With occasional reflection on the perpetual absurdity/intrigue of life and society in general.

Thursday, September 16, 2021

The Card Counter - Featured Film of Interest - Highly Recommended

No American filmmaker embraces Robert Bresson's innovative mode of cinema, both theoretically and artistically, more than Paul Shrader.  He at times leans into near visual and stylistic replication while somehow maintaining earnest originality, no doubt due to his inimitable talents for screenwriting, original narrative concept and character.  He delves the same deep seas of human suffering, redemption and existential contemplation that Bresson navigated, yet never seems a parody.  He explores similar protagonists, utilizes minimalist visual strokes and seems to adhere to the sacred oath of obstructions, yet I would never argue Shrader anything less than an integral auteur of his own making.  He has had a writers hand and a filmmakers voice in the new wave and evolution of contemporary American cinema as much as anyone of the era.  

The review below takes an approach and tone worthy of the material, demonstrating a critical manner reminiscent of Bazin, particularly in considering the film within the context of Shrader's body of work and artistic nature.  Shrader is apparently not slowing down or falling under the weight of age anymore than Bresson did.  I could argue that this film coupled with First Reformed, his last directorial/writing effort, represent some of his finest accomplishments as an auteur.  As someone that holds Bresson's films, Notes on the Cinematographer, and the Taxi Driver script as sacred precedents of filmmaking, may I say, extraordinary work, sir.  I look forward to what comes next.

"For Schrader, French filmmaker Robert Bresson is the inexhaustible fount. He’s one of the three filmmakers treated in his thesis-turned-seminal-film-text Transcendental Style In Film: Dreyer, Ozu, Bresson and the one Schrader cribs from almost obsessively. (I’m not saying that like it’s a bad thing, honest.) Schrader calls “The Card Counter” one of his “a man sitting in a room” or “man at a table” films; that man originated with Bresson’s “Diary of a Country Priest.” That priest was a diarist, and his writings were reinforced with the words read aloud in voiceover. Schrader made Travis Bickle a diarist, and specified the same kind of voiceover, which “Taxi Driver” director Martin Scorsese buttressed with some visual cues out of Godard, who was well influenced by Bresson himself."  

Link:  The Card Counter Film Review (2021), 'Roger Ebert.com'

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Bressonian Quote #24 - Notes from a Master Filmmaker

"An image must be transformed by contact with other images as is a color by contact with other colors.  A blue is not the same blue beside a green, a yellow, a red.  No art without transformation" 
Robert Bresson 

From:  Notes sur le Cinematographe/Notes on the Cinematographer (1975)

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Fan Fun Opinions 01 - Top 10 TV/Streaming Show Intros

So, in my opinion, opinions mean absolutely nothing.  Well, absolutely nothing as far as useful dialogue or cognitive consideration or problem solving or creativity or personal evolution or evolution of any sort, or really anything of substance or purpose at all.  However... opinions are fun.  They're fun to share and banter about with friends and peers and they're fun to sling around in casual socialization, but that's about as far as the usefulness goes.  Doesn't mean I don't enjoy the hell out of some good ole opinion banter, as long as we all know that none of it REALLY matters.  Inevitably, someone, usually a big David Fincher or James Cameron or Oliver Stone fan, goes and gets the idea that their opinion matters and ruins the fun for all.  We're not going to do that here.  We know our opinions don't mean a thing, and we rejoice in that freedom and knowledge.  

Now, informed opinions are a tad bit different, but we're treading into some murky waters in drawing such a distinction.  Informed opinions are like a halfway point or purgatory between opinions and informed ideas (quite contrary to opinions, they can and do hold value).  Informed ideas do not evolve from opinions, nor are the two a variation of one another - no more than film is directly evolved from theater (wink, wink, Bresson).  
So, let's not misconstrue informed opinions for something other than opinions, but they can possibly be a spark to creative interaction that could lead to something substantial down the line.  That's about the best I can do in trying not to say what I'm saying.  Informed opinions might be somewhat useful, if and only if they are also informed by humility and self-awareness about the nature of the opinion itself.  One mustn't be blind or in denial about it still being a mere opinion, and you know what they say - Opinions are like a-holes... no one gives a shit. 

So, with that classy clarification of my general outlook on opinions and their modest purpose at best, I begin this fun little series of random and poorly thought out "top 10" lists.  I've always made a point to veer away from such things, just like thumbs up/thumbs down art critique, but both seem inevitable when pop culture intrigue stirs.  The dirty and apologetic truth is, I really like "best of" lists when done well, but like good reggae outside of Jamaica, that's rare.  With full awareness of my own aimlessness, I enter into this pop culture/film/media nerd venture, well... because I'm a pop culture/film/media nerd, no matter how hard I try to validate myself as a cinephile, filmmaker or academic.  Really I'm just a big ole film nerd.  

Enjoy our very first Opinionfest installment.  By the way, the general standard for my high opinion of Show Intros is typically based on one of three things, or all - it could stand alone as an experimental short film, music meets image, and the tone it sets in relation to the show.  

Top 10 TV/Streaming Show Intros or Title Sequences

10. Rick and Morty

9.  True Blood

8.  Mash

6.  Six Feet Under

5.  The Wire

4.  The Expanse

3.  True Detective Season 1

2.  The Leftovers

1.  Man in the High Castle 

Honorable Mention:  Fresh Prince of Bel Air, House of Cards, Mr Robot, South Park, Breaking Bad, Shameless

Extra Special Mention:  Fishing With John

Thursday, September 9, 2021

RIP Omar Little (MKW)

'At the entrance to paradise…the cry is echoing off the pearly gates tonight… 

Thank you for all that you gave us, and all that you lived.  You will be missed.

Sunday, December 27, 2020

The Year in Blog - boy in a box

Dear 2020, no words.  Just, no words.  Too much.  

Been busy watching the wind.  Be back sometime in 2021.


Sunday, September 8, 2019

Thought for the Day - From an Unapologetic Gen X'er

Yes, this really is the first thing that I decide to post in 9 months.  Actually, many posts are awaiting, just held up by pure Slacker mode (a shout out to all the Gen X'ers).
Check out the article below.  I've been waiting for an excuse to post this ever since it popped up on their website.

Link:  NPR:  25 Years Later: Was 1993 The Greatest Year In Music?

umm, of course it was - one of my personal favorites at least.  So much authentic, innovative music at one moment that includes and extends beyond what is discussed in the article.  Extraordinary year in so many genres and sub genres, from rock (um, grunge?) to metal to punk to hip-hop to jam band (felt obligated to include), and so much more.

Monday, December 31, 2018

A New Year - reflections and observations

Farewell 2018!  It's been weird... and stressful... and heavy... and a little creepy.

My wish for 2019:  We open ourselves to brighter, slower days filled with something new and real - with our eyes open, minds alive, actions forward, and resistant as necessary.  With love is not without action, and so we move on with hope, but not without realism, ration and experience to direct us.

Courtney Barnett & Kurt Vile - 'Over Everything' - Song for the Day

Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile
Published on Aug 30, 2017

'Over Everything' is taken from Courtney Barnett & Kurt Vile's album 'Lotta Sea Lice'

See the Link Above

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

2018 Virginia Film Festival - Program Announced and Tickets Available Now

150 Films in four days

VAFF two years back - I was privileged enough to be in attendance.

A taste of this year's program:

The Favourite
Green Book

That should be about enough to get some energy brewing for the film lovers out there.  I'm getting down right giddy after finally figuring out my four day schedule.  Well, mostly - still some tough debates on unfortunate overlaps for me.  Not a terrible problem to have.

I will be writing more about the 31st Annual Virginia Film Festival, 2018 as a featured festival in upcoming posts.  It is held in my city of residence, Charlottesville, VA, much of it walking distance from my home.  No surprise, it's my favorite time of the year to be a local.

The films have been announced and tickets went on sale yesterday - Monday, 10/08 at noon.  Some films have sold out, but most screenings still have tickets available.  The program looks dense with quality and intrigue, and there is more than enough for any film lover, cinephile or film student alike to fill a full festival experience.  There are also plenty of good choices for those that want to dip in for just a film or two.

Yaaaaay!  It's film festival time in my home town.

Links:  VAFF Homepage and 2018 Program Announcement

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Politics Meets Humanity - Sen. Jeff Flake Confronted by Protesters Ahead of Kavanaugh Vote - Media with Purpose

The strength, courage and conviction of the women protesters confronting Flake is nothing short of inspiring to action, and endless admiration and appreciation.

Now, I also want to note the truth seeking ability of the camera's eye, and the infinite strength of media when driven by noble forces.  The camera offers the peoples' voice amplification like nothing else can, if we use it.

Nothing really needed be said.  Just watch.

Link:  NPR - WATCH: Assault Victims Confront Jeff Flake After He Says He Will Vote For Kavanaugh

Monday, September 24, 2018

Arts & Crass: The Highbrow Lowbrow Film Podcast: Ep.19A - Virginia Film Festival 2017 Special Pt.1

Arts & Crass: The Highbrow Lowbrow Film Podcast: Ep.19A - VAFF 2017 Special Pt. 1

Tod and Cullen make their triumphant return to podcasting with the first half of their 2017 Virginia Film Festival coverage!

Part 1 includes general comments on the festival, plus discussion of the following screenings:
Bonnie and Clyde (Penn, 1967)
Magnum Opus (Elliott, 2017)
Lighthouse Studio Shorts
Shadowman (Jacoby, 2017)
Downsizing (Payne, 2017)
Shelter (Riklis, 2017)
Tonsler Park (Everson, 2017)
Birth of a Movement (Gray & Cram, 2017)
Word is Bond (Jenkins, 2017)
Krystal (Macy, 2017)
Ismael's Ghosts (Desplechin, 2017)
The Lodger (Hitchcock, 1927)

Stay tuned for episode 19B, featuring discussion of the second half of the festival.
Subscribe on Apple Podcasts or iTunes and leave us a review!

Link to listen to Ep.19A: 

Link to:  Arts & Crass: The Highbrow Lowbrow Film Podcast

That's right, we're back!  Visit the Links above to listen to the new episode as well as episodes 12-15 (not posted on this blog).  Episodes 16-18 are recorded and simply sitting in editing backlog, and Episode 19B - VAFF 2017 Pt. 2 will be released very soon, so keep an eye out.

We are also making plans to record more new episodes as we speak, including extensive coverage of the 2018 VAFF.  Hooray!

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

"Believe in Something..." - Colin Kaepernick's Nike Ad Campaign, 2018 - Media with Purpose

Related image

"Don't ask if your dreams are crazy.  Ask if they're crazy enough."

Note from biab:  Sometimes it takes a Goliath to bring down Goliath.  The world we created is more complex and unjust than i typically care to imagine.  Strange times bring strange allies.

Childish Gambino - "Feels Like Summer" - Song for the Day

“Feels Like Summer” by Childish Gambino http://smarturl.it/n3g9db8 tour tickets and merchandise available at http://www.childishgambino.com/ Directed by Donald Glover, Ivan Dixon & Greg Sharp

First the video for "This is America," and now this...  Looks like we may have one of those rare savvy but honest artist types that realizes the medium of music and video can be so much more than a promotional ad or MTV rag (i think that channel still exists?).  Bravo, Mr. Glover.  I hope you keep going with it - challenging the status quo.

And, of course, he is a legit A-town artist.  I have to show some special love for the artists of Atlanta, one of the most formidable stomping grounds of my young adulthood.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Monday, June 6, 2016