Posts tagged film

Misc. links Feb 16th - Apr 4th

The Rise of the Privileged Poor. It’s easy to dismiss some guy on TV complaining about being poor because he lives on a PhD grant as a pretentious, insensitive ignoramus (the powers know well who to pick to be on the news). Still, one can’t ignore the mental, emotional toll of perceived poverty — people get sick, shy away from relationships, postpone raising a family, in a word: people are hurting. Some should mind their complaints and how they might come across to others (there are certainly some to whom the ‘privileged poor’ sound as monstrous as the ultra-rich complaining about infinitesimal amounts of tax), but that doesn’t mean many complaints are any less real or legitimate. Those who tell the poor (either the ‘privileged’ with their Media Studies degrees, or the proletarian with family histories of unemployment and industrial decay) that they did this to themselves via lack of willpower and poor life choices (eg. ‘following their dreams’) are either deluded into thinking they actually achieved something for themselves alone, or are mechanized monsters who fail to appreciate their luck.

Peter Norvig on learning to program — in ten years. Expertise takes time, which is why it is unfortunate that time to develop expertise is so thoroughly unprotected in academia here (the mission of which should be precisely the opposite), as grad students often must go from zero to SWOT analyses and business plans in a semester. Everybody wants geniuses, nobody wants to ‘grow’ them, and then they’ll blame you for not being one (see above).

A transcript of a talk in which Clay Shirky explains why groups are their own worst enemies. Worth a read as Shirky deftly demonstrates groups can’t survive long without a set of regulations and moderation.

A Slate article about the sudden internet-disappearance of the programmer just known as _why. After the article mentions _why’s handle might be an Ayn Rand reference, it’s tempting to speculate his exile was an attempt to act the libertarian fantasy of letting the world going to hell after the ‘geniuses’ leave (or a critique thereof, I’d rather think). The results couldn’t have been more endearing, though: the Ruby developers’ community is fine, and _why’s multiple projects have been restored, debugged and made better. (Despite only having a very rudimentary knowledge of Ruby, I’ve recommended _why’s whimsical work here in the past, eg. Shoes, which seems like a good and fun GUI toolkit to dive into).

David Bordwell on ‘Pandora’s digital box’ and the sobering reality of digital preservation.

Much Ado About Nothing: Why Barry Levinson’s Diner might be one of the most influential movies in film history.

London’s Overthrow by China Miéville. A sprawling essay about the London zeitgeist, and the ongoing apocalypse of its citizens not being able to afford it. Parts of the essay can surely be applied to other cities.

High-definition video files of stock 35mm footage. Might come very handy for some projects.

The Mixtape Lost at Antikythera. Another incredible crypto-historical mixtape + essay by Rob Beschizza. (Previously.)

What is Love? A debate between Wikipedia and Haddaway.

I finally went to see The Artist, and I truly recommend it. Michel Hazanavicius’ film might be a prime target for the usual criticism by some — after all, here’s yet another film in which filmmakers as a class pat themselves in the back, or that is a feel good lighthearted romatic comedy that becomes escapism fed to the opressed masses, or etecetera, etecetera —, but what matters is The Artist is really, really good.

So good, that even if you don’t give awards and nominations much authority, consider this: two years after the big Oscar favourite was James Cameron’s Avatar — that is, a 3D high-tech extravaganza (which would ultimately lose to Kathryn Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker, and deservingly so, but still) — the big ‘Best Picture of the Year’ favourite is a silent, 4-by-3 aspect ratio, black and white film. Further in The Future from Avatar, the special effects sequences (possible spoiler alert) of the likely Best Movie consist of the existence of direct sound, and its visual effects don’t go much further than casting a really cute and well trained Terrier.

That such a thing can happen is one of the reasons I love film.

Update (27/02): The Artist and Michel Hazanavicius did win Best Picture and Best Director, as predicted. For once I was happy with the Oscar results. Not that it actually matters that much from the point of view of film historians (just as an example, does anyone care the horrid Shakespeare in Love once won Best Picture?), but these Academy Awards still certify the ascent of a silent film into popular film canon for the first time since sound film became widespread more than 80 years ago. There’s a wonderful sense of closure in that, as if last night’s Oscars gala ended at the beginning, in May 1929.

I would like to think that story is finally over. Now we can move past Hollywood, and end the madness.

Misc. links Jan 15th - Feb 15th

This article, The Rise of the New Groupthink, does much to explain why I need my own office, and why I hate brainstorming meetings.

Slavoj Zizek writes about The Revolt of the Salaried Bourgeoisie.

The Scale of the Universe 2 is an interactive Powers of Ten.

EUscreen is an archive of free videos from a number of Europe’s public TV broadcasters. Portuguese RTP is conspicously absent — after all, our state broadcaster is notorious for its expensive and thoroughly copyrighted archives, despite being funded by taxpayers (our government does intend to fix this, though, by privatizing all this publicly-funded heritage as prescribed by the neoliberal zeitgeist, rather than giving free access to the archives to those who paid for them — for that would be Socialism, and therefore evil).

It seems an English plainclothes police officer was running after himself for a while after being mistaken for a burglar by the CCTV operator. The whole incident has ‘idea for short film’ written all over it.

Here are recipes for ‘old-school Instagram filters’. Meaning: how to take analog photos that look like those digital photos that look analog… I think I’ll have an headache. No wonder I’m more interested in messing with JPEGs.

GIF: A Technical History is quite an interesting and accessible post about that nasty but cute, little image format that won’t go away.

David Bordwell’s analysis of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is something I recommend you read if you’ve seen the film. I’ve found it great and demanding like a very fragile but precise piece of clockwork. It’s unfortunate we spectators aren’t used to stories this intricate told in such an economical fashion. I’d like more of this, please.

Lists of Note lists lists. Of note.

Rob Bechizza’s Mixtape of the Lost Decade. A pop history of the phantom decade between the 1970s and the 1980s. Which explains a lot, even if it’d mean I would now be on my forties.

On Goals Scored, a blog about great football (soccer) infographics. Football for nerds, yay!

musicForProgramming(); has a few cool ambient mixtapes that are quite good for all kinds of work that require focus (and not just computer programming).

Misc. links Dec 13th - 31st

Metafilter’s Year in Writing has given me much to read in the past and coming weeks…

Our Unpaid, Shadow Work: you know that last time you bought a ticket online? Or yesterday when you filled your car with gasoline yourself? Or when you went to the supermarket and scanned your own groceries’ barcodes? You are doing someone else’s job, for free. Sure, you get cheaper tickets, gasoline or groceries because of that (do you really?), but that’s no way to run a proper economy.

Makimizing shareholder value is the dumbest idea in the world. This is a headline on Forbes!, not The Communist Workers’ Union Monthly or something like that.

Two interesting articles about fighting cognitive biases and other kinds of self-delusion: Steven Pinker would ban the idealization of the past if he happened to rule the world, while Freeman Dyson reviews Daniel Kahneman’s statistical approach to psychology.

Umberto Eco’s guide to identifying fascists, written in 1995, makes the future look rather bleak.

Roger Ebert tells us why movie revenue is falling. I’d say what’s surprising is that movie revenue is holding so well, at least here in Portugal. Mini-rant: Even though I’m rather able to concentrate when I go to the movies and cope rather well with other patrons’ poor civics, I find it anoying that going to the movies means quite often driving to a shopping mall in the suburbs, eating overpriced mall food, standing in line for too long to buy tickets, etecetra, the alternative being a couple of inner-city theatres that offer nothing else but waiting out in the cold, or an extremely overpriced and unconfortable bar. Please make the theatres places where people would actually enjoy hanging out, else they’ll be downloading movies off the internet and watching them at home — not because it’s cheaper but because it is better.

Peyton’s Place: An interesting essay about what it’s like to lend one’s house to a TV series’ production. It didn’t go well.

KidsRuby seems like an interesting tool to teach programming. And not just to kids. Similar tools using Ruby (which, from my very shallow knowledge of it, really seems the general-purpose language with the simplest syntax) include Hackety Hack and the very cool Shoes.

Aaron Koblin’s The Single Lane Super Highway. I felt like twelve again, drawing badly pimped-out cars.

Misc. links Oct 15th - Nov 24th

The Internet as Hyperbole — A Critical Exhamination of Adoption Rates by Gisle Hannemyr is a paper with compelling arguments against the popular perception that people adopted the Internet much faster than other new communication technologies such as radio or television. The demonstration much ICT policy is based on a meme-ified anedocte makes this a compelling read.

Neal Stephenson on Innovation Starvation. That’s what happens to nations full of Nixons.

Charlie Stross writes about the existential quagmire of the ultra-rich, the ways most of us are richer than the ultra-rich of past generations, and the ways the ultra-rich are not rich at all.

George Monbiot on how the elites became destroyers of wealth. Much is made clear by xkcd’s crushing, epic Money infographic.

A short guide to lazy EU journalism. Granted, as even though I consider myself a literate European I do have a lot of trouble understanding how the EU institutions work. These lazy journalists won’t help. Please do your job already!

Christian Thorne’s two-part essay (part one, part two) on Quentin Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds is one of the best pieces of film criticism I have ever read.

It appears a Russian filmmaker called Ilya Khrzhanovsky took over a large part from the Ukrainian city of Kharkov and turned it into a 24/7 film set. And that has been going on for five years. Almost resembles a real-life Synecdoche, New York.

Stu Maschwitz’s totally inconclusive guide to choosing a pro video camera. We live in a glorious era of wonderful and affordable imaging technology, but in a depressing age of nitpicky trade-offs and difficult choices.

Tomorrow the first public showing of Damião* will take place at 6:30pm in the Teatro Nacional S. João, here in Porto. The short film is a ‘mockumentary’ about the watchman at an abandoned shopping mall. It is an adaptation of the play Damião das Chaves by Pedro Estorninho, who also plays the title character.

I’ve just finished a trailer. The song is Dandy by Carlos Gardel, and, despite what YouTube’s bot police tells me, it is very much in the public domain.

* If you don’t speak portuguese, do us a favor and please pronounce it ‘Damien’.

Logorama, by François Alaux, Hervé de Crécy and Ludovic Houplain, won the Oscar for best animated short in 2010.

Misc. links Sep 27th - Oct 14th

Sorry About My Face. I too share the same problem — often my face reads bitter even if I’m actually daydreaming about nice things. And nobody takes “it’s just my face” for an answer, which leads to episodes in which I feel a significant other is acting like someone in a club suddently asking me “where are you looking at?!” and trying to pick a fight, etecetera. Perhaps I need to find an early XXth century Virginia Woolf-looking girlfriend…

A conservative politician calls for science. Despite being mostly on the other end of the conservative-liberal spectrum, I wish there were more politicians like this. Far too many people people — in the left and right alike — believe and act as if the Outside World would fit with their preconceptions. It won’t: because that’s the very definition of Outside.

Film is on its way out, as the last 35mm cinema cameras were built. Am I being sacrilegious by saying and it was about time!? Film has its charm, but is wasteful bordering on the insulting — like printing a whole sheet of paper for every word a writer types.

Warner Brothers is developing a film based on a Reddit discussion: could a single battalion of US Marine soldiers fight and destroy the entire Roman Empire? This calls for the ghost of Philip K. Dick. The entire episode, not just the film premise.

And also speaking of film: Peter Bogdanovich’s Blogdanovich.

Lecturefox links to a mountain of free university lectures.

The Golden Grid System. This makes me want to redesign this whole thing, dammit!

A funny read every once in a while: the problem with n00b time-travellers that keep killing Hitler.