Friday, April 01, 2016

SCMS 2016 Day Two

I caught most of the Sound and Scoring panel on Thursday. Daniel P. Robinson's "A Problem in the Historiography of Recorded Sound: The Hidden History of Optical Sound, and Walter Ruttmann's 'Study in Sound-Montage,' Wochenende (1930)" intervenes in the notion that Pierre Schaeffer invented musique concrète with magnetic tape after WWII. In fact, Ruttmann cut and edited an optical soundtrack akin to the methods of montage editing for his audio film Wochenende (Weekend).

Michael Hammond's "Cowboys, Beggars, and the Deep Ellum Blues: Playing 'Authentic' to Silent Films" discusses his involvement with a jug/skiffle band playing old, weird American tunes as accompaniment to the silent film Beggars of Life (William A. Wellman, 1928). His band tries to evoke the heterogeneous musical environment of Deep Ellum, a black neigborhood of Dallas, by focusing on lowdown blues as well as more traditional pop and classical fare.

I had to leave during Alexander Stalarow's "Postwar Orpheus at Play: Dramatized Creative Processes in Orphic Settings by Jean Cocteau and Pierre Schaeffer." But he aimed to demonstrate how musique concrète developed in conversation with cinema, especially Cocteau's Orpheus.
Then it was off to Cinema Landmarks in American Youth Culture. Yannis Tzioumakis' "In the Shadow of The Wild One, Blackboard Jungle, and Rebel Without a Cause: Rock Around the Clock and Its Independent Look at the Youth of the 1950s" was a terrific paper linking Rock Around the Clock to useful cinema. Unlike the first three films mentioned in the title, Rock spoke directly to teenagers in a most didactic way, offering a crash course on how to make it in show business.
Elissa Nelson's "The Breakfast Club as Archetype: Revealing the Tropes of the teen Film as Genre" made me view the film as useless cinema and led me closer to figuring out why I have such an intense love/loathe relationship with it. Where Rock Around the Clock suggests how a utopia might be organized (through capitalism, sure, but at least it tries), The Breakfast Club offers temporary, if that, solutions to big problems. Nelson discussed the teen film as a genre through the lens of The Breakfast Club, specifying narrative elements to show how they exemplify the genre.
Tim McNeils' "Precious about Genre?: Hybridity and the African American Youth Film" tried to complexify the idea of the African American film as a genre. Some critics have suggested political criteria are more important than aesthetic ones for such a genre, i.e., it must concern a group of people engaged in struggle for social equality. But McNeils contended that overt politics need not be so central to the genre, especially when youth is added to the equation.
Timothy Shary's "Depicting Boyhood on Screen: Richard Linklater's Audacious Endeavor" evoked the subtle ways Linklater's masterpiece traces the passage of time. Age and grade are rarely mentioned so changes in hair styles tip the viewers off that a new year is occurring. The film cannily avoid first times while only brief allusions to Harry Potter and Obama refer to any specific time period. Even the chapters on the DVD avoid corresponding to the main character's age at any point. Shary also distributed an insanely detailed handout attempting to determine age in each scene.

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