Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Episode #109 - Terri Francis (Losing Ground)

"An archive is more than a collection of stuff...when a person passes through your life, they leave an impression, maybe an emptiness that's there. Part of what archives do is they make sense of that impression, of what's left behind."

So often when it comes to cinema we can make easy assumptions, but the questions underneath them are brimming to push boundaries. What exactly should film archives contain and what are their social responsibilities? Could an independent cinema exist under state sponsorship? Why is the goal of scholarship a book or article? What if instead you made films in caves, or highlighted contributions to our history through gravestones? Through her unique career, Terri Francis has brought some of these questions to light in a different way that makes the work of academia feel not just groundbreaking but emotionally powerful. In this long-ranging conversation, the Indiana University professor and director of the Black Film Center/Archive explores a range of topics related to Josephine Baker, Jamaica Film, and understanding and expanding black identity and cinephilia in a time where the very nature of the premise is changing. Finally, Terri and Peter discuss Losing Ground, a pioneering and celebratory melodrama from indie filmmaker Kathleen Collins—Terri tells the story of how the film went from obscurity to the stunning restoration that's made it part of the new canon.

0:00-3:46  Opening
4:29-11:11 Establishing Shots — New Streaming Platforms, New Avenues
11:57-1:09:32 Deep Focus — Terri Francis
1:10:30-1:14:16  Sponsorship Section
1:15:36-1:38:44 Double Exposure — Losing Ground (Kathleen Collins)
1:38:49-1:40:33 Close / Outtake 


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Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Episode #108 - James Naremore (A Cottage on Dartmoor)

"My cinephilia began with directors, and I still defend that old fashioned way of working."

When Peter first began studying criticism, one person seemed to have the aspirational career he wanted: James Naremore. Not only was he able to teach the history of cinema, but he had written some of the most influential books on Orson Welles, screen acting, and film noir. Now Professor Emeritus at Indiana University, Bloomington, Naremore continues to write and research while still blending a line between film criticism and film academia, but always with a rigor and appreciation that makes him entirely unique. James sits down with Peter to talk about going from English literature to film studies, to his appreciation of classical criticism, and the politics of writing a study of Charles Burnett. Finally, they talk about a rarity that few have seen: the 1929 British silent film A Cottage on Dartmoor, which represents one of the great "last breaths of silent techniques" before sound would change filmmaking, which even gets its own strange cameo in the movie!

0:00-4:10  Opening
5:12-11:34 Establishing Shots — Edmond O'Brien The Noirish Chameleon
12:18-49:18 Deep Focus — James Naremore
49:54-54:04  Sponsorship Section
54:47-1:08:48 Double Exposure — A Cottage on Dartmoor (Anthony Asquish)
1:08:53-1:10:31 Close 

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Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Episode #107 - Neil Bahadur (Judith of Bethulia)

"People like Chaplin are inspiring because of their audiences—that cinema had that kind of audience and that kind of potential."

It is easy to get caught up in the names that have already become known throughout the cinephile world and their accomplishments and great works. But who will carry the torch through the future? One curious fellow worth noting to the is Toronto-based writer and filmmaker Neil Bahadur. With his iconoclastic ramblings, larky wit, and soft-spoken but all so engrossing enthusiasm, Neil's writing on cinema seems to be pointing toward something different that splices together the past and the future in hope of creating a cinema entirely alien to what we often limit. Peter talks to Neil about his writings on silent films in conversation with more recent art house filmmakers, the role of the marketplace in cinema that hopes to speak politically, and his ambitious first film, From Nine to Nine. They then dive into D.W. Griffith's first feature-length film, Judith of Bethulia, and examine how this curious expansion into length allowed the pioneer to bring together questions of aesthetics and politics. Plus, former guest and eating expert Carman Tse joins Peter to discuss the legacy of one of their favorite critics, food writer Jonathan Gold.

0:00-4:01  Opening
6:02-28:59 Establishing Shots — Remembering Jonathan Gold with Carman Tse
29:45-1:26:57 Deep Focus — Neil Bahadur 
1:27:58-1:31:34  Sponsorship Section
1:32:34-1:48:10 Double Exposure — Judith of Bethulia (D.W. Griffith)
1:48:16-1:50:00 Close / Outtake 

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Thursday, July 19, 2018

Episode #106 - Janet Staiger (Zombieland)

"I see both my work as an attempt to understand how history works and how people experience and live, and how they can live better lives as critical consumers of media."

What does it mean to study the means of production? Is one deconstructing the way an industry might operate, its cultural and political signification, or is simply one reproducing an apologia for capitalism itself? In a lively and spirited conversation, Peter explores these questions with one of his all-time academic heroes, Janet Staiger. The author of Interpreting Films, Perverse Spectators, and co-author of The Classical Hollywood Cinema examines the various political undertones that have always peppered her work, and where the future of media studies can go in today's political age, whether it be studying the way images are made or the way they are received. But there's also a lot of fun to be had, including the unique connections between Zombieland, a recent "romantic comedy" that just happens to feature blood and gore, and a certain 2017 film of fashionable elegance. Plus, Peter recaps his recent trip to Il Cinema Ritrovato with Welsh critic Christopher Small, where the two debate whether the films or the gelato stood out more.

0:00-4:00  Opening
4:58-29:48 Establishing Shots — Il Cinema Ritrovato with Christopher Small
30:33-1:05:47 Deep Focus — Janet Staiger
1:06:45-1:11:40  Sponsorship Section
1:13:06-1:26:35 Double Exposure — Zombieland (Ruben Fleischer)
1:26:39-1:28:18 Close

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Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Episode #105 - Kristen Warner (Magic Mike XXL)

"There's a difference between representation mattering and the way we often decide that it matters, which is through the visual imagery."

While hardly a new problem in the media landscape, issues of representation both in front and behind screen have reached new peaks in the cultural discourse through campaigns like #OscarsSoWhite. But what does the path forward look like? Kristen Warner, a scholar of media industries, brings her unique research to the podcast to look at issues of colorblind casting and what she calls "plastic representation." Kristen and Peter look at a number of televisual milieus in which representational politics play out on our screens, and Kristen challenges a lot of issues to ask when real authentic people of color actually appear. Finally, the two discuss Magic Mike XXL, one of the most unique films of the last decade and a rare site where people of color have been in some way given their space. Kristen explains how a film with a white director and almost all-white cast somehow envisions a utopic vision of diverse American culture.

0:00-4:16  Opening
5:48-11:46 Establishing Shots — Bill Hader and Barry
12:32-48:40 Deep Focus — Kristen Warner
49:39-52:28  Sponsorship Section
53:40-1:06:08 Double Exposure — Magic Mike XXL (Gregory Jacobs)
1:06:49-1:08:41 Close

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Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Episode #104 - Dan Callahan (The Heiress)

"When I'm writing about acting, I'm trying to be in the moment with them."

Perhaps in danger of becoming a new cliché for the show, Peter remains fascinated by actors: what is this business they do and how do they do it, especially those stars that littered the studios in Hollywood's Golden Age? Answering that question is film and theatre critic Dan Callahan, who has gone in depth on many of those actors. His new book, The Art of American Screen Acting, explores the Classical Hollywood style of performance through twenty essays on Hollywood's best and brightest. Peter asks about the genesis of the book as well as various technical aspects remarked upon, as well as on Dan's other two totems on Barbara Stanwyck and Vanessa Redgrave. Finally, the two look at the site of a true clash in William Wyler's The Heiress, where four titans of Hollywood—all with different styles—produce one of the most confounding and wondrous mixtures of screen performance one could possibly imagine.

0:00-2:48  Opening
4:27-12:56 Establishing Shots — Old Masters, Digital Tricks
13:42-1:05:00 Deep Focus — Dan Callahan
1:05:41-1:10:01  Sponsorship Section
1:11:23-1:31:48 Double Exposure — The Heiress (William Wyler)
1:31:53-1:34:27 Close / Outtake

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Sunday, May 13, 2018

Episode #103 - Jared Case at The Nitrate Picture Show (Dead Reckoning)

"It's not just the study of the narratives in the film, but the technique, process, and manual handling, which brings them into your hand."

The skyline of Rochester is filled with the industrial ghosts of the 20th century. However, the haunt is a more than a pleasant one, and perhaps the essential keeper of its history is the George Eastman Museum—a glowing monument to the history of both photography and the moving image. Jared Case has worked the Museum for over 18 years, and in particular has helped steer what has quickly become one of the go-to destinations for cinephiles: The Nitrate Picture Show. Peter attended the 4th iteration of the festival dedicated to the silvery, flammable material that preserved up cinema half-century, and then sat immediately down to discuss with Jared the work behind the scenes of such a wondrous event. Jared also explains the nuances of cataloging motion pictures, the development of a Technicolor database, and how to bring film preservation to the masses. Finally, the two look at John Cromwell's devilish noir Dead Reckoning with a witty Humphrey Bogart and the black hole of evil that is noir's most bad, bad girl, Lizabeth Scott. And as a bonus, Peter takes a tour of the Eastman Museum's frigid vaults to examine their 24,000 reels of film with Deborah Stoiber.

0:00-4:00  Opening
5:23-28:20 Establishing Shots — Touring the Nitrate Vaults With Deborah Stoiber
29:05-1:15:39 Deep Focus — Jared Case
1:16:41-1:20:29  Sponsorship Section
1:21:35-1:41:38 Double Exposure — Dead Reckoning (John Cromwell)
1:41:56-1:43:387 Close

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