Category Archives: films to watch

Bambi vs. Godzilla

Mamet, David. Bambi vs. Godzilla: On the Nature, Purpose, and Practice of the Movie Business. Kindle Edition. 2007.

Bambi Meets Godzilla | Marv Newland (1969)

“To succeed, a film must treat the audience member as an audience member, not as a commissar of culture.” location 698

“The commissar gets her thrill not from the film but from the power to admonish.” location 699

real filmmakers “Will they fail? Certainly. Both artistically and commercially. But (a) they have no other choice and (b) realizing that their final choices must be essentially subjective, they may learn to trust their instincts. Also (c) they’ll have more fun.”  location 702

“Like any human endeavor, like you and me, they have inevitably been exposed to and have, in the main, submitted to the power of self-corruption, of self-righteousness, to the abuse of power. But like General della Rovere, like you and me, like the studio executives, they possess the possibility of beauty and, hence, for human transformation: not as preaching, not as instruction, not as doctrine—all of which, finally, are out of place in the cinema and can awaken, at best, but self-righteousness.” location 740

“The garbage of exposition, backstory, narrative, and characterization spot-welds the reader into interest in what is happening now. It literally stops the show.” location 866

***”When the film turns narrative rather than dramatic, when it stands in for the viewer’s imagination, the viewer’s interest is lost.” location 1040

***”The writer may choose to supply stock, genre, or predictable answers to the magic questions, and the drama will be predictable and boring. The writer will have saved himself the agony of indecision, self-doubt—of work, in short—and so, of course, will the protagonist.” location 1230

“The gags, here, happen to be identical to Aristotle’s “incidents,” that is, those occurrences without which the plot cannot move forward.” location 1391

“Shoot an entrance and an exit. It’s free.” location 1627

***”Our ability to conceptualize about both the process and the product is accompanied, and inspired, by the pure animal joy of submersion in a mystery.”  location 1653

“Wisdom, therefore, lies not in the phenomonological question “What does a duck look like?” but, rather, in the practical “What is a duck looking for?”” location 1658

******”one may learn to prevail through understanding rather than strength—the basic tenet of jujitsu” location 1668

“Well, the poor man, unhampered by the capacity to waste, was forced to employ thought, and he wondered: What does a duck like? How does a duck see?” location 1678

“We have all had the experience of saying of a statue, “How lifelike,” and, of a life mask, cast from the human form and painted to perfection, “How lifeless.”” location 1679

“For the actual human being and the actual duck were created by, and so contain, a mystery. They cannot be reduced to mere measurements, and all attempts to do so (whether through the caliper of the decoy maker or through the audience testing of the social scientist) result in lifeless parody.” location 1681

“For another name for “chance” is “mystery,” and another name is “art.”” location 1685

“Jewish rabbinical tradition notes that adultery is like murder, for it is a crime that cannot be undone. Violation of the aesthetic distance is a rupture of the artist’s compact with the audience, and, similarly, its rupture cannot be mended.” location 1790

***”the difference between enjoyment and stimulation. One leaves the ballet feeling refreshed, as a promise has been fulfilled. One quits the video-game or pornographic film feeling empty and vaguely debauched—for one has only been stimulated. The brain, here, craves a repetition of the stimulation, as with any drug.” location 1833

“One may sit in front of the television for five hours, but after King Lear one goes home.” location 1835

*****”violence—their belligerence masks their fear and displays their ignorant belief that battles are somehow won by intimidation.” location 1894

“Violent encounters are won only by those putting themselves at risk of violence.” location 1895

“Aristotle cautions that it is insufficient for the hero to get the idea. Many modern moviemakers, however, act as if they hadn’t read his book. Their films depict the gentle progress of the protagonist toward self-actualization—usually depicted as a slow, arms-extended twirling on a beach (as if the expression of a racial memory of our descent from the shipworm). location 2040

“These men, and their performances, are characterized by the absence of the desire to please.” location 2055

“On screen, they don’t have anything to prove, and so we are extraordinarily drawn to them. They are not “sensitive”; they are not antiheroes; they are, to use a historic term, “he-men.” location 2056

“But consensus is, of course, the dead opposite of that subjectivity that is the essence of the theatrical experience.” location 2385

*******”And so, now firmly self-understood as part of a jury, he utters the phrase that is the foundation of society and the death of art: “What do you think?” Consensus, enshrined as right thinking, ensues, and the stage is set for mediocrity.” location 2400

“productive subjectivity” location 2441

“They are lost in the wilderness and prefer, as might you or I, a broken compass to no compass at all.” location 2449

“They who lack talent expect things to happen without effort.” location 2546

“Mark Twain wrote of U. S. Grant’s personal memoirs that they were so well written as to make one wonder who was going to win the Civil War.” location 2743

High Noon (1952) Fred Zinnemann (story told in “nearly real time”)

 Mickey Mouse in Vietnam (1968) Whitney Lee Savage (short)

December, 2013.

Fargo/Coen Brothers (i) week syllabus 01/22-01/29

Film:

Fargo  (1996) Coen brothersRoger Deakins

Exercise:

Dramatic construction with index cards. Each card = one minute of screen time, one script page.

“writing on each of them a minimal number of words that describe a step in the narrative… Important character interactions in a scene.” (Mackendrick p. 45)

what each main character in the scene wants. scene objective. how the story moves forward.

Script to read:

Fargo (Coen brothers)

Course book:

On Film-making (Alexander Mackendrick)

Films to watch this week:

Nightfall | Jacques Tourneur (1957)

On Dangerous Ground | Nicholas Ray (1951)

Article “five films that influenced the Coens’ classic” from BFI

Articles to read:

none

Essay or script:

500 words on Fargo or neo-noir script 3-5 pages (Saturday)

Location scouting:

none

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Writing/Film Project:

Chukkumi (mornings)

—-

Book to read:

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. James Joyce.

—-

Photo project:

none

Wiener-Dog

Watched Wiener-Dog (2016)

Dir. Todd Solondz

              Professor Phillips
“Celebrity Schmelebrity”
is a terrific script.

               Dave Schmerz
It’s a piece of shit.
I tried to do something good.
It’s… something…
Get into my childhood.
Get into some…
Something real.
Real stuff.
Pain.
Memories.
Dreams.
But I wanted it to be funny.
I wanted people to like it.
I wanted it to sell.
So I threw in
the mixed-up identities…
I threw in the sex jokes.
The Mafia.
A little schtick.
Everyone loves a little schtick.

To Watch: Au Hasard Balthazar (1966) Robert Bresson

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Todd Solondz’s Exquisite, Imperfect “Wiener-Dog” The New Yorker Article

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mulberry-crop

Silence

NY Times The Passion of Martin Scorsese article

To watch Silence (2016):

To read: Silence by Shūsaku Endō (1966)

“As the hours passed, the room, already dark, seemed to diminish around us, until it resembled a screening room, or a chapel, a place where questions of how to live are posed through stories and images.”
“The Italian-American Catholicism of the area was centered on street processions devoted to saints brought over from the old country: San Gandolfo for the Sicilians on Elizabeth Street, San Gennaro for the Neapolitans on Mulberry Street.”

Mulberry Street c. 1900. Via Wikimedia/Library of Congress.

To read: Don DeLillo

“Spiritual Exercises” of St. Ignatius of Loyola (founder of the Jesuits)

“The exercises, devised in the 1520s, invite the “exercitant” to use his imagination to place himself in the company of Jesus, at the foot of the cross, among tormented souls in hell.”

To read: Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola (1522–1524)

Jesuit poet Gerard Manley Hopkins

To watch again The Mission (1986) Roland Joffé

“A.O. Scott, now a chief film critic for The New York Times, once wrote that Scorsese approaches filmmaking as “a priestly avocation, a set of spiritual exercises embedded in technical problems.””

To watch Boxcar Bertha (1972), After Hours (1985), The Color of Money (1986)

To read: The Last Temptation of Christ (1955) by Nikos Kazantzakis

To watch again The Last Temptation of Christ (1988)

 

“Like the novel, the picture interrogates the very idea of Christian martyrdom, by proposing that there are instances when martyrdom — the believer holding fast to Christ to the bitter end — is not holy or even right. It makes in the way of art the arguments made in defense of “Last Temptation”: that an act can’t be fully understood if the intentions behind it aren’t taken into account, and that a seeming act of profanation can be an act of devotion if done out of an underlying faith.”
“He will go to hell — but he will go to hell for their sake.”

To watch: La Strada (1954) Federico Fellini

bitacora. dic. 1

I wake up. Tiny claws scratching the wooden floor. A tongue lapping at the water. The dogs are ready to eat. Boil the water. Soften the food. I put Yolo in the pen. He demands to be set free. Chocolino come here. Treat time. Choco sit, down, beg, spiiiiiin, down, gidaria, eat. Repeat five times. Then his plate. Down. Gidaria. Eat. He wolfs it down.
Out the door. Elevator from the 5th floor to the first. The morning sun is bright. The city has already had a few hours to get started. I wait for 155.
The 155 is almost empty. I sit at the back on one of the single seats, and continue reading The Sound and The Fury. The 155 travels east. We cross the Suyeong at Millak. I look down at the water and try to come up something pretty. Nothing comes up. Just water moving toward more water. In India it would be spiritual. People get off at Centum. We turn north. I read. We turn at Jaesong and climb up toward Jangsan mountain. I hear the bus shift gears. People get off and on. A blue and white bus with red numbers driving up a city built on a mountain slope on a sunny morning in Korea. The market at Banyeo samdong, people with grocery bags, people reading their phones. We descend into Banyeo ildong. The view opens and a large slice of city appears framed by pine forests at each side, rows of tall monolithic white buildings beyond the basin of the Suyeong. The spine of the Geumjeongsan still green. The mountain disappears behind older and smaller houses. We enter Banyeon ildong. Narrow streets. A blue work truck parked at a tight corner. Honking. I read. We turn. The bus gathers speed. I hear the bus shift gears.  We careen down the strip until the overpass. The whiny bell announces a passenger stop. An old lady with curly hair waddles to the backdoor holding the handrails as if enjoying an adventure at a moving jungle gym. I get off at the elementary school. The yellow leaves of the unheng tree strewn on the sidewalk. I think of my dad and how once as a kid I pretended to be a blind boy or an old man, using an imaginary cane to prod my way around the subsuelo hallway of the hotel. My dad frowned and asked me, ¿te haci de ciego o de viejo? I pondered the question. I looked at the corral my dad had been chatting with before he’d decided to test my morals. His friend looked back at me, grinned and waited for my response. I looked at my dad. De viejo, I said. Ah, bien, porque algun dia vai a ser viejo. I buy an ice americano at Amico for 2,500 won. The lady that made it hands it to me and bends the end of my straw so I won’t have to. I sip and exit the coffee shop.

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