Spectacular Attractions Video Podcast #003: Michael Haneke’s Cache and the Politics of Privacy


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I have previously posted this lecture I gave to undergraduate students at the University of Exeter in 2010. But, while I previously had to split the video file into four separate chapters, I can now upgrade it to a single HD file for your enhanced viewing and listening pleasure. The subject matter hasn’t changed – it’s still an introduction to the themes of film form, voyeurism and political history in Michael Haneke’s Cache.

This is as good a time as any to let you know that I’ve switched to a new YouTube channel, so if you’d like to receive immediate updates of new videos like this one, you can become a subscriber using this link. My old channel is still available, and I won’t reupload everything to the new location, but nor will I update the old one again. I wish YouTube had a way to merge channels, but no such service exists at present.

Anyway, if you haven’t seen this lecture before, I hope you enjoy it, uninterrupted:

Spectacular Attractions Video Podcast #004: Speaking for Ventriloquism


Charlie McCarthy, Edgar Bergen, Candice Bergen

Last week, I traveled to Bournemouth to give a talk at the Arts University. I think I got lucky with the weather, and it was a pleasure to enjoy the mild temperatures, intermittent sunshine and bouts of dryness. The other pleasure was addressing Bournemouth’s staff and students. They managed to sit still for a full hour while I pontificated about ventriloquism and cinema. This was the first outing for some new research I’m working on, drawn from a bigger (and long-gestating, oft-delayed) project on Cinema and Puppetry. It’s coming along slowly, but it’s getting there and gathering some speed now that I have more time to devote to it. AUB’s Animation Research Pipeline talks (of which this was one) provides a space for people like me to share work in progress.

I made a complete screen recording of my talk, and while my voice is quite clearly recorded, some of the sound on the clips might need you to raise the volume once or twice. I hope you enjoy it, but I’d love to hear any comments you have, good or bad; it’s not a short lecture, and the first half is quite theoretical, but I promise you it contains good stuff on Charlie McCarthy, The Great Gabbo, Lon Chaney in drag, Mel Gibson having a fight with a glove-puppet beaver, and tastefully coloured Keynote slides.

Here’s the video. It’s available in HD, which should help you if you want to read the text on the slides:

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 #10


[City Lights (Charlie Chaplin, 1931)]

Charlie Chaplin refused to take the talkie bait while preparing his masterpiece City Lights for its release in 1931. While the world waiting to hear his voice, he was determined to prove that his art could persist in its original form with physical gestures conveying character and emotion without needing words to clarify their meaning. This podcast talks about how Chaplin constructs the film around a series of jokes that play on his attempts to uphold a facade of dignity in the face of destitution, drunkenness and conflict. It features extracts from the score, and a few of the sound effects that Chaplin added for the film’s release.

DOWNLOAD: Spectacular Attractions Podcast #10

This is the tenth weekly podcast I’ve made. I’ve learned a few editing techniques and improved my recording methods. Now it’s time to take stock and sort out the iTunes feed and iron out a few difficulties in organising this material online. I’ll be back with more podcasts in a few weeks, but in the meantime you can still find more Spectacular Attractions podcasts here, or subscribe via iTunes here. And you can read the original article on Pantomiming Chaplin’s City Lights, with all the links and images here.

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.

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