I’m back in Fayetteville after my mini-spring break tour, which consisted of a brief stop in Durham, NC, for the Internet for Everyone Town Hall, and a slightly longer stay in Spartanburg, SC, where I had a chance to catch up with George (and where he introduced me to Little River Roasting Company, makers of some of the best coffee I’ve ever tasted). I’m still recovering from the trip, in part because I locked my keys in my car in a Florence, SC, fast food parking lot and spent 2.5 hours waiting for a locksmith, so I’m starting off with a quick links post. I’m planning to write short reviews of The Watchmen and Waltz with Bashir, hopefully, but that may require a little more energy than I have right now.
- The biggest news is that I mailed the index and page proofs back to my publisher this week, basically the final step (for me) in writing the book. George was there to document the occasion with a couple of photographs. While creating the index did cause some angst, I found it to be a somewhat rewarding experience, allowing me to uncover connections that were only implicit in the book’s original argument.
- Just a quick note on the Internet Town Hall: I found the discussions rewarding enough, and as someone who teaches with technology, it was interesting to learn about the experiences that others have with broadband access. Sometimes the discussion felt a little forced, with answers already implied in the questions, but I liked the mix of small group discussions and wider dialogues.
- Now that I have a little spare time to explore new projects, I’m sitting down to read a review copy of Alex Halavais’s Search Engine Society (Polity), a book that explores how search engines are affecting thought. I’ve known Alex via blogging for a while, so my reading is shaped by that, but I’m finding Alex’s book incredibly helpful in thinking through some of the challenges our department is facing with regard to the fairly panicked reaction to the use of digital technologies such as search engines in the classroom (a reaction that isn’t uncommon from what I gather). In particular, so far, Search Engine Society has been helpful in providing me with a slightly better language for characterizations of the current crop of students as “digital natives,” a description that leaves out quite a bit. More on that in a few days, hopefully.
- A couple of years ago, I had the good fortune to catch Liz Witham’s A Certain Kind of Beauty, which focuses on one family’s struggles after they learn their son has MS, at Silverdocs. Now the film is available in its entirety from SnagFilms, the very cool online streaming source for documentary films, where the filmmakers hope to raise money to support 160 people living with Multiple Sclerosis to attend support groups, a cause that would seem to extend the film’s overall goals.
- If you haven’t seen Jonathan Demme’s Rachel Getting Married, Aaron Hillis’s DVD review over at GreenCine should be more than enough to convince you. I’m inclined to agree that it’s one of the best films of 2008, and I think that Aaron’s reading is pretty much right on. Like Aaron, I’ve been mystified by reviewers who charcterized the wedding party scenes as overly sanguine multiculturalism because they miss the degree to which these expressions of community mask the family’s deeper pains. It’s a beautiful little film, well worth your dime (or at least pushing to the top of your rentl queues).
- While he misrepresents the new goals of GreenCine blogger Aaron Hillis (who is not seeking to relace David Hudson as a film blog and news aggregator), Adrian Martin does raise a valuable question about the future of festivals in the digital age. Given the widespread access to DVD screeners and the massive growth of active film bloggers who have created all kinds of forums for talking about film, do we need to “physically stage” film festivals anymore? It’s an interesting discussion, and while I made some passing references to SxSW’s role in marketing Mumblecore in the book, I’d like to address these ideas in further detail. I do think there is some benefit to sitting down face-to-face over drinks in Austin, Park City, Durham, or wherever, but Martin’s question is a provocative one (link via David, of course).
- J.J. Murphy raises an important point about the state of independent film in 2008 and 2009. Citing a friend who expressed concern that 2008 was a “bad” year for quality indie films, Murphy points out that there were a number of great films last year but that few of them played beyond big cities. Murphy goes on to list an impressive-looking top ten, none of which played theatrically in Fayetteville to my knowledge. This is probably old news for anyone who reads my blog, but Murphy’s post helps to underscore the ways in which our filtering a promotion systems still make it difficult for indie fans to find all of these compelling films.
- I’m just now catching up to Girish’s list of links posted last Friday. As usual, he provides a wealth of great reading material. Some favorites: Anthony Kaufman’s Moving Image Source article on the demise of VHS and its implications for film history, and a Film Festival research bibliography (also cited in the above essay by Martin).
- Oh yeah, and if you haven’t seen it, Kutiman’s remix “album” of YouTube musicians, ThruYou is pretty amazing, both as a work of art and as a commentary on the community-building practices on YouTube (or, at least, the desire for those communities).
That’s enough for now. It’s nice to feel like I’m not scrambling toward a deadline, so hopefully I can start using the blog again as a way of tracking down and thinking about new research. And just maybe I can get back in the habit of writing reviews again.