In honour of the Toronto Film Festival (which is where I’m basically living for the next week, having been hired to moderate post-film Q&A sessions), here’s a cool article by Ebert on his preferred method of cinematographic self-education: get a bunch of people together, put on a film, and whenever anyone notices something of note, have them yell STOP! Reverse the film, watch the relevant moment, and talk about it. With the right crowd, this would be awesome!
One thing I quickly discovered was that even much smaller audiences can contain someone who can answer any question. In “The Third Man,” if a character spoke German, there would be a German speaker. If a scene required medical knowledge, there would be a doctor. A Japanese film at Boulder turned up Japanese speakers, experts on the society, students of the director. There would be somebody who could tell you what a Ford truck could and couldn’t do. Or a rabbi, a physicist, an artist, a musician.
Basically you make a live wiki DVD commentary. Now I wanna host one.
Oh, also in this article- a really dense paragraph about the “rules” of cinematography, which is great and worth reading if you have any interests relating to “putting things in places”, be that for film, on paper, or even feng shui.