Tara Donovan, Space and Time

I had the privilege of seeing a Tara Donovan instillation at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Denver yesterday and I was BLOWN away!   Look at the SCALE of these! Tar paper made to look like waves or shale rock or lava flows perhaps.        Mylar folded up to look like some kind of otherworldly plant, strips of Mylar arranges in circles on the wall made to look like oyster shells in a coral pattern, index cards meticulously stacked up to resemble salt or tufa towers, straws made to look like a mist…      Each installation is sticking with me.    In some ways, her pieces could be about the passage of time, and the way things form and grow over time in nature. She’s undoubtedly taking the time to place each piece of paper, or strip of mylar, or plastic straw or index card in ways that mimic organic growth. We tend to think of space and time as two separate concepts, but can time be “seen” in this way?  

Boredom is Good For the Mind

I have been writing a lot about boredom lately, and my first podcast episode was on how slow cinema provides space for contemplation. Well if you’d like to know some of the science behind this idea, check out this excellent TED talk by Manoush Zomorodi. In particular, check out the quote from Dr. Sandi Mann at 3:45 “Once you start daydreaming and allow your mind to really wander, you start thinking a little bit beyond the conscious, a little bit into the subconscious which allows sort of different connections to take place. It’s really awesome actually.”  In the “default mode” our brains do some of their best work, connecting disparate ideas and (get this) put the moments of memories together to construct a personal narrative, which allows for us to set goals and plan our future actions. So boredom leads to creativity, leadership skills, a heightened desire to solve problems in the community, and saves precious glucose in the brain. This all lines up with the book I’m reading about boredom and the literature I’ve been studying regarding slow cinema. The really fascinating aspect of this (which is not in her talk) is that artists seem to instinctively know this, […]

American Dharma

Alissa Wilkinson reviews the latest Errol Morris Documentary here. This is another in a long line of interview-based films my Morris about divisive political figures (Robert McNamara in “Fog of War” and Rumsfeld in “Unknown Known” among others). While I haven’t gotten a chance to see it, Morris has a propensity to let the powerful talk, to such a degree that they often end up revealing more about themselves then they had intended. I have no doubt this is the same. https://www.vox.com/culture/2018/9/11/17841006/american-dharma-review-steve-bannon-errol-morris

Mr. Rodgers and Radical Kindness

New York Times Columnist David Brooks has written a lovely piece about the new Mr. Rodgers movie.  There’s of course SO much to say about this movie, and I’ll write something soon about why I think it should be picked for the Academy Award this year. But I’ll let Brooks do the talking for today. “Once, as Tom Junod described in a profile  for Esquire, Rogers met a 14-year-old boy whose cerebral palsy left him sometimes unable to walk or talk. Rogers asked the boy to pray for him. The boy was thunderstruck. He had been the object of prayers many times, but nobody had asked him to pray for another. He said he would try since Mister Rogers must be close to God and if Mister Rogers liked him he must be O.K. Junod complimented Rogers on cleverly boosting the boy’s self-esteem, but Rogers didn’t look at the situation that way at all: “Oh, heavens no, Tom! I didn’t ask him for his prayers for him; I asked for me. I asked him because I think that anyone who has gone through challenges like that must be very close to God. I asked him because I wanted his intercession.”” “And here is the […]

2018 Film Independent Documentary Fellows

Congratulations to these nine filmmakers who were selected as 2018 Film Independent documentary fellows! https://www.filmindependent.org/blog/reality-empathy-announcing-2018-documentary-fellows/

Beyond Boredom to Ecstasy

Think of the experience of modern existence (post industrial revolution) as swinging between two poles – INTEREST on the one hand and BOREDOM on the other. Interest in this case has to do with being entertained, your attention being held by something. This is a passive state of consciousness. Boredom on the other hand is NOT being entertained, being DIS-interested.  Ok, now this is the psychological condition of our time. Think about it: advertising and commerce tends to treat us as passive consumers, whose attention needs to be commandeered in order to be sold to. We don’t notice that we are going through life in a passive state, either entertained by what is paraded in front of us or bored by it.  Now my question to you is: does this passive state constitute happiness? CAN one be happy in the process or cycle of entertainment-boredom, entertainment-boredom? Or is there something more to being human?  Here’s what I want to ask in my new book: Is there a way, through artistic appreciation and practice to go beyond this cycle?  Short answer: yes, and it has to do with arriving on the other side of boredom, to a kind of active interest, […]

The Judge 

A film about a female shariah judge, and a window into what life is like, and what issues are being worked through fire Muslims in Palestine. The Variety review is here. http://variety.com/2018/film/reviews/the-judge-review-1202749826/

Anthony Bourdain Documentary

This is huge. A documentary in the works in Anthony Bourdain. I really hope they do a good, respectful, complex yet inspiring biopic. An Anthony Bourdain Documentary Is in the Works at CNN: ‘We Want to Do Him Justice’

Documentary and Sensitive Issues

This is a great article on some of the issues documentarians face when dealing with sensitive content, not least of which is how to respect your subjects.