A Cinematic Journey Through Paris, As Seen Through the Lens of Legendary Filmmaker Éric Rohmer: Watch Rohmer in Paris

Note: The film starts around the 30 second mark.

Site of so many historic screenings, cradle of so many innovative auteurs, setting of so many memorable scenes: does any city have a more central place in the cinephile's consciousness than Paris? Filmmaker-professor Richard Misek calls it "the city where cinephilia itself began." It certainly has a place in his own cinephilic journey, beginning with a chance encounter, 24 years ago in the district of Montmartre, with one of the luminaries of French New Wave film: Éric Rohmer, who was then in the middle of shooting his picture Rendezvous in Paris. "I only realized this fourteen years later, when I saw the film late one night on television," Misek says. "It was the first Rohmer film I'd ever seen — and I was in it."

He tells this story early in Rohmer in Paris, his hour-long video essay on all the ways the auteur used the city in the course of his prolific, more than fifty-year-long filmmaking career. Misek describes Rohmer's characters, "always glancing at each other: on trains, on streets, in parks, in the two-way shop windows of cafes where they can see and be seen," as flâneurs, those observant strollers through the city whose type has its origins in the Paris of the 19th century. "But their walks are restricted to lunch hours and evenings out. They form detours from less leisurely trajectories: the lines of a daily commute." With ever-increasing rigor, the director "traces every step of his characters' journeys through the city with topographic precision. His characters follow actual paths through Paris, paths that can be drawn as lines on the city's map."

Though Rohmer did have his differences, aesthetically as well as politically, with his colleagues in the French New Wave, "in one way, at least, he always stayed faithful to the spirit of the nouvelle vague: throughout his life, Rohmer didn't just film Paris, he documented it." Cutting up and deliberately re-arranging thousands of pieces of image and sound in Rohmer's dozens of shorts and features, placing side-by-side shots of the same Parisian spaces years and even decades apart, Misek shows us how Rohmer cinematically illustrates "one of the basic truths about urban existence: in cities, humans' lives intersect every day. But most of these intersections are transitory, crossed paths between two people following different trajectories."

Rohmer didn't always film in Paris. As his career went on, he told more stories that depart from the city, but then, those stories also usually return to it: ultimately, almost all of his characters find that "Paris cannot be transcended." Watch just one of Rohmer's films, and you'll see how little interest he has in romanticizing the City of Light, yet the words of one character in Full Moon in Paris might also be his own: "The air is foul, but I can breathe," he declares. "I need to be at the center, in the center of a country, in a city center that's almost the center of the world."

Just as Rohmer demonstrates the inexhaustibility of Paris with his filmography, Misek demonstrates the inexhaustibility of that filmography with Rohmer in Paris, which he has recently released into the public domain and made free to watch online. It provides real insight into the work of Éric Rohmer, the city in which he became a cinephile and then a filmmaker, and how the two repeatedly intersect with one another over the second half of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st. But it also implies an answer, in the affirmative, to another, more general proposition that Misek raises early in the essay: "I can't help but wonder if cinephilia is a journey without end."

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

200+ Films by Indigenous Directors Now Free to View Online: A New Archive Launched by the National Film Board of Canada

The struggles of First Nations peoples in Canada have loomed large in the news, showing a far harsher side of a country Americans tend to caricature as a land of bland niceness, hockey fandom, and socialized medicine. Huge numbers of missing and murdered indigenous women, high rates of suicide, a multitude of health crises, and—as in the U.S.—the ongoing encroachment onto Indigenous lands by toxic pipelines and oilsands development…..

As with issues affecting other beleaguered communities across the globe, suffering from the continued depredations of colonialism and capitalism, these problems can seem so overwhelming that we don’t know how to begin to understand them. As always, the arts offer a way in—through humanizing portraits and intimate revelations, through detailed and compassionate stories, through creativity, humor, and beauty.

In March of this year, the National Film Board of Canada launched an “extensive online library of over 200 films by Indigenous directors,” reports the CBC, “part of a three-year Indigenous Action Plan to ‘redefine’ the NFB’s relationship with Indigenous peoples.” You can read the NFB’s plan here, a response to “the work and recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.”

Their free online film collection is searchable by subject, director, or Indigenous people or nation, writes Native News Online, and “many of the films in this collection are currently being screened in communities right across Canada as part of the #Aabiziingwashi (#WideAwake) Indigenous cinema screening series.”

Some of the highlights of the collection include Alanis Obomsawin’s The People of the Kattawapiskak River (top), a 2012 documentary that Judith Schuyler, of the Toronto-based ImagineNATIVE film organization, describes as “highlighting the government, the diamond mines and the skyrocketing freight costs as the contributing factors keeping the [Kattawapiskak] community in impoverished third world conditions.” Below it, see Lumaajuuq, a beautifully-animated short 2010 film by Alethea Arnaquq-Baril that tells the Inuit story of “The Blind Man and the Loon.”

Further up, see First Stories—Two Spirited, a 2007 film by Sharon A. Desjarlais that filmmaker Bretten Hannam describes as “a message of hope and healing not only for two-spirit people, but for all indigenous people," and, just above, Dennis Allen’s CBQM, a documentary about a radio station in Fort McPherson, Northwest Territories, which ImagineNative’s Jason Ryle describes as “a tender, intimate portrait of a northern community.”

Native News Online and the CBC list several other recommendations from the collection, or you can simply dive in and start watching here. Also, check out this crash course on rising Indigenous filmmakers. And if at any point you feel inspired to don the garb of a First Nations people and hit the clubs or music festivals, well, maybe heed the ultra-short public service announcement, “Naked Island—Hipster Headdress,” below, and “Just Don’t Do It.”

via @sheerly

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Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

Watch Life on the Streets of Tokyo in Footage Recorded in 1913: Caught Between the Traditional and the Modern

What cities have, over the past century, defined in our imaginations the very concept of the city? Obvious choices include New York and London, and here on Open Culture we've featured historic street-level footage of both (New York in 1911, London between 1890 and 1920) that vividly reveals how, even over a hundred years ago, they'd already matured as commercially, technologically, and demographically impressive metropolises. At the turn of the 20th century, the 6.5 million-strong London ranked as the most populous city on Earth, and New York had overtaken it within a few decades. But by the mid-1960s, a new contender had suddenly risen to the top spot: Tokyo.

Historically speaking, of course, the word "new" doesn't quite apply to the Japanese capital, since as a settled area it goes back to the third millennium BC. But Tokyo didn't become the capital, effectively, until 1869 (not that even today's denizens of Kyoto, the country's previous capital, seem ever to have ceded the distinction in their own minds), around the same time that the previously closed-off island nation opened up to the rest of the world. Provided by Amsterdam's EYE Filmmuseum, the footage at the top of the post dates from less than half a century thereafter and conveys something of what it must have felt like to live in not just a country zealously engaged in the project of modernization, but in the very center of that project.

These clips were shot on the streets of Tokyo in 1913 and 1915, just after the death of Emperor Meiji, who since 1868 had presided over the so-called Meiji Restoration. That period saw not just a re-consolidation of power under the Emperor, but an assimilation of all things Western — or at least an assimilation of all things Western that official Japan saw as advantageous in its mission to "catch up" with the existing world powers. For the citizens of Tokyo, these, most benignly, included urban parks: "Japanese enjoy to the fullest the pleasures afforded by the numerous parks of the Empire," says one of the film's title cards. "Uyeno Park, Tokio, is a very popular place, especially on Sunday afternoons." But then, going by what we see in the footage, every place in Tokyo seems popular.

On the brink of thoroughgoing urbanization, the cityscape includes shrines, woodblock prints, signs and banners filled to bursting with text (and presumably color), and hand-painted advertisements for the then-novelty of the motion picture. The Tokyoites inhabiting it wear traditional kimono as well as the occasional Western suit and hat. Young men pull rickshaws and ride bicycles (those latter having grown much more numerous since). Peripatetic merchants sell their wares from enormous wooden frames strapped to their backs. Countless children, both in and out of school uniform, stare curiously at the camera. None, surely, could imagine the destruction soon to come with the 1923 Kanto Earthquake, let alone the firebombing of World War II — nor the astonishingly fast development thereafter that would, by the time of the reborn city's 1964 Olympic Games, make it the largest in the world.

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Watch the Trailer for a Stunning New 70-Millimeter Print of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, Released by Christopher Nolan on the Film’s 50th Anniversary

Sure, you've probably seen 2001: A Space Odyssey. But have you experienced 2001: A Space Odyssey? That particular verb no doubt implies different conditions to different people. Maybe it means having seen the film during its initial 1968 release. Maybe it means having seen it at a certain... height of consciousness. Maybe it means having seen it in the large-format Cinerama screenings that happened again when it was re-released during the actual year 2001 — as I did, not having been born yet in 1968. Neither was Christopher Nolan, who, perhaps for that reason, has struck a brand new 70-millimeter print of Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke's singular vision of a humanity thrust into previously unimaginable encounters with intelligences both extraterrestrial and artificial.

"The film took for granted a broad cultural tolerance, if not an appetite, for enigma, as well as the time and inclination for parsing interpretive mysteries," writes Dan Chiasson in a recent New Yorker piece on 2001's 50th anniversary. "If the first wave of audiences was baffled, it might have been because 2001 had not yet created the taste it required to be appreciated. Like Ulysses, or The Waste Land, or countless other difficult, ambiguous modernist landmarks, 2001 forged its own context. You didn’t solve it by watching it a second time, but you did settle into its mysteries."

Half a century later, 2001 stands as one of the most firmly driven pillars of cinematic culture — a monolith, you might say — and one of the most successful film directors alive has invited us all to share in his worship at its base.

“One of my earliest memories of cinema is seeing Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, in 70mm, at the Leicester Square Theatre in London with my father," Nolan says in the press materials for the release of the new print. "This is a true photochemical film recreation. There are no digital tricks, remastered effects, or revisionist edits. This is the unrestored film — that recreates the cinematic event that audiences experienced fifty years ago. " You can see its trailer at the top of the post, and if you'll happen to be at the Cannes Film Festival next month, you might consider catching its premiere screening on May 12th. If not, its wider release begins in American theaters on May 18th, so do keep an eye on your local art-house listings, especially for those art houses equipped to screen in 70-millimeter, a format that makes "the ultimate trip," as 2001's late-60s posters hastily re-branded it, that much more so.

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Immaculately Restored Film Lets You Revisit Life in New York City in 1911

Other than one or two of the world's supercentenarians, nobody remembers New York in 1911. Plenty of living historians and enthusiasts of the city have paid intensive attention to that booming time period when the city's population fast approached five million, but none experienced it first-hand. They, and we, can get no closer to it than watching the footage above, originally shot by a Swedish documentary team which set out to capture the most celebrated places in the world at the time, a list also including Niagara Falls, Paris, Monte Carlo, and Venice. The practically immaculate condition of the film highlights both the similarities and differences between the street life of New York over a century ago and of New York today.

Take a look at the tailored or tailored-looking clothing on nearly everyone, even the one-legged man making his deliberate way past the Chinese grocery. Then as now, most New Yorkers got around on foot, and since the city's first subway line had opened just seven years before, the dominant public transit options remained streetcars and elevated trains.

In the realm of private vehicles, horse-drawn carriages had only just begun to give way to motorcars. (Since 1911 was still the age of silent film, the ambient sound of all this was added later.) "Take note of the surprising and remarkably timeless expression of boredom exhibited by a young girl filmed as she was chauffeured along Broadway in the front seat of a convertible limousine," says the Museum of Modern Art's notes.

MoMA, which exhibited the footage last year, also points out familiar landmarks: "Opening and closing with shots of the Statue of Liberty, the film also includes New York Harbor; Battery Park and the John Ericsson statue; the elevated railways at Bowery and Worth Streets; Broadway sights like Grace Church and Mark Cross; the Flatiron Building on Fifth Avenue; and Madison Avenue." Any modern New Yorker halfway interested in the city will know all those places, and even if the city has changed in countless other ways, they'll sense the very same characteristic vitality in these clips that they feel there today. Will New Yorkers of the future have the same reaction, to, say, the Japanese high-definition video demo footage shot on those very same streets in the 1990s? It'll take about eighty years to find out. We probably won't be here by then, but New York certainly will.

via Kottke

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Martin Scorsese Teaches His First Online Course on Filmmaking: Features 30 Video Lessons

Last September, online education company Masterclass announced that they'd soon launch Martin Scorsese's very first online course, "Martin Scorsese Teaches Filmmaking." Now it has opened for enrollment, at the usual Masterclass cost of $90 for the individual course or $180 for an all-access pass to all the courses on the site, a list that also includes Spike Lee and Werner Herzog's takes on the same subject. For a company that has quickly made its name by enlisting famous instructors, they could hardly do better than Scorsese, whose own name has become a byword for auteurism in late 20th- and early 21st-century American cinema.

"If you're intrigued by moviemaking as a career, this isn't the class for you," Scorsese says in the class' trailer above. "But if you need to make movies, if you feel like you can't rest until you've told this particular story that you're burning to tell, then I could be speaking to you." Its 30 lessons, which cover everything from his life and education to developing a style to casting actors to shooting on a low budget, might also appeal to those who simply love Scorsese's movies.

He illustrates his instructional points by drawing on his own formidable filmography and the vast experience that has gone into it (including the physical illness that descends upon him before viewing each rough cut), a process that no doubt provides countless insights into what makes his work so powerful.

But the curriculum also goes well beyond Scorsese-on-Scorsese, as one might expect from a man unabashedly driven by a pure love of cinema — of, seemingly, all of cinema. In the final section of the course, Scorsese breaks down scenes from Stanley Kubrick's Barry Lyndon, Jacques Tourneur's Out of the Past, François Truffaut's Jules and Jim, Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo, and Federico Fellini's 8 1/2, examining the technical elements that fill them with their distinctive magic. His enthusiasm has surely inspired almost as many of his fans to go into filmmaking as has his work itself, but even those who lack the burning desire to tell cinematic stories themselves know that if there's any viewing experience as compelling as watching a Scorsese movie, it's watching Scorsese talk about movies.

Note: MasterClasss and Open Culture have a partnership. If you sign up for a MasterClass course, it benefits not just you and MasterClass. It benefits Open Culture too. So consider it win-win-win.

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

An Avalanche of Novels, Films and Other Works of Art Will Soon Enter the Public Domain: Virginia Woolf, Charlie Chaplin, William Carlos William, Buster Keaton & More

There may be no sweeter sound to the ears of Open Culture writers than the words “public domain”—you might even go so far as to call it our “cellar door.” The phrase may not be as musical, but the fact that many of the world’s cultural treasures cannot be copyrighted in perpetuity means that we can continue to do what we love: curating the best of those treasures for readers as they appear online. Public domain means companies can sell those works without incurring any costs, but it also means that anyone can give them away for free. “Anyone can re-publish” public domain works, notes Lifehacker, “or chop them up and use them in other projects.” And thereby emerges the remixing and repurposing of old artifacts into new ones, which will themselves enter the public domain of future generations.

Some of those future works of art may even become the next Great American Novel, if such a thing still exists as anything more than a hackneyed cliché. Of course, no one seriously goes around saying they’re writing the “Great American Novel,” unless they’re Philip Roth in the 70s or William Carlos Williams (top right) in the 20s, who both somehow pulled off using the phrase as a title (though Roth’s book doesn't quite live up to it.) Where Roth casually used the concept in a light novel about baseball, Williams’ The Great American Novel approached it with deep concern for the survival of the form itself. His modernist text “engages the techniques of what we would now call metafiction,” writes literary scholar April Boone, “to parody worn out formulas and content and, ironically, to create a new type of novel that anticipates postmodern fiction.”

We will all, as of January 1, 2019, have free, unfettered access to Williams’ metafictional shake-up of the formulaic status quo, when “hundreds of thousands of… books, musical scores, and films first published in the United States during 1923” enter the public domain, as Glenn Fleishman writes at The Atlantic. Because of the complicated history of U.S. copyright law—especially the 1998 “Sonny Bono Act” that successfully extended a copyright law from 50 to 70 years (for the sake, it's said, of Mickey Mouse)—it has been twenty years since such a massive trove of material has become available all at once. But now, and “for several decades from 2019 onward,” Fleishman points out, “each New Year’s Day will unleash a full year’s worth of works published 95 years earlier.”

In other words, it’ll be Christmas all over again in January every year, and while you can browse the publication dates of your favorite works yourself to see what’s coming available in coming years, you’ll find at The Atlantic a short list of literary works included in next-year’s mass-release, including books by Aldous Huxley, Winston Churchill, Carl Sandburg, Edith Wharton, and P.G. Wodehouse. Lifehacker has several more extensive lists, which we excerpt below:

Movies [see many more at Indiewire]

All these movies, including:

  • Cecil B. DeMille’s (first, less famous, silent version of) The Ten Commandments
  • Harold Lloyd’s Safety Last!, including that scene where he dangles off a clock tower, and his Why Worry?
  • A long line-up of feature-length silent films, including Buster Keaton’s Our Hospitalityand Charlie Chaplin’s The Pilgrim
  • Short films by Chaplin, Keaton, Laurel and Hardy, and Our Gang (later Little Rascals)
  • Cartoons including Felix the Cat(the character first appeared in a 1919 cartoon)
  • Marlene Dietrich’s film debut, a bit part in the German silent comedy The Little Napoleon; also the debuts of Douglas Fairbanks Jr. and Fay Wray


All this music, including these classics:

  • “King Porter Stomp”
  • “Who’s Sorry Now?”
  • “Tin Roof Blues”
  • “That Old Gang of Mine”
  • “Yes! We Have No Bananas”
  • “I Cried for You”
  • “The Charleston”—written to accompany, and a big factor in the popularity of, the Charleston dance
  • Igor Stravinsky’s “Octet for Wind Instruments”


All these booksand these books, including the classics:

  • Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
  • Cane by Jean Toomer
  • The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran
  • The Ego and the Id by Sigmund Freud
  • Towards a New Architecture by Le Corbusier
  • Whose Body?, the first Lord Peter Wimsey novel by Dorothy L. Sayers
  • Two of Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot novels, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd and The Murder on the Links
  • The Prisoner, volume 5 of Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time (note that English translations have their own copyrights)
  • The Complete Works of Anthony Trollope
  • George Bernard Shaw’s play Saint Joan
  • Short stories by Christie, Virginia Woolf, H.P. Lovecraft, Katherine Mansfield, and Ernest Hemingway
  • Poetry by Edna St. Vincent Millay, E.E. Cummings, William Carlos Williams, Rainer Maria Rilke, Wallace Stevens, Robert Frost, Sukumar Ray, and Pablo Neruda
  • Works by Jane Austen, D.H. Lawrence, Edith Wharton, Jorge Luis Borges, Mikhail Bulgakov, Jean Cocteau, Italo Svevo, Aldous Huxley, Winston Churchill, G.K. Chesterton, Maria Montessori, Lu Xun, Joseph Conrad, Zane Grey, H.G. Wells, and Edgar Rice Burroughs


These artworks, including:

  • Constantin Brâncuși’s Bird in Space
  • Henri Matisse’s Odalisque With Raised Arms
  • Marcel Duchamp’s The Bride Stripped Bare By Her Bachelors, Even (The Large Glass)
  • Yokoyama Taikan’s Metempsychosis
  • Work by M. C. Escher, Pablo Picasso, Wassily Kandinsky, Max Ernst, and Man Ray

Again, these are only partial lists of highlights, and such highlights…. Speaking for myself, I cannot wait for free access to the very best (and even worst, and weirdest, and who-knows-what-else) of 1923. And of 1924 in 2020, and 1925 and 2021, and so on and so on….

via The Atlantic

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Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

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