Friday, 30 June 2017

Some remarks on cinema; and 2 video essays on Akira Kurosawa

For quite some time, I’ve been intending to write about many self-proclaimed cinephiles and film students’ ignorance of many masters such as Ingmar Bergman, Federico Fellini, Andrei Tarkovsky, Michelangelo Antonioni, Luis Bunuel, Akira Kurosawa…*, and their contemptuous disregard for the legacy of cinema. Related to it would be, on the 1 hand, the fallacious argument that art is subjective and it all comes down to taste (as I said “Ingmar Bergman’s 1 of the masters of cinema”, a friend and classmate of mine said “So is Joss Whedon”), and on the other hand, the charges of elitism or pretentiousness against anyone who takes cinema seriously and likes classic films and/or arthouse films.
Ignorance is fine (I, for example, have no knowledge of silent films apart from Charlie Chaplin). It’s a lack of desire to know that is problematic. Most harmful is philistinism and anti-intellectualism—there is no cure.
However, I’m not going to bother. It’s their problem if they stay in their comfort zone and limit themselves (watch only new films, colour films or English-language films, etc.) and don’t know what they’re missing out on. As in literature, it’s not worth an effort. I’m just going to continue what I’m doing, and explore more great directors.

Here are 2 brilliant video essays I found on the art of Akira Kurosawa (I’ve seen Ran, Rashomon, Dreams, Ikiru and The Bad Sleep Well; am watching Stray Dog).

Akira Kurosawa - Composing Movement from Tony Zhou on Vimeo.

The Bad Sleep Well (1960) - The Geometry of a Scene from Tony Zhou on Vimeo.

Note to self, after watching The Bad Sleep Well (a perfect film): try the axial cut.

*: Some film students not only haven’t watched them, but haven’t even heard of them.


  1. Kyle Gann, an avant garde composer and superb music critic, has observed that the composition students at Bard College now mostly list film music composers like Howard Shore as their models. So something similar is going on at music school.