Film Links

• Christian Petzold’s new film Barbara has been getting excellent reviews, and will be the official German entry considered for nomination in the Academy Awards Best Foreign Language Film category. I’m a huge fan of the (regrettably only) three films of his I’ve seen so far, The State I Am In (2000), Yella (2007) and Jerichow (2008). Fandor’s Keyframe has published an article on Petzold and his films that serves as a good introduction to his work.
Ashes, a recent short film by 2010 Cannes Film Festival Palme d’Or winner Apichatpong Weerasethakul, is available for viewing for free at MUBI. Known as Joe to those few who can’t or prefer not to try to pronounce his given name, Weerasethakul discusses Ashes and another recent film, Mekong Hotel, here.
• The September edition of Senses of Cinema is available here.
• Andrew O’Heir bemoans the end of a vibrant movie culture, and its replacement by a focus on television, at Salon.com. While he perhaps exaggerates a bit, I can’t help but see his point. Films are very rarely at the center of our cultural conversation anymore, except in purely financial terms.
• Many of you have probably noticed, as I did, that Robert Osborne, the genial host on Turner Classic Movies, hasn’t been on the air recently. Luckily, he has now returned, and it was not a health problem that kept him away. He addresses his absence in this letter.

William James on Habit

The Brain Pickings website never fails to provide interesting, thoughtful content. I’ve cited their articles on several occasions before. One of their recent postings deals with an 1887 publication by psychologist William James on “Habit.” You can check out the entire Brain Pickings post here. But I would like to quote James’s three excellent suggestions for the formation of beneficial new habits, suggestions that I need to take to heart:

“1. The acquisition of a new habit, or the leaving off of an old one, we must take care to launch ourselves with as strong and decided an initiative as possible. Accumulate all the possible circumstances which shall reenforce the right motives; put yourself assiduously in conditions that encourage the new way; make engagements incompatible with the old; take a public pledge, if the case allows; in short, envelop your resolution with every aid you know. This will give your new beginning such a momentum that the temptation to break down will not occur as soon as it otherwise might; and every day during which a breakdown is postponed adds to the chances of its not occurring at all.

“2. Never suffer an exception to occur till the new habit is securely rooted in your life. Each lapse is like the letting fall of a ball of string which one is carefully winding up; a single slip undoes more than a great many turns will wind again. Continuity of training is the great means of making the nervous system act infallibly right … It is surprising how soon a desire will die of inanition if it be never fed.

“3. Seize the very first possible opportunity to act on every resolution you make, and on every emotional prompting you may experience in the direction of the habits you aspire to gain. It is not in the moment of their forming, but in the moment of their producing motor effects, that resolves and aspirations communicate the new ‘set’ to the brain.”