. They never met and might never have fully understood one another, because while the nature of their genius they found themselves alone breaking new ground of the very frontiers of their respective disciplines. But their work springs from the same soil and shares a common ethical purpose, so that their ideas and methods echo and illuminate those of each other to a remarkable degree.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Une Femme Coquette (Jean-Luc Godard, 1955) with English subtitles


Jean-Luc Godard's Une Femme Coquette has had less than half a dozen public screenings since the 1960s; we were able to track down the only known 16mm print to a national film archive in Europe, where it was being stored unlisted for a private owner, to be loaned out only with the personal permission of Jean-Luc Godard himself. This makes it the holy grail of the game-changing New Wave era—a film so rare that it has often been listed as lost by biographies and film history books. And it might as well have been. No other surviving narrative film by a major, big-name director has been as difficult to see — until now.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Lives of Performers (Yvonne Rainer, 1972)



Lives of Performers, the first feature film by the choreographer, cofounder of the Judson Dance Theater, and author of 1965’s “No Manifesto.”

In her transition from dance to film, Rainer said yes: “Having survived my various physical and psychic traumas”—including a suicide attempt in 1971—“and emboldened by the women’s movement, I felt entitled to struggle with an entirely new lexicon. The language of specific emotional experience . . . promised all the ambivalent pleasures and terrors of the experiences themselves: seduction, passion, rage, betrayal, grief, and joy.”

Yet that surfeit of emotion is presented austerely and disjunctively in Lives of Performers, parenthetically labeled “a melodrama” by an opening title card. Indeed, the film revolves around a love triangle, a standard setup of the genre, focusing on a man involved with two women. These romantic entanglements, however, are delineated only after a prologue of sorts, featuring Rainer leading a rehearsal of Walk, She Said, a dance that includes the four main “protagonists” in the film: John Erdman, Valda Setterfield, Shirley Soffer, and Fernando Torm. (Of this quartet, only Setterfield, a member of Merce Cunningham’s troupe from 1964 to 1974, had previous professional dance experience.)

Over this footage, we hear Rainer’s directives: “Foot open, gaze goes to the window, gaze goes to closet.” The audio, save for a few instances, is almost entirely offscreen. Though the performers deliver their lines, as Rainer does, without inflection, their voices are distinct, a mix of accents from the UK (Setterfield), Chile (Torm), and Kings County (Soffer); the few sentences in a buttery French intonation are uttered by Babette Mangolte, the redoubtable cinematographer with whom Rainer would make two more films. (The same year that Lives of Performers was made, Mangolte began another important collaboration in New York, shooting Chantal Akerman’s La Chambre and Hotel Monterey.) We hear the pages of the script being turned, further estranging us from this spartan soap opera about a man who “can’t make up his mind”—though this distancing device never dilutes our fascination with the intensely private moments, sourced from dreams, perhaps from letters or diaries, presented on-screen.

William S. Burroughs - Valentine Day Reading (1965)

Gangster funerals, airline crashes, and Vietnam. Sound familiar? It should. The Dutch Schultz recording echoes the Death and Disaster series initiated by Andy Warhol in 1962 and concluded in 1965. Burroughs’ obsessions parallel Warhol’s closely. The Dutch Schultz cut-ups make me think of Warhol’s Gangster Funeral (1963) or his Electric Chair silkscreens. The 1962 silkscreen 129 Die in Jet touches on Burroughs’ fascination with airline crashes, such as that involving Captain Clark. Furthermore 129 Die compares in form and content with Burroughs’ scrapbook pages, particularly Tornado Dead: 223. Warhol used a June 4, 1962 Daily Mirror front page for this silkscreen. In fact, Warhol used newspaper and magazine imagery for much of the Death and Disaster series. In this period both Warhol and Burroughs manipulated and detourned mass media images for artistic and political effect. - Reality Studio

Saturday, February 04, 2017

The Summer Of Rave 1989 (BBC Full Documentary)


Documentary by the BBC on the development of rave culture in the United Kingdom during the summer of 1989.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Propaganda (2012)


A film about the Capitalist world that is presented as according to the ideology of North Korea. It is actually a film made by New Zealand based director Slavko Martinov, who states:

It’s part of a trilogy of films about propaganda.  It was a social experiment about propaganda.  I wanted to make a film about propaganda.  If you make a film about how propaganda works, it’s going to be as dry as a bone.  I had a short list of Iran, Cuba, and North Korea.  North Korea sticks out like a sore thumb.  It’ll be about propaganda in a propaganda campaign, a metafiction.  It’s propaganda-squared.  You can’t just do it and go to a distributor.  After the first wave of people saw it, it blew up.  There’s nothing else you can do but conduct a social experiment this way.  People came up to me at IDFA to buy this film, I said you know it’s online.  I could see them become sick.  Really no one’s seen this film in the scheme of things.  It’s still a hidden film.
There are of course serious flaws in the arguments this film presents. Perhaps the most obvious is the idea that the 'West' is a homogenous whole of like minded 'slaves' without the ability to think for themselves or access alternatives to the horror that is consumption based, market driven capitalism. This is clearly untrue and the presence of this film itself on the Internet contradicts that premise.

Apart from such simplistic dimensions of the critique, the assessment of how media, production and consciousness are a triangulation of reality that only allows individual expression through consumption is not far from accurate in many cases. For this reason I believe Propaganda is worth watching.
Controversial to its core, this hard-hitting anti-Western propaganda film, which looks at the influence of American culture on the rest of the world from a North Korean perspective, has been called "Genius!" by Michael Moore, and has been described as 'either a damning indictment of 21st Century culture or the best piece of propaganda in a generation.' As first reported on mainstream new around the world, Propaganda is allegedly a video smuggled out of North Korea. Brilliantly using this 'fake North Korean propaganda' found-footage device, Slavko Martinov first parodies its language and stylings, before targeting the mountain of hypocrisies and contradictions that make up the modern Western world. In doing so, Propaganda delivers a devastating blow to those who might be quick to laugh at 'backward' ideologies before considering how 21st century political and cultural trends have hurt the moral high ground of the rest of the world. - Review from MVD (where you can buy the film)

Content:

0:00 Introduction
6:54 Creating Ideas & Illusions
16:48 Fear
19:35 Religion
25:00 Beware the 1%
28:10 Emulating Psychosis
31:21 Rewriting History
41:15 The Birth of Propaganda
45:49 Cover Ups and Omissions
54:10 Complicity
58:05 Censorship
1:01:50 International Diplomacy
1:06:14 Television
1:08:11 Advertising
1:14:36 The Cult of Celebrity
1:22:34 Distraction
1:28:01 Terrorism
1:35:00 The Revolution Starts Now

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Neil Young: Don't Be Denied


A 2009 BBC documentary tracing Neil Young’s career culled from three hours of interviews shot in New York and California. Featuring Stephen Stills, Graham Nash, David Crosby, Nils Lofgren, etc, the doc features previously unseen performance footage from Young’s personal archives.

Thursday, January 05, 2017

The Romantics - Liberty (BBC Documentary)



“Teach him to live rather than to avoid death: life is not breath,
but action, the use of our senses, our mind, our faculties, every
part of ourselves which makes us conscious of our being. Life
consists less in length of days than in the keen sense of living.
A man maybe buried at a hundred and may never have lived at all.
He would have fared better had he died young.” ― Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Peter Ackroyd reveals how the radical ideas of liberty that inspired the French Revolution opened up a world of possibility for great British writers such as William Blake, Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William Wordsworth, inspiring some of the greatest works of literature in the English language. Their ideas are the foundations of our modern notions of freedom and their words are performed by David Tennant, Dudley Sutton and David Threlfall. The Romantics - Liberty (BBC Documentary) Category

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

John Berger and Susan Sontag / To Tell A Story (1983)


The power of stories, as modes of representation, as ways to understand ourselves and that which we experience as reality, including other people, is discussed in this highly engaging meeting between John Berger and Susan Sontag. Both of these thinkers and writers are now sadly no longer with us on this plain of reality. John Berger died two days ago, and Susan Sontag died in 2004. This discussion between them inspired so many thoughts in me, having found it on the wonderful Open Culture blog, I uploaded it here. Just so I know where it is if I ever need it...and I probably will from time to time.

One thing that struck me personally from this conversation is that the first stories I remember were told to me orally, about members of my family that I never met. Soldiers, farmers and explorers. It then occurred to me that my mother came from an oral storytelling culture - she did not go to school until she was 13, her mother did not go to school at all. They lived on a huge cattle property in central Queensland in Australia that had been in the family for over 100 years. My father on the other hand grew up in nearest big town, (5 hours drive on the sealed roads that had been created by the time I was a child, when they were kids it took a lot longer), which was becoming a city as he came of age. He lived in books and our house was literally a library. I once packed up my father's library to move him, and it came in at 300 banana boxes. That is a lot of books. But my maternal grandmother told me the stories of the bush, and the world that she remembered from the 1920s as a child.

Photograph taken the year before my maternal grandmother was born (1911) in Taroom, the nearest settlement to where she grew up. It was an oral storytelling culture, even when she was a young adult, although they read and wrote, the spoken story was the more common vehicle.

Monday, January 02, 2017

Beastie Boys - Move On Up - The Full Movie


This profile of rap trio The Beastie Boys tells the complete story of the group's lives and career, beginning with their roots in the underground scene and culminating in their unexpected ascent to the height of hip-hop crossover fame and innovation.