Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Quick Thoughts on the Inherent Vice trailer

Prepping for Punch Drunk Love in my intro class. Interesting timing that the trailer for Inherent Vice (2014) came out while I was rethinking Anderson's body of work anyway (along with the sweet reviews the book's gotten so far).

I remain excited about PTA's next film--it looks gorgeous and the source material seems like a good fit thematically with that body of work. The post-war existentialism of The Master (2012) has been replaced by the "what's it all mean?" musings of late 60s counterculture, but the existential crises--and chemical addictions--amidst the empty facades of a California consumer culture remain the same.

In reading the book recently, I was struck by this passage:

" . . . Coy and I, all we saw was the freedom--from the endless middle class cycle of choices that are no choices at all--a world of hassle reduced to one simple issue of scoring" (38). 

Seems like the kind of passage that would get the filmmaker's attention (fwiw: I have no clue if this ever got anywhere near the adaptation itself).

All that said, the trailer was pretty underwhelming--its trying too hard to sell the movie as funny and quirky. I'm assuming that this is just the work of the studio itself (Warner Bros) and its uncertainty about how to sell it. (Seriously, the fact that a major studio is backing Anderson still amazes me). Following that logic, a lot of the moments in the trailer are hopefully taken out of context in so far as they don't reflect the general tone of the movie itself.

Also, some of my initial reservations were not alleviated by the trailer either--a concern intensified by the supposedly long running time. We'll see.

I will blog about it when I have a chance to see it--probably not until December.

I also hope to do a "field" trip with some Northwestern students--possibly in January. The interest is still definitely there.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

A Plan for a Plan

I confess I've struggled a little with getting my Hawai'i project Strangers in Our Own Land off the ground in the last couple of months. All in all, I'm only about 5K words in. The reasons are probably understandable--I was burned out by August with finishing Haunted Nerves (I have pulled almost all stuff on the blog regarding that nostalgia and digital cinema project in hopeful anticipation of eventual publication) as well as an article-length piece on Detroit-themed documentaries--esp., Detropia and Deforce. I've also, understandably, been uber-busy with teaching with a new quarter underway, so there's hasn't been much of any free time.

The other problem, though, is that the Hawai'i project is by far the most ambitious one I've ever encountered and its been a matter of not what to say, but where to begin. Some of this concerns the film and TV titles themselves, which covers a large time frame of four decades and taking up a very different set of historical questions along each step of the way. But another is also trying to think of which databases and archives to look at, as I envision the project covering both production and reception histories, as well as the larger cultural and political questions framing them. Its all been kind of overwhelming.

So, anyway, back to basics: I've come up with a tentative scholarly reading list for the next several months, and I'll try to blog about it accordingly. Along the way, I'll also try to take the primary research one database at a time (such as possibly taking a couple hours to look over the Walter Mirisch papers at U-W Madison when I visit there later this month for a Race and Media Conference). Since my little free time in the next two weeks will be devoted to prepping for that conference, I won't pretend to get much done on this project before then.

Some of these I've looked at a bit before, some I've yet to even open. I will re-visit some of the larger theories of tourism and leisure (MacCannell, Desmond, Urry) when I get closer to doing some actual writing.

Oct. 24th: Daws, Shoal of Time

Nov. 7th: Bacchilega, Legendary Hawai'i and the Politics of Place

Nov. 21st: Imada, Aloha America

Dec. 5th: Bailey and Farber, The First Strange Place

Dec. 12th: Gonzalez, Securing Paradise

Dec. 19th: Skwiot, The Purposes of Paradise

Dec. 26th: Rohrer, Haoles in Hawai'i

Maybe I'll just plan out for the rest of the year for now, and re-evaluate the progress at that time.