Saturday, August 2, 2008

James Hansen's 12 Movies Meme

I'm a little late on posting this (sorry!) but better late than never. I'll assume everyone remembers the rules of this 12 movie meme, started by Lazy Eye Theatre. This is my list of 12 movies for a week of programming at the New Beverly Cinema. It may not make any money, but hey...a boy can dream, right?


The Flicker (1965) and Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son (1969)

There isn't a better way to start the week than a couple films that explore and deconstruct the medium. Tony Conrad's The Flicker uses alternating black and white frames to create a 45 strobe-like effect that goes right to your brain. Ken Jacobs's work analyzes Thomas Edison's short film and discovers all the details that can be found within any given frame. All the flickering may cause some headaches (anyone with epilepsy should probably not attend), but these films would highlight the distinctiveness of the medim of film; a great starting point for the week.


Side/Walk/Shuttle (1992) and D'est (1993)

The messages of these two "travelogues" are quite different, but seeing the similar, yet distinct, method each film takes in evoking sadness, memory, and (de)construction within the different locations (whether San Francisco or the whole of Eastern Europe) would be breathtaking. Ernie Gehr and Chantal Akerman are masters of form; these films could work as an introduction to each artist, but are also key (if not the best) works from each director.


Flaming Creatures (1963) and Pink Flamingos (1972)

After two nights of serious meditation, the festival's halcyon days are over. It's time to have some fun with these manically hysterical works from Jack Smith and John Waters. Smith's film is an admitted inspiration for Waters, so it seems fitting to place the two side by side. And really, what is a film festival without flaccid penises and incestual blow jobs?


Blue Movie a.k.a. Fuck (1969) and Crash (1996)

Continuing on Wednesday's sexual themes, these works from Andy Warhol and David Cronenberg use sexuality as a means to identify and explain other elements of human existence. Warhol's Blow Job could also work here, but for its mundanity and placement within the violence of the Vietnam War, Blue Movie is a compelling partner to Cronenberg's better known, highly controversial film.


Cache (2005) and Numero Deux (1975)

Made 30 years apart, these video works are definitive statements on the changing landscapes of cinema in the face of (post)modernism and new technology. Michael Haneke and Juc Luc Godard are keen observers of people, families, and politics; these work highlight these similar obsessions and provide, at least to a small extent, a thematic counterpoint to the filmic works of Conrad and Jacobs.


Doomed Love (1978) and L'Amour Fou (1969)

At a combined 517 minutes, Manoel de Oliveira and Jacque Rivette's almost completely unseen masterpieces may create an incredibly long, draining double feature, but I am convinced that it would be the best day of my life. The titles create a double feature pairing and so do the filmmakers. Always on the edge between theater and cinema, Oliveira and Rivette playfully explore convention while taking cinematic art to new heights. What a way to end a week.

Thanks to Piper from Lazy Eye Theatre and Jeremy from Moon in the Gutter for connecting us to this great meme! It was a lot of fun. Hope another one this fun comes along soon!

by James Hansen

PS- Please let me know if this post has a strange format or something. I am posting it from a really old computer at my work, so I'm slightly worried...


Joel Bocko said...

I'm guessing your choices differ somewhat from Diablo Cody's. Interesting lists...I keep seeing Tom Tom the Piper's Son popping up all over the place. I was turned off from it (along with Jacob's Star-Spangled to Death) by an excrutiatingly pretentious class I was forced to take in school - it basically confirmed

My list is here:

Sort of a different approach, but it does include one Rivette.

Check it out & let me know what you think.

(By the way, great title and even greater image for your blog)

Joel Bocko said...

Sorry, never finished that thought...meant to say "it basically confirmed every stereotype of the academic world as steeped in dry-as-dust and narrow-minded postmodernism and leftism. Thank God I wasn't exposed to too many other potentially contaminated works of art. More evidence that the best way to learn about films and art is outside of school."

James Hansen said...

Thanks for the comments. Sorry to hear that you got turned off of Jacobs. I "discovered" him while I was in undergraduate film (studies) school, but it wasn't through a class and our school wasn't really a big academia haven. That may have helped in my introduction, but I find all of Jacobs's work so fresh, alive, and infinitely more interesting than most experimental work being done today. Now that I'm headed into academia, I may join the ranks and continue to confirm what turned you off of Jacobs...alas, I'll do my best to not be dry.

I can't imagine that Diablo Cody would be lining up to see many of my choices...she is more than welcome to join though!

Thanks again!

James Hansen said...

To continue another thought here that may be worth a post in and of itself...I disagree that film is better learned outside of school. It is important to learn about things outside of school, but a lot of art needs framework that academia (or professors, teachers, whatever) can provide. When you say that material comes across as pretentious, "narrow-minded postmodernism and leftism", it sounds like more of a criticsim of the presentation of the work (by a professor) than of the work itself. The framework (and expectations) can really shape how you feel and react to something, I think. To call the works contaminated by academia is a discredit to the (good) people who are advancing studies of lots of important directors who most people don't (won't?) pay attention to.

I remember reading a criticism of Tarantino once that goes along with your criticism here. Tarantino (a film fanatic who learned about films outside of school...mainly by watching them) said he was inspired by Godard, but he (according to whoever said this...I'll look for the exact quotation and post it) only reflects the flashy Godard and never understands what Godard's intentions were. You can learn a lot from watching films, but you can learn even more by finding a place (and people) where you can fully understand them.

Sorry if this is a bit of a's really not supposed to be...


Joel Bocko said...

No, there are plenty of good teachers out there (not to sound so grim) -- I think all it takes is a sense of enthusiasm, which you obviously have. The teachers I remember from that class generally acted as if they were examining molecules under a microscope (though of course there can be passionate biologists too, but you get the picture).

As for "narrow-minded postmodernism and leftism", I was definitely describing the class, not the work that was shown. Obviously, though, it impacted how I saw the work. Also, Jacobs visited the class himself and his political commentary was kind of inane, which didn't help matters (though as Jon Voight has shown us this past week, political inanity has little to do with artistic talent).

I think the ideal university is one in which there's a free exchange of ideas, with experienced professionals, knowledgable enthusiasts, and people with a passionate curiosity engage in a back-and-forth. This could also be found off-campus (especially with the blogosphere taking off) and I guess the reason I tend to prefer it there (not that I didn't have some great teachers and great experiences in school, or that I regret attending) is that a) it's more open to everyone than a university, and b) it's divorced from a sense of duty - I'm glad I discovered most of my favorite movies and favorite writing on movies outside of class.

But hey, I saw Daisies for the first time in a film class and probably wouldn't have seen it otherwise, so who's to say!

James Hansen said...

Makes perfect sense, and your ideal university sounds exactly that: ideal. I appreciate the "blogosphere" although I really hate the idea (or maybe just the word) of "blogging." Not that I want to be part of some sort of elitism, but "blogging" still has negative connotations in my mind (for it being more simplistic and for having no real reason to listen to many of the people.) It's not to invalidate someones opinion (aka- I'm smart and your dumb...I'll [almost] never do that) but there is still a difference between reading blog #4000 and someone who has spent much of their life studying the subject. There is smart, dedicated blogging for sure...I just have a hard time with accepting terminology.

Thanks for the thoughts! And yeah...I saw Jacobs completely outside of class and "Daisies" in class...both sides have benefits and, to some extent, it just depends on what you're watching where.

Brandon Colvin said...

James, aren't we supposed to tag like other blogs in this or something? Maybe not.

As for the whole academia thing, I definitely understand both of your perspectives. There is no way I would understand as much about cinema without having taken film classes in an educational atmosphere with expert guidance and the encouragement/criticism that comes with such guidance. However, I would say that the academic study of film is not for everyone and that there is room in cinema and film criticism for those with an academic and non-academic perspective.

Also, I completely understand the complaint about film studies, especially "high theory," being dominated by certain schools of thought. I believe that David Bordwell eloquently and effectively criticizes the politicized, dogmatized state of much film studies in the following essay:

Last thing - I don't think the problem your talking about is necessarily with blogging as it is with the massive availability of information created by web publishing, etc. Rather than having a small pool of published voices in journals, magazines, and books, we now have to sift through even more opinions to find nuggets worth contemplating. BUT, aren't those nuggets, previously undiscovered and inaccessible, worth all of the additional sifting?

James Hansen said...

We are supposed to tag other people...I was typing this up at work and I didn't have time to look through and link some others. I'll update the post and link some others.

No one has even mentioned the movies on my list yet now that we have gotten into this academia argument! That's ok though... I very much do think that the "nuggets" you find sifting through blogs are worth reading and that it is rather great to read. It just becomes so much more difficult and the whole "blogosphere" gets bogged down by pieces that aren't quite the gold that I wish were easier to find.

Joel Bocko said...

Also, I think the blogosphere is still young (God knows I've only just joined up) and as it develops, it will probably become easier to find the cream of the crop, and many bloggers will develop their voices and analysis as it grows. And colvin, Bordwell is my ideal of what a film analyst/teacher should be, clear and easy to read but extremely perceptive. It's so rare to see the veil lifted from contemporary film form but he de-mystifies it (in his reading of the Bourne films among others) with great applomb, minus the usual political and theoretical baggage that goes along with most efforts.

To get back to the movies, though, what made you chose L'Amour fou (I assume quite a few Rivette works would have fit in there). Is it your favorite? Out of what are, I suppose, "the big 4" (or at least th early 4) - Paris Belongs to Us, L'Amour fou, Out 1, Celine & Julie Go Boating, L'Amour fou is the only one I haven't seen -- and given Rivette's general unavailability it will sadly probably stay that way for a little while.

James Hansen said...

For full disclosure...I picked "L'Amour Fou" because it is the one I haven't seen and it fit better with "Doomed Love". Turns out love is doomed in both of them (so I hear...) "Out 1" is my favorite (I saw it at Museum of Moving Image when in March 2007...any chance you were there movieman?) but the others are all great too. I would have picked "Out 1" but, for selfish reasons, I picked "L'Amour Fou" because it's the one I need to see.

I'll save thoughts on Bordwell for a later post...


Joel Bocko said...

Very interesting...actually that puts the 12 movies meme in a whole new light. I was thinking about doing a new list every week or two, and maybe I should start with another 12-movie one, but of films I haven't seen and would like to see on the big screen. It's a good idea...

And yes, I was at the same screening for Out 1. Actually I lucked out; I had missed the one in December and only found out about the March one the night before. I showed up the next morning hoping I could buy a ticket off of someone and sure enough, there was someone who wasn't able to attend the next day and was selling his tickets for both. Thanks to him, I had the best moviegoing experience of that year and probably any other...

James Hansen said...

Oh wow! That is lucky! I was in undergrad in Saint Louis at the time and flew up to see it. Granted my g/f lived in New York before me so that was incentive as well, but the real reason for that weekend trip was "Out 1." I took her and I still don't think she's forgiven me yet...oh well...


Nostalgia Kinky said...

Thanks for participating James...I won't get in the conversation of film studies as I have mixed feelings on it so I will just comment on the films.
I actually haven't seen too many of these so the list is fascinating...of the ones I have seen, I love the Warhol, Cronenberg, Waters, Haneke and Godard and would be first in line for them.
Thanks for giving me some ideas of others I should search out.

James Hansen said...

Thanks for reading Jeremy! I hope you get to see some of the others at some point...they are all excellent in their own right without the specific pairings.

Maybe we'll continue this film studies debate at a later date with a more on-topic post. :)