Wednesday, March 16, 2005
Hotel Rwanda

Hotel Rwanda

Memory, Witness, and Departure

Alone in its genre, this film asks the ancient question of being our brothers’
  keeper in a way we might actually hear and respond to.

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Wednesday, March 09, 2005
Toy Story 2

Toy Story 2

A Tale of Two Cities

A playful Augustinian meditation on the true nature of love and identity

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Other Recent Long Stuff

A Serious Man
Up
Sympathy for the Devil
Watchmen
The Maltese Falcon
Neo’s Passport
The Dark Knight
A Copy of a Copy of a Copy
The Dreamers
The Dreamers

Books to Phlog

Understanding Jaques EllulUnderstanding Jacques Ellul, by Greenman, Schuchardt, and Toly, will be of special interest to Metaphilm readers as Jacques Ellul understood cinema as one of the chief tools of propaganda used by the state to distract the masses from that which matters.

Metaphlog

Thursday, March 31, 2005

What Kind of Doctor Are You?

The message on the phone said, “Dr. Schuchardt…  I’m calling because I’m having trouble with my bowels—I mean VOWELS.  I was wondering if you had any herbs—I mean VERBS—to recommend.  Also, the fluidity of my nose—I mean PROSE—wait, just what kind of doctor are you anyway?”  Turns out it was my sister-in-law, congratulating me on the completion of a ten-year odyssey in graduate school.  Officially it’s a Doctor of Philosophy, a Ph.D. in Media Ecology from NYU, and it’s finally over thanks to this week’s successful defense of my dissertation on the medieval genealogy of much of American corporate symbolism and iconography.  Metaphilm readers are to be thanked for their ongoing patience with the site while this was going on—you can expect more regular content updates from now on, and a big announcement early this summer of something both new and exciting at Metaphilm.

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Thursday, March 17, 2005

And you thought WE took movies seriously.

While we’re on the subject of cinema as the new cathedral, here’s the historical two-step argument that gets you there: 1.) psychiatry is the new religion, and 2.) cinema is simply (therefore) the new psychotherapy. If Paul Vitz was right all along, then cinematherapy is just catching up.  Somebody want to write a piece called, “Hey—it’s just a movie!”? Meanwhile, take a minute to look up the etymology of the word “therapy”—some pretty interesting reading in the “things come full circle” department.

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Thursday, March 10, 2005

13, 1977, 21

In Jonathan Lethem’s imminent new arrival, The Disappointment Artist, the author includes an essay describing his glorious and melancholic achievement, at age 13, in 1977, of how he saw Star Wars 21 times. A beautiful meditation by all accounts, made all the more rich by the inclusion of this line that reveals Lethem to be a default Metaphilm phan: “I still go to the movies alone, all the time. In the absenting of self which results—so different from the quality of solitude at my writing desk—this seems to me as near as I come in my life to any reverent or worshipful or meditational practice.” Be sure to also read “Two or Three Things I Dunno About Cassavetes”—further evidence that a film’s value (especially a complex or troubling film) is greatly enhanced by thoughtful writing. Lethem offers many fine words about many fine film images, and Metaphilm readers won’t want to miss them.

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Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Marxtrix

Just getting through a major back-log of e-mail and came across this link to a blog entry by Mike Lynch in Sydney on The Matrix. “The Matrix is a metaphor for capitalism, under which humans (the proletariat) are kept in a state of passive illusion (false consciousness) while the machines (the bourgeois) feed off their ‘energy’ (alienated labour). That’s why the humans-as-batteries scenario is necessary, even though it’s just silly in science-fiction terms - for the metaphor to work, the bad guys have to be stealing the labour of the good guys.” Funny and oddly satisfying . . .

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Monday, March 07, 2005

Clint Eastwood’s Euthanasia Movie

Village Voice columnist Nat Hentoff’s recent syndicated column discusses the message and interpretation of Million Dollar Baby. He raises sobering questions (and evokes Monty Python and the Holy Grail—“not dead yet”) about the responsibility of those who argue through appeals to emotion: “New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, who vainly aspires to being a moral philosopher, wrote scathingly of those who revealed the ending: ‘The purpose of art is not always to send messages.’ But Million Dollar Baby has a message, which is clear—and deadly.

Professor Thomas Hibbs has a more nuanced reading in National Review, suggesting that the larger problem is that the film is Nietzschean. Comparing the movie (unfavorably) to Dostoevsky and Mystic River, he argues that Million Dollar Baby “is an offensive film, not so much because of any subversive political agenda, but because of the way it wallows in the physical and spiritual degradation of its main characters”.

And Metaphilm reader Robert Lindsey points us to a piece on Townhall by a writer named Brian Collar who suggests, in line with Dr. Hibbs, that the film is part of the larger clash within American culture: “One segment of society contends that the enduring spirit of mankind can overcome emptiness, while another teaches that life is a nihilistic exercise in time.”

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Why There Are So Many Doors in Movies

Mitchell Stephens at NYU has an article, originally published in the Columbia Journalism Review, considering the advance of technology and media as illustrated by the number of doors in various versions of The Postman Always Rings Twice.A new medium usually has to overcome a strong tendency to devote itself almost entirely to the products of the much more respected older medium it is imitating. Only then can it come up with original products of its own. Writing had to do more than preserve the ancient epics. Printing had to do more than make the old handwritten manuscripts accessible. Film and television had (have) to do more than aim cameras at plays.

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Other Recent Phlogs

Filming In Tongues
Martin Scorsese’s parents were aliterate
This Again—At A Theater Near You
Bollywood Directors and the “Cut To Switzerland”
The Constant Traveler
Save the Movies from Save The Cat!
Propaganda, A Primer
It may actually be long After Midnight
Dirty Wars playing, then disappearing, at a theater near you
Luke’s Change:  An Inside Job
What Does Hollywood Have to Do with Jerusalem?
There are only fourteen books worth reading each year
Why Are Foreign Films So… Foreign?
Tree of Life Shooting Locations in Smithville, Texas
The Movie Theater is Officially Dead
If 2001 Came Out in 2012
Apple’s New iPhone Best Explained by the Movie The Prestige
You know You’ve Seen Star Wars Too Many Times When…
When Search Engine Metrics Get… Awkward
The Cinema IS the New Cathedral