Our Cinema/On Cinema Season 9 [REPORT]

Gregg Turkington‘s Our Cinema Oscar Special should have been a triumph.  Instead, Tim Heidecker found a way to derail proceedings regardless of his absence.  It could have been an evening of insightful movie expertise; as we’ve come to expect from its host.  What we ended up with was a travesty.  Of course, Heidecker has a history of live meltdowns.  I had deep hopes that his personal issues wouldn’t fringe on another Oscar Special.  Unfortunately, On Cinema has become nothing more than a kind of therapy for Heidecker.  That his chaos can extend to the cool waters of Turkington’s winning criticism should be a concern for us all.…  

The Best Kept Secrets of British Comedy

The world of British comedy is a rabbit hole you can lose yourself in for life.  Just following a list of long-gone essentials would keep you busy with viewing for some time.  That doesn’t even mention the constant stream of new arrivals who, though watered down, keep us restocked year after year.  There’s an even bigger wellspring of obscurity beyond the surface too, where the fourth wall is of no consequence.  Editspotters, as they call themselves, have made it their solemn duty to explore this abundant vein of intrigue.

Considered an important part in the fight against bullshit and political correctness, editspotting keeps a keen eye on the divine hand behind our much beloved national comedies.  …  

Secret Cave Office Chart [MARCH 2017]

This month’s playlist is much more varied than the February edition.  I tried a lot harder to make it a bit more representative of my overarching tastes.  That said, quite a lot of this material was new to me.  I’m finding that making these is helping me to discover a few things myself.  That, at the very least, makes it worth doing.  Overall, i’m really quite happy with this one.  However, I do have a couple of problems i’d like to iron out for April’s Office Chart.  For example, I feel the two halves are slightly too separate.  After a more upbeat opening, it’s quite a bit more chilled out by its conclusion.  …  

Reefer Madness (1936-1939) [COMMENTARY]

Reefer Madness
DIRECTOR: Louis J. Gasnier
STARRING: Dorothy Short, Kenneth Craig, Lillian Miles

Originally known as Tell Your Children, Reefer Madness has become infamous. Better known today as an archetypal “stoner” movie, it was first released in 1936 as church group propaganda.  As such, it’s full of nonsense.  Later re-cut in 1938 by Dwain Esper into an even more tawdry film, I honestly have no idea which version I have here.  Many consider it one of the best “bad movies”. For me, the current “bad movie” champion remains The Amazing Mr. X.  With a myriad of public domain movies still to come, there’s plenty of time for it to be dethroned….…  

Andrew DeYoung Interview: 555, Improvised Films, and ’90s VHS Tapes

Director Andrew DeYoung doesn’t get excited by scripts, beautiful lighting, or painstakingly manufacturing a perfectly orchestrated film. Andrew’s obsession is with the unintentional comedy of everyday interactions and tense situations. He often explores what happens when you mix actors with people who don’t know they’re on camera, and collates the best shots into a narrative.

After stumbling upon his first major release (555, which I reviewed here), I had to find out about him, his other films, his process and his inspirations. Partly because there’s very little information about it online, and partly because I needed to satisfy my curiosity after watching 555 and the rest of his work in one neurotic, coffee-fueled sprint at 5am.…  

Natural Signing Stone

One of the reasons I’ve lost interest in mainstream film is its utter unreality.  All too often, what I see portrayed on the screen holds almost no relation to the world.  However, i’m not saying I want every movie to be gritty and realistic.  It would simply be nice to relate on some level to the characters, setting or even pacing of a movie.  Rick Alverson, and directors like him, seem to be reacting to that with a tense fascination for the awkward.  That holds my interest much more, and i’m glad to see it increasingly seeping into popular culture.…  

Neural Network Art: From AI Nightmares to Alien Volcanoes

As we’ve seen from many Twitter bots, software is more than capable of creating captivating art.

But art created by neural networks moves past basic random patterns, using millions of source images, and AIs so advanced they can create surreal landscapes from scratch, paint portraits of dog-men and model alien volcanoes on planets we can’t closely observe.

In this post, I’m going to explain how neural networks — software designed to emulate the human brain — generate images, and speculate what that could mean for the future of art and entertainment.

…  

Secret Cave Office Chart [FEBRUARY 2017]

Yep, I’ll admit with my hands in the air that this is hardly an original idea.  Radiohead have been doing office charts for years, and I can only assume that thousands of hip blogs and magazines have adopted it.  Of course, it doesn’t really matter.  I just thought it would be a fun monthly thing to do.  Besides, I’ve got a High Fidelity-esque predilection for making playlists anyway.  Neither of the Bens have anything to do with this, in case they get ashamed by the choices.  This is just my own personal “writing an article for Secret Cave” playlist.  …  

Viral Videos and Hyperreality: How Attention is Manufactured On a Massive Scale

Viral videos are a strange cultural phenomenon.

They’re your classic fail compilations, your controversial quotes clipped out of interviews, your Cat Falls in Bath, Disembowels Owner (MUST WATCH!!)s. Or — more interestingly — a document of some tiny, insignificant moment that was never ready to be scrutinized by millions.

Videos go viral by chance: they happen to be picked up in the right place at the right time, someone will get it up on the front page of reddit for a few hours, and it’ll blow up. Millions of views overnight, coverage from every major news outlet on the planet, and some drugged seven-year old babbling nonsense in the back of his dad’s car is suddenly world famous.…  

The Yellow Brick Road of Internet Hysteria

Communities have a habit of obsessing over breadcrumb trails.  It’s an impulse within us that goes back far further than the internet.  However, with the advent of social media, this hysteria has been easier to track.  It’s impressive just how quickly these self-proclaimed “detectives” can get to work.  You can always count on teams of basement dwellers to decode any stray ARG.  As I’ve recently stated, this can be a great way of engaging a fan community.  That’s all just marketing though, in essence.  Deep in each of these explorers’ hearts must be a wish that something more hides in the folds of mystery.…