This Week You Will Cool Off With:
- 90s indie film
- modern indie film
- classic comedy
- intense punk
- savage mind games!
Thanks to Miller and C.M. Crockford for bringing the heat this week. Send articles throughout the next week to ploughmanplods [at] gmail, post articles from the past week below for discussion and Have a Happy Friday!
Matene Toure interviews Cauleen Smith at Screen Slate about making her independent film Drylongso in the 90s, community moviemaking and art vs. politics:
Now when I talk about it, I try and focus on Pica the character, not about all the pathologies that people like to use Black media for. If Black movies don’t teach white people something about the Black community that they feel like they can use and weaponize later, then they’re not interested in it. Even a simple film that’s about a friendship between two girls, people are desperate to have it be about this or that political issue. In the ’90s it was the endangerment of Black men. In 2023, it’s missing girls and women. So people will pick up on some issue and pull it out and try and use the film as leverage to talk about that. But this film is a cultural object. It’s entertainment, it’s a story, its storytelling, it’s aesthetics, it’s craft.
For Mubi, Leonardo Goi interviews Whit Stillman and considers the careful calibration of humor and longing in his movies:
The Stillman hero is a deeply melancholic creature, painfully aware that the milieus they love, sooner or later, will vanish forever. But such nostalgia requires careful phrasing. It is not an era that Stillman’s films and their youngsters long for, strictly speaking, so much as the spaces for communion those earlier times made possible. At the heart of Stillman’s cinema is a gaping loneliness. His tales are about people who must either cling to their old cliques or fashion new ones to find solace and purpose. It’s a restlessness that cuts through social hierarchies; it makes Stillman’s characters eminently relatable, and the films often heartrending.
In Filmmaker Magazine, Sophia Haid and Keisha N Knight discuss the need for a new independent film infrastructure:
Sometimes, I don’t exactly know what the curatorial perspective is with festivals because it often feels like the circuit is talking to itself, which is why we have to start to elevate these other ways of films being in the world. Oftentimes in the U.S., we become extremely provincial and forget that the conversations we’re having are not necessarily the conversations other regions are having. For example, Lo Que Queda en el Camino is not explicitly taking into mind the discourse around authorship picked up by the U.S. doc field, but the filmmakers are absolutely thinking and activating it in their own way. It seems on my darkest days that the majority of the field can only see films through this very narrow, risk-averse, contemporary nonprofit public media window. A film has to check all the boxes and have its politics legible in particular ways in order to even get past the first layer of review. There is a tightness I think we have to actively resist. It’s not that this is “bad,” it’s just small, and I want to exist in a media ecosystem that has a bit more serious play in it along with what we have now.
Shondaland‘s Sandra Ebejer remembers the powerful performances of Mia Zapata, singer-lyracist for The Gits:
When their debut studio album, Frenching the Bully, was released on C/Z Records in 1992, it enabled the band to reach an even wider audience. By the time they met with Atlantic Records executive Tim Sommer in mid-1993, he was already a fan. “Once I became aware of the Gits and I saw them perform, it was a no-brainer for me,” he tells Shondaland. “Mia Zapata was one of the most extraordinary voices of her generation and certainly one of the most awesome vocalists that I’ve ever seen and will ever see. She was a force of nature. I described her at the time as being a cross between Patti Smith and Bessie Smith or Janis Joplin and Johnny Rotten — all of those work. We were used to seeing dynamic, charismatic punk rock performers in front of people. Rarely did they have voices as powerful or as rooted in rock and blues tradition as Mia.”
At The MIT Press Reader,Greg Costikyan explains why Rock, Paper, Scissors isn’t a game of random outcomes but a psychological battle with an advantage to those who have studied the contours of the human mind:
One heuristic of experienced players is “Losers lead with Rock.” This is demonstrably true; naïve players will lead with Rock more often than one-third of the time. Your hand begins in the form of a rock, and it is easiest to keep it that way. The name of the game begins with “Rock,” and if you are mentally sorting through the options, it is the first one that will occur to you. And the word “rock” itself has connotations of strength and immovability. These factors lead players to choose Rock on their first go more often than chance would dictate. An experienced player can take advantage of this. Against a player you know to be naïve, you play Paper.