DID YOU READ

Slavoj Žižek’s Film Criticism on Film, Charlie Kaufman’s Autocritique

Slavoj Žižek’s Film Criticism on Film, Charlie Kaufman’s Autocritique (photo)

Posted by on

With the exception of Godard’s largely-unseen (on these shores) “Histoire(s) du Cinéma,” Sophie Fiennes’ and Slavoj Žižek’s “The Pervert’s Guide to Cinema” (2006) might be the greatest piece of film-criticism-on-film ever made. That’s not saying a pantload, of course; despite the obvious potentialities and the seductive pleasure to be had in perusing film history in powerhouse visual swatches, it’s not even a subgenre, beyond the boosterism of promotional docs and Todd McCarthy’s “Visions of Light.” The “video essays” by critic Kevin B. Lee constitute a pioneering version of the idea, despite the entire corpus being dropped for a while from YouTube thanks to copyright protests. Otherwise, the closest we have is the now ubiquitous audio commentary track that accompanies virtually every movie on DVD, the likes of which are sometimes sublime (when they’re performed by spirited critics and scholars, mostly, like Žižek’s on “Children of Men”) and often unendurable (with the glaring exception of Martin Scorsese, directors can rarely speak cogently about their own work). Either way, audio tracks are restricted to running the whole course of a single uninterrupted feature. What Fiennes and Žižek have dared to do is simply illustrate what amounts to a semi-interactive lecture on Lacanian psychoanalytic theory illustrated with film clips — which sounds dull, but Žižek, Slovenian lisp-monster that he is, is world-renowned for a reason: he’s a terrific communicator, popularizer and provocateur as well as an interpretive idea volcano.

“Lacan” is never mentioned in this three-part, 2.5-hour tour through popular cinema, but Freud certainly is, and the inexperienced would do well to see it twice and assume that virtually every utterance out of Žižek’s spittle-firing mouth is a concept worthy of another half-hour of exegesis. A good liberal arts bachelor’s degree grasp of Freudian psychoanalysis is pretty much essential, but otherwise you just need eyes: Žižek’s hand-holding walks through entire chunks of “Blue Velvet,” “Psycho,” “Vertigo,” “The Matrix,” “The Great Dictator” and “The Conversation” are never less than a blast, because Fiennes contrives (through clever set-building and Remko Schnorr’s digital cinematography) to place the always anxious, always splenetic Žižek literally within the films’ scenes, watching Isabella Rossellini’s demi-rape in “Blue Velvet” from the couch, or the writhings of Linda Blair from the corner of the arctic bedroom in “The Exorcist,” and often talking over the action.

The subject here, for the most part, is sex, but Žižek’s approach is refreshingly untheory-like: instead of the non-canonical, abstruse, navel-gazing insularity of most theory, we’re presented with formulations that extend and heighten the meanings of the films, and the achievements of the filmmakers (whom Žižek, rather un-post-structuralistically, gives full credit for the Freudian manifestations in their work). That is, the films aren’t simply cult-stud specimens without authors, but cataracts 03102009_ZizekGuide2.jpgof desire and fear that illuminate our own relationship with sex and its discontentments. Except perhaps when he’s pointing out how Gene Hackman in “The Conversation” seems to be literally examining the scene of the murder from “Psycho” (a painfully obvious inter-film connection I never noticed before), Žižek is all about how the films literally and profoundly “teach us lessons,” symbolically, about desire, about subjectivity, about the strange but universal need for sexual fantasy (and how it’s expressed as the voyeurism of cinema-watching), about our conflicted relationship with the sexual significance of various body parts.

Unlike most theory, “Pervert’s Guide” relates directly to our pleasure in watching movies, and to our ideas about our own behavior. Of course, a percentage of what Žižek says is half-conceived and presumptuous, as when he declares that women’s sexual pleasure only comes after the fact, in contemplation of the act. But his juicy bon mots are always challenging (“I want a third pill!” he declares, in view of “The Matrix”‘s inadequate dichotomy between illusion and reality). At the very least, those of us who’ve only seen “Vertigo” or “Lost Highway” or Tarkovsky’s “Solaris” once long ago will be inspired with a convert’s fervor to sit down and reevaluate them with new eyes.

Watch More
Bad Moms

Mother Muckers

Watch Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell and Kathryn Hahn Slam Motherhood in the Bad Moms Trailer

Catch Mila Kunis on That '70s Show Mondays and Tuesdays starting at 6P on IFC.

Posted by on
STX Entertiainment

They say that bringing a child into this world is the most treasured and life-fulfilling thing you can do. But once sacrificing all your time, energy, and money into a marginally grateful person wears thin, there’s not much left for fulfillment. And as three moms contending with carpools and PTA meetings, Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell, and Kathryn Hahn reject the entire notion of modern motherhood and vow to become Bad Moms, a new film by The Hangover writers Jon Lucas and Scott Moore.

Watch Mila Kunis and her pals join forces against motherhood and uptight school administrator Christina Applegate in the NSFW trailer below. And be sure to catch Mila in her younger days on That ’70s Show every Monday and Tuesday starting at 6P.

Watch More
Sally Kellerman- Maron – Season 4, Episode 5

Cheers to Mom

Send Mom Some Love With an IFC Mother’s Day Card

Give mom the gift of IFC this Mother's Day.

Posted by on

Ah, May. A month of blooming flowers, fluttering butterflies, and a shrieking barrage of guilt come Mother’s Day. But rather than bearing the brunt of shame and misery when you can’t see Mom this year, smooth things over with an official IFC Mother’s Day card. They say everything you’re too busy to say over the phone, like would it kill you to ever dial a number and talk to the woman who gave you life? And would it be the end of the world if you found a better job and settled down with someone nice? But no, it’s fine. She’ll make do with one of these cards, featuring characters from Portlandia, Maron and Comedy Bang! Bang!. Check them out below, and be good to mom this year.

Mother's Day Portlandia

Mother's Day Portlandia

Mother's Day Maron

Mother's Day CBB

Watch More
Marc Maron – Dave Anthony – Maron – Season 4, Episode 2

Snark Attack

5 Times Maron’s Dave Anthony Had the Perfect Response

Maron returns May 4th at 9P on IFC.

Posted by on

Dave Anthony, standup and podcaster extraordinaire, has stealthily become a one-liner machine on Maron, playing Marc’s deadpan “frenemy.” While Dave may often say the wrong thing, we always seem to relate to him in some secret, shameful way. Before you catch Dave on the season premiere of Maron this Wednesday, May 4th at 9P, check out a few times it felt like he was living our life — and messing it up just as much as we are.

1. That moment when we realize no one is listening to our podcast.

Maron Dave Anthony


2. Or when we remember that feelings are just nature’s way of saying it’s time to eat more ice cream.

Maron Dave Anthony


3. That feeling you get when you realize you’ll do anything if someone else is paying.

Maron Dave Anthony


4. For those times when we want to fight the power.

Maron Dave Anthony

Maron Dave Anthony

Maron Dave Anthony


5. And of course, for those times when we realize that life is about accomplishing the little things.

Maron Dave Anthony

Watch More
Powered by ZergNet