Sunday, August 13, 2017

Episode #95 - Chicago Film Archives (American Revolution 2)

"We have an impulse to simply collect and preserve. We don't want things to disappear."

For many historians, what made the 20th century so unique from the time before was the idea of the visual, the idea that we as a society began responding to images (both still and moving) rather than text. This visual life did not just happen through Hollywood, but in films made by advertising groups, for school children, and by families across the world as we documented the world's beauties and scars. Saving a particular section of these images has become the goal of Chicago Film Archives. The institution has spent over a decade finding and saving the images that define the Great Lakes city and the surrounding area, demonstrating how visual images capture and display American life through the 20th century. In this episode, Peter sits down with multiple members of the archives (Michelle Puetz—Curator of Programming; Brian Belak—Collections Manager; Amy Belotti—Digital Collections Manager) to discuss its history and its future. They end their conversation examining one of its most prized works, American Revolution 2, in which ideology along the left becomes an increasingly impossible debate.

0:00-3:42 Opening
4:17-12:27 Establishing Shots — Blockbuster Auteurs (Dunkirk and Logan Lucky)
13:12-50:19 Deep Focus — Chicago Film Archives
50:57-54:10 Sponsorship Section
55:19-1:12:19 Double Exposure — American Revolution 2 (Howard Alk and the Film Group)
1:12:23-1:14:00 Close
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Sunday, July 9, 2017

Episode #94 - Manohla Dargis (Killer of Sheep)

"I think you have to pay attention to the object. You have to pay attention to what's in front of your eyes really clearly."

Before anything else, films are objects that present a sensorial experience. To understand how they function—as industrial products, as societal mirrors, as ideological machines—we must understand how they interact with our minds and make us think. For the five year anniversary of The Cinephiliacs, Manohla Dargis joins the cast to talk exactly that. The New York Times critic discusses her childhood movie love of watching objects without inhibition and her writing as a form of translating the way of watching films. She also chats about the past and future of the Times, and how the institutional changes have affected the practice of criticism in a digital age. Finally, Manohla and Peter examine Charles Burnett's independent masterpiece Killer of Sheep, examining how the filmmaker's stark portrayal of impoverished black life resonates to today through poetic realism. Plus, a brief chat with James N. Kienitz Wilkins and Robin Schavoir, whose new film, The Republic, is currently streaming on MUBI.

0:00-3:09 Opening
4:23-14:00 Establishing Shots — Five Years of The Cinephiliacs
14:46-47:15 Deep Focus — Manohla Dargis
48:28-1:07:42 Sponsorship Section — An Interview with The Republic team, James N. Kienitz Wilkins and Robin Schavoir
1:09:00-1:23:28 Double Exposure — Killer of Sheep (Charles Burnett)
1:23:32-1:28:38 Close / Outtake
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Sunday, June 11, 2017

The 2017 San Francisco Silent Film Festival


Cross-dressing air pirates, parades of mechanical dolls, directors doing their own stunts in frigid waters, and a psychological battle for the soul of Ukraine. Now attending for their third and fourth time respectively, Peter and guest Victor Morton always find a Pandora's Box of surprises at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival. Not so much for its relevance to today (sorry, no Age of Trump discussion here), but instead for the sheer amount of creativity and engagement with the world that can sometimes feel more thoughtful than contemporary cinema. This year they dive into films from eight countries over three decades, with a few from silent cinema's canonical directors, a couple from directors in need of major recognition, and finally some films that simply baffle for their sheer WTFness. It's another wrap up in the latest discoveries in silent cinema in the East Bay.

0:00-2:45 Opening
2:46-14:32 A Page of Madness (Teinosuke Kinugasa, Japan, 1926)
15:37-27:40 Magic & Mirth: A Tribute to David Shepard / Filibus (Mario Roncoroni, Italy, 1915)
28:36-38:09 Body & Soul (Oscar Micheaux, USA, 1925)
38:34-42:10 Sponsorship Section
43:33-54:27 A Man There Was (Victor Sjöström, Sweden, 1917)
55:09-1:06:07 Two Days (Heorhii Stabovyi, Ukraine / USSR, 1927)
1:07:07-1:16:12 The Doll (Ernst Lubitsch, Germany, 1919)
1:17:03-1:18:42 Close
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Sunday, May 21, 2017

Episode #93 - Girish Shambu (Gold)

"I think there's a place for the skills that we learn as cinephiles in the world at large."

If the cinephilia of lining up on small streets of Paris and New York for obscure rare prints of art films and the auteurs of Hollywood to appreciate the wind in the trees has died with Susan Sontag, what has replaced it? This is one of many questions asked by blogger Girish Shambu in his book The New Cinephilia. In this final report from SCMS, Girish discusses his childhood in India and how he became interested in not just film but the kind of critical discourses it creates, and how he sees himself functioning within that world. The two talk about the opportunities and challenges that cinephilia faces in our current moment, both in terms of the expanding definition of media and its relation to politics. Finally, they turn their eyes toward the ever nebulous group of coy German filmmakers known as the Berlin School, and in particular, Thomas Arslan's Klondike-trekking western Gold with Phoenix star Nina Hoss.

0:00-3:03 Opening 
3:57-12:15 Establishing  Shots — A Tale of Twin Peaks
13:07-52:22 Deep Focus — Girish Shambu
53:14-56:13 Sponsorship Section
57:17-1:16:58 Double Exposure — Gold (Thomas Arslan)
1:17:03-1:18:42 Close
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Thursday, May 4, 2017

This American Life — Remembering Jonathan Demme

Jonathan Demme began his film career 50 years ago while working for Joseph Levine's production company in 1967, carving a path that resembled no other director in American film. His narrative films ranged from the grindhouse to Oscar prestige pictures to indies and more. Beyond fiction, he made documentaries about musicians and politics, music videos for the coolest bands, and a number of television episodes that gave life to the so-called writer's medium. While the word humanist gets thrown around carelessly, Demme deserved that term for the worlds his films enveloped and the generosity he showed each and every character while often creating an implied utopian vision of diversity. This special episode mourns the death of one of the great directors, as Peter invites on Jake Mulligan and Willow Maclay to discuss the multifaceted career of a director destined to cement a place in the canon. Plus, we revisit that oft-discussed director with three Double Exposure discussions with former guests. 

0:00-4:12 Opening 
4:12-43:27 Discussion with Jake Mulligan and Willow Maclay
44:34-47:26 Sponsorship Section
48:41-1:04:20 Beloved with Stephen Cone
1:05:21-1:28:18 The Truth About Charlie with Keith Uhlich
1:29:27-1:52:13 Stop Making Sense with Tim Grierson
1:52:40-1:22:02 Close
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Sunday, April 30, 2017

Episode #92 - Catherine Grant (The Headless Woman)


"If you dive in with an idea of sketchiness, 'I can see something here but I'm not quite sure,' and then go for it, you constitute things. I think it's what we always hope to do with our scholarship."

While Peter sometimes has questioned what digital cameras have wrought, there is no question that the digital revolution has changed the ways we can relate to our cinematic experiences (Exhibit A: this podcast). UK film scholar Catherine Grant has always seemed to be on the precipice of these changes. Her blog, Film Studies for Free, brought the idea of Open Access within the field to a whole array of scholars, and her pioneering work in video essays transformed the way that film scholarship can come closer to their objects of study than ever before. In this interview conducted in the heart of the annual SCMS conference, Catherine discusses her discovery of art cinema, her research on world cinema and auteurism in the digital age, and the role that these new visual tools have changed the way she approaches cinema. They top off their conversation by turning to The Headless Woman and how Argentine director Lucrecia Martel creates a hyper-attentive spectator in the most breathtaking drama of recent memory. 

0:00-3:26 Opening 
4:25-9:14 Establishing Shots — Preview of "This American Life — Jonathan Demme"
9:59-1:00:05 Deep Focus — Catherine Grant
1:00:55-1:03:11 Sponsorship Section
1:04:09-1:1:39 Double Exposure — The Headless Woman (Lucrecia Martel)
1:19:43-1:22:02 Close / Outtake
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Sunday, April 9, 2017

Episode #91 - Marsha Gordon (The Steel Helmet)

"I've always felt the superior methodology [of media studies] draws on what is relevant and material and explores all these dimensions."

You can learn a lot about the person behind a camera by watching what he saw in front. But you can learn so much more when you explore the short stories he wrote, the ideas he scribbled down, the cartoon drawings he made, the FBI memos investigating him, and the amateur footage of death he shot while serving in World War II. Film scholar Marsha Gordon has done exactly that in her extraordinary new work, Film is Like A Battleground: Sam Fuller's War Movies. In this podcast, Marsha discusses her impulses to explore both the center of Hollywood and the very margins of filmmaking practices with her research on orphan films. They dissect the role that these seemingly forgotten films have shown a diversity of cultural practices throughout the 20th century. And then they dive head onto the cigar-chomping auteur, examining what it meant to be a political filmmaker as opposed to making films that feature politics statements. They end their conversation by looking at Fuller's The Steel Helmet, a complex Korean war portrayal of men not as heroes but as flawed individuals, fighting for dignity in a situation that provides none.

0:00-3:39 Opening 
3:44-14:50 Establishing Shots — Old Guests, New Material (Mark Harris's Five Came Back; James Gray's The Lost City of Z)
15:35-57:29 Deep Focus — Marsha Gordon
58:33-1:00:30 Sponsorship Section
1:01:39-1:18:03 Double Exposure — The Steel Helmet (Sam Fuller)
1:18:09-1:19:46 Close
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