Werner Herzog Discusses his Unique Career»
You don’t seem to be interested in re-creating our daily lives, but instead in presenting something you’ve called “the ecstatic truth.” You want to present something recognizable in an unrecognizable way.
Well, recognizable on a much deeper level, where you recognize yourself all of a sudden. I’m trying to find these rare moments where you feel completely illuminated. Facts never illuminate you. The phone directory of Manhattan doesn’t illuminate you, although it has factually correct entries, millions of them. But these rare moments of illumination that you find when you read a great poem, you instantly know. You instantly feel this spark of illumination. You are almost stepping outside of yourself and you see something sublime. And it can be something very average, some small thing that everybody overlooks. For example, in Grizzly Man, Timothy Treadwell filmed himself. He’s in the Starsky and Hutch mode and reenacts them and does something and he jumps and runs away and the camera is rolling. Twenty seconds later he returns as Starsky and Hutch and switches the camera off. And in these 20 seconds there is only reed grass wafting in the wind. And all of a sudden I notice something very big out there. An image that wanted its own existence. That’s so powerful and so strange and so illuminating that I had to show it in the film. And everybody overlooked it and I have to point it out. It’s something very, very strange and it can be the most insignificant, which all of a sudden acquires something deep and almost illuminating of your existence. You’re deep inside into the nature of things, into the abysses of the human soul.
“So how does “You’ve got to see that on the big screen” apply to independent movies? That’s a more complicated and troubling question, but one with an easier answer: It doesn’t. Though many theaters have used innovative programming, special events, artisanal popcorn, and booze to draw people in, the only significant change independent theaters have made in terms of presentation is spending tens of thousands of dollars to convert from 35mm to digital. And the grim irony of that conversion is that it’s brought the moviegoing experience more in line with the home-viewing experience—what Quentin Tarantino, a passionate digital holdout, called “TV in public.” If what you’re getting on your TV, phone, and computer is digital, then there’s nothing all that special about going to a digital theater, no matter whether a given person can distinguish between digital projection and projected film. Quibbles over resolution aside, if the delivery system is more or less the same, the urgency to see independent and foreign films in a theater is bound to dissipate.”
As the home-viewing experience gets better and better, the argument for seeing a movie on the big screen becomes harder to make. It’s a problem that affects movies both big and small, but especially small. Scott Tobias explores the state of “You’ve got to see that on the big screen.” [Read more…]
Mathematics, rightly viewed, possesses not only truth, but supreme beauty — a beauty cold and austere, like that of sculpture, without appeal to any part of our weaker nature, without the gorgeous trappings of painting or music, yet sublimely pure, and capable of a stern perfection such as only the greatest art can show. The true spirit of delight, the exaltation, the sense of being more than Man, which is the touchstone of the highest excellence, is to be found in mathematics as surely as poetry.
Today starts a very long stretch of 5 day work weeks. Optimism is needed.
To be an American is precisely to imagine a destiny rather than to inherit one; since we have always been, insofar as we are Americans at all, inhabitants of myth rather than history.
Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.
With James Schamus Out At Focus, Are Good Movies In Trouble? Not So Fast»
Yet if all of these companies went the way of Focus, many of the best movies out there today would stick around. The concerned cinephile should turn to festival screenings and VOD to discover the gems unlikely to find any influential advocate with the capacity to release them widely. If it’s not a golden age for film distribution, there’s more product than ever. The process of discovery lies in the hands of the enterprising viewer rather than any financially-empowered curatorial vision. A world without Focus — not a world without Schamus, mind you — isn’t the same as a world without movies. The doom and gloom about the state of the business shouldn’t obscure the prevalence of cinema that will never fit studio equations because, thankfully, it plays by different rules altogether.
Neil Gaiman’s commencement speech at The University of the Arts in Philadelphia is what you need on this Saturday morning. He says what so many others are saying nowadays: make mistakes, enjoy the journey, break the rules, make good art. But, he says it better than most, and I believe him.
Often I half-jokingly tell my friends, “Fake ‘til you make it.” So it should come as no surprise that one of my favorite Gaiman nuggets parallels this line of thinking:
"Be wise, because the world needs more wisdom. And if you cannot be wise pretend to be someone who is wise — and then just behave like they would."
"I’ve been examining my values lately, and determining whether or not I like the feelings that result from those values."
"What’s an example of one of your values?"
"I’m very competitive."
"And what’s a feeling that results from being competitive?”
"How does competitiveness result in jealousy?"
"When you have a competitive mindset, you tend to view the world in terms of winners and losers. So you resent other people getting recognition, because you somehow believe that less recognition is available to you. I’m learning that this is a false mindset. There’s not a fixed amount of success and recognition in the world. So another person’s accomplishments don’t diminish the accomplishments available to you."
"You guys know about vampires? … You know, vampires have no reflections in a mirror? There’s this idea that monsters don’t have reflections in a mirror. And what I’ve always thought isn’t that monsters don’t have reflections in a mirror. It’s that if you want to make a human being into a monster, deny them, at the cultural level, any reflection of themselves. And growing up, I felt like a monster in some ways. I didn’t see myself reflected at all. I was like, “Yo, is something wrong with me? That the whole society seems to think that people like me don’t exist? And part of what inspired me, was this deep desire that before I died, I would make a couple of mirrors. That I would make some mirrors so that kids like me might see themselves reflected back and might not feel so monstrous for it."
— Junot Diaz
(on cultural representation in our world)