Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Trailer for Julia Leigh's Sleeping Beauty

Looks interesting!

Sleeping Beauty from Pollen Digital on Vimeo.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Trailer for "The Raven"

This is a novel idea. It is one thing to adapt a Poe story, and it is common to make Poe a character in his own story, but "The Raven" is not actually an adaptation. It is speculative fiction that casts Poe himself as a "real life," or reel life, version of his own character C. Auguste Dupin (Murders in the Rue Morgue, The Purloined Letter) in a "tale of ratiocination;" think CSI in Poe's Boston.

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Autism in Poe

In Praise of Predictability

American culture is obsessed with originality, innovation and novelty.  Or at least it thinks it is.  Wired Magazine reported recently on a study done by Nicholas Christenfeld and Jonathan Leavitt of UC San Diego that finds that spoilers actually increase the enjoyment of written stories.  Stories need suspense, obviously, but it seems that too much suspense detracts from the experience of the story.  A little foreknowledge allows us to focus more on the story and less on our reaction to it.  

I have long felt that originality is not the most important factor in whether something is any good.  Consider the epic poetry and tragedy of the Greeks; such literary heavyweights as Homer and Sophocles were telling stories everyone already knew by heart.  Or think of any story about history, or biography.  What is important here isn't the what but the how.  Originality is one factor among many.

In most cases where people criticize something as being unoriginal, predictable, a rip off, or whatever, what they are really saying is that it was unsatisfying.  This may or may not be traceable to lack of originality.  Art needs stability.  Like rhythm in music or meter in poetry, there is an ongoing dialectic of unity and variety.  Stability is boring, but there needs to be enough to carry the variety.  Variety is chaos, but there has to be enough to give us a charge and keep us on the edge of the seat.  We can't totally have either one, but we can't totally give up the need for either.  That is the magic of dialectic.

There is also a personal agenda behind any critical discussion.  Cynicism should not be mistaken for intelligence; bemoaning how derivative and unoriginal everything is is a great way to display superiority to everything.  Enjoyment involves naivete.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Lars von Trier Questioned by Dutch Police

I don't know which is worse: prosecuting a makeup artist for making things or prosecuting a director for saying things.  The makeup artist is of course Rémy Couture, who has for some time now been fighting a disastrous and expensive criminal prosecution in Canada for nothing but fabricating the grotesque.  Now it is the Danish director Lars von Trier's turn for a good hosing.  It's not official yet, but he reports being questioned by Dutch police supposedly at the behest of the French, although they deny this.     

My advice for public figures: don't ever talk about Hitler.  Or Nazis.  Ever.  Not even in your native tongue.  No matter how ironical, witty or cute you think you are being, you are making a complete ass of yourself and inviting disaster.

That said, I found my sentiments on the subject summed up nicely by Tristan Sinns at Planet Fury:
"Many of us groaned at the comments made by Lars von Trier during an interview at the last Cannes Film Festival; but now France is considering actually throwing the man in prison."  Read more 

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Jailed For Fiction?