Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Vivian Maier, Henri Cartier-Bresson and Street Photography

Vivian discute la photographie de rue avec Henri...

Vivian: You must lift the Leica to take a picture. It draws attention to you.

Henri: And you use a Rolleiflex. Pourquois?

Vivian: I can look down into the viewfinder, the subject is not threatened, sometimes they don’t even know I am taking their photo.

Henri: I see the picture forming through my eye. You see it through your lens.

Vivian: We both have to choose the moment.

Henri: Oui. The decisive moment.

“She could go into a space with a total stranger, get them to accommodate her by being themselves and generate this moment where two presences were kind of vibrating together …  and then she’s gone.”


Sunday, November 23, 2014

Who first said “ontology precedes epistemology”?

William and Wanda wonder…

William: Who first said, “ontology precedes epistemology”?

Wanda: Heidegger or someone like that?

William: I can’t find anyone to positively quote as the original source.

Wanda: I was looking up “There’s no such thing as a free lunch” recently. Seems to come from the 1930s but no clear source. Proverbs create the same confusion. “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Can’t attribute that.

William: Some proverbs can be sourced though. “The pen is mightier than the sword." Edward Bulwer Lytton.

Wanda: And then there are those maxims that are inspirational. “Change is the only constant.” Non-attributable I’m sure.

William: Actually, that seems to have been Heraclitus. Somebody might have said it even before him. But these days there are source police who watch out for misattributions. Reza Aslan got flagged for quoting a story as being from Buddha. “If you want to draw water you do not dig six one-foot wells. You dig one six-foot well.” Apparently it wasn't.
In the age of plagiarism police, protect yourself…
Three possibilities for sources are:
  • attribution
  • no attribution
  • wrong attribution

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Neutral vs bias

As the journalist said to the linguist…
Linguist: Verbs, adjectives and adverbs… they range from neutral through bias to outright hostile.
Journalist: What’s the difference between neutral and bias?
Linguist: A biased expression is one which can’t be replaced by a more neutral one. For example, saying "Your position is utterly wrong" could be expressed more neutrally as "You may be mistaken."
Journalist: A word cloud shows it better than just talking about it.
Linguist: Good idea. Then graph it.

But the distinction between bias and hostile is fuzzy. Better to subsume hostile into bias.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Guy V Fawkes

V talks about himself in the third person…

V: Gunpowder, treason and plot.

W: Was “V”, the graphic novel, a remake of Guy Fawkes?

V: It was the inspiration. But it was more. Alan Moore, my creator, said my world was about fascism and anarchism.

W: Not just about religion?

V: More again. Themes included xenophobia, force and fear, identity, moral ambiguity, and sanity.

W: And the film?

V: Moore claimed it was less. Said it was a face-off between liberalism and neo-conservatism. But the film was more in different ways. Take V’s mask: it covers his scars and it conceals his identity. Take corruption: that includes government and corporations. Take religion: persecution is transferred from the Jews to Muslims. And the film borrows from other stories: Leroux’s The Phantom of the Opera and Orwell’s 1984.


A creator finding it hard to give up his creation is an old theme. Alan Moore must have found it as hard to see McTeigue and the Wachowskis create a different “V” as Geppetto found that Pinocchio slipped from his creative control after he left home.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Rodin Thinker White Rabbit


This one should have been August White Rabbit…
But Rodin said November was close enough.

And it should have been a rabbit…
But Barry Flanagan said a hare was close enough.


National Gallery of Art Sculpture, Washington DC

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

испытание (Test) by Alexander Kott

A story from Kazakhstan
Possum: What did you think?

Ned: Well, the film didn't have any dashing dialogue but the sound engineer caught birds and wind, storms and silence. The location was desperately desolate but the cinematography shone like the sun. The story slowed sometimes and left you wondering about its jumps at other times. Hard for the characters to develop much without lines. The film carried warnings of tears and then it crossed genres abruptly as the director went for the audience's jugular. We all knew it was a speechless film, but it also left everybody speechless at the end.
Director Kott and wife

Possum: You? Speechless?

Ned: So the Q&A helped tongues clatter and cluck back to life again. Sort of. Anyway, worth a see.

"испытание." Another film festival gem. We don’t only learn filmmaking from the polished products. The rough diamonds instruct too.

Monday, October 27, 2014

River of Exploding Durians

River of Exploding Durians
Q and A
After a film festival event…

Possum: Photography stunning. Kudos for the DP Kong Pahurak. Location exotic. Great Q and A with very capable interpreting. What’s not to like?

Ned: Well, some scenes too drawn out, character changes sudden, inconsistent, unexplained, for example when Teacher Lim suddenly switches from being a capable, friendly history teacher to tight-lipped terrorist.

Possum: The classroom reenactments of karayuki and Thammasat U. massacre were good.

Ned: Ironic that the amateur theatrics were more genuine than the movie scenes.

Possum: But you have to say, for a first feature length film from a 30 something director, not bad.

Writer, director, editor Edmund Yeo. Three hats?… Sometimes a great director can shine brighter if he co-writes with a scriptwriter, and relinquishes narration pace, rhythm and cutting to an editor.