“It’s between frames where cinema speaks.” -Peter Kubelka, 1967

“Hollywood,” sometimes known as “the dream factory,” makes ritualistic-dramas in celebration of mass memory–very like the rituals of tribal people […] But the amateur photographs the persons, places, and objects of his love and the events of his happiness and personal importance in a gesture that can act directly and solely according to the needs of memory.[…] He is free, if he but accept the responsibility of his freedom, to work as the spirit of his god, or his memory, or his particular needs, move him. It is for this reason that I believe any art of the cinema must inevitably arise from the amateur, “home-movie” making medium.” – Stan Brakhage

Dark Satanic Mills of Mass Production…

This Faustian pact has been the undoing of many great artists, many more journeymen and more than a few of my good friends. Add to this volatile mixture the powerful accelerant of emerging digital technology and all hell breaks loose. What I have witnessed happening in the last twenty years is the aesthetic equivalent of the Industrial Revolution in the…

“Cinema with a Capital C”

“You are not a filmmaker,” she said, “You can be a filmmaker, of course, but you cannot continue to singularly define yourself as such.” Dotson went on to claim that reverence for movie culture was one of the problems with the young content-makers. “We’re all trying to find a way to embrace the ambiguity of this new era we live…

Easy Pieces

(Yvonne Rainer, from Five Easy Pieces, 1966) When students criticize an experimental film (said Laska), one of the first things you tend to hear is “I could do that!” – and the tone of this remark is the most interesting part. It’s usually delivered angrily, like, why is this movie supposed to be a big deal when clearly I could…

More on Empathy

Two more views on the subject: The New York Times on empathy as a choice, as a skill to be practiced and/or a muscle to exercise. The blog Black Girl Dangerous on the limits to empathy, especially as a tool for social change.

The Empathy Engine

A friend of mine, who works primarily in theatre, recently derisively described his experience as a movie audience member as “watching people have feelings.” He was speaking from a certain frustration and incomprehension. Theatre actors DO things. Film actors just FEEL things. This idea has stuck with me. Is it true? And if so, why? This also gets at the overarching…

The Archetype of the Sociopath

There is perhaps no more popular character in modern television (and to a certain extent, the movies) than the Sociopath. Going back at least as far as The Sopranos, but probably much further, writers and showrunners figured out that a charismatic, successful sociopath is a great character to build a show around – perhaps because they’re willing to make questionable…

Narrative Without End

The Hero’s Journey says, more or less, that if you go on this quest and take these risks, it will cost you something, you will learn something, and you will get to come home stronger and more mature. In other words, you will win. Beowulf, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings – all of these fit the template. It is not,…

Compare and Contrast

MacroCinema is hierarchical, product-oriented, and an attempt to make the world conform to a directorial / studio / corporate vision. MicroCinema is relational, process oriented, and an attempt to make something that reflects and responds to the world as it is at this moment – objectively or subjectively speaking. MacroCinema attempts to rigidly conform to a schedule and a budget – it…