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A different way of viewing The Act of Killing.


Joshua Oppenheimer’s new documentary film The Act of Killing is yet another confrontation with the central philosophical problem of our recent history. Immediately, we are seduced by the content of the film: former gangsters for the government of Indonesia, after describing their story, reenact the murder of hundreds of communists using traditional cinematic techniques (and they appear to get off on it). Already, the content of the film has divided film critics, most of whom have resorted to normative frameworks for their assessment. Some critics have even called for a boycott of the film at film festivals and awards ceremonies.

We should not join the ranks of the moralists and call for a boycott of the film. Perhaps there is something much more profound about the film that is worth examining. It is not that the content (the story) is not important. Indeed it is, but the normative question is simply…

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Hot Splice

Steve McQueen’s film Hunger hinges on a stunning scene between an IRA man and a priest. Here’s what the Times of London’s correspondent asked the actors about how how they did it.

It is known simply as The Scene. To those who fêted it at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, and those who have seen it since, it is the breath-taking centrepiece of a film called Hunger that is both politically controversial and philosophically sublime.

It is 23 minutes of whiz-bang dialogue and crackling ideological debate between the movie’s central protagonist, the IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands (Michael Fassbender), and a moderate Belfast priest, Father Moran (Liam Cunningham). The scene includes a 17-and-a-half-minute single shot of the two men – according to Guinness the previous record holder for a single shot on film (rather than video) is an eight-minute scene in The Player meaning that Hunger could be the holder…

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A quick note on Alfonso Cuarón’s latest film, Gravity. 

The film does not begin on earth – but it does nonetheless immediately establish a sense of ground. Clooney rotates around a space station, and the other actors are fixed firmly to some structurally secure part of the station. We notice immediately that the Effects which occur within the film result not from human actors intervening within their worlds but rather from the effects of objects (whose causes are unknown) within an interstitial gravitational field. This is a significant departure for film studies and it invites us to rethink the ground upon which we walk.

I borrow a few words from Levi Bryant’s piece (appearing in the next issue of Anarchist Developments in Cultural Studies):

[…] I have chosen to speak of gravity rather than power […] because the concept of power within the world of philosophy and theory has become too…

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Following my thoughts on Kumare…

Tapage nocturne

I don’t know if you know what it is like to want to be someone else, to not want to look like you look, to hate your own face and to go completely unnoticed. I have always wanted to be someone else. I have never felt comfortable the way I am. All I want is to be better than myself, to become less ordinary and to find some purpose in this world. It is easier to see things in others, to see things you admire and then try and become that. To own a different face, to dance a different dance, and sing a different song. It is out there waiting for us, inviting us to change. It is time to become who we are not. To change our face and become who we want to be. I think the world is a better place that way. – Michael in

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