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The Scuzzies (2019)

Aesthetic benchmarks for 3D design are continually pushing “forward” towards the goal of realism, or even realistic non-realism: a depiction of fantastic worlds grounded in the immersive qualities of seeing a resemblance of reality reflected back at you. And while the craftmanship and creative labour that goes into realistic design work is undoubtedly something worth appreciating, realism is neither the sole nor the supreme qualitative attribute to which all 3D graphic modelling should aspire to. The AAA games industry sadly does not often see it that way, and efforts to push the latest pre-built gaming hardware to its limits have…


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Many British television audiences will no doubt be familiar with Benefits Street. First airing back in 2014, it claimed to be documenting the residents of James Turner Street in Birmingham, with clear emphasis on the fact that most of its residents claimed state welfare. Rather than providing that British-televisual trademark of “impartiality” — a notion the show likely believed it held — Benefits Street ended up becoming one of the flagship brands of the post-crisis anti-welfare commentariat, in keeping with Love Productions’ reactionary populist Anglophilia epitomised later with Make Bradford British and The Great British Bake Off. As a phenomenon…


*SPOILER WARNING*

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A crude attempt to show off the “set up” I established over lockdown to keep myself “nourished”.

If there’s one thing this year has lacked — amongst many things — it’s consistency. After what has seemed like a succession of increasingly miserable years, 2020 has been the peak of that trajectory (so far — global warming hasn’t killed us all yet, but we’ve still got 2021 to look forward to). Our standard sense of time has been eroded — that is to say, our confrontation with the notion that time suddenly appears irrational. I think what this pandemic has proven most about common perceptions of time is just how much that perception is built upon…


The ocean is intrinsically cinematic. It is constant motion; a body of great and untameable power. It is an unwalkable desert. It is entirely unpredictable — often violent, sometimes at peace, but always chaotic. In the eyes of the Romanticists, it is the ultimate figure of man’s humility to nature. Captured on early film stock, as it was by Birt Acres some 125 years ago now, the ocean becomes an abstract ceaseless monster. In this logic, Rough Sea at Dover is amongst the first horror films, tongue-in-cheek as it may be to suggest. The Lumiere’s Train Pulling Into A…


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Me, staring at a blank screen, surrounded by conveniently-placed games, on a Dreamcast with a broken AC cord. I need a haircut.

Cinema has time and time again foretold of its own slow death — any change to its established forms is often met with a disdainful hostility: the introduction of sound in the 1920s, the prominence of television in the 1950s, and from there we have the dawn of video/online piracy, digital filmmaking and projection, and now the age of streaming. Each time, the existential dilemmas that it places upon itself fade away, and all this fuss over some false cinematic doom is less tragedy and more tragic. The superhero boom of recent years is as much an industrial declaration of…


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Recently, my university supervisor asked me about the relationship I have between my autism and my interest in watching, studying, and writing about cinema — a question which I have certainly wrestled with before but never really vocalised or broadcasted; at least not in any substantial form. Given the relative immediacy with which this question was asked, I stumbled over my words and my initial explanation was unclear. All sense of composure seems eradicated, even if only seconds before it felt like I had a firm grasp of it. The words that escaped were alien, as if it were not…


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Roger Deakins creates nice images — this is a statement which, at this avenue in film history, feels like a pointlessly obvious one to make. And while 1917 is a film replete with “nice images”, they also possess an undercurrent of tedium. I had felt — at least for a while — as though the long-take had finally been laid to rest after nearly a whole decade’s worth of dead-horse-flogging. …


While I realise that lists are utterly self-indulgent and unnecessary, and my time should perhaps be spent on getting actual Content™ written and edited (rather than letting this account wither), I thought I might as well ‘indulge’ momentarily to provide a brief-ish account of the music and films that made an impact on me this year.

*Potential Top 10-ers.

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MUSIC

  • Terry Allen and the Panhandle Mystery Band: Pedal Steal + Four Corners*
  • Otoboke Beaver: Itekoma Hits*
  • Ebi Soda: Bedroom Tapes
  • FKA twigs: MAGDALENE*
  • Damon Locks Black Monument Ensemble: Where Future Unfolds
  • Slauson Malone: A Quiet Farwell, 2016–2018
  • Caroline Polachek: Pang


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Digital memories outlast our crumbly material grey matter, and in terms of clarity and assumed purity, they outshine it. Reliving a precious event — the saturated beauty of that untouched coastline you discovered, your daughter graduating, that gorgeous meal you had in Amsterdam — is fortified: technology in the service of your sentimentalities and nostalgias. With digital technologies, the observable fragility of analogue mediums — photographic film, vinyl pressings, tape cassettes — has apparently vanished. Interconnected networks of computers insure that these memories exist “forever” in digital storage. From this, we have each become the curators of our own personal…


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This was the first film festival I had visited as a genuine pass-holder — before this, I had only visited some movies during the BFI London Film Festival back in 2014 — so the whole ritual was bizarre for me; even a little alienating. A tad out-of-my-depth..

I’ve learned that festivals are energy-sapping — I do envy/worry about people who can plow through five/six films a day over the course of a week without becoming insular nocturnal creatures — or maybe they are. That much visual information in the span of such time — such little time for reflection, to…

Dan E. Smith

MA Film and Film Cultures / BA Film Studies and Visual Arts grad. Editor of [MASS]: https://medium.com/massartspop / Letterboxd: https://boxd.it/1luTR/

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