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Weekend Reel Reads: Reddit Filmmaking, Terence Davies & More

Photo of Steve Greene By Steve Greene | Criticwire March 24, 2012 at 1:08PM

This is the first in a weekly feature designed to to provide you with weekend reading material related the world of film criticism.
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"The Deep Blue Sea," Terence Davies' latest feature.
"The Deep Blue Sea," Terence Davies' latest feature.
This is the first installment of a new weekend feature gathering lengthier stories related to the world of film criticism that you may have missed during the week. If there's anything you think would be ideal for future installments, please let us know at critic@indiewire.com.

Rome Sweet Rome

Jason Fagone’s Wired article provides a fascinating look at how quickly the germ of an idea can explode into something that the masses clamor for. Starting with a single series of posts on the website Reddit, James Erwin went from writing software manuals to constructing the basis for a feature-length production. The tale of Erwin joining forces with producer Adam Kolbrenner is also an examination of how web culture can help drive enthusiasm for a single property or project. Fagone writes:

Erwin still couldn’t believe what was happening. “I had thought that, hey, I’ll post a story once or twice a week, and maybe I’ll put out a tip jar,” he says. “Obviously this is worth something. But I didn’t know what to do with it.” It hadn’t occurred to Erwin that he might be able to write movies full-time. Why would it? Before Reddit bullied and cajoled and cheered him to prove his talent, he had spent his life accumulating stores of obscure and unmarketable knowledge. But after talking with Kolbrenner, Erwin thought, “Maybe this wasn’t just lightning striking, but a door opening.” 

A Lover's Discourse

On Friday, Indiewire published a handy guide to the films of British director Terence Davies, whose new film “The Deep Blue Sea” opens in select theaters this weekend. At Slant Magazine, Aaron Cutler constructed a retrospective of his own by looking at how Davies’ films are shaped by different kinds of love. Whether it’s the pursuit of childhood memories, the awakening of his young adulthood or his devotional love for his craft, Davies’ passions are intricately chronicled in Cutler’s sweeping look at the master. Cutler writes:

Critics often talk about the sense Davies's films give of the past being borne ceaselessly into the present, without mentioning that love is carrying it. Davies's movies often run on multiple kinds of consciousness, many of which Roland Barthes explains in his book A Lover's Discourse. When a person loves, he or she always simultaneously imagines himself or herself as both lover and beloved; in whichever single way one presents love in the moment, one is also always simultaneously performing an imagined ideal of love while bringing forth remembrances of love past. Yet however many forces commingle within a network of love, the networking inevitably takes place within one lonely imagination. We often think of love, I suspect, as being a relation between two people. I'm not sure that's true, but even if it is, the act of loving is one person's, and takes place in isolation.

The Auteur's Caretaker

In the Columbia Journalism Review, Bethlehem Shoals highlights how Penelope Gilliatt’s philosophy shaped her writing style, which in turn impacted her interactions with the titans of cinema in the post-Kennedy world. Ostensibly a cross-sectional look at “Three-Quarter Face: Reports and Reflections,” a decades-old collection of Gilliatt’s seminal works, Shoals manages not only to argue for a reconsideration of her work, but to assert that her blending of fiction, reportage and criticism places her alongside the true innovators of the journalistic field. Shoals writes:

If read unsympathetically, Gilliatt can come off as an especially sophisticated lightweight; an inveterate namedropper and hobnobber, eager to let her accomplished subjects know that she is one of them. (Her screenplay for Sunday, Bloody Sunday was nominated for an Oscar in 1972, and you get the sense that she never let anyone forget it.) Gilliatt was sometimes criticized for getting too close to her subjects, and the showy intimacy of her writing and reporting may grate on those who prefer their journalism impartial or adversarial. But we shouldn’t mistake it for fluff. Nobody understands artists like other artists, and there is art to be made in this mutual understanding.


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