Las Vegas Film Critics Society 2007 Awards

Last week the Las Vegas Film Critics Society announced their annual Sierra awards for the best films of 2007.

"Old Men" proves to be alive and kicking as the Las Vegas Film Critics Society announces its winners for it's 11th Annual 'Sierra Awards.' The Coen Bros' No Country for Old Men received three prize including Best Picture and Best Director.

Best Actor is Daniel Day-Lewis in Paul Thomas Anderson's There Will be Blood.

Both films are widely predicted to go up against each other at the Academy Awards.

Ellen Page won Best Actress for playing a 16-year-old pregnant girl in Juno. Diablo Cody, the stripper turned screenwriter, wrote the screenplay and also won for Best Screenplay.

Best Supporting Actor is Javier Bardem, playing the oxygen tank killer with a penchant for making his victims decide their fate on the toss of a coin in No Country for Old Men.

Best Supporting Actress is Cate Blanchett

Best Director
Joel & Ethan Coen, “No Country for Old Men

Best Screenplay (Original or Adapted)
Diablo Cody, “Juno”

Best Cinematography
Robert Elswit, “There Will Be Blood”

Best Film Editing
Christopher Rouse, “The Bourne Ultimatum

Best Costume Design
Colleen Atwood, “Sweeney Todd - The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street

Best Art Direction
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Best Visual Effects

Best Score
Jonny Greenwood, “There Will Be Blood”

Best Song
“Walk Hard” by Marshall Crenshaw, John C. Reilly, Judd Apatow and Jake Kasdan
Performed by John C. Reilly

Best Animated Film

Best Family Film

Best Documentary

Best Foreign Film
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

Youth in Film Award (Male)
Ed Sanders, “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Youth in Film Award (Female)
Saoirse Ronan, "Atonement"

Best DVD (Packaging, Design and Content)
Blade Runner Ultima edition(Warner Home Entertainment)

William Holden Lifetime Achievement Award
James Hong

Tales from the Farm

Jeff Lemire’s first book in his three book trilogy, Tales From The Farm (Essex County), is one of the best comics I read last month. I waited a long time to buy it because my comic book store usually discounts only less recents comic books.
Lester, a young boy without a father, is taken in by his uncle Ken following his mother’s early death from cancer. At every attempt of contact from Ken, Lester retreats to his fantasy world of comic books: fighting aliens, building forts, and generally living in a make believe world. Both of their lives, although they share the same house, are spent in isolation and sadness, being affected by the death of a loved one in different ways. Even so, when Lester first reaches out for a father figure, he does not look to Ken, but to Jimmy Lebeuf, a one time professional hockey player who is now a gas attendant after a career ending injury.
The story is all set in a fictionalized version of Jeff Lemire's hometown. The character of Lester is not directly based on the author's childhood , but the themes are the same. Jeff Lemire grew up on a farm just like the character did, but was raised by parents. He added the death of character's mother only to heighten the character’s isolation.
The flashbacks show Lester’s mother in the hospital and reveal the conflict between Ken who didn’t want to become a father and Lester who has been ripped from all he knows and thrust into life on a farm. Lemire doesn’t make any obvious judgments when it comes to the decisions that Lester makes about love and friendship. His narrative is more about Lester’s well being and self-discovery.
The artwork of Tales From the Farm is distinctive black and white. Jeff Lemire’s style is straightforward and stark.
A touching story about self-discovery, growing up and loss.

How does cinematic fiction render the ordinary world intelligible?

Narrative is one of the fundamental ways in which we organnize the world. In recent years the study of narrative has acquired a new and prominent role in theorizing film theory.
How do you study narratology?
  • You should study theories about the nature of those patterns and structures, which are created while consciuonsly reading a text;
  • You should look at the concept of causality, space and time and how they have been perceived as data in an imagined story world;
  • You should ask yourself how to represent a particular event within a narrative schema;
  • You should also expand the concept of the spectator's knowledge beyond immediate seeing to include other influences: cultural expectations, memory of previous scenes and the sound track;
  • You should create a hierarchy of roles or levels which describes the typical ways in which a reader participates in a novel.
It isn't a simple task, but Edward Branigan has done it in his Narrative Comprehension and Film. His principal references are Todorov's causal-transformation theory of narrative and Stephen Heath's theory of displacement.
Edward Branigan offers us a great deal of substance and a range of attractive speculative insights. The book explain us how to relate the double argument about narrative in film and human perception as interpretive construals.

Echo, Terry Moore's new creator owned series

Terry Moore has won the prestigious Will Eisner Award for “Best Continuing Series” and the National Cartoonist Society’s Reuben Award for “Best Comic Book” with his graphic novel series, Strangers In Paradise . He' s currently under contract with Marvel Comics, where he writes Runaways, and Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane. I wouldn't think he had any free time, but instead he's working on a new creator-owned series, Echo, which will come out in March 2008.
Echo is a black humor thriller comedy drama which narrates the story of Julie Martin, a photographer taking pictures in the desert who finds herself in the wrong place at the wrong time. It seems that Julie lives in the same world and time of the SIP characters. The setting of the story takes place in Yosemite National Park, near Lake Mono. Her marriage is going bad and her credit has been cut off.
Echo #1 will be in stores March 5th. It will be 24 pages long and in B&W. The first printing of issue one, and only the first printing, will feature a silver foil cover.
It should be about the lenght of three trade paperbacks.
If you want to read a preview, click here.

Pulsazioni (Beats, 2006)

Original editing, the use of close-ups, great photography. Antonio Ansalone, a virtually unknown filmaker has directed this obsessive short film about headache pain and the abuse of medication. Ansalone entered his film in an Italian film competition but it didn't win any prize.

Is art dead?

Since Hegel, the idea of the end of art has become a staple of aesthetic theory. Will postart be the end of art?

The concept of “postart” was developed by the happening artist Allan Kaprow, based on his idea that life is much more interesting than art, at the expense of art. Postart is not a point of no return and in fact there are many fine artists who continue to make important art. But it was perhaps inevitable that “postart” would be attacked as non-elitist (aristocratic). Marcel Duchamp called it “intellectual expression” over “animal expression”. This can be seen in art with the split between minimal-conceptual art and expressionism.
In his book The End of Art, Donald Kuspit promotes the idea that fear and ignorance of the unconscious have created a climate of creative superficiality in which artists are unwilling to break trhough the surface of their minds to the uncomfortable waters that lie beneath. Militarism and materialism, authoritarianism and capitalism, are more devastating than anything in the unconscious, even though they have roots in unconscious.
Artists are scared of the inner truth about themselves, more particularly, about acknowledging psychic conflict and trauma as well as the primary creativity evidenced by fantasy (especially dreams).
Kuspit traces the genealogy of the postart aesthetic from Duchamp through Warhol’s commercialism to Hirst’s installations (and his preoccupation with banal objects and everyday life situations).
Whereas modern art consist of revolutionary experiments motivated by a desire to express aspects of the newly-discovered “unconscious mind,” postart, Kuspit argues, is shallow, unreflective banality motivated by the desire to become institutionalized.
The End of Art will appeal to anyone who has ever felt bamboozled by the productions of the postmodern establishment.

Kim Duchateau wins Bronzen Adhemar 2007!

Kim Duchateau is one of the most inventive and most productive Flemish strip-makers of the moment. He's also active as a painter and musician, and makes animated films .
He combines an efficient, accurate story line with an absurdist, sometimes painfully sharp feeling for humor. His style reminds one of Tex Avery and Jan Svankmajer.

Duchateau won the ` Stripschappenning 2006 ' award in the adventure and recreation category for the third part from the ` Esther Verkest ' range. He has made comics for the small-press magazines Incognito, Zone 5300 and Beeldstorm. He has created one panel cartoons for severals newspapers. His comics 'Verhaaltjes voor het Slapengaan', parts 1 & 2, and 'Unne' were self-published. In 2000, his POCKET was chosen as daily strip for a morning newspaper. His` Esther Verkest ' was issued in p-Magazine, his ` Aldegonne ' in Stripgids and other illustrations were published in Knack. Other works also appear in the popular French booklet L'Echo of the Savanes and in Dutch newspapers and illustrated magazines. Five albums of ` Esther Verkest ' were realeased, the last (`Verschwunden ') in 2006. His new character 'Aldegonne' is published in the Zipp-addition of the newspaper De Standaard.

Blinding light

The Blinding Light Cinema existed as North America's only full time underground cinema, operating 6 nights a week for five years from 1998 to 2003. An archive of these years can be found on their website.
Blinding light helped underground cinema grow more and more. Now the foundation needs your help. As a non-profit society its financial status has always been rather shaky even though they did pretty well with what they had. Still, they do have an ongoing debt which needs to be shaken off. It runs around $4000.00. If you can give them a financial donation of $30, they'll send you a special "grab bag" of goods from their archive of materials.
Visit or contact them for more information!

To be a photographer

Many people think that photography isn't an art because things are depicted as they are. This simply isn't true! The work of a
photographer also entails choosing what he shall describe.
Photographers shoot all they see. It seems an easy and cheap task. How can a mechanical process be made to produce artistic pictures?
This has been one of the aesthetic questions of the eighteenth century. Photography is the product of knowledge and sensibility, trial and error and empirical experiment.
"Will the industry invade the territory of art?" Baudelaire asked himself. Today we could answer him "No, it won't. Look at some photographs. The variety of their imagery is prodigious: the light, the viewpoint, the change in print tonality."
Shooting a photo is less simple than it seems. You can study photo, you can learn as a photographer does. Photographers learn in two ways: from an intimate understanding of their tools and materials and from other photographs. If you can't go to a photography exhibition, you can study John Szarkowski's The Photographer's Eye, a visual history of photography.

Peter the Pirate Squid

I usually enjoy Roman Dirge 's artistic creation; this work, however, fell below my expectations. The text has a few outright mistakes, the story is nice, but a bit too vague: the comic follows the story of a mini-pirate squid and his crew of sea-creatures in search of treasure and their own tortured pasts. All this in only thirty-two pages!?
The drawings are what I really enjoyed most in this comic book, and they're by Stephen Daily.
Many reviewers tend to judge Peter the Pirate Squid too harshly. If you' re still interested in this comic, get it now. It costs just a few bucks and remember that every artist can go through a negative period.


Are iconic, are underground, are free. What more can you ask for?

I guess they're too do goody for my standard, but I like their storyboards and their use of color. If you want to read them, please visit webcomicnation website

Film spectatorship

Yesterday my copy of Projecting Illusion by Richard Allen arrived at my home. The critic disscusses the concept of "illusion" (obviously!) and the aesthetic experience of visual representation. His books touches on fundamental issues in cinema theory, it borrows many concepts from Husserl and Althusser , and invokes Deridda's theory, while the general tendency of film theory seeks instead to exemplify Lacanian theory and embrace Althusser's ideological pparatus theory. The logical incoherencies of contemporary film theorists clearly emerge frome the pages of this book. Allen concurs with Noel Carrol's conclusion that contemporary film theorists's characterization of the impression of reality in cinema is wrong, but while Noel Carroll rejects the applicability of the concept of illusion to the cinema, Allen, on the other hand, gives the concept of illusion renewed significance through a detailed investigation of the ways in which illusion may be experienced and the kinds of beliefs that illusion entails.

Bits and pieces (2007)

The first pixilation I watched after Neighbours by Norman McLaren

Towards a universal theory of color?

Is it possible to accept a universal theory of color?
In the early 20's some Bauhaus painters faced the following problem: was it possible to generate a value scale of equal perceptual steps between black and white? Itten answered in the affirmative. He proposed a scale of seven steps. In the same period the German theorist Wilhelm Ostwald and the American theorist Albert Munsell proposed their color system, which became the most widely used in twenty century color. I 'd have liked to ask them: what do you think about De diversibus artibus?
De diversibus is a book of twelfth century, in which the German monk Theophilus introduces his scale of color with a discussion on painting the rainbow.
"Neither man nor nature could afford to use a mechanism that would provide a special kind of receptor or generator for each color shade" (Rudolph Arnheim).
"A semiotic theory of color universals must take for significance exactly what colors do mean in humans society. They do not mean Munsell color chips" (Berlin and Kay)

Slapstick comedy

If in early avant-garde cinema, one of the tendencies was abstract film, the other was slapstick comedy. It may seem a bit of strange, but Maya Derenherself admitted that her cinematic style was influenced by the Keystone Cops comedies. The use of slapstick comedy allowed film-makers to use stop-frame motion and opened the route to an irrational comic style.

Is it possible to screen film art today?

Such films have had just one screening. Diagonal Simphony by Viking Eggeling was screened for the first time in 1925 and then more than twenty years went by before anyone could see it again. The same thing happened to Tusalava by Len Lye: it was screened for the first time in 1929 followed by thirty years of silence.
I don't think it's any easier today to watch film art as it was in 20's, unless we illegally download these films by using emule!
I believe in film art. Today journalism must be as energetic as it was in 20's, if we want continue to watch film art. Hence the importance of film clubs and film blogs, too.

Studying color theory

How many theories of color exist? I believe there is one for each style of art. In fact, if you're a student of art history you can distinguish one work of art from another merely on the basis of its colors. It isn't a simple task. In his long essays, John Cage, a master of color, offers some guidelines on how to study color. I learned a great deal from his books. I think I will study them once again. But I also need to see art through the eyes of the color masters, to apply their theories and to work with them. A book is merely a book as good as it may be.

Colour and abstract art

I prefer abstract art for its use of colour. I think colour has a primary role in abstraction, surely more than in representational art. In this I agree with Karl Scheffler: "our time, which, more than any other, depends on the past for its form, has produced a kind of painting in which colour is independent". I really think the early '900 artworks opened up a new era of visual freedom. Will we have another revoultion in art?

Abstract films: the first experiment

For a long time I thought the first films were made by Len Lye. Recently I found out that the first experiments in abstract film-making were made by Italian film-makers Arnaldo Ginna and Bruno Corra. I looked for information on the web, I searched for their film, I made hundreds of enquires, I even begged a movies newsgroup for info. Nothing happened.
Last month I discovered that their film "Chromatic music" didn't survive, only written notes exist. I'd kill to watch it! I must be satisfied with just these notes: green color; a red star appears, its tentacles cover the screen, then the green begines to absorb the red. I guess we really lost a masterpiece!

American elf supersite

James Kochalka upgrades his website. Now everyone can read his "American Elf"diary archives: you don't have to pay for them any more!
You can visit his website.

Bruno Bozzetto

This month the Castelli Animati Festival celebrates the great talent of Italian animator and filmaker Bruno Bozzetto. I guess it'a bit of a paradox that Bozzetto is celebrated in Italy where they don't allow him to continue to produce his films. Italian tv is finally broadcasting his three animated films, after many many years of silence. Australian and Japanese tv, on the other hand, broadcast Bozzetto's Allegro Non Troppo" film at least once a year and his Signor Rossi shorts are released in Germany. When will Italy release his shorts films? I don't think they'll ever do it!

My first post

Who I am and What I want aren't questions that I 'll answer. This is my blog. We'll drool about underground comics, avant gard art and cinema.