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191

Part III: Notes Toward a Syllabus

5
terms
8
notes

Hoberman, J. (2012). Part III: Notes Toward a Syllabus. In Hoberman, J. Film After Film: (Or, What Became of 21st Century Cinema?). Verso, pp. 191-303

196

A movie with a circular structure, In Praise of Love is designed so that a memory of the future guides us through the past. Toward the end, events start to decompose into flaming pools of color—an electric blue haze, a golden smear of sun, a blur of traffic—and then pure jumbled light. Since he embarked on his late, painterly period some twenty years ago, Godard has made physically beautiful movies—Passion and Nouvelle Vague in particular presented themselves as substantial celluloid rivals to the canvases of the old masters. In Praise of Love is something else. The old masters here are the impressionists. The image feels as fragile and fleeting as a reverie. This is a movie that disappears before your eyes—leaving only an elegy for itself.

—p.196 by J. Hoberman 3 years ago

A movie with a circular structure, In Praise of Love is designed so that a memory of the future guides us through the past. Toward the end, events start to decompose into flaming pools of color—an electric blue haze, a golden smear of sun, a blur of traffic—and then pure jumbled light. Since he embarked on his late, painterly period some twenty years ago, Godard has made physically beautiful movies—Passion and Nouvelle Vague in particular presented themselves as substantial celluloid rivals to the canvases of the old masters. In Praise of Love is something else. The old masters here are the impressionists. The image feels as fragile and fleeting as a reverie. This is a movie that disappears before your eyes—leaving only an elegy for itself.

—p.196 by J. Hoberman 3 years ago

(noun) an early movie theater to which admission usually cost five cents / (noun) jukebox

211

It’s been a century since the violent, fast-moving pulse-pounder The Great Train Robbery left the nickelodeon audience agog

—p.211 by J. Hoberman
confirm
3 years ago

It’s been a century since the violent, fast-moving pulse-pounder The Great Train Robbery left the nickelodeon audience agog

—p.211 by J. Hoberman
confirm
3 years ago

lack of the usual social or ethical standards in an individual or group, which lessens social cohesion and fosters decline; popularized by French sociologist Émile Durkheim in his influential book Suicide

225

A techno-pop score, the first unmotivated music in any Jia film, provides a sense of voluptuous anomie, while shots of an empty highway add to the sedated sci-fi quality.

—p.225 by J. Hoberman
notable
3 years ago

A techno-pop score, the first unmotivated music in any Jia film, provides a sense of voluptuous anomie, while shots of an empty highway add to the sedated sci-fi quality.

—p.225 by J. Hoberman
notable
3 years ago
228

Co-conspirators in Reygadas’s film, each of these class antagonists has a criminal secret. Seeking to make a quick score, Marcos and his wife have orchestrated and botched the kidnapping of a neighbor’s baby; Ana, like the protagonist of Buñuel’s Belle de Jour, amuses herself by working in a brothel, euphemistically referred to as “The Boutique.” Marcos, naturally, is acquainted with Ana’s other life and, offering a confession she scarcely knows what do to with, he tells her about his. In the enigmatic universe of Reygadas’s cinema, this leads first to sex and then death; the movie’s title has the effect of locating a cosmic struggle amid everyday life. During the central scene of Ana and Marcos fucking, the camera simply wanders off, drifting away to observe workers putting up a satellite dish, the hazy skyline, kids at play, and other apartment windows, before circling back to the unlikely lovers.

reviewing battle in heaven

—p.228 by J. Hoberman 3 years ago

Co-conspirators in Reygadas’s film, each of these class antagonists has a criminal secret. Seeking to make a quick score, Marcos and his wife have orchestrated and botched the kidnapping of a neighbor’s baby; Ana, like the protagonist of Buñuel’s Belle de Jour, amuses herself by working in a brothel, euphemistically referred to as “The Boutique.” Marcos, naturally, is acquainted with Ana’s other life and, offering a confession she scarcely knows what do to with, he tells her about his. In the enigmatic universe of Reygadas’s cinema, this leads first to sex and then death; the movie’s title has the effect of locating a cosmic struggle amid everyday life. During the central scene of Ana and Marcos fucking, the camera simply wanders off, drifting away to observe workers putting up a satellite dish, the hazy skyline, kids at play, and other apartment windows, before circling back to the unlikely lovers.

reviewing battle in heaven

—p.228 by J. Hoberman 3 years ago
245

Thanks to Hollywood, Los Angeles is the world’s most photographed metropolis and hence the most apparitional. As film historian Thom Andersen points out in his 2003 cine-essay, Los Angeles Plays Itself, this is a metropolis where motels or McDonald’s might be constructed to serve as sets and “a place can become a historic landmark because it was once a movie location.” The whole city is haunted by an imaginary past. See my essay “A Bright, Guilty World,” Artforum, February 2007.

footnote

—p.245 by J. Hoberman 3 years ago

Thanks to Hollywood, Los Angeles is the world’s most photographed metropolis and hence the most apparitional. As film historian Thom Andersen points out in his 2003 cine-essay, Los Angeles Plays Itself, this is a metropolis where motels or McDonald’s might be constructed to serve as sets and “a place can become a historic landmark because it was once a movie location.” The whole city is haunted by an imaginary past. See my essay “A Bright, Guilty World,” Artforum, February 2007.

footnote

—p.245 by J. Hoberman 3 years ago
245

Lynch’s notion of pure cinema is a matter of tawdry scenarios and disconcerting tonal shifts. Everything in Inland Empire is uncanny, unmoored, and out of joint. The major special effect is the creepy merging of spaces or times. Do the characters travel through wormholes from Los Angeles to Lodz and the sad, shabby rooms of the On High in Blue Tomorrows set? Are these memories or alternate worlds? Is Lynch looking for some sort of movie beneath the movie? (His long search for closure may be turgid and unrelenting, but it hardly lacks for conviction.) The heroine’s persistent doubling and Lynch’s continuous use of “creative geography” reinforce the sense that he assimilated Maya Deren’s venerable avant-noir Meshes of the Afternoon at an impressionable age. And like Meshes, Inland Empire has no logic apart from its movie-ness.

—p.245 by J. Hoberman 3 years ago

Lynch’s notion of pure cinema is a matter of tawdry scenarios and disconcerting tonal shifts. Everything in Inland Empire is uncanny, unmoored, and out of joint. The major special effect is the creepy merging of spaces or times. Do the characters travel through wormholes from Los Angeles to Lodz and the sad, shabby rooms of the On High in Blue Tomorrows set? Are these memories or alternate worlds? Is Lynch looking for some sort of movie beneath the movie? (His long search for closure may be turgid and unrelenting, but it hardly lacks for conviction.) The heroine’s persistent doubling and Lynch’s continuous use of “creative geography” reinforce the sense that he assimilated Maya Deren’s venerable avant-noir Meshes of the Afternoon at an impressionable age. And like Meshes, Inland Empire has no logic apart from its movie-ness.

—p.245 by J. Hoberman 3 years ago

an ancient religious movement that has to do with duality? "an elaborate dualistic cosmology describing the struggle between a good, spiritual world of light, and an evil, material world of darkness"

247

Gordon calls this piece Between Darkness and Light (After William Blake), and it’s hard to imagine a more Manichaean bill. It’s a Hollywood vision of Catholic good and evil

—p.247 by J. Hoberman
notable
3 years ago

Gordon calls this piece Between Darkness and Light (After William Blake), and it’s hard to imagine a more Manichaean bill. It’s a Hollywood vision of Catholic good and evil

—p.247 by J. Hoberman
notable
3 years ago
253

[...] Thriving on the modest truth of clumsy mishaps and incoherent riffs, fueled by a combination of narcissism and diffidence, Mumblecore reflects sensibilities formed by MTV’s The Real World (our life is a movie) and Seinfeld (constant discourse), as well as The Blair Witch Project (DIY plus Internet). Of course, Mumblecorps members prefer to cite Dogma or Gus Van Sant, who cast his mega-Mumble Paranoid Park (2007) through MySpace.

Acting is mainly a coping mechanism. The characters alternate between unconscious and self-conscious. Embarrassment rules. The denizens of Mumblecordia are often failed musicians or would-be writers. Their world is demographically self-contained: straight, white, and middle class. There are no adults, which is to say anyone over thirty. Given the compulsive navel-gazing, paucity of external references, and narrow field of interest, Mumblecore is not for every taste. These movies may be self-absorbed—but what else could a self-portrait be

footnote 1

—p.253 by J. Hoberman 3 years ago

[...] Thriving on the modest truth of clumsy mishaps and incoherent riffs, fueled by a combination of narcissism and diffidence, Mumblecore reflects sensibilities formed by MTV’s The Real World (our life is a movie) and Seinfeld (constant discourse), as well as The Blair Witch Project (DIY plus Internet). Of course, Mumblecorps members prefer to cite Dogma or Gus Van Sant, who cast his mega-Mumble Paranoid Park (2007) through MySpace.

Acting is mainly a coping mechanism. The characters alternate between unconscious and self-conscious. Embarrassment rules. The denizens of Mumblecordia are often failed musicians or would-be writers. Their world is demographically self-contained: straight, white, and middle class. There are no adults, which is to say anyone over thirty. Given the compulsive navel-gazing, paucity of external references, and narrow field of interest, Mumblecore is not for every taste. These movies may be self-absorbed—but what else could a self-portrait be

footnote 1

—p.253 by J. Hoberman 3 years ago

eager or quick to argue or fight; aggressively defiant

255

In the early 1990s, I made the truculent, unprovable assertion that if Chinese grandmaster Hou Hsiao-hsien were French, he’ d be the darling of Manhattan’s Upper West Side

—p.255 by J. Hoberman
notable
3 years ago

In the early 1990s, I made the truculent, unprovable assertion that if Chinese grandmaster Hou Hsiao-hsien were French, he’ d be the darling of Manhattan’s Upper West Side

—p.255 by J. Hoberman
notable
3 years ago
256

Let’s call her the spirit of the place. Paris apartments are cluttered, Parisian lives are messy, the city is shown so congested you can smell the exhaust fumes. To cope, Hou himself has adapted a looser, more lyrical style—using window reflections, some of which seem digitally sweetened, and shallow focus to layer and otherwise complicate the image. A movie that encourages the spectator to rummage, Flight of the Red Balloon is contemplative but never static, and punctuated by passages of pure cinema. A medley of racing shadows turns out to be cast by a merry-go-round. A long consideration of the setting sun as reflected on a train window that frames the onrushing landscape yields a sudden flood of light. There’s a relaxed interest in backstage technique—the yet-to-be-erased techie visible in Song’s film, a puppeteer’s hidden “dance” in Suzanne’s performance, the use of the end credits as a coda to the movie.

—p.256 by J. Hoberman 3 years ago

Let’s call her the spirit of the place. Paris apartments are cluttered, Parisian lives are messy, the city is shown so congested you can smell the exhaust fumes. To cope, Hou himself has adapted a looser, more lyrical style—using window reflections, some of which seem digitally sweetened, and shallow focus to layer and otherwise complicate the image. A movie that encourages the spectator to rummage, Flight of the Red Balloon is contemplative but never static, and punctuated by passages of pure cinema. A medley of racing shadows turns out to be cast by a merry-go-round. A long consideration of the setting sun as reflected on a train window that frames the onrushing landscape yields a sudden flood of light. There’s a relaxed interest in backstage technique—the yet-to-be-erased techie visible in Song’s film, a puppeteer’s hidden “dance” in Suzanne’s performance, the use of the end credits as a coda to the movie.

—p.256 by J. Hoberman 3 years ago

a political movement for reformation within the Communist Party of the Soviet Union during the 1980s, associated with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and his glasnost ("openness") policy reform

270

Having already lost his East European bases to perestroika

—p.270 by J. Hoberman
notable
3 years ago

Having already lost his East European bases to perestroika

—p.270 by J. Hoberman
notable
3 years ago
276

[...] The Strange Case has its documentary aspects as well. In one apparent non sequitur, Oliveira frames the house cat intently watching the landlady’s canary. The shot is held until, somewhere in the vastness beyond the frame, a dog barks, humorously underscoring the cat’s presumably unscripted concentration.

Playing out its dialectic between the infinite and the ephemeral, the movie ends with the song of the workers in the vineyard. The landlady draws the shutters on Isaac’s window. The camera that is Isaac’s room vanishes, along with Oliveira’s, leaving only darkness and the sound of fading footsteps. The last living filmmaker born during the age of the nickelodeon, Oliveira told an interviewer that cinema today is “the same as it was for Lumiére, for Méliès and Max Linder. There you have realism, the fantastic, and the comic. There’s nothing more to add to that, absolutely nothing.” The great beauty of this love song to the medium is that Oliveira’s eschewal remains absolute. It’s a strange case—pictures move and time stands still.

—p.276 by J. Hoberman 3 years ago

[...] The Strange Case has its documentary aspects as well. In one apparent non sequitur, Oliveira frames the house cat intently watching the landlady’s canary. The shot is held until, somewhere in the vastness beyond the frame, a dog barks, humorously underscoring the cat’s presumably unscripted concentration.

Playing out its dialectic between the infinite and the ephemeral, the movie ends with the song of the workers in the vineyard. The landlady draws the shutters on Isaac’s window. The camera that is Isaac’s room vanishes, along with Oliveira’s, leaving only darkness and the sound of fading footsteps. The last living filmmaker born during the age of the nickelodeon, Oliveira told an interviewer that cinema today is “the same as it was for Lumiére, for Méliès and Max Linder. There you have realism, the fantastic, and the comic. There’s nothing more to add to that, absolutely nothing.” The great beauty of this love song to the medium is that Oliveira’s eschewal remains absolute. It’s a strange case—pictures move and time stands still.

—p.276 by J. Hoberman 3 years ago
278

Everyone on this journey is a student of life. The futile quest and fruitless interrogation are paralleled by inane small talk among the various investigators as well as a series of fraught private conversations between the party’s two professionals—the glib prosecuting attorney and a self-effacing young doctor riding along as a witness to pronounce the corpse dead if found. Headlights illuminate the landscape and transform it into a near-empty stage. (As much as Once Upon a Time concerns the problems of deductive logic, it’s also a movie about the quality of the light.) Midway through, in a scene of uncanny loveliness and material visions, the group pulls into a remote village for a late-night meal at the headman’s house. The night has given birth to a dream. Later, with the sky beginning to lighten over a hill as bleak as Calvary, the searchers find that for which they have been searching (perhaps) and go about creating an official report complete with detailed descriptions and photographs of … what?

“There’s a reason for everything,” someone says unconvincingly, once back in the car. With the mission accomplished, in a somewhat farcical fashion, the film might have ended here. There is, however, a morning after. The corpse is brought back to town so that the doctor may perform an autopsy. The night of mystery is over. The evidence can now be pondered by the dawn’s dreary light. Procedure is followed. Still, however banal the daytime images, a metaphysical darkness remains—and even grows. Will the presumed widow identify the body? Can she? The autopsy begins, presenting more puzzling facts. Why is there dirt in the corpse’s lungs? What is dug up must again be buried.

—p.278 by J. Hoberman 3 years ago

Everyone on this journey is a student of life. The futile quest and fruitless interrogation are paralleled by inane small talk among the various investigators as well as a series of fraught private conversations between the party’s two professionals—the glib prosecuting attorney and a self-effacing young doctor riding along as a witness to pronounce the corpse dead if found. Headlights illuminate the landscape and transform it into a near-empty stage. (As much as Once Upon a Time concerns the problems of deductive logic, it’s also a movie about the quality of the light.) Midway through, in a scene of uncanny loveliness and material visions, the group pulls into a remote village for a late-night meal at the headman’s house. The night has given birth to a dream. Later, with the sky beginning to lighten over a hill as bleak as Calvary, the searchers find that for which they have been searching (perhaps) and go about creating an official report complete with detailed descriptions and photographs of … what?

“There’s a reason for everything,” someone says unconvincingly, once back in the car. With the mission accomplished, in a somewhat farcical fashion, the film might have ended here. There is, however, a morning after. The corpse is brought back to town so that the doctor may perform an autopsy. The night of mystery is over. The evidence can now be pondered by the dawn’s dreary light. Procedure is followed. Still, however banal the daytime images, a metaphysical darkness remains—and even grows. Will the presumed widow identify the body? Can she? The autopsy begins, presenting more puzzling facts. Why is there dirt in the corpse’s lungs? What is dug up must again be buried.

—p.278 by J. Hoberman 3 years ago