August 1, 2006
A summertime question for Girish Shambu.Girish Shambu has to be one of the most fascinating personalities among film bloggers. How he manages to win teaching awards and titles as an Associate Professor of Management at Canisius College and write so eruditely about a wide range of films for publications such as Senses of Cinema and his own elegant blog and keep up with the bustling community there (a hundred comments per entry aren't uncommon) is... well, who knows. My question for Girish: "Got a summer reading recommendation for Daily readers?" Five great books that are proto-filmblogs (in alphabetical order): Robert Bresson, Notes on the Cinematographer: These epigrammatic "working memos" are brief, often no more than a sentence or two, but they are intensely evocative and occasionally elusive. Examples: "Make visible what, without you, might never have been seen," or "Don"t show all sides of things. A margin of indefiniteness." Jean Cocteau, The Art of Cinema: Like Bresson, Cocteau did not like the word "cinema," which he associated with theatre-derived practices; they both preferred the word "cinematographe." This book contains reflections on the ways in which the art of the "cinematographer" is poetic. Also, tributes to favorite performers like Chaplin and Dietrich. Jean-Luc Godard, Godard on Godard: Short reviews, essays and lists, very close in format to what we might consider blog posts today. All through, there are strong, jaw-dropping assertions and playful, free-wheeling allusions. One 1958 entry begins thus: "There was theatre (Griffith), poetry (Murnau), painting (Rossellini), dance (Eisenstein), music (Renoir). Henceforth there is cinema. And the cinema is Nicholas Ray." (Godard had just seen Bitter Victory.) Guy Maddin, From the Atelier Tovar: Daily journals, cinephilic film writings, sketches and doodles, family-album photos and that dense quasi-anachronistic purposefully purple prose that is Maddin"s delightful signature. Jonas Mekas, Movie Journal: A collection of brief pieces written between 1959 and 1971 for a Village Voice column. The tone is conversational, polemical, exhilarated, cranky, passionate. The first entry, "Call For a Derangement of Cinematic Senses," grabs you by the lapels: "Every breaking away from the conventional, dead, official cinema is a healthy sign. We need less perfect and more free films." This book might be the proto-filmblog par excellence.
Posted by dwhudson at August 1, 2006 2:49 PM