Ethan de Seife 
Member since Feb 12, 2014

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Ethan de Seife 

Bio:
Ethan de Seife is an arts writer at Seven Days. He is the author of Tashlinesque: The Hollywood Comedies of Frank Tashlin, published in 2012 by Wesleyan University Press.

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Recent Posts

Inside the Central Device of 'Inside Man'

  • Apr 30, 2016

Quiz: How Well Do You Know Vermont Food?

  • Apr 27, 2016

Revisiting a 'Heavy Metal Parking Lot'

  • Apr 23, 2016

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Recent Articles

Botanical Bad Guys in the Backyard

  • Apr 27, 2016

'A Vermont Romance' Makes Film History

  • Apr 27, 2016

Page 32: Seven Books to Watch Out For

  • Apr 27, 2016

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Recent Comments

Re: “What I'm Watching: "The Prisoner"

Yes! The music for this show is so very, very excellent! Since starting to rewatch the show, the theme has been almost constantly stuck in my head.

Posted by Ethan de Seife on 09/30/2015 at 8:36 PM

Re: “What I'm Watching: "The Prisoner"

Ah, I see what you mean. And, seriously, no worries - like I say, I'm happy to have the conversation, and didn't take any offense!

I think I meant "quality" not in the sense of "film, not video," but in the sense that the BBC, to take one example, was officially in the business of making "high-minded" shows such as "The Prisoner." It was one way to distinguish their work.

Not that the BBC didn't also make dopey sitcoms, but hey!

Posted by Ethan de Seife on 09/30/2015 at 1:27 PM

Re: “What I'm Watching: "The Prisoner"

Hi, DMC, and thanks for your comment.

I'm aware of the production history of the show (shot on film, commercial breaks, etc.) but am not sure which point you're addressing/refuting! Always happy to talk about "The Prisoner," so I hope you respond.

Be seeing you.

Posted by Ethan de Seife on 09/30/2015 at 1:18 PM

Re: “What I'm Watching: 'Gus Visser and His Singing Duck'

Kirsten, thanks for your comments. I'd've responded sooner had I not been out of town last week; ironically, on my drive home, I passed within 30 miles of the Cayuga Museum, but didn't know about it and hadn't yet seen your comments on this page! I would very much like to visit, and will make a point of doing so next time I'm in the area.

Posted by Ethan de Seife on 02/23/2015 at 11:59 AM

Re: “What I'm Watching: 'Gus Visser and His Singing Duck'

Thanks, Donnie! I really appreciate your kind words.

The copyrights on most of these early-film curiosities have, to my knowledge, lapsed, which means we can watch them online (thanks, internets!) with clear consciences. Still, for good one-stop-shopping for such films, there are a few DVD sets that are essential.

1. Unseen Cinema: http://www.unseen-cinema.com/

2. Kino's Avant-Garde collection: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Avant-Garde_%…

3. Treasures (and, later, More Treasures) from American Film Archives:

http://www.amazon.com/Treasures-American-F…

http://www.amazon.com/More-Treasures-Ameri…

4. The Movies Begin: http://www.amazon.com/Movies-Begin-Treasur…

5. Edison: The Invention of the Movies: http://www.amazon.com/Edison-The-Invention…

There are other such sets, too, but these are the best, as far as I know.

Posted by Ethan de Seife on 01/28/2015 at 2:21 PM

Re: “What I'm Watching: The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension

For all of you who may not know: Michael "Mike" Nordstrom (whose avatar photo bears a striking resemblance to John Parr; hmm...has anyone ever seen these two great men in the same place at the same time...?) is not only a gentleman, a friend of mine, and an occasional member of my trivia-league team, but a dedicated cinephile and top-notch presenter of movies obscure and wonderful. It was at Mike's recent event at ArtsRiot in Burlington that I saw BB for the first time in 20+ years; I know that he hopes to present further cinematic oddities in the near future.

He also personally pops the popcorn (and melts the frickin' butter) at these events. Get out of your easy chairs and go support this man's work.

I was crossing my fingers that Mike would not see my post on BB, but I guess I underestimated my journalistic reach. (Ha!) I STILL don't like this movie, and still think that its shortcomings are the products of subpar filmmaking (and/or unwarranted studio cuts) rather than deliberate attempts at ... something. (And I do think that the distinction between deliberate and unintentional imperfections matters.) But, even though I'm not inclined to be quite so charitable towards BB, viewing it through a Surrealist/Dada lens is a more potentially rewarding read on this film than is merely noting and celebrating its oddities. In that both of those movements (the former, in particular) were interested in the uncanny results of unexpected juxtapositions, I could see how the oddball, unexplained occurrences in BB might be usefully understood in this context. In fact, maybe that's the ONLY way to view the film's disconnected oddities -- as far as I can tell, the film offers no other such "glue" (certainly not a coherent narrative, consistent characterizations, or a unified stylistic approach).

Personally, though, I don't feel that the film benefits from such a scattershot approach. I think there's a good story and potentially challenging satire (about race, about overreliance on scientific achievement, about popular culture) bubbling under the surface of the film, but it's never really given a chance to breathe, so disjointed is the overall work.

I love a good Surrealist film, mind you. I have watched and will continue to watch ENTR'ACTE, L'AGE D'OR, THE SEASHELL AND THE CLERGYMAN, and many others, again and again. But, even though I'll admit that Surrealism might ennoble BUCKAROO a bit, I still think the film misses the mark more often than it hits.

Thanks to everyone for keeping up this lively discussion.

Posted by Ethan de Seife on 10/30/2014 at 2:49 PM

Re: “What I'm Watching: The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension

That Wikipedia piece makes a nice point about how difficult it is to define the term "cult film." I also appreciate the point about how this minor dispute reflects larger disputes in the currents of art history. That's uncommonly well-observed, I'd say. Seems like you and I are representatives of the two sides of that discussion!

2 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Ethan de Seife on 10/28/2014 at 3:17 PM

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