Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Episode #123 - James Leo Cahill (Pom Poko)

"If we’re to think of film philosophy or critic theory, cinema does in fact have a role in the upheaval of thought in the way the medium itself can do a kind of radical critique of presuppositions.”

As a constant Instagram user, I find it hard not to love the numerous videos of mammals and other species in behavior whose response always comes down to "they're just like us!" But what about that history of cinema that shows us how animals are not like us, and perhaps encourages us to think outside our own worldview. In Zoological Surrealism, University of Toronto professor James Leo Cahill explores the wondrously strange history of filmmaker Jean Painlevé, best known for his documentary The Seahorse, and explores the numerous scientific films and how he and his collaborators essentially embraced a different worldview by merging art and science. In this long ranging history, James takes us through his first fascinations with cinema and animals as well as through the numerous unique theories he develops through tracing a transhistorical understanding of Painlevé. Finally, the two embrace every emotion through examining Pom Poko, a curious anime from Studio Ghibli that traces the last years of a dying species and celebrates the way we feel loss....a film quite appropriate for our current moment.

0:00–7:10 Opening
7:54-13:05 MUBI Sponsorship
13:50–1:32:30 Deep Focus — James Leo Cahill
1:34:35–1:37:35 OVID.TV Sponsorship Section
1:38:21–1:54:08 Double Exposure — Pom Poko (Isao Takahata)
1:54:56–1:56:51 Close 

Notes and Links to the Conversation
—Sign up now to see Ema on MUBI on May 1st!
—Check out Zoological Surrealism, learn more about James, and check him out on Twitter
—Most of the films by Jean Painlevé discussed here are available in the Criterion Box Set
—The Jaws trading cards
The Guardian featured a story a few years back about John Lilly's dolphin experiment
Akira Lippit
—James on early cinema and film accidents
Martin Scorsese on Marvel (this genuinely feels like ancient history)
How it Feels to be Run Over (1900)
—James on Science Films
—More about the Pentagon screening The Battle of Algiers before the Iraq War
—James and Tim Holland on Jacques Derrida and Cinema
—Derrida's interview with Cahiers du Cinema
—Latour's Actor Network Theory
—The Edited Collection on Jean Painlevé, Science is Fiction
Feeling Backwards, by Heather Love
—Monica Dall'Asta on "Looking for Myriam: A Secret Genealogy of French Compilation Film"
The Magnetic Fields by André Breton and Philippe Soupault, translated from the French by Charlotte Mandell
—Oliver Gaycken's Devices of Curiosity
—More on Eisenstein's relationship with Painlevé, and his theories on animation
—Noël Burch and Geneviève Sellier's Battle of the Sexes in French Cinema
—Eva Hayward on Painlevé and the trans elements of his work
—James's award-winning essay "A YouTube Bestiary"
"oh my god it's a shark"
A runaway horse
—Bazin's "Entomology of the Pin-Up Girl" appears in What is Cinema? Volume II
Berkeley Raccoon Season, and the story of Toronto's trash cans and trash pandas
—"Anthropomorphism and Its Vicissitudes: Reflections on Homme-sick Cinema" appears in Screening Nature
—Jennifer Fay's inhospitable world

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