1. “Galaxies Inside His Head.” Terrance Hayes uses poetry to show that there is more to him, and to anyone, than what you expect.
“Hayes has written poems that speak to, or for, the 1980s TV star Mr. T; the black nationalist poet Amiri Baraka; the segregationist senator (and secret father of a black daughter) Strom Thurmond; the Russian modernist poet and provocateur Vladimir Mayakovsky; and the poet Etheridge Knight, who began writing in prison. His most revealing impersonations, though, invoke chameleonic pop stars like Michael Jackson and David Bowie. His work explores multiple identities and multiple forms of masculinity—how to be, or become, various kinds of men—but it is also an art of evasion: To become a full-time poet, Hayes had to leave a house of prison guards. Hayes works to escape not the African-American identity but the demand that he (or anyone) express that identity in the same way all the time. When Hayes read in South Carolina last month, ’a young white girl pretty much accosted me and said, ’Why do you write so much about being black?’’ he told me. It wasn’t the first time he was asked. ’Because I am black. I’m black, I’m Southern, I’m male, I’m obsessive, I’m weird, I’m half-blind,’ he answered.”
2. “How to make the Blu-ray relevant again.” For The Dissolve, Keith Phipps on how to prevent the format from going the way of the dodo.
“This one’s a little too obvious, maybe, akin to telling car manufacturers to be more like BMW. The Criterion Collection is the gold standard for home video. But what the company does isn’t completely inimitable. Other companies could also package the films carefully, fill out discs with thoughtful features, and treat every film like it’s worthy of a Blu-ray in the first place. Criterion does this better than anyone, but there’s a huge gap between an exhaustive Criterion release and the now-standard, half-assed Blu-ray release. There were better 2014 films than Darren Aronofsky’s Noah, for instance, but few as fascinating, controversial, or so famously the product of a clash between a director and a studio who didn’t always see eye-to-eye. And while it’s probably too soon to perform a full look at the whole, uncensored story, surely the film’s Blu-ray—which lists at $41.99—should have included more than three 20-minute making-of featurettes. Part of what made DVDs so exciting in their golden age was the wide variety of features found on many discs—and expected of high-profile releases of Noah’s scale. Why should a superior technology be giving viewers less?”
3. “Alive and Well.” For Reverse Shot, Giovanni Marchini Camia on Berlin’s film landscape.
“Another diversifying strategy is organizing film festivals. There are over 100 festivals yearly, providing a forum for sundry national cinemas and catering to a plethora of niche interests. One particularly notable example is the PornFilmFestival held at the Moviemento, the oldest cinema in Berlin (beating the Tilsiter Lichtspiele by one year) and since the 1970s the locus of the city’s cinephilic counterculture. The festival, which will celebrate its tenth anniversary this October and grows more popular each year, is dedicated to a frank exploration of sexuality through film and by screening principled alternatives to mainstream porn, is intended as an act of reappropriation. The emphasis lies heavily on feminist and LGBT-oriented films depicting unsimulated sex of any and every kind, but the program extends to documentaries, avant-garde, and vintage pornos from the 1960s and 1970s. The latter, projected in 35mm in the Moviemento’s dingy screening rooms, offer an approximation of the experience of watching porn during its much-romanticized pre-video heyday. Though at heart an ideological endeavor, the PornFilmFestival is purposely tongue-in-cheek and the post-screening Q&A’s with directors and performers are both illuminating and hilarious, which is more than can be said for a lot of film festivals.”
4. “Kitchen Sink Cinema.” For Film Comment, Genevieve Yue on artist-run film laboratories.
“For many, this historical juncture between film and digital media has been cause for lament. But among those in the growing artist-run film lab community, the view is considerably more sanguine. Many are younger filmmakers drawn to the creative possibilities of hand-processing in workshops at places like Mono No Aware, in Brooklyn, or Big Mama’s Cinematheque in Philadelphia. For these artists, film offers a range of textures and expressive possibilities not available in digital formats. Others are drawn to the ’home-brew’ DIY spirit that celebrates the autonomy of artist-run labs. Josh Lewis, who in 2012 founded the Negativland lab in Ridgewood, Queens, describes it as ’a more involved way of being a filmmaker. You can’t rely on an industry that serves Hollywood. You need to be a technician and a filmmaker.’”
5. “True to a Point.” Nick Pinkerton on this year’s True/False.
“True/False, a four-night, three-day documentary film festival which takes place annually in the central Missouri university town of Columbia, has since its humble beginnings in 2004 acquired a reputation for its curatorial excellence, as well as for the fervid, quasi-mystic loyalty that it inspires in regular attendees—journalists, filmmakers, and most anyone involved in the distribution and exhibition of docs. True/False is scheduled immediately before South by Southwest, where many films and filmmakers decamped to immediately after the party in Columbia ended, and with praise for True/False now so universal, at this point it only remains to wait for it to jump the proverbial shark and begin its downhill tumble, as the festival in Austin did many years hence. ’I just know it,’ one longtime attendee said to me a couple of weeks before True/False, ’This is going to be the year when it all goes to hell.’”
Video of the Day: Mad Max: Fury Road gets an insane new trailer:
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