Cinema

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ON CINEMA AND TIME

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“It’s the big element of our medium. The manipulation of time. The perception of time. The control of time. It’s kind of the building blocks of cinema. Time is a really powerful factor, but it is in all of our lives. You look at a picture of yourself when you were ten years old, stare at that for a second, then look at yourself in the mirror. That’s a powerful connection– you to that person. And we all have that.” – Richard Linklater

A powerful video essay by kogonada, with narration from filmmaker, Richard Linklater.

Thankful to be drifting through with you.

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CITIZENS OF CINEMA, PART 11 – SCI-FI IN THE NUCLEAR AGE

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“There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination.”

Welcome to the Twilight Zone: Science-fiction.

A personal favorite genre, science-fiction acted as an entry point into cinema for me. I was astounded that these questions could be asked. That these stories could be told. Mysteries of man and the universe that I had barely contemplated began to take up a substantial amount of space in my mind.

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CITIZENS OF CINEMA, PART 10 – THE MOVIE BRATS

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The 20th Century is the century of cinema.

The moving image is one of the most incredible creations of man. And I know that may sound hyperbolic for those who aren’t cinephiles, but I’m hard-pressed to think of something over the last 100 years that completely changed our culture and society in the way cinema did.

The relationship between film and life became reciprocal, each influencing one another. Yes, our world, events, and challenges inspired the films we created, but, in turn, the cinema changed our perspective in how we observe. How many times have you heard the expression, “It was just like out of a movie?” And it’s not just film. Because the moving image found a way to invade our homes as well with the advent of televisions in the mid-20th century.

We became a culture fully immersed in this new manner of visual storytelling and it truly did help form and fashion our collective narrative.

Enter “The Movie Brats.”

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CITIZENS OF CINEMA, PART 9 – ESSENTIAL

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There are some films you hear people discuss that you kind of just nod your head along to. You pay them little mind, because you expect them to be declared great and essential films.

But this cinema is essential for a reason. There’s something larger at play in these masterworks and the fingerprints of these filmmakers extend well beyond their individual films– they influence and inspire everyone that comes afterwards.

These three films won’t surprise you. They’re not deep cuts in the lexicon of cinema. But they’re three of the greatest and always warrant a return visit.

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CITIZENS OF CINEMA, PART 8 – PIONEERS

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Cinema is still a young art form, at least relative to the other great arts of the world. A few decades younger than photography and seemingly eons younger than painting and music, it’s really only been around for a little over a century.

But what a century it has been.

As with all great movements, it’s important to take a look back and reflect on the pioneers– those who paved the way for cinema to become, for me, the greatest and most emotive artistic platform for human expression.

So today, three filmmakers. Three masters. Three true citizens of cinema from around the world. Fritz Lang. Carl Dreyer. Dziga Vertov.

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CITIZENS OF CINEMA, PART 7 – THE GREAT AMERICAN MEDIA CIRCUS

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It’s all one big carnival.

While media sensationalism can be traced back further, it certainly came into its own at the end of the 19th century and reached a crescendo over the next 100 years. In an ideal world, the news media and journalism act as a fourth estate, keeping the populace well-informed in an honest and objective manner. But we don’t always live an ideal world and as the news and media industries ballooned in size and power and the need to build and sustain a larger audience grew… well, what’s the old saying?

“There’s gold in them hills.”

These three pieces of cinema rang the warning bell and, sadly, now work as a kind of signpost of where we were headed.

The carnival must go on.

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Stagecoach (1939) dir. John Ford

Orson Welles once said, "Hawks is great prose; Ford is poetry." Take in a just a few Ford pictures and you'll understand. For now, "Stagecoach." Ford had been working the Hollywood system for more than two decades, but it wasn't before this film (released in 1939), that he found his first monumental success. The film was also his first western in over 10 years and it was a genre Ford would not leave for the rest of his career. It's easy to understand why. The landscapes of the west are a directors dream, Take for example the legendary shot of John Wayne in "Stagecoach" (pictured above). Wayne's Ringo Kid is not introduced until after the first act of the movie, but the way his appearance is shot immediately declares that he is an important character to pay attention to and the one we should follow closely the rest of the film. The stagecoach company crosses a tiny river passing when we hear shots fire. We cut to Wayne waving his gun in the air, his figure looming over the western peaks and valleys (hell, the way the shot is composed he's appears taller than the formations behind him). The camera quickly dollies in, and Wayne takes up the entire frame. As an audience, we're hooked. Who is this man? It's filmmaking at its finest.

CITIZENS OF CINEMA, PART 6 – GO WEST

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The American Western has come to hold a very special place in my cinematic heart. This certainly took some time. As an adolescent, I couldn’t appreciate the pacing of these films, nor the almost mythic archetypes and characterizations. And, having not immersed myself in cinema quite yet, was incapable of comprehending the beauty of the compositions– how these filmmakers made the setting of the west a character in and of itself.

Today, I count many westerns among my favorite films. I’m reminded of a quote from Clint Eastwood:

“There are not too many American art forms that are original.. Other than the western and jazz or blues, that’s all that’s really original.”

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