Reprinted in this issue.
Lesage’s essay has also been highly influential upon my work on Jon Jost in my recent book—Semiotics and Documentary: The Living Sign in the Cinema (2013). In this book, I have employed a Peircean approach to film practice in order to offer an alternative to semiological and structural approaches.
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2. Dennis Grunes has written extensively on both Jost’s earlier and more recent digital experimental work in his book on World Cinema (2010), which is an expansion of his online blog where he has written numerous reviews of Jost’s work: https://grunes.wordpress.com/tag/jon-jost/
Essays on Speaking Directly (1975) London Brief (1997) and Passages (2006) can also be found in Tsang (2013: 67-98).
5. This was originally part of a review by Martin in 1995 that is now available at his personal website: http://www.filmcritic.com.au
6. More information about the technical details of the film’s production can be be found at: http://www.jonjost.altervista.org/work/thebed2.html
7. See note 17, where I draw the reader’s attention to the long-term decline of the town.
8. More details about Jost’s motives for making the film and his methodology can be found on his own website:
10. Jost has expressed his admiration for the work of Leighton Pierce in the following essay; http://sensesofcinema.com/2002/feature-articles/pierce/
11. It is a very different Oregon that Jost has returned to in the 1990s. The state had experienced severe depopulation in the 1980s due to the decline of the timber industry. Some 750,000 people out of around 2.5 million had left the state.
12. It should be noted that this overlaps with Lesage’s critique of philosophical naturalism (2014), which “sees environment as overwhelmingly shaping people’s lives” and tends towards fatalism and reification. It could also be argued that the distance between the two workplaces is also an indirect testament to the longstanding decline of the logging industry and changing global contexts in which production processes and markets are geographically dispersed. Nevertheless, Jost’s film does not claim to be a factual documentary, and my analysis here is as much informed by U.S. philosophy, particularly the U.S. pragmatist tradition, which emphasizes both the notion of horizon and emergent but fallible human agency—see Tsang (2013).
13. These observations are also based on a series of conversations I undertook with Jon Jost during several visits to London between 2005 and 2008. I am extremely grateful for his generosity and his comments on an earlier embryonic draft of this essay.
14. Sternfeld’s work can be viewed on his own website: http://www.joelsternfeld.com
15. Bordwell refers to the widespread use of “formulaic decoupage” in European Art Cinema as much as in mainstream Hollywood cinema, with the result that “drama has been squeezed down to faces - particularly eyes and mouths” (2005: 141, 27).
16. Bordwell (2005: 104, 105, 119, 161-162, 210).
17. For more on location and social relations, see Doreen Massey, “Geographies of Responsibility,” http://oro.open.ac.uk/7224/1/geographies_of_responsibility_sept03.pdf
18. See Katz (1991) for many examples of classic cinematic and televisual uses of decoupage.
19. It should be noted as well that the decline of Toledo is something that has occurred over a much more extended time period than is accounted for by the conversations that we overhear in the film. Toledo had emerged as a boomtown soon after the country’s expansion west. At one time it possessed as many as eighty lumber mills, but it was already in decline by the 1920s. It had also been eclipsed by Newport, which became the new county seat in the 1950s.
20. In my conversations with Jost, he has spoken much about different male and female sensibilities, contrasting outward aggressiveness with tacit intuition This is evident to lesser and greater extents in Last Chants for a Slow Dance (1977) and Sure Fire (1989-90). Both films feature Tom Blair as a calculating and manipulative misogynist.
21. I have used Lesage’s phrase in order to highlight my indebtedness to her recent work: http://www.ejumpcut.org/currentissue/LesagePerpetualSubversion/2.html
23. Also see Lesage: http://www.ejumpcut.org/archive/onlinessays/JC04folder/ScreenReviewed.html
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24. It should be noted here that Jean and Beth’s remarks about the state of the U.S. economy are far less assertive or shrill than what is heard from Ray and Doug in the earlier office sequence. Jean also speaks about the consequences of long-term deforestation, which is strangely passed over by the menfolk in this film.
25. This also draws attention to the fact that Jost’s work from this period demands further critical attention and that further work would also examine female solidarity and agency in both Sure Fire (1988-1990) and Frame Up (1993).
26. For a concise and accessible account of epistemological defenses of Truth and its role in democratic deliberation see Misak (2000) and Talisse (2009). Talisse’s talk on epistemic democracy can also be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hx147Cwnrew
27. It should be noted that deforestation had occurred in the region for a while already. The principles of sustainable harvest had been abandoned by the 1980s, and “old growth” trees were decimated as a result.
28. It is here that I wish to thank Julia Lesage and Chuck Kleinhans for their valuable and detailed observations about the demise of the timber industry and the complexity of its long-term causes and effects.
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Jost, Jon. “Some Notes on ‘Political Cinema’ Prompted by Seeing Raoul Peck’s Sometimes in April in Competition at the Berlin Film Festival.” Senses of Cinema: An Online Film Journal Devoted to the Serious and Eclectic Discussion of Cinema, 35. (2005). N.pag. Online:
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Martin, Adrian. Mise en Scène and Film Style: From Classical Hollywood to New Media Art (Palgrave Close Readings in Film and Television), Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014.
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