The Inspiration

The Movies

This blog is the product of many things, but chief among them, it is the realization of a vision my mentor has spent his life culminating. Mr. Jonathan Rosenbaum, avid and accomplished film critic of the Chicago Reader for over 20 years, and his lifetime ambition to bring cinema of the world to the masses.  He laments the prosciutto slice of cinema that the bigwigs and corporations get in front of our faces, and strives to bring arthouse works and global pieces to the average movie consumer.

I took Mr. Rosenbaum’s “World Cinema of the 1960s” class at the University of Chicago in 2012.  I am now working through his book, Movie Wars: How Hollywood and the Media Limit What Movies We Can See.

This blog is in honor of Mr. Rosenbaum, his amazing body of work educating and empowering the average movie-goer with choices and awareness of world cinema.  This is my attempt to make his efforts a reality alive in my world.

Jonathan Rosenbaum
Jonathan Rosenbaum

The Countries

A second inspiration that inspired this journal was Ann Morgan’s blog, “A year of reading the world: 196 countries, countless stories.”  I was introduced to her blog through a BBC podcast, which I cannot locate, but here is a BBC writeup.  She read one book from every country around the world in order to expand her awareness of global conditions.

My geography education is limited, but I try to expand it daily with media such as BBC Global News podcasts.  I love Morgan’s blog because, rather than arbitrarily learning country names and cultures, she lived a country’s story firsthand through a writer’s voice.

Along the way, she gained a worldwide network of friends who helped her find works in less developed countries where writings weren’t readily available or translated.  Together, they traveled around the world learning obscure stories from even more obscure countries.  I assume that I will have even more difficulty finding films from such countries, but I hope to also have help along with way.

The Journey

I’m a huge fan of TED Talks.  The talk that jumpstarted this project was delivered by Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love, titled, “Your Elusive Creative Genius.”  In essence, she both urged us to show up for the creative process.  Make time for your subconscious to flow through you.  Myself, a stunted writer who beats herself up for consuming mass culture more than contributing to it, I thought, “what better way than a blog to meet my spirit muse?”

My favorite reading as an undergraduate was a paper called, “Shitty Rough Drafts.”  I believe it was by Anne Lamott, though I’ve had trouble locating the paper.  It was all about the writing process and how your soul should pour out, allowing for space for the creative intellect, without worrying about punctuation, spelling, etc.  Who knows what could arrive?

Likewise, a friend of mine recommended that I read The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron.  Cameron maintains that creative expression is our natural inclination.  The book helps artists rid themselves of mind clutter, giving way to the creative mind with exercises like a daily journal of freewriting and artist “dates” where once a month you find a cultural, art event to attend.

This journey is my attempt to bring these inspirations together by documenting my viewings of a film from every country around the world.  The project will be easy at first, as I already have many countries represented on my watchlist.  But, as I go on, I’m sure I will need help finding films representative of more obscure countries where movie-making is not a common leisure.

I invite any and all of you to join me in this journey: by watching a film with me, contributing a film idea, commenting on a post (as I would prefer this to be a conversation,) or by starting your own project.  And please tell me about your journeys, share your stories and together let our spirits breathe life into the world and cinema.

A Movie from Bhutan

A Reddit user suggested that I watch MILAREPA (2008) for my movie from the Kingdom of Bhutan.  The movie was a long, drawn-out cliché of Tibetan Buddhist folklore.  From one-dimensional characters embodying single ideas like “revenge” or “naiveté” or “greed,” the characters offered little cultural value other than to cement any stereotypes I had of Tibetan Buddhists … Continue reading

A Movie from Japan

Other than some Kurosawa films that I saw in grad school, and I refuse to admit how many years ago that was, I honestly can’t recall viewing many Japanese films prior to watching LATE SPRING (1949).  Jonathan Rosenbaum recommended the film for my Watchlist, and I was able to stream it through Hulu plus.  Directed by Yasujiro Ozu, … Continue reading

A Movie from France

I was feeling a little down after watching NO and THE SQUARE, movies where I learned about Chile’s struggles under Pinochet’s rule and the current Egyptian revolution.  On top of that, this week’s news stories continue to be filled with accounts of mass killings in Syria, struggles in Ukraine and gang rape in India, among others.  So, while those stories deserve our attention and, hopefully, … Continue reading

A Movie from Egypt

I watched THE SQUARE, a documentary by female director Jehane Noujaim, on Netflix this weekend.  Netflix has exclusive streaming rights for the Oscar nominated Best Documentary film, which was shot with Canon DSLR cameras that authorities would be less likely to confiscate since they thought the film only to contain still images. The film was gripping; you feel the intensity and … Continue reading

A Movie from Czechoslovakia

Vera Chytilova’s DAISIES (1966) is perhaps the most fun movie I’ve every watched.  That and WR: Mysteries of the Organism.  Who wouldn’t enjoy watching two girls frolicking across the screen, hurled from scene to scene in a colorfully fragmented montage serving as a metaphor of the disgusting indulgence of the bourgeois post-Stalin Communist Czechoslovakia, only to be harshly admonished as an … Continue reading

A Movie from Denmark

Spoilers below… I had to take a shower after watching this Carl Theodor Dreyer’s ORDET (1955).   The weight of this film seemed to compel me to wash away the day’s trivial thoughts and give the film the attention it deserved.  I watched the Criterion Collection version of ORDET on  The suspense during the this film had me turning up … Continue reading

A Movie from Chile

NO offers a taste of something Chilean. NO (2012) is an easily digestible and readily consumable film, and I mean that in a positive way this time!  Rather than a dry documentary or cliché plotline of a main character overcoming odds, which now that I say that, I think it may verge on,  this film offers something different.  Techniques included … Continue reading