Watchings

Half Nelson (2006)
Ryan Fleck

Lars and the Real Girl (2007)
Craig Gillespie

Sound of Noise (2010)
Ola Simonsson, Johannes Stjärne Nilsson

The Shock Doctrine (2009)
Mat Whitecross, Michael Winterbottom

How I Met Your Mother, Seasons 1-6 (2005-2011)
Carter Bays, Craig Thomas

Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008)
Nicholas Stoller

True Blood, Season 4 (2011)
Allan Ball

The IT Crowd, Seasons 1-4 (2006-2010)
Graham Linehan

Drive (2011)
Nicolas Winding Refn

Watchings

• Arduino The Documentary (2010) [watch]

Dead Set (2008)
Charlie Brooker

Misfits, Season 2 (2010)
Howard Overman

Sherlock, Season 1 (2010)
Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat

Dexter, Season 5 (2010)

Breaking Bad, Seasons 1-3 (2008-2010)
Vince Gilligan

Sons of Anarchy, Season 3 (2010)
Kurt Sutter

How I Met Your Mother, Seasons 1-5 (2005-2010)
Carter Bays and Craig Thomas

The Big Bang Theory, Seasons 1-3 (2007-2010)
Chuck Lorre and Bill Prady

Exponential growth of stupidity

I have a completely schizophrenic relationship with television. (…) The exponential growth of stupidity and vulgarity is something that everyone has noticed, but it’s not just a vague sense of disgust – it’s a concrete quantifiable fact (you can measure it by the volume of the cheers that greet the talk-show hosts, which have grown by an alarming number of decibels in the last five years) and a crime against humanity. (…) And since you are exploiting my Russian penchant for confession, I must say the worst: I am allergic to commercials. In the early Sixties, making commercials was perfectly acceptable; now, it’s something that no one will own up to. I can do nothing about it. This manner of placing the mechanism of the lie in the service of praise has always irritated me, even if I have to admit that this diabolical patron has occasionally given us some of the most beautiful images you can see on the small screen (have you seen the David Lynch commercial with the blue lips?). But cynics always betray themselves, and there is a small consolation in the industry’s own terminology: they stop short of calling themselves “creators,” so they call themselves “creatives.”

And the movies in all this? For the reasons mentioned above, and under the orders of Jean-Luc, I’ve said for a long time that films should be seen first in theaters, and that television and video are only there to refresh your memory. Now that I no longer have any time at all to go to the cinema, I’ve started seeing films by lowering my eyes, with an ever increasing sense of sinfulness (this interview is indeed becoming Dostoevskian). But to tell the truth I no longer watch many films, only those by friends, or curiosities that an American acquaintance tapes for me on TCM. There is too much to see on the news, on the music channels or on the indispensable Animal Channel. And I feed my hunger for fiction with what is by far the most accomplished source: those great American TV series, like The Practice. There is a knowledge in them, a sense of story and economy, of ellipsis, a science of framing and of cutting, a dramaturgy and an acting style that has no equal anywhere, and certainly not in Hollywood.”

Chris Marker, originally published in Libération, March 5, 2003. Documentary is Never Neutral

Inmorality

I’ve always been a TV addict, at least in certain sense. Once T. W. Adorno said “I love to go to the movies. What I hate are the images on the screen”, and I could say something similar. I love to watch tv. What I hate are the images on the screen… and the shows… and the stories… and… and… and… In fact, the last time that my TV was switched on was on July, and it wasn’t even me who turned it on.

Anyway, the truth is that I watch a lot of TV, but just TV series. I’ve never been really interested in reality shows, sports, the news, documentaries, etc. I only like TV ‘fiction’ —everything is fiction, of course, but that’s another story.

In the last years, TV series have change a lot, now they are much more explicit, and even daring, but there are some TV series that most people see as quite extreme or ambiguous that in fact are really moralist and reactionary. Take Dexter, for example, in which the hero is a serial killer. This may sound radical for a mainstream TV show, but the truth is that Dexter is an avenger who takes the law into his own hands (a typical topic in American TV series and films). This idea is anything but new, it’s pretty lame and right-winger.

Some friends have discussed with me about Dexter because they don’t agree with me, but in one of the last episodes one of the main characters of the season (a girl who has been brutally raped) make this statement:

“I had imagined a totally different life for myself too. I always did everything by the book, you know? Go, go, go. Never stopped to think. There was high school and college and graduate school… Owen. We were gonna get married at the house that I grew up in. On my wedding day, I tried on the dress, and I looked out the window at the backyard where the aisle was, and I saw everything that that aisle was leading to, babies and matching dinnerware. Sunday barbecues. And I couldn’t breathe. I had to get out of there and find something more. Then everything happened, and I actually thought, this is what I get for trying to live my own life.”

And the moral of the story is… O_O I can’t believe what she is saying! When I watched that episode I remembered another statement from Misfits, a British TV series:

“We’re young. We’re supposed to drink too much. We’re supposed to have bad attitudes and shag each other’s brains out. We are designed to party. This is it. Yeah, so a few of us will overdose or go mental, but Charles Darwin said you can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs. And that’s what it’s all about, breaking eggs! And by eggs, I do mean, getting twatted on a cocktail of class As. If you could just see yourselves! It breaks my heart. You’re wearing cardigans! We had it all. We fucked up bigger and better than any generation that came before us. We were so beautiful! We’re screw-ups. I’m a screw-up and I plan to be a screw-up until my late 20s, maybe even my early 30s. And I will shag my own mother before I let her or anyone else take that away from me!”

And the moral of the story is… Misfits is funny, cheeky and politically incorrect, Dexter NO!

Watchings

Fringe, Seasons 1-2 (2008-2010)
J. J. Abrams, Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci

• Человек с киноаппаратом / Man with a Movie Camera (1929) [watch]
Dziga Vertov

• Singin’ in the Rain (1952)
Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly

• The Ghost Writer (2010)
Roman Polanski

• El Abecedario de Gilles Deleuze. A de Animal (1988) [watch]

• Some Like It Hot (1959)
Billy Wilder

• Dog Day Afternoon (1975)
Sidney Lumet

Silent but deadly [or why I can’t think clearly]

—So you think that music killed these people?
—Not music per se. Could you help me with this please, my dear?
—What about this? Would that work?
—Figaro? Perfect!
—We’ve known for some time that different sounds affect the brain in different ways.
—Look at my brain waves on the monitor.
—They’re smoothing out.
—Harmonic music reduces neural activity.
—Which is why we think more clearly when we listen to it, as opposed to this… Dissonance. Look… Look at my neurons.
—We get it, Walter. Can I turn this off now?
—Oh, sorry. You see, the point is this, that with this type of auditory phenomenon, taken to its ultrasonic extreme, can be fatal, and the way it affects the brain, it could well have induced some type of vegetative trance before death.
—Which would also explain the trauma to the inner ear.
—So we’re looking for some kind of deadly music box?
—No, it’s ultrasonic, so you wouldn’t be able to hear it, the frequency’s too high.
—Silent but deadly.

Fringe, episode 2 season 3.

Arithmomania

Arithmomania is a mental disorder that may be seen as an expression of obsessive-compulsive disorder. Sufferers from this disorder have a strong need to count their actions or objects in their surroundings.

Sufferers may for instance feel compelled to count the steps while ascending or descending a flight of stairs or to count the number of letters in words. They often feel it is necessary to perform an action a certain number of times to prevent alleged calamities. Other examples include counting tiles on the floor or ceiling, the number of lines on the highway, or simply the number of times one breathes or blinks.

Arithmomania sometimes develops into a complex system in which the sufferer assigns values or numbers to people, objects and events in order to deduce their coherence.

(…)

Folklore concerning vampires often depicts them with arithmomania, such as a compulsion to count seeds or grains of rice. More lightheartedly, the muppet Count von Count from Sesame Street appears to be a fellow “sufferer”.

Wikipedia

A series of blips

“I was tracking radio waves from deep space. For years, we heard nothing but static, and then, one night, a series of blips. You know what defines intelligence? The ability to create patterns.”

Nip/Tuck (Season 5, Episode 7: Dr. Joshua Lee) by Ryan Murphy

Get lost!

…and today I’ve discovered the truth about something that I was suspecting from some time ago: Lost is not a contemporary intellectual science fiction tv series, it’s a christian soap opera…

Fragmentation, meta-narrative, liquidity and blood

When I was a little girl, I was already fascinated by the moving image, and I loved films and TV series than were not exactly for kids, I don’t mean ‘adult films’, but I was more interested in Gene Kelly and Moonlighting than in the typical films for children. Some years later, I had a flatmate who one day told me that my ‘problem’ is that I’m a post-modernist. I’ve never seen myself as a post-modernist, or as anything else, but the truth is that some of my personal obsessions are very related to post-modernism: fragmentation, codes, meta-narratives, the absence of an objective truth, etc. And in a way I think that the films and TV series that fascinated me as a kid were quite post-modern.

Musical films as Singing in the Rain (1952) or Les Girls (1957) and TV series as Moonlighting (1985-89) play with concepts, gags and narratives that in the visual context of a child living in the Eighties were quite absurd and strange. Obviously, in the Eighties existed films much more post-modern than that, but I didn’t know about its existence until years later, and we should remember that Singing in the Rain, Les Girls and Moonlighting were mainstream/commercial products, not experimental pieces. The thing is that now I realized that I liked those audiovisual products because of its fragmentation and its meta-cinematographic aura.

Nowadays, I don’t think there’s anything in the TV comparable to Moonlighting, but we have Lost, maybe the paradigm of fragmentation, or I should say better the paradigm of liquidity — if, as Zygmunt Bauman states, we live in a ‘liquid time’, I guess that we need some liquid audiovisual products. Lost could be described as a quantum soap opera: first it was the flashback, then it was the flashforward, after it was the time travelling and now we have the parallel realities. Even if in some moments the script is really mushy and touchy-feely, it’s also fragmented, ambiguous and remarkably liquid — fortunately, I think that we are getting over those classical flat narratives in which good is good, bad is bad and there’s nothing more in between; real life is much more complicated than that.

The truth is that although I don’t see Lost as a masterpiece, right now mainstream TV (Is there a non-mainstream TV?) is much more interesting than mainstream cinema. A film from the Fifties like Singing in the Rain is much more iconoclast that any of the blockbusters of the recent years, but in the television we are watching some interesting changes.

My favourite TV series right now is True Blood. I know, I know… It’s kitsch and excessive, but it’s also a surrealistic mix of everything you can imagine, name any genre! Drama, comedy, action, adventure, crime, horror, science-fiction, romance, eroticism… It can jump from the most tacky to the most gory in a second with an astounding audacity and self-confidence. Have you ever watched before a bloody Viking vampire murdering in jogging suit, flip flops and with tinfoil in the hair because he was having some highlights done? It’s quite hilarious. And even everything is extravagant and way-out, at the same time it has an astonishing natural/realistic quality. Thanks to True Blood, TV vampires (really lame until now) are not just post-mortem, are also post-modern.

Watchings

Simplicité volontaire et décroissance (2007) [watch]
Jean-Claude Decourt

The IT Crowd. Series 1-3 (2006-2008)

• Full Frontal (2002)
Steven Soderbergh

• Innocent Blood (1992)
John Landis

• Footprints (1992)
Bill Morrison

• The Bats (1998)
Jim Trainor

• C’mon Babe (1988)
Sharon Sandusky

• Swamp (1971)
Nancy Holt & Robert Smithson

• Hyas et sténorinques (1927)
Jean Painlevé

• Science Friction (1959)
Stan Vanderbeek

• Historia Naturae (Suita) (1967)
Jan Svankmajer

• Crossing the Great Sagrada (1924)
Adrian Brunel

• Supermâché, aire de pique-nique (2008)
Laurent Sfar & Jean Guillaud