Jeffery Oliver

Hello there. I make poems, films and music.

On Watching “Annie Hall” by Woody Allen Analytically Because I Want to Make a Film

Last night I watched “Annie Hall.” Ms Lynn is out of town and I like Woody Allen so I watched “Annie Hall” and drank a Belgian farmhouse ale because Ms Lynn isn’t into Woody Allen.

And, because I want to make a film. I watched “Annie Hall” critically last night to see what is going on in this film and what I could learn from it as a filmmaker.

Right now I feel like Annie in the scene where Alvy is at her place for the first time and he notices and praises some photos she made. Annie defers the praise and makes the statement that she’s had no formal training in photography. Alvy recommends taking a class in photography—as “it’s a new art form”—so she can better understand the aesthetics of the medium. His argument is that to contribute to art one must understand the lineage, history and theories of the medium.

But what’s interesting is that Annie replies—using almost the exact same language as Frank O’Hara used in “Personism: A Manifesto,”—with something like, “I just go with my gut.” She just enjoys making pictures.

I agree with Annie in that one doesn’t have to go to school to enjoy making pictures or poems or music or maybe even films. However, I’ve studied music and poetry and I agree with Alvy Singer that I need to better understand the craft, history and theory of film in order to be the best cinematic storyteller I can be. I wonder if it’s the difference between making art for myself versus making art where (I hope) others can enjoy it as well.

How does Wood Allen use the craft and medium of film to tell a story? And these are just things I picked up as someone who is in the writing and concepting phase of making a film.

Meta: We see it more and more in various artforms but it’s really powerful in film and theatre becuase it’s so unexpected and the direct address makes the scene very immediate. I think I first remember this from Berman and Pulcini’s “American Splendor” and I’ll never forget the experience of watching Jodorowski’s (SPOILER ALERT) “The Holy Mountain.” I really like how Allen uses it to show Alvy’s inner dialog. Literature is really good at allowing us to see inside the mind and emotions of a character—it’s more difficult to show, literally, what someone is contemplating in film.

Subtitles as translation of interior thoughts: Again, Allen seems to be looking for a way to show us interiority in film similarly to literature. There’s a great scene where Annie and Alvy are on the roof and getting to know one another. We see the characters on screen and hear what they’re saying but Allen uses subtitles, as if translating from one language to another, to show us what the characters are actually thinking.

Form and content: I also enjoy how he weaves the narrative of his story with the cycles (narrative) of relationships together from possible interest to new love to committed love to either long-term commitment or abandonment of the relationship.

I’m trying to understand what it is I enjoy in film as a way to build my vocabulary as a filmmaker. As Tony Hawk said in “Bones Brigade: An Autobiography,” “Once you’ve seen something done, it’s just a matter of time before we can do it ourselves.”

One More Phone Call

…then why do we thirst for water?

“One More Phone Call” is a mediation poem on our complicity of want and need and over production in the West. It’s presented here as a videopoem.

Continue reading

I am Not the Only One

For my niece Molly

Sometimes, numbers just don’t add up.
For example, when people look at me,
I think they think they’re seeing “one:”

Continue reading

This World I’m Living In

For my niece Molly

Our neighbor Mr. Pomerantz has dogs.
He wears tweed hats with spotted quail feathers,
Mr. P, as we call him, not his dogs.
His dogs wear knit sweaters with red birds on them.
Continue reading

Press Play Poem – a history and theory of video poems

“Press Play Poem” is a paper presented at the Pacific Rim Conference for Literature and Multimodality March 2012. You can watch this video, listen to the audio-only version or download and read the paper (PDF).

We Wish You a Happy Solstice

Happy Solstice (2009) from Jeff and Jennifer.

Video Poems and Stories Class Advertisement

This is an advertisement for a video poetry class I taught at the University of Alaska Anchorage in Fall 2011. The students produced some really cool videopoems.

« Older posts

© 2015 Jeffery Oliver

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑