Rahil

Category Archives for: Philosophy of Film

Film Lists, Watching Life, and Letting Beauty Emerge

10 October 2016

talk talk talk

One of my earliest posts on this blog, circa 2010, was about saving Netflix ratings. I still have that file. I found it in my Dropbox. And now, 6 years later, I used it.

Netflix previously failed by narrowing their film selection to a small selection of popular films around the time that they created the digital streaming service. Netflix seems to have failed yet again by not giving a simple interface / display of user ratings, allowing the internet free-market to fill in the gap.

Upon searching the internet for anime films to watch after being quite life-affirmed by Colorful [todo: add link later], I stumbled upon Letterboxd. I’m unsure why it took so long for such a simple website to form. Perhaps there was that generic list-making website before it?

Anyway, here’s a list of favorite films that I created How bored / habituated to sedentary life I must currently be.

Further, I *liked* a few lists. I *liked* too many. Not good. I over-browsed, over-consumed, over-organized.

But, if your aesthetic judgement finds bits of beauty in the infinitude of audio-video output, then, through the linking of those bits one eventually finds a beauty bit collector! ScorpioRising might be one, as his list As I Was Browsing The Auteurs, Occasionally I Saw Glimpses Of Beauty (also copied to letterboxd by another user) seems to be a collection of beautiful bits. Undoubtedly, beauty (including love) naturally unfolds in those films. And surely, there are more lists out there like it, such as assasf’s list (((.

I think that’s all I need now as far as film selection goes for the next few years. Gone are those early college days of perusing Metacritic, Roger Ebert’s website, BFI’s Sight & Sound, big three festival-winners and their specific awards, and other critic-oriented lists which result in similar film canons (though Kenji’s canon is probably darn good), sloppily adding them to a 500 capacity ordered queue on Netflix, or post-Netflix, a text file. Finding Letterboxd reminds me of my experience with 8tracks, where people discover music and create music playlists as opposed to machines or in film lists: critics, and I was able to freely enter countries and listen to the sounds of that country, without a need to really select what to listen to, spending more time experiencing, less time searching. Now I feel I can continue living life, watching reality at the pace of reality, as I did when I rode my bike when I was a child, and still now, when I ride my scooter. Just watching, nothing in particular, allowing one’s attention to see the natural beauty of the world.

So, if my habits become more sedentary, focusing on information (digital or not; mediated communication) rather than reality, as many modern jobs force one to do for several hours per day, and as desired information is easy to obtain, then these films can save me, alter my habits and attention from the mirror of the world that is information to the real world, remind me what life is like in different areas on earth, inspire me, to go out, and live, again.

Further talking

Kenji’s austere film list is on three websites: Listal, MUBI, and Letterboxd, and in that order in Google popularity. Hmmmmm.

It also seems Letterboxd has a database of films, so many films are missing. Can’t just write the title in?

More lists

While searching for slow-spaced, contemplative goodness, I stumbled upon An Austere List by Kenji. I’m a bit frightened to watch that right now, as only having watched The White Ribbon from that list. But, luckily, I found Slow Cinema Filmography (1975-2013), which derive’s its list from a thesis. Awesome!

Kenji has a list for Indian films! So, maybe, there’s more than Satyajit Ray.

Anthropology and empathy reminds me that one can just search for research topics, such as human condition, urban planning, cultural theory, or hatred of capitalism.

Leave a comment | Categories: Art, Film Reviews, Films, Humanities, Life, Personal, Philosophy of Film

Media and Action

15 April 2016

From a thought today:

“…The second essay is about whether ‘personal essays’ ever cause action: has anyone acted upon an Essai by Montaigne[?], as people acted when Blow made Braid, or when Vertov made Man with a Movie Camera? Did the games and films made in response [to them] merely create more communication, as opposed to action? No [and Yes?]. It’s the accessibility of the medium that increases the chance of acting in response. ‘I read the news today’ is a different experience from watching Night and Fog, and that itself different from what I imagine and hope the experience of playing This War of Mine. The closer the experience of a medium is to real experience, the greater the chance of acting in response.”

Leave a comment | Categories: Action, Art, Communication, Critical Theory, Films, Games, Humanities, Linguistics, Media, Metaphysics, Philosophy, Philosophy of Film, Philosophy of Game, Social Philosophy

An Interview with Chris Marker

30 December 2015

interviewer: Does the democratization of the means of filmmaking (DV, digital editing, distribution via the Internet) seduce the socially engaged filmmaker that you are?

Chris Marker: Here’s a good opportunity to get rid of a label that’s been stuck on me. For many people, “engaged” means “political,” and politics, the art of compromise (which is as it should be—if there is no compromise there is only brute force, of which we’re seeing an example right now) bores me deeply. [1] What interests me is history, and politics interests me only to the degree that it represents the mark history makes on the present. [2] With an obsessive curiosity (if I identify with any of Kipling’s characters, it’s the Elephant Boy of the Just-So Stories, because of his “insatiable curiosity”) I keep asking: How do people manage to live in such a world? And that’s where my mania comes from, to see “how things are going” in this place or that. [3] For a long time, those who were best placed to see “how it’s going” didn’t have access to the tools to give form to their perceptions—and perception without form is tiring. And now, suddenly, these tools exist. It’s true that for people like me it’s a dream come true. I wrote about it, in a small text in the booklet of the DVD.

1. Marker is not interested in politics (seemingly not of political philosophy / theory), he’s only interested in how history shapes contemporary culture; Politics just happens to be a part of history [which often shapes contemporary culture]. [todo: may have to reread a few times more]

2. The nomadic manic.

3.1. There was something I wanted to talk about here, about perception into form, especially the urban film-essay style of Chris Marker. Of putting together one’s perception of reality into a film; That is, one’s awareness of reality, the history and culture behind each image [and sound?]. [todo: should continue elaborating on the process from perception to film and perception of film as knowledge]

Marker’s form of film, the essay film, enables the director to bring out awareness of reality, to decipher reality. Through a standard realistic film one’s mind accepts some unrealistic structures which form the film, despite the strong desire of the director to recreate social reality. When watching a direct cinema film (and to a great extent, cinema verite and documentaries), it is up to the viewer to extract knowledge from the film, to deconstruct it. Marker serves as the philosopher of his images, in addition to the selector of images. Anyone can deconstruct an image, but it requires a bit more skill to put philosophy-provoking images together in a beautiful manner.

When one creates a documentary, wherein the camera-holder is the subject and the view of the camera is the object, reacting to reality, especially apparent in cities, one creates content which is closest in form to human perception.

That kind of content could be quite useful to environmental psychology. If people simply had camcorders close to their eyes, one could gather a great amount of data useful for environmental design (urban design, etc.). Though, there may be a problem with treating humans like lab rats; Then again, aren’t cities just a rat race?

Still, even with the eye-level camcorder footage, it may not be as useful as Marker’s films, because it lacks a smart subject who has intent to be aware of certain things, and make aware of more things from those things, which brings some order out of the information, [which though not required for an education, saves time,] and creates some direction. Though, at times, not much.

3.2. Camcorder as a tool to give form to one’s perception. Perhaps the greatest artistic tool because it produces a form closest to reality.

3.3. Those who are best placed — place in society, health, education, good perception, and mean of transport — now have access to the camcorder.

source:
an interview with Chris Marker, “Originally published in Libération, March 5, 2003. With thanks to Antoine de Baecque.”

Leave a comment | Categories: Art, Environmental Psychology, Filmmaking, Films, Humanities, Philosophy, Philosophy of Film, Urban Philosophy

What makes a classic, classic?

22 October 2014

In answering this question, one comes closer to what one should focus on creating.

Though for each medium (or new media) there are steps in aesthetics that accumulate to what makes a modern example of that medium, the steps are often forgotten.

What makes a classic are those things that offer a perspective of life, and allows time to reflect on it.

As I’ve mentioned before, my favorite films are the slow, contemplative ones by Asians: Still Walking, Like Father Like Son, Yi Yi, Tokyo Story. These films capture families realistically, allowing the viewer to observe human condition.

Those aren’t just my favorites, there are more that I consider classics. My favorites happen to have nuclear families as their subject, but it isn’t limited to such. Other films I’d still consider classics: Tree of Life, Apu trilogy, Chop Shop, 400 Blows, La Haine, Vive L’Amour, 4 Months 3 Weeks 2 Days, Nobody Knows, Grave of Fireflies, Bicycle Thieves, Ikiru, Kiki’s Delivery Service, A Separation. All of these films contain people. They too portray life realistically and explore the human condition.

It seems to me that’s it. A classic is an art object that realistically portrays life and deeply explores the human condition. To have good aesthetics (design, pacing, style) are icing.

I have not read classic fiction books, but I imagine the following novels of realism do similar justice: Anne Karrenina, War and Peace, Madame Bovary, Middlemarch, The Brothers Karamazov, Crime and Punishment.

Video games vary, and I have not experienced one that offers nearly as much insight into human life as the other mediums, but it’s possible. Jason Rohrer’s early games are a start. Jonathan Blow’s Braid had a good character. Anna Anthropy’s Dys4ia is the greatest example I can currently think of. All are linear experiences. Still, none compare. But there are many other directions for games. When art is an interaction, it can’t be duplicated, which is kind of a requirement of a classic, that it can be re-experienced.

New media, performance art, public art, interactive art, etc. are different beasts They usually serve as steps by pushing aesthetics forward (Duchamp), from object to experience (Fluxus), from experience to interaction (Fluxus again?), and so on. Once they become interactive, they follow the same fate as interactive games: unable to become a classic. Ai Wei Wei’s work and Banksy just don’t quite fit or compare to those classic films or books. [I may be missing some classic performance arts, such as plays and dance]

I may argue for Brandon Stanton’s Humans of New York photograph and text series, and Vincent Moon’s music and performance video series, as they provide insight into humans too. Both are archived on the internet, so it is possible to see it all in one viewing, as one normally does classics.

Of recent note, I found the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury within the Cannes film festival with this stated goal: “honour works of artistic quality which witnesses to the power of film to reveal the mysterious depths of human beings through what concerns them, their hurts and failings as well as their hopes.” Their goal is great, but their films tend to be more philosophical.

Also of recent note, one of Calvino’s definitions of a classic that I like: “A classic is the term given to any book which comes to represent the whole universe, a book on a par with ancient talismans.” This represents the childish ideal all art strives for.

Leave a comment | Categories: Art, Essays, Films, Games, Literature, Philosophy of Film, Philosophy of Game

Why I Love Tsai-Ming Liang’s Films

04 June 2014

[Could use more work!]

Why do I love Tsai Ming Liang’s films?

In answering this, I believe I can find what characteristics of aesthetics I personally love.

Because his work is told from a view of a person from the street, a person who has no culture. The perspectives of the lives in his films are rarely shown, especially for such lengths of time. When i am in a state of hypomania, I think about the poor, how they relate to the world, and what they do. When I go to another country there is a layer of alienation brought out by culture: the temples, prayers, customs , food, tv. Culture itself is alien to humans, it’s acquired; I always question how it came to be. How did the world come to the way it is. Lines of large apartment buildings in China, hours of commute time, betel nut stands, shopping malls, everything. When travelling through diverse areas, from indigenous to city, I keep questioning these things. In Tsai Ming Liang’s films, I feel I am similarly always questioning. Given a slow pace, the low class humans in society, devoid of culture, almost devoid of life, one gets a fresh travelers perspective again. How did the world come to be? What are people doing, and why?

Few films bring about these questions.

During highly active times of travel, including hypomanic times of being entirely irrational, I couldn’t stand any form of media because most films assume so much: film cliches, genres, reason films are made, and the most assumed of all: culture. Compared to going outside and actively doing something, only Tsai Ming-Liang was watchable.

Film reviews:

Leave a comment | Categories: Films, Philosophy of Film

Early Film Criticism

01 May 2010

[old thought] what seperates a good movie from a bad one is realism. remove the hollywood plot and music. everything must be real – the character’s personalities, the outcome, the randomness, everything. add good cinematography, and BAM! you have a good movie.
5/1/2010 (dd/mm/yyyy) After watching Food Inc.

Perhaps around college graduation I began to heavily watch films and think quite independently, and soon after, write a little during or after watching them.
5/5/2016

Leave a comment | Categories: Art, Films, Humanities, Personal, Philosophy of Film, Thoughts