Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Movie Buzz: Tameshk Film Club (2)

Tameshk Interactive Film Club (2): (September - October 2008)

Sorry for the gap between the film club sessions, hopefully it won't happen again. I will post the films both here, on Tameshk, and on the Facebook. You can find Tameshk Film Club (1) here.

Let's start:

Animation and Documentary:
Remember we switch between documentary and animation and It is documentary time: The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara (2003) directed by Errol Morris. Morris is my favorite contemporary documentary film director: His documentaries are based on interviews, where the presence of the interviewer/filmmaker is not dominant; I like him because he counts on the intelligence of the audience and expects them to be intelligent; he presents an interview to the viewer as the raw material hiding his own views and judgment behind his smart camera shots, bold compositions of his frames and sudden cuts in editing. In Morris' style, the judgment is yours to make. If you have seen The Fog of War check out The Thin Blue Line (1988) another award wining documentary by Errol Morris. This last one is a Must See for those of us living in Texas.

Recent films (from 2006 to present): I will put two films in this category, just to make sure everyone gets to see something which hasn't seen before and also to cover up for my own delay: Mongol (2007) directed by Sergei Bodrov (suggested by Daisy), I really like us to discuss this film, and Once (2006) by John Carney (suggested by Roya). I think Mongol and Once both have a sense of documentary in them; I will explain in our discussion.

Cinema History and Film Genre: I hope you all got to see Tretya meshchanskaya (Bed and Sofa, 1927) directed by Abram Room, which is an excellent example of Russian cinema specially in its ending; this grotesque reality in finishing the story is so common in Russian dramatic arts that can be easily called Russian ending. Being in the documentary mood for this month I have chosen the 1929 documentary film by Dziga Vertov, Man with a Movie Camera. Vertov is the father of Kino-Pravda which can be translated to Cinema-Truth. Vertov believed that the camera is the most reliable recorder of the reality of out time; the reality that is the closets to the truth. Vertov’s aesthetic views had lots of influence on the French avant-garde cinema and namely Jean-Luc Godard. I really hope you watch The Man with a Moving Camera; it is available on Netflix. Soon we will get to one of the first movements in cinema history: German Expressionism (1920s and 30s).

Miscellaneous & Suggested Film: Well I personally didn’t enjoy our previous film in this category – Daddy Long Legs (1955). I thought it had too much unrelated dancing, even for a musical. I will put two films in this category as well: One is N.J.’s tempting suggestion Dead Man Walking (1995) directed by Tim Robbins, starring Susan Sarandon and Sean Penn. The other is the three times Oscar winner film, Roman Holiday (1953) directed by William Wyler also suggested by Daisy; it is a romantic comedy with Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn.

Man with a Moving Camera, Dziga Vertov, (1929)
Original film poster

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Art History Lecture Series: Dr. James Cuno

Just got my locker and carrel at the Fine Arts Library; ate the rest of my morning bagel and cheese for lunch and before getting back to my readings I thought of some blogging:

There is a lecture at 6pm at Avaya Auditorium at UT by James Cuno, the director of Art Institute of Chicago. It is a public lecture, so if you are around, come; it will be very interesting. The lecture is about the concerns regarding museums' role as cultural institutes: "Museums are repositories of our common artistic legacy as human beings. As such, they can serve as a force for understanding, tolerance, and the dissolution of ignorance and superstition about the world."

I am also preparing for a presentation assignment on The Tiger’s Eye, an art and literature magazine published from 1947 to 1949 in US. It was founded and published by poet, Ruth Stephan and her painter husband, John Stephan. The title was chosen by Ruth, motivated by “The Tyger” (1794), a poem by William Blake (1757 - 1827) an English poet and painter.

The opening verses of The Tyger:

"Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?"

The Tyger, William Blake, 1794

PS. I am behind on updating Tameshk Film Club, it was partly because of our move and partly because of my laziness; I hope to get to it soon.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Significant and Insignificant in Austin

Austin is hot in August; it is so hot that you would never slip on a banana skin, because it would be dry like an autumn leaf. Austin is big all year round, not only in August. Austin looks like Tehran for its highways and wide streets. It has an open sky like Tehran but it is a bit more humid than Tehran.

We finally moved to an apartment that satisfies us and our stuff just got here on Saturday. Unpacking goes very slowly because of my classes. But things are good overall, except for my books, my lovely and previously clean undamaged shiny books; they are damaged, slightly but damaged, and that was the most upsetting part of our move, even more upsetting than my dead plant (one of them died).

This reminded me that a month or two ago Roya invited me to the game of “Insignificant Sensitivities” which kept me thinking about my little sensitivities; the problem was which one is insignificant. My books are the one subject I am very sensitive about. I like to buy books and own them and their well being is very important. I don’t like them to be bent or damaged in any way. Many times I make paper covers for them to keep them safe and shiny. I also like them to be read by others and I consider myself very liberal when it comes to lending books. Now here, if I want to be rational I should count my book obsession as insignificant sensitivity, especially compare to my broken and damage office desk and my broken office bookcase. Right? Wrong: I am not at all upset about my damaged desk and bookcase and I can hardly control my tears when I look at my ripped and bent Harrison and Wood books. OK. That’s enough complaining for one post. Let's get to some real and more significant stuff.

I have to run to the health care center and then I have to go to the Art Department Party which is sort of a required event for new grad students. This semester I have three courses which are totally out of my comfort zone and it will be a challenge since my area of focus has always been on Euro-American Modern & Contemporary art. But it is like me; I am a challenge magnet and I have learned to survive it and even welcome it.

My classes are: Art Journals and Magazines (Chicano & Latin American Art), Museums and African Art: Case of Egungun Masquerade and The Orientalizing Phenomenon in the Greek World of the Early First Millennium. I am really excited about them.

Also in Austin there are two museums that I will visit regularly: One is the Austin Museum of Art (AMOMA) and the other is The Blanton Museum of Art, which has a new facility now.

The Blanton Museum of Art, August 2008, Austin