The Sounds of a Hard Project

What I wanted to do with "The Screen is a Monolith: Understanding 50 Years of 2001" was to create an alternative 2001 soundtrack. Something very like the same music used in 2001 but in other respects different. So I tried to deploy similar music in similar ways to Stanley Kubrick and I relied on music which was inspired by 2001 and music which grew out of the musical movements captured in some of the music in 2001.

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Getting Back On a Horse

Getting Back On a Horse

Somewhere I read a piece by George Lakoff, I can’t remember exactly, but I think it was probably in Moral Politics: How Liberals and Conservatives Think maybe it was Metaphors We Live By but I don’t think so. At any rate, he describes the abundance of certain kinds of metaphors in the Western lexicon. He goes on to contrast kind of broadly with other frameworks for metaphor.

The long and short of the chapter was that Western languages tend toward metaphors of conflict and of family if I recall correctly. If you think about it you will notice a preponderance of metaphors in everyday English which turn a situation into battlegrounds and tribal organizations. And this trend sort of peters out from literal war metaphors to sport metaphors and frankly the lack of diverse material for metaphor in English is kind of a disappointment.

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Best Films of 2017

By way of commentary, ranking some movies on the year also makes sense. Perhaps for the last time I’ll get to peer into a sort of old school set of values. This Top Ten also sort of primes future work in my general evaluation of art. In many respects film is violently catching up with the normative considerations of other arts.

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Reasons for Not Working

Nevertheless, for about a month, my output has really waned. Which isn't to say I've been idle. Lately I've kept up two blogs, this one and the one at Facets which I do more or less professionally and requires more fiddly attention. In fact, my ideas are still out there turning over as rapidly as ever. And that's just my public work, I've been more prodigious in areas which won't get so much attention. Saying all this brings me dangerously close to making excuses. That's something I don't really want to do.

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Color Cinematography

Color Cinematography

The argument I lay out about color cinematography here is simple but has profound ramifications for how we may understand the use of color in film. Right off the bat I'd like to dispense with the idea that somehow color film is some important, groundbreaking moment for filmmaking. It's not, especially by comparison to the addition of sound to the typical movie going experience, color has just been part of going to the movies basically since the word go. It's a technical improvement rather than a more categorical change.

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Top 100: Shame and The Last Picture Show

95. Shame (2011)

So this has always been a bit of a weird pick and this is a movie which might diminish in luster over the years just by virtue of being drowned out by discovering new movies. Nevertheless, I actually feel like I haven't seen many movies that deal with the content this movie deals with quite as directly as this film does, and that's a good thing. Additionally Shame is unbelievably well acted and very well directed by this great partnership between Michael Fassbender and Steve McQueen. It's simply one of the best films of the past ten years, and deserves to be here by virtue of the wide scope of this list.


96. The Last Picture Show (1971)

The Last Picture Show is one of the classics that stands the test of time. It's bleak and devastating Americana which is certainly the kind of material I really enjoy. But, even though this is the kind of material I like, it's also something one has to be pretty picky about. So The Last Picture Show stands above the cohort of its genre. It reaches unlikely heights with a period setting, and a perverse look at youth. It's a hard movie to shake.

Top 100: Scorpio Rising and Drive

81. Scorpio Rising (1963)

This is a movie that sort of had a big influence on me in terms of what I realized could be done on screen. When you see Scorpio Rising you sort of get this weird nostalgic feeling, almost like you've been waiting half your life to finally see this movie. It's hard to capture in words, but this unexpected movie looks as you'd expect it to. It's iconic all around, playful with it's material and imagery. It's somehow both dark and irreverent. It's weird and experimental, it borrows imagery and sound, but has become iconic itself. And it might have the best soundtrack in film history.


80. Drive (2011)

For a time it seemed like Drive was increasingly going to be heralded as a classic of 2010s filmmaking. That's sort of been true, but as a film it's continued to be overshadowed by machinations in the industry. Basically I don't think that viewers should be distracted from how original and cool this misunderstood movie is. I still enjoy its perverse beauty and tense chases even as it continues to get buried by better films arriving later in the decade. This is still a prime example of what modern filmmaking looks like.