Category: writers

Ribbon of Light

James Baldwin, on the movie theater experience vs. the stage experience: The distance between oneself – the audience – and a screen performer is absolute: a paradoxical absolute, masquerading as intimacy. No one, for example, will ever really know whether Katharine Hepburn or Bette Davis or Humphrey Bogart or Spencer Tracy or Clark Gable – or John Wayne – can,…

James Baldwin

On Story vs Plot: “A story is impelled by the necessity to reveal: the aim of the story is revelation, which means that a story can have nothing – at least not deliberately – to hide. This also means that a story resolves nothing. The resolution of a story must occur in us, with what we make of the questions…

Control and Forgiveness

I’ve been speaking mostly of control in terms of the individual leader-artist heroically controlling external reality – in filmmaking this takes place through the massive expenditure of resources, deployment of specialized technology, and employment of hierarchical management structures to create a seamless and glossy audiovisual faux-reality, covering the messy organic reality underneath. This is performed with tools ranging from massive amounts of…

The Wisdom of Charlie Kaufman

People all over the world spend countless hours of their lives every week being fed entertainment in the form of movies, TV shows, newspapers, YouTube videos and the Internet. And it’s ludicrous to believe that this stuff doesn’t alter our brains. It’s also equally ludicrous to believe that — at the very least — this mass distraction and manipulation is not convenient for the…

Wu Wei

“Our culture is very good at pushing people to work hard or acquire particular technical skills,” Dr. Slingerland says. “But in many domains actual success requires the ability to transcend our training and relax completely into what we are doing, or simply forget ourselves as agents.” The New York Times on the art of trying not to try. On one…

Death on Screen

A young writer over at The Onion AV Club describes how the real death of a loved one has ruined most movie-death for him, at least temporarily: For Abrams and his writers, death is little more than a screenwriter’s tool to evoke emotion, and that cavalier attitude toward one of the universal human experiences makes everything about his film feel hollow.…

Deren on The Amateur

“The major obstacle for amateur film-makers is their own sense of inferiority vis-a-vis professional productions. The very classification “amateur” has an apologetic ring. But that very word–from the Latin amator, “lover” — means one who does something for the love of the thing rather than for economic reasons or necessity. And this is the meaning from which the amateur film-maker should…

Brakhage on Ritual Cinema

“When an amateur photographs scenes of a trip he’s taking, a party or other special occasion, and especially when he’s photographing his children, he’s primarily seeking a hold on time and, as such, is ultimately attempting to defeat death. The entire act of motion picture making, thus, can be considered as an exteriorization of the process of memory. “Hollywood,” sometimes known as “the…