The Language Barrier

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On his way back from the office, Donald Davenport called his wife Martha at home from the phone booth that stood outside The Small Theatre off Franklyn Street. Next Tuesday, there would be a performance of The Clock in the Sky, a new play that had recently been written up in a reliable newspaper. After speaking to Martha, Donald hung up and entered though the old revolving doors of the theatre. The familiar rustic interior, the smoke stained walls displaying posters of up-and-coming shows, the gleaming marble floor, and the usual staff whom Donald knew well were inside. Shaking off the dampness from the late evening drizzle, Donald made his way over to the ticket office. Jane the ticket attendant smiled from over her typewriter as Donald approached.

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A Death in the Family

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My Mother once told me that all the stars in the night sky were the dead souls of all the people who had ever lived in the history of mankind, and that they hovered above looking over the people whom they loved and cared about. On the day she died, this little nugget of wisdom was the last thing on my mind. Ben Garrison, our family lawyer, handed my father the last will and testament of my mother. We were standing in a wood paneled corridor outside the room my mother had passed away in not two hours ago. The sun shone from the high windows casting a heavenly glow into the corridor. I had no desire to read my mother’s will, but my brother Paul wanted to get it over with, and then he said he could begin with the grieving process. As usual, my father agreed with Paul. My father opened the document folder and shifted though the sheets of paper.

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A Walk through Sprawl

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My journey starts at an intersection. I stand in a place where the long and wide roads had sliced into the natural landscape, and where nature fights a losing war for supremacy in the world. Every blade of grass is like a young jarhead sent to the frontline to be cut down, or captured and conditioned to servitude. The road acts like a demilitarized zone and two opposing sides stare across the void. It’s not a depressing place, but the ambiance is of menace and despair. I stand in relative openness, but before me lies an enclosure of absolute concrete.

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Film and Ownership

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How long does an art experience or observation last? One painting, maybe can last a few minutes as you stand in its grace with contemplation before moving on to the next piece. A sculpture may last slightly more, as you circle for perspective to unlock its meaning and find interpretation. Modern art, depending on its form, can be an immersive encounter that moves through various mediums, yet its engagement still only lasts a short while. The observation of art is a fleeting experience, for connoisseurs and academics the impact can be longer, but for the average art lover and gallery goer, art can be a fading encounter. Film on the other hand, taken as an art form, can last from eighty minutes and beyond, as the film’s contents and narrative sink in, its impact after viewing can be immeasurable.

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All American Tragedy: What the American Pie Franchise Tells Us about Failing in Sex, Education and Work

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In 1999, the first American Pie movie gave audiences a fresh and honest perspective of teenage high school life. With its fresh-faced cast of young, wholesome, and moderately handsome geeks, it portrayed teenage life in a positivity that was not present in some of the more shoe-gazing high school dramas of the nineties. American Pie offered flawed, yet believable characters, and situations of humiliation and expectance that every kid in America faced.

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Manakamana: A Film Unseen

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The year 2014 brings yet another twelve months of hyperbolic, and over stimulated cinematic spectacle. Following a year of Superhero re-hashes (Man of Steel), comic book adaptations (Kick-Ass 2, The Wolverine), darker themed sequels (Thor: The Dark World, Star Trek: Into Darkness) and over indulgent science fiction (After Earth, Pacific Rim), it seems Hollywood has lined up another round of expensive eye-candy. I recently had the pleasure of watching The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug at the cinema, although I firmly place this film in the same category of over produced films listed above, its fantastical charm was difficult to ignore.

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Zero Opportunity

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In June 2013, I received the news that Zero Books would publish a collection of my film theory essays. The book U.ESS.AY: Politics and Humanity in American Film is a slim tone of critical dissections of modern cinema and pop culture, featuring the likes of Schwarzenegger, Lynch,Shatner, Swayze, Hopper, and even Kim Jong-Il, who turns up a couple of times actually. The book is a phantasmagorical adventure in celluloid and digital film, to be, or not to be taken seriously, whatever your preference. When Zero offered me the publishing contract, I was thrilled to say the least. Not only was this publisher my first choice, they were my only choice; it was publish with them or publish with no one.

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How to Make a Film in North Korea

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However much a government interferes with the lives of its population it seems to never try to dictate the expression of art from its creative citizens. Over the centuries and throughout the world art has been the one medium in which people could express their concerns, hopes and dreams without political intrusion. The early and mid 20th century created a small blip, with its wars and political posturing oppressive governments used the medium and emerging film technology to instigate government controlled art and film propaganda to construct notions of statehood and patriotism in a time of conflict. The most apparent examples were the socialist realism that emerged from the former Soviet Union and its sphere of influence and of course Hitler’s Germany. At present when governments try to interfere with the production of films within their own country they are target of bitter criticsism by the artistic community. READ MORE.

The Easy Rider Paradox

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It is almost impossible to write and discuss Dennis Hopper and his movies without exploring the cultural and social significance of Easy Rider. The impact this small film had on the subsequent decades of filmmaking is immeasurable. We are still feeling the wave rippling today in independent cinema throughout the world. Although the content of Easy Rider has now perhaps passed by, the do-it-yourself aesthetic is still relevant to many filmmakers who wish to distance themselves from the Hollywood system, as well as equivalent studio systems, and maintain their independence and keep their artistic vision intact. Easy Rider meant many things to many different people from all kinds of social backgrounds and the film addressed a wide scope of subjects relating to its time and place. But what did Easy Rider mean to Dennis Hopper? READ MORE.

Louder than War: Are Movies Falling into the Same Loudness Trap as Music?

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Over the past few decades modern music has become victim to the age of digital audio production. Authentic sounds and instrumentation have been swallowed up by a polished gleam that renders the audio to a glossy and punchy finish. Loudness has been the key to creating upfront and vibrant songs that at first sound exciting. By pitching the quieter moments within an audio track to a higher frequency, the song automatically becomes more urgent and distinctive. This slow change, orchestrated by producers and record companies, has been deliberately subtle, as if to allow listeners ears to adapt to the change in audio quality. This tampering in sound has had an unfortunate drawback for the listener. READ MORE.