Thursday, March 06, 2008

March Update: Another Entry Without Pictures

Once again I'm sitting in front of my computer posting yet another update about how it's been "a bit quiet" around here lately. I could blame this on the fact that I've been busy with schoolwork (which is ostensibly a truth), but in reality I've hardly watched any movies that would qualify as something that I'd want to write about for a while. The reason? It's a bit embarrassing, but I got sucked into prime-time TV show Lost.

I should clarify that while I obviously own a TV and make use of it regularly to watch flicks, we don't have cable at my house, and I don't even have an antenna on my TV so I get literally zero channels; hence, it's not a fallacy when I proclaim that "I don't have TV." This is for a number of reasons, the main being that it's very rare that I watch TV, so it would be utterly superfluous to pay for cable, despite the fact that a few of my roommates wouldn't mind being able to tune in and tune out ever so often.

But, I do occasionally "watch TV" via DVD rentals, streaming episodes, and online downloads. For some reason, at the beginning of February, something convinced me to start watching Lost. And then, since February 9th, I've watched the entire first three seasons, plus the five episodes of season four that have aired so far. This amounts to 76 45 minute episodes. That's about 3420 minutes. Which, presupposing that a majority of the movies I watch are around 90 minutes, comes out to be 38 movies. Which, in retrospect, is fairly depressing.

It's not a bad show, it's fairly entertaining, and, all things considered, it's relatively smart. But, while reading Raoul Ruiz's Poetics of Cinema this last week I encountered an explanation for why I was finding it so hard to do anything but what a relatively empty show. In the first chapter of Poetics of Cinema, Ruiz discusses Central Conflict Theory, and, in a round about way, his aversion to it. Central Conflict Theory ostensibly posits an A vs. B position, and generally manipulates the audience into siding with one side over the other. This central conflict is the only thing driving not only the show, but the audience's desire to see the show: the audience wants nothing more than to see how conflicts resolve. Here's what Ruiz says in his own words:

Let us return to films that are not boring. Films provoked by the noonday demon. Central conflict theory manufactures athletic fiction and offers to take us on a journey. Prisoner of the protagonist's will, we are subjected to the various stages making up a conflict of which he, the protagonist, is at once guardian and captive. In the end we are released and given back to ourselves, a little sadder than before. There is only one notion in our heads, which is to go [on] another journey as soon as we can.

(It's worth noting that Ruiz is using "films that are no boring" a bit ironically; he has a preference for what, viewed with the core idea of Central Conflict Theory, are boring; he quotes Ozu, Snow, et. al. as examples of "boring" film.)

This awareness frustrates me but is also fairly enlightening; and these emotions arise from the fact that it's an utterly accurate observation. I was never reflecting on events from the show (which has quite a vaguely interesting mythology built up around it to be honest), I was just voracious ready to devour solutions to my athlete's problems. It also made me more aware of the fact that most of the films I tend to prefer and applaud are (mostly) lacking Central Conflict, or at least feature a decentralized plot.

The perks of watching a Robbe-Grillet film are not cause and effect; it's not really important who you side with or even what happens to the characters--rather, it's the context that the plot is playing out in and the ideas that are coming forth via the character-signifiers. Etc., etc., I could probably elaborate with a long list of my favorite films and directors, but I wouldn't have any more work done that I did to begin with.

However, as I said, I'm now completely caught up. Despite my still naive desire/necessity to see whether team A or team B wins, there are no more episodes for me to satiate the empty hunger with, at least until next week. But, that means I can finally get things done!

As of tonight I am officially on my Spring Break, and I've already begun working on content for the Esotika website. I have a new review that will be up later tonight once I resize the screencaps, I've begun working on the Library section of the website (which is actually a much smaller undertaking than I anticipated), I have 80% of my "Best DVDs of 2007" list written, and I will be helping my friend/translator do the final edit on the Mario Mercier article on Wednesday. So, it's update time!

I've also finally gotten around to updating my monthly screening log (linked from the right panel), adding December, January, and February.

Also, I'd like to thank Jeremy from over at Moon in the Gutter for pointing out the
Wikio Top Film Blogs list which I was delighted to find my own humble blog at #37. I'm not sure how it works, but I just wanted to take the opportunity to once again thank all the readers of this blog!


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