The Power Of Nightmares/Adam Curtis

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This is the new documentary by Adam Curtis - it started last night on BBC2. I think Adam Curtis is a bit of a legend - his last big series was The Century Of The Self, which was one of the best things I have ever seen on TV.

I thought the first episode last night was great - a brilliantly told story. And I love the bizarre sense of humour in the selection of archive footage. Also, (I should probably be ashamed of this), I had no idea Rumsfeld et al were around in the 70s! That's crazy!

What did everyone else think?

pete b. (pete b.), Thursday, 21 October 2004 07:46 (sixteen years ago) link

you had no idea they were around in the 70s?

lukey (Lukey G), Thursday, 21 October 2004 07:51 (sixteen years ago) link

Yes, I watched this. I really enjoyed it - the analysis of the thinking of the neocons in relation to 'invisible' soviet threats was brilliant.

Kevin Gilchrist (Mr Fusion), Thursday, 21 October 2004 07:54 (sixteen years ago) link

I enjoyed it very much indeed, though I must admit when I see things like The Simple Life I'm rather in sympathy with old Sayyid Qutb re. materialist pseudo-individualism. Interesting how both Qutb and Strauss managed to twist the Marxist idea of collectivism to work as faux-benign moral dictatorship (do as you're told! it's for your own good!). The appearance of Rumsfeld and Cheney in the '70s was a bit of a shock (I was a kid at the time, didn't really take it all in) but, when you consider what's happened since, not really a shock at all. It will be interesting to see how AC manages to continue (and presumably combine/then forcibly divide) these dual threads through the other two programmes.

As for the likes of Irving Kristol and "Professor" Richard Pipes, the words "please kill me" sprang to mind...

Marcello Carlin, Thursday, 21 October 2004 07:57 (sixteen years ago) link

Yeah, Pipes was funny - I could see him visibly strain to avoid evaluating his own thinking.

Kevin Gilchrist (Mr Fusion), Thursday, 21 October 2004 07:59 (sixteen years ago) link

that was another impressive thing - I was expecting the programme to be stuffed with nice, liberal academics (which it sort of was), but AC also managed to get interviews with all these people he will presumably end up attacking!

pete b. (pete b.), Thursday, 21 October 2004 08:03 (sixteen years ago) link

Top notch viewing, but I would have liked the power of rewind occasionally. What surprised me was that Kissinger came out of it looking so much like the good guy.

PJ Miller (PJ Miller), Thursday, 21 October 2004 08:21 (sixteen years ago) link

Yes that was a bit puzzling. Cambodian bombing? What Cambodiam bombing?

Come to think of it, where exactly does Pol Pot fit into all this?

Marcello Carlin, Thursday, 21 October 2004 08:24 (sixteen years ago) link

yes that was bizarre - him and the CIA as the moderate voices of reason. I suppose it was a clever way of emphasising just how extreme the neocons were/are.

pete b. (pete b.), Thursday, 21 October 2004 08:26 (sixteen years ago) link

The part about the submarine accoustic detection was priceless: 'we cannot detect their accoustic systems, therefore they must have NONACCOUSTIC systems which WE CAN'T DETECT!!!?!!'

RickyT (RickyT), Thursday, 21 October 2004 08:29 (sixteen years ago) link

Yes, but Pipes and Ledeen seemed unrepentent on that kind of point (I found the CIA guy saying "well we knew most of the stuff about the Soviets in The Terror Network was hooey, because we'd made up ourselves as black propaganda" the most astonishing) and Ledeen is still writing books on terrorism. I wanted them to be asked to address the retrospective historical arguments more directly - that they couldn't have been as wrong as the programme was making out and still have the gall to sit there and pontificate.

But yes, a beautiful, confident piece of documentary making, that got me feeling all 'ahh, the BBC'.

I liked this assessment in the Times today:

If 'The Power of Nightmares' had been drafted as a play, it would be hailed as a dazzlingly thought-provoking drama. As a book, its thesis would become a debating point on talk shows round the world. Even in the form of a here-are-the-facts documentary, it is so artfully crafted, so engagingly argued, so playfully illustrated, that you happily reserve your questions and reservations until the final credits start rolling.

Here is a talented, intelligent film-maker enjoying himself and showing what you can do with an hour of television. It is deliciously spliced together, seasoned with deftly chosen archive footage from an improbale palette of sources: everything from clips from episodes of 'Perry Mason' and 'Gunsmoke', to American prom dances and Egyptian television commercials.

Apparently it was going to be trailed as long ago as the weekend before last, but they pulled back on it because of Ken Bigley.

Alba (Alba), Thursday, 21 October 2004 08:41 (sixteen years ago) link

anyone know if this will be repeated over the weekend at all? (bbc3, bbc4?)

cºzen (Cozen), Thursday, 21 October 2004 08:46 (sixteen years ago) link

I wonder how the argument that the Soviets control all terrorism is affected by the collapse of the USSR, and the Russian Federations problems in Chechnya? Perhaps the commies are trying to cause Putin's government to fall so they can reclaim power? I would imagine that the fact that terrorism continued after Reagan singlehandedly destroyed the USSR would invalidate their theories, but no-one seemed willing to admit that.

Kevin Gilchrist (Mr Fusion), Thursday, 21 October 2004 08:49 (sixteen years ago) link

Ledeen's terrifically titled book

Alba (Alba), Thursday, 21 October 2004 08:54 (sixteen years ago) link

...The War Against the Terror Masters: Why It Happened. Where We Are Now. How We'll Win. apparently addresses the question of "how the terror network survived the loss of its main sponsor, the Soviet Union".

Alba (Alba), Thursday, 21 October 2004 08:55 (sixteen years ago) link

All of Ledeen's books are terrifically titled. Which do you mean?

X-post. Ahh, cool. I haven't read that.

Kevin Gilchrist (Mr Fusion), Thursday, 21 October 2004 09:00 (sixteen years ago) link

AC's the Mayfair Set is also fantastic. I don't think any of it has ever been repeated.

Pete W (peterw), Thursday, 21 October 2004 09:03 (sixteen years ago) link

One weakness of the programme, I thought, was the too-easy conflation of Strauss's ideas about necessary myths with the neo-cons views on foreign policy. Yes, to us it looks like scaremongering, but for Curtis to tell the story as if the Straussian neo-cons lobbied for hawkish policies on the basis of this, rather than on a real belief in the danger of the Soviet Union, seemed a little flimsy. Eventually he said something about them having come to believe in their own fantasies, but it came across as a speculative way of means of advancing his own narrative.

Alba (Alba), Thursday, 21 October 2004 09:08 (sixteen years ago) link

Yes that part of his argument wasn't totally convincing, and I guess is a consequence of structuring the documentary around the ideas of two individuals. There were similar leaps of faith in The Century Of The Self, when Curtis asked us to accept that governments made decisions of national policy almost entirely inspired by the theories of Edward Bernays, or whoever. But focusing on individuals is a neat way of framing the programme, and makes for much more entertaining TV, I suppose.

pete b. (pete b.), Thursday, 21 October 2004 09:19 (sixteen years ago) link

wasn't it a conflation that happened though? I thought he was saying that the neo-cons who did believe in Strauss's idea of the necessary myth (Bumsfeld, etc) became allied with ppl who believed in the imminent threat (Madman Pipes). these were different ppl with the same goal?

Jaunty Alan (Alan), Thursday, 21 October 2004 09:42 (sixteen years ago) link

is this being repeated?

stevie (stevie), Thursday, 21 October 2004 09:44 (sixteen years ago) link

Apparently.

Alba (Alba), Thursday, 21 October 2004 09:44 (sixteen years ago) link

Richard Pipes did seem very "I'm a Russian Expert, so I know what they're all thinking! Even if they don't know it themselves!"

I did like his book "Russia Under The Old Regime", so was slightly disappointed to find out he was in with all the neo-cons in the '70s. Although he did have one very annoying habit of referring to all medieval people of Scandinavian origin as "Normans".

caitlin (caitlin), Thursday, 21 October 2004 10:11 (sixteen years ago) link

Maybe he meant 'Norman' like in those old 'a break from the norm' ads.

Alba (Alba), Thursday, 21 October 2004 10:12 (sixteen years ago) link

Actually, thinking about it, one of the main points of the book was: the Russians are doomed to be ruled by an authoritarian bureaucracy, because of historical economics, and their geography and climate. So, no surprises that he says "The Russians will always be thinking like this".

caitlin (caitlin), Thursday, 21 October 2004 10:16 (sixteen years ago) link

Russian military planners be stockpilin'

pete b. (pete b.), Thursday, 21 October 2004 10:17 (sixteen years ago) link

Oh - I've just remembered that anti-Soviet US Army film from the late 70s or early 80s they had clips from. It was amazing!

Alba (Alba), Thursday, 21 October 2004 10:18 (sixteen years ago) link

He did say, 'if anything, I'm an expert on Russian mindset,' or something.

I can't remember what the Mitrokhin Archive says about Soviet sponsorship of teroorism, but there was something. Possibly supplied by The Spy Who Came In From The Garden.

PJ Miller (PJ Miller), Thursday, 21 October 2004 10:39 (sixteen years ago) link

http://www.torrentreactor.net/torrents/view_33863

A torrent for the episode, if anyone is interested.

Kevin Gilchrist (Mr Fusion), Friday, 22 October 2004 16:42 (sixteen years ago) link

Watching the final part of this tonight is going to be so depressing.

Alba (Alba), Wednesday, 3 November 2004 11:21 (sixteen years ago) link

Was the scheduling of the final episode deliberately timed, I wonder?

Marcello Carlin, Wednesday, 3 November 2004 11:34 (sixteen years ago) link

Are you suggesting a conspiracy to rig the Bush vote involving *BBC schedulers* ? Coool.

Bumfluff, Wednesday, 3 November 2004 13:59 (sixteen years ago) link

If anyone outside the UK can get bittorrents of this, then I'd recommend you to do so.

In the end, it was strangely calming, rather than depressing. All this will pass.

Alba (Alba), Wednesday, 3 November 2004 22:14 (sixteen years ago) link

Yeah, I enjoyed this series a lot. There should be bittorrents about, and I would also recommend it.

Kevin Gilchrist (Mr Fusion), Wednesday, 3 November 2004 22:16 (sixteen years ago) link

I watched it tonight for the first time, and it was fanastic. I'd forgtten about The Century of the Self, that was fantastic too. I'm annoyed I missed the first two...I think it's time I understood how this bittorrent stuff works.

Tonight's episode was very poignant, and made me sad.

Cathy (Cathy), Wednesday, 3 November 2004 22:24 (sixteen years ago) link

If anyone outside the UK can get bittorrents of this, then I'd recommend you to do so.

I second that. I downloaded the last two episodes last Saturday and watched them, very powerful. It's sad that there's great documentaries such as this and The White House for Sale airing on UK television, and most people in the US won't get an opportunity to see them.

Leon in Exile (Ex Leon), Wednesday, 3 November 2004 22:36 (sixteen years ago) link

dwnldng

RJG (RJG), Wednesday, 3 November 2004 22:45 (sixteen years ago) link

I thought episode one was easily the best, mainly because episodes two and three spent a lot of time repeating things from episode one. I can see why they did this, but for me it took the shime off it a little bit. It would have been better as a single two hour-long programme, I think.

Also, things that weakened his argument, such as Madrid, were kind of skipped over a bit too lightly.

Kerry seemed shoved in just in case.

Quibbles aside, top-notch television. I may even go for a month without complaining about my licence fee.

It is strange that I had never heard those people swearing as the planes hit the towers.

PJ Miller (PJ Miller), Thursday, 4 November 2004 07:18 (sixteen years ago) link

this was fascinating but it begged bigger questions.

cºzen (Cozen), Thursday, 4 November 2004 09:23 (sixteen years ago) link

I agree with everything PJ Miller said.

Alba (Alba), Thursday, 4 November 2004 09:37 (sixteen years ago) link

Grr, I missed it and forgot to set the recorder.

caitlin (caitlin), Thursday, 4 November 2004 09:42 (sixteen years ago) link

The first episode was by some considerable distance the best.

The cumulative effect was a kind of political version of James Burke's Connections series from the '70s. OK in shaggy dog conspiracy terms but didn't really pinpoint whether it was just the expected cocktail of bilateral incompetence, stubbornness and stupidity which led us to our current pretty pass rather than a Conspiracy as such.

Marcello Carlin, Thursday, 4 November 2004 09:57 (sixteen years ago) link

I thought the last episode was quite weak, hammering away at the images of that fantasy creature that comes up out of the sea, and other images that have become somewhat familiar during the series.

I too totally agree with PJ Miller. I don't recall Madrid being mentioned at all. I couldn't get the idea out of my head that while it's fine to criticise the hysteria created by the neo-cons, (that Disney video!!), you can understand why the likes of Britain have to at least be on their guard against the kind of thing that happened in Madrid - even if we acknowledge the programme's main point that there is no such thing as monstrous Al-Qaeda.

Japanese Giraffe (Japanese Giraffe), Thursday, 4 November 2004 10:12 (sixteen years ago) link

there were a few omissions. correct me if i'm wrong, but when he was talking about the russian's being a busted flush in the 1970s he completely failed to mention the invasion of afghanistan. it only cropped up later, when the programme moved on to the muhajadeen. very good, totally necessary programme, but i didn't buy it.

Pete W (peterw), Thursday, 4 November 2004 10:40 (sixteen years ago) link

Did anyone tape it, for those of us who don't even know what bittorrents are? Or will it be repeated?

Two-Headed Zombie With No Face (kate), Thursday, 4 November 2004 12:00 (sixteen years ago) link

"there were a few omissions. correct me if i'm wrong, but when he was talking about the russian's being a busted flush in the 1970s he completely failed to mention the invasion of afghanistan."

This was the third part, part 1 was all about Afghanistan

Masked Gazza, Thursday, 4 November 2004 12:14 (sixteen years ago) link

yes, i was talking about the first and second parts. the film talked about the neocons bigging up the soviet threat and then skipped to the war of occupation in afghanistan without connecting the dots: ie, that russia invaded afghanistan at the very time the neocons were spreading supposedly unfounded reports of russian aggression. i agree with the thrust of the programme, but i think it left out anything that didn't support its argument.

great use of music, mind.

Pete W (peterw), Thursday, 4 November 2004 12:43 (sixteen years ago) link

Great programme but not really convincing

Dadaismus (Dada), Thursday, 4 November 2004 13:25 (sixteen years ago) link

Yeah, but you could see the invasion of Afghanistan as the last, desperate agressive act of a moribund regime. There's no doubt the Soviet system was facing collapse - they would never stand a chance vs the US in full on warfare. That's not to say the nuclear threat wasn't real - my parents remember the Cuban missile crisis as a scary time.
Curtis didn't dismiss Madrid as inconsequential - but he dismissed the idea it was ordered and planned by Bin Laden. What you had was a terrorist group working independently inspired by the IDEA of Al Quaeda. And it's the idea that's dangerous and needs to be dealt with. Yes Bin Laden etc are dangerous, but they're not some deadly force in our midst as the neo-McCarthyist paranoia would have you believe.
Sure the UK needs to take precautions, but most of the arrests made under the terrorism act and the infringements on civil liberties are unjustified. The UK has been dealing with terrorist threats since the 60s - okay, the IRA et al usually called to say they'd planted a bomb, but not always.
The media have run with it cos it allows them to pursue existing agendas - the Sun/Daily Mail and their poisonous anti-immigration propaganda.
It wasn't perfect, but it made its point very well.

Stew S, Thursday, 4 November 2004 13:47 (sixteen years ago) link

yeah i only saw the last episode, but i thought it avoided answering some questions for example:

a) didnt really explore what Bin Laden's motivations were for trying a new policy of attacking america, going against what other islamic fundamentalist gorups were interested in (eg toppling central asian regimes*).

b) kept on repeating how the neo cons "grand mission" was some titanic battle of good vs evil, that seemed a bit suspect. are these people really solely driven by moral purpose, no matter how extreme or well, silly, that moral purpose is?

c) er i tcant think of another. but i sort of inherently dont believ things on tv when people make somewhat grandiose claims, whether they be blair, bush or some dude intoning opposing views over loads of tiny clips. it was kinda eisenstein-esque, and well, his aim was kinda totally "manipulate the viewer, worry bout factual issues later".

* interesting becasue in 2000 i was in debate with loads of russian politics students, and they savaged us about Chechnya, along the lines of "Russia is under the threat of Attack by a islamic super state, chehcnya will be the first to fall to them". We (ie a few brits) were all like, "WTF? Islamic fundamentalism? whats that? whats the issue here? quit being so paranoid!". a year later, it became a bit clearer what the idea of a threat from islamic fundamentalism might mean.

ambrose (ambrose), Thursday, 4 November 2004 14:26 (sixteen years ago) link

there's a female morris troop called the Belles of London (do you see?) who prance around in what looks like Victorian underwear. People seem to enjoy it. their hoss is a bastard.

(Dan from enderby's room fiddles for them from time to time)

koogs, Wednesday, 24 February 2021 20:27 (two months ago) link

Might watch them in slow motion so it seems more portentous than annoying.

Alba, Wednesday, 24 February 2021 20:31 (two months ago) link

there's a female morris troop called the Belles of London (do you see?) who prance around in what looks like Victorian underwear. People seem to enjoy it. their hoss is a bastard.

(Dan from enderby's room fiddles for them from time to time)


never ever end lockdown.

Fizzles, Wednesday, 24 February 2021 20:32 (two months ago) link

I see Paul Morley has met them

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CRYUNlDdGyY

Alba, Wednesday, 24 February 2021 20:33 (two months ago) link

oh no

Fizzles, Wednesday, 24 February 2021 20:33 (two months ago) link

Ha ha, well I'm living in New York now so it may be quite a while before I get to see who's right.


and dammit Alba, that’s not v helpful. maybe i’ll go. see if it lights me up.

Fizzles, Wednesday, 24 February 2021 20:34 (two months ago) link

Was tickled to read a while back that on the nite he had his Damascane punk conversion moment, viewing the Clash in Leeds 1977, Green Gartside was in full Morris get-up, having gone to the gig after an evening folk dance class.

Piedie Gimbel, Wednesday, 24 February 2021 20:37 (two months ago) link

There's a mini series on BBC Sounds called My Albion that features reflections on this stuff from the perspective of black british ppl involved in the folk scene, some Twitter Left folks show up too. Worth hearing.

Daniel_Rf, Thursday, 25 February 2021 10:49 (two months ago) link

oh i would like to hear that Daniel - thanks for the tip.

Fizzles, Thursday, 25 February 2021 13:38 (two months ago) link

in case anyone didn't know the entirety of Can't Get You Out Of My Head is up on youtube

I'm enjoying it even if only as a respite from the "is this person a baddie or goodie" type discourse that seems to be the entirety of the internet rn. I'm sure it's chock full of simplifications and elisions but there's a lot of stuff I previously knew jack shit about, and lots of great footage. Amazing that he managed to hold out for almost 4 full episodes before dropping in "you are the generation that bought more shoes and you get what you deserve".

Wouldn't be mad if the editing was tightened up 25% or so

My roommate and I have been watching at opposite ends of the apartment and then emerging to narrate our lives at each other.

stimmy stimmy yah (Simon H.), Friday, 5 March 2021 13:24 (two months ago) link

yatgtbmsaygwyd was meant to be the title but the beeb told him it was too long

grab bag cum trash bag (sic), Friday, 5 March 2021 13:53 (two months ago) link

that's so rude! "yatgtbmsaygwyd" is one of the most beautiful words in the entire welsh language

stimmy stimmy yah (Simon H.), Friday, 5 March 2021 14:09 (two months ago) link

My roommate and I have been watching at opposite ends of the apartment and then emerging to narrate our lives at each other.

i did this with my cat during the week that i watched it. i was really disappointed in what he came up with, but i got some sick burns in on him

Zach_TBD (Karl Malone), Friday, 5 March 2021 17:22 (two months ago) link

two weeks pass...

His list of films that 'express the social and political mood of their time':

https://www.bfi.org.uk/sight-and-sound/lists/adam-curtis-10-films-capture-mood-times

Alba, Wednesday, 24 March 2021 17:24 (one month ago) link

Gotta admit I wasn't expecting some of those

kinder, Wednesday, 24 March 2021 20:20 (one month ago) link

Scream 2 was a fun surprise.

intern at pepe le pew research (Simon H.), Wednesday, 24 March 2021 20:25 (one month ago) link

Stalker, Society, and Starship Troopers are very on brand and I think quoted in his work. But some of the others are slightly unexpected. Including The Souvenir is cheating the "political mood of their time" criteria a bit! BG is probably haunted by the Bush Era in the early seasons but then more influenced by the pure ridiculum of Lost by the end.

calzino, Wednesday, 24 March 2021 20:40 (one month ago) link

Would like to hear of some other examples of "that growing fascination and fear of the human body that grew up in the 1980s" besides Society, Cronenburg and the like.

Ignore the neighsayers: grow a lemon tree (ledge), Wednesday, 24 March 2021 21:21 (one month ago) link

cocoon

Zach_TBD (Karl Malone), Wednesday, 24 March 2021 21:22 (one month ago) link

Teen Wolf

Alba, Wednesday, 24 March 2021 21:46 (one month ago) link

Haha he writes exactly like he talks. Would much rather hear/read him talk about movies than history and society tho

Dan I., Thursday, 25 March 2021 00:04 (one month ago) link

Including The Souvenir is cheating the "political mood of their time" criteria a bit!

That choice leapt out at me too, but rather than put it down to cheating it made me interesting in rewatching the film through that lens. I wanted to rewatch it anyway.

Alba, Thursday, 25 March 2021 00:31 (one month ago) link

it is an interesting 80's period movie in that it is genuinely hungry and curious about reaching the parts others of that genre don't even seem to know exist, but what I meant was most of the other movies were of their time rather than looking back. I know you've clocked that yourself, but just saying!

calzino, Thursday, 25 March 2021 00:47 (one month ago) link

movies on the list - I should add

calzino, Thursday, 25 March 2021 00:49 (one month ago) link

Ah, I see! No, I hadn’t really clocked that. I just meant that I saw it as such a personal rather than political film.

Alba, Thursday, 25 March 2021 00:56 (one month ago) link

the personal approach in this movie is still imbued with the politics of the era and could potentially be a very crude bunch of caricatures in a bad 80's period movie, and there are lots of them. I respect Hogg's naturalistic approach. But still a movie that couldn't be more detached from the era it was made in.

calzino, Thursday, 25 March 2021 01:09 (one month ago) link

I just mean that in the sense that Cutis usually seems quite rigidly obsessed with the significance of what popular culture says about the socio political milieu it was created in. I'll let him off with this one!

calzino, Thursday, 25 March 2021 01:24 (one month ago) link

Surprised "I May Destroy You" isn't listed. He brought it up on his interview on the Red Scare podcast as "a series of films" that captures our age like nothing else. ilx will be pleased to hear.

maf you one two (maffew12), Thursday, 25 March 2021 02:06 (one month ago) link

Would much rather hear/read him talk about movies than history and society tho

Hard disagree. I enjoy Curtis' programmes but, as I think calzino pointed out before, he tends to be a total dolt in interviews.

This list would be ok w/o the blurbs but it's so embarassing - Starship Troopers is prophetic because "the humans send giant armies to kill the insects in the deserts of the remote planet"? Like the US bombing a middle east country was some sort of wild sci-fi in '97?

Daniel_Rf, Thursday, 25 March 2021 11:30 (one month ago) link

💥NEW EPISODE💥 @owenhatherley, @zinovievletter, and Alberto Toscano on Adam Curtis' Can't Get You Out of My Head. We chatted about Curtis' politics, the changes in his documentary style since the early 1990s, and why he avoids talking about neoliberalism:https://t.co/cuFxPERLPG

— Politics Theory Other (@poltheoryother) March 28, 2021

xyzzzz__, Sunday, 28 March 2021 19:13 (one month ago) link

lol I'd never heard that rumour before that he went door knocking for Corbyn in '19. He does have some strange definitions of what the Left is in his work and of course there are going to be constrictions on what stories he decides to tell when he is selling his work to the BBC and is completely reliant on the BBC archives.

calzino, Sunday, 28 March 2021 21:41 (one month ago) link

one month passes...

https://www.thewhitereview.org/feature/on-adam-curtis-cant-get-you-out-of-my-head/

excellent and otm piece by Juliet Jacques

calzino, Friday, 30 April 2021 13:07 (two weeks ago) link

good piece, nice to read a balanced critique for a change

intern at pepe le pew research (Simon H.), Friday, 30 April 2021 13:35 (two weeks ago) link

yeah I think she's nailed just about everything that is good and bad about him there and I learned that he cut his teeth on That's Life! (execrable 70's middle-class television for non UK's!)

calzino, Friday, 30 April 2021 13:44 (two weeks ago) link

"arguing that the US counter-culture had failed to change the world because it had become too concerned with individual self-expression"

this was the most ridiculous bit of Hypernormalisation

calzino, Friday, 30 April 2021 13:52 (two weeks ago) link

The son of English surrealist poet and filmmaker Humphrey Jennings’s cinematographer, Curtis

i did not know this

Fizzles, Friday, 30 April 2021 13:55 (two weeks ago) link

meh, he clearly used his surrealism/avant-garde doc connections to get a plumb production job on That's Life!

calzino, Friday, 30 April 2021 14:02 (two weeks ago) link

or possibly a bat soup production job!

calzino, Friday, 30 April 2021 14:08 (two weeks ago) link

ha this is great

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x1bX3F7uTrg

reggae mike love (polyphonic), Friday, 30 April 2021 16:31 (two weeks ago) link

B-, music cues need work

intern at pepe le pew research (Simon H.), Friday, 30 April 2021 16:38 (two weeks ago) link

any essay that contains both this passage

I had to spend ninety minutes per day holding Perspex dilators inside my ‘neo-vagina’ to stop it closing. I binged on Curtis films while I did this, and eventually discovered my clitoris worked while watching THE CENTURY OF THE SELF.)

and this one


Graeber argued that the morally and intellectually bankrupt Labour establishment, already furious about losing two leadership elections in what felt like (and was) a repudiation of their public-private partnerships and interventionist foreign policy, deliberately sabotaged their own party to defeat a paradigm shift against them. They did this mainly by casting themselves as supporters of the EU, without questioning the EU’s migration policies or imposition of austerity on Greece and elsewhere, and using Corbyn’s refusal to disregard the EU referendum result as a ‘wedge issue’ to divide his base, hoping to demobilise his young supporters and peel away the liberal end of his voter coalition. In the process, many of Labour’s ‘centrist’ MPs lost what were once safe seats in Leave-voting constituencies and handed a thumping majority to one of the most right-wing governments in British history, who immediately voted through the hardest possible Brexit.


is like it was made by robots for me to like it.

One Of The Bad Guys (Tracer Hand), Friday, 30 April 2021 17:05 (two weeks ago) link

Good read. Thanks calzino

maf you one two (maffew12), Friday, 30 April 2021 19:00 (two weeks ago) link

this is absolutely excellent. jacques is really very smart and very unusual now to see someone who can really draw on and bring together the political historical and aesthetic critiques that area ll necessary to thinking about this and using it as a jumping off point to think more broadly and critically about our present moment.

plax (ico), Friday, 30 April 2021 19:30 (two weeks ago) link

i haven't read much by her, the few bits i have were frustratingly short and now seem even more so after reading this where its really clear that she is well able to draw out a complex critique from a pretty dizzying breadth of insights as uh tracers post intimates

plax (ico), Friday, 30 April 2021 19:32 (two weeks ago) link

although lol tbf i only half watched this i thought it was boring as sin and i cant really deal w/ curtis's tone though if i like the music and archive footage

plax (ico), Friday, 30 April 2021 19:34 (two weeks ago) link

the main reason I liked Juliet's piece, aside from the fact that she's always an interesting writer was because I also think Curtis is good and love loads of his work but also consider him very problematic and very myopically dumb at times, although possibly this is by design or part of price for access to the bbc archive or maybe he's just a bit of a dickhead! But the segments on Julia Grant are very empathetic and heartfelt and incredibly moving imo and the cold arrogance of the Mengellesque clinician John Randell, was so enraging and powerful.

calzino, Friday, 30 April 2021 20:01 (two weeks ago) link

I'd felt the series left Julia Grant on a strange note as well. Then heard Curtis on Chapo talking about the very happy ending she has in the film.... in her 5 seconds dancing in the closing montage thing.

maf you one two (maffew12), Friday, 30 April 2021 20:21 (two weeks ago) link

there is a bit where Julia encapsulates all the shit she has gone through, can't remember exactly how she put it - but it wasn't exactly a happy ending but sort of defiantly "I've taken so much shit, just punch me to the deck right here and I won't be surprised"

calzino, Friday, 30 April 2021 20:59 (two weeks ago) link

That's a fantastic piece. I struggle with Curtis - I find the programmes physically exhausting to watch for some reason - but this is the summary of his work I've seen.

This is an extraordinary dip into the (relatively) recent past: A look at BBC2 in the first week of June 1992, when PANDORA’S BOX was first broadcast, shows an OPEN SPACE strand where the public could make programmes; documentaries on the failure of the Green Revolution in India, post-Communist Czechoslovakia and the assassination of high-ranking Nazi official Reinhard Heydrich; Toni Morrison on THE LATE SHOW; a set of films on culture and identity from a black perspective; a dance film by Anthony Minghella; a showcase for new filmmakers; a documentary on the Troubles in Northern Ireland, written by poet Damian Gorman, and another on Frida Kahlo, narrated by Helen Chadwick in Mexico; films directed by Alex Cox and Karel Reisz; a political drama made in Colombia; and daily Open University content.

Vanishing Point (Chinaski), Saturday, 1 May 2021 10:36 (two weeks ago) link

*this is the *best* summary of his work. Gah.

This Politics, Theory, Other podcast (with Owen Hatherley and Alberto Toscano) is a good companion piece: https://soundcloud.com/poltheoryother/hypercurtisisation-w-owen-hatherley-juliet-jacques-and-alberto-toscano

Vanishing Point (Chinaski), Saturday, 1 May 2021 10:38 (two weeks ago) link


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