Monday, April 03, 2006

The Trim Bin #21

- Werner Herzog, Jonathan Caouette, Frederick Wiseman, and Herbert Sauper are among the many directors appearing this weekend at Williams College and Mass MoCA for the "Extreme Documentary" conference (see the full schedule here). I'm anticipating some interesting tension between the filmmakers and the format, which seems to have been designed for people who don't like cinema. I can't wait, though; Herzog could read selections from the Boxcar Children series and it would be riveting.

- See Slither. My review is forthcoming, but go see it now because you don't have much longer. Often a bomb like this can be attributed to misleading marketing, but Slither's was right on the money, and that might be the problem. I guess people don't like gross-outs as much as I assumed, or maybe those that do simply prefer torture to slime. Kudos to Jack Criddle, who worked on the film at Kleiser-Walczak. Yeah, see Slither. Take the whole family. Do it for Rooker. You know he'd do the same for you.

- I finally got to read the famed Hitchcock-Truffaut; it provides enormous insight into the filmmaking process and is basically required reading for all aspiring directors. The book did what all such interviews, either in print or on video, should do: it confirmed my instincts about some aspects of the process and offered me insight into others that I hadn't considered. After finishing the book, I did an editing analysis of The Birds. The next time you watch the film, pay attention to the restaurant sequence, where Hitchcock veers wildly between humor and dread with pitch-perfect timing. There are some sequences that can tell you more than four years of film studies, and Hitchcock usually has several in a single film.

More and more, my suspicion that the dozen-odd film classes I've taken add up to an appalling dump-heap is being realized. Watching the extras on the King Kong DVD, I realized that Peter Jackson, like Hitchcock and also Spielberg, Lynch, and many others, is more interested in discussing the process than subtext. This is not to say that the subtext isn't there, just that directors (good ones, anyway) don't think like professors. Great filmmakers that are eager to talk about a film's content, like Herzog, do so in a way that raises more questions than answers; they understand that a film is an ongoing process of discovery for both its makers and its audience, and this is as it should be. What I'm trying to say, Prof. Langston, is that if you return one more of my essays with the note "underdeveloped ideas," I'm liable to shit bees.

- Harry Knowles is in love. This is good, this gives me hope.

- General question: favorite Michael Rooker performance?

1 comment:

Doug said...

Damn, the only thing I've seen on that list is Mallrats, so that wins by default.

Your thoughts on how film is taught is one of the reasons I turned away from studying it too deeply at MCLA. For someone like me, there were some good times to learn the basics, but overall it was too much tedious over-analyzation of different things, trying to force disection to the point where it no longer becomes interesting. (As I'm sure I've mentioned before, I still can't watch Mullholland Drive because of one professor) In a sense, remove the audience member portion and replace it entirely with a scholar. There needs to be a balance and I think a good filmmaker finds this.