Thursday, 14 November 2013


I spoke to Dan Sallitt over the course of last month via email about his lovely new film The Unspeakable Act, the text of which has now been published at Gorilla Film Magazine.

Here's Sallitt on Beavis and Butt-Head:

"The difference between the two characters is little noted but crucial. Butt-Head is more functional, more cynical, more predictable, more soulless; a comedy with two Butt-Heads wouldn’t cover a lot of territory. Beavis is a more original creation. Underneath it all, he’s almost a sweet kid, but the wiring in his brain is all wrong, and random stimuli create random responses: a forgotten bit of catechism from his lost youth, an inappropriate ‘Thank you – drive through’ whenever he tries to speak with the voice of institutional authority, terrified soliloquies on the bleak future, even backwards speech (until he thinks about how he’s doing it and loses the superpower). It’s thanks to Beavis that the emotional range of the show is so great.
Mike Judge soon realised that modernist, fragmented narratives took on a new dimension in this context, as if the boys weren’t competent enough to keep a conventional story going. Dead-end storylines abound, in which B&B-H’s memory lapses and distractions stand in the way of closure; the locus classicus of this approach is probably Beavis And Butt-head And The Vending Machine. Minimalism was always the show’s leitmotif, and not just with regard to Judge’s artwork (which is actually quite expressive when it wants to be): most episodes are built around things not happening, or around duration: the boys trying not to watch TV, or getting permanently lost in their own neighbourhood; Butt-Head choking to death through an entire segment. Here’s an exemplary plot description for one I haven’t seen: Beavis and Butt-head find a can of root beer and really, really, really shake it up before they open it.”

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Olaf's Ballot

  1. Afrique 50 (René Vautier, 1950)
  2. Dialogue With a Woman Departed (Leo T. Hurwitz, 1980)
  3. Jiābiāngōu/The Ditch (Wang Bing, 2010)
  4. Einleitung zu Arnold Schönbergs “Begleitmusik zu einer Lichtspielscene/Introduction to Arnold Schoenberg's Accompaniment to a Cinematic Scene (Jean-Marie Straub/Danièle Huillet, 1973)
  5. Gebet für die Linke/Prayer for the Left (Reni Mertens & Walter Marti, 1974)
  6. Jom (Ababacar Samb-Makharam, 1981)
  7. Níhóngdēng xià de shàobīng/Sentinels under the Neon Lights (Wáng Píng, 1964)
  8. Outrage (Ida Lupino, 1950)
  9. Rabočij poselok/Workers' Settlement (Vladimir Vengerov, 1965)
  10. La strada lunga un anno/The Year Long Road (Giuseppe De Santis, 1958)

Saturday, 21 July 2012

“The movie business has always been a business like any other, and even more so than most. Every dollar counted and every penny had to show up on the screen. To put it another, blunter way – it was very likely, as a cost-saving device, an economic imperative to utilise to the fullest every board, plank and canvas flat on the studio stages. Sets and parts of sets would get recycled, with lower-budgeted films probably benefiting the most from the cast-offs of the major productions, although even major productions cannibalised sets and parts of sets, architectural trim, chandeliers, wall sconces, sections of staircases, doorways, etc. from other films. Consider this example: George Sidney’s Scaramouche was released in the US in May 1952. Minnelli’s The Bad and the Beautiful, which was shot between April and June 1952, was released in December 1952. A left-over section of one of Scaramouche's most elaborate set pieces, the duel in the theatre, is used as a throwaway in Minnelli’s film. The partial set is not necessary for the short twenty-second, single-shot scene in The Bad and the Beautiful, in which Kirk Douglas rehearses with Lana Turner – but it certainly enhances it.
The set, clearly kept in mothballs for future use, resurfaces for a cameo appearance in Minnelli’s Two Weeks in Another Town, ten years later in 1962, with added-on opera box modules. This time, Kirk Douglas is rehearsing Rosanna Schiaffino. Is it the same ladder?”
- The Secret Life of Objects, Mark Rappaport in Rouge.