Category Archives: blogathon

Contrarianism blog-a-thon; taste is a kind of prison for oneself

“This weekend we’re saying to hell with the conventional wisdom,” announces Jim Emerson, author of the blog Scanners and notable Amazon critic. “We usually say that anyway, but consider the Contrarianism Blog-a-Thon an excuse to express how you really feel.”

More importantly, there is a poll: “Which of these ‘great directors’ [Altman, Antonioni, Godard, Fellini, Ford, Hitchcock, Kubrick, Welles, Wilder] do you think is not-so-great?” 

My problem with this list is that I feel nearly all the directors listed are overrated with the exception of Hitchcock and Altman.

From where I stand the most underrated directors are:

Woody AllenPedro AlmodóvarCatherine BreillatLuis BuñuelRoger CormanDavid CronenbergMichael HanekeJuzo ItamiPatrice LeconteSpike LeeDavid LynchRadley MetzgerFrançois OzonRoman PolanskiNicolas RoegJacques TatiAlex van WarmerdamMichael Winterbottommore …

Nevertheless, Jim Emerson’s post offers some interesting quotes:

“For serious critics … the second-best thing to perfection is often the near-miss, the disreputable and even the despised. Next to discovering a new director, planting a flag in an uncharted national cinema or sitting next to Zooey Deschanel at an event, few things please a critic more than polishing a tarnished career or taking on a dubious cause, particularly if everyone else really hated it.”
Manohla Dargis, New York Times, February 14, 2007

“I deeply believe that taste is a kind of prison for oneself – when a critic finds himself or herself always rigidly repeating the same opinions, the same positions, the same likes and dislikes (that is the kind of bad posture which Pauline Kael bequeathed to criticism). Critics should feel free to bring in their own emotional reactions to films – it is hard to keep them out of writing – but the phenomenon known as the ‘gut feeling’ or gut reaction can become a terrible end in itself: ‘this film makes me angry or it makes me happy, so it’s a rotten film or a great film, and I’m not going to discuss it any further.’ The important thing is always argument, analysis, logic. I have an irrational side (critics need it), but my rational side believes in logical demonstration: if you can prove to me that what are saying about a film makes internal sense, if you can marshal the evidence from the film itself to back up what you say, then I too can be persuaded to disregard my own first gut reaction and explore that film again in a new, more open way.” — Adrian Martin, Cinemascope, January – April, 2007

Also an interesting submission to this blog-a-thon:

Steve Carlson @ Blogcritics: “I Spit on Your Grave”
“As it turns out, ‘I Spit on Your Grave‘ is not the hateful nadir of cinema. It is, instead, the ‘Unforgiven’ of the rape-revenge genre, in that it is simultaneously the perfect expression of and the eulogy for the genre. It’s as brutal and confrontational a cinematic work as I’ve yet seen; Zarchi reduces the genre ito its barest elements and in doing so asks the audience to consider why they are there in the first place.”

Contemplative Cinema Blog-a-Thon

Today marks the beginning of the Contemplative Cinema Blog-a-Thon, hosted by Harry Tuttle at Unspoken Cinema.

“Contemplative Cinema” is defined as “the kind that rejects conventional narration to develop almost essentially through minimalistic visual language and atmosphere, without the help of music, dialogue, melodrama, action-montage, and star system.” Though the Blog-a-Thon runs throughout January, the entries are already gathering nicely, and even better, IMHO, many of the voices are entirely new to me.

Bonus for French speakers: A concurrent discussion, “Cinéma Contemplatif?,” is rolling along in Le Forum des Cahiers du Cinéma. –via Greencine

Arcades Project blogathon


Galeries St. Hubert (1846), Brussels

Arcades Project (1927 – 1940) – Walter Bejamin

3. One book you would want on a desert island? Something large, omnivorous, digressive, its curiosity knowing no boundaries, a sort of uber-Merzbau that might serve as a microcosm of the world I left behind, “the theater of all my struggles and all my ideas,” Walter Benjamin’s The Arcades Project. –girish
The Arcades Project site was created and is maintained by Heather Marcelle Crickenberger.

“It is part of a doctoral dissertation that is scheduled to be completed May 2006 at the University of South Carolina. Much of the bibliographic infomation required of such a project is yet to be included.” [Oct 2006]

Here is the list of convolutes she features.

Convolute is a multifaceted word that connotes “To make something unnecessarily complex; to fold or coil into numerous overlapping layers; to twist someone’s words to fit a desired meaning that was not intended by the speaker.”

If I understand correctly (without direct access to a paper copy (mine is on the way from Germany)), Walter Benjamin used the concept in his Arcades Project ; konvolutes were sections in a collection of thousands of index cards on which he transcribed quotations and notations. It was a cross-referenced system not shying away from ambiguity and ambivalence; seeking its power in opposition and confusion, an early version of fragmented modernity and harbinger of postmodernity.

I would like to call for an Arcades Project blogathon. There is no deadline. By way of inspiration I offer you the following concepts

in praise of convolution

in praise of variety

in praise of flânerie

in praise of juxtaposition

in praise of multifacetedness

and …

“Method of this work:
literary montage.
I have nothing to say only to show.”
(Passagenwerk (1927 – 1940) – Walter Benjamin)

The “rhizome” allows for multiple,
non-hierarchical entry and exit points
in data representation and interpretation.
Mille Plateaux – Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari,
volume 2 of Capitalisme et Schizofrénie (1980)

What is a blog-a-thon?

A blog-a-thon is a recent phenomenon in the blogosphere. It consists of a number of bloggers writing posts on a certain subject. According to girish the word was coined by Darren of (although I couldn’t find the post). Girish conducted a blog-a-thon on avant-garde cinema early August. The earliest post I was able to trace featuring the term blog-a-thon is this one.

Since I am a fan of Wikipedia, I wish that the participants to blog-a-thons would share their knowledge with the entire world by contributing the results of their efforts to Wikipedia. The Wikipedia equivalent of blog-a-thons are called Wikipedia Collaborations or WikiProjects. One possible future trend could be blikis, a combination of blogs with a wiki system. I first came across the concept of the bliki two years ago in this post by Belgian blogger forret.