Bright Wall/Dark Room.
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Excerpt from the new issue: Christopher Fraser on Monsters University:
"Now that a couple of years have passed, I wonder what sort of person I might have become had I chosen a different path through university. The scene where dozens of societies are vying for Mike’s attention is painfully familiar to me. I ended up sticking with a couple of societies devoted to hollow student activism and edited a student fiction anthology, but as it happens I found my inspiration elsewhere. Had I been a little more gutsy, I might have gotten into improv. If I drank more, I could have tolerated the long-haired headbangers. If I hadn’t fallen in love with someone who had the audacity to live three thousand miles away, I might have been on some ludicrous gap year to Kenya.
I think, once you get to college, your opportunities for really screwing up are beginning to dry up. Even if you drop out, it’s never as damning a sentence as failing high school. These alternative, parallel-universe versions of me are interesting, certainly, but no more appealing than the life I ended up living. There is a version of me who is chained to the gates of an arms manufacturer and believes he is doing God’s work. There is, almost definitely, a parallel life where I’m backpacking around North Africa, intoxicated by a dozen new experiences every day. But instead, I spent my time at university solidifying a relationship, and then moved to the USA and got married once it was over. This version of me is just as happy as the rest.”
(To read the rest of this essay, subscribe to Bright Wall/Dark Room for just $2/month or $20/year)

Excerpt from the new issue: Christopher Fraser on Monsters University:

"Now that a couple of years have passed, I wonder what sort of person I might have become had I chosen a different path through university. The scene where dozens of societies are vying for Mike’s attention is painfully familiar to me. I ended up sticking with a couple of societies devoted to hollow student activism and edited a student fiction anthology, but as it happens I found my inspiration elsewhere. Had I been a little more gutsy, I might have gotten into improv. If I drank more, I could have tolerated the long-haired headbangers. If I hadn’t fallen in love with someone who had the audacity to live three thousand miles away, I might have been on some ludicrous gap year to Kenya.

I think, once you get to college, your opportunities for really screwing up are beginning to dry up. Even if you drop out, it’s never as damning a sentence as failing high school. These alternative, parallel-universe versions of me are interesting, certainly, but no more appealing than the life I ended up living. There is a version of me who is chained to the gates of an arms manufacturer and believes he is doing God’s work. There is, almost definitely, a parallel life where I’m backpacking around North Africa, intoxicated by a dozen new experiences every day. But instead, I spent my time at university solidifying a relationship, and then moved to the USA and got married once it was over. This version of me is just as happy as the rest.”

(To read the rest of this essay, subscribe to Bright Wall/Dark Room for just $2/month or $20/year)

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Excerpt from the new issue: Sara Gray on Notes on a Scandal (2006):
"I resent how our culture has taught men to gaze at women’s bodies with entitlement, dividing their wholeness into breasts, thighs, legs: lumps of pretty meat to use and eat. But now I know a little of how men feel, for I, too, have found myself objectifying my coworker with my gaze. I’m not proud of it. Lucas wears the top few buttons of his shirt open, and there, beneath the hollow of his throat, I can see a tuft of hair that hints at a thick swath covering his chest and belly. I have to consciously avert my eyes from that tuft, because if I don’t, I will stare at it and yearn to touch it instead of listening to him ask for a travel application. "Eyes up," I chide myself, but moving my gaze directly up to his is just as dizzying. His eyes are so blue. When he looks back at me, words turn to marbles in my throat, and I have to swallow them down, hard. The only time I indulge myself is when he turns his back on me. In those stolen moments, I can take in the wondrous line of his thin hips. I toe the edge of a precipice with each furtive glance.
I don’t know why I long for Lucas when I’m so happy to be engaged to the man I love. I fret over this often. It’s unfair. Why can’t I have such lustful feelings for my fiancé? He’s still the same handsome guy I fell for back in the first frantic months of our courtship. Our relationship has since deepened into an abiding, comfortable intimacy; we laugh at each other’s farts and baby talk to the dog. I worry I take too much advantage of this intimacy when I tell him about Lucas. I fear I am being cruel, but I also fear that if I keep my lust to myself, it will fester and metastasize. He just holds me and tells me I’m being too hard on myself. “You’re only human,” he says, his hands gentle on my neck and back. “It’s ok to want other people. Just let them alone, and keep telling me the truth.”
Easier said than done, at least for Sheba Hart (Cate Blanchett). Like me, she too teeters on the cliffs of desire, though she has it much worse than I do. Her obscure object is Steven (Andrew Simpson), a fifteen-year-old student with a Scottish burr and freckles. After scoring a goal in the schoolyard, he whips off his shirt and points at her. This one’s for you, Miss. It’s difficult to tell if he’s referring to the goal or his sculptural half-nakedness, but the effect is the same on Sheba either way. I recognize the pain in her eyes: longing, shot through with resentment. As we age, we must sweat and diet and discipline ourselves into beauty, but the young just miraculously are, like Venus emerging from the sea.”

(this essay is currently featured in the September issue of Bright Wall/Dark Room and is also available to read, in its entirety, over at RogerEbert.com)

Excerpt from the new issue: Sara Gray on Notes on a Scandal (2006):

"I resent how our culture has taught men to gaze at women’s bodies with entitlement, dividing their wholeness into breasts, thighs, legs: lumps of pretty meat to use and eat. But now I know a little of how men feel, for I, too, have found myself objectifying my coworker with my gaze. I’m not proud of it. Lucas wears the top few buttons of his shirt open, and there, beneath the hollow of his throat, I can see a tuft of hair that hints at a thick swath covering his chest and belly. I have to consciously avert my eyes from that tuft, because if I don’t, I will stare at it and yearn to touch it instead of listening to him ask for a travel application. "Eyes up," I chide myself, but moving my gaze directly up to his is just as dizzying. His eyes are so blue. When he looks back at me, words turn to marbles in my throat, and I have to swallow them down, hard. The only time I indulge myself is when he turns his back on me. In those stolen moments, I can take in the wondrous line of his thin hips. I toe the edge of a precipice with each furtive glance.

I don’t know why I long for Lucas when I’m so happy to be engaged to the man I love. I fret over this often. It’s unfair. Why can’t I have such lustful feelings for my fiancé? He’s still the same handsome guy I fell for back in the first frantic months of our courtship. Our relationship has since deepened into an abiding, comfortable intimacy; we laugh at each other’s farts and baby talk to the dog. I worry I take too much advantage of this intimacy when I tell him about Lucas. I fear I am being cruel, but I also fear that if I keep my lust to myself, it will fester and metastasize. He just holds me and tells me I’m being too hard on myself. “You’re only human,” he says, his hands gentle on my neck and back. “It’s ok to want other people. Just let them alone, and keep telling me the truth.”

Easier said than done, at least for Sheba Hart (Cate Blanchett). Like me, she too teeters on the cliffs of desire, though she has it much worse than I do. Her obscure object is Steven (Andrew Simpson), a fifteen-year-old student with a Scottish burr and freckles. After scoring a goal in the schoolyard, he whips off his shirt and points at her. This one’s for you, Miss. It’s difficult to tell if he’s referring to the goal or his sculptural half-nakedness, but the effect is the same on Sheba either way. I recognize the pain in her eyes: longing, shot through with resentment. As we age, we must sweat and diet and discipline ourselves into beauty, but the young just miraculously are, like Venus emerging from the sea.”

(this essay is currently featured in the September issue of Bright Wall/Dark Room and is also available to read, in its entirety, over at RogerEbert.com)

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“This fellow Keaton seems to be the whole show!”
-The Playroom, 1921.

This fellow Keaton seems to be the whole show!”

-The Playroom, 1921.

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1 week ago
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"The things we say can carry meaning we never acknowledge until someone else points it out. After Neruda recites a poem about the ocean, Mario tells him, “I felt like a boat tossing about on those words.”
The poet smiles. “You’ve invented a metaphor.”
“But it doesn’t count because I didn’t mean to,” Mario says.
“Meaning to is not important,” the poet says.
Mario asks the Poet to help him win the heart of the beautiful girl who works in the town’s single cafe. Beatrice Russo (Maria Grazia Cucinotta), described in stilted awe, her name a soft shh in the postman’s mouth. The poet says he cannot help, but Mario borrows his poems anyhow and recites them to Beatrice as if they are his own. Later, he blames the poet for all the trouble love can cause. It’s your fault I fell in love, the postman says. But you had no right to use my words, the poet says. But poems don’t belong to the person who writes them, Mario argues, they belong to the person who needs them most.”
—Elisabeth Geier on Il Postino
(Bright Wall/Dark Room, Issue #16, September 2014)

"The things we say can carry meaning we never acknowledge until someone else points it out. After Neruda recites a poem about the ocean, Mario tells him, “I felt like a boat tossing about on those words.”

The poet smiles. “You’ve invented a metaphor.”

“But it doesn’t count because I didn’t mean to,” Mario says.

“Meaning to is not important,” the poet says.

Mario asks the Poet to help him win the heart of the beautiful girl who works in the town’s single cafe. Beatrice Russo (Maria Grazia Cucinotta), described in stilted awe, her name a soft shh in the postman’s mouth. The poet says he cannot help, but Mario borrows his poems anyhow and recites them to Beatrice as if they are his own. Later, he blames the poet for all the trouble love can cause. It’s your fault I fell in love, the postman says. But you had no right to use my words, the poet says. But poems don’t belong to the person who writes them, Mario argues, they belong to the person who needs them most.”

Elisabeth Geier on Il Postino

(Bright Wall/Dark Room, Issue #16, September 2014)

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Some Notes on Stranger Than Paradise (by Jim Jarmusch, March 1984)

"While shooting the film someone outside the production asked me what kind of film we were making. I wanted to tell them that it was a ”semi-neorealist black-comedy in the style of an imaginary Eastern-European film director obsessed with Ozu and familiar with the 1950’s American television show ‘The Honeymooners’”. Instead I mumbled something about it being a minimal story about Hungarian immigrants and their view of America. Neither answer is right, but the question made me aware that its easier to talk about the style of the film than ‘what its about’, or what happens in the story.

I wanted the film to be very realistic in its style of acting and the details of its locations, without drawing much attention to the fact that the story takes place in the present. The form is very simple : a story told in fragments, with each scene contained within a single shot, and each separated by a short period of black screen. (This form was originally ‘inspired’ by financial limitations, and limitations in our shooting schedule—but these were known before the script was written, and we wanted to turn these limitations into strengths.) Carl Dreyer, in one of his essays, wrote about the effect of simplification, saying that if you remove all superfluous objects from a room, the few remaining objects can somehow become ”psychological evidence of the occupant’s personality”. Instead of applying this idea just to physical objects in STRANGER THAN PARADISE, it is applied to the formal way the story is told. Simple scenes are presented, in chronological order, but often independent from one another. Only selected moments are presented, eliminating, for the most part, points of ‘dramatic action’. Films must find new ways of describing real emotions and real lives without manipulating the audience in the familiar, maudlin ways, and without the recently fashionable elimination of all emotion.”

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2 weeks ago
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2 weeks ago
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“School of Rock is beautiful in many ways because it plays out like a fantasy film. Of course it’s not realistic. Of course that’s not how educators should behave. It’s not real, but you want it to be real. I watched School of Rock in my early teens and wanted to be part of it. I wanted music to be as magical for me as it was to the kids in the film. I wanted it to save my life, but instead it became my life. I became a percussion score on a piece of paper.
That’s the thing about rock ‘n roll, Dewey explains. You don’t win at it. You can do a thing called Battle of the Bands and you can win a big check, but you’re never really winning at music. It’s not a competition. It’s about how it makes you feel. For the kids in School of Rock, music is liberating. It opens up a snooty, private school education into something bigger and better that allows the students to express themselves. You learn how to create and build something that is both yours and not yours. Music is about sharing. It’s about giving something away to someone else.”
—Fran Hoepfner on School of Rock
(Bright Wall/Dark Room, Issue #16, September 2014)

School of Rock is beautiful in many ways because it plays out like a fantasy film. Of course it’s not realistic. Of course that’s not how educators should behave. It’s not real, but you want it to be real. I watched School of Rock in my early teens and wanted to be part of it. I wanted music to be as magical for me as it was to the kids in the film. I wanted it to save my life, but instead it became my life. I became a percussion score on a piece of paper.

That’s the thing about rock ‘n roll, Dewey explains. You don’t win at it. You can do a thing called Battle of the Bands and you can win a big check, but you’re never really winning at music. It’s not a competition. It’s about how it makes you feel. For the kids in School of Rock, music is liberating. It opens up a snooty, private school education into something bigger and better that allows the students to express themselves. You learn how to create and build something that is both yours and not yours. Music is about sharing. It’s about giving something away to someone else.”

—Fran Hoepfner on School of Rock

(Bright Wall/Dark Room, Issue #16, September 2014)

Cite Arrow via brightwalldarkroom
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“School of Rock is beautiful in many ways because it plays out like a fantasy film. Of course it’s not realistic. Of course that’s not how educators should behave. It’s not real, but you want it to be real. I watched School of Rock in my early teens and wanted to be part of it. I wanted music to be as magical for me as it was to the kids in the film. I wanted it to save my life, but instead it became my life. I became a percussion score on a piece of paper.
That’s the thing about rock ‘n roll, Dewey explains. You don’t win at it. You can do a thing called Battle of the Bands and you can win a big check, but you’re never really winning at music. It’s not a competition. It’s about how it makes you feel. For the kids in School of Rock, music is liberating. It opens up a snooty, private school education into something bigger and better that allows the students to express themselves. You learn how to create and build something that is both yours and not yours. Music is about sharing. It’s about giving something away to someone else.”

—Fran Hoepfner on School of Rock
(Bright Wall/Dark Room, Issue #16, September 2014)

School of Rock is beautiful in many ways because it plays out like a fantasy film. Of course it’s not realistic. Of course that’s not how educators should behave. It’s not real, but you want it to be real. I watched School of Rock in my early teens and wanted to be part of it. I wanted music to be as magical for me as it was to the kids in the film. I wanted it to save my life, but instead it became my life. I became a percussion score on a piece of paper.

That’s the thing about rock ‘n roll, Dewey explains. You don’t win at it. You can do a thing called Battle of the Bands and you can win a big check, but you’re never really winning at music. It’s not a competition. It’s about how it makes you feel. For the kids in School of Rock, music is liberating. It opens up a snooty, private school education into something bigger and better that allows the students to express themselves. You learn how to create and build something that is both yours and not yours. Music is about sharing. It’s about giving something away to someone else.”

—Fran Hoepfner on School of Rock

(Bright Wall/Dark Room, Issue #16, September 2014)

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2 weeks ago
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Flight of the Navigator (1986)

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