I think that from a cultural point of view this is not harmless but actually quite unhealthy.
Extremely well put. Gio. That is why I do what I do, by trying to avoid the twin perils of over-estimating or under-estimating the cultural impact of media. Also pointing out the fearful contradictions of contemporary culture eg those folk who champion Avatar as an anti-corporate, anti-imperialist film, when all the profits are flowing to Rupert Murdoch and News Corporation, for cripes sake!
I'll go and watch a French film that includes a 15 minute sequence of a guy cycling up a hill, with nothing on the soundtrack except his tortured breathing.
I should loan you my DVD copy of the Welsh documentary sleep furiously,(2008) which features a 10 minute long, static shot of sheep meandering across a North Wales mountainside. Some may think it tedious; I think it generates a long moment of quiet reflection which is dream-like.
The connection between camels and Steven Joyce is something to do with date palms?
You don't need explosives if you want to watch the Chiefs being destroyed. It happens most weeks anyway.
Unkind, unkind! Perhaps they could have set Sione on them.
Geoff I'm still interested if you have access to any info on actual movie popularity. I'd also be keen to read that Sight & Sound interview if you can post a link.
Box office is the prevailing measure, even though it often employs very creative accounting.
The Tarantino interview doesn't appear to be available electronically (or I can't find it) but I am happy to send you a copy through ye old postal system. Just bung me an email <firstname.lastname@example.org> with your address.
Thanks, Chris. This is kind of illuminating but to get into questions about why NZ education institutions are so eager to enrol foreign fee-paying students is a nest of vipers. I have had some brilliant Chinese students (one is currently finishing a PhD) but others in desperation in my office because they cannot pass minimum requirements (even though university marking scales are weighted towards passing). And this is not to go into buying-in assignments and other unethical practices.
If Americans won't go see films with subtitles and loads of filthy foreign lingo, how the hell did Inglourious Basterds sell over $120 million worth of tickets in the US?)
I agree. There was a great interview with Tarantino in Sight & Sound last year, where he expanded on the use of language in IG--most particularly the need for the right accent or nuance to be able to fit in, or ensure one is not killed in foreign places. If you haven't seen it, I could post you a copy.
Could you clarify the distinction between mainstream cinema and world cinema for us Geoff? And why such a distinction is being made?
kia ora Chris: to properly answer your question, you probably need to have sat through the first three weeks of teaching in my second year course World Media. World cinema is a large chunk of this (we also deal with world music, TV formats; tourism etc) so I spend some time defining what it is and what it is not--and how is it generally regarded in scholarship, on-line catalogues, DVD stores (as in the world cinema section of JB's Hifi). So it is about linguisitic barriers, small nation production, subtitling and dubbing, levels of unfamiliarity, ideas of history and post-colonialism, niche marketing, audience etc. "Mainstream' is a short-hand way of referring to English (aka American) language films, globally distributed with maximum 'splash' distribution and marketing. ie Avatar, 2012 etc etc. There is, of course, another category of cross-over films (which suggests they are crossing from one circumstance to another).
This is the one course in our programme where students are more likely to encounter a wide range of the unfamiliar eg I showed them Afghan Star this week; next week it is Fine, Totally Fine (Japan 2009). Over the weeks, I can see students warm to media they might not ever encounter in their usual consumption.
I do think there is a language barrier with some Chinese students and I wonder how some pass the minimal language requirements eg I had a student in this week, who had to bring a translator for the simple task of changing tutorials. How he will deal with the complex ideas in World Media, I do not know.
I am aware too about those internet services but I also want students to experience film as it should be experienced ie larger-than-life, on giant projection screens in a darkened room.
Geoff will perhaps confirm this - we come to formal education as already very sophisticated readers of films and the such; that was certainly my experience tutoring first year film students.
Well, yes and no. Many are well versed through prior learning (to use the jargon) but some also have very limited or very naive experiences of film, or media generally. I find this especially so with my Chinese students, partly because of language problems and their limited access to film (the Chinese Govt only permits the importation of 20-25 English (aka American) features per year (setting aside the blackmarket here, of course) Currently trying to get these students to recognise the distinctions between mainstream/global cinema, and world cinema!
There are many students who come to first year courses as sophisticated readers of film and there is an extra pleasure in incorporating their knowledge into teaching--a characteristic of much media teaching, in fact.
I think I have done enough for this week--off to catch a screening of Alice in Wonderland (work and pleasure combined!).
If I wanted to analyse movies, I'd go and study film and media at university.
It ain't absolutely necessary but it can help. Can you not conceive of watching film in a number of guises, which can overlap each other ie to be immersed in the beauty of images but also disappointed by the unfolding story and silly dialogue? Personally, I find it a much richer experience when I go to the film with a mix of expectations--as a fan, as someone whose business it is to understand and teach about film, to be moved emotionally (and maybe even cry in the dark occasionally)--a whole bunch of intellectual and emotional responses, which amount to more than being 'entertained'?
Some of my favourite films, which do all these things, include Some Like It Hot, Dersu Uzala, Illustrious Energy, Leningrad Cowboys Go America...and Tremors!
One possible explanation for the surprising Best Picture Academy Award was that the Academy moved this year to a preferential voting system, rather than first-past-the-post voting which has prevailed from the beginning (previously, with the distribution of votes, a film with around 27% share of the final votes could win). This means it is now easier to shut out the James Camerons of the world. In addition, I read somewhere that the average age of Academy members is 70+. which suggests they are far removed from the dominant film audience these days (ie males 15 to 25).
Still, I was pleased that a small film won over the over-financed, over-blown, over-praised Avatar.