The Criterion Channel

The scuttlebutt on Criterion, Eclipse, and Janus Films. Lists and polls are STRONGLY discouraged.
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fdm
Joined: Fri Apr 21, 2006 1:25 pm

Re: The Criterion Channel

#51 Post by fdm » Tue Dec 04, 2018 1:00 pm

Have one more download code left, but to perhaps clarify, it's for the free digital copies that were mentioned above.

Edit: ok, all gone now.
Last edited by fdm on Tue Dec 04, 2018 1:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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OldBobbyPeru
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Re: The Criterion Channel

#52 Post by OldBobbyPeru » Tue Dec 04, 2018 1:27 pm

I'll take the code, if still available. My subscription to Filmstruck was a gift from my daughter, so I didn't get that email.

Still going through the five stages of grief over losing Filmstruck...

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flyonthewall2983
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Re: The Criterion Channel

#53 Post by flyonthewall2983 » Wed Dec 05, 2018 3:15 pm

WaPost: "FilmStruck wasn’t that good for movies. Don’t mourn its demise."

I'm seeing a lot of very heated responses to this on Twitter. Not even going to bother reading it right now, but thought it worth sharing to indicate how many absolutely shitty takes this year has produced.

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mfunk9786
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Re: The Criterion Channel

#54 Post by mfunk9786 » Wed Dec 05, 2018 3:18 pm

It was so shitty, in fact, it was posted and discussed on the previous page of this very thread!

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Emak-Bakia
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Re: The Criterion Channel

#55 Post by Emak-Bakia » Wed Dec 05, 2018 11:59 pm

I'm surprised by how negative the reaction has been to Groo's piece in even thoughtful circles such as this one. I do think the headline is too clickbait-y for the nuanced argument Groo is making, but that shouldn't devalue the article (she stated that she didn't write the headline.) To sum up the key point as I see it (and at the risk of becoming the new rrenault or Richard Cranium): film preservation is inevitably a question of choices. What to keep and what to discard. In the hubbub since Groo's article was published, I've seen at least one prominent Twitter user respond by citing Langlois as a model for saving "everything." Such an idea is an impossibility. (I say this as someone who deeply admires the spirit of Langlois, but also will admit that there are very valid criticisms to be directed at his archival practices.) Limited resources mean that archives must make decisions about to what materials they will dedicate time, money, and space. Thus far, those decisions have inordinately favored feature-length narrative films, which is only a fraction of the history of the moving image. The future of such films is reasonably secured, certainly in comparison to the output of, say, Churchill Films, Moreland-Latchford, or Encyclopedia Britannica Films, to name off the top of my head just a few of the mid-century educational film companies that employed some truly brilliant filmmakers who did wonderful work (an area of particular interest to me in recent times.) The stuff on Filmstruck (or on DVD and blu-ray, for that matter) is really just the tip of the iceberg, so why do we keep talking only about those same films again and again (with slight variation) when there is an entire world of untapped content rotting away in basements and garages, much of it never transferred to any video or digital format? As I read it, Groo is simply suggesting that we work to expand the boundaries of what types of films are in the popular conversation. All resources being limited, such an expansion means that focus will shift away from previously popular realms, such as the canon of feature-length, narrative films.

I don't summarize my view of the article under the impression that folks here couldn't get the same thing out of it. Rather, I've read some of the reactions to it elsewhere, and at almost every point it seems to me like the critics understand Groo differently. It's as if we're speaking totally different languages. I've read accusations of elitism, but, as I see it, Groo is specifically advocating against elitism. Full disclosure: probably half of my film viewing time these days is spent viewing orphan films (which I work tirelessly to share with people; not hoard to myself like some private jewels), so it was like she took the words right out of my mouth at certain points. Such films are outside of the scope of this forum right now, and, for a place dedicated specifically to talking about film, well, maybe we really are speaking different languages.

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soundchaser
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Re: The Criterion Channel

#56 Post by soundchaser » Thu Dec 06, 2018 12:25 am

I'm sympathetic to Groo's argument, although I think it could have been cleaned up significantly - something like "curation is inherently a political act" would have gone a long way. But I think it is needlessly blase and aggressively myopic in its dismissal of the films whose futures you say are "reasonably secured." Filmstruck was not the last word in film history by any stretch of the imagination, but it certainly provided a lot of access to film history that would otherwise have gone unwatched by many people. This is where I think the privilege aspect of the argument falls flat on its face - such a critical approach should, in my view, ultimately celebrate every channel of access. As an aside, Filmstruck never claimed to be an archive, so Groo's labeling of it as such feels, if not intellectually dishonest, at least intellectually sketchy.

Yes, give us archives of the Churchill Films. Please. Or French TV documentaries from the 70s. Or other things that only exist, for the moment, in back channels. I feel like many of the people who worked for Filmstruck would leap for joy if more outlets like that existed. But the notion that the demise of a streaming service designed for the public, not walled off behind a library or academic institution (I say as someone who has worked for both - Filmstruck was a lot cheaper to access than either), is going to lead us to a utopia of orphan films, home movies, and ethnographic treasures? An accelerationist viewpoint I find hard to swallow. If anything, lessening access to film history (as rep houses have disappeared and people have moved away from physical media) will lead to fewer finding a path to those more difficult or uncelebrated works, quality aside.

Please let me know if you think I'm misrepresenting anything specific. I like many of the components of Groo's argument. I just don't feel like it's targeted correctly or that it hangs together well.

EDIT: And while I’m here, I want to say how disappointed I am that Groo’s complaints about “film bros” on Twitter erase the amazing work that was being done by women on the platform. It’s a tired cliché that does her no favors.

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furbicide
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Re: The Criterion Channel

#57 Post by furbicide » Thu Dec 06, 2018 12:43 am

Emak-Bakia wrote:
Wed Dec 05, 2018 11:59 pm
I'm surprised by how negative the reaction has been to Groo's piece in even thoughtful circles such as this one. I do think the headline is too clickbait-y for the nuanced argument Groo is making, but that shouldn't devalue the article (she stated that she didn't write the headline.) To sum up the key point as I see it (and at the risk of becoming the new rrenault or Richard Cranium): film preservation is inevitably a question of choices. What to keep and what to discard. In the hubbub since Groo's article was published, I've seen at least one prominent Twitter user respond by citing Langlois as a model for saving "everything." Such an idea is an impossibility. (I say this as someone who deeply admires the spirit of Langlois, but also will admit that there are very valid criticisms to be directed at his archival practices.) Limited resources mean that archives must make decisions about to what materials they will dedicate time, money, and space. Thus far, those decisions have inordinately favored feature-length narrative films, which is only a fraction of the history of the moving image. The future of such films is reasonably secured, certainly in comparison to the output of, say, Churchill Films, Moreland-Latchford, or Encyclopedia Britannica Films, to name off the top of my head just a few of the mid-century educational film companies that employed some truly brilliant filmmakers who did wonderful work (an area of particular interest to me in recent times.) The stuff on Filmstruck (or on DVD and blu-ray, for that matter) is really just the tip of the iceberg, so why do we keep talking only about those same films again and again (with slight variation) when there is an entire world of untapped content rotting away in basements and garages, much of it never transferred to any video or digital format? As I read it, Groo is simply suggesting that we work to expand the boundaries of what types of films are in the popular conversation. All resources being limited, such an expansion means that focus will shift away from previously popular realms, such as the canon of feature-length, narrative films.

I don't summarize my view of the article under the impression that folks here couldn't get the same thing out of it. Rather, I've read some of the reactions to it elsewhere, and at almost every point it seems to me like the critics understand Groo differently. It's as if we're speaking totally different languages. I've read accusations of elitism, but, as I see it, Groo is specifically advocating against elitism. Full disclosure: probably half of my film viewing time these days is spent viewing orphan films (which I work tirelessly to share with people; not hoard to myself like some private jewels), so it was like she took the words right out of my mouth at certain points. Such films are outside of the scope of this forum right now, and, for a place dedicated specifically to talking about film, well, maybe we really are speaking different languages.
These are more or less my thoughts too. A lot of interesting points are made in the piece, and I don't agree with all of them – I disagree particularly with the wording of her final paragraph, in which she says it doesn't matter if a few films 'die'; of course the permanent loss of any significant works of art is something to mourn – but I also see a lot of people misrepresenting her views or extrapolating exaggerated positions from her argument.

Anyhow, as an Australian who never even had access to Filmstruck due to geo-restrictions, I find the handwringing over its death a little myopic and US-centric. The rest of the world's cinephiles survived okay before Filmstruck existed, survived okay without being able to access it during its and are still surviving okay now. We always need new avenues of access to the world's films, and I do totally support whatever appears in Filmstruck's place even if nobody outside the US gets to use it. But Groo is right when she says that we can't pin the hopes of global cinephilia on one commercial streaming outlet (if so, we really are doomed).

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movielocke
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Re: The Criterion Channel

#58 Post by movielocke » Thu Dec 06, 2018 2:07 am

Emak-Bakia wrote:I'm surprised by how negative the reaction has been to Groo's piece in even thoughtful circles such as this one. I do think the headline is too clickbait-y for the nuanced argument Groo is making, but that shouldn't devalue the article (she stated that she didn't write the headline.) To sum up the key point as I see it (and at the risk of becoming the new rrenault or Richard Cranium): film preservation is inevitably a question of choices. What to keep and what to discard. In the hubbub since Groo's article was published, I've seen at least one prominent Twitter user respond by citing Langlois as a model for saving "everything." Such an idea is an impossibility. (I say this as someone who deeply admires the spirit of Langlois, but also will admit that there are very valid criticisms to be directed at his archival practices.) Limited resources mean that archives must make decisions about to what materials they will dedicate time, money, and space. Thus far, those decisions have inordinately favored feature-length narrative films, which is only a fraction of the history of the moving image. The future of such films is reasonably secured, certainly in comparison to the output of, say, Churchill Films, Moreland-Latchford, or Encyclopedia Britannica Films, to name off the top of my head just a few of the mid-century educational film companies that employed some truly brilliant filmmakers who did wonderful work (an area of particular interest to me in recent times.) The stuff on Filmstruck (or on DVD and blu-ray, for that matter) is really just the tip of the iceberg, so why do we keep talking only about those same films again and again (with slight variation) when there is an entire world of untapped content rotting away in basements and garages, much of it never transferred to any video or digital format? As I read it, Groo is simply suggesting that we work to expand the boundaries of what types of films are in the popular conversation. All resources being limited, such an expansion means that focus will shift away from previously popular realms, such as the canon of feature-length, narrative films.

I don't summarize my view of the article under the impression that folks here couldn't get the same thing out of it. Rather, I've read some of the reactions to it elsewhere, and at almost every point it seems to me like the critics understand Groo differently. It's as if we're speaking totally different languages. I've read accusations of elitism, but, as I see it, Groo is specifically advocating against elitism. Full disclosure: probably half of my film viewing time these days is spent viewing orphan films (which I work tirelessly to share with people; not hoard to myself like some private jewels), so it was like she took the words right out of my mouth at certain points. Such films are outside of the scope of this forum right now, and, for a place dedicated specifically to talking about film, well, maybe we really are speaking different languages.
Ah but your argument and the article’s argument are essentially not about filmstruck’s actual service but rather are about what the service was not. There’s a thread for physical media about this phenomena called “why won’t they release only what I want?”

In terms of what filmstruck actually was and what has a lot of people upset is that out of the 2256 films on the criterion side of film struck only 75 are currently available on any other subscription streaming service.

That’s about 3%.

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Michael Kerpan
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Re: The Criterion Channel

#59 Post by Michael Kerpan » Thu Dec 06, 2018 10:10 am

Groo's argument seemed to be a long series of nonsequiturs. Does any film lover dispute the fact that documentaries (and the like) should _also_ be preserved -- and be made accessible to the public? And why does she object to people being sad over the evaporation of a relatively cheap way to access "narrative" films that one might otherwise find hard to see? No matter wherther her piece mentioned some good ideas in passing, it was remarkably arrogant in tone.

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jedgeco
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Re: The Criterion Channel

#60 Post by jedgeco » Thu Dec 06, 2018 12:29 pm

Emak-Bakia wrote:
Wed Dec 05, 2018 11:59 pm
I'm surprised by how negative the reaction has been to Groo's piece in even thoughtful circles such as this one.... To sum up the key point as I see it ...
This is a cogent argument, and is something that actually could be debated. WaPo should have published you instead (not to imply that you necessarily subscribe to this argument as opposed to summarizing it).

But instead of just making that argument, Groo wanted to have a hot take about Filmstruck too. And while I'm sympathetic to the fact that major newspapers don't normally print op eds about the politics of film preservation from junior humanities faculty without some sort of newsy-hook, that's probably an argument for finding a better forum for debate in the first place.

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colinr0380
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Re: The Criterion Channel

#61 Post by colinr0380 » Thu Dec 06, 2018 12:54 pm

To be honest I read the article and especially the final summing up line: "Tracing these other routes through the past and preserving a different film future might just require that we kill a few hundred films — or finally let them die." as a call to cull a currently unfashionable canon rather than a push to preserve what you can the best you can. It felt like an ideological argument, although I guess any decision in collection management is, even if those in charge of collections often downplay such decisions as 'tidying up' or 'refocusing' a library.

I have not really used the knowledge from my Information and Library Management degree in decades but that covered some of the basics of running a collection and making the difficult decision of which items in a collection were 'necessary' and which were not. A lot of the discussions during my course made me quite uncomfortable as, is almost always the case in all things, the debate inevitably turned away from trying to tailor your collection to the needs of its users (say a university library stocking books that will be relevant for the courses that are being taught at the basic level, as well as providing material for more in depth research beyond that) towards cutting back purely to save money. If say the central library has a copy of the book or you can get it delivered by ILL, why do you need to have a copy on your own shelves? Which makes a kind of sense but ignores the value of libraries for allowing the discovery of knowledge rather than just to reinforce already extant knowledge. If I am already aware that a particular book (or film) has value and importance and wish to view it, then sure I could order it and it does not need to be held on a shelf. But how would I know, and where is the possibility of stumbling across something that I might not know I wanted, but come to treasure as essential? One of my decisions not to really pursue a library or archiving career (though if I am honest there were not many people pounding down my door with job offers!) was really down to the ambivalence I felt towards that idea of brutal culling whilst saying that it was necessary for long term survivial. Which felt very short termist and often appeared to involve once individual and idiosyncratic libraries 'centralising', with local branches becoming depleted hubs around one distant, often big city, central library. Either that or becoming incredibly specialised and cut off from general use, either through lack of visitors or literally restricting public access to a collection.

I remember thinking sitting in lectures about this subject, and feeling it again when reading that article, that I am not entirely against that process, since obviously the people telling me that they cannot accommodate all material without such choice must be facing severe economic challenges that prevent preservation of as much as possible. But also that it feels really wrong to revel in the loss of material as something that is actually good (even if it is just something as supposedly 'ephemeral' as a kinky Tumblr blog, it is still an expression of someone's work and effort). I think what I would like all of these people in positions of choice to do is to less celebrate destruction but instead more positively focus on what they have saved and actually describe in detail exactly what they feel is valuable and that they are going to focus on preserving. That would not just be good to advertise their work but it would also allow people outside of that organisation (whatever form it takes) to focus more on material that has not been chosen for preservation, or has been rejected as worthless. Not so much as to be contrarian or against an ethos of an existing institution, but because that would help enrich the culture in the best way possible by caring for the otherwise ignored.

Plus it really should go without saying that just looking at the canonised classics of any era without being also being able to place it in the context of other material around it can itself lead to problems. Not to mention that many films (or books, or artworks, etc) that are celebrated now were passed over, reviled or outright banned at the time of their release before becoming celebrated, and vice versa. The 'value' of particular cultural artifacts fluctuates and is often very individual to each person, which makes sweeping institutional judgments, albeit necessary to function in some senses, inherently flawed (and replacing an institutional approach with a business led one is just a semantic shift that does pretty much the same thing at the basic level). It is far better to have a mass of material to explore than one or two masterpieces standing in splendid contextless isolation that are all that survived a purge. Not to mention that having a lot of material necessitates someone with the expertise to help guide a user through that material to what they might find valuable, which is the basic job of any librarian or curator! It seems to me that more material would actually safeguard that role and prevent it from being so easily dismissed as unnecessary in a world where the idea of 'curation' is reduced to the idea that everyone can just Google their searches!

It would be a shame to see a lot of the same ideas applied to 'electronic libraries' as well (with arguments about the cost of servers, bandwidth, etc now being the big ones), with the new argument in favour of lack of preservation that "there's so much out there online anyway, so who would miss this area?" being bandied around. As someone who has tried to find certain articles, or certain videos footage to illustrate a point in a post (Copyrighted or not. For example earlier this year, with little comment, the University of Berkeley removed eight years of thousands of freely available videos of lectures from YouTube and put them behind an institutional paywall) I can say for certain that there is material unavailable online, for as much as certain websites or streaming services try to suggest in advertising that they hold access to everything (for a fee of course). And of course the decimation of Tumblr in the face of the new climate of moral censoriousness puts the lie to everything being available, even if what is being thrown in the bin now can all just be 'easily' dismissed as pornography.

I hope that this is not just my natural hoarder instincts coming out, but I do think that having as much material available as possible to then pick and choose and build your own canons from is extremely important and we casually discard anything as 'worthless' (or worse "for the greater good") at our peril.
Last edited by colinr0380 on Sat Dec 08, 2018 6:12 am, edited 2 times in total.

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DeprongMori
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Re: The Criterion Channel

#62 Post by DeprongMori » Thu Dec 06, 2018 4:32 pm

I mostly found Groo’s piece a hot mess with some legitimate critique mixed in, mostly undermined by her presentation of it.

Colinr0380 made a cogent analysis of the issues of curatorship that I would refer readers to. In a physically finite space such as a library building, there will always be the painful decision-making of culling and de-accessioning physical books. That decision-making is fraught for all the reasons he outlines.

On the other hand, Groo argues as if FilmStruck was within that physical world. It is not. FilmStruck is/was a key piece in a continuum of archival of moving image artifacts. It provides a bridge between the history-blind popular streaming services and the archives of a more ephemeral and non-narrative nature that extend and contextualize the moving images we are more familar with. Without that bridge, people have little means to even know about the existence of those less-traditional archives or the language to grasp them. The existence of that bridge strengthens the position of those less-traditional archives.

For example, a viewer might encounter a reference to a call-back to Harold Lloyd’s Safety Last or Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai in a modern film they love. It is relatively easy for them to get streaming or Netflix disc access to those films, but what next? They might find one or two films expanding from that point through their usual channel, but then what? Dead end. FilmStruck and future services like it provide a wealth of resources that infinitely reward the curious viewer by contuing to expand their horizons, both through the films themselves and the contextualizing supplements. From here, they can discover the rich world of silent film, or the wide variety of Asian cinema through history. Through film-makers like Jean Rouch, Jean Painlevé, Robert Drew, Bill Morrison, Stan Brakhage, and others on FilmStruck, they can discover the world of non-narrative and ephemeral films. And it is about as non-elite as you can get as it cost less than $10 per month.

I volunteer with the Prelinger Library in San Francisco. In addition to this unorthodox research space of physical text and pictorial materials organized by Rick and Megan Prelinger, Rick has had as his mission the collection and archival for public access of ephemeral films of a non-narrative nature, such as industrial and educational shorts, and home movies. These are then made available (as well as scans of public domain printed materials) for free public access through the Internet Archive. I just attended Lost Landscapes of San Francisco 13 which packed the 1400-seat Castro Theatre for two nights with a presentation of home movies, outtakes, and other ephemera that provided personal glimpses of San Francisco’s cityscapes and culture over more than 100 years, beginning with a fresh 4K scan of A Trip Down Market Street Before The Fire, April 1906. It was presented in a partnership between the Prelinger Archive, the Internet Archive, and the Long Now Foundation.

In summary, Groo makes a misguided argument that “the canon” must die in order for other more ephemeral moving images to be preserved or appreciated. It is misguided because without the expansive and contextualizing services such as FilmStruck, those other moving image artifacts might as well exist on Mars for most people. The world of film and film preservation is unconstrained by physical barriers to expansion that limit book libraries. FilmStruck presents a bridge, not a wall.

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Emak-Bakia
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Re: The Criterion Channel

#63 Post by Emak-Bakia » Sat Dec 08, 2018 4:24 am

Responses all around are appreciated. Are critics of Groo’s article in agreement that she’s got a major beef with Filmstruck specifically? I don’t actually interpret her piece like that. Soundchaser, you ask if I think you have misrepresented anything, and that is where I would point. Can anyone quote a particular opinion in which she criticizes Filmstruck? As I see it, she’s using the occasion of the closing of Filmstruck to reflect upon what it represents – a particular way of defining what movies are worth talking about and saving. I think it’s a great time for this discussion. And it seems to have spurred quite a bit of it.

I also disagree with movielocke and Deprong’s assertions that Groo is misrepsenting Filmstruck as a physical archive. That’s a misreading of her text. She acknowledges right at the start the difference between Filmstruck and physical archives when she says, “Yet something was profoundly strange in these acts of mourning.” (These acts of mourning that equate Filmstruck with an archive.) She’s interested in, with reactions to the closing of Filmstruck, its content being equated with physical materials in an archive. She never conflates the two. She even goes on to state, “But, of course, FilmStruck was never a library or a film archive.” She even directly addresses the folly of such thinking: “Let’s set aside the conflation of FilmStruck with an archival institution.”
Michael Kerpan wrote:
Thu Dec 06, 2018 10:10 am
And why does she object to people being sad over the evaporation of a relatively cheap way to access "narrative" films that one might otherwise find hard to see? No matter wherther her piece mentioned some good ideas in passing, it was remarkably arrogant in tone.
I don’t think she objects to those reactions. I think she’s curious about the reasons for those reactions, and I think she argues that they come from a place that positions a particular type of film above others and advances a particular dominant narrative. I don’t think she’s making a controversial statement here, and I agree with her.

It’s interesting that you and others have interpreted her tone as arrogant. I should state that I had read (and quite liked) at least one of her pieces before, so it was specifically seeing her name attached to the article that made me stop and read it. I can imagine how the misguided headline might otherwise set a bad impression before even reading the first sentence. For the record, I don’t find her tone arrogant. I read it as a sincere reflection on the state of what films are being saved and talked about in the year 2018.

I do agree with criticisms of the final line. If I were writing this piece, I would have softened it, though such is my style. I read it more as a provocation than as a literal call to destroy films, but I don’t think the average reader took it that way.
jedgeco wrote:
Thu Dec 06, 2018 12:29 pm
And while I'm sympathetic to the fact that major newspapers don't normally print op eds about the politics of film preservation from junior humanities faculty without some sort of newsy-hook, that's probably an argument for finding a better forum for debate in the first place.
You might be right! Her opinions would not be at all controversial at, say, the AMIA conference that just happened last week, or with any people in the orbit of such organizations. Clearly her opinions have pushed some buttons with the general populace, but it has been interesting to bring this sort of discussion into the mainstream.
colinr0380 wrote:
Thu Dec 06, 2018 12:54 pm
It is far better to have a mass of material to explore than one or two masterpieces standing in splendid contextless isolation that are all that survived a purge.
Colin, thanks for sharing your experiences in pursuing a library management degree. Sorry to boil your whole post down to this one sentence, but it seemed like the most relevant part to respond to. I agree with you here. And, from the article, I don’t imagine that Groo is disagreeing. I don’t think she’s reveling in loss, as seemed to be those people from your college days. I think she’s acknowledging loss in a very matter-of-fact manner as a fundamental part of individual films and film history. As such, platforms such as Filmstruck are destined to come and go, and individuals films will always come in and out of circulation. Until eventually they’ll just be gone for good. That’s a fact which we all know to be true, but which can also be very hard to accept. I wonder if this direct, uncomfortable confrontation with the ephemerality of film is part of what has rubbed some people the wrong way.
DeprongMori wrote:
Thu Dec 06, 2018 4:32 pm
In summary, Groo makes a misguided argument that “the canon” must die in order for other more ephemeral moving images to be preserved or appreciated. It is misguided because without the expansive and contextualizing services such as FilmStruck, those other moving image artifacts might as well exist on Mars for most people. The world of film and film preservation is unconstrained by physical barriers to expansion that limit book libraries. FilmStruck presents a bridge, not a wall.
Deprong, I’ll be honest and say that I’m a bit skeptical of your description of Filmstruck as a bridge to understanding "orphan" films. Sure, it sounds great, but that perspective assumes as its starting point precisely the discourse that Groo is advocating changing. As you describe it, works outside of the dominant category (which Groo and I have both untidily, clumsily lumped together as feature-length narrative works) are merely supplemental to the main course.

And your point about film preservation being unconstrained by physical barriers, well, not tryin' to beat you up, because I do appreciate your thoughts, but, well, it’s demonstrably wrong.

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colinr0380
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Re: The Criterion Channel

#64 Post by colinr0380 » Sat Dec 08, 2018 8:33 am

I'm open to this article being intended with 'love', but only in the sense that saying "These are not the films that need seeing or saving" at the time of a service closing down is at best similar to Jonathan Rosenbaum's article on Bergman. Only with the Rosenbaum article mitigated in its harshness by having its originally intended purpose overridden by being pressed into service to act as an obituary!

All films need seeing and saving, and the article feels as if it equates two issues together - lack of representation and the 'ephemerality' of a service - that seem quite separate. Maybe arguing that a service needs to exist to only represent under-represented voices would be a better approach, but it seems pretty awful to say that the legacy of classical arthouse cinema (represented by a surely not unintentional still of 'now problematic' Bertolucci) has to 'die' and be willfully ignored to be replaced by a different set of films. Why is one taking resources that would otherwise have for certain been allocated to another? Why cannot both exist? And that is why the Filmstruck situation seems depressing, in that hopefully that diversity would begin to appear on that service the longer that it was around. Now everything is back to the start again and has to begin from scratch, which is likely going to have to begin with the more recognised titles all over again. Because whatever the hopes for a new service it is going to inevitably have to be run under commercial considerations as much as artistic ones, at least a little.

I think what I'm saying is that instead of celebrating the demise of a site that allowed people to pay for access to 'narrative' films, and being upset that whatever replaces it is inevitably going to be something along the same lines with a lot of the same titles, that it might instead be better to try and work out ways to produce streaming services that are 'uncommercial' or subsided in some way to provide free access to avant garde, experimental and representation led films. But what I would really love is to see a service given the time to grow into something that could become a service that provided a range of material (which is one of the problems it seems that Criterion has had over the years in having to move from platform to platform and start all over again each time) from commercial to experimental and see the ways in which films interact together when put in close connection like that rather than see specialist sites that ghettoise material into isolated areas and only talk about one aspect of cinema in isolation. I felt that way about problematically trying to fit all films through the lens of the auteur theory, and feel mostly the same about viewing through other specific approaches: academic, ideological, political, etc. It can be useful as a sweeping generalisation to begin a conversation and quickly group films together that share common qualities but that should be the start of a more in depth conversation that respects each piece as an individual piece of work saying something specific rather than the end of it, even if that means tackling with challenging material. Doing too much over generalisation can end up in a position where a whole swathe of cinema is pressed to just 'disappear' because they do not represent a particular point of view that is felt to be needed for a particular era, or have been deemed 'unnecessary' or 'problematic' in some fashion.

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tenia
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Re: The Criterion Channel

#65 Post by tenia » Sun Dec 09, 2018 6:39 am


furbicide wrote: Anyhow, as an Australian who never even had access to Filmstruck due to geo-restrictions, I find the handwringing over its death a little myopic and US-centric. The rest of the world's cinephiles survived okay before Filmstruck existed, survived okay without being able to access it during its and are still surviving okay now. We always need new avenues of access to the world's films, and I do totally support whatever appears in Filmstruck's place even if nobody outside the US gets to use it. But Groo is right when she says that we can't pin the hopes of global cinephilia on one commercial streaming outlet (if so, we really are doomed).
We in French spent years eagerly waiting for FilmStruck to happen in France. We indeed "survived" by seeing tons of stuff unavailable for us getting released elsewhere, including there. When it finally happened, we were finally able to get our hands on some movies absolutely not available in France, not even on DVD, the same way than the couple of older movies on Netflix were sometimes totally new to us.

For us, Criterion and FilmStruck WERE the backchannels already.

I understand your point, but I think it underestimate how patchy some local availabilities can be.

The opposite is true too : tons of Duvivier and Renoir and Clouzot have been released in France (and some in the UK) but not in the US nor in Australia. A global platform can simplify that instead of keeping with the tired old over-split rightholding markets that probably explains many current local unavaibilities.

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