Spectacular Attractions Video Podcast #003






Here, in four chapters, is a lecture I gave to undergraduate students in the Department of English at The University of Exeter in 2010. The students had already watched the film, so if you haven’t seen it, you should probably avoid this talk until you have, as it discusses important plot developments. The title I was given was “The Politics of Privacy”, but my talk doesn’t address that idea directly: Michael Haneke’s Cache was one of several texts for that week on a module dealing with personal expression in writing and film, often focusing on postcolonial subjects. My lecture introduces students to the film and suggests some ways to interpret it and start to unravel its mysteries.

For reasons of upload limits, I have had to divide this lecture into four segments,. These were obviously not planned breaks, so each chapter will start and stop a little abruptly, I’m afraid. If anyone’s interested, I’ll also post the complete audio file for the lecture, but the video version includes slides, text, and video clips that should help to illustrate it, especially when I’m reading out long quotations.

At present, I’m only able to post all four chapters to my YouTube channel, though these are at least available in HD – Vimeo has tighter upload restrictions, so I can’t post all of them yet, but you can find updates, and earlier video podcasts, at my Vimeo page.

Spectacular Attractions Video Podcast #001


This week, I present the first of what I hope will develop into a regular series of short video podcasts. Last year, I experimented with ten audio podcasts, most of which adapted posts previously published on this blog. As much as I enjoyed making those shows, I missed being able to show images and clips, so this is an opportunity to refer very directly to particular scenes from films; sometimes I’ll analyse a single clip, and other times the subject will be more of a video essay like this first entry, which revisits a post about Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. You can read the original entry here, but I really wanted to start with something familiar to get used to the editing software. I’m using iMovie for now, but might progress to something more complex if needed. This equipment serves my purposes for now.

I plan to follow this with two more short videos about 2001, and then a broader variety of films. If time allows, new video podcasts will appear every fortnight. Feedback on episode #001 would be greatly appreciated:

Spectacular Attractions Video Podcast #001: 2001: A Space Odyssey – This Way Up from Dan North on Vimeo.

The Spectacular Attractions Podcast Archive


Last year, I made a series of ten podcasts, mainly to see if I could. It was time-consuming at first, and though it soon became easier once I got the hang of the software, I didn’t have time to keep it going beyond that run of ten. I’d like to try these again in the future, perhaps with a series of interviews (any tips on how best to record Skype or iChat conversations to make them suitable for podcasts would be greatly appreciated), but the next thing I’m going to try is a video podcast. I’ll probably use some of the same subjects, but being able to use clips will make things much easier for me, and hopefully more interesting for you. In the meantime here, in one place, is the whole collection of Spectacular Attractions podcasts to date. You can listen here, or download to play on your own devices:

Spectacular Attractions Podcast #9


[Do the Right Thing (Spike Lee, 1989)]

This podcast contains strong language. But then, in some ways it’s about strong language, the way words become weaponised and reveal inadequacies of self-expression that might spill over into exasperated physical violence. Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing deals with race and racism in contentious, provocative style but with a wit that is often disarming, and a complexity that belies its more brusque and partisan grandstanding moments. The podcast features excerpts from Public Enemy’s Fight the Power and dialogue from the film itself. It is, consequently, not for tender. My own language, on the other hand, is as clean as a whistle made of Cillit Bang.

There will be one more podcast next week, and then I’ll be taking a break from the recordings. I’ll polish up the old recordings and repost them on iTunes with a proper feed and other technical tricks I haven’t figured out yet (it’s actually a little more complicated than I thought at first, which is why, you may have noticed, iTunes only hosts five of my podcasts at a time. I’ll rectify this and come back a little more learned. There’s still nothing to stop you downloading them all directly from this site, though. Thanks for your support. Suggestions for future shows are still welcomed.

DOWNLOAD: Spectacular Attractions Podcast #9

[Find more Spectacular Attractions podcasts here, or subscribe via iTunes here. Read the original article on Do the Right Thing here.]

Spectacular Attractions Podcast #8


[Werckmeister Harmonies (Bela Tarr, 2000)]

Episode 8 of this series of podcasts is an extended discussion of Bela Tarr’s amazing Werckmeister Harmonies, and it’s intended to introduce key aspects of the film to viewers encountering it for the first time. The original post features a reading list and footnotes, along with images and links to other resources. Hopefully, together these will make the film more digestible, but they by now means finish the job of getting to grips with its mysteries.

There will be two more episodes in this “season 1″ of Spectacular Attractions, and then I’ll take a short hiatus to fix the iTunes feed, take stock of what I’ve learned from these trial runs, before coming back with new material and a more professional (or at least practiced) approach. It’s been an interesting process learning how to record and edit these things, and I hope you’ve find them interesting and informative to listen to. Any suggestions for future episodes, or technical tips, would be gratefully received.

DOWNLOAD: Spectacuar Attractions Podcast #8

[Find more Spectacular Attractions podcasts here, or subscribe via iTunes here. Read the original article on Werckmeister Harmonies here.]

Spectacular Attractions Podcast #7


Unbreakable (M. Night Shyamalan, 2000)

With The Last Airbender stinking up UK cinemas, it seemed like a good time to remind myself of the days when M. Night Shyamalan seemed like an exciting talent to watch. Accordingly, this podcast is all about his comic book superhero drama Unbreakable, starring Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson. I’m a big fan of this film, and it would be a shame if it was forgotten as Shyamalan’s career seems to be increasingly marked by disastrous critical failure. Willis plays David Dunn, a security guard who becomes the sole survivor of a train crash, and Samuel L. Jackson’s Elijah Price tries to convince him that his survival makes him a real-life, invulnerable superhero. This episode features clips from the film and extracts from James Newton Howard’s score.

DOWNLOAD: Spectacular Attractions Podcast #7

Find more Spectacular Attractions podcasts here, or subscribe via iTunes here. Read my original review of Unbreakable here.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

Spectacular Attractions Podcast #5


Avalon (Mamoru Oshii)

In this week’s podcast, I discuss Mamoru Oshii’s Avalon. This is not a particularly well-known film, but it’s undoubtedly a fascinating and divisive one. My students are always enfuriated and hooked by it in equal measure, and with Inception getting so much attention for its real-or-not-real depiction of dream states, it seemed like a good time to revisit another film built around confusion between states of reality, imagination and simulation. The story follows Ash, a lone gamer devoted to Avalon, an illegal battle simulation game that draws its users into a seductively dangerous virtual world. Desperate to atone for earlier mistakes that left a friend lost inside Avalon, she yearns to ascend the game’s levels to complete the mission that will grant access to ‘Class Real’, the highest plateau it has to offer its users. It has everything you could ask for from a film about virtual reality, plus a basset hound. Every movie needs a basset hound. But where did he go? Any answers would be greatly appreciated.

DOWNLOAD: Spectacular Attractions Podcast #5

Find more Spectacular Attractions podcasts here, or subscribe via iTunes here. Read my original review of Avalon here.

[See more images from the film at my Flickr page, or in the slideshow below:]

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

Spectacular Attractions Podcast #4


[Inception (Christopher Nolan, 2010)]

This week’s episode is a slightly expanded version (i.e. a couple more things occurred to me while I was speaking it) of my review of Inception. It seems like the internet is flooded with analysis and argument about the film, a lot of it becoming increasingly negative, but I’ve kept the mostly positive tone of my initial review in place. It has become common to slap Nolan’s film with criticisms of its coldness or its sexless, prosaic dreamscapes. It’s the opposite of those Lynchian non-sequiturs that we expect from films about dreaming, deliberately bringing into lucid focus what we might usually expect to find blurred, partial and discontinuous. You’ll probably enjoy Inception more if you go with these idiosyncrasies as calculated properties of the film rather than as thoughtless mistakes by an immature filmmaker. Of course, you don’t have to have an opinion about the film just because everyone’s talking about it. You can always ignore the hype and watch something else. I’m happy to answer questions about my Inception review, or engage in discussion about the film in the comments section, but this will be my final post on the topic: there are plenty of excellent, insightful considerations out there, and I don’t feel like I have more to add beyond what I’ve said here, but thank goodness for a blockbuster that got people talking, arguing, puzzling and thinking a bit.

Spectacular Attractions Podcast #4

Find more Spectacular Attractions podcasts here, or subscribe via iTunes here.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

Spectacular Attractions Podcast #2


[#2: Ealing’s Kind Hearts and Coronets (Robert Hamer, 1949)]

The second Spectacular Attractions podcast is now available for download (see link below). I’m finding the editing a little easier now, but perhaps need to work on my microphone technique a little more. At least this one is a little less stilted than last week’s edition, so hopefully this will eventually blossom into an impressive bit of pod.

This episode discusses the classic Ealing comedy Kind Hearts and Coronets, directed by Robert Hamer in 1949. You can read the full post here, or download the podcast and take it with you wherever you’re going:

Spectacular Attractions Podcast #2

[Find more Spectacular Attractions podcasts here, or subscribe via iTunes here.]

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine