Headline March 19, 2017/ ''' *FILMING A SINGING DOG* '''


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ADAM CURTIS EARNED A DEGREE in the human sciences at Oxford, then briefly  taught there.

Unsatisfied with academia, he took a job at the BBC, eventually going to work in the early 80s as a segment producer on  ''That's Life!''   a kind of cross between  ''60 Minutes''  and  ''Candid Camera''. There- Mr Curtis learned his craft

''*One week after I was sent up to Edinburgh to film a singing dog,*'' he said.

The dog's  owner said that when he played the bagpipes, the dog would sing  Scottish songs. We got the camera up. The owner dressed up in a kilt and started to play the bagpipes.

The dog refused to sing. It just sat there looking at me just saying nothing. It just sat there., with a real smug look on its face. This went on for about two hours.'' 

Mr. Curtis phoned his producer. ''She said: 'Darling, that is wonderful. Don't you see that the dog is refusing to sing for a man dressed up in a kilt is actually very funny? Go back and keep filming. 

Film the dog doing nothing. But then film the man as well'' 

''So I did. We ran a long close-up shot of the dog's face with the sound of out-of bagpipes. It was quiet avant garde, but the audience loved it, especially when you cut it against the face the man puffing at the bagpipes who genuinely believed that the dog was about to sing.  

*That time with a dog taught me the fundamental basics of journalism. That what really happens is the key thing; you mustn't try and force the reality in front of you into a predictable story

What you should do is notice what is happening in front of your eyes, and what instinctively your reaction is. And the reaction was that I hated the dog as it looked at me silently. So I made a short story of that.''
ADAM CURTIS'S BRIEF against world leaders  -or at least the policies they're chosen to embody, at the cost of great misery   -is pretty savage.

Neoliberals fare as poorly as neocons. He's got no love for tyrants either. But he doesn't opt, as Mr. Moore did with Mr. Wolfowitz, to expose his politicians as pathetic.

The tiny portraits he carves from the archives are,   instead,  strangely tender. The human souls in question often appear introspective, as if measuring their self-possession, or discreetly consulting some inner oracle.

Bill Clinton coughs, Hillary Clinton nods to herself, hesitates, smiles. Mr. Putin shrugs, Hafez -Al Assad merely waits, thinking.

Mr. Curtis's films often have surprise bonus protagonists  -guest stars, in television terms.

In ''HyperNormalisation,'' it is Col. Moammar Gadhaf who steals the show, thanks to a stream of uncanny archival appearances of this kind, including one in which he pours himself a healthy glass of milk from a pitcher. 

Mr.Curtis by testimony of his narration, regards the sinister, flamboyant Gadhafi as the West's polymorphous dupe-

Less a monster than a man monstrously acted upon  -a fictional character in a story the  West  told itself to skirt harder truths. 

''Violence born out of political struggles for power,'' Mr. Curtis said,''became replaced by a much simpler image, of the head of a rogue state, who became more like an archcriminal who wanted to terrorize the world.''

With each new footage, a glance, a shy smile, Gadhafi's human presence seeps unexpectedly into the viewer's sympathies. 

Reagan's does as well. Mr. Curtis's politicians, ultimately, contend with their own bafflement in the face of the unseen forces shaping their world. They're traveling with us, stuck inside the hyperobject.

Mr. Curtis grew up in Platt, North Kent, just outside  greater London. His father worked was a cinematographer who  worked with the   British documentarian Humphrey Jennings, with the  ''Death Wish'' director Michael Winner and on ''The Buccaneers,'' a pirate themed television program starring Robert Shaw. 
Mr. Curtis defiantly resists being called an  ''artist''. 

If you are an artist, you tend to have rather the smug sense of, I'm doing this great work,'' he said. ''I don't have that at all. I go out and I find stories, and I find ways of doing them in an imaginative way. 

I'm a journalist, and I'm responding to my time.''

''HyperNormalisation'' is a summation of one of Mr of Mr. Curtis's major themes: that liberalism   -since the collapse of certainty about how its values would  transform  politics, finance and journalism    -has in fact become genuinely conservative.

In a world of unpredictability it has become, it has retreated from genuine frontiers, instead of opting for holding actions that can make it feel stable and safe.

So we live, thanks to our systems of monitoring, compensation and control, in a bubble of our own devising.

Because Adam Curtis is a journalist, and because Donald Trump is the black hole towards which all journalistic light presently bends, a portion of Mr. Curtis's new film concerns the Republican nominee.

''HyperNormalisation'' will be essential viewing for American audiences if for nothing more than a sublime six-minute   film-within-a-film    that depicts Donald Trump in his role as a casino proprietor.

Mr.Curtis tells the story of Mr. Trump's entanglement with a probabilities analyst named Jesse Marcum and a Japanese gambler named Akio Kashiwagi, who some believe may have been murdered by the Yakuza.

Was it Mr. Kashiwagi's mysterious death, which voided a several-millions debt to Mr. Trump, that spurred Mr. Trump out of the  risk-laden world of actual construction, investment and management and into the realm of speculative virtuality-

The practice, that is, of selling his name for others to slap onto buildings, even as he became a television and tabloid personality to make that name more valuable?

In Mr. Curtis's portrait, anyway, Mr. Trump is an avant-garde figure. From the film's narration : ''Trump had realized that the version of reality that politics presented was no longer believable. 

And in the face of that, you could play with reality.''

The Honour and Serving of the latest  ''Operational Research'' : On 'Distilling The Undistillable''  continues.

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