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).


  1. Chris Said,

    November 3, 2006 @ 1:12 pm

    You know, I think I had looked at Ubu some time ago (perhaps from your link), but they seem to have added a lot since my last look. Hopefully next semester I can be organized/lucky enough to get some $$$ for 16mm screenings for avant-garde films for my class, but as a stop gap this time, Ubu web will help me show something to put a face to the Structural film name.

  2. Chuck Said,

    November 3, 2006 @ 1:54 pm

    I think you’re right that their offerings have improved quite a bit over the last year or so, but it is a useful resource for those of us who don’t have a significant film budget.

  3. Chris Said,

    November 4, 2006 @ 1:33 pm

    Just curious… are you assigning/considering assigning any films/videos from Ubuweb? I haven’t had the time to view everything they have to offer, and wonder especially if I should be looking at any particularly worthy texts. I’m also just curious on how others teach/frame experimental stuff, as that can be the hardest material to teach.

    Right now, I’ve just picked a couple of the Fluxus films.

  4. Chuck Said,

    November 4, 2006 @ 1:44 pm

    I probably won’t assign any this semester, in part because my schedule is already mapped out, but I might use it in the future, if only because it would be cheaper and easier than acquiring these films elsewhere. I’ve also found it difficult to schedule screenings here because almost all of my students work and many have families, so I’m learning to make it easier for my students to watch the films on their own time.

    I’ve used the American Memory Project collections successfully in the past, so I think these films could also work. They also allow me to introduce discussions of medium specificity and the different viewing contexts in which we watch motion pictures.

  5. Chris Said,

    November 4, 2006 @ 1:58 pm

    Yes, I’m including some early cinema on the Intro syllabus next semester and will have students watch films on the American Memory Project site on their own. Given the limits on my classtime, it helps to have them view it on their own time. That said, I’ll probably screen the avant-garde stuff in class as there’s something about watching it in a theatrical setting (even if video projection of compressed computer files) that changes the nature of the work.

    The point about medium specificity and receptive contexts is a good one, one that gets a short shrift some time (at least in my courses).

  6. Chuck Said,

    November 4, 2006 @ 2:05 pm

    The other point I should have mentioned is that I won’t be able to teach Intro to Film again until next fall, by which time I may rework the class to some extent. Good point about showing avant-garde and experimental stuff in class in something resembling a theatrical setting.

    I may be able to work in a discussion of online video in my graduate course (on technology in the classroom) next semester, so I’ll keep Ubuweb in mind.

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