Tuesday, April 29, 2008


No Tarantino fan? Check this small gem (18 mins) out! Cashback is produced by Sean Ellis, if you like the movie, watch his others and support him as he is just getting started.

Plot: Ben Willis is an art student who works the night shift several times a week at the Whitechapel Sainsbury's. He's clear about the arrangement: he trades his time for money - cashback, as he calls it. We meet his co-workers, Sharon, Barry, and Matt, and their supervisor, Jenkins. Ben's colleagues are good at wasting time, but Ben talks to us about how he makes his shift go faster: by imagining that time has stopped. We see this late-night world of drudgery through Ben's eyes, as time does indeed stop, and he can get out his sketch book (IMDB).

Tarantino's First

Ever heard of 'My Best Friend's Birthday'? It is known to be Tarantino's first produced and first directed movie. The flick was shot on a 16mm camera, hence the quality of the images. However also the acting (Tarantino is reasonable though) and sound are lousy. Why then post the movie?

I reckon it is, despite its overall quality, still an intersting flick to watch since some of the elements used (Elvis, pop-culture elements and the kung-fu scenes) hint to his later movies. Most of 'My Best Friend's Birthday' got lost in a fire, however what remained was 35 mins of footage that has become a collectors item for Tarantino fans.

Full plot: Clarence Pool (Tarantino, with a full-on "Elvis Man" look) is a disc jockey at K-BILLY Radio (Reservoir Dogs' music conductor in a sense), and is planning to give his friend Micky Burnett (co-writer Craig Hamann) a call-girl for his birthday party (a story later re-used for True Romance). This is used as more of a signpost for the film to follow as the characters, in particular Clarence, go off on riffs of Dialog - the "I'd f*** Elvis" speech is in its first revelation - and it's often very funny (IMDB).

Thursday, April 24, 2008


I remember seeing Cannibal Holocaust somewhere in the 1990s. It was from that moment that I started to watch other cultish gore movies. The movie has come a long way since it was produced in the 1980s. It started as a low-budget controversial underground, but became the signature of a new sub-culture (no, that is not metal).

Sure, the movie is gruesome and yes it has some unnecessary animal kiillings in it (no doubt it is hard to condemn them), but it is more than just a meaningless piece of action melo-drama. In fact, its message fits right into Debord's notion of the 'Spectacle'. An age of extremes in which movie audiences have become so far removed from reality that they start believing and identifying with the fables the screen provides them.

Cannibal Holocaust is not for everybody, though I think everybody needs to see it. The acting is bad, so is the soundtrack, but I reckon that this does not really matter too much. The muerders, rapes and other scenes of violence not only absorb the viewer, but confronts him/ her with his/ her own ethics. People have often complained about the animal kiilling, but do they consider where the meat on their plate comes from (no veggie myself)? However, the movie goes well beyond the food industry or animals rights, its message criticises all facets of alienation in contemporary society. In sum, we are all cannibals.


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

One Nation Under CCTV

When talking of politics and art, you cant avoid mentioning Banksy. The self-styled 'street revolutionary' hit the news some days ago with his "One Nation Under CCTV" signature (see above). Where? Right in the centre of London...

"Banksy pulled off an audacious stunt to produce what is believed to be his biggest work yet in central London. The secretive graffiti artist managed to erect three storeys of scaffolding behind a security fence despite being watched by a CCTV camera. Then, during darkness and hidden behind a sheet of polythene, he painted this comment on ‘Big Brother’ society"(Daily News)

This is not of course the first time Banksy's work created public tumult. His legendary Abu-Ghraib entry has even brought reality into Disney's fantasy lands.

Nadia Plesner

Nadia Plesner is a Danish artist, making politically controversial artwork. Her latest line of work, "Simple Living" shows the absurdity of modern life. The ongoing conflict in Sudan plays a central role in her illustrations, in which she depicts how certain segments of society live their lives in a constant stage of denial.

The provocative messages of her pictures have led Louis Vuitton to sue her over copyright issues. Naturally this has only enhanced the message hidden in her work.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Corporation

Since the late 18th century American legal decision that the business corporation organizational model is legally a person, it has become a dominant economic, political and social force around the globe. This film takes an in-depth psychological examination of the organization model through various case studies. What the study illustrates is that in the its behaviour, this type of "person" typically acts like a dangerously destructive psychopath without conscience. Furthermore, we see the profound threat this psychopath has for our world and our future, but also how the people with courage, intelligence and determination can do to stop it (IMDB).

Part I

Part II

*With the courtesy of Filmschatten.blogspot.com

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Ryugyong Hotel

"It's a giant factory-state here, a City of the Future full of extrapolated 1930's swoop-facaded and balconied skyscrapers, lean chrome caryatids with bobbed hairdos, classy airships of all descriptions drifting in the boom and hush of the city abysses, golden lovelies sunning in roof gardens and turning to wave as you pass. It is the Raketen-Stadt..." (Pynchon in Gravity's Rainbow).

Images from the past

Well worth a watch...

Memorias del subdesarrollo (Memories of Underdevelopment)

Plot: Sergio, a wealthy bourgeois aspiring writer, decides to stay in Cuba even though his wife and friends flee to Miami. Sergio looks back over the changes in Cuba from the Castro revolution to the Cuban missile crisis, the effect of living in an underdeveloped country, and his relations with his girlfriends Elena and Hanna (IMDB).

English subtitles

Macht der Bilder: Leni Riefenstahl, Diie (Power of image: Leni Riefenstahl)

Plot: This documentary recounts the life and work of one of most famous, and yet reviled, German film directors in history, Leni Riefenstahl. The film recounts the rise of her career from a dancer, to a movie actor to the most important film director in Nazi Germany who directed such famous propaganda films as Triumph of the Will and Olympiad. The film also explores her later activities after Nazi Germany's defeat in 1945 and her disgrace for being so associated with it which includes her amazingly active life over the age of 90. (IMDB)

Part I (English subtitles)

Part II

Friday, April 18, 2008

Spaceless Information About Places

A good thing of the contemporary spatial dynamics embedded in the hyper-communicative systems of the Internet is the access that I now have to news from the furthest corners of the world. Take the website of Newseum (627 front pages from 58 countries) for instance. Never before was it so easy to gain to access to Brazilian, Turkish or Taiwanese newspapers.

If it useful? Well that's another question (does it matter?).

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Satellite Dishes

Has been some time since my last post, was busy writing the first draft of my first chapter of my PhD. Dealing with globalisation or better a critique of the globalisation literature. Would not want to bore you too much with my argument. However, one of the things I raised was the inherent connection between technology and capitalism. Not only how capitalism feeds innovative technological breakthroughs, but also how this affects the concepts of time and space.

A good example of this is the increase of TV satellite dishes in aesthetic landscape of Western European cities. The mushrooming of satellite dishes on rooftops and balconies marks the underlying emigration of (especially) Turkish families to Western countries. One could argue that the dishes destroy the aura of traditional landscapes or one could observe that these communicative devices actually hyperlise the static picture of a forgotten modernity. Or should we perhaps just accept the change without judgement? I don't know.