Tag Archives: Hollywood

May 2018: Round-Up

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May is Marx’s Month. Labor organizations and people’s movement inaugurated the month-long celebration of Karl Marx’s 200th birth year during the Labor Day Protest in Mendiola Plaza last May 1 to denounce Duterte-US coalition and to protest for the lack of government action on the long overdue promise of the abolition of contractualization in the country. In the same day, Philippine President Rodrigo Roa Duterte signed EO 51 that prohibits Illegal Contracting or Sub-Contracting. In a statement of Kilusang Mayo Uno, the said:

The signed EO is based on the draft prepared by the labor sector over the past year, as ordered by Duterte, yet the language has been heavily watered down and rendered inutile. Virtually all references to contractualization have been stripped out of the government version. The EO 51 merely reiterates anti-worker provisions in the labor code that has in fact legalized contractualization and led to the prevalence of various contractual employment schemes.

EO 51 shows Duterte’s lack of regard to contractual workers of the country. As part of the thousands of contractual workers in the government, I heavily denounced EO 51 for obviously undermining our rights to access tenureship benefits.

 

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Image result for Time in Marx book Stavros

Readings. I’ve recently been reading Stavros Tombazos’ book Time in Marx: The Categories of Time in Marx’s Capital (Brill Publishing, Leiden & Boston, 2014) alongside several books namely Karl Marx’ Capital Volume 1 (Vintage Books, 1977), Gilles Deleuze’s Cinema 1: The Movement-Image (Pinetreebooks2, UK, Essex, 2000) and Cinema 2: The Time-Image (University of Minnesota Press, 200X), David Couzens Hoy’s The Time of Our Lives: A Critical History of Temporality (The MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts and London, England, 2009) in preparation for my conference article to be presented during the Marx @ 200 Conference this coming May 26, 2018 at the College of Engineering.

Tombazos’ book analyses the various categories of time in Marx’s magnum opus work Capital. It’s quite interesting to see how Tombazos stresses the importance of locating his arguments on a well-founded claim that “Capital, like any other economy, is a specific organisation of time obeying its own immanent criteria” (Tombazos, 2014, p. 3). Tombazos uses the concept of time as guiding principle in re-exploring the themes in Marx’s Capital. Written at the height of fall of socialist states in the late 1980s, the book’s re-exploration of Marx looks into the possibility of reconnecting the post-Cold War Marxist milieu back to the basic tenets of Marxism. There is a promise of reinvention in the way Tombazos divides his chapters. He clearly wants to follow Capital’s trajectory from Volume I to Volume III, with each volume corresponding to a concept of time he assigns. Volume 1 corresponds to ‘time of production’, which Tombazos describes as a ‘linear and abstract temporality, homogeneous, a time that is supposed to be calculable, measurable.’ Volume 2 corresponds to ‘time of circulation’ which concerns the turnover of value, while Volume 3 corresponds to ‘organic time’ where the time of production unites with the time of circulation.

 

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Last May 26, I presented my paper titled Marx Contra Deleuze: Towards a Materialist Constitution of the Cinematic Sign at the MARX @200 Conference: The Continuing Relevance of Marx’s Thought to the Struggle of the Filipino People. My paper presentation for Marx @ 200 Conference can be downloaded here. The PowerPoint Presentation can be downloaded here.

 

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Image result for histoires du cinema poster

Histoire(s). I’ve recently rewatched Histoire(s) du Cinema for the 3rd time since 2010- 2011. It’s been 7 years. The first time I’ve watched it was through a direct download from SMZ. It seems like one of my first entry points in watching films circulated¬†via online private trackers and websites like SMZ. Seven years after, it remains more than enigmatic, dense, and culturally alienating. I’m thinking of pursuing a film criticism project on Godard’s impenetrable histor(ies) of cinema written from the material conditions of the Third World.

 

 

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Deplorable, Disastrous, Politically Vacuous Hollywood. Ever since I watched the deplorable Avengers: Infinity War (2018), I have not recovered fully from a disappointing Hollywood mix of bad humor and lackadaisical depiction of heroism.¬† A group of Lyceum of the Philippines students, led by Nadine Alexi Visperas and Bren Allen Ginabo, approached me as resource person for their project on Hallyu or the South Korean Wave They asked me to comment on South Korean Cinema’s highest grossing film The Admiral: Roaring Currents (2014). Of course, I’m more than willing to grant their request.

South Korean Cinema is not a foreign territory to me. I have watched South Korean films and series in the past. After watching the The Admiral: Roaring Currents, I can’t help but to compare it to the quality of superhero movies Hollywood’s been producing these years.¬†As I mentioned in one of my FB mini-reviews: “This is not a superhero film, but it feels like this should be the standard of how superhero films are made: a film with an attempt to confront the impossible via effective deployment of strategies. The emergence of the heroic subjectivity is very clear. It is gained not by one’s extraordinary power alone, but one’s courage to face the impossible.”

 

 

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Radical Meme-tic Misappropriations. Epoy Deyto and Vic Tea√Īo are cooking some good meme-inspired experimental films. I’ve previewed both their works and I’m excited for both of them.

 

 

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On Food Movies. Aside from The Admiral, my detour away from Hollywood is a set of films categorized in KissAsian.ch as ‘food movies‘. I had fun watching two gay-themed food films namely the Korean film Antique (2008) and the Japanese film Bitter Sweet (2016) not only because of the food depicted in the films, but also their unusual plot lines that are far more engaging than the usual American food movies like Burnt (2015). Meanwhile, Luca Guadagnino’s I am Love (2009) is a whole different film altogether as it explores the sensuousness and intensity of food and infatuation.

Is food movie a formalized genre? I think the bridge between culinary arts and the visual medium like cinema has been seamless and productive ever since. The culture of food in cinema, from the bourgeois plates of Luca Guadagnino’s I am Love (2009) to the street food obscurities in several films of Khavn Dela Cruz, expresses class, affluence and poverty. In cinema, food is a representation of class. In her 2015 study titled Dinner and a Movie: Analyzing Food and Film, Cynthia Baron concluded that:

“The scholarship on food in film has already shown that images of food and food behavior are woven into films‚Äô mise en sc√®ne and narrative design in ways that shape viewers‚Äô understanding and interpretation of characters and their interactions, the social dynamics explored in a narrative, and the ideological perspectives conveyed by a film. Studies have also started to examine food and film viewing. By exploring intersections between food, film, and culture in lived experience, research on food and film viewing should provide¬†insights into the various social situations that can facilitate and/or diminish individual expression in contemporary mass culture.”

 

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As VCinema Contributor. I’ve recently taken up additional writing assignment as a contributor/film reviewer/film critic to VCinema, a Podcast and Web Blog specializing on Asian Film, alongside my thesis writing and my writing/AVP editing job at BFAR. So I’m pretty much occupied by writing on film in general. I’ve started contributing film review essays last month. My first published essay was on John Torres’ experimental feature¬†People Power Bombshell: A Diary of Vietnam Rose (John Torres / PH / 2016). I’ve also written on¬†Never Not Love You (Antoinette Jadaone / PH / 2018),¬†By the Time It Gets Dark (Anocha Suwichakornpong/ Thailand / 2016) and my latest review is on Ashley Duong’s documentary¬†A Time to Swim (Ashley Duong / Canada/Malaysia / 2017).

 

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…The Interlude… (or Can the body of Wolverine be a finalize unquestionable image?)

Two, which stands between¬†one¬†and¬†three, is a gift – a gift of space – a space where one can inscribe residual thoughts, thoughts that remain a secret if undisclosed. This is a space of enchantment. Do not be fixed or settled.¬†This is a temporary passage in the hypertext,¬†a passage¬†between the two main texts:¬†the text prior¬†and¬†the text to come,¬†serving¬†as a bridge, bridging the ‘between’, servicing and serving as a text-bridge, or a bridging text between two different lands of interiority, ‘outside’ and never inside, an extro-bridge that extends to two territorialities: a territoriality of the past and a territoriality of the future.

This writing is a residue, a¬†precipitate, an excess of thought¬†from numerous engagements with other texts, images, gestures, residually escaping from the coding process of the brain.¬†Residual thoughts are weak forces. It has a liminal spirit – part of a ruin but out of place, a remainder, a microscopic dust left underneath a productive machine. A residue can be an interlude, a peripheral malaise, just like this, just like the moment when I wrote this in an exchange: “Minsan may legibility siya like in mainstream cinema, we have the abs of wolverine sa Days of Future Past. abs yun kahit anong gawin natin.” [link]

The residue comes in a form of a question: is the body of Wolverine in¬†X-Men: Days of Future Past¬†(2014), as seen in the series of photographs on top, be a finalized unquestionable image, an image that cannot be undone, destroyed and rethought? Is the image¬†perfect¬†and¬†enclosed? Will it, in the course of time, preserve its musculature – its dents, curvature, bulges – as a ‘fully’ inscribed image?

These questions are¬†peripheral threats. They threaten the cleanliness of the finalized image. Dusts can be small, but their very smallness, their microscopic constituents, their dissemination across the field of question creates a peripheral mess, the very undoing of the main structure. We assume, in many ways, that the main structure¬†–¬†the apparent body of Wolverine¬†– is more important than the residue¬†–¬†that which is folded in the image yet disembodied, undisclosed, a secret musculature beneath the musculature¬†within which the residue arrives as wastage, as remnants of the violent process of hegemonic inscription, composing the¬†marginalia¬†of a central machine – the Hollywood machine. It acts as a subversive force, subverting the dominance of any text: an image, omnipresent in our society –¬†the image of hegemony¬†– the Hollywoodized, extrasexual image. This political gesture of residualizing, which is a form of questioning, also enacts a forward stance – an insistence that this image of Wolverine cannot be final, that it has, hidden beneath its affective structure, the very mechanism of its undoing.

The residual power of thinking participates in the image’s undoing. To undo this finality, this capture of Hollywood, we have to rethink again of what the image is. Residual thoughts are ontological and, at the same time,¬†ontogenetic. It offers the image a chance to live, and it opens our eyes to new ways of seeing, an image is always in co-evolution with its ontogenetic material. The image is self-positing, as Deleuze would say in¬†What is Philosophy?.¬†It is¬†independent of its viewer or its creator. It has a ‘life’ on its own, preserved in¬†blocs of sensation. An image is mobilized by¬†sense¬†i.e. seeing, proprioception, etc.¬†not because it has an agent that controls the propagation of its affects, but it is self-positing. It is also independent of the viewer. Why? Because the viewer is no longer necessary in the life of the image, as in the case of Mona Lisa (La Gioconda), its passage in time is not dependent on its viewer. It is, on its own, self-preserving and its life is preserved in the blocs of sensation that constitutes its body. ¬†But how do we undo this image? How can it escape the capture of language?

Affect escapes – it always escapes language, confinement, and consolidation. Affect is what preserves the image of its vitality, its¬†likeness, its morphology, its living ‘body’. It is nonlinguistic, out of phase with matter, and it’s where the image’s emergence begins. This “escape of affect” is continuous, which gives the image an imperceptible layer – a residue, a shadow, an asymmetry. This imperceptible layer remains untranslatable: in looking at the body of Wolverine, one no longer seizes words. One finds oneself at a breaking point of language. From the image of Wolverine’s body, affect takes over the body. This is not a linguistic event that has means and ends, an objective with a determinable¬†start¬†to¬†finish. It is an¬†affective instantaneous flash.¬†Contours of Wolverine’s musculature are figures of intensities. We do not take them as is (a denotative ‘is’), because it leaves us in a state of unease. The image slips, mutates and transforms in our minds. Our mind wishes to organize it, to perform a regulation of its intensities, but some of the intensities escape because the image does not reside in language. Some of its parts can be ‘seen’, ‘perceived’, but not spoken, written or described.

The image of Wolverine has its own harmonics – a vibrational character. It is in fact a harmonic string, positing its own music. Why is that? It releases an intensity transduced and attenuated by lenses of material excesses within an empirical field. But is this arousal or sexual response a bodily event localized in the body of the observer? The empirical field extends beyond the body. Let’s look at this way: the image and the receiver’s body are not the only participants of this transversal movement of intensities. The receiver’s body is not the subject of intensity closed in on it. When the body is aroused, it also releases an expressible set of intensity, which also affects the surrounding bodies within his periphery. His body might give off heat to the surrounding air, or he might give a laugh or a sneer, which is an aural affect, heard by himself and by other ‘hearing’ receivers around him. Transduction of affect is always within a field in which the interaction between the image and the body is not a binary relation, but rather a¬†field relation,¬†a relay of various signals across an array of sensible objects within a specific field.

The empirical field renders all images and expressions in a state of deconstitution or deconstruction, not finally inscribed or¬†present. It does not impose the present or presence but rather it recomposes a past-future of the image. In the propagation of image within an empirical field, the¬†present (or rather the presence)¬†of the image deconstitute as it constitutes itself. It is an immanent body –¬†not yet there but going there, in process, a becoming,¬†still emerging, bulging out, emitting light particles of different quality. For the power of the image resides not it is perfection, but its ability to deconstitute, to produce a spectre – a haunting presence that would titillate the sensing body – the viewers – to their very ends.

Pornography works that way. A pornographic image is powerful not because it is¬†perfect and finalized¬†but because its power resides in its spectrality – it titillates the brain via¬†erotic haunting¬†– the brain is literally ruptured by the process of erotic haunting, sending shock waves across the geography of the body, transforming the body anew. During the haunting, the brain is at its height of creative process. It circulates the intensities from images of naked bodies on screen as a vortex of sensations. These intensities are disseminated and dissipated in every nerve ending across the body as a violent jolt.¬†In this way, pornography becomes a form of incorporeal violence. This creative impulse is not a natural process. It is learned by multiple viewings and multiple ‘performances’ to oneself – a habituated pleasure. Masturbation is a creative act. It requires the brain and the body to co-produce and co-create network of signals, intensities and sensations: all of which moving at hyperspeed within an empirical field. This pleasurable moment is irreversible and infinite, the similar infinity one feels in a state of hallucination. It is asymmetrical, decentered, and subversive, with¬†a temporal dimension out of phase from the dominant, linearized¬†present¬†time. Arousal is, in other words, a¬†differance,¬†a pleasurable differance, no longer of the present but a multitemporal event, differed and continuously differing from the present.

It can be said that the body achieves a creative evolution when undergoing a process of pleasure. Pleasure is emancipatory and radical. It brings the body to a place ‘beyond’ place, to an¬†event ‘beyond’ the bodily event. Pleasure is a residue of the signification process, a remainder of stratification, neither outside nor inside the main text, but distributed across an empirical field. The image of Wolverine is not a¬†finalized¬†image, inscribed¬†perfectly.¬†It is not totally hegemonic. It rather contains a microscopic emancipatory potential because of its¬†immanent and asymmetrical character. One more thing: the image of Wolverine does not have interiority, because as all images are, it is always pointing outward. It is always exteriorizing itself. Nothing remains. Its base, which one cannot see, the 1/0 codes simulated by the digital machines of this website, runs in parallel to this extensity, this intensive extensity of the image. Its transmission from base to the empirical field is feed-forward.

CITATION

Mendizabal, A. D. (2015). …The Interlude… (or Can the body of Wolverine be a finalized unquestionable image?). Retrieved January 17, 2016, from http://adrianmendizabal.blogspot.com/2015/08/note-4-nonface-interlude-lav-diaz-and.html

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