Reading Media Culture – MHIS 206 @ Emily Carr

January 13, 2009

Fast Film – Virgil Widrich

– element of self reflection
– delight as educated film viewers watching the ingenuity of the animation
– patterns of juxtaposition of the different films put together to form a cohesive narrative
– distributed attention – I have the desire to watch the film again frame by frame in order to absorb greater meaning from the film clips
– inter textuality = film implicitly or explicitly alludes to or references other films
– the film lionizes the art of film making

Cinephilia = people who love film disproportionately

A Cinemaphile or Cinephile is most respectably noted as a person who dedicates their life to the academic study of cinema. The earliest cinephiles were that who bore the French New Wave or La Nouvelle Vague – André Bazin, Jacques Donial-Valcroze and Alexandre Astruc amongst others and film movements.

Could be a colloquial name for someone who is an avid fan of movies. From knowing hundreds and thousand of small facts and anecdotal stories to do with all their favourite films, being able to perfectly repeat large portions of script from their favourite films – all from memory (imitating all the various characters as they go), to collecting all the merchandise, associated paraphernalia, movie posters, various versions of the movie, cinemaphiles go above and beyond what most usual filmgoers would accept as a ‘normal’ filmgoer’s appreciation, sometimes to the point of absolute devotion.

This term is somewhat interchangeable with the word ‘cinephile’, and both can be (and are) used to mean the same thing. The word ‘cinephile’ is more often used in Europe, especially in French, to describe a devoted movie lover (the word ‘cinephile’ having an obvious root in the French word ‘ciné’, which itself is derived from the word ‘cinéma’).

– spectatorship = how to understand how we process information – why did you have an emotional response to a film?!?!?
– how do you respond to the psychological and emotional response to film and film characters?

– specifically in the interest of stars and stardom – Enquiring minds want to know!
– Replete – film about the star system

– phenomenon of studying stars, (Ie: National Enquirer, People Magazine…) – obsession with Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie
– feud between Spike Lee and Clint Eastwood in regard to the film Flags of our Fathers (no black characters portrayed – even though all of the flag bearers were white in real life)


– film convention of the time with the cut and time delay that the audience reads the screen to assume that Rick and Ilsa had sex in the 3 second cut in the scene
– clothes are still on and unruffled when the camera shows them again in the morning – was able to get by the censor board = plausible deniability

– but also wanted to push the envelope as far as naughtiness went at the time – period of censorship

Reel Bad Arabs
This groundbreaking documentary dissects a slanderous aspect of cinematic history that has run virtually unchallenged form the earliest days of silent film to today’s biggest Hollywood blockbusters. Featuring acclaimed author Dr. Jack Shaheen, the film explores a long line of degrading images of Arabs–from Bedouin bandits and submissive maidens to sinister sheikhs and gun-wielding “terrorists”–along the way offering devastating insights into the origin of these stereotypic images, their development at key points in US history, and why they matter so much today. Shaheen shows how the persistence of these images over time has served to naturalize prejudicial attitudes toward Arabs and Arab culture, in the process reinforcing a narrow view of individual Arabs and the effects of specific US domestic and internationl policies on their lives. By inspiring critical thinking about the social, political, and basic human consequences of leaving these Hollywood caricatures unexamined, the film challenges viewers to recognize the urgent need for counter-narratives that do justice to the diversity and humanity of Arab people and the reality and richness of Arab history and culture.

Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People (ISBN 1-56656-388-7, Olive Branch Press) is a 2001 book by Jack Shaheen where he surveyed more than 900 film appearances of Arab characters. Of those, only a dozen were positive and 50 were balanced. Shaheen writes “Seen through Hollywood’s distorted lenses, Arabs look different and threatening.”.[1]

He contends that the movies with the most anti-Arab content are: Rules of Engagement (2000), The Delta Force (1986) Death Before Dishonor (1987) and True Lies (1994).

Included on the “worst list” is:

* Back to the Future (1985)
* The Black Stallion (1979)
* The Black Stallion Returns (1983)
* Bloodfist VI: Ground Zero (1994)
* The Bonfire of the Vanities (1990)
* Chain of Command (1993)
* The Delta Force (1986)
* Freedom Strike (1998)
* Iron Eagle (1986)
* Ishtar (1987)
* Killing Streets (1991)
* Navy SEALs (1990)
* Operation Condor (1997)
* Protocol (1984)
* Rules of Engagement (2000)
* The Taking of Flight 847 (1988)
* Terror in Beverley Hills (1988)
* True Lies (1994)

Inspired by the “worst list”, a 9-minute-long trailer called “Planet of the Arabs” [2] was assembled. This short was an Official Selection at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival.

Sut Jhally directed a 2006 video called Reel Bad Arabs about Jack Shaheen’s thesis.

Reading the Screen – This week’s film clips

October 3, 2008

– what are your physiological responses to watching this film?
– how is the film engaging you?
– using new technology to inquire about itself (optical printer)
– goldrush to explore new possibilities that the technologies can usher in

Ballet Mechanique – dir Fernand Leger

Part 1

Part 2

Mothlight – dir Stan Brakhage

Wavelength – dir Michael Snow

Pas de Deux – dir. Norman McLaren

Part 1 – all I have to say is WOW – what an incredible film

Part 2

Un Chien Andalou – dir. Luis Banuel

Meshes of the Afternoon – dir Maya Deren

Variations on a Cellophane Wrapper – dir David Rimmer
– I couldn’t find a clip of the film, but here are some informational links if you want to learn more
– – – – – – – – – –

Pièce Touchée – dir Martin Arnold

“pièce touchée, Martin Arnold, Austria,16mm Film, b&w, 16 min
Arnold’s breakthrough film, pièce touchée, is based on a single 18-second shot from The Human Jungle (dir. Joseph M. Newman, 1954). Woman sitting in a chair. Man enters the room. Man and woman kiss. Exit man.”
– from the YouTube description

– this is only half of the film as a whole – could only get the first 9 minutes of the piece from YouTube

personal notes:

– b/w film – opens with a woman sitting on a chair in a living room reading a newspaper
– humming / mechanical noise overlay
– repetitive film – no movement at all other than fingers and head
– starts with only one frame then slowly builds up with the number of frames
– back and forth with forward and backward movement of the frames as the man enters the room
– mirroring imagery from left to right = cool effect on the eyes
– her head appears to swivel a complete 360 as the scene repeats and mirrors itself
– the man goes down and kisses the woman finally
– various editing techniques follow to the end…

in-class round table discussion:

– motion study / repetitive motion study
– changes of planes / changes of perception
– disorientation and uncomfortable
– dealt with time – kept revisiting and repeating frames
– absurdity of everyday domestic scene
– sound was mechanic humming
– story interpretation of repetition
– negation of story narrative
– metaphor / felt like we were inside a washing machine
– creation of new images using existing frames / transformation
– underlying issues of domesticity (violence / sexuality)
– issues of dominance, power and gender
– introduction of new editing techniques
– abstraction of shapes and creation of negative space
– interesting effects of animation (head spinning / rotating)
– soundtrack gives a dehumanized / mechanized theme to the piece (lack of humanity)
– unexpected editing techniques (reversals, mirrors, motion, movement)
– Experimental / Found Footage film piece
– too long? too repetitive? (was it intended?)
– no finality at the end – felt incomplete – where did it end? what does it mean?
– resolution irrelevant – it is an experimental film by nature
– A Touching Piece / Touched Piece – what does the title actually refer to?
– critique of cinema / society at the time (Hollywood system and view of society)
– expanded cinema (new term for avant-garde / experimental / innovative)