Reasons to watch movies

To go on an adventure (without personal risk).

To learn about a new culture or country; to see how other people live.

To have something to talk about with your friends.

To challenge your ideas or worldview, or to confirm it.

To laugh and have a good time.

To be scared.

To cry.

To feel understood.

To argue about something.

To escape the pain of your present life.

To participate in the culture, to be “in the know” or “in the conversation.”

To raise your status.

To develop taste.

To learn about fashion.

To rebel.

To be inspired.

To sit in an air-conditioned dark room for a while.

To distract yourself.

To share an experience with friends.

To have something to recommend to others (raise your status).

To be part of a group (“people like us watch movies like this”).

To connect with other humans.

To have something to talk about.

To have and accomplish a goal (“I’m going to watch all of the films of Ingmar Bergman.”)

To learn how to make your own movies.

To learn how not to make your own movies.

To find a new identity or a new way to live.

To watch an actor that you like watching.

To be completely engaged and lost in a story.

To remind ourselves to be more x or y.

To have something to hate or dislike or define ourselves against.

To critique or learn to be critical.

To give notes or help someone who is making the movie.

To understand someone else (through the movies they like).

To get turned on / in the mood for sex (alone or with partner(s)).

Catharsis.

Drama / melodrama / comedy / farce

I love this definition of the big four genres, by Sidney Lumet in Making Movies:

In drama, the characters should determine the story.

In melodrama, the story determines the characters. Melodrama makes the story line its highest priority, and everything is subservient to story.

For me, farce is the comic equivalent of melodrama and comedy the comic equivalent of drama.

Shark Drunk

I loved Shark Drunk: The Art of Catching a Large Shark from a Tiny Rubber Dinghy in a Big Ocean, a book about two friends hunting a Greenland Shark in northern Norway.

It goes into many interesting places: history, Norwegian culture, the nature of male friendship, and the immense and mysterious world that lies below the sea.

Interesting throughout and I highlighted a couple passages:

On the seaward side of the Vesterålen archipelago, they have a special word for the sound of the ocean when heard through a bedroom window on a mild summer night–the sound of water calmly lapping against the shore. The word is syjbårturn.

And this (related to Futility Closet’s “Pigs on Trial” episode):

One afternoon I describe how animals from the Middle Ages all the way up to the 1800s could be taken to court for breaking human laws. Dogs, rats, cattle, even millipedes were charged with and jailed for crimes ranging from murder to indecent behavior.

Defense attorneys were appointed, witnesses summoned, and every legal procedure of the day was followed. Sparrows were accused of twittering too loudly during a church service. Pigs that had attacked young children were sentenced to death.

In France, a pig was dressed in a suit, led to the gallows, and hanged. In 1750, a donkey was found innocent after an unfortunate incident only because a priest was able to testify that the animal had previously led a virtuous life.

The days of small things

I resolved to see the world with my own eager eyes. So I ran away from home, and in this way made an early acquaintance with the corrugated side of life.

I joined a small circus, and soon learned to conduct the Punch and Judy show, to do a ventriloquial act, and to play town clown on the bars — “gol darn it.” I also doubled in brass — that is, I beat the cymbals. I here gained the experiences that possibly ripened me into the world’s Handcuff King and Prison Breaker — a title which i have justly earned.

But there was a time when I was not recognized as I am now. Those were the days of small things. That was in the middle West.

The Right Way to Do Wrong by Harry Houdini

Houdini wasn’t a great writer, but he writes plainly and occasionally turns a great phrase.

I read this while researching thieves and con men for a project that I still haven’t quite found the right way into.

Travailler, toujours travailler.

Roding then took Rilke outside for a tour of the grounds. As they walked, Roding began to tell Rilke about his life, but not in the way one might speak to a journalist on assignment. He understood that Rilke was a fellow artist, and so he framed his stories as lessons that the young poet might take as examples.

Above all else, he stressed to Rilke, Travailler, toujours travailler. You must work, always work, he said.

“To this I devoted my youth.” But it was not enough to make work, the word he preferred to “art”; one had to live it.

That meant renouncing the trappings of earthly pleasures, like fine wine, sedating sofas, even one’s own children, should they prove distracting form the pursuit.

— from You Must Change Your Life: The Story of Rainer Maria Rilke and Auguste Rodin by Rachel Corbett

Exhilaration comes from naming the unnamable and hearing it named

I’m moving again and it’s time to go through books that are good enough for me to mark up but not good enough to haul into storage while I figure out where I’m going to land.

Going through The Last Self-Help Book, I found some passages that I highlighted a few months ago and now I’m wondering if Walker read Bohm because there are a lot of similarities in the way they talk about art and science describing the world as it is:

Exhilaration comes from naming the unnamable and hearing it named.

If Kafka’s Metamorphosis is presently a more accurate account of the self than Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, it is the more exhilarating for being so.

The naming of the predicament of the self by art is its reversal. Hence the salvific effect of art. Through art, the predicament of self becomes not only speakable but laughable. Hellen Keller and any two-year-old and Kafka’s friends laughed when the unnamable was named. Kafka and his friends laughed when the unnameable was named. Kafka and his friends laughed when he read his stories to them.

Less related but darkly comic, in that Kafka lol way:

If poets often commit suicide, it is not because their poems are bad but because they are good. Whoever heard of a bad poetry committing suicide? The reader is only a little better off. The exhilaration of a good poem lasts twenty minutes, an hour at most.

Unlike the scientist, the artist has reentry problems that are frequent and catastrophic.

Kafka’s best joke

No wonder we cannot appreciate the really central Kafka joke: that the horrific struggle to establish a human self results in a self whose humanity is inseparable from the horrific struggle. That our endless and impossible journey toward home is in fact our home.

— David Foster Wallace from “Some Remarks on Kafka’s Funniness From Which Probably Not Enough Has Been Removed” (in Consider the Lobster)

Also maybe the subtext of everything I write.

Sturgeon’s Law

“90% of everything is crap.”

That’s a paraphrase of:

I repeat Sturgeon’s Revelation, which was wrung out of me after twenty years of wearying defense of science fiction against attacks of people who used the worst examples of the field for ammunition, and whose conclusion was that ninety percent of SF is crud. Using the same standards that categorize 90% of science fiction as trash, crud, or crap, it can be argued that 90% of film, literature, consumer goods, etc. is crap. In other words, the claim (or fact) that 90% of science fiction is crap is ultimately uninformative, because science fiction conforms to the same trends of quality as all other artforms.

— Theodore Sturgeon

Counterintuitive because most people only see at most the top 10-15% of output from any given creative field.

And the inverse:

The inverse is obviously also true: if ninety percent of everything is crap, then even in areas that are generally considered inferior (such as soap operasdime novels or fan fiction), there must be ten percent that may be worth something.

— Various Wikipedia editors working asynchronously

From Wikipedia.

Deepfakes

After posting on deep voicefakes, I saw this (and a few others) on Kottke:

There’s still something uncanny about it, but the technology is obviously very close. I mean, maybe the uncanny thing is just that it’s Steve Buscemi in Jennifer Lawrence’s body with her voice.

The lip-syncing videos are close too, but something still feels a little off to them:

We’re entering a world where you can make a live-action film without any traditional “production”. You can have just writing and post-production.

Write the script.

Then build it with AI-generated voices and images.

Production could be simply a matter of recording the samples to build the voices and recording some video to build the video.

You might not even need that — you could pulls the voices and imagery from a library.

We could bring back dead actors to play leading roles. Want to reunite Bogey and Bacall? Just deepfake it.

We’re going to need a whole new area of IP law for this. Who owns the rights to their image or voice? Do you have rights for that? Does it expire or go into the public domain? How much would the rights to use, say, Bradley Cooper’s digital avatar in perpetuity?

WHAM

I put my short film, WHAM, online: