Werner Herzog

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lacritfan
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Re: Werner Herzog

#126 Post by lacritfan » Mon Aug 08, 2016 12:03 pm

Shouldn't this thread be moved to Filmmakers?

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miless
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Re: Werner Herzog

#127 Post by miless » Sat Aug 13, 2016 4:17 pm


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Michael Kerpan
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Re: Werner Herzog

#128 Post by Michael Kerpan » Wed Aug 24, 2016 11:53 pm

Saw Lo and Behold today -- and found it (as expected) quite interesting and enjoyable. As always, his voice is a delight, but we get to hear from lots of other intriguing experts of various sorts.

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knives
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Re: Werner Herzog

#129 Post by knives » Sat Aug 27, 2016 12:25 am

Michael Kerpan wrote:Saw Lo and Behold today -- and found it (as expected) quite interesting and enjoyable. As always, his voice is a delight, but we get to hear from lots of other intriguing experts of various sorts.
I'll agree it's enjoyable. It's probably too mild to be taken as much more than a lark (though maybe that's necessary after Into the Abyss) and probably could have shaved off a chapter or two, but Herzog's ability to mine the curious aspects of the human soul and his genuine horror, particularly in chapter 3 which is an utter showstopper, at the depths of depravity remain too chilling. It was interesting and something of a mild delight for him to basically fit in a remake of Haynes' Safe in a way that honestly makes the earlier film seem more relevant.

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Re: Werner Herzog

#130 Post by mfunk9786 » Sat Aug 27, 2016 2:20 am

It was frustrating to (sorry, I'm going to use the word "brand") see infusions of Herzog's brand when the doc could've used grounding the most. Every time I wanted just a little bit more of what made X, Y, or Z relevant to life in 2016, I was faced with a "If a computer could dream, what would it dream about?" derailment.

Listen, I love Werner Herzog too. I get it. I know how the sausage is made. But consider, for a moment, that your audience didn't come to your documentary for a community college philosophy class. There are no fewer than a dozen Louis Theroux deep dives in here that are all given surface level lip service, if only to grant more time to inane sidetracking. And this brief review comes from someone who sort of liked the movie!

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Re: Werner Herzog

#131 Post by knives » Sat Aug 27, 2016 2:55 pm

I actually don't like Herzog all that much. I find him a far better raconteur than a filmmaker where I'd put him firmly on the C-list. That said I don't think much if any of the questions you're posing were significant concerns to the film, though it is not wrong to have them as concerns. I'm not sure what you mean by the Theroux quips him (as in I'm aware of the person, but don't get how that connects to the film), but I will agree this is a surface level film hence my lark comment. I just think that the surface level for the most part works here.

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Re: Werner Herzog

#132 Post by mfunk9786 » Sat Aug 27, 2016 10:58 pm

I don't have a huge problem with sticking to short vignettes, but whenever we're given something beyond the surface level, it tends to be spent with Herzog asking sort of confusing philosophical questions (some of which genuinely don't make much sense) of his interview subjects, or pondering concepts that almost seem beside the point. Sometimes it lands quite humorously (him asking the engineer at Carnegie Mellon if he "loves" his most talented soccer robot) but sometimes it seems to almost deliberately be the opposite of insightful in a way that occasionally grated on me.

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Re: Werner Herzog

#133 Post by knives » Sun Aug 28, 2016 12:46 am

I don't entirely know what you mean to be honest. I thought that the love question was quite pointed and relevant to point of the film especially in that section and as it leads into the next. As a dramatic statement of the film's questions I thought it was one of the best moments in the whole film. Beyond that I left the film appreciating it for just the opposite as I felt that Herzog mostly left his brand out of the film only intruding by making a deal of not showing pictures of the girl and his annoyance with the Titan security guy. Could you give examples of questions you didn't think made sense or were confusing because I honestly can't think of any.

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Re: Werner Herzog

#134 Post by colinr0380 » Sun Aug 28, 2016 7:58 am

Is the robot football player section part of the ongoing Robocup project? It would be nice to have a update on that project following on from Mika Taanila's 2000 film.

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Re: Werner Herzog

#135 Post by knives » Sun Aug 28, 2016 4:02 pm

It is.

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Re: Werner Herzog

#136 Post by colinr0380 » Sun Dec 04, 2016 9:49 pm

I loved Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected World. I felt this most strongly in Into The Abyss too, but Herzog is in a fascinating documentary period in the way that his films often feel a little superficial and naive on the surface, with a hint of undermining but endearing humour, yet on reflection feel so dense with poetically expressed musings on a subject that I can't help but be impressed. I also end up feeling that Herzog provides 'half a film', in the sense that there is so much to discuss afterwards, and its perhaps after the film itself where the most inspiring thoughts occur! But the film provided the impetus.

I. I think "Reveries" is the key word here. It seems most appropriate for a film full of interviews with people who, faced with the scope and conceptually intangible vagueness of the electronic world, are left to extrapolate and interpret their visions of the internet off into the stratosphere. These reveries (dreams and/or nightmares) are all about people defining themselves in this new technological (theological) context: its part of my business; its a way of keeping my country safe; its flawed and hackable; its all a game; its an addiction; its a community; its evil; its respite; its life. And like civilisation itself, there's the threat that it could all go away and leave us with - what? It expresses every idealistic hope and fear of exploitation. And in the end behind all the technology its still all individual human beings (at least until we get a sentient 'internet consciousness', which seems rather far off!) working in the same space, even if it is a virtual one. They just might not be working to the same ends, or even at odds or antagonistic with each other. But that's why the internet is a reflection of the 'real world' rather than something frighteningly separate from it, as it can sometimes be portrayed as.

II. My dad often used to say about the Olympics that of course the United States and China would dominate the medal tables - just look at the size of their populations! You'd be statistically much more likely to produce a higher proportion of great athletes (and from that mass have the great luxury of writing off a great number of people who would be brilliant but not stellar, i.e. not Carnegie Mellon-material!). The internet could perhaps be seen to work that way, getting masses of people working on everything from the mundane message board post to helping unravel a medical breakthrough in their spare time. To quote that Phase IV film about superintelligent ants: "So defenceless in the individual; so powerful in the mass". The early section of the film feels as if it tackles mass movements, either for positive or negative. The amorality of 'gamifing medical research' to get free (and willing) labour for your project is perhaps as disturbing as gory accident aftermath photographs getting gawked over (though as the 60s and 70s Mondo movies and the recent Nightcrawler and Christine films, or even The Public Eye and Wisconsin Death Trip show, that fascination with the viewing the aftermath of gory accidents or death in general through the safely distancing lens of media technology was there long before the internet was there to supply the material. It wasn't exactly a desire created by the technology, more enabled by it and sped up)

III. The internet feels sort of a psychological profile of not just an individual, or a group, or a country, but an entire world's preoccuptions, from the mundane to the fantastical. From the nobly altruistic to the cruelly selfish. It sometimes can seem more 'real' than 'real life', but then what is the difference when so much of 'real life' now takes place in a virtual space. Perhaps in that sense the kids being treated for internet addiction are victims of the last generation's inability to see a virtual world as anything more than a distraction from tangible events occurring outside of a screen? But even the most oppressed by technology are still influenced by it, even if only because they have been forced into areas outside of the influence of radio masts. Even in the worst, most bleak visions of the world, we are still seeing people being able to express themselves through technology, even if thats through a relatively old-fashioned form of the film camera!

IV. The sections dealing with robotics and artificial intelligence are quite touching, particularly the voiceover about needing caution playing over the little Asimo robot warily taking little steps around a drinks trolley! Or the RoboCup chap being particularly proud of robot footballer number 8, despite it looking exactly the same as all of the other boxy robots on the pitch! Just interacting with a piece of technology, not even humanoid in appearance robots, can inspire human feelings of affection and empathy (but even this is not a new idea - I'm sure I'm not the only person whose parents named their car and personified it with feelings, especially when it was wheezing its way up a hill! Its also the humanising impulse that something like the Transformers toys and films play into! Or Genevieve and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang!). In that sense I think we have to be less worried about walking into the kitchen to find the dishwasher and fridge having a particularly eye-opening form of cybersex, but about falling in love with the dishwasher itself! Particularly if it does a consistently reliable job!

V. The question of artificial intelligence and 'whether the internet dreams' gets raised in the film too. But the bigger implicit question is what exactly autonomy is anyway? How can we tell whether 'the internet' has any autonomy when many human beings in the 'real world' do not have it? The idea that Elon Musk describes about needing to oversee decisions and not just leave it all to an amoral machine to decide on, say what kind of stocks to invest in (because they might take it all out of supporting struggling third world nations and pour it all into the arms trade, because that makes good sense purely in economic terms), is an interesting one but at the same time hasn't the world just gone through an international banking crisis that was partially blamed on computerisation allowing massive amounts of data to be processed, but was just as much about the human beings working the computers fiddling the figures to allow dodgy mortgage transactions? Did the human beings have (or more importantly were allowed to have) any autonomy or morality in that situation to prevent such a crisis?

VI. This is the other aspect that the film delicately seems to be suggesting - the 'Connected World'. That the internet isn't apart from the physical world. Its an outgrowth, a new communication tool, and something that allows people to travel the world without ever leaving home. To see the world from someone else's perspective rather than stay isolated in a (Faraday) cage, even if that allows some comfort and protection. There's still that question too of what is the 'real world'? Isn't it all a projection, a creation, even if previously it was a physical moudling of the world to shape needs, and now it is a virtual shaping?

VII. I particularly liked the final section of the film as a paen to 'deep thinking', and the fears that that is being lost as people just look things up online rather than understanding them. But that has to be set against the opportunities that are there that people never had without the information available online. The idea of what the removal of superficial thinking (of learning facts and figures at school, say) has on the human brain is perhaps emphasised in the MRI scanner section, with the perhaps fanciful notions of electro magnetic energy waves that are present in the brain (and which are perhaps themselves the waves affected in those particularly environmentally sensitive people who have retreated from radio masts to ironically live under a giant radio telescope) some day being harnessed and allowing people to be able to "tweet their thoughts" at their followers! Though that unfettered access to the depths of the individual psyche getting broadcast immediately to Twitter sounds potentially dangerous! (And it could be argued that this probably already does happen in some fashion!)

By the way, I could only think of that alternate ending to Silent Hill 2 when the New Yorker "On the internet, nobody knows you're a dog" quote was brought up!

VIII. That leads to the need to create morality anew for a digital age. Though this immediately raises questions about whose morality and how is that defined? Who imposes that set of standards? Will they be too loose or too restrictive? Too intrusive? I've always felt that morality/decency is important to have on an individual level, but it always gets very murky at an organisational or governmental one. How can someone judge whether someone else has good or bad morals? Perhaps its as difficult as defining who does and does not have consciousness.

IX. There is the fear (but also the liberation) that human beings are becoming more irrelevant at the things that they are presently judged highly by (especially in the physical world as robots prove themselves more adept), yet the human presence, human emotional and moral drives and thought processes become even more important in a cyberspace world. They’re the abstract spaces where people now potentially have more agency than in ‘real’ spaces (because the real spaces have imposed so much on where people can exist and what they are allowed to do, and even think, in those spaces). And instead of dealing with tangible issues of collecting information, the human mind is now put into a space of a ‘curator’, of doing something with the information they have been presented with. To synthesise the material they are presented with into new and unique forms to push into potentially fruitful new directions.

X. I think though that the main thing that I took away from the film was that it was all about 'visionaries'. All of those subjects of the interviews who we see going from stumbling hesitancy to soon getting excitedly caught up with the vision of the world that they are painting for Herzog. Whether it is impenetrable equations on a blackboard, a vision of global catastrophe, or a simple plea to have an illness recognised, or a family member given some dignity in death. We see people get misty eyed over their favourite robot, or the possibilities afforded by online education, the way that their treatment for addiction has 'saved' them, or the vision of a mission to Mars or contacting alien civilisations. Its easy to think of these interviewees as simply naive or deluded as they spin off into pie in the sky ideas about telepathy and so on, but I think this film does an amazing job of showing that simple moment when the individual articulates their vision of their world. How they want to be seen, what they want to work towards and how technology is entwined within that worldview. That's what truly shows the humanity within technology, the beating heart, the human drive within the virtual space, and that human ingenuity feels to be the aspect that this film celebrates above all. It's probably not an accident that the final image of the film is of humanity's oldest invention: fire (something that can be viewed as just dangerous and threateningly destructive or full of practical purposes that could illuminate and benefit all when harnessed. Perhaps it all depends on the perspective with which it is viewed as much as how it is used).
Last edited by colinr0380 on Fri Jun 15, 2018 11:55 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Werner Herzog

#137 Post by DarkImbecile » Thu Jun 14, 2018 11:56 pm


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