Wednesday, May 30, 2012 a bird that rides a hippopotamus

The link below is not listed, and therefore, won't show up on Youtube search. That means that I cannot upload it to this blogpost. Still, watch it for it is a revelation:

One may argue that in the scene above, there are two distinct realities at play – the first of the smaller mounted camera, and the second of the larger, intimidating and wholly intrusive (it conveniently juts into the frame of the smaller camera) camera it is mounted on. The first reality features a diegetic rendition of a peculiar science-fiction, futuristic perhaps, magical wide-angle world: there are metallic ramps, fluorescent green mats covering the windows, shifty walls, large wooden shelves that slide politely to a side when requested, lamps that dim by themselves and ultimately strange people (they applaud a magic trick where the card never disappeared and therefore, cannot reappear). The second reality is of course, not visible to us at all – we do not have any idea what the larger camera is recording – or if it is a camera in the first place. It is therefore, only when we get the opportunity to see the final film in the theatre that we are introduced to an altogether different reality – one that locates and then disperses meaning in the scene that we never saw before, a context which wasn’t immediately obvious earlier and an assurance that the second, larger device is capable of recording. We also realise that the smaller camera is perhaps the more giving out of two – letting its own reality be subjugated in the favour of its elder cousin’s.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Relative Dislocation

I usually do not post excerpts of criticism for I see film criticism, as well as the art it describes as a giant Deleuzian abstract machine (as Adrian Martin describes it in his essay on Tsai-Ming Liang's films: water as the abstract machine) wherein influences/loans/inspirations are absorbed by a part inside the whole mechanism, and then passed onto the other parts: thereby, a massive circulatory system, or a network, if you may. As such, a critic or a film writer or a film director is perpetually quoting, or deriving, or posting excerpts, even if not consciously. Such circulation of influence or (at a lesser-glorified level) riffing is an event one must not and cannot resist. However, I feel this excerpt below from an interview of (who else, but) Adrian Martin, conducted for the Slovenian journal Ekran by Nil Baskar describes so perfectly the situation a number of exciting critics/curators/cine-lovers feel in India currently, and therefore, must be shared as a conscious decision:

Q: You live in Australia, which does not enjoy – at least until now – a reputation as a particularly cinephile part of world. Does this relative dislocation from some of the important sources of contemporary film, Europe and the States, somehow affect your critical work?
AM: To answer this question, we must rehearse the entire geo-political history of film criticism! Seriously: in a sense, I will answer you as any serious film critic from Ireland, Taiwan, Canada, and so many other similar places – places that have been ‘in the shadow of the great world powers’ – would. Because we are talking about a long history (mention of this is made in Movie Mutations) in which – just like in the art world and other cultural/intellectual spheres – the ‘centres’ or capitols of film-thought and film-discourse were taken to be only France, USA, to an extent UK … And it didn’t matter how rich or alive the film-culture scene was in your ‘local’ scene – if you weren’t from, or in, one of those ‘centres’, you simply didn’t exist on the ‘world stage’ as a critic. (I know it well personally: for my first 15 years as a writer, I barely appeared in print outside of Australia. There would be many similar stories.) As a result, we (in general) know the identity of so few of the best critics (or the best teachers, or the best journalists) around the world who worked over the past century … And it is not just a matter of ‘small countries’: Spain, Germany, Russia, Austria, Italy and Japan (to take random examples) have remarkable histories of film culture, but they too have barely been recognized, for so long, on the cinematic ‘map of the world’. So, to come back to your question: does this ‘relative dislocation’, as you put it (one could use less polite words, like imperialism, geo-political oppression, colonialism, etc!), affect the critical work of me or my Australian colleagues? Of course it does; invisibility is both difficult (you feel alienated from so much going on elsewhere in the world) and enabling (you have a dream, a Shangri-La, a Utopia to strive for!)

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Scenes of Crime

From Louis Feuillade's mid-1910s crime serial, Les Vampires: individuals in various states of transgressions:

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Six Times Over

The sixth issue of the online film journal run by me and some rather patient friends is now out for your perusal. 

Here it is:

An excerpt below, from my contribution to the inaugural discoveries section at PH:

...The idea of Cinephilia is tremendously reductive in this country – it essentially comprises of the guys in the big city publishing e-zines or blog posts to be read by guys in another big city, or guys in a big city organizing film screenings for the other guys in the same big city, or the last straw: guys in one big city making short-films (or features, recently) to be watched by guys in another big city. Basically, Cinephilia as a metropolitan idea – a clique of metropolis-dwellers celebrating each other.  Film-love, in order to be truly effective, has to percolate down to the rest of the country. With regards to that, it is an encouraging sign in the last two years; the Indian film festival circuit is evolving like an amoeba-network, a seismic wave that seems to have no certain epicenter, but spreads as potently, nonetheless. New film festivals seem to be coming up in smaller cities – other smaller film festivals enter their second or third editions, new entrants to the circuit include Pune, Kolhapur, Allahabad, Darjeeling and Jaipur. While these are still second or third-tier cities or even state capitals, this is an encouraging sign. Encouraging also is the annual BYOFF (Bring Your Own Film Festival) that takes place on the beaches of Puri – it is a festival that functions with the utopian ethic of no rules, no selection criteria and thereby, no juries and no hierarchies. Everything that is sent to the festival is given a screening slot...