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"Method of this work:
literary montage.
I have nothing to say only to show."
(Passagenwerk (1927 - 1940) - Walter Benjamin)

2005, Aug 21; 23:32 ::: Poetics () - Aristotle

Poetics () - Aristotle [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]
image sourced here.

Two translations from chapter four, on why we like things which are painful to see, for example: horror:

  • Objects which in themselves we view with pain, we delight to contemplate when reproduced with minute fidelity: such as the forms of the most ignoble animals and of dead bodies. --sourced here. [Aug 2005]
  • for we enjoy looking at accurate likenesses of things which are themselves painful to see, obscene beasts, for instance, and corpses. --sourced here. [Aug 2005]

See also: ambivalence - art horror - representation - Aristotle

2005, Aug 21; 21:43 ::: The Complete Adventures of Curious George (2001) - H. A. Rey, H.A. Rey

The Complete Adventures of Curious George (2001) - H. A. Rey, H.A. Rey [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Curious George is a character and a popular book series starring a curious monkey named George, who is brought from his home in Africa by a man in a yellow hat to a big city. There, he lives with the man, called, simply enough, the man with the yellow hat. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Curious_George [Aug 2005]

In essence, "curiosity" is a term that describes an unknown number of behavioural and psychological mechanisms, which have the effect of impelling beings to seek information and interaction with their environment and with other beings in their vicinity.

Curiosity may also refer as a noun to a novel item or phenomenon kept as an attraction to the interest of the public; it is so named because it is intended to engender curiosity in its viewers.

A morbid curiosity is a compulsion, fixed with excitement and fear, to know about macabre topics, such as death and horrible violence (snuff film). In a milder form, however, this can be understood as a cathartic form of behaviour or as something instinctive within humans. According to Aristotle, in his Poetics Ch 4 we even “enjoy contemplating the most precise images of things whose sight is painful to us”. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Curiosity [Aug 2005]

Dedicated to Mickie.

See also: mystery - fascination - unknown - curiosa - curious - education

2005, Aug 21; 21:43 ::: Le Gai Savoir (1969) - Jean-Luc Godard

Le Gai Savoir (1969) - Jean-Luc Godard
image sourced from Film as a Subversive Art (1974) - Amos Vogel

Le Gai Savoir est un film de Jean-Luc Godard, commencé avant mai 68 et terminé après. Co-produit par l'O.R.T.F., le film, une fois terminé, est refusé par la télévision française, puis sa sortie en salles est interdite par la censure. --http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Le_Gai_Savoir_%28film%29 [Aug 2005]

See also: 1969 - Jean-Luc Godard - Freud - Marx

2005, Aug 21; 20:54 ::: Fada 1000L Bullet radio (1946)

Fada 1000L Bullet radio (1946)
image sourced here.

See also: radio - 1946

2005, Aug 21; 20:52 ::: Modern Literature, 19th century

The 19th century was perhaps the most literary of all centuries, because not only were the forms of novel, short story and magazine serial all in existence side-by-side with theatre and opera, but since film, radio and television did not yet exist, the popularity of the written word and its direct enactment were at their height. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_modern_literature [Aug 2005]

See also: literature - 1800s

2005, Aug 21; 16:54 ::: Casanova (1927) - Alexandre Volkoff

Casanova (1927) - Alexandre Volkoff
image sourced from Film as a Subversive Art (1974) - Amos Vogel

See also: Casanova - film - 1927 - orgy - erotic films

2005, Aug 21; 18:10 ::: Rasputin - Orgien am Zarenhof (1984) - Ernst Hofbauer

Rasputin - Orgien am Zarenhof (1984) - Ernst Hofbauer
image sourced here.

In Europe, quite a few pornographic films from the early 1980s were shot in two versions, hard and soft - partly because the industry wasn't sure where things were heading and partly to keep their feet in two rather separated markets. This film is an example for that.

Sadly, it is also an example that shows the fundamental problems of this approach. The soft version suffers from an unprofessional cast that can't act and an over-reliance on sex scenes: it is not wall-to-wall, but comes uncomfortably close, interrupting the narrative and ultimately failing to pick it up again. The hard version enjoys production values modern porn makers can only dream about, but the photography of the coital scenes is unimaginative and rather anonymous, making one wonder how often body doubles were engaged. The smutty dialogue has also badly aged: its novelty value is lost, revealing so much clearer its unsuitability for the historical context in question. --Stefan Kahrs via http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0086174 [Aug 2005]

Ernst Hofbauer (22 August 1925 Vienna, Austria - 24 February 1984 Munich, Germany) was an Austrian film director. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ernst_Hofbauer [Aug 2005]

See also: softcore - hardcore - 1984 - film - Ernst Hofbauer

2005, Aug 21; 18:10 ::: Film As a Subversive Art (1974) - Amos Vogel

Film As a Subversive Art (1974) - Amos Vogel [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Amos Vogel (*1921 in Vienna, Austria) had to leave Austria in 1938. He is best known as founder of the New York City avantgarde ciné-club Cinema 16 (1947-1963) and of the New York Film Festival. Vogel is the also the author of the book Film as a subversive art, still among the most unorthodox film histories ever published.

Vogel participated in the 2003 documentary In the Mirror of Maya Deren by Martina Kudlácek. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amos_Vogel [Aug 2005]

See also: Amos Vogel - 1974 - art - subversion - transgressive cinema

2005, Aug 21; 16:54 ::: À propos de Nice (1930) - Jean Vigo

À propos de Nice (1930) - Jean Vigo
image sourced from Film as a Subversive Art (1974) - Amos Vogel

À propos de Nice (1930) - Jean Vigo
image sourced from Film as a Subversive Art (1974) - Amos Vogel

See also: French cinema - 1930 - France - Jean Vigo - film

2005, Aug 21; 16:54 ::: Okasareta hakui (1967) - Koji Wakamatsu

Okasareta hakui (1967) - Koji Wakamatsu
image sourced here.

Koji Wakamatsu (1 April 1936, Wakuya-machi, Tôda-gun, Miyagi, Japan) is a Japanese film director. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Koji_Wakamatsu [Aug 2005]

See also: Japanese cinema - 1967 - Japan - film

2005, Aug 21; 13:15 ::: Taxonomy of transgressive cinema

Irréversible (2002) - Gaspar Noé [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

art film - avant garde film - banned films - cult films - drug films - experimental film - exploitation film - erotic films - grotesque film - paracinema - pornographic film - underground film - violent films

See also: film - transgression - transgressive cinema

2005, Aug 21; 12:06 ::: Louis Rousselet

Voyages dans l'Inde (1865/68) - Louis Rousselet
image sourced here.

2005, Aug 21; 11:52 ::: Pre-Code Hollywood (1999) - Thomas Doherty

Pre-Code Hollywood (1999) - Thomas Doherty [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Can anyone tell me from which film the picture on the above book was taken?

Who says the world of classic Hollywood moviemaking was never risqué? We tend to think of black-and-white movies as representing a sanitized world, where crime never paid, ladies of the evening had hearts of gold, and married couples slept in separate beds. But in fact, censorship in American cinema didn't begin in earnest until 1934, when Will Hays and Joseph Breen began enforcing the legendary Hollywood production code. In this revelatory book, Thomas Doherty looks at sound movies of 1930-34--what is now known as the "pre-code" era. This was a Hollywood of loose dames, hot whoopee, and coked-up killers who'd do anything for a pot of jack. It was a world that was often amoral and anarchic--an industry that allowed James Cagney and Paul Muni wild orgies of violence, openly flaunted the sexuality of Marlene Dietrich and Mae West, gave King Kong permission to crush cars and eat people, and allowed Tod Browning to make Freaks, one of the ghastliest, most sensationalistic, and greatest American movies.

Doherty's book captures this mad universe beautifully, describing films in such delightful detail that you may find yourself tossing it on your couch and racing to the video store. He also documents the downfall of the period, the outrage that was leveled against early sound films, and the emerging code that repressed American movies for almost 30 years. Film fans reveling in the debauchery of Hollywood's naughtiest era will also want to see Mark A. Vieira's Sin in Soft Focus. --Raphael Shargel

From Publishers Weekly
In early 1930s America, weighed down by the Depression, a vice-ridden, wise-cracking, anarchic antiauthoritarianism ruled Hollywood. Doherty's exhaustive cultural history of the films produced in the last years before the enactment of the Motion Picture Production Code reveals how the ascendancy of sound and a plummeting economy led to four years of wildly edgy films (1930-1934), radically different from the spic-and-span products of classic Hollywood. Most of the films chronicled hereAsporting titles like Eight Girls in a Boat, Call Her Savage and Merrily We Go to HellAhave been both forgotten by film historians and unavailable to generations of late-night TV viewers. Doherty begins with the misery and discontent gripping the U.S. in the 1930s, explaining how these forces shaped a motion picture industry just learning how to use the power of sound. He organizes the later chapters around a colorful, trashy array of genres: anarchic comedies; horror, gangster and vice films; over-the-top newsreels; and expeditionary films set in dangerous territory. Doherty's plot summaries at times grow tiresome, but he rarely fails to enliven them with gossip, quips or anecdotes. Ultimately , he shows how the fun came to a crashing halt when the National Legion of Decency and the Production Code Administration, spearheaded by Joseph Breen, launched a massive and astonishingly successful crusade to clean up "the pest hole that infects the entire country with its obscene and lascivious moving pictures." Given the politics swirling around Hollywood's edgier fare in the wake of the shootings in Littleton, Colo., this lurid and all too short-lived chapter of Hollywood history has never seemed more germane. (Sept.) FYI: A series at New York's Film Forum, The Joy of Pre-Code, running from August 20 to September 14, 1999, will feature more than 40 precode films, including many discussed by Doherty. Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --via Amazon.com

See also: censorship - Hollywood - Production code - American cinema - 1934

2005, Aug 21; 11:03 ::: Transgressive art

Transgressive art refers to art forms that transgress; i.e. that go across or against basic norms or mores. While the term trangressive was first used by American filmmaker Nick Zedd and his Cinema of Transgression, traces of transgression can be found in any art which by some is considered offensive because of its shock value; from the French Salon des Refusés artists to Dada and surrealism. Philosophers Mikhail Bakhtin and Georges Bataille have published works on the nature of transgression.

The term can also be applied to transgressive literature. Recent examples include Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh, American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis and Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk. These works dealt with issues that were considered to be outside the social norms. Their characters abused drugs, engaged in violent behaviour or could have been considered sexual deviants. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transgressive_art [Aug 2005]

See also: transgression - transgressive art - transgressive cinema - transgressive fiction

2005, Aug 21; 11:03 ::: Occidentalism: The West in the Eyes of Its Enemies (2004) - Ian Buruma

Occidentalism: The West in the Eyes of Its Enemies (2004) - Ian Buruma [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

From Booklist
Four characterizations of the West contribute to the anti-Western stance Buruma and Margalit call Occidentalism and are used to justify attacking individual Westerners as less-than-human beings. The West prefers the sinful city to the virtuous countryside; the West destroys heroism and replaces it with trading; the West thinks only of matter and not of spirit; the West worships evil. Buruma and Margalit argue that the first two of those conceptions, typical of secular Occidentalism, are themselves Western, products of European romanticism that early-twentieth-century Japan and Germany exploited to their own ruin. The third idea informs Russia's long struggle with the West but stems from German romanticism, in particular, with its sense of the wounded national soul. The fourth, peculiar to religious Occidentalism, animates radical Islamism but derives from the good-evil polarities of Persian Manichaeism that the young Augustine embraced. Buruma and Margalit conclude that these ideas' lives are "a tale of cross-contamination" that cannot be ended by answering anti-Western intolerance with more intolerance. A timely tract, brilliantly though broadly argued. Ray Olson via Amazon.com

See also: West - 2004 - Orientalism

2005, Aug 20; 20:00 ::: Tel Quel (1960 - 1982)

Tel Quel (in English "as it is") was an avant-garde journal for literature, founded in 1960 in Paris (Éditions du Seuil) by Philippe Sollers and Jean-Edern Hallier. It was mainly influenced by Friedrich Nietzsche, Jacques Lacan, Roland Barthes, Julia Kristeva, and Jacques Derrida.

The editors committee included Philippe Sollers, Jean-Edern Hallier, Jean-René Huguenin, Jean Ricardou, Jean Thibaudeau, Michel Deguy, Marcelin Pleynet, Denis Roche, Jean-Louis Baudry, Jean Pierre Faye, Jacqueline Risset, and Julia Kristeva. It aimed to reflect the avantgarde attacking classical literary history. Maoist pro-Chinese and cultural revolution (after 1967). Authors and collaborators include Roland Barthes, Georges Bataille, Jacques Derrida, Jean-Pierre Faye, Michel Foucault, Julia Kristeva, Bernard-Henri Lévy, Marcelin Pleynet, Philippe Sollers, Tzvetan Todorov, Francis Ponge, Umberto Eco, Gérard Genette, Pierre Boulez, Jean-Luc Godard, and Pierre Guyotat. Publication ceased in 1982, The journal was followed by "l'infini".

Tel Quel is also the title of two volumes of short reflections by Paul Valéry, published in 1941 and 1943. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tel_Quel [Aug 2005]

See also: Tel Quel - magazine - literature - France - 1960

2005, Aug 20; 20:00 ::: Madame Edwarda

Swedish book cover of Bataille's Madame Edwarda (1937)
image sourced here.

See also: erotic fiction - Georges Bataille - France - 1937

2005, Aug 20; 14:33 ::: Culture of France

Eiffel Tower (1889) - Gustave Eiffel

Culture: French erotica - French music - French cinema

Related: Barbarella - cabaret - Cinéma vérité - Cahiers du Cinéma - Cinémathèque - Emmanuelle - Fascination (magazine) - femme fatal - Moulin Rouge - film noir - L'Histoire d'O - May 1968 - négritude Midi Minuit Fantastique - Nouvelle Vague - noir - Obelisk Press - Olympia Press - Paris - Radio Nova - Salon des Réfusés - Série Noire - Le Sexe Qui Parle - fin de siècle - French Revolution - vaudeville

People: A - Guillaume Apollinaire - B - Gaston Bachelard - Brigitte Bardot - Roland Barthes - Georges Bataille - André Bazin - Sylvia Beach - José Bénazéraf - Jean de Berg - Henri Bergson - Gilles Berquet - Alfred Binet - Michel Blanc - Bertrand Blier - François Boucher - Charles Baudelaire - Jean Baudrillard - Pierre Bourdieu - Guy Bourdin - Jean-Pierre Bouyxou - Robert Bresson - André Breton - Restif de la Bretonne - Catherine Breillat - Charles De Brosses - C - Rupert Carabin - Pierre Cardin - Paul Chabas - Claude Chabrol - Manu Chao - Céline - Jean Cocteau - Gustave Courbet - André Courrèges - D - Dalida - Anatole Dauman - Guy Debord - Régis Debray - Claude Debussy - Gilles Deleuze - Louis Delluc - Gerard Depardieu - Gilles de Rais - Jacques Derrida - René Descartes - Robert Desnos - Achille Devéria - Denis Diderot - Marcel Duchamp - Germaine Dulac - E - Paul Eluard - Jean Epstein - F - Louis Feuillade - Michel Foucault - Georges Franju - Emmanuel Frémiet - G - Abel Gance - Serge Gainsbourg - Théophile Gautier - Jean Léon Gérome - Jean Giraud - Maurice Girodias - Jean-Luc Godard - Alain Goraguer - Urbain Grandier - Alain Robbe-Grillet - Félix Guattari - H - Michel Houellebecq - Joris Karl Huysmans - I - Ingres - Luce Irigaray - J - Just Jaeckin - Alfred Jarry - K - François Kevorkian - Yves Klein - Pierre Klossowski - Julia Kristeva - Ado Kyrou - L - Jacques Lacan - Henri Langlois - René Laloux - Lautréamont - Lautrec - Patrice Leconte - Henri Lefèbvre - Gaston Leroux - Eric Losfeld - Lyotard - M - Louis Malle - André Pieyre de Mandiargues - Édouard Manet - Georges Méliès - Henri Michaux - Octave Mirbeau - Pierre Molinier - N - Nerciat - Gilles Néret - Gaspar Noé - O - Orlan - François Ozon - P - Pauvert - Francis Picabia - Richard Pinhas - Georges Pichard - Max Pécas - R - Paco Rabanne - Pauline Réage - Jean Renoir - Alain Resnais - Janine Reynaud Bettina Rheims - Jacques Rivette - Jean Rollin - Jean-Jacques Rousseau - S - Pierre Schaeffer - Barbet Schroeder - Marquis de Sade - Jean-Paul Sartre - Delphine Seyrig - Romain Slocombe - Stendhal - T - Clovis Trouille - Jacques Tardi - Jacques Tati - François Truffaut - V - Roger Vadim - Paul Valéry - Edgar Varèse - Jules Verne - Boris Vian - Paul Virilio - W - Georges Wolinski - Z - Régine Zylberberg -

See also: France - culture

2005, Aug 20; 09:18 ::: Paracinema

In addition to art, horror, and science fiction films, "paracinema" catalogues "include entries from such seemingly disparate genres" as badfilm, splatterpunk, mondo films, sword-and-sandal epics, Elvis flicks, government hygiene films, Japanese monster movies, beach party musicals, and "just about every other historical manifestation of exploitation cinema from juvenile delinquency documentaries to ... pornography" (Sconce, 372).

As Sconce explains, this is an "extremely elastic textual category," and comprises "less a distinct group of films than a particular reading protocol, a counter-aesthetic turned subcultural sensibility devoted to all manner of cultural detritus [trash]. In short, the explicit manifesto of paracinematic culture is to valorize all forms of cinematic `trash' whether such films have been either explicitly rejected or simply ignored by legitimate film culture" (372). --Sleaze Mania, Euro-trash, and High Art, Joan Hawkins, The Place of European Art Films in American Low Culture; 1999 via http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1070/is_2_53/ai_59210751/print [Aug 2005]

See also: low culture - exploitation film - low culture - paracinema

2005, Aug 20; 07:26 ::: The avant-garde meets the grindhouse (2005) - Dr. Eric Vornoff

“Since I wrote about grindhouse films, these professional beatniks accused me of making the world a worse place. Jonas Mekas, for one, was livid that I’d once left (Sleazoid Express) flyers at a screening of Chelsea Girls at his Anthology Film Archives. To Mekas cohort Ken Jacobs, I was an example of everything that was evil and wrong with movies and the world in general. On the other hand, Ken Anger loved it.” --Bill Landis and Michelle Clifford’s Sleazoid Express: A Mind-Twisting Tour Through the Grindhouse Cinema of Times Square. New York: Fireside, 2002.

They can keep their Bressons and their Cocteaus. The cinematic, modern marvelous is popular, and the best and most exciting films are, beginning with Méliès and Fantômas, the film shown in local fleapits, films which seem to have no place in the history of cinema. --Kyrou, Ado. “The Marvelous is Popular.” The Shadow and Its Shadow: Surrealist Writings on Cinema. ed. Paul Hammond. London: British Film Institute, 1978, p 68

This notion that “Bad,” popular, or low films bring a unique artistic expression to the screen is further reinforced in the introduction to Incredibly Strange Films. Editors V. Vale and Andrea Juno state that the “low-brow” realm of low budget filmmaking is a site of unfettered creativity. Often, the films are eccentric – even extreme – presentations by individuals freely expressing their imaginations; individuals who, throughout the filmmaking process, improvise creative solutions to problems either by circumstance or budget restrictions. -- Vale V. and Andrea Juno. “Introduction.” Incredibly Strange Films. eds V. Vale and Andrea Juno. San Francisco: V/Search Publications, 1986, p.5.

via The avant-garde meets the grindhouse (2005) - Dr. Eric Vornoff --http://www.synoptique.ca/core/en/articles/vornoff_s8 [Aug 2005]

See also: film - body genre - paracinema

2005, Aug 20; 07:26 ::: Paraliterature

Paraliterature is a term for genre literature, such as science fiction, pulp fiction and comic books, that is not considered literary fiction by mainstream literary standards. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paraliterature [Aug 2005]

See also: literature - escapist fiction - genre fiction - low

2005, Aug 19; 18:08 ::: Les Diaboliques (1955) - Henri-Georges Clouzot

Les Diaboliques (1955) - Henri-Georges Clouzot [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Amazon.com essential video
Legend has it that Henri-Georges Clouzot beat out Alfred Hitchcock to secure the rights to this novel, which proved to be a veritable blueprint for an icy masterpiece of murder, mystery, and suspense. Véra Clouzot plays the sickly wife of a callous headmaster of a provincial boarding school going to seed, and the commanding Simone Signoret is the headmaster's mistreated mistress. Together they plot and carry out his murder, a brutal drowning that director Clouzot documents in chilly detail, but the corpse disappears, and a nosy detective starts sniffing around the grounds as threatening notes taunt the women. Clouzot's thriller is as precise and accomplished a work as anything in Hitchcock's canon, a film of grueling suspense and startling shocks in an overcast, gray world of decay, but his icy manipulations lack the human dimension and emotional resonance of the master of suspense. The film has been accused of being misanthropic by many critics, and Clouzot's attitude toward his characters is bitter at best, contemptuous at worst. The viewer is left on the outside looking in, but the razor precision and terrifying twists deliver a sleek, bleak spectacle worthy of attention. --Sean Axmaker --This text refers to the VHS Tape edition.

An acknowledged influence on Psycho, Henri-Georges Clouzot's horror classic is the story of a sadistic headmaster who brutalizes his fragile wife and his headstrong mistress. The two women murder him and dump his body in a swimming pool; when the pool is drained, no corpse is found. Criterion presents Diabolique in a new digital transfer. --via Amazon.com

Black-and-white film directed by Henri-Georges Clouzot (U.K. title = The Fiends) based on the novel Celle qui n'était plus by Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac.

Variously described as a "mystery" a "thriller" and even a "horror film," the 1955 classic, starring Simone Signoret, created something of a sensation. The story is about a romantic triangle that turns deadly when a man's wife and mistress conspire to murder him, but then the body disappears, and things get very weird. It has often been likened to the films of Alfred Hitchcock in that it is still creepy even when you have seen it before and know how it comes out. The end credit contains an early example of an "anti-spoiler message", requesting the audience not to disclose the plot to others who have not seen the film.

The writers of the novel "Celle Qui N'Etait Plus", Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac, are credited with early use, if not coinage, of the term film noir, which as also been used to describe Les Diaboliques. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diabolique [Aug 2005]

Boileau-Narcejac is the name by which Pierre Boileau (Paris, 28 April 1906 - Beaulieu-sur-Mer, 1989) and Pierre Ayraud, aka Thomas Narcejac (Rochefort-sur-Mer, 3 July 1908 - Nice, 1998) wrote.

They were French writers of police stories, among whom some were adaptated for the movies by Henri-Georges Clouzot and Alfred Hitchcock. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boileau-Narcejac [Aug 2005]

See also: France - French cinema - film noir - 1955

2005, Aug 19; 17:22 ::: La Prisonnière (1968) - Henri-Georges Clouzot

Laurent Terzieff and Dany Carrel in La Prisonnière (1968) - Henri-Georges Clouzot
image sourced here.

Henri-Georges Clouzot (November 20, 1904 - January 12, 1977) was a French film director, screenwriter and producer. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henri-Georges_Clouzot [Aug 205]

See also: France - French cinema - 1968

2005, Aug 19; 17:22 ::: L'Argent (1983) - Robert Bresson

L'Argent (1983) - Robert Bresson [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Robert Bresson always claimed his films are about hope and redemption, but so many end in death or suicide that it's a struggle to reconcile the statement with his films. His final film, based on Leo Tolstoy's story The Counterfeit Note, is no different. It's the harrowing tale of an innocent man, Yvon (Christian Patey), whose victimization at the hands of an arrogant upper-class delinquent and a greedy shop owner sends him on a downward spiral into a life of crime. The once-happy husband and father turns bitter, angry, self-pitying, and ultimately coldly brutal in the chilling conclusion. It's Bresson's most expansive film and biggest canvas, weaving the paths of numerous characters across Yvon's journey, but he edits with jackrabbit jumps, running headlong through the story with a painful feeling of inevitability. On its simplest level, Yvon's story is an elaborate chain of cause and effect, the ripples of a selfish act resulting in the fall of a proud man and the destruction of his soul, and Bresson presents every link in that chain with precise, cold clarity. There is little hope evidenced in L'Argent, but there is powerful sense of loss and sadness in this portrait of a society so obsessed with money that it loses its humanity. --Sean Axmaker --This text refers to the VHS Tape edition.

See also: Robert Bresson - French cinema - 1983

2005, Aug 19; 15:04 ::: Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs : A Low Culture Manifesto (2003) - Chuck Klosterman

Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs : A Low Culture Manifesto (2003) - Chuck Klosterman [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

There's quite a bit of intelligent analysis and thought-provoking insight packed into the pages of Chuck Klosterman's Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs, which is a little surprising considering how darn stupid most of Klosterman's subject matter actually is. Klosterman, one of the few members of the so-called "Generation X" to proudly embrace that label and the stereotypical image of disaffected slackers that often accompanies it, takes the reader on a witty and highly entertaining tour through portions of pop culture not usually subjected to analysis and presents his thoughts on Saved by the Bell, Billy Joel, amateur porn, MTV's The Real World, and much more. It would be easy in dealing with such subject matter to simply pile on some undergraduate level deconstruction, make a few jokes, and have yourself a clever little book. But Klosterman goes deeper than that, often employing his own life spent as a member of the lowbrow target demographic to measure the cultural impact of his subjects. While the book never quite lives up to the use of the word "manifesto" in the title (it's really more of a survey mixed with elements of memoir), there is much here to entertain and illuminate, particularly passages on the psychoses and motivations of breakfast cereal mascots, the difference between Celtic fans and Laker fans, and The Empire Strikes Back. Sections on a Guns n' Roses tribute band, The Sims, and soccer feel more like magazine pieces included to fill space than part of a cohesive whole. But when you're talking about a book based on a section of cultural history so reliant on a lack of attention span, even the incongruities feel somehow appropriate. --John Moe

From Publishers Weekly
There's a lot more cold cereal than sex or drugs in Klosterman's nostalgic, patchy collection of pop cultural essays, which, despite sparks of brilliance, fails to cohere. Having graduated from the University of North Dakota in 1994, Klosterman (Fargo Rock City) seems never to have left that time or place behind. He is an ironically self-aware, trivia-theorizing, unreconstructed slacker: "I'm a `Gen Xer,' okay? And I buy shit marketed to `Gen Xers.' And I use air quotes when I talk.... Get over it." The essay topics speak for themselves: the Sims, The Real World, Say Anything, Pamela Anderson, Billy Joel, the Lakers/Celtics rivalry, etc. The closest Klosterman gets to the 21st century is Internet porn and the Dixie Chicks. This is a shame, because he's is a skilled prose stylist with a witty, twisted brain, a photo-perfect memory for entertainment trivia and has real chops as a memoirist. The book's best moments arrive when he eschews argumentation for personal history. In "George Will vs. Nick Hornby," a tired screed against soccer suddenly comes to life when Klosterman tells the story of how he was fired from his high school summer job as a Little League baseball coach. The mothers wanted their sons to have equal playing time; Klosterman wanted "a run-manufacturing offensive philosophy modeled after Whitey Herzog's St. Louis Cardinals." In a chapter on relationships, Klosterman semi-jokes that he only has "three and a half dates worth of material." Remove all the dated pop culture analyses, and Klosterman's book has enough material for about half a really great memoir. --via Amazon.com

See also: popular culture - culture - low culture

2005, Aug 19; 15:04 ::: Spectacle

In general spectacle refers to an event that is memorable for the appearance it creates. While some literary critics and philosophers in the 20th century have offered a theory of "the spectacle" as a mode by which capitalism subordinates everyday experience (see, for example, Situationalism), the term "spectacle" has also been a term of art in theater dating from the 17th century in English drama.

Low and high culture
"Spectacle" operates in two contexts simultaneously. On the one hand, it refers to high culture (drama, movies) performances where the draw for an audience is the impressive visual accomplishment. On the other hand, it refers to low cultural shows operating in a folk environment. These can range from the freak show to folk drama to tablieau and beast-plays. The two worlds have always interacted to a lesser or greater degree, with the folks spectacle often being rewritten into a literary spectacle, whether for humor (e.g. The Mechanicals with their performance of Pyramus and Thisbe in William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream) or not (e.g. the serious treatment of the folk Everyman).

Low and high culture mingled in the spectacle as long as folk productions of spectacle were possible. In the 17th century in England, popular spectacles of the playhouse would be adapted into spectacles for the fair, and in the 18th century fair shows and pantomimes would be adapted to the playhouse stage. In the 19th century, theaters moved farther from folk cultural spectacles and began to develop stand-alone seasonal plays that were centered on a spectacular piece. However, in the 20th century, with the invention of movie theaters, folk festivals were unable to create or recreate the spectacles on film, and the theaters themselves were soon unable to replicate the spectaculars of films. Although film adaptation would occasionally begin with the old, folk mythological narrative material, the movie that resulted would be distributed out to all audiences, thus destroying the audience and source of folk spectacle.

The Hollywood Spectacular
When the zoetrope and nickelodeon technology first appeared, the earliest films were spectacles. Thomas Edison advertised his productions as things that people had never seen before. The actual Eifel Tower, actual American Indians in a simulated attack, and even celebrated beauty queens were the subjects and reasons for film. Louis Lumiere's film of a train pulling into a station in 1895 was a sensation because it gave an object of gaze, of spectacle that audiences would never have experienced otherwise (for the camera was in front of the train, and the train appeared to be coming directly at the viewer). --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spectacle [Aug 2005]

See also: spectacle - show - sensationalism - hyperreality

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