Wednesday, July 22, 2009

It has been a while since i've blogged; a few weeks ago, there was an article about the fact that most blogs peter out after six months. I've been going at this for more than four years now. One thing i find is that there is a tendency to repeat: because there's no context, i find myself trying to create the same arguments from scratch.

A while ago, i was asked by Iain Stott (whose blog is The One Line Review: to participate in his poll of the "50 Greatest Films". Like most people undertaking these kinds of polls, he was hoping to find diversity: he was hoping his list wouldn't duplicate other lists (such as the Sight & Sound poll which happens every decade), and so he tried to ask people who would not be asked; as he noted, it was a cross-section of professional film writers and amateurs.

When the "new" editors of Sight & Sound prepared the 2002 poll, one of the things they did was to leave out a number of critics who had participated in decades past (certainly, since the 1960s) and reach out to critics from other countries (particularly from Asia). But the problem with this was: 1) there was an assumption that older critics wouldn't be aware of recent currents in cinema, which i don't think is the case; 2) there was an assumption that critics from Asia (for example) would list films which would not be immediately accessible to the West, thereby creating alternatives to the traditional lists. But this assumption is misguided, because in Asian cultures, the place of tradition remains very powerful, and so those people who have studied film history would have studied the same "classics" as everyone else ("Citizen Kane", "La Regle du jeu", et al). The point is: for most people, there must be an acknowledgement of some sort of standards; individual lists may vary (enormously) but the consensus has remained constant.

The consensus which has developed since the 1990s is one which has (already) upended values, and that is something that has not been explored. It's simply accepted.

But Iain Stott's blog should be checked out.

In the past few weeks, death has been omnipresent in the news. Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett (of course). The artist Dash Snow. Walter Cronkite. Frank McCourt. Gordon Waller (of Peter and Gordon). I'm sure there were many more notables, but those immediately came to mind. It was astounding to see the coverage of Michael Jackson's death (there remain hiccups on CNN and - of course - E!) which seemed to be endless.

This week brought the anniversary of the first walk on the moon, and there was a lot about this on the news. But one astounding fact: NASA seems to have lost the original video footage. The video footage that remains is from the transmission over broadcast television.


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