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Christmas Vacation and Buster Keaton: The Frame is the Universe

The world is the frame

Anyone who had been following my visual deconstruction and film theory posts over the years should have noticed that I have not written anything in the past two years. My friend and mentor in the art of visual rhetoric, Scott Eric Kaufman, passed away after a long illness, and I decided to take a year (or two) off, in deference to him. - Jeff

This is a moderately quick deconstruction of a particular comedic element in a “new classic” Christmas movie.

Written By
Jeff

Nostalgia Films: A New Breed of Film

Defining the nostalgia film as a sub-genre.

Amidst a raging torrent of smarmy self-aware postmodern / post-postmodern film, a new sub-genre has been emerging in recent years: that of the “nostalgia” film. I posit that “nostalgia film” is a distinct sub-genre and can be separated from both postmodern / post-postmodern film and reboot / franchise film.

Written By
Jeff

Photography: 13 Days of Unusual Shots with Vintage Glass

Trying to expand my photographic range over thirteen days.

As part of a project to force myself to expand my artistic horizons (as well as my technical competence) in the field of photography, I’m forcing myself to try to use one of my vintage manual lenses – without the aid of focus assist or peaking of any sort – to take pictures which are out of my standard comfort zone*, and to get at least one “keeper” shot to exhibit for each day, starting on the Fourth of July. I am updating this post with both copies of the photos, as well as meta-data and links to the originals on Flickr.

* “Out of my standard comfort zone” is a subjective measurement. Hopefully these captures won’t be subjects or framings which I’ve heavily relied upon in the past, but as everything is derivative in some sense, I guarantee nothing.

Written By
Jeff

Exploiting Flaws in Vintage Glass

Learning to use the characteristics of vintage glass for fun and (hopefully) profit.

Modern lenses (glass) have been manufactured in an increasingly flawless way, attempting to achieve optical perfection. I’d like to delve into the potential of using older “vintage” glass specifically to exploit the inherent imperfections present in those lenses.

Written By
Jeff

Downton Abbey: Camera Stabilization as a Storytelling Tool

Looking at camera stabilization in Masterpiece Theater's "Downton Abbey"

The acclaimed BBC/PBS Masterpiece Theater series Downton Abbey has been lauded for its period-accurate settings and for a heretofore unseen look at the non-affluent parts of historical life around the English aristocracy. I’d like to look at Downton Abbey’s use of camera stabilization as an effective storytelling tool.

Written By
Jeff

Opensource Contact Sheets for Photographers

Creating contacts sheets using opensource software

One of the disadvantages to being a pretty active photographer is trying to handle archiving old shoots and being able to quickly locate a certain shot amongst thousands of directories of RAW stills, which may not be present on your local media. Enter the humble contact sheet.

Written By
Jeff

Why "Gotham" Succeeds Where Other Prequels Fail

Looking at why Gotham does prequel better.

I have been known to outwardly hate prequel films. This is, in no small part, due to them tending to be terrible. It should come as little shock that I was extremely reticent about watching Gotham, DC’s attempt at a prequel story for the Batman franchise. As I have defended in past, the Batman origin story is the greatest origin story in film, and attempting to undertake it in a way which would not result in extreme disappointment for aficionados of the canon seemed dodgy, at best.

I was very, very wrong – and I’d like to examine why.

Written By
Jeff

Layers of Canon and The Batman

Examining the concept of multiple layers of canon using The Batman

One of the concepts which has been intriguing me over the last few weeks has been the concept of multiple layers of canon existing over many works in an overarching canon.

The Batman mythos comprises more than 70 years of collective canon built on a foundation of comics, films, television series, and other works of fiction; as it spans multiple mediums and auteurs, it seems an ideal system to examine for the phenomenon of nested canon.

Written By
Jeff

The Monomyth, Saving the Cat, and Consistency

Why do we seem obsessed, as a culture, with films heavily designed around pandering to the Campbellian Monomyth?

Joseph Campbell’s book “The Hero With A Thousand Faces” wasn’t intended to be a blueprint to create stories or films, but it has become that for many auteurs. Why the Monomyth?

Written By
Jeff

Review: Ace Jackson is a Dead Man

A review of Sean Weather's blaxploitation film "Ace Jackson is a Dead Man"

Ace Jackson is a Dead Man, which I was recently asked to review, is an interesting experiment in contrasts and seems to offer a takeoff on traditional blaxploitation films; there remain questions, however, revolving around how it was executed.

Written By
Jeff

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