cutting on the action

photography and film – facts, ideas, values


Hanif Kureishi

Interview in Thresholds, International short story forum

wiki:Hanif Kureishi

wrote the screenplay for My Beautiful Laundrette [1986].

A BBC TV adaptation [1993], The Buddha of Suburbia from his novel of the same name.

October 12, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

FILM DOCUMENTARY Shooting occupied Wall Street

Shooting occupied Wall Street

Stewart Nusbaumer, Filmmaker Magazine 10 October 2011

….40 film shooters for 99 Percent: The Occupy Wall Street Collaborative Film. A cooperative documentary project of independent filmmakers – directors, producers, editors and cinematographers, professionals and amateurs – who are documenting the quickly expanding grassroots protest movement in New York and across the country.

October 11, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

FILM Werner Hertzog’s Rogue film school

Werner Herzog’s Rogue Film School

A publicity clip of a few mins, in which he mentions the way film-makers read a lot. And that if you don’t read you will never make a film-maker. And that Scorsese’s got a librarian. Good reason to get stinking rich, that.

Obviously, you can read a lot and not be a film-maker, but we know what he means. Which is unexpected, if not strange, because you would think visual people get visual ideas from visuals, like other films. Well of course they do, too. Quite a few film-makers of note have written of spending all day watching films in their youth: Truffault and Godard come to mind. And Spielberg.

October 8, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment


source: {1}

► My theory is that deceit does not require language. To lie, you have to make a statement. You have to say something in words for it to be a lie. But deceit only requires misdirection. All it requires is the intent to have someone think something that is different from what you believe. ◄

► One of the nice things about Cambridge, Massachusetts is that ‘Baudrillard’ isn’t in the phone book. ◄

Errol Morris: Biography from his website

Wiki : Errol Morris

Famous for documentary The Thin Blue Line (1988) and

The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara (2003)

He’s written a 5-part article:

Did My Brother Invent E-Mail With Tom Van Vleck? (Part One)

Errol Morris, New York Times, 19 June 2011

If the link doesn’t work, you may have to register with NYT.

“Believing Is Seeing”: Truth, lies and photographs

–The director of “The Thin Blue Line” investigates five famous accusations of photographic fraud

Laura Miller, Salon 29 August 2011

Errol has written a book Believing Is Seeing (Observations on the Mysteries of Photography)

Book review: ‘Believing Is Seeing (Observations on the Mysteries of Photography)’
–Enigmatic filmmaker Errol Morris doesn’t arrive at comforting conclusions in his six essays on visual art and artifice.

Reed Johnson, Los Angeles Times, 28August 2011


Believing Is Seeing

Errol Morris, NYT 13 July 2008 [short]

Seven Lies About Lying (Part 1)

Errol Morris, NYT, 5 August 2009

Photography as a Weapon

Errol Morris, NYT, 11 August 2008

Cartesian Blogging, Part Three

Errol Morris, NYT, 12 November 2008 [replies to comments in Photography as a Weapon]

Recovering Reality: A Conversation with Errol Morris for the Columbia Journalism Review.

YouTube: 8 mins

Werner Herzog and Errol Morris (1 of 4)

A very shaky home video which you’d be best to treat as a radio prog. No close-ups. Just a recording of two men on a platform, wobbling and gyrating and mostly out of focus. Which I love, because here’s a person in an Audience With (so far unknown..) who admires these two men and wants to record what they say on video, but fails to live up to the two directors film skills both, while admiring their film and book talk.

Mirabile dictu, the sound quality is quite good, if a bit hissy at times. Both are clear. Two different sources, probably. The guy with the little video camera -we joke- didn’t go on to be a film-maker (in his epilogue…) and use a tripod, or chuck it and buy an anti-shake DVC. Or just learn that thing of relaxing and letting the camera float at the end of the arm.

Errol Morris #8

Describes on video an opportunity to write for The New York Times, when thought he was permanently blocked – for 40 years ! – which allowed him, in the process of writing, to develop projects that were unfinished or he thought might not come to fruition.

October 5, 2011 Posted by | Errol Morris, film directors, film documentary, photography | , | Leave a comment

FILM We’re all film-makers now (supposedly) ♦ Film policy review by department from Culture ♦

We’re all film-makers now – and the Smith review must recognise that

–Studying film is still often seen as lightweight. But in 2011 it’s arguably as important as literature and science

Don Boyd, Guardian, 25 September 2011

Quote 1:

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport has initiated a fresh review of film policy under the chairmanship of Chris Smith. The words “film” and “policy” have rarely been comfortable cultural bedfellows in Britain. Ever since the Cinematograph Films Act of 1927, successive governments have attempted to make laws that help the “film industry” thrive with a variety of measures, which have included establishing trade quotas to restrict US control of the entire production, distribution and exhibition process (a problem that has never been solved). Rarely have these policies considered the wider implications of what film represents. If this timely review is to be worth its salt it must recommend a radical and daring approach for government and the British Film Institute, which has inherited the recently disbanded UK Film Council’s mantle.

Quote 2:

But beyond all this, the BFI, Smith and the government have one vital responsibility. As well as continuing to encourage university-level film education, they must fund a comprehensive system to empower schools to teach film to children.

October 4, 2011 Posted by | BFI, Cinematograph Films Act [1927], film [its techniques], UK film policy | , , | Leave a comment

FILM POLANSKI ♦ A 4-part series of essays in Press Play ♦



By Serena Bramble and Simon Abrams



By Steven Santos


LIFE’S WORK: THE FILMS OF ROMAN POLANSKI – Chapter 3: Uniting the Fragments: Cul-de-Sac

By Jose Gallegos


LIFE’S WORK: THE FILMS OF ROMAN POLANSKI – Chapter 4: Chinatown: Frames and Lenses

By Jim Emerson



written Matt Zoller Seitz and Kim Morgam

If you came to these essays from Jim Emerson’s post:

Polanski’s Chinatown: A dream analysis

You might be a bit confused as to why the set wasn’t all laid out somewhere for easy access. I’ve put them all together with full titles and authors.

If you’re filmic, cinematographic – or just a film theorist – try to see that space between texts is as important as space inside film frames. Why write about film,which is about the visual aesthetic as much it is about narrative, with a poorly designed and poorly laid out, cramped web page with tiny ‘here’ links: make the links longer – spell out what the link refers to. That’s good interpretation. You know what’s there but they don’t till they get there.

And don’t cram text up against stills. Give them a few lines above and below to let them breath. If we are going to argue film here, it has to be { movie –> stills –> text } in order of priority. Unless your initials are JLG. Then you are allowed to jumble them all together in all sorts of combinations and priorities.

Don’t forget some will come to a film page intent on devouring images not words. So make it a dual track process like (UK readers will understand…) a Rupert the Bear album, with three layers like an all-in-one-page hypertext: Young non-readers follow the story with the pictures; beginners use the captions; experienced readers use the text.

The HTML code BR is simple to use. Add a few more lines between writing and images, and let the links stand out. Lesson over.

Jim’s video is great fun to watch if you are a Chinatown obsessive, especially the silent version of the Chinaman Joke sequence, where one gets an even clearer understanding of the way the shots were cut together than with dialogue.

Script writer Robert Townes appears in episode 5 of Mark Cousin’s The Story of Film on UK Channel 4.

There are a thousand ways to string together a few dozen short scenes and stills from Chinatown. Thankfully.

October 4, 2011 Posted by | Chinatown, Polanski | Leave a comment

TV ♦ Channel 4 ♦ 4OD ♦ The Story of Film: An Odyssey ♦

The Story of Film: An Odyssey

This the 4OD catch-up page : episodes 1-5 still available as of 2 October 2011

Bought the BCA edition of Cousins’ book when it came out in 2004. It’s full of information and ideas, but I find it a difficult book to read because there isn’t enough space around the text. Simply highlighting all the film titles would make a great difference.

Weighing in at 1.2 kg of fine paper the 612 pages of The Story of Film (no ‘An Odyssey’ subtitle), including index and picture credits, they had to pack it all in, but it looses out though a something not quite right visual interpretative choice of layout. All of which is paradoxical since it’s about a visual medium. Plenty of nice graphics, including many in colour. Maybe the other editions have better visual impact. Though it’s a wonderful, heavy glossy large-format paperback, with a good proportion of colour photos to go with the colour films they represent. For me I think one simple change would have made it o.k. Print all the film titles in bold, so that you could, can. skate over the text, from title to title from time to time, reverentially almost touching them, one after another in a quasi-religious way, as if these were mentions of God’s name in the Torah. What do you need to do with this book? To be able to open it somewhere and find the line of films, trace it through and stop at the one you want , read about it, say Renoir’s Regle de Jeu, and then move on. They would stand out from the page rather a lot, but in the case of text (as opposed to film) functionality should come first over looks. Note, however, I haven’t used bold for titles! Just might come back an make the titles bold to make my point.

Interestingly, The Story of Film documentary, though taking each era and new technique chronologically as he does in the book – mixing directors from different countries as the themes are followed, and occasional looping forward in time to later films and directors, and then back, to make points – doesn’t really allow you to sit with the book picking out more detail at each stage as you watch. Some of the book is re-jigged or missed out altogether, not unexpectedly. Going back to the book after the series is over, will be like a re-editing of the documentary, with a rapidly fading image of film sequences not quite tallying with the text and photos. Although if you are a film buff, these clips seem to stick in mind like glue somehow. Probably get full marks on depth of field in a large proportion of them, for example.

In episode 5, which I have just watched, Cousins mentions Carney in Scarface[1932]: how the American critics of the time concentrated on the wrongness of the character Cagney portrays showing such glee in his badness.

Coincidentally just read H. L. Mencken’s The Homiletics of Criticism which in mind nicely dovetails with this remark by Cousin’s about film criticism. This is a cultural thing which pretty much still exists: modern Hollywood movies are still treated by critics as if they are moral tracts first – the homilies of homiletics – and visual aesthetic experiences second. So a film, say in the invasion of Iraq in 2003, will be criticised heavily for unsympathetic portrayals of soldiers before it is assessed as a whole. First and foremost is the making sure the myth of America is playing out correctly, or corrected if deemed wrong, and second is the truth of an artistic portrayal. So try to stick to film experts for critiques!

Cousin’s film essay is perfectly understandable, though I find I’m again taking a fragmentary approach, as I did with Godard’sHistoire[s], picking out bits here and there, preferring to enjoy the visual spectacle of so many film clips, artily and artfully edited together. This is pretty much what you have to do with Godard: going back again and again to slowly bring out the complexities. You’re not quite sure some of the time what his position is, let alone having an answer if you find you disagree!

Luckily, in The Story of Film we don’t have to endure subtitles in English and the traditional Godard dense verbal overlay in French – plus translations of the textual montages on screen! – which rather defeats the purpose for non-French speakers. Though to help with Godard there is the nice tabulation (in French but at least written down to take ones time over translating and sorting, which I have found an linked to in a earlier post Jean-Luc Godard’s Histoire(s) du Cinéma. If you can’t find it amongst all the other things in there, it’s La « partition » des Histoire(s) du cinéma de Jean-Luc Godard by Céline Scemama. In that post there is a snip of the first page of the schema, so that it’s possible to see at a glance how this might help to unravel the complexity of Godard.

Cousin’s delivery is so measured as to make it impossible to miss a single word. Godard almost seems to be ‘colour-blind’ about narrative can blot out visuals, like a mobile phone-call can as one is driving. Or maybe, rather, Godard knows very well that it does have this effect, but chooses to do it nonetheless, because he requires this conflict in the viewing/listening experience. He’s not there to give you an easy ride. That, I feel (other have said) is because Godard is really a novelist manqué. He gives preference to the textual (in his case not only texts on screen – including montages of words and parts of words – but texts read out) as if he were unsure he trusts film on it’s own. If it isn’t that – and I’ve a lot of reading to do on Godard – then his oeuvre as a whole (with exceptions) is a long, drawn-out essay on the limits and difficulties of film. Which is fair enough. And why so many are intrigued with him.

What I’m looking forward to (I’m just off to watch episode 5 of the Story of Film) is to see how he tackles the New Wave, Godard in particular. Is he going to uses film techniques to mirror Godard’s style? Well, probably not. But the clips he uses to illustrate his points will be great fun.

October 3, 2011 Posted by | Godard, Mark Cousins, The Story of Film: An Odyssey | , | Leave a comment