Sunday, February 19, 2017

Lost in the Movies Gets a Makeover: February 2017 Status Update (including Ben Dixon call-in: "divorce the Democrats"?)


Lost in the Movies gets a new address, background, and commenting format (with old comments finally restored) - plus updated directories/galleries, Twin Peaks news, the situation with Fandor, video shares, and political notes (including another call-in to Ben Dixon & my tweets on the subject of "divorcing the Democratic Party")

You've probably noticed that some things have changed around here. First there's the background - a change both subtle and easy to sense right away. The sides of the blog are now enveloped in dark red curtains (and a peek at a chevron floor depending on the size of your screen). A Twin Peaks focus is well under way, with new character studies every day as we count down the months (just over three), weeks (exactly thirteen) and days (ninety-two) until the new series premieres on Showtime. The character pieces have proved popular so far; you can navigate the series through this directory.

But there's a lot more going on too...

Lost in the Movies ... Dot Com

I'm thrilled to announce that I finally figured out how to change my domain name. I registered "lostinthemovies.com" four years ago, itself a good two and half years since fellow traveler Tony D'Ambra recommended this step. But every time I tried to redirect the old URL, thedancingimage.blogspot.com, to the new, easier-to-type-and-remember address, I would run into trouble. Now, however, you can visit and share Lost in the Movies with greater ease - even though any old bookmarks will still work too. It's a simple change, but in some ways the one I'm most excited about.

Disqus: Comments Old & New

The most important shift, however, is probably in the comments. Discussions have dried up since the heady early days of movie blogging, when a quasi-incestutous clan of bloggers would regularly show up on each other's posts and launch discussions. Threads here were never a fraction of those on, say, Wonders in the Dark, but there would still be lively contributions at the end of nearly every post for a few years. As the online conversations moved to shared platforms, that dried up. I also got some complaints about the Blogger commenting tools, which provided an impediment to many who wanted to chime in.

So now I've added Disqus to the blog, which you can use either with an independent Disqus account or by linking accounts through other social media. I'd been seeing it on many other blogs and finally figured out how to add it too - sure enough, comments increased immediately and I hope they'll continue to do so. You can check out recent comments near the top of the sidebar and join in.

I did run into a problem when I first added Disqus - all the previous comments (3,270 total) seemed to disappear into Blogger limbo. I fixed that yesterday; all the old comments have migrated to Disqus formats, which means you can explore older discussions as well as take part in new ones. I'll jump in here and there but am also encouraged to see commentators talk amongst themselves. Although social media has taken over much of that original function of blogs, I hope some sense of community can spill over between the platforms (as well as independently of each other).

Updated Directories

After a long gap, during which I covered dozens of classic movies for the first time in my Favorites series, I finally updated my Top Posts, Full Directory, Movie Timeline, Video Essay Collection, and Complete Twin Peaks page, as well as the Picture Galleries featuring striking images, arranged by alphabetical subject, from nearly a decade of blogging. In fact, I've updated all these features twice in the past few months, most recently today - but I didn't remember to share the news on here the first time. So here you are. With the other new changes in place, now is the perfect time to acquaint yourselves with my archive:






TWIN PEAKS News

Since the announcement of the premiere date, there's been some sad news on the Twin Peaks front. Both Miguel Ferrer (Albert Rosenfield) and Warren Frost (Doc Hayward) passed away this year, adding to the total Peaks alumni we've lost just since the return was announced in 2014. (Catherine Coulson and David Bowie are other notable names, though actors with smaller parts - some of whom reappeared in the new series, some of whom haven't - also died in 2015 and 2016, as my research for the character series has shown.)

There has also been more news about what to expect from Showtime as the new series approaches. Showtime aired a marathon of the original show's first season in January, and will marathon season two in two days. Most excitingly, they've announced that they will air Fire Walk With Me, a film whose rights issues can get complicated and whose reputation has been shaky at times, on March 1. Lynch and Frost have both made it clear that the film's legacy will be crucial to the new work, and thankfully Showtime is following through with that promise by drawing attention to it.

Finally, in addition to refurbishing the old Fire Walk With Me trailer (though what's with that aspect ratio??), Showtime has released two very short promos, one revolving around Cooper, the other around Laura. Looks like the two poles (or should I say peaks?) of Twin Peaks are still firmly in place. By the way, it seems that concerns about spoiling the old series are quickly becoming a thing of the past - if you actually care, and haven't watched the series yet...avoid the Cooper and Fire Walk With Me promos, as both cut right to the heart of Twin Peaks' secrets and surprises.

Fandor & Video Essays

As mentioned last month, Fandor basically gutted its video essay archive in adherence to its own strict new video guidelines. Fortunately, several essayists have organized a channel cleverly dubbed "Backdor", which provides access to many of the videos that disappeared from Fandor (including my own). This has also dovetailed with Kevin B. Lee uploading dozens, if not hundreds, of his own video essays - those that were taken down by Fandor and also those have been missing for years before that. Before the January Massacre, I was making my way through his entire backlog and I look forward to continuing. Kevin essentially created the modern video essay format in 2007 and it's been a treat to revisit these roots of the form - I highly encourage others to take the trip.

As for myself, I have another Fandor video coming this week which will hopefully be finished on my end today. It's a long-form take on a long-form documentary, O.J.: Made in America (with a segue comparing it to the dramatic miniseries The People v. O.J. Siimpson), which is nominated for an Oscar in next week's ceremony. My video closely follows the format of 7 Facts About Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, my most popular work to date (although a recent, unexplained rush in viewers of Welcome to Hill Valley: 4 Times Back to the Future threatens to rival that crown). Speaking of 7 Facts, it's hovering very close to 100,000 views - small potatoes perhaps compared to YouTubers who get 10 million views in 10 minutes when they sneeze, but an accomplishment I'm very proud of especially as it has been achieved gradually with consistent traffic over several years rather than in a quick rush and dissipation.

Finally in the video department, H. Perry Horton recently shared my Anna Karina tribute on No Film School, including a great write-up, "The Muse Matters", about her on and offscreen relationship with Jean-Luc Godard. Check it out.

"Divorce the Democrats"?

Finally, despite all this activity, my attention has been fixated - as it has for many - on politics this past month, seesawing between disbelieving fury at the hubris of the small clique that has taken power despite the opposition of the majority, and elation at the willingness of the (popular) opposition to fight back. In the midst of these crises, however, I also have my eye on the long-term goal: how do we take back power from Trump and the Republican Party and restore it, not to some rival faction of the elite which can continue a similar agenda in more presentable form (especially a concern if Trump is impeached and Pence takes over) but to the people themselves?

For the third time, I called into The Benjamin Dixon Show, offering a few thoughts on recent news, but also digging into a topic he's brought up before, suggesting that progressives should "divorce the Democratic Party." I asked for clarification and he provided it. Here's the entire clip of my call and his response (you can watch his whole episode here):


I agree with some parts of Ben's framing and am less certain of others. I remain skeptical that a left exodus from the Democrats would achieve our aims better than sustaining a fight within the Democratic Party. I think the establishment would like for nothing more than the troublemakers to go away and marginalize themselves in the wilderness, while the ruling elite continues to set an agenda based more on corporate funding and maintaining the status quo than allowing average people, with everyday concerns, to set the agenda of the party.

I tweeted about this the other day, and will share my thoughts here as a conclusion to this status update:



















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