Author Archive: mellart

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What’s a pixilation?

| January 21, 2008

The Bolex Brothers’ The Secret Adventures Of Tom Thumb and Norman McLaren’s Neighbours are famous pixilations. I showed you a pixilation right in this blog, then a friend of mine asked me “What’s a pixilation?”. I answered him, then I browsed on the web where I found Wikipedia’s definition of pixilation which I don’t like. According to Wikipedia “pixilation” is a stop motion technique where live actors are used as a frame-by-frame subject in a film, repeatedly posing while one or more frames are taken and changing pose slightly before the next frame or frames. The actor becomes a kind of living stop motion.”

I’d like to clarify that time lapse, pixilation and stop motion are different techniques!

While it’s true that pixilation is a form of stop-motion, pixilation has its origins in the “trick films” famous for their use of special effects (George Meliés) which marked the early years of film-making. Pixilation is often used to save time, instead of making a series of drawings, humans are placed in a series of postures by repeating each frame three times.

In this technique the interaction of actors and objects in a three-dimensional setting which introduces a series of references to reality is very important . This has an influence on the choice of subjects dealt with in films that use this technique. The final effect is that of an unnatural movement like in an old movie.

While a stop-motion object usually doesn’t alter our film perception, pixilation and time lapse do. The difference between the last two techniques is that while in pixilation the filmmaker records occasional frames, in time lapse, instead, every frame is exposed at predetermined intervals. The last technique alters our perception of time by collapsing it.

The Hat Squad

| January 21, 2008

I’m not a big fan of Jay Faerber. He’s a good writer, but I can’t stand his Noble Causes, another super-hero comic where the focus is on character interaction rather than fight scenes, and it’s got murder, betrayal, intrigue, humor, and sex. I begin to think that many comics writers imitate Busiek, Miller and Moore only to sell more copies. There are so many new stories out there to narrate!

I read The Hat Squad only because my girlfriend gave it to me as a gift. It was a good idea!

The Hat Squad reminds me of the Bendis’ Torso Graphic Novel. Like the characters of Torso, The Hat Squad exist in real life too. They were a group of four policemen who went to great, often illegal lengths to keep the mob out of L.A., as in Chandler’s LA romances.

A 1950s B-movie starlet approaches the Hat Squad and asks for their help, but they dismiss her concerns. But when she turns up dead not long after their encounter, the case gets personal, and Sgt. Jake Thurman and his men tear through Hollywood looking for the killer. They’ll break bones and split lips to find the truth. They’re the kind of police officers, who though honest to a fault, may arreste someone out of principle like Elliot Ness (one of the real characters of Torso) did.

Jay Faerber is very good at characterizing the personalities of the characters, from the guilt-ridden leader Jake to the new guy Danny. The mystery of who killed Sheila provides an interesting plot.

The influence of Curt Swan is evident on Yonge’s work. The art is presented in black and white with a attention to detail and anatomy, Yonge tends not to use heavy inks to achieve the atmosphere. Each panel is perfect.

Prepare to read hardboiled dialogue!

About film theory

| January 21, 2008

Usually people tend to confuse film theory with film interpretation. They ‘re making a big mistake!

The use of technical language doesn’t transform the interpretation of individual films into theory. “Theory involves evolving categories and hypothesizing the existence of general patterns” (Noell Carroll).

Film theory should be a comprehensive instrument that is able to answer virtually every legitimate question about film. I doubt we have a legitimate instrument to study film. We have had so many different film theories, that we might come to think of film theory as a field of activity where many different projects at different levels of generality and abstraction coexist without being subsumed under a singular general theory.

Theories are framed today in specific historical contexts for the purpose of answering certain questions. In the 1970’s we saw the emergence of film-based semiotics, psychoanalisis, textual analysis and feminism; in the 1980’s post-structuralism, post-modernism, multiculturalism and the so called “identity politics” (gay/lesbian/queer studies). If we have so many approaches to film studies I would like to know why an inter-theoretical debate is so rare in the history of film theory !

How many film theorists can you name, who are noteworthy for their careful consideration of previous research? I can think only of Christian Metz. I hope you can prove me wrong soon!


| January 21, 2008

I think many critics have talked about Wassily Kandinsky’s Yellow-Red-Blue. Look at it!

Do you know why I enjoy this painting? Because Kandinsky, with this painting, exemplified an aspect of color theory: the creation of red from the “augmentation” of yellow and blue as described in Goethe’s Theory of Colours

Comic belief

| January 21, 2008

A documentary about Dan Pirraro’s a digital production company based in New York City, specializing in narrative and documentary.

They completed a documentary profile of the cartoonist Dan Piraro. I think it’s interesting, I hope you enjoy watching it!

NFPF need your support!

| January 21, 2008

The NFPF is a grant-giving public charity, affiliated with the Library of Congress’s National Film Preservation Board.
It was created by Congress in 1996 at the recommendation of the Library of Congress.

Congress asked the Library to find a fresh approach to preserve motion pictures most at-risk, such as documentaries, silent-era films, avant-garde works, ethnic films, newsreels, home movies, and independent works, for future generations.

Their top priority is saving American films that would be unlikely to survive without public support. Over the past ten years, they’ ve developed grant programs to help libraries, museums and archives to preserve films and to make them available for study and research.

They also organize, obtain funding, and manage cooperative projects that enable film archives to work together on national preservation initiatives. Published through these collaborations are the first-ever DVD set of film treasures preserved by American archives (2000), a new critically acclaimed 3-DVD box set of films from the first four decades of the motion picture, The Film Preservation Guide: The Basics for Archives, Libraries, and Museums (2004), and the international database for locating silent films.

Today the NFPF needs your help. The NFPF depends on contributions from individuals, foundations and corporations to support film preservation activities across the United States.

You can support the national film preservation work of the NFPF by sending donations to:

National Film Preservation Foundation
870 Market Street, Suite 768
San Francisco, CA 94102

You can also support them, by buying their dvd collections: Treasures From American Film Archives, More Treasures from American Film Archives 1894-1931 and Treasures III: Social Issues in American Film, 1900-1934.

Cerebus, and after? Glamourpuss!

| January 21, 2008

Don’t trust everything you read in the vanity publishing world!

Dave Sim is still active, Dave Sim continues to write comics and he’ll continue to write for a long time.

After the 300th number of Cerebus was published, the comic author continues to produce occasional guest work, goes to conventions and regularly attends city council meetings and provides interviews and art for a Texas-based magazine called Following Cerebus. Many thought he would never issue new comics again, but, at the beginning of 2006, Dave Sim began publishing an on-line comic book biography of the Canadian actress Siu Ta titled “Siu Ta, So Far”.

Last week, Dave Sim announced an upcoming women’s-fashion-related comic called glamourpuss.

What can we expect by an author who sparked one of the major controversies in the comic book industry? He had, in fact, expressed views contrary to feminism in issue No. 186 of Cerebus.

One Hundred Years

| January 21, 2008

Max Andersson is a Swedish comic artist who emerged in the mid-1980’s and made his mark originally as a talented film animator.

Max Andersson’s debut animation film won 1st Prize at Melbourne’s International Film Festival, 2nd Prize at Los Angeles’ Animation Celebration and a special prize at Berlin’s Film Festival.

Writer/Director/Camera/Animation: Max Andersson
Producer: Lisbet Gabrielsson
Music: The Cure

I like this video very much . The emptiness of life, a society of “zombie” people who don’t allow to be yourself.
Happy New Year to everyone!

Las Vegas Film Critics Society 2007 Awards

| December 21, 2007

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

| December 21, 2007

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.