Amoeblog

San Francisco Silent Film Festival, May 1 – May 5

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, April 22, 2019 02:50pm | Post a Comment

The 24th San Francisco Silent Film Festival (SFSFF) runs May 1st – May 5th at the historic Castro Theatre! This year's festival features 25 programs (including an illustrated lecture presentation at the Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley), all with live musical accompaniment! There are films from ten different countries — Bali (Goona Goona), Czechoslovakia (Tonka of the Gallows), France (L’Homme Du Large), Germany (The Oyster Princess, Opium, The Love of Jeanne Ney), India (Shiraz: A Romance of India), Italy (Rapsodia Satanica, L'Inferno), Japan (Japanese Girls at the Harbor), Sweden (Sir Arne's Treasure), U.S. (Wolf Song, Husbands and Lovers, Lights of Old Broadway, Hell Bent, The Wedding March, and more), and the USSR (Earth) — and more than 40 brilliant musicians from around the world to accompany the films. Bookended by Buster Keaton classics The Cameraman (1928) and Our Hospitality (1923), the film selection has something for everyone, including melodrama, horror, adventure, westerns, and even Nordic noir.

All films at SFSFF are accompanied with live music by extraordinary musicians including Club Foot Gamelan, Frank Bockius, Guenter Buchwald, Stephen Horne, Sascha Jacobsen, Matti Bye Ensemble, Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra, Philip Carli, Wayne Barker, Utsav Lal, and Donald Sosin.

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Exodus shocker -- the latest Hollywood Bible cartoon isn't very realistic

Posted by Eric Brightwell, December 17, 2014 09:06am | Post a Comment

The other day I found out that some people are outraged by the casting in a Hollywood film -- in this case Ridley Scott's latest effort, Exodus: Days of Future Past (or whatever its full title is). They're apparently so upset that they're boycotting it, which is something I do with all but one or two Hollywood films every year although I refer to it simply as not paying to see it.

The problem that the boycotters have, it seems, is that Exodus is almost completely historically inaccurate (It's safe to guess that most of the Egyptian and Jewish characters are most portrayed by Anglo-Saxons and presumably speak Modern (if pretentious) English with a modern British accent, or approximation of one. Without having watched a trailer I'd guess that there aren't a lot of apparently Middle Eastern Africans portraying Middle Eastern Africans and the actual actors of African descent are used entirely for background color and supporting roles). 

Apparently these scandalized and offended won't-be viewers have never seen a Hollywood film before... or assumed that they'd somehow completely change their raison d'etre. Even at Hollywood's artistic peak in the 1930s, racial sensitivity and historical accuracy were not exactly hallmarks of Hollywood films -- making loads of money was, and that's what they did and they did it well. At one point Hollywood made loads of money with elaborately choreographed, brilliantly scored, escapist musicals. Nowadays Hollywood makes loads of money with loud CGI superhero cartoons. Sometimes -- rarely -- art slips through the cracks. Much more often big, dumb-looking movies like Exodus get released that look rather like the big, dumb movies that Hollywood was mostly pumped out for the last 90 years.

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Happy 30th, Criterion -- May your next 30 be even better

Posted by Eric Brightwell, November 25, 2014 11:18am | Post a Comment
Criterion is, without a doubt, the most loved video-distribution company in the video distribution game. No one (outside Korea) packages their films so beautifully and today they released a lovely, book (just in time for Christmas) of their "covers, supplemental art, and never-before-seen sketches and concept art" featured on their releases over the years called Criterion Designs. They're also beloved for their supplemental special features, which are similarly rarely paralleled, and the high quality of their restorations. There are podcasts, and subreddits, and completists devoted to the label. My only problem with them is over the films which they release -- or rather, those that they don't. 

Criterion Designs
Criterion Designs (image source: The Criterion Collection)


Criterion was launched back in 1984, when Joe Medjuck, Aleen Stein, and Robert Stein founded the company in New York City. From the get go Criterion chose films from Europe, North America, and Asia for their lovingly attentive treatment. I only became aware of the company around 1999. I recognized a lot of their films from introductory film school classes -- the canonical status of which was usually advertised by the stamp of Janus Films. At the same time, couldn't help but notice the glaring omission of ANY films from South America or Africa. When I pointed this out to Criterion loyalists and asked for their thoughts I got the following replies: "Do they make films?," "You mean like Tarzan?," and "You mean like Superfly?" My answers to all three were, "Are you *censored* kidding me?"

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Unrecognized South Asia: An introduction to the Tripuri people

Posted by Eric Brightwell, August 25, 2014 11:47am | Post a Comment
India is home to over 1.21 billion people, roughly 18% of entire human population. Indians speak Austroasiatic, Dravidian, Indo-European, and Tibeto-Burman languages (as well as two language isolates) and there are over 2,000 ethnic groups in the vast country. India's considerable diversity, however, tends to be simplified or overlooked in the west, where Hindi language Bollywood cinema becomes metonymic for the entire Indian film industry and North Indian cooking (rather than being subdivided into Awadhi, Bihari, Bhojpuri, Kumauni, Kashmiri, Punjabi, Rajasthani, or Uttarpradeshi) becomes shorthand for the cuisine of an entire subcontinent.


*****


Tripuri kids

THE TRIPURI

One of the less-widely recognized or discussed ethnic groups in India are the Tripuri (also known as the Tipra or Tipperah). They are believed to have migrated from somewhere in Western China to the Brahmaputra Valley at least 2,000 years ago -- which may sound like a long time ago but is relatively recent in a subcontinent believed to have been first settled by humans at least 70,000 years ago and another hominid species, Homo heidelbergensis, perhaps as many as 800,000 years before them. 

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Greenland --> Naalakkersuisut - And Inuit cinema and music

Posted by Eric Brightwell, July 9, 2009 10:22pm | Post a Comment
Greenlanders

Though Greenland has been home-ruled since 1979, on June 21, 2009, the Danish government made steps toward granting Greenland full independence. In a 2008 referendum, 76% of the 58,000 residents of the sparsely populated island voted for self-rule and the Danish government has been handing over control of services to the local government and making symbolic changes, like changing the official language to Kalaallisut (the Inuit language of most Greenlanders) and renaming the country Naalakkersuisut.

Satellite image of North America

Every schoolchild has at least a vague awareness of Greenland, that conspicuously white island (decidedly not green) near the top of most globes. According to Eiríks saga rauða (the saga of Eric the Red) and Íslendingabók (the book of Icelanders), the name was chosen to attract settlement by promoting Greenland as an attractive place to live.


Although part of the North American Tectonic plate, Eurocentric models of North American discovery either credit Columbus or Bjarni Herjólfsson with discovering the New World when they sighted the Caribbean and Canada, respectively. As Wikipedia's entry on the Norwegian explorer states, "Bjarni is believed to be the first European to see North America," which he did in the summer of 986 on the way to visit his parents in Greenland, and island which is itself part of North America. So Europeans (including Herjólfsson’s parents) had already "discovered" Greenland, although many before have quite reasonably questioned one's ability to discover something already known for thousands of years to many people.