26.8.16

Theater of the Absurd Charlie Rose Style

Charlie Rose supercut
In 2013 I saw this video at an exhibition on supercuts at the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens  adjacent to the old style Astoria film studios where Law and Order and Sesame Street have been brought to life.
Anyway. A supercut is a kind of new media -- someone gets an idea like "What if I cut out everything in news media clippings of Donald Trump speaking except for when he utters "China"? You get the idea. Or a supercut of just blah blah blahs from across cinematic history. I posted that one on this blog. I must be obsessed with supercuts. I have wanted to create my own but never had the tenacity nor have I yet lighted upon a good idea.

This supercut from the Charlie Rose show was imagined as "if written by Samuel Beckett." By just paring down an episode on technology to a few buzzwords and phrases the creator has managed to create a nonsensical interview with Charlie Rose and himself. Here it is.

True story: I now utter "Google" nonsensically in public places. Thank you very much.

"Charlie Rose" by Samuel Beckett from Andrew Filippone Jr. on Vimeo.

25.8.16

Ira Sach's "Little Men" Improvisation Scene

Michael Barbieri in Ira Sach's Little Men  
Ira Sach's Little Men (2016) is about how children are more mature in their emotional expression than the adults -- as well as better listeners.

The film tells a story about two friends who must suffer the consequences of a business dispute between their parents. While the adults bicker and put up their defenses, the two boys roam the streets of Brooklyn, an image of the borough that is a stitched together pastiche of different neighborhoods. While it seems the kids live in the Greenpoint or Williamsburg neighborhood, the setting shifts between Sunset Park and Bay Ridge. We see the Verrazano Bridge in one sequence, and in another, a view of Lower Manhattan from Sunset Park. I am not sure whether Sachs was attempting to make a statement about the ever-shifting landscape of New York City, or simply painting a colorful, albeit nostalgic, portrait of several neighborhoods mashed into one.


But, I want to talk about my favorite scene in the movie. A quarter of the way through, it features a creative, energy-infused scene with one of the young protagonists Tony, played by Michael Barbieri


The scene is great on many levels -- and it's hilarious to watch, especially as it pops out at you when watching the movie in the cinema. On the website Vulture, Kyle Buchanan made a thoughtful interpretation of the scene, as it relates to the larger story arc of the film. He mentions how Ira Sach's "explosive, funny sequence" nicely ties together the theme of silence and listening. While the adults fail in resolving conflicts, the two boys respond by making their friendship stronger. The two stage a protest by not talking to their parents. 

Having done improvisations with young people, and having done improvisations myself as a young person, the scene reminded me of how truly transformative acting can be. Or, how acting out in an improvised way -- structured play -- brings out raw, creative energy. And that's what we see in Tony as he naturally mimics and expands on his Theater teacher's (Mauricio Bustamante) verbal phrasing and intonation of voice.

Here's the clip!

Media Credit: Magnolia Pictures

24.8.16

Inequality in America: W.E.B. Du Bois's The Souls of Black Folk and HBO's The Night Of

A black stranger … for instance, is liable to be stopped anywhere on the public highway and made to state his business to the satisfaction of any white interrogator. If he fails to give a suitable answer, or seems too independent or “sassy,” he may be arrested or summarily driven away. 
W.E.B. Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk, p. 113
Du Bois wrote The Souls of Black Folk in 1903. I like to use this book as a point of reference because every time injustice is carried out, deniers will often remonstrate thusly: "But, that was then, this is now."

No. History tends to repeat itself. And not only that, old wounds heal slowly when subsumed under the relentless wheelhouse of time.

The tyranny of the interrogator persists. It hides behind "gun rights" lobbyists and political candidates using fear of the other to keep constituents voting for them on election day.

Americans live in a country where last year 1,134 people were killed by armed police officers. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., an African-American History scholar at Harvard, was arrested in front of his own home. American children do not have equal access to education. The United States, one of the world's most developed nations, fares poorly in its citizens' share of the wealth. Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Slovenia, and Ethiopia have better equality in the distribution of income across families than the United States. I am not just throwing out facts. I am suggesting that inequality spikes through multiple layers of society.

In The Night Of, Nasir Khan is accused of murdering a white woman.
I can't help but think about popular culture. In the HBO miniseries The Night Of, Nasir Kahn, a Pakistani American from Queens, is brought in as number one suspect in the murder of a young white girl on the Upper West Side. The season finale has not aired yet, so viewers don't know the identity of the killer. As a crime drama procedural puffed up as a cable television series, we're not sure if Naz is a killer or not -- but one thing the show makes clear is that once interrogated Naz is drawn into the bone-crushing bureaucracy of the criminal justice system, the perception of a mindless crowd, and the truth that even if Naz is innocent, once spooled through the system, Naz is transformed -- and it is not exactly a pretty transformation.

I digress a little bit. My main point is that the United States, with all of its proclamations of freedom, democracy, and justice for all, has difficulty in being honest about who exactly enjoys this so-called freedom, democracy, and justice.
Image Source: HBO

15.7.16

Teaching: Greig Roselli's Educational Philosophy

Every once and awhile an employer or person will ask me about my educational philosophy. As they say  there are many ways to skin a cat — but here is one version of what teaching means to me:

The word “education” derives from the Latin meaning “to lead out.” Teaching is just that. To teach is to lead out. But where is out? And to where are we leading those entrusted to our care? I believe we lead our students out so eventually they will no longer need us. Of course, all young people graduate. But if they graduate and are still dependent on us -- then what have we accomplished? We don’t call graduation “commencement” for nothing. To commence means to begin the journey. Once those in our care depart they will have to guide themselves. We guide our students not so that they will be perpetually guided, but so that they too will become like us -- those who lead others out. That is the purpose of education.

30.5.16

Icarus, the Sun, and Why June is a Nostalgic Time

Icarus, from the Four Disgracers, Hendrick Goltzius, 1588
The Metropolitan Museum of Art has a drawing by Hendrick Goltzius that depicts the horror of Icarus's recklessness. The drawing reminds me of a story.

1.5.16

Canadian Geese Family in Philadelphia's Schuylkill River Park

Goose at Schuykill River Park
Goose Mother and Her Babies, © 2016 Greig Roselli
I was walking along the banks of the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia and I came upon a goose mother and her yellow-haired babies.