Archive for November, 2006

Quick Update/Marie Antoinette

On a post that has since dissapered, I mentioned that the Wordhereders were moving to a new server, so I kust wanted to throw up a quick post here to see how things are working. I’ll hopefully have some new posts up soon, but I’ve been re-tagged with whatever nasty cold or flu is circulating around here. I’m cuddling up with antibiotics, a big bottle of water, and a movie or two tonight, so hopefully I’ll be back to normal soon.

I did catch Marie Antoinette (IMDB) this weekend and I think AO Scott’s review pretty much gets it right. It would be a little too easy to sneer at the film’s depiction of a “story of the silly teenager who embodied a corrupt, absolutist state in its terminal decadence.” And, certainly, to condemn the film for its historical innacuracies would be to miss the film’s point entirely. That being said, I found myself becoming impatient with the film in places, often finding what could have been decadent fun just a bit tedious (which may also be part of the point). Worth noting: director Sofia Coppola wisely underplays the story’s ending, resisting the urge to depict Antoinette’s viloent death.

Hoping to have more to say about the film later. I’ve missed writing movie here, but to be honest, I haven’t seen that many movies in the last month or so. Hoping to get back in that habit as well.

Update: Michael’s review of Marie Antoinette over at CultureSpace also describes much of what I like about the film and Sofia Coppola’s films in general.

Update 2: Cynthia has a much more critical reading of the film, noting the problematic representation of Madame du Barry, King Louis XV’s mistress.

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Where Have You Gone, Lorelai Gilmore?

In a recent post to JustTV, Jason points to Virginia Heffernan’s smart New York Times article on the disappointing turn taken by The Gilmore Girls this season. As Jason points out, the show’s change in direction can be attributed to the deprture of series creator Amy Sherman-Palladino and her husband, Daniel Palladino, (Lisa, at the Fayetteville Observer’s TV blog, has a similar take).

Like Jason, I think Heffernan’s article raises some interesting questions about TV authorship and how we “read” the series. Jason asks,

Will future scholarship of Gilmore Girls simply disregard or bracket off this season as not “core” to the show? By bracketing off such periods, like with the Sorkin-era West Wing or Northern Exposure under Brand & Falsey, do we assert a simplistic vision of authorship which is complicated by the inherently collaborative process of television production?

These are difficult questions to answer, of course, and Heffernan’s article complicates these questions by pointing to the important contributions of the show’s two stars, Lauren Graham and Alexis Bledel, whose performances cannot be excluded from the show’s “authorship.” I do think a lot has been lost this season with the departure of Sherman-Palladino, namely the rapid-fire dialogue that evoked, for me, screwball comedy movies (or, as Heffernan suggests, a David Mamet play).

I don’t have much else to add here, but I’ve been wanting to mention Jason’s blog for a couple of days, and his post on The Gilmore Girls seemed like a good excuse. On a related note, his post on audience’s “faith” in TV authors (the “Trust Joss syndrome”) is also worth checking out.

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Making MediaCommons Launched

A few months ago, I mentioned the very exciting new digital publishing initiative, MediaCommons. Like Kathleen, I am enthusiastic about the possibilities for and implications of electronic scholarly publishing, and MediaCommons should offer a valuable new venue for media studies scholarship (and, yes, I’m hoping/planning to participate in this project). The project is still in the planning stage, but I’d like to mention that The Institute for the Future of the Book has launched Making MediaCommons, a planning site where this new project will begin to develop.

Some of the current features include a blog where the site’s organizers are working to imagine just what an electronic publishing network can do, as well as a series of short videos, “In Media Res,” with different media scholars offering impressionistic responses to short video clips, including Jeffrey P. Jones’ insightful reading of Keith Olbermann’s recent “Special Comment” segment on his MSNBC show. There’s also a call for “papers” that explore media history, theory or culture, using technologies made available through the digital network.

While Making MediaCommons has only recently launched, I think it can be a valuable resource for media studies scholarship. In this sense, Kathleen’s recent post calling for participation in the site sounds about right to me. As more people become actively involved in MediaCommons, I think it can become a valuable community and resource for media studies, so please do check out the site, leave some comments in the blog, and offer suggestions about how the site can contribute to the field of media studies.

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“An Open Smile on a Friendly Shore”

Check out the latest remixed trailer for Bobby, Emilio Estevez’s biopic about Robert Kennedy.

In other news, despite (or perhaps because of) my article in Flow, it appears that Studio 60 will soon be pulled from the NBC schedule. As Roger Friedman at Fox News speculates, “No one cares whether a bunch of over caffeinated, well off yuppies, some with expensive drug habits, put on a weekly comedy sketch show from Los Angeles.” I guess I cared. Sort of. But tonight’s episode is convincing me that pulling the plug isn’t a bad idea (thanks to Lance for the news about Studio 60’s imminent cancellation).

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Saturday Video Fun

In order to get back in the blogging habit, I’m thinking of adding a weekly feature here at The Chutry Experiment: Saturday Video Fun. As many of my readers will know, I’m a big fan of online video, and there are countless videos out there to choose from. This week’s favorites:

First, via the cinetrix, The Pervert’s Guide to Cinema featuring Slavoj Zizek sitting on a toilet in order to explain the similarities between two key scenes in Francis Ford Coppola’s 1974 thriller, The Conversation and Hitchcock’s Psycho. In related news, I’ll be joining the cinetrix at SCMS (not to mention several folks from Dr. Mabuse’s Kaleido-Scope), where I’ll be giving a paper on the recent documentary, Unknown White Male.

With the election coming up, I couldn’t resist throwing in a couple of political videos, including this fun little video using George Michael’s “Freedom” to comment on the Bush administration. Somehow this line seems especially fitting: “All we have to do is take these lies and make them true” (via TPM). Related: via Altercation, a short video about Bush’s spech writer.

Finally, I wanted to mention a few videos from the new video service, Motionbox, which I learned about via email this week. With the implications of Google’s purchase of the video hosting service YouTube still unclear, I think it’s worth looking at what other video hosting services can offer. There’s a lot to like about Motionbox, most notably the fact that Motionbox claims no ownership rights to videos submitted to their site (which isn’t always the case wih other video hosting sites). The other feature I’ve grown to like is deep-tagging, which allows you to add tags within a specific video to make it even more navigable (this functions much like chapter stops on a DVD).

I mention Motionbox in part as an excuse to point to Bush’s Beatbox and the very interesting experimental video, Blackbird, which features a hybrid of digital and analog animation techniques. Finally, Motionbox is also hosting a trailer for the new personal doc, 51 Birch Street, which I’d love to see.

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Thursday Night Links

I keep waiting for that mythical moment when I’ll feel caught up again, but until then here are a few of the things I’ve been reading while taking a break from grading this evening:

First, Chris’s pointer to the very cool resource, UbuWeb, which archives the films of a number of avant-garde filmmakers, including Guy Debord and Stan Brakhage. Also available: the famous interview with Jacques Lacan from French television. It turns out that I mentioned UbuWeb about a year ago, but it’s a resource well worth revisiting.

Second, I just wanted to mention that I’m curious to see The Quiet Revolution, a short documentary produced by Alliance for Justice, a group working to oppose reactionary court appointments, as reported in this Nation blog post. I’m still way behind on my movie watching, but that’s probably going to be the norm for a while at least.

Also, I wanted to mention a couple of blog posts by Derek Kompare, whom I met last week at the Flow Conference. In one recent post, Kompare marks the 30th birthday of VHS by reflecting on the technology’s persistence even in our current “digital comfort zone.” Of course he’s right to note that while there’s very little nostalgia for VHS (at least compared to a format such as the LP), the very physicality of videotape has contributed to the medium’s persistence. Like Derek, I find myself using VHS far less often, and most of my VHS tapes have been collecting dust for years. In fact, I’m no longer sure my current VCR even works, but also like Derek, I’m aware that there is so much out there that remains available only on VHS, so I don’t expect VCRs to disappear completely anytime soon.

Derek also has a post on The Vicissitudes of Serial TV, which focuses at some length on one of my new addictions this fall, Ugly Betty (IMDB), a show that impresses and surprises me every time I watch it (the subplot about her father’s status as an illegal immigrant is especially timely and, so far, thoughtfully handled). And like him, I’ve been very impressed by America Ferrera’s performance as Betty (Salma Hayek’s guest role tonight was also quite fun).

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