Mark Cousins' The History of film: An Odyssey

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His lovely voice was back on TV last night - and not to present an intro to a spaghetti western.

Not seen much of a build up to this but I really liked it, w/lots of qualifications.

- The good bits were the overlaying of visual ideas across time - e.g. Shoah's rail journey to Auschwitz/Kubrick's psych journey in 2001.

- Really good script (apart from the intro): packed a lot in a short period of time, but never felt like it - 180 degree, the cut, etc. beginnings of film language. Worst bit was 'punctum', he shouldn't have said where it came from!

- The filming of old fields of greenary w/the "in 1910 this was the centre of the film world"!!

- Lots of identitiy politics that you can tell he is going to rub in people's faces. But, seriously, good bit from that academic on how women script writers wrote so many of the early films at the beginning of Hollywood. He allows the space for a person w/knowledge to make a strong contribution instead of loads of talking heads.

- The promise of what is to come: which is to say Xala pisses all over new american cinema, WHICH IS TRUE AND YOU KNOW IT.

There will be some cranky stuff - the intro was overreaching, you know he'll get tangled up when trying to talk about Hollywood post-Star wars. And the assertion that movies are about ideas and not money is just...

The whole thing might collapse but so far I just liked the talk on silent films, having not seen one.

xyzzzz__, Sunday, 4 September 2011 15:30 (ten years ago) link

http://www.channel4.com/programmes/the-story-of-film-an-odyssey

story ;)

zvookster, Sunday, 4 September 2011 15:33 (ten years ago) link

was really psyched for this but just couldn't listen to cousins, turned off after about ten mins. Will give it another try, maybe.

even blue cows get the girls (darraghmac), Sunday, 4 September 2011 16:23 (ten years ago) link

man alive his voice is annoying

extremely loud and incredibly highbrow (history mayne), Sunday, 4 September 2011 21:57 (ten years ago) link

i like the clips. most of what he's said so far has been nonsense.

extremely loud and incredibly highbrow (history mayne), Sunday, 4 September 2011 21:59 (ten years ago) link

this money vs ideas thing is beyond facile

extremely loud and incredibly highbrow (history mayne), Sunday, 4 September 2011 22:01 (ten years ago) link

'fail to film the nazi gas chambers'... probably best to credit godard?

also the movies invented flashbacks? not even dw griffith thought that.

extremely loud and incredibly highbrow (history mayne), Sunday, 4 September 2011 22:11 (ten years ago) link

- The good bits were the overlaying of visual ideas across time - e.g. Shoah's rail journey to Auschwitz/Kubrick's psych journey in 2001.

this was at best tasteless

extremely loud and incredibly highbrow (history mayne), Sunday, 4 September 2011 22:16 (ten years ago) link

Could never take Cousins seriously after this
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qX9crnz6vQg

Number None, Monday, 5 September 2011 03:20 (ten years ago) link

noticed this was on last night. lolled. didn't watch. fecking mark cousings.

Frogbs (Pray Like Aretha Franklin (in Whiteface)) (Noodle Vague), Monday, 5 September 2011 03:46 (ten years ago) link

i don't really know who mark cousins is, other than knowing his name, but the sight & sound article on this is terrific, in general - in talking about cinema as a kind of esperanto - and makes the series sound great. & i had no idea it was coming. so psyched to see it, not letting you guys get me down. has anyone read the book?

cheerful sound ur (schlump), Monday, 5 September 2011 09:35 (ten years ago) link

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R7s62-rmFic

tests on lab rats prove it's physically impossible to get more than about 30 seconds into one of these spiels

Frogbs (Pray Like Aretha Franklin (in Whiteface)) (Noodle Vague), Monday, 5 September 2011 09:52 (ten years ago) link

thought it was p lolsome that he made some bold claims in the intro abt how this was a *NEW* history of cinema etc etc, before rather dutifully trudging through edison, lumiere, melies, porter, griffiths, california sunshine, and so on. if anything, i was surprised by how little attention he paid to things like caligari and the glories of early european cinema, but maybe that's still to come. i agree that the stuff abt continuity editing, eyeline matches, reverse angle shots and the like was well-explained, and think he'd better off sticking to this formalist approach rather than all that gibberish abt money vs ideas, cinema as esperanto (erm...NO) blahdidblah.

Ward Fowler, Monday, 5 September 2011 10:22 (ten years ago) link

good for u schlump. this thread is really ilx at near its worst.

zvookster, Monday, 5 September 2011 15:27 (ten years ago) link

sorry mark didn't realise you posted here

placeholder for weak pun (Noodle Vague), Monday, 5 September 2011 15:36 (ten years ago) link

really y'all sound like resentful little jerks nv.

can u not watch it from my link schlump? i have US headers on my browser to watch daily show clips etc. but i can watch it.

between movie clips cousins films a series of shots in wide- or long-shot from a cam on a tripod, moving photographs beautifully composed in widescreen, while over the top he says in essence, and often in actuality, "look at this:", "look at this:" The effect is immersive. he barely moves the cam for the whole hour. i don't know how you can watch it while tabbing back to a msg board to update yr predetermined displeasure, checking yr email and glancing at the tentacle porn u downloaded earlier.

above it's somehow facile to note that "visual ideas more than money or marketing are the real things that drive cinema. sitting in the dark it's images and ideas that excite us." and at the same time, it's nonsense? i don't think it's a particularly controversial idea. it's clearly one that's gonna drive the whole series.

i presume "rather dutifully trudging" is a stock phrase lifted wholesale from tory newspapers or whatever. there's no evidence of dutifully trudging thru anything. he returns again and again to porter in facination. he recreates melies' lost magic trick. and so on. it's true the early innovations are well-tread territory, but had you seen, for instance. benjamin christensen film in histories before? there was quite a bit of the unfamiliar.

it was obvious from the whole show that its focus was before cabinet of dr caligari, itself hardly the be all and end all of anything. just in case it wasn't obvious, there was a huge graphic at the start reading 1895-1918.

probably best to credit godard? such a petty point u make, but what makes you think he won;t? no need of credit in a sentence jumping forward in time from edison and lumiere to future reverberations, c'mon son.

this was at best tasteless staggering that linking two visual ideas is tasteless if one of them is in Shoah. you might as well make the point that Shoah is tasteless for using visual ideas. in fact it would be better to try to make that point, since it would demand more than a glib anti-intellectualism.

Moviedrome intros were more than a decade ago, when cousins was young, nervous, awkward, and had two minutes to depart his enthusiasm. people around here get annoyed when you bring up something they wrote two years ago. that said, were they really so bad? his spiel for Force of Evil still haunts me. still, i don't see the point of a youtube when you can hear the narration of the actual series in my link. i've no problem to objections to listening to cousins in this series. if that's a personal thing that's not so much to do with what he's saying as his manner. but personally i find his voice, yes a little precious, but also quiet, measured, lilting, and diffident-sounding even when putting over the poetic or the opinionated. quite a pleasurable effect imo.

zvookster, Monday, 5 September 2011 15:53 (ten years ago) link

you presume a lot

Ward Fowler, Monday, 5 September 2011 15:58 (ten years ago) link

not on this evidence

zvookster, Monday, 5 September 2011 16:01 (ten years ago) link

i missed that opening credit, so mea culpa, but yeah, i have actually seen christensen mentioned in film histories before - haxan is available as a Criterion edition, ffs, he's hardly an ultra-obscure director or anything. I stick by my point, such as it is, that for a self-aggrandizing NEW history of cinema there wasn't much that was new to film scholarship or history - and agree with History Mayne that so far, he hasn't said much, at the theoretical level, that's actually revealatory or confounding.

Ward Fowler, Monday, 5 September 2011 16:08 (ten years ago) link

that edition only came out in like 2001 so yeah it is somewhat new to see his film in film histories. you're totally exaggerating "a self-aggrandizing NEW history of cinema" just for rhetoric btw. i'm surprised you're acting like you don't want things like this to be on tv, because of course you could do better lol

zvookster, Monday, 5 September 2011 16:11 (ten years ago) link

i'll defer to yr impassioned defence and give it another go zvook. i do think "visual ideas more than money or marketing are the real things that drive cinema. sitting in the dark it's images and ideas that excite us." is a contradictory pair of statements that are, at best, more than a bit naive about the way the film industry has always worked tho.

placeholder for weak pun (Noodle Vague), Monday, 5 September 2011 16:19 (ten years ago) link

well, i'd have to go back to the tv prog to check, but iirc Cousins stating pretty clearly that this history was designed, in part, to refute previous narratives/assumptions about the 'odyssey' of film(think he called some previous histories RACIST because of the way they downplayed non-Western/Hollywood forms of cinema, which might be fair enough.)

i don't think you know me well enough to know whether I could do a better job than Cousins - my feeling is, I'd be better at some things than him, and much worse on other things. i can certainly think of a LONG list of people who I would rather had done than job; at the same time, I'll keep watching (and yr righteous fury might've led you to miss the parts in my original post where I praised the prog.)

i do find your hostile caricaturing kind of off-putting to further discussion. it's almost as if you're...taking this personally

Ward Fowler, Monday, 5 September 2011 16:22 (ten years ago) link

Had never occurred to me that Bronson's character in Once Upon A Time In The West didn't know that Henry Fonda offed his brother throughout the entire movie.

pandemic, Monday, 5 September 2011 16:36 (ten years ago) link

wait does that work

Jolout Boy (darraghmac), Monday, 5 September 2011 16:50 (ten years ago) link

see, i don't think it does

pandemic, Monday, 5 September 2011 17:14 (ten years ago) link

it really doesnt, he drops names throughout the whole film right?

Jolout Boy (darraghmac), Monday, 5 September 2011 17:55 (ten years ago) link

i don't know how you can watch it while tabbing back to a msg board

i opened a second window, jeez

had you seen, for instance. benjamin christensen film in histories before?

yes, in this: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1617347/

you're totally exaggerating "a self-aggrandizing NEW history of cinema" just for rhetoric btw.

no, at the top of the show he said: what we think we know is wrong (and racist). he absolutely said that what we thought we knew was wrong, which means he has to get things right. im not sure why im bothering to respond to you bc your post was weird, but there were things he said that struck me as wrong. like the idea edwin porter died a forgotten man, when he was credited in all the major histories as (pretty much) the inventor of narrative cinema. things like that!

more broadly, there's something odd about making it all about individual romantic geniuses (which im sort of OK with actually) but then bringing in a lot of very shallow identity politics. so hollywood is racist, sexist, heteronormative etc -- but also loads of 'male' genre films were written by women. he's sort of working both sides of the street there.

if it were only about ideas, and not about money, well, i guess he might have ended up mentioning the people who had ideas and no money (or no sense of how to use it), like william friese-greene. im not an expert on this, but when he said the lumieres invented the stop-start film-through-projector mechanism, i cd have sworn that they were not literally the first, but that they had managed to do it on a commercial basis. everyone needs money. that's why they call it money.

extremely loud and incredibly highbrow (history mayne), Monday, 5 September 2011 18:05 (ten years ago) link

re: Chistensen, again

now that I'm home i've checked my copy of A Pictorial History of Horror Films by Denis Gifford. There's a paragraph on Christensen ("one more Continental import whose creativity suffered in the cause of commercialism") which discusses not only 'Withcraft Through the Ages' but also his subsequent American-made horror films. This was written in 1973, published by Hamlyn, reprinted countless times and, along with Alan Frank's Horror Movies (1977, also with a paragraph on Haxan) devoured by British genre fans of a certain age (Mark Gatiss mentioned both books in relation to his excellent documentaries on horror films.)

Ward Fowler, Monday, 5 September 2011 18:56 (ten years ago) link

haxan is available as a Criterion edition, ffs,

lol because once something is issued by a niche label (in another country from where this programme is aired) it has entered public consciousness

everyone needs money. that's why they call it money.

props to this

when he was credited in all the major histories as (pretty much) the inventor of narrative cinema.

i think the idea was that, popularly, at the time of his death, nobody really knew who he was.

Anyway, the opening bit really annoyed me with its condescension (and, yes, his voice). As it went on, however, I began to really enjoy it. He does pretty well on a lot of things.

Also I'm a sucker for these kinds of movie histories, and he does about as well as you'd expect for this sort of thing. After all - and somewhat ironically given the ideas v money thing he talks about - you can't expect a 15-part TV documentary to be the kind of programme that will only cater to cinephiles who already know this stuff. The point of any TV documentary (maybe I should qualify that with a 'these days') is to appeal to a mass audience, and I think there's a lot of new/interesting stuff for said mass audience to take in. Don't know why anyone would actually bitch about that, and ftr, I think the bitching in this thread is more in a nit-picking cinephile way, not in a OMG I CAN'T BELIEVE HE DID THAT FUCK THIS ASSHOLE internet kind of way. If anyone actually begrudges that this exists they're obviously ---------.

I dug it a lot more than I thought I would, and I'm interested to see where it will go. It's not Histoire(s) Du Cinema, but nobody should have expected (or even, possibly, wanted) that.

Gukbe, Tuesday, 6 September 2011 07:23 (ten years ago) link

ayo

I'd be the reasonably ignorant masses. I was really looking forward to this, having heard about it. Certainly i'd have quite the opposite attitude to begrudging its existence. His intro, delivery, script, y'know- him- were really distracting, showy, kinda smug idk- imo basically everything i personally wouldn't want my floating expert in a project like this to be. The fact that the first couple sentences he then uttered as a statement of intent were pretty much, qgain, imo, rubbish was on top. And i'd never heard of dude before this.

Jolout Boy (darraghmac), Tuesday, 6 September 2011 07:32 (ten years ago) link

god no, i didn't want 'histoire(s)' -- i actually didn't mind it covering the basics, more the manner of doing so, the claim that everything said before was wrong.

i suppose edwin porter was not a 'household name' when he died, but 'forgotten' is simply wrong, especially in this context: cousins says g. a. smith and the rest of the brighton school 'invented' what porter was, at the time of his death, credited with.

the brighton school wasn't in anyone's consciousness till five years after porter's death -- it was invented specifically to scale back the claims made for porter. g. a. smith was known for his colour experiments but, i am as sure as it's possible to be, not for anything to do with film grammar.

obviously i don't expect these kinds of things to be discussed in the show. but cousins's annoying, fey style is unpleasantly accompanied by actually quite strident, non-negotiable claims that he shouldn't have made.

xpost

extremely loud and incredibly highbrow (history mayne), Tuesday, 6 September 2011 07:32 (ten years ago) link

i guess we're quibbling over the use of 'forgotten' which is a bit silly. porter was even talked about in the TCM docu series from a few months back.

i can understand a distate for the annoying, fey style though. i got used to it, but i was actively annoyed for the first part, and again, the writing and what he says in the opening are pretty poor.

but really i'm not sure what you're talking about with strident, non-negotiable claims.

Gukbe, Tuesday, 6 September 2011 07:46 (ten years ago) link

about his show, about dakar being more interesting than new york, about hollywood cinema being constitutionally racist/sexist etc (i guess 'it was' but then for some reason people liked it), about which individual 'invented' what*

*more sophisticated people than me say that individuals don't invent. whatever: but it does bear on the ideas/money thing.

extremely loud and incredibly highbrow (history mayne), Tuesday, 6 September 2011 07:54 (ten years ago) link

Ah, well, as I said, I didn't like that condescending intro either. But after that, and once I got used to his voice (both literally and presentationally), I thought it was quite good. Or at least enjoyable.

I should qualify that by saying that I absolutely adore Schama's A History of Britain, and I don't agree with a fair amount of it. So I might just be a sucker for series about things I like when they're done in a certain way.

Gukbe, Tuesday, 6 September 2011 08:00 (ten years ago) link

oh i like schama

some of this was just inane. 'the world was changing all the time in the early 20th century [unlike at any time in history]: the titanic sank, the first world war started. you might think the cinema was insignificant within all this, but you'd be wrong.' from memory, but pretty close: what is this shit?

extremely loud and incredibly highbrow (history mayne), Tuesday, 6 September 2011 08:15 (ten years ago) link

starting off w a sequence from Saving Private Ryan annoyed me, cos it seemed to right from the get-go signify an endorsement for a kind of cinema i don't really like v much, but i didn't have a prob w his delivery/manner (his emphatic way of speaking sometimes reminds me of Terence Davies, for some reason.) again, i have nothing against the prog existing, or cousins doing it, or it recapitulating the 'basics', or whatever - i'm sure there'll be things that are new to me, over 15 weeks, and some of the clips are gd! but progs like this almost EXIST to be argued abt - by cineastes, the 'general' audience, by filmmakers themselves - and the first episode def seemed to be inviting contradiction.

of course i wasn't suggesting that haxan being on criterion represents its entry into 'public consciousness', just that christensen's films have for quite a while been part of the accepted narrative of art film history, that they've been seen for a while now as something special, significant, worth preserving in 'special editions', even.

Ward Fowler, Tuesday, 6 September 2011 08:23 (ten years ago) link

i doubt you get a series like this made these days unless it's sold upfront -- to execs as much as anyone -- as "everything you know is wrong": education-as-stunt

and the extent to which TV histories end up standing or falling on the individual mannerism and vocal tic of the historian-presenter is very much part of this

mark s, Tuesday, 6 September 2011 08:36 (ten years ago) link

i agree that the stuff abt continuity editing, eyeline matches, reverse angle shots and the like was well-explained, and think he'd better off sticking to this formalist approach rather than all that gibberish abt money vs ideas

he should stick to visual ideas in other words

zvookster, Tuesday, 6 September 2011 13:06 (ten years ago) link

Part of the "everything you know is wrong" strategy is making ridiculous patronising assumptions about what the audience knows.

Science, you guys. Science. (DL), Tuesday, 6 September 2011 13:22 (ten years ago) link

eh the focus on the bombastic intro itt is out of all proportion.

zvookster, Tuesday, 6 September 2011 13:26 (ten years ago) link

it's probably as far as a lot of ppl got.

Jolout Boy (darraghmac), Tuesday, 6 September 2011 13:31 (ten years ago) link

important point

placeholder for weak pun (Noodle Vague), Tuesday, 6 September 2011 13:34 (ten years ago) link

cos, y'know, introductions are important

placeholder for weak pun (Noodle Vague), Tuesday, 6 September 2011 13:34 (ten years ago) link

they should be but "reasons you really really should watch no honestly, compression of 15 hrs" that you have to sit thru before the real prog starts are not uncommon

zvookster, Tuesday, 6 September 2011 13:37 (ten years ago) link

and it's wonderful for msg boards since the assertions, if they're supported at all, are supported by the series not the intro

zvookster, Tuesday, 6 September 2011 13:39 (ten years ago) link

Episode 1:
Saving Private Ryan (1998)
Three Colours: Blue (1993)
Casablanca (1942)
Record Of A Tenement Gentleman (1947)
Odd Man Out (1947)
2 or 3 Things I Know About Her (1967)
Taxi Driver (1976)
The French Connection (1971)
Employees Leaving The Lumiere Factory (1985)
Arrival Of A Train At La Ciotat (1986)
Annabelle Serpentine Dance (1985)
Sandow (1896)
What Happened on Twenty-Third Street, New York City (1901)
Cendrillon (1899)
La Lune a un Metre (1898)
A Kiss in the Tunnel (1899)
Shoah (1985)
2001: Space Odyssey (1968)
The Little Doctor and the Sick Kitten (1901)
October (Ten Days that Shook the World) (1928)
Once Upon a Time in the West (19??)
The Corbett-Fitzimmons Fight (1897)
The Life Of An American Fireman (1903)
Sherlock Jr (1924)
The Horse That Bolted (1907)
The Assassination of the Duc de Guise (1908)
Vivre Sa Vie (1962)
Those Awful Hats (1909)
The Mended Lute (1909)
The Abyss (1910)
Stage Struck (1925)
The Mysterious X (1913)
Haxan (1922)
Ingeborg Holm (1913)
The Phantom Carriage (1921)
Shanghai Express (1932)
The Story Of The Kelly Gang (1906)
The Squaw Man (1918)
The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
Falling Leaves (1912)
Suspense (1913)
The Wind (1928)
The House With Closed Shutters (1910)
Way Down East (1920)
Orphans Of The Storm (1921)
Birth Of A Nation (1915)
Rebirth Of A Nation (2007)
Cabiria (1914)
Intolerance (1916)
Souls On The Road (1921)

koogs, Wednesday, 7 September 2011 09:44 (ten years ago) link

^ typed the above out whilst watching, figured i should post it somewhere 8)

am hoping a lot of the early stuff is out of copyright and available on archive.org. haxan certainly is.

Orphans Of The Storm was on monday night. was surprised at it's length (3 hours with adverts)

koogs, Wednesday, 7 September 2011 09:47 (ten years ago) link

Totally forgot about this thread...

Ward you wd totally make a better series than this! :-)

As someone who has watched quite a lot (both foreign and Hollywood) but haven't read much film history and only read some film crit this is really welcome. Can pick it apart when I get to know more/read more. I haven't watched Histoire(s)... but wd like to.

I find Schama nauseating. If that's the reaction some people here have for Cousins I totally understand.

I would say the Shoah/Kubric was tasteless, as an example, but the overall idea (there were a cpl of other examples) was ok.

On the interview on More 4 site his basic take home lessons were:

- Lots of African cinema is great
- Japanese cinema of the 30s is ignored in film histories (even now)

and something else, so that will be part of the deal. You may want to run away.

A couple of articles have called this the Civilization of film history but I think it will end up being like that ONLY AFTER attempting to be John Berger-esque about film.

Lots of car crashing expected in the coming weeks.

xyzzzz__, Saturday, 10 September 2011 12:55 (ten years ago) link

they should be but "reasons you really really should watch no honestly, compression of 15 hrs" that you have to sit thru before the real prog starts are not uncommon

― zvookster, Tuesday, 6 September 2011 Bookmark

But if you're gonna say 'ideas not money' after showing a clip of saving private ryan...what?!

Rather have a leaner, even nothingy intro where any pecularities show in the comeing weeks -- the overvaluing of certain obscure-ish films over others.

xyzzzz__, Saturday, 10 September 2011 13:03 (ten years ago) link

to be fair civilisation broached no new ideas whatever, surely? and nor did the world at war...

to establish the compendium of received opinions is not per se a dishonorable activity (very much the opposite in the current intellectual climate, actually) (if cousins is claiming to be a cool-d00d iconoclast that's maybe annoying, but also almost unavoidable: it's the default mode for being paid mainstream attention and perhaps getting a mainstream budget) (and blimey, he's got a 15-part series out of this = a not-to-be-sniffed-at achievement)

schama is excellent at framing interestingly spiky questions which he then entirely drains of interest by the consensual mudge he steers the rest of the programme towards: the opening chapters of his books are often excellent and even exciting -- and the one on "the gothic" remains interesting till about halfway in

my objection to cousins on moviedrome back in the day was that it bled way too easily into the fanboy side of auteur theory -- i recall a particularly aggravating interview with roman polanski (by no means an uninteresting subject in principle ffs, but how are the constraints of getting the interview cleared by his people not going to trudge all over anything you might get out of it... and actually cousins is a poor interviewer, his research presents largely as sucking up, which is horrible to watch even when yr subject isn't an international villain)

this sounds -- i haven't watched any yet -- oddly more like the godard than anyone's letting on: in content if not in framing

mark s, Saturday, 10 September 2011 13:21 (ten years ago) link

i missed this completely when it came out, but it's up on netflix now so i've been blazing my way through it. i only read the first 10-20 posts itt because i didn't want to accidentally read something that would ruin a cool moment later in the series, but of those first 10-20 posts:

- i also rolled my eyes at the "film is about ideas, not money" theme, but then again, maybe that's because the vast majority of film that i know about (not much, i am perpetually a newcomer to everything) was made in the mid-to-late capitalist, post-jaws/star wars USA era. maybe $$ wasn't quite the driver in other centers of filmmaking, at various points? at any rate if cousins continues make his argument by showing awesome clips that demonstrate brilliant ideas and then following up with interviews with people who are inspired by that creativity, that's fine with me. i'm not sure that he'll win in a court of law but it's entertaining as hell.

- i like his voice.

Karl Malone, Wednesday, 17 September 2014 17:53 (seven years ago) link

for real: i only watched the first 10-20 minutes itf because i didn't want to accidentally see something that would ruin a cool moment later in the history of cinema

schlump, Wednesday, 17 September 2014 18:16 (seven years ago) link

lol

life is so much better when it's a complete surprise

Karl Malone, Wednesday, 17 September 2014 18:18 (seven years ago) link

I love his dedication to showing the very final scene of every significant film ever

Branwell with anNe (wins), Wednesday, 17 September 2014 18:21 (seven years ago) link

can't imagine i am not already somewhere upthread getting hysterical about this, but: i think when he's Teaching You Cross-Cutting it's okay, & that there are limits to the degree one which would subsequently benefit from watching like ... free cinema with fresh eyes. it's when he's just off-handedly mentioning that there's a really killer dreyer movie called ordet & not even saying so much about it but still choosing to show you the one revelatory moment that works as the film's crux. it goes SO HARD into this, & just bites chunks out of moment of innocence, vive l'amour, everything. i really like mark cousins, his sight & sound column is beautiful, he's such a wonderful advocate, but it is just so decadent in like ... powerpoint slideshowing through the LUKE I AM YOUR FATHER moments of cinema.

schlump, Wednesday, 17 September 2014 18:22 (seven years ago) link

lol xp

schlump, Wednesday, 17 September 2014 18:22 (seven years ago) link

ugh, limits to the degree to which one would-, btw

schlump, Wednesday, 17 September 2014 18:23 (seven years ago) link

I've seen probably 15-20 more of the films he talks about since watching the series, including Ordet and it didn't spoil my enjoyment of them.

I suppose the ending of the Dreyer is amazing and great, its power wasn't diminished for me. Maybe because he doesn't really talk about the film in that much detail and impose a view on it.

xyzzzz__, Wednesday, 17 September 2014 19:08 (seven years ago) link

i just kinda ... yeah it is not okay i think. i am glad you got to see it without feeling shortchanged!, but it feels hard to argue that some of the platonic effect of the denouement is contingent on us having a general expectation of what can/can't happen. even just tonally, like the film is so controlled & sober & is so self-contained; that shouldn't be overshadowed i don't think. i'm being prescriptive & narrow-minded here but it just seems like such a dick move.

schlump, Wednesday, 17 September 2014 19:14 (seven years ago) link

probably should have written isn't contingent. sorry i am such a mess in this thread.

schlump, Wednesday, 17 September 2014 19:15 (seven years ago) link

Its probably just me. I can read about a film or a book beforehand and then watch knowing its ending w/out it mattering too much (unless I suppose its something like The Usual Suspects but that's just fkn dumb).

Usually because I will put another spin on the thing I watched..(Although wrt Ordet I haven't just really spent enough time thinking about it; I was numbed by that.)

Also I didn't feel that those scenes (some of which were endings, other which were not) felt like powerpoint at any point. The content was very rich for a start, and usually enriched, as you do feel these films were often conversing with one another.

xyzzzz__, Wednesday, 17 September 2014 19:30 (seven years ago) link

The ending to Ordet has been spoiled, like, a million times. It's all everyone talks about. You say an ending was like Ordet, and everyone knows what you mean.

Frederik B, Wednesday, 17 September 2014 19:32 (seven years ago) link

i really like thinking about the jesus-y, kind of john-cale-guy-in-straw-dogs guy in ordet. just roaming around on the moors.

schlump, Wednesday, 17 September 2014 19:33 (seven years ago) link

Maybe if you hang around film buffs but I actually watched 2-3 Dreyer films before Ordet and had no idea of its ending until Cousins showed it (and I probably watched 70% of the films he talked about) (but that's the effect of not reading anywhere near enough film crit).

xyzzzz__, Wednesday, 17 September 2014 19:39 (seven years ago) link

i guess cinema is an artform of MOMENTS and memorable images, so 'old' films like Ordet are ultimately reduced to their 'iconic' scene or sequence - chess on the beach with death, the oddessa steps - and not to feature that scene in a 'history of cinema', however wayward, wld invite criticism carping. every 'clip' ultimately travesties the whole work.

this is how the film is sold in the UK

http://shop.bfi.org.uk/media/catalog/product/cache/1/image/360x360/9df78eab33525d08d6e5fb8d27136e95/5/0/5035673006658_2.jpg

sʌxihɔːl (Ward Fowler), Wednesday, 17 September 2014 19:42 (seven years ago) link

***SPOILER ALERT**
The ending of Ordet is like the middle of La Jetée

Colossal Propellerhead (James Redd and the Blecchs), Wednesday, 17 September 2014 19:44 (seven years ago) link

I read this thing recently, on Stray Dogs I think, saying that a great thing about art-film is that they can't be spoiled, since they are experential. Does that make sense, or am I using a wrong word? Anyways: Artfilm can't be spoiled. The ending of A Man Escaped is immensely powerful, even though the title kinda spoils what happens.

Frederik B, Wednesday, 17 September 2014 19:54 (seven years ago) link

Even an experiential film can surprise, even if that surprise isn't rooted in the machinations of the plot. It doesn't necessarily make a film worse to know what's coming, but the experience is different.

polyphonic, Wednesday, 17 September 2014 20:20 (seven years ago) link

i hadn't totally intended to initiate this discussion, cause i know it's its own little thing, but just, when we talk of la jetee, or ordet, i think for me it's most useful for me to think of those films in which i hadn't had an awareness of whatever was coming (as is the case with the two mentioned), & to remember the effect each had on me - they were both really monumental, kind of breathtaking moments - rather than to assess whether or not i still enjoyed something that i watched with an anticipation or foreshadowing. i don't necessarily think things are spoiled by spoilers, but i think there's a kind of temporal, participatory event that one is lucky to feel, in a bunch of panahi films or in la jetee or w/e, it's something that exists kind of separate *to* the art-film or whatever & is more just a fact of existing as a human, & that the denial is just unfortunate.

schlump, Wednesday, 17 September 2014 20:43 (seven years ago) link

i mean when i think of the moment in the sixth sense when i found out bru

schlump, Wednesday, 17 September 2014 20:43 (seven years ago) link

one of the few advantages to having an awful memory is that Spoiler Alerts have no significance because i'll just forget anyway

Karl Malone, Wednesday, 17 September 2014 20:46 (seven years ago) link

four months pass...

I saw Cousins' latest Life May Be that he made with Iranian director Mania Akbari. They take turns making short segments, and hers is so much better than his, but to begin with he speaks about her films, and he is such a great critic, he really makes it interesting. Wrote about it a bit more.

Frederik B, Monday, 26 January 2015 11:55 (seven years ago) link

i want to see his other films but dont know how to. i saw the children in film one, which was interesting, but just a bit too typical in its essay film structure. i felt like i was just listening to someone narrate their actual essay on the subject. but he did get me to watch the boot for which i am forever grateful - one of the best films ive ever seen in fact. will always love mark cousins for that, even if his S&S column and tweets often are a bit too dreamy.

StillAdvance, Monday, 26 January 2015 12:24 (seven years ago) link

i thought the children in film one was really weak sauce as an "essay," but it had one great value and that was to recommend some movies i hadn't seen

I dunno. (amateurist), Monday, 26 January 2015 14:44 (seven years ago) link

I stayed up until the middle of the night to watch a lot of this and associated films on tcm. Acknowledge lots of the criticisms, and thought it got weaker towards the end (quite possibly because I know the material better, but maybe not), but it was v entertaining.

Banned on the Run (benbbag), Tuesday, 27 January 2015 01:13 (seven years ago) link

def got weaker at the end, if only because he seemed to think inception was a good film :P

StillAdvance, Tuesday, 27 January 2015 10:13 (seven years ago) link

nick james did a funny little parody of mark cousins' column in sight and sound a few months back which i thought was amusing and also surprising - who does a riff on one of their own writers?!

StillAdvance, Tuesday, 27 January 2015 10:14 (seven years ago) link

where was that?

mark cousins is easy to mock, it's true. sometimes i want to slap him myself, especially when he starts flash mobs with tilda swinton.

I dunno. (amateurist), Tuesday, 27 January 2015 10:37 (seven years ago) link

i think it was just in the opening editorial a few months back. he wrote something like 'there i was at ____ festival, thinking of time, godard and moroni'

StillAdvance, Tuesday, 27 January 2015 10:55 (seven years ago) link

So many great films recommended in the Childhood doc. Saw Willow and Wind recently - easily the most harrowing film I've ever seen. Based on the reading list I'm keen to see What is this film called love?

Stevie T, Tuesday, 27 January 2015 12:37 (seven years ago) link

one month passes...

the accompanying ebook is cheap on amazon uk at the moment

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Story-Film-%C2%A0Mark-Cousins-ebook/dp/B00OZRQUK8/

koogs, Tuesday, 3 March 2015 10:45 (seven years ago) link

Can't imagine it as a book but I'd love a catalogue of stills from a selection of the films in the series.

xyzzzz__, Tuesday, 3 March 2015 10:49 (seven years ago) link

one year passes...

new book.

http://www.thebookseller.com/news/investigation-looking-canongate-341346

StillAdvance, Tuesday, 5 July 2016 07:12 (five years ago) link

three years pass...

Since there was some chat on the Kermode thread: might give this another go.

First episode was one of the most frustrating things I've ever seen because it had a wealth of interesting films to discover but framed them in the dumbest way: Hollywood as a "bauble" and everything else as a reaction to it, like Japanese or French or German filmic traditions only exist as a commentary on Hollywood, embarassing stuff. And filmmakers who are clearly, gloriously in the bauble camp - Lubitsch! - still portrayed as part of some nebulous #resistance.

I saw his thing on female directors at the LFF tho and that had a similar amount of amazing discoveries but without a ridiculous thesis. Hope it gets distributed more widely somehow, would be a great thing to put on demand rn.

Daniel_Rf, Friday, 3 April 2020 10:38 (two years ago) link

The bauble thing is the most obviously risible thing, not just cause of rongness but also just the continued cutting to a literal bauble (at one point doesn’t he film it falling to the floor and breaking in slo mo? lol)

Microbes oft teem (wins), Friday, 3 April 2020 10:44 (two years ago) link

(at one point doesn’t he film it falling to the floor and breaking in slo mo? lol)

That reminds me: every moment of non-film footage in this looked so ugly!

Daniel_Rf, Friday, 3 April 2020 15:29 (two years ago) link

one month passes...

One of Mark Cousin’s most criminal juxtapositions in ‘Women Make Film’: moving from a colonial torture scene in Sarah Maldoror’s Sambizanga to a sailing competition in Leni Riefenstahl’s Olympia via the notion of the eye-line...

— Another Gaze: A Feminist Film Journal (@anothergaze) May 26, 2020

xyzzzz__, Tuesday, 26 May 2020 10:22 (one year ago) link

not instantly convinced Cousins is oblivious to the implications of that w/o having seen it tbh (I saw bits of Women Make Films at the LFF but this wasn't in it)

tho another annoying thing in History Of Film was him going "Griffith might actually be overrated by now" and then still wasting way too much time on the fucker

Daniel_Rf, Tuesday, 26 May 2020 10:31 (one year ago) link

what? if anyone can be skipped over due to being done to death already it's surely Griffith,

Wuhan!! Got You All in Check (Camaraderie at Arms Length), Tuesday, 26 May 2020 10:36 (one year ago) link

"might actually be" also is an insane level of hedging. he was a decent cinematographer with a lot of money, that's all, so many more interesting people to talk about.

Wuhan!! Got You All in Check (Camaraderie at Arms Length), Tuesday, 26 May 2020 10:38 (one year ago) link

I agree, but dunno if this was as popular a stance in 2011. Decades of worship for the guy somewhat hard to shake off I'm guessing. But yeah Cousins should've done better.

Daniel_Rf, Tuesday, 26 May 2020 10:44 (one year ago) link

a low-key virtue of this thread is that i spend the second quarter of at the top of my analytical ilxor game and the third quarter plain drunk on main lol

mark s, Tuesday, 26 May 2020 11:44 (one year ago) link

eleven months pass...

Rewatching Women Make Film on blu and again feel like Cousins is invaluable as a digger/curator/tastemaker but quite frustrating as a critic. The conceit of it being a "road trip through cinema" cringingly literalized by car footage breaking up the film clips; making it a course on cinema through female directors is an interesting premise but he goes way too hard on it, with these stupid periodical "so we've seen that tone can be established through x, y and z"; and while having female narrators makes sense as part of getting as many women involved as possible*, there's something awkward about hearing Tilda Swinton's voice read out these texts that are so clearly Cousins all over.

Still would 100% recommend just because of the wealth of underseen cinema he showcases.

* yes yes yes of course this whole project should've been headed by a woman in the first place

Daniel_Rf, Tuesday, 27 April 2021 10:14 (one year ago) link

one year passes...

The Story of Film: A New Generation on Netflix. Think I'm kinda sick of this guy's shtick tbh, really not looking forward to what he has to say about Deadpool or Frozen; his biggest strenght as a cinematic digger prob not as relevant here.

Daniel_Rf, Friday, 13 May 2022 10:10 (one week ago) link

i watched that the other night and have already forgotten everything about it

ignore the blue line (or something), Friday, 13 May 2022 10:46 (one week ago) link

from a letterboxd review:

Starts out incredibly strong as Mark Cousins, without a hint of humour in his voice, proclaims, “he's dressed like a joker. A dangerous joker” as the Joker staircase scene plays out in its entirety. We then cut to a clip of 'Let It Go' from Frozen, prompting Mark to make the connection I'm sure we'd all already made in our minds; “The Joker could've sung this”.

Daniel_Rf, Friday, 13 May 2022 13:39 (one week ago) link

lol

gop on ya gingrich (wins), Friday, 13 May 2022 14:00 (one week ago) link

SpaceCowboys.jpg #OneThread

Don't Renege On (Our Dub) (James Redd and the Blecchs), Friday, 13 May 2022 16:28 (one week ago) link

🤨

Don't Renege On (Our Dub) (James Redd and the Blecchs), Friday, 13 May 2022 17:50 (one week ago) link


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