The Cinematologists Podcast

Film academics Dr Dario Llinares and Dr Neil Fox introduce a live screening followed by an audience Q&A. The podcast also features interviews with filmmakers, scholars, writers and actors who debate all aspects of cinema and film culture.

Ep89 Making Waves (w/ dir. Midge Costin)

November 1st, 2019

When we heard that a documentary about the art of film sound was being released we simply had to check it out. Fortuitously, the film was playing at this year's London Film Festival and we were lucky enough to be able to interview the film's director Midge Costin. Midge has an unbelievable C.V. herself as a sound editor working on many of the big action movies of the 80s and 90s including The Rock, Armageddon, Days of Thunder and Crimson Tide. As a graduate of the University of Southern California, she shares the history of American film sound development with the likes of Walter Murch, Ben Burtt & Gary Rydstrom. Her film tracks the experimental developments of sound design and explores the importance of sound to the very DNA of cinema. Neil and Dario discuss some of the questions and examples that the film raises in terms of the symbiosis of sound and image and, in keeping with this subject matter, Dario has created an edit utilising the aural examples that are cited throughout. 

(Thanks to Debbie Murray of Aim Publicity)

Shownotes

Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound

Fuller at Fox Boxset (reviewed by Neil at the beginning)

Crimson Tide - I Do Not Concur

Terminator 2: Parents

Tomita - Snowflakes are Dancing

A Star is Born - Barbara Streisand

Punch Drunk Love - Crash

Punch Drunk Love - Harmonium

The Sounds of Clarie Denis

The Apartment - Champagne 

Throne of Blood - Arrows

Gravity - Explorer's been hit

The Conversation - First recordings

All the President's Men - Phonecalls

Under the Skin - First victim

The Outlaw Josey Wales - Pistols

Jaws - You're Gonna Need a Bigger Boat

You Were Never Really Here - Fight

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Ep88 London Film Festival

October 16th, 2019

 

While the London Film Festival is fresh in the mind, The Cinematologists bring you this round-up of some of the best films in this year's event. In order to help with this task, we have enlisted two smart and articulate young film critics to give their in-depth, considered opinions. Dario talks to Savina Petkova (MubiNotebook, Electric Ghost Magazine, Girls on Tops Tees) and James Maitre (Director's Notes, Albums in the Attic) about their festival highlights.

Before that Dario also talks to London Film Festival senior programmers Kate Taylor and Michael Blyth about the organisation, judging and the context of the festival (You can hear the full interview via our Patreon Page).

(Apologies for the somewhat echoey recording in certain parts of the show)

Shownotes

The Other Lamb (Malgorzata Szumowska)

Monos (Alejandro Landes)

The Lighthouse (Robert Eggers)

The Last Man in San Francisco (Joe Talbot)

The Lodge (Veronika Franz & Severin Fiala)

Portrait of a Lady on Fire (Celine Sciamma) 

Nocturnal (Nathalie Biancheri)

Beanpole (Kantemir Balagov)

Marriage Story (Noah Baumbach)

Nimic (Yorgos Lanthimos)

The Report (Scott Z. Burns) 

Mr Jones (Agnieszka Holland) 

Rose Plays Julie (Joe Lawler & Christine Molloy)

James also mentions the Podcast The Evolution of Horror

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Ep87b Film-Philosophy Conference 2019 (part 2)

October 6th, 2019

We’re back with the second of our double bill of episodes from the Film-Philosophy Conference held at the University of Brighton in July. Hosted by our very own Dario Llinares the event boasted an internationally renowned line-up of keynotes and delegates. 

Both episodes are made up of interviews we managed to grab as the conference progressed and, we hope gives you a sense of the eclectic mix of themes, methodologies and films that were discussed. As with part one, Neil and Dario are joined on interviewing duties by Kat Zabecka, from the University of Edinburgh.

Show Notes

0.0 Introduction – Dario, Neil and Kat welcome Kat to the Cinematologists fold.

10:06 Evy Varsamopoulou (with Neil) - Neil talks to Evy about how Ridley Scott's Prometheus (2012) and Alien: Covenant (2017) introduced a philosophical problematic into a cluster of interrelated and (still) topical issues and debates concerning the origin of humanity, procreation and posthuman futures.

22:30 Mark Cauchi (with Dario) - Mark tells Dario how Jarmusch’s Paterson is an effort to counteract Trumpism and the chauvinistic secularism it embodies, not merely by negatively criticizing it, as Richard Rorty lamented the Left usually does but by drawing upon and revamping a tradition of American thought and culture in order to re-envision positively what a distinctly American secularity could and should be.

42:26 Dionysios Kapsaskis (with Neil) - Neil and Dionysios get into about language and translation in the films of Jim Jarmusch, drawn from Dionysio’s paper exploring representations of translation in Jim Jarmusch’s films. Drawing on recent scholarship on the relationship between film and translation, and on critical writings on translation by Derrida and Benjamin among others, the paper focused on several scenes from Jarmusch’s films in which translation is represented or referred to.

56:26 Jenelle Troxell (with Neil) - Jenelle tells Neil how, with its emphasis on political activism, aesthetic experimentation, and psychoanalysis, the film journal Close Up anticipates the feminist film criticism of the 1970s and how the writers develop what Troxell terms a “contemplative aesthetic” - focusing on film’s capacity to generate states of deep contemplative absorption in the viewer.

01:08:22 Shai Biderman (with Neil) – Over lunch, Neil and Shai discuss Fables and parables—two storytelling devices designed to elicit folk wisdom and moral understanding of human situations and predicaments— how they have gained a stronghold in contemporary film-philosophy and how their use in the Coen Brothers’ oeuvre is worthy of special attention, if only because of their sheer abundance.

01:22:34 Sylvie Magerstaedt (with Kat) – For the last of the conversations featured, Kat sits down with Sylvie to talk about Tim Burton’s Big Fish and Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s Amélie and how although they seem to extol the beauty and power of storytelling and myth creation, and by extension the power of cinema itself, they also raise certain ethical issues when it comes to honesty and truthfulness.

Clips featured on this episode include: Trailer for Prometheus (dir. Scott, 2012), a scene from Paterson (dir. Jarmusch, 2016) and the title song from The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (dir. Coen, 2018), performed by Willie Watson and Tim Blake Nelson.

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Ep87 Film-Philosophy Conference 2019 (part 1)

September 19th, 2019

Season 10 of the Cinematologists podcast kicks off with a double bill of episodes from the Film-Philosophy Conference held at the University of Brighton in July. Hosted by our very own Dario Llinares the event which boasted an internationally renowned line-up of keynotes and delegates. 

Both episodes are made up of interviews we managed to grab as the conference progressed and, we hope gives you a sense of the eclectic mix of themes, methodologies and films that were discussed. Neil and Dario are joined on interviewing duties by Kat Zabecka, who studies at the University of Edinburgh.

Shownotes

0.0 Introduction - Dario and Neil Discuss the build-up to the conference.

8:45 Janet Harbord (with Dario) Janet's keynote speech entitled Film as a Training for Neurotypical life explores gesture in medical film, focusing on the autistic gesture as a practice that resists interpretation through conventional means, troubling the terms of intention and agency.

26:40 Matt Holtmeier (with Neil) Matt discusses the video essay he screened at the conference - Vital Coasts, Mortal Oceans: The Pearl Button as Media Environmental Philosophy - interweaving Chilean philosophers Humberto Maturana, Francisco Varela, and Ricardo Rozzi, with Patricio Guzman’s cosomovisions in order to highlight the complex ecological insights at the intersection of indigenous thought and film form.

37:00 Savina Petkova (with Kat) Savina talks about her paper Real Metaphors. Animals in the Films of Yorgos Lanthimos and the role of animetaphors, Akira Lippit’s eloquent way of describing a non-anthropocentric way to look at animals and animal transformations.

50:42 Murray Pomerance (with Dario) Returning to The Cinematologists Murray outlines The Sound of Silence and his formulation of the "screaming silence" created by the sound design in the famous shower scene in Hitchcock's psycho.

01:10:57 Mila Zuo (with Kat). Mila's paper, entitled The Girlfriend Experience: Virtual Beauty and Love in Post-Cinematic Times, explores the ways new media technologies (and their representations) enable a fetishistic disavowal in virtual displays of feminine beauty and unfaithful love.

01:31:00 Colin Heber-Percy (with Dario) Under the Skin offers fruitful material for philosophical analysis and Colin's analysis - "The Flesh is Weak." Empathy and becoming human in Jonathan Glazer's Under the Skin - analyses the film's “mechanics” of illusion, its deconstruction of cinema itself, reversing the gaze of the viewer: this is a film that observes us.

01:44:20 Lina Jurdeczka (with Neil). Lina's work - Untimely Cinephilia and Spectral Images in Phoenix and Ida - examines films that are set in cultural climates that seek to move on from the trauma of the Holocaust: Germany in 1945 and Poland in 1961. Yet formally their film-historical imaginaries emphasise the co-existence of past and present, dismantling the possibility of closure.

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(Repost) Bronco’s House w/ director Mark Jenkin

September 3rd, 2019

This repost features director Mark Jenkin whose new release Bait opened last Friday (29th August 2019) to almost universal praise. Back in February 2016 Mark joined Dario at the Electric Palace in Hastings to screen and discuss the film. The story of a young man striving to provide a home for himself, his pregnant girlfriend and their unborn child, Bronco's House is an aesthetic meditation on property, power and the future. Like Bait the film is shot on a clockwork camera, using 16mm black and white negative stock, and processed by hand through an instant coffee based developer. Mark will be coming on the podcast again very soon, but until then we hope you enjoy this discussion wone of his seminal earlier works.

Bronco's House is available to download and stream. CLICK HERE.

Ep86 Sweet Country

June 28th, 2019

It's our final episode of the season and in response to a request from one of our listeners Andrew Peirce (www.thecurb.com), we discuss the powerful outback western Sweet Country. Directed by Warwick Thornton and inspired by the true events, the film is a brutal indictment of the colonial terrorism that forged modern Australia and the specific impact on Aboriginal existence, identity and culture. The film invokes the mythos of the Western in aesthetic terms yet it is also a revisionist project that doesn't shy away from a pointed critique of European expansion and its corollary: uncompromisingly violent, white masculinity. Beautiful and terrifying we would definitely recommend watching the film before coming to our discussion.

We also reflect on our highlights of the season and Neil discuss new BFI releases of classic features and shorts by female filmmakers including Margaret Tait, Germain Dulac, Lois Weber, Dorothy Arzner and Alice Guy Blaché. Thanks for your continued support, and well be back in the autumn. 

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Ep85 Canons & Cinephilia (w/ So Mayer & Girish Shambu)

May 30th, 2019

The latest episode sees The Cinematologists going deep on some of the central conversations in contemporary film culture, joined by the peerless So Mayer & Girish Shambu. 

Coinciding with So's 'A Queer Toolkit for Blowing Up The Canon' talk at HOME in Manchester, and Girish visiting the UK for the Queer & Feminist Cinephilia Workshop at the University of Birmingham, Neil talked to them both about canons, cinephilia and the responsibility of cinephiles in the current moment.

Following that conversation, Neil and Dario share their thoughts on the state of current online discourse and share their vulnerabilities about their place in it, coming back to the sanctuary of the podcast as a space that feels positive and discursive and does good work in promoting positive cinephilia and opening up the conversation to and about different voices.

Many thanks to So and Girish for their time and incredible wisdom and thoughtfulness. It's an honour to feature such important and inspiring film thinkers on The Cinematologists.

Girish Shambu - Time's Up For The Male Canon

Girish Shambu - For A New Cinephilia (A Manifesto)

So Mayer on Twitter

Girish Shambu on Twitter

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On the episode So and Girish shout out some colleagues and people doing great writing and publishing that captures the essence and spirit and tone of the work of New Cinephilia and challenging the canon. Here's where listeners can find them:

Another Gaze, Cleo Journal, MAI, Maggie Hennefeld, Devika Girish, Veronica Fitzpatrick, Kelley Dong, Miriam Bale, Alissa Wilkinson, Monica Castillo, Pamela Hutchinson, Erika Balsom, Elena Gorfinkel

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Ep84 Sleep Has Her House (w/ Scott Barley)

May 11th, 2019

Scott Barley makes sublime, juddering, immersive, multi-sensory films. They drift across an experimental, nature doc, slow cinema axis - sometimes with brute force and sometimes with an aching tranquility. In a few years he has amassed a formidable filmography of short film work and in 2017 presented his debut feature, Sleep Has Her House, to the world.

In late 2018, Scott travelled to the School of Film & Television at Falmouth University where he and his film held the audience rapt. That conversation is presented here in full, bookended by Neil and Dario getting to grips with a piece of work that both invites and defies interpretation. They also, as is customary, talk about feeling and meaning in cinema, the type of cinema that needs and deserves attention from a podcast like this and film culture in general, and the overwhelming and altering experience of Scott’s work.

Throughout the episode there is audio from Scott’s short films, which can be found on his Vimeo page here, and from his music, which can be bought on Bandcamp here. Tracks featured are To The Lighthouse, Nebulae and Sleep Has Her House.

A special thank you to Dr Kingsley Marshall and Film at Falmouth for making this episode possible.

In closing, the episode features more pauses and collecting of thoughts than normal. Rather than edit a lot of the indecisiveness out, we’ve kept it in, because it felt right in this instance, because the film in question had a greater impact on us in that regard than normal. It is a really special piece of work. We thank Scott for sharing it with us, and can’t wait to hear what you make of this talk and Scott’s films. 

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Ep83 California Typewriter (w/ dir. Doug Nichol)

April 20th, 2019

Both Neil and I are avid users of the typewriter so when we got the chance to speak to Doug Nichol the director of the 2017 documentary California Typewriter, it was a great chance to wax lyrical about the virtues of this 'obsolete' technology. On the surface, the film could have been overly nostalgic or, heaven forbid, dripping with retro hipsterism, but following the owner and staff of a repair shop originally opened in 1949 in Berkeley, a more profound story of how technological change affects the society and the lives within emerges. Also fascinating are the comments from famous names - including Tom Hanks, Sam Shepard and John Mayer - who see the typewriter as indispensable to their creative practice and personal identity. Other characters in the documentary reflect a more obsessive reverence and eccentric application of the machine that in many ways defined 20th-century modernity. Indeed, the film ruminates on our fundamental relationship to technology suggesting that the analogue and the digital have a symbiotic relationship rather than one of death and replacement. 

Follow @Doug_Nichol & @Caltypefilm on Twitter.

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Ep82 Children of Men

April 9th, 2019

The year is 2027, the world has collapsed but Britain soldiers on. Alfonso Cuarón's Children of Men has seemingly only increased in significance and appreciation since its release in 2006. Based loosely on a P.D. James novel Cuarón imagines a world that has lost hope because of human infertility but this only the narrative starting point for an aesthetically and thematically layered dystopian nightmare. Discussion of the film's many social, cultural and political elements sometimes takes away from the fact it is a brilliant piece of action cinema with an aesthetic immediacy and depth of world-building, that has become a signature of Cuarón's filmmaking

We screened the film at Kings College London and would like to thank PhD Student Joseph Jenner for organising the event and co-presenting the screening with Dario.

Show notes

Why Children of Men has never been as shocking as it is now - Nicolas Barber (BBC)

Humanity Adrift: Race, Materiality, and Allegory in Alfonso Cuarón's Children of Men - Zahid R. Chaudhary (Camera Obscura)

Future Shock - Abraham Riesman (Vulture)

Why Alfonso Cuarón's anti-Blade Runner looks more relevant than ever - Stephen Dalton (BFI)

The Child to Come: Life After the Human Catastrophe - Rebekah Sheldon

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