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What I'm Watching This Weekend


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Since signing up with HULU PLUS a week or two ago, I'm embarrassed to admit how many times I've sat in front of the tv, clicking through the ridiculous options on the Criterion channel, and ended up watching nothing because I was overwhelmed by the options. (Someone needs to coin a term for that experience.)

I hate when that happens; I call it 'option overload', but you could probably think of a better descriptive term.

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Darren H wrote:

: Since signing up with HULU PLUS a week or two ago, I'm embarrassed to admit how many times I've sat in front of the tv, clicking through the ridiculous options on the Criterion channel, and ended up watching nothing because I was overwhelmed by the options. (Someone needs to coin a term for that experience.)

This isn't *quite* the same thing, but I can remember how, before I bought my first cell phone 14 years ago, I studied all the available options and then narrowed them down to three or four possibilities, at which point I turned to my dad for advice, and he asked if I was suffering from "analysis paralysis".

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Analysis paralysis. Well, it's not quite the same, but I love it. I have family members for whom it's virtually a constant, and who seem to spend half their lives researching the respective merits of laptops/phones/cameras etc which they might/mightn't buy.

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It's just like my years-long indecisiveness about which ereader to buy: Kindle or Nook? Nook or Kindle?

Finally, I chose the Nook. Bought it on Cyber Monday -- only weeks before the bottom fell out of the Nook business!

Edited by Christian

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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Have you finished going through Bunuel, Darren? Whom are you thinking of doing next?

"A great film is one that to some degree frees the viewer from this passive stupor and engages him or her in a creative process of viewing. The dynamic must be two-way. The great film not only comes at the viewer, it draws the viewer toward it." -Paul Schrader

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I finished up Pruitt-Igoe Myth (thanks, John) and then, looking at a stack of screeners from recent years I'd set out so that I don't completely forget about them forever, put on Bronson, which was quite ... something.

Dardennes double feature (Rosetta and The Son) today at the National Gallery of Art, but I'm not sure I'll get to it. I have brunch plans that might push up against the time required to get downtown to the NGA.

UPDATE: Didn't make it. Brunch was lovely but went til nearly 2 p.m. I could've headed downtown for The Son, but my wife said she'd prefer if I stuck around today, which is fine. Like I said, I have The Son on a letterboxed VHS.

Edited by Christian

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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Since signing up with HULU PLUS a week or two ago, I'm embarrassed to admit how many times I've sat in front of the tv, clicking through the ridiculous options on the Criterion channel, and ended up watching nothing because I was overwhelmed by the options. (Someone needs to coin a term for that experience.)

I had this exact experience about two weeks ago (even including signing up for Hulu Plus). I'll get back to you if I come up with a term for it.

Darren H. said:

My preference is to watch a lot of films by a particular director

I've done this from time to time in the last couple of years because I gravitate to that approach, too. But this year I'm planning to be a bit more intentional about it. Hoping to even work through some related books while watching through a particular director's films.

"What is inside is also outside." -Goethe via Merleau-Ponty, in conclusion to the latter's one extended rumination on film
Filmwell, Twitter, & Letterboxd

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Since signing up with HULU PLUS a week or two ago, I'm embarrassed to admit how many times I've sat in front of the tv, clicking through the ridiculous options on the Criterion channel, and ended up watching nothing because I was overwhelmed by the options. (Someone needs to coin a term for that experience.)

I had this exact experience about two weeks ago (even including signing up for Hulu Plus). I'll get back to you if I come up with a term for it.

The same thing happens to me with Netflix. Sometimes I'll even start a movie, then stop it because I'm sure I could find a better movie if I kept looking a little longer.

It's the side effects that save us.
--The National, "Graceless"
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Since signing up with HULU PLUS a week or two ago, I'm embarrassed to admit how many times I've sat in front of the tv, clicking through the ridiculous options on the Criterion channel, and ended up watching nothing because I was overwhelmed by the options. (Someone needs to coin a term for that experience.)

I had this exact experience about two weeks ago (even including signing up for Hulu Plus). I'll get back to you if I come up with a term for it.

The same thing happens to me with Netflix. Sometimes I'll even start a movie, then stop it because I'm sure I could find a better movie if I kept looking a little longer.

Ditto. It's even more paralyzing when there are at least three or four shows you want to catch up in their entirety (in my case, Buffy, Angel, X-Files, TNG, The Hour, just to start).

I think I'd like to call this feeling "netflux."

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Have you finished going through Bunuel, Darren? Whom are you thinking of doing next?

Yeah, I watched Bunuel throughout last winter and spring. I think I ended up seeing 20-25 films, most of which were new to me. The big revelations were all from his Mexican, studio-era period, especially Death in the Garden (one of my favorite viewing experiences of 2012), El, and The Criminal Life of Archibaldo de la Cruz. I'd planned to follow up Bunuel with Renoir, but I lost momentum over the summer. Late-winter/early-spring seems to be the best time for me to take on one of these projects. On Saturday I watched Plague of the Gods (amazing!), which I think will kick off my Fassbinder season.

Hoping to even work through some related books while watching through a particular director's films.

I can't recommend this highly enough. My general strategy is to read one critical biography, one book-length work of criticism, and, if possible, everything written by the director. Then I queue up as many films as possible and watch them in sequence.

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Hoping to even work through some related books while watching through a particular director's films.

I can't recommend this highly enough. My general strategy is to read one critical biography, one book-length work of criticism, and, if possible, everything written by the director. Then I queue up as many films as possible and watch them in sequence.

So you do most of your reading prior to watching the films, then? That's what I had in mind, but I also wasn't sure about it.

"What is inside is also outside." -Goethe via Merleau-Ponty, in conclusion to the latter's one extended rumination on film
Filmwell, Twitter, & Letterboxd

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That was a bad use of "then" in my last sentence. No, I'm not that organized. I tend to read it all as I'm watching the films. So, for example, I'll read a chapter or two about John Ford's early years at Fox studios and then watch whatever's available from that era. Then, after watching a particular film, I'll dig through bits of criticism about it.

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Ah, ok. That makes sense. Well, my first big undertaking of this sort is Kieślowski. Saving up to get Kickasola's The Liminal Image, Zizek's The Fright of Real Tears, Insdorf's Double Lives, Second Chances, and Kieślowski on Kieślowski. Oh, and hoping that if Criterion ever plans on making any sort of Decalogue announcement, they do it in the next month.

I was initially idealizing doing this sort of focused work of reading while watching (and rewatching) for 5 directors a year or so. Now I'm wondering if something like 2-3 will prove to be more feasible. Can't wait to dive in with Kieślowski though.

"What is inside is also outside." -Goethe via Merleau-Ponty, in conclusion to the latter's one extended rumination on film
Filmwell, Twitter, & Letterboxd

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I suppose it all comes down to how much time you have to devote to a project. It took me three months to watch 20 Bunuel films because I rarely see more than two films a week, and I always balance the director study films with other newer releases. I say emphasize depth over breadth. Take exactly as long as it takes to watch the films meaningfully. If you find yourself sitting down to check a film off of a list, it's time to slow down or take a break from the project.

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Yeah, I definitely agree. That's certainly one of the points of this: I don't want to just go through as many great films as fast as I can with little or no meaningful interaction. I really want to steep myself in the great directors' work (and, perhaps more narrowly, in the great directors who I really want to watch), and any significant criticism of that work. And I hope to conclude with a significant article or series of articles after watching (and, I'm sure, rewatching) the films. I think this end goal will necessarily prevent me from moving on in a check-it-off-the-list manner.

You're right, too, that a lot of the timing with this will come down to how much personal time I have. These will be side projects to the writing on current film releases that I do for CaPC and other places.

"What is inside is also outside." -Goethe via Merleau-Ponty, in conclusion to the latter's one extended rumination on film
Filmwell, Twitter, & Letterboxd

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Nick, I'm currently going through Kieslowski as well, though I tend to get through these projects very slowly these days. I've got the last two books on your list and, like Darren, I tend to read as I go. You may already know, but there's a great set of Kieslowski's documentaries available in region 2. I don't know your region capability or budget, but it looks like some good deals can be had on the set at UK's Amazon. I've got the set, and the docs make for an interesting counterpoint to his later fiction work.

All great art is pared down to the essential.
--Henri Langlois

 

Movies are not barium enemas, you're not supposed to get them over with as quickly as possible.

--James Gray

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You may already know, but there's a great set of Kieslowski's documentaries available in region 2. I don't know your region capability or budget, but it looks like some good deals can be had on the set at UK's Amazon. I've got the set, and the docs make for an interesting counterpoint to his later fiction work.

I didn't know this, John. So thanks for directing my attention to it. Much appreciated.

"What is inside is also outside." -Goethe via Merleau-Ponty, in conclusion to the latter's one extended rumination on film
Filmwell, Twitter, & Letterboxd

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Nick, I'm just finishing up going through Kieślowski. I have 3 more episodes of THE DECALOGUE, and last fall I watched DOUBLE LIFE and the THREE COLORS. It's been spread out of over 3-4 months, but I feel like these films deserve. I couldn't binge on THE DECALOGUE first go through.

I suppose next I need to track down NO END and BLIND CHANCE.

"A director must live with the fact that his work will be called to judgment by someone who has never seen a film of Murnau's." - François Truffaut

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Let me echo the love for Camera Buff, definitely my favorite of the early, pre-Decalogue fiction features.

All great art is pared down to the essential.
--Henri Langlois

 

Movies are not barium enemas, you're not supposed to get them over with as quickly as possible.

--James Gray

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Hoping to even work through some related books while watching through a particular director's films.

I can't recommend this highly enough. My general strategy is to read one critical biography, one book-length work of criticism, and, if possible, everything written by the director. Then I queue up as many films as possible and watch them in sequence.

I have done a highly disorganized, undisciplined version of this a few times in the four years since I graduated from college, first with Kubrick, then Welles, and now De Palma. I've found the approach to be very rewarding.

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