All posts filed under: Film & TV Featured

VIDEO PROJECT: “Database as Artistic Form”

“Database as Artistic Form” is a video project that I completed this past spring for an interactive media course at USC. The project was inspired by Lev Manovich’s essay “Database as Cultural Form” and city symphonies of the 1920s such as Dziga Vertov’s Man with a Movie Camera (1929) and Manhatta (Paul Strand & Charles Sheeler, 1921). For the project I created a database of video and sound clips which I then edited together by running three Java programs to determine the order and length of each clip. In his 1999 essay, “Database as Symbolic Form,” Lev Manovich argues that Man with a Movie Camera is possibly the clearest example of database filmmaking. He points specifically to a scene where Elizaveta Svilova, Vertov’s wife and the editor of the film, is seen examining and organizing strips of celluloid. In this especially self-reflexive moment, Svilova is essentially working with a material database. For my video project I was interested in a digitally mediated take on Svilova’s database, where I would compile a catalogue of sound and video clips, which would …

6 Great Road Trip Films

When I think of summer, one of the first things that comes to mind is road trips. Exploration, freedom, discovery…rediscovery. Because it’s summer and I’ve been on a few trips recently myself, I decided it would be fun to do a post sharing six road trip films that I consider to be personal favorites. Thematically, it seems that the road trip genre is so wonderful because it expands the ways in which characters can be explored. On the road, we’re vulnerable. Though the journey of a road trip film may not start with the intent of personal exploration, what follows is nearly always life changing. The characters grow; they learn more about themselves and their compatriots, and often even more about the society they live in. The six films I’ve selected to post a short blurb about all share a few similarities. Most evident is the fact that all of the characters featured in these films make discoveries and decisions that are irreversible; their lives change on the road, for better or for worse. Discovery and change are the two clearest motifs that characterize these road trip films, …

The Decay of Cinema or a New Cine-love?

I recently read Susan Sontag’s “The Decay of Cinema,” published in the New York Times in 1996, for the undergraduate class at USC that I’m a teaching assistant for. In the essay she laments the commercialization of the Hollywood studio system, and how spectatorship evolved from an intimate and exciting experience in a darkened theater, to the less immersive comfort of a living room. At the crux of her essay is a memoriam to cinephilia, which she argues was once celebrated, but eroded by the turn of cinema’s 100th anniversary. Sontag’s argument essentially equates cinephilia with a certain type of movie-lover; for a true cinephile, cinema is their everything, and they elect to watch films in the most enveloping of spaces – the movie theater. “Cinephilia itself has come under attack, as something quaint, outmoded, snobbish. For cinephilia implies that films are unique, unrepeatable, magic experiences. Cinephilia tells us that the Hollywood remake of Godard’s “Breathless” cannot be as good as the original. Cinephilia has no role in the era of hyperindustrial films. For cinephilia cannot help, by the very range and eclecticism of …

“Under The Gun” – Examining the Gun Debate

Last week I had the chance to attend the Los Angeles premiere of Under the Gun, directed by Stephanie Soechtig and executive produced by Katie Couric. The film examines America’s complex gun problem, from Sandy Hook to the streets of Chicago, and takes aim at the gun show loophole and the country’s most powerful lobby, the National Rifle Association. Although the documentary certainly leans left, the film also gives a voice to gun advocates who hold their right to bear arms dearly. Under the Gun concludes with a positive outlook and a common thread: though we may disagree about guns, we’re (mostly) in agreement that they should stay out of the wrong hands. On January 8th, 2011 my Congressional Representative, Gabby Giffords, and 18 others were shot at a grocery store in Tucson, AZ. Six people died. Every Tucsonan was devastated, and the memory of that day will always remain with me. Under the Gun begins in Tucson with Gabby, who is alive, but dealing with the effects of her brain injury every day. She is a fighter and an …

Gender & Representation

A couple of years ago I stumbled across Miss Representation on Netflix, and after reading the film’s description, I decided to give it a watch. The documentary, which examines how women are represented in the media, is a must see for all. I credit the film for solidifying my interest in studying how representation (or rather misrepresentation or lack there of) in media both reflects and shapes our society. I’d argue that media has the ability to inform and influence change more than anything in our culture. And because of the impact of images in film and television, media makers have a special responsibility to be conscious of their influence and power. Now on Netflix is a new documentary from The Representation Project, The Mask You Live In, which analyzes American masculinity and the mounting pressures of manhood. I had the chance to watch this documentary with my boyfriend, and afterwards, as we often do when we watch a film together, we debriefed. It was especially insightful to hear his stories of bullying, the pressure to “be a man”, and the complexity of male …