The Death of Cinema pt. 94

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Given yr poopooing of masterpiece-hunters, how the fuck do you measure aesthetic advances then, quitit? Most avant-garde films I've seen recently are, as usual, fucking empty.

you kind of answer yourself there. what aesthetic advances do you see in art-house cinema? i sort of think it's hard to separate technological from aesthetic questions, personally, though that can lead to hyping sheer novelty.

the avant-garde i'm thinking of is bunuel, franju, marker, that kind of tradition. not empty at all. but not really thriving now either.

I'm trying to make a list of the best films of the decade thus far, and I'm hard-pressed to find more than 6 or 7 I consider 'excellent,' let alone great. I think the even SOMEWHAT trad narrative feature... well, almost everything's been done. Even more than ever.

i don't understand this impulse, to treat cinema like this. why can't it be as ephemeral as music or theatre or literature?

That one guy that hit it and quit it, Thursday, 13 September 2007 13:25 (7 years ago) Permalink

because ephemeral = worthless.

Dr Morbius, Thursday, 13 September 2007 13:27 (7 years ago) Permalink

no it isn't.

to shakespeare's audiences, his plays were ephemeral. they changed through the run and were then forgotten, except by the performers.

why is that a bad model for other media?

That one guy that hit it and quit it, Thursday, 13 September 2007 13:28 (7 years ago) Permalink

Film has always had a difficulty straddling the importance it desires academically, and the cold hard fact that it is run as a business AND HAS TO RUN AS A BUSINESS cos it costs a lot of money to make.

Why cinema isn't dead. Because it no longer costs quite as much money to make. This is still in its infancy though of being exploited because the word cinema also means exhibition IN THE CINEMA. But as the study of cinema likes to think of its subject preserved in aspic (Celluloid, or if a bit modern DVD), they miss out on the importance of the ephemeral. Same as it ever was.

Same Sight & Sound has a terrific suggestion on how the multiplex could be used to the casual viewers advantage as exhibition costs go massively down. Get fifty friends, or (fifty facebook people - social networking possibly being the cornerstone of this idea) who want to see a film, any film avilible for digital projection, go see the film in a cinema. Hopefully a clever inner city cinema (with a good bar) will toy with this suggestion, as it strikes me that there is plenty of money in them thar hills (particularly money over the bar which is pretty much pure profit in a good cinema).

Pete, Thursday, 13 September 2007 13:43 (7 years ago) Permalink

the avant-garde i'm thinking of is bunuel, franju, marker, that kind of tradition. not empty at all. but not really thriving now either.

I think I've said it before and I'll say it again: Inland Empire saved my cinephilia for the time being. I'm not even positive it was a great movie, but it did that much.

Eric H., Thursday, 13 September 2007 13:46 (7 years ago) Permalink

I don't think of Bunuel as being avant-garde

Tom D., Thursday, 13 September 2007 13:48 (7 years ago) Permalink

(x-post) That's ed, I'm still trying to work myself away from the sort of cinephilia that ebbs and flows with the whole "summer movies/Oscar season" calendar.

Eric H., Thursday, 13 September 2007 13:48 (7 years ago) Permalink

re the Shakespearean model, because cinema is an inherently repeatable experience now. And we have indoor plumbing.

IE did something similar on a smaller scale for me, even moreso (maybe) The Joy of Life.

Dr Morbius, Thursday, 13 September 2007 13:49 (7 years ago) Permalink

'chien andalou' and 'l'age d'or' are sorta avant-garde, tom.

i can take or leave his other stuff.

xpost

That one guy that hit it and quit it, Thursday, 13 September 2007 13:49 (7 years ago) Permalink

The E in the R is HBO as the new studio system, 8 pages on the Sopranos in the NYRB, hi-def tvs larger than many minor multiplex screens etc etc etc.

Apatow is just fine, but he's never going to be involved in anything as good as 'Freaks & Geeks' unless he goes back to telly...

Stevie T, Thursday, 13 September 2007 13:50 (7 years ago) Permalink

'chien andalou' and 'l'age d'or' are sorta avant-garde, tom.

But those are more about the art world than cinema! To use your phrases.

Tom D., Thursday, 13 September 2007 13:51 (7 years ago) Permalink

the golden age of TV is over.

s1ocki, Thursday, 13 September 2007 13:57 (7 years ago) Permalink

otm

That one guy that hit it and quit it, Thursday, 13 September 2007 14:02 (7 years ago) Permalink

R.I.P. Maude

Eric H., Thursday, 13 September 2007 14:04 (7 years ago) Permalink

tom -- no way, not when they came out. they played in cinemas, not art galleries.

The E in the R is HBO as the new studio system, 8 pages on the Sopranos in the NYRB, hi-def tvs larger than many minor multiplex screens etc etc etc.

Apatow is just fine, but he's never going to be involved in anything as good as 'Freaks & Geeks' unless he goes back to telly...

-- Stevie T, Thursday, September 13, 2007 2:50 PM (12 minutes ago) Bookmark Link

for the true believers multiplex screens and tv screens just don't compare with the big screen. they also have a thing for the communal experience, etc.

it isn't just about quality of transferable "content."

but the ending of 'the sopranos' and 'the wire' within 12 months of each other is a bit of a marker too.

That one guy that hit it and quit it, Thursday, 13 September 2007 14:06 (7 years ago) Permalink

Oh, Enrique, btw, you still haven't explained to me why Repulsion isn't shit.

Just got offed, Thursday, 13 September 2007 14:07 (7 years ago) Permalink

try explaining to us why it IS, goofus.

s1ocki, Thursday, 13 September 2007 14:08 (7 years ago) Permalink

I don't believe "the big screen communal experience" is coming back as anything other than charming nostalgia outdoor summer screenings etc.

Stevie T, Thursday, 13 September 2007 14:11 (7 years ago) Permalink

except more people are going to the cinema than ever before. so what exactly do you base that on

s1ocki, Thursday, 13 September 2007 14:12 (7 years ago) Permalink

no, i agree. but that's one reason why people think the thing is dying.

xpost

s1ocki that's not true. or, not within the west. people went to the cinema habitually once or twice a week up to the '40s.

That one guy that hit it and quit it, Thursday, 13 September 2007 14:13 (7 years ago) Permalink

more people are going to the cinema and acting like they're in their living room than ever before.

re the Dargis article in the TIFF thread, the problem of cinephilia gaining sustenance from the likes of Inland Empire is that it's marginalized. Culturally discerning [sic?] 25-year-olds who would've seen and discussed every Godard film in the mid '60s now reserve their passion for Knocked Up.

Dr Morbius, Thursday, 13 September 2007 14:14 (7 years ago) Permalink

ya but that's because they all worked there. xp

s1ocki, Thursday, 13 September 2007 14:14 (7 years ago) Permalink

re the Dargis article in the TIFF thread, the problem of cinephilia gaining sustenance from the likes of Inland Empire is that it's marginalized. Culturally discerning [sic?] 25-year-olds who would've seen and discussed every Godard film in the mid '60s now reserve their passion for Knocked Up.

-- Dr Morbius, Thursday, September 13, 2007 2:14 PM (21 seconds ago) Bookmark Link

what is the evidence for this exactly

s1ocki, Thursday, 13 September 2007 14:15 (7 years ago) Permalink

try explaining to us why it IS, goofus.

I did, on that London movies thread.

Just got offed, Thursday, 13 September 2007 14:15 (7 years ago) Permalink

Get fifty friends, or (fifty facebook people - social networking possibly being the cornerstone of this idea) who want to see a film, any film avilible for digital projection, go see the film in a cinema. Hopefully a clever inner city cinema (with a good bar) will toy with this suggestion, as it strikes me that there is plenty of money in them thar hills (particularly money over the bar which is pretty much pure profit in a good cinema).

had a similar idea a while back but more based around small indie cinemas AND a range of viewable material not constrained to films (think TV, live sport/events).

blueski, Thursday, 13 September 2007 14:16 (7 years ago) Permalink

Why not just invited your mates round to your house and bring yr own booze?!

Stevie T, Thursday, 13 September 2007 14:19 (7 years ago) Permalink

but morbs those godard fans were also the first-gen auteurists, going to hawks and hitchcock retrospectives. i don't see that as any more mature or whatever than digging on 'knocked up' (a far more mature, if less formally interesting, film than anything lunatic maoist godard has done).

xpost

That one guy that hit it and quit it, Thursday, 13 September 2007 14:19 (7 years ago) Permalink

Why not just invited your mates round to your house and bring yr own booze?!

houses and screens/systems in houses are not as big. not so much '50 friends' anyway but '50 people who want to see this', as it is now. essentially what has already been happening for years with some bars showing a film in the back room.

blueski, Thursday, 13 September 2007 14:22 (7 years ago) Permalink

i saw Vanilla Sky in some bar in Brighton with about 20 people. it was a cool experience.

blueski, Thursday, 13 September 2007 14:24 (7 years ago) Permalink

watching vanilla sky could never be a cool experience.

s1ocki, Thursday, 13 September 2007 14:25 (7 years ago) Permalink

predictable ;)

and there's those guys in NYC who showed films on a projector on a building roof in Summertime. nice.

blueski, Thursday, 13 September 2007 14:26 (7 years ago) Permalink

ya, rooftop films? i saw their mtl show.

s1ocki, Thursday, 13 September 2007 14:26 (7 years ago) Permalink

i have done lots of public screenings in bars/show venues/etc. mostly of my own stuff tho, i guess that's diff.

s1ocki, Thursday, 13 September 2007 14:27 (7 years ago) Permalink

democratisation of viewing films as well as making films

blueski, Thursday, 13 September 2007 14:27 (7 years ago) Permalink

(Funnily enough, I spoke to Lynch about all this stuff when he was in town earlier this year, and though he very much still thought of cinema as the big screen in the dark room, he thought that more and more this was likely to be in the form of home/private projection or large screen entertainment systems...)

Stevie T, Thursday, 13 September 2007 14:27 (7 years ago) Permalink

Lynch would never make a film for outdoor big screen heh

blueski, Thursday, 13 September 2007 14:29 (7 years ago) Permalink

'knocked up' (a far more mature, if less formally interesting, film than anything lunatic maoist godard has done)

If mature equals boring, sure.

Eric H., Thursday, 13 September 2007 14:29 (7 years ago) Permalink

what is the evidence for this exactly

ILX

Dr Morbius, Thursday, 13 September 2007 14:31 (7 years ago) Permalink

Yeah the key is that you'll know 15 of the 50 ppl so if the other 35 are twats you'll still have as good a time as just going to the cinema w/friends, BUT if they're not you know you've got at least 1 thing in common and you've got a readmade conduit for meeting and chatting - it's a good idea and someone not wasting their time on ILX might make a bit of fake dotcom money out of it. (xpost)

Groke, Thursday, 13 September 2007 14:31 (7 years ago) Permalink

ILX is not cinephilia, tho, or do the stats at ILF mean nothing?

Eric H., Thursday, 13 September 2007 14:31 (7 years ago) Permalink

ILX has 'ruined' Comedy for me because ILX can be as funny as/funnier than anything else out there. As long as I don't start reading THIS IS MY VLOG on a cinema-sized screen, film will prevail.

blueski, Thursday, 13 September 2007 14:32 (7 years ago) Permalink

oh, I wasn't saying the Apatow monks of ILX were cinephiles. They might've been in a different cultural moment.

Dr Morbius, Thursday, 13 September 2007 14:33 (7 years ago) Permalink

where's Southy with the 'it HAS to be grainy, you cannot watch it on cellphone' rockismo

blueski, Thursday, 13 September 2007 14:34 (7 years ago) Permalink

Ooooooohhhhhh, bitch! (xp)

Tom D., Thursday, 13 September 2007 14:34 (7 years ago) Permalink

where's Southy with the 'it HAS to be grainy, you cannot watch it on cellphone' rockismo

-- blueski, Thursday, September 13, 2007 3:34 PM (1 minute ago) Bookmark Link

haha indeed.

fwiw i will chip in with: CRT televisions >>>> pwn the shit out of >>>> digital bullshit.

That one guy that hit it and quit it, Thursday, 13 September 2007 14:37 (7 years ago) Permalink

well cinema may be dead, but so is the novel, poetry, the fine arts, classical music.....or maybe it's just dispersing itself into smaller and smaller audiences, all part of the inevitable march of modernity surely?

what sight and sound and the like seem to be yearning for is a whitman-esque "return to the common people" aesthetic that will find some way of bridging the increasing distance we all feel between each other and our values and experiences. a super film that will unite us all!

whitman aside, this is not a new desire, and it's always been utopian.

ryan, Thursday, 13 September 2007 14:37 (7 years ago) Permalink

and like all utopian desires it projects itself into the past as much as the future.

ryan, Thursday, 13 September 2007 14:39 (7 years ago) Permalink

i don't get morbs on this score. the "original cinephiles", the parisians in the 50s, were crazy for uncomplicated, populist filmmaking.

xpost

no sight and sound don't think the golden age can return. it's not a new lament, but it's not that old either. your line of thinking tends to say nothing ever changes, but of course it does.

That one guy that hit it and quit it, Thursday, 13 September 2007 14:40 (7 years ago) Permalink

What was "uncomplicated, populist filmmaking" in the heyday of French cinephilia was also filled with solid formalism that is basically not even in the equation w.r.t Apatow.

Eric H., Thursday, 13 September 2007 14:43 (7 years ago) Permalink

yeees, i.e. Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?is a superior example of uncomplicated, p*pulist (GODDAMN YOU) filmmaking, and that Napoleon Dynamite is a horrid one.

Dr Morbius, Thursday, 13 September 2007 14:44 (7 years ago) Permalink

just read this annoyingly-written snippet of a memoir and it seemed relevant: http://www.salon.com/2013/06/15/lynda_obst_hollywoods_completely_broken/singleton/

Gukbe, Sunday, 16 June 2013 07:18 (1 year ago) Permalink

1 year passes...

I had no use for it but RIP anyway

Dr. Winston O'Boogie Chillen' (James Redd and the Blecchs), Thursday, 31 July 2014 01:42 (4 months ago) Permalink

Seitz interviews Godfrey Cheshire, 15 years after the Death of Film/Decay of Cinema articles:

http://www.rogerebert.com/mzs/death-of-filmdecay-of-cinema-at-15-a-conversation-with-godfrey-cheshire

Insane Prince of False Binaries (Gukbe), Friday, 1 August 2014 05:10 (4 months ago) Permalink

Great dialogue there; I've always loved G.C. to death.

For starters, I definitely read Four Arguments For the Elimination of Television at the start of the '80s, maybe for a media class.

son of a lewd monk (Dr Morbius), Friday, 1 August 2014 19:33 (4 months ago) Permalink

2 months pass...

Nick Pinkerton on the ramping up of the war for 35mm Survival:

I won’t deny that there is a sentimental element to 35mm partisanship, for this is a format that will age and show wear, as we do, and finally die, as we must. For a moment, watching Deathdream in Yonkers, I even indulged in the fancy that I might be watching the same print I’d seen 14 years ago at Dayton’s Neon Movies, when Dr. Creep still crept among the living. Certainly there was nostalgia aplenty in the first round of eulogies for film which came in 2011, when the first-run theatrical changeover was already well underway and Ebert declared “my war is over, my side lost, and it’s important to consider this in the real world”—but also a fair amount of cautious optimism. I even expressed as much at the time.

My optimism has lessened in direct proportion to my practical experience of the Brave New DCP World. For all the rep calendar ballyhoo about “glorious,” “stunning” new 4K restorations, we seem to be about on par with the Victorians when they started restoring Renaissance paintings to blindingly bright palettes meant, quite inaccurately as it happens, to reflect their original splendor. (Wiseman’s National Gallery is instructive viewing on this matter, and on the matter of contextualizing exhibition.) League writes, “With digital presentation, the movie looks as good at the first screening as it does after playing for months,” but this presupposes that the movie looks good in the first place, as opposed to merely freshly scrubbed. If it doesn’t? Tough titties, you’ll be looking at it on DCP for the foreseeable future anyways, because any print is safely sealed away miles beneath the earth’s crust.

http://filmcomment.com/entry/bombast-35-stayin-alive

this horrible, rotten slog to rigor mortis (Dr Morbius), Monday, 27 October 2014 16:05 (1 month ago) Permalink

Yes, 2014 movies shot on film look amazing. But movies from the '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, and '10s need 35mm to survive. Dean Plionis, director of operations for Colorlab, a New York City-based film company that processes 35mm in its Maryland facility while specializing in film archiving and restoration, believes that when it comes down to the scientific facts of degradation and human error, film trumps digital. Remember Zip Drives? That storage method that spiked in popularity in the late '90s? Imagine finding one today. Could you get the information off? Can you imagine mining its data in another 50 years? It's hard to imagine losing the digital files of The Avengers, but evolving encodings, algorithms, and proprietary software could make them impossible to read in 100 years.

^^^this is the biggest issue imo

Οὖτις, Thursday, 6 November 2014 19:12 (1 month ago) Permalink

It's hard to imagine losing the digital files of The Avengers

But we can all try nonetheless.

Eric H., Thursday, 6 November 2014 19:38 (1 month ago) Permalink

yeah the instant obsolesence of digital media and the need to keep shifting among formats and storage hardware is a major issue for archives in the present and future

I dunno. (amateurist), Thursday, 6 November 2014 19:40 (1 month ago) Permalink

whereas, you make a print, and keep it in climate-controlled storage, you're good for a century or longer

I dunno. (amateurist), Thursday, 6 November 2014 19:40 (1 month ago) Permalink

btw can i just say how much i hate the neologism "digital print"?

I dunno. (amateurist), Thursday, 6 November 2014 19:40 (1 month ago) Permalink

as in, "we're showing a restored digital print of 'jaws' next week!"

also, the debasement of the word "restored"

I dunno. (amateurist), Thursday, 6 November 2014 19:41 (1 month ago) Permalink

"i ran this movie through one of those computer things—it's restored!"

I dunno. (amateurist), Thursday, 6 November 2014 19:41 (1 month ago) Permalink

^ agreed with all that.

with film dying (or dead already), the future belongs to colorists.

Van Horn Street, Thursday, 6 November 2014 19:44 (1 month ago) Permalink

put a fork in it, it's done

Thackeray Zax (James Redd and the Blecchs), Thursday, 6 November 2014 19:46 (1 month ago) Permalink

the future of film now depends on Jay Jay Abrams and a new Star Wars sequel. hope it's a home-run in that regard. i'm ok with digital behind the dominant method of production in the industry, but it doesn't mean film has to die completely.

Van Horn Street, Thursday, 6 November 2014 19:49 (1 month ago) Permalink

Eric, best post ever

things lose meaning over time (Dr Morbius), Thursday, 6 November 2014 19:50 (1 month ago) Permalink

Remember Zip Drives? That storage method that spiked in popularity in the late '90s? Imagine finding one today.

This guy should come work in my office. Not that I've ever been enabled to open one.

things lose meaning over time (Dr Morbius), Thursday, 6 November 2014 19:51 (1 month ago) Permalink

Watched Reggio's Visitors today. Digital copy. Not good enough resolution, distracting throughout the whole film. Then went and saw The Emperors Naked Army Marches On in a 35mm print flown in from Japan. Boy, did that look amazing, even though it was old. Dunno, at times I'm a format fascist. It really isn't the same.

Frederik B, Thursday, 6 November 2014 23:10 (1 month ago) Permalink

i like the shimmer of 35mm in projection; it's hard to recreate in digital projection even when the film was shot/post analog

I dunno. (amateurist), Friday, 7 November 2014 01:22 (1 month ago) Permalink

hmm, i cant decide whether to see a 70mm screening of 2001 at the BFI next month, or the new digital 'restoration'. for some reason i imagine a film like 2001 might benefit from DCP. sci-fi was surely meant to be seen as pristinely as possible, no?

StillAdvance, Friday, 7 November 2014 11:36 (1 month ago) Permalink

I'd go for 70 mm. Can't imagine the warm colours of 2001 will be helped by digital.

Frederik B, Friday, 7 November 2014 11:43 (1 month ago) Permalink

i want to see it the way the maker made it

things lose meaning over time (Dr Morbius), Friday, 7 November 2014 13:11 (1 month ago) Permalink

Actually, I reconsider. I love digital. Saw a few digital films, Konchalovsky's The Postman's White Nights and the new one from the Harvard Ehtnography/Sensory Lab, The Iron Ministry, and I love how they look. Postman's White Nights capture a beautiful northern russian light, cold and strange, and Iron ministry has the grains, the hues, and the shakes of cheap digital almost guerilla filmmaking. I absolutely love it. On the other hand, I saw a film promotes as 4K, transcendental, overwhelming, and it just looked like a nature program on bbc. Mainstream digital, supposedly more clear, more clean, is horrible, all character removed to create smooth, vanilla, blandness. So mediocre, so dull.

Frederik B, Sunday, 9 November 2014 19:22 (1 month ago) Permalink

http://www.slate.com/blogs/browbeat/2014/11/21/paul_schrader_interview_filmmaker_talks_dying_of_the_light_absent_friends.html

Paul Schrader:

You made a movie recently, The Canyons, which was funded through Kickstarter and released on demand, as well as in theaters. Do those new avenues make you more optimistic about the future of film?

PS: Everything’s up for grabs. It’s exciting in that way—unless you’re wedded to the 20th-century concept of a projected image in a dark room in front of a paying audience. If you’re wedded to that concept, you’re in trouble, because that concept is dead.

I’m guessing you’re not wedded to that concept. Some filmmakers seem nostalgic and very invested in 35mm projection.

PS: I’m not. It’s all revanchist claptrap. The goal of art is not to tell people what tools they want to use, but to use whatever tools are around. The tools are always changing and the artists need to change with the tools. We didn’t have movies 100 years ago, and we did quite fine without them, and now they’re going to become something else again.

slam dunk, Saturday, 22 November 2014 19:47 (3 weeks ago) Permalink


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