News | 68th Annual Venice Film Festival (2)

5 09 2011

Dateline: Venice

Alison L. McKee, Ph.D.

Yesterday I was nearly trampled by paparazzi and fans on my way to a screening of Nicholas Ray‘s odd, odd film We Can’t Go Home Again.

Paparazzi await the arrival of ... whom?

And no, I was not the object of their pursuit.

In fact, I didn’t know who was, although as I made my way from the stop where the water shuttle drops off people who’ve made the 20-minute trip from Venice to the Lido, the site of the film festival, I did pause to snap a photo of a phalanx of photographers. They were lined up at the place where the famous folks emerge from their water taxis and walk up a red carpet and into the festival.

Obviously people were gathering in anticipation of the arrival of someone well-known, but I was worried about being late and was simply taking the most direct path to the site of my screening. It lay directly across the red carpet, and normally, as long as no one famous is arriving, that’s not a problem.

But all of a sudden there was a flurry of activity, people started to yell and swarm, and that relatively orderly looking group of photographers expanded like bread dough.  “Al!  Al!  Al”

Pacino, I thought instanly.  I knew he was scheduled to appear at the festival.  Sure enough, it was he.

And I’d like to say that I saw him (well, I did once, in Los Angeles), but  that would be a lie because really, I was about 20 people back from the front of the crowd I wasn’t even trying to be part of in the first place.  In fact, I was shoved, jostled, slammed, pushed, and otherwise thrown about in the frenzy of folks who wanted a glimpse of Al Pacino — all because I was simply trying to get to a screening of We Can’t Go Home Again (no, not Pacino’s film).  All that, and I didn’t even get a glimpse.

And you wonder why the whole celebrity thing aspect of this experience leaves me a little cold.

Perhaps I should have gone to Pacino’s film, though, because the Ray film was … Not Good.  Now, I urge you to click on the links I provided at the beginning of this post:  Ray is the director of such fabulous films as In a Lonely Place, On Dangerous Ground, and Rebel Without a Cause, to name only three (if you haven’t seen them, you’re in for a treat — run, do not walk, to your Netflix queue and pop them in there). I’d seen a lot of his films in college film classes, and when I was a grad student in film at UCLA,  I’d read about the filmmaking project that Ray undertook with some undergraduate film students when he was a visiting lecturer toward the end of his career at SUNY Binghamton in the 1970s.  Edited and re-edited but rarely seen, this was my chance to view it.

As I watched We Can’t Go Home Again, I tried to keep in mind that it was intended to be an experimental feature, and it was the product of a different time (1970s).  And given those things, and the fact that I like a lot of Ray’s work, it was worth seeing. Once.  Its use of color, particularly red, reminded me of moments in Rebel Without a Cause, and its theme, to the extent that it had one, was reminiscent of some of his more mainstream film productions. And that was interesting.

But overall?  It just wasn’t very good, not even on its own terms as an experiment.  It was pretty self-indulgent on Ray’s part, and the students …?  Despite the end credits, it was difficult to tell who was responsible for what aspects of the production.  The whole thing just did not hang together.  A number of folks walked out of the screening.

Now, I know it’s 40+ years later, we live in vastly different times, and we use vastly different equipment. I applaud the risks that Ray and his students took with film form (multiple images playing at once, over/under-exposure, dynamic use of color) — but I thought, wow, what would SJSU RTVF students be able to produce under similar circumstances?

Something truly amazing, that’s what. Something that would leave We Can’t Go Home Again in the dust.

I have to say, though, that while I didn’t find the movie good as a stand-alone, it was interesting to see in light of Ray’s other work, and it was pretty cool to see the members of Ray’s family and well-known archivists and preservationists present at the screening as well.  Where else am I going to have an experience like that?

More to come!


Meet Ted Coopman

10 09 2010

Ted M. Coopman (Ph.D. University of Washington, 2008) is a lecturer in the Department of Communication Studies and the Department of Television-Radio- Film-Theater at SJSU.

Recently RTVF Info asked Ted to talk briefly about his professional projects and interests.

RTVF Info: What’s your current research about?

Ted Coopman: I’m currently working on a Small Group Communication textbook (McGraw Hill), preparing to send out a proposal for a monograph  on my case study of Indymedia, and I’m starting to collect data on the Tea Party Movement. I am preparing a paper, ” Persistence in Resistance: Consistency, Churn, and Defining Success in the Global Independent Media Center Network,” to present at the Association of Internet Researchers conference in Gothenburg, Sweden in October 2010. I am also participating in a panel discussion on Learning Management Systems and Higher Education.

RTVF: How did you first become interested in this topic?

TC: By studying and participating in the Micro Radio Movement (an effort to legalize/deregulate non-commercial Low Power FM) in the 1990s. I am interested in the Tea Party’s use of the internet and how it compares to left wing social movements.

RTVF: How does it relate to previous research you’ve done?

TC: It’s pretty with my earlier research on activist’s use of media/new media and its impact on them.

This semester Ted is teaching RTVF 180: Critical Theory and Research in RTVF.

Ted says when he’s not tied to his computer or teaching, he enjoys hiking and going to the beach with his wife Stephanie and. of course, their dog River.

Meet RTVF radio historian, scholar, and former DJ Professor Mike Adams

28 06 2010

RTVF Professor Mike Adams needs no introduction:   he’s the former Associate Dean of the College of Humanities and Arts and former Chair of the Department of Television-Radio-Film-Theatre.

Mike’s is the voice we all hear on SJSU’s phone system, narrating interesting and unusual facts about the university.  You can thank his experience as a top-40 disc jockey during the golden age of rock and roll AM radio for that. In fact, Mike  spent 12 years as DJ and Program Director of legendary station WCOL-AM in Columbus, Ohio.

But did you know that Mike is a also a first-rate radio historian and scholar?

Mike has presented papers on broadcast history topics at conferences sponsored by the Broadcast Education Association (BEA) the IEEE, the Antique Wireless Association (AWA), and the Audio Engineering Society (AES).

In fact, Mike’s scholarly work is of such high caliber that the AWA awarded him the prestigious “Houck Award” for historical documentation in 1995.

In addition, Mike has written numerous articles for historical radio journals and periodicals and two books on radio and television production, the biography Charles Herrold, inventor of radio broadcasting.

Mike is currently writing a book  about Lee de Forest and his invention of Phonofilm, the first sound-on-film process, that eventually became Movietone in 1927.  Most of the  materials he needs to consult are  in museums and private collections. Fortunately, the de Forest paper collection is at History San Jose, where, as he says, “I have spent many days with it over the past four years.”

Mike’s passion for the research and writing he does in early broadcast technology history (1900-1920) extends to speaking engagements as well.  This summer he will speak twice on the topic of his book (under contract at Springer) — first at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in July and then in Rochester, New York  in August.

As Mike says so often himself, the hits keep on coming!

Welcome to RTVF Scholarship & Studies

26 05 2010

The RTVF Program at San Jose State University includes an emphasis in scholarly production in film and media studies.

Its faculty and students regularly produce original critical research and are participants in local, state, national, and international conferences and publications.

Among the classes in film and media history, theory and criticism are:

  • RTVF 10: Film as Art
  • RTVF 80: Introduction to Electronic Media
  • RTVF 82: Introduction to Film History
  • RTVF 110: Electronic Media and Culture
  • RTVF 111: Alternative Cinema/International Cinema
  • RTVF 180: Critical Studies and Research in RTVF
  • RTVF 181: Modern Film History
  • RTVF 185: Special Topics in RTVF Studies
  • RTVF 199H: Honors Program

RTVF faculty who teach and/or publish  in film and media studies include:

  • Professor Mike Adams
  • Jay Boekelheide
  • Dr. Ted Coopman
  • Dr. Kimb Massey
  • Dr. Alison McKee
  • Professor Scott Sublett
  • Dr. Drew Todd

Check here often for the latest news of the RTVF Program’s achievements in scholarly production. Get involved in project-based critical thinking and your scholarly community!

RTVF advisors are happy to answer any questions you may have about opportunities for scholarly production. Don’t let fear of the unknown or shyness hold you back!