Wasn't Born to Follow

For Dennis Hopper, who died on Saturday:


That's Not News

It is a fact that there is something happening everywhere, all the time. There are 6 billion people on the planet populating nearly 200 sovereign nations on 7 continents surrounded by 5 oceans.

You work for NPR. The problem you face is deciding what to cover, what to invest your limited time and attention to. Too much is happening to be truly comprehensive. You must choose what stories live and what stories die, knowing that your choices have real-world consequences for the subjects who receive or fail to receive your attention. Surely, there are so many stories begging for interesting, intelligent, responsible reporting that you could not waste a single minute, a single line, a single word, in your effort to untangle the complicated knot of all human endeavor.

Or, you could use up 6 precious minutes on mind-numbingly inane bullshit.

Am I being too harsh? After all, don't you have to include lighter fare so as not to overwhelm the weekend listener? This steaming heap of windbreaking journalism aired after 7-and-a-half minutes of the Sunday puzzle with "puzzlemaster" Will Shortz.


The Pill

In all of the hoopla surrounding the 50th anniversary of the invention of oral contraception, I was surprised not to hear any mention of Loretta Lynn's feminist masterpiece, "The Pill." Politics never sounded so sweet:

The consequences of Lynn's political actions were real; she was shunned for a time from commercial country radio.

Another lesser known folk-feminist anthem--Lynn's "Don't Come Home A-Drinkin' (With Lovin' On Your Mind)"--addresses alcohol-related domestic violence without the usual disempowering narrative of victimization.


William Lubtchansky

Arguably the greatest living cinematographer, who worked with Jacques Rivette, Straub/Huillet, Godard, Claude Lanzmann, and many more, William Lubtchansky has died at age 72. It's impossible to overlook the particularities of his work: he never shot a project too commercial and he was extremely adaptive. The inky black and white images for Philippe Garrel's Regular Lovers or Straub/Huillet's Class Relations; the lush, sun-baked color of Godard's Nouvelle Vague; the subtle, somber, desaturated Shoah; the theatrical, surrealist, and modernist touch to each of his collaborations with Rivette: Every shift to each maker distinct and elastic. Entirely the work of an author, facilitating the vision of his collaborators.

Tracking shot from Noroît from Film Brain on Vimeo.

Garrel stated that "we (William Lubtchansky) worked together like musicians, really: we had dialogues, like a jazz band that keeps improvising on what had been written. Whoever felt like playing, played first." This type of collaboration is all but lost in cinema. An immense loss of an idiosyncratic, irreplaceable figure.


Los Angeles In Theory and Practice

My essay on Thom Andersen's Los Angeles Plays Itself is now online, in the May issue of Bright Lights Film Journal.