Last night a handful of enthusiastic, informed and witty Twitter personalities produced roughly 660 tweets during a coordinated group viewing of Jaws. This live-tweet event was organized by Kent Beeson (@Kza), who named Matt Prigge (@paperlung) as his successor. Matt will be choosing the next live-tweet title and date/time. Subscribe to this blog for announcements about future Live Tweets du Cinema.

Some highlights from the Jaws live-tweet:

Patrick_Pogo: Can you imagine any current PG movie starting this way? #jaws

Pergamond: What is that cute machine that strikes ink onto page? #jaws

Kza: Note that the Mayor (Murray Hamilton rocks) always wears blue-grey -- shark colors. #JAWS

jbwhaley: We're gonna need a bigger barfbag. #jaws

paperlung: The comedy re: the townsfolk reminds me of Richard Lester. Which just goes to prove that R. Lester rules. #jaws

michaelmontes: John Williams won an Oscar for this score. Sometimes two notes is all it takes. #JAWS

AlejandroAdams: Dreyfus really pulls off the swaggery academic. Is that an actual type? #jaws

tomandmary: Dreyfus spectacular in autopsy scene-- emotion and outrage vs. scientific rigor. #jaws

michaelvox: You'd think that Hooper Mr. Oceanographic Institute had never opened a shark's stomach before #jaws

Filmbrain: Surprised the guns turned on the kids weren't digitally replaced by walkie-talkies. #jaws

MaryaMurphy: Why would you throw a license plate in the river? I mean, really. Is it like all the single shoes on the side of the road? #jaws

JohnnyDiggz: I often find myself looking for killer shark-shaped clouds. #jaws

Pischina: Remake: Bruce Willis, Ray Winstone, Robert Downey Jr. #JAWS

RodneyRamsey: I could do ok in this scar contest. #jaws

hellbox: That Indianapolis story is such a great monologue. A remake would probably try to re-enact it while he's talking. #JAWS

ScottEWeinberg: For weeks I had nightmares about Quint's death. Then I started enjoying them and they became "dreams." #jaws
Posted on 7/12/2009 06:01:00 PM by Alejandro Adams and filed under | 23 Comments »


Patrick said... @ July 13, 2009 at 8:01 AM

From @Patrick_Pogo:
Excellent. Great highlights from a romping good time. Are these all to be formal live-tweet parties or can there be one-offs? I'm sure there's some indie/genre-based live-tweets with a smaller "panel" (for lack of a better word) that could spring from this.

I would almost certainly watch a horror movie the first time with a Twitter guide. Mostly because I'm a scaredy-cat and it would feel like there's someone else watching it with me who could assure me that it's only a movie.

Also, any hints as to what's next? @paperlung?

Alejandro Adams said... @ July 13, 2009 at 10:20 AM

This is a good place to discuss the vision/purpose for the blog, actually. Personally, I see two advantages: to create a locus for each event (looking forward to it, looking back on it) and to off-set the awkward "what's next?" of the aftermath. I'm all for "Let's just do it," but there's potential for inadvertent bullying in the aftermath, so I think we should prescribe a way around that element in particular.

So far everyone who knows about this blog has admin privileges, by the way. That in itself should be a fun experiment.

Alejandro Adams said... @ July 13, 2009 at 10:31 AM

I should clarify that everyone *whose email address I had handy* was given admin access to this blog. So if you're a live-tweet participant who would like to contribute here, let me know.

Andrew Grant said... @ July 13, 2009 at 10:46 AM

There was talk on Saturday night about VERTIGO as a potential pick for upcoming live tweet. My feeling is that the film chosen shouldn't be something universally loved/admired. It should be a somewhat contentious film, where a contrarian position doesn't come off like Tom O'Neil's asinine SUNRISE piece.

That said, I hardly got on my anti-Spielberg soapbox during JAWS. (Forgot how amazing the final 50 minute are.) Still, the film did fuck things up for a whole lot of filmmakers.

I'm thinking more along the lines of von Trier, Denis, Godard, Mann, Rohmer, etc.

Brian said... @ July 13, 2009 at 11:29 AM

I'm a nobody, but as an observer of the Jaws livetweet I think it'd be a mistake to do the likes of Rohmer or Denis. Contentiousness is fine, but films chosen for livetweets should fall within the general purview of "fun." I don't believe these events should be undertaken for purposes of serious cinema-studies edification, although that can be a nice byproduct of them -- this should basically be for fun. Now obviously fun means different things to different people, but even defined in the broadest sense, I don't think an Eric Rohmer film is anyone's idea of fun, at least not in a way that would translate to sync'd-up viewings and pithy comments. Stick to the wide array of films that are significant from a critical/auteurist perspective and have some basic entertainment value. Just my two cents.

Patrick said... @ July 13, 2009 at 12:31 PM

Brian AKA Nobody, these are good points that I totally ripped off and presented as my own. Please see me for the return of your two cents.

Also, next time, join in. We might waive the new member fees if you're nice. I can also be bought.

Marya said... @ July 13, 2009 at 3:44 PM

My thoughts. I think it should be a variety, as it has been. Ambersons, Little Shop on the Corner, Dr. Strangelove, Jaws. Populist one week/obscure contention the next. Spontaneous always welcome. Likely we'll get more participation with a Jaws, but that's not necessarily true. Movies broadcast are easier to coordinate and people can come in late that way also. There's a guy planning a musical livetweet for 7/24 or 7/25 - @simonsaybrams. I just suggested he pop over here. Alejandro and I almost started a Buckaroo Banzai livetweet last night, and Tassoula kicked in her 13 Going on 30.

Alejandro Adams said... @ July 13, 2009 at 4:40 PM

It's probably useful to think of each person here as a splinter group unto himself. If you post here saying, "I'm live-tweeting The Searchers on TCM tomorrow night," no one will object and you'll probably get some takers. On the other hand, if it's last-minute, is there any real advantage to posting here? Twitter would be sufficient. And this is where we get into the purpose of the blog, which flirts with overkill--putting a lively, spontaneous event in a jar with a couple of small holes in the lid is a good way to ensure its death. However, I do think it would be useful to have an official live-tweet locus which recognizes a single, unbreakable chain of live-tweet events (conveniently suggested by the graphic at the top of this blog! OMG!). If we henceforth honor the royal bloodline--then @Kza begat @paperlung and so forth--we have something we can count on regardless of how many splinter events occur. There will always be someone in charge, by divine right, who will not put his suggested title to a vote, and I personally see that as a huge selling point, a factor that will keep me in tight orbit regardless of titles chosen by the Appointed One. But ancillary to the artery of "official" communication and planning, I think anyone should be permitted to schedule/post their splinter events at any time. The only practical rule would be the most obvious one: we shouldn't schedule splinter events that conflict with the event coordinated by the Appointed One.

Tassoula posted a comment which referred Patrick to her #drunkentweets, which raises an interesting side note. If someone live tweets late into the night (or on a weekday afternoon, for that matter) and has no audience, they should feel free to come post here about it: "Hey, check out my #searchers live tweet from last night."

As for popular-vs-obscure titles or or cable-vs-DVD or time of day, I think trial and error (or simply balance) would be preferable to sharply circumscribing the events. What was remarkable about the Jaws event was that I laughed AND learned, and neither of those comes easily for me. I found it more exhilarating than I'd predicted because it was totally impossible for me to watch the film AND read the tweets AND contribute commentary, so each of those modes of engagement took a significant hit. It's quite possible that my brain hasn't been that fried since college. I feel confident saying that I'd enjoy a purely amusing event or a purely academic/analytical/educational one. As for a title like Vertigo (or any Hitch film) I'd be happy to take a big crap on it, which would make that event less about gaining insight or being entertained and more about challenging a film's gilded reputation.

Plenty more to say, but I'll leave it there as we continue to hash out the parameters as a group.

Jarrod Whaley said... @ July 13, 2009 at 6:14 PM

I tend to agree with the idea that an excessive amount of formalized procedure would tend to undermine the point of the exercise. There's no reason why LE GENOU DE CLAIRE can't be live-tweeted one week, with THE WRATH OF KHAN being tweeted the following week. If one of us has some problem with (or lack of interest in) the currently selected film, well...it's all too easy to merely sit that one out. Consistent participation is obviously in no way mandatory, after all.

I'll support the idea that the currently "anointed" film-chooser should simply also choose a "successor." There are too many films in existence, and therefore too many potential candidates on a directly democratic ballot.

mattprigge said... @ July 13, 2009 at 6:31 PM

I'm still toying around with what to do next, but I like this idea of changing things up, seeing what works, etc. Obviously, Jaws is going to be a high-point in terms of volume; even if you hate Spielberg and everything it wrought, it's still, you know, Jaws. I think it would be interesting to see what happens when you go with something that not everyone has sitting, in at least one edition, on their video shelf.

Also, as Alejandro touched on, it's basically impossible to pay attention to a film, tweet about it, read other tweets, respond to THOSE tweets, etc. Feel like we should make sure there's at least some people who want to tweet about a certain film they've already seen and are at least moderately familiar with. I mean, I hadn't seen Jaws in its entirety in an eternity, but I still remembered most of the shots.

I had been thinking of Primer or 8 1/2. (Don't worry, for those who caught my constant threats to do Sátántangó; I don't think I could even myself keep that up, or have anything beyond "Man, they shore can walk" or "Is Béla Tarr's camera operator man or machine?" to tweet for most of the picture.) But Primer probably wouldn't work in twitter form, given that it requires total attention to make any kind of sense of it. (Could be a special tweet-off, arranged between hardcore fans who've seen it loads of times?)

And is 8 1/2 even in print anymore? (Just checked: it is. And one can even watch it on Netflix.) I have a huge soft-spot for 8 1/2 -- it was my first "foreign classic" when I was a wee one -- but something tells me it's due a knock-down or three. Along similar lines, I really, really like Andrew's nomination of Vertigo. And not just because I would love to see Alejandro duck tweet-punches as he squats over it.

Some others I was considering: Being John Malkovich, Out of Sight, Full Metal Jacket (a movie I'm terminally so-so on), Touch of Evil, The Third Man.

And I'd love one day to do one on, say, Trouble Every Day or Irma Vep or, y'know, Werckmeister Harmonies.

Alejandro Adams said... @ July 13, 2009 at 6:43 PM
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rod Ramsey said... @ July 13, 2009 at 7:17 PM

I do think the film should have some sort of "fun" factor, though the variable "fun" has many possible values. There should just be something interesting/entertaining to say every few minutes or so.

I tend to livetweet random films as the whim strikes. It's usually a solo performance that annoys many of my friends. I'm ok with that.

Organized, or at least announced, events are more fun. It's better to get a variety of interactions going on. Really, though, it does need to be a film most of the participants have seen before.

MichaelVox said... @ July 13, 2009 at 8:08 PM

If this post doesn't show up, then god doesn't want me involved. I'll be okay with that. Mac FF? No, Mac Safari? No. Now XP FF.

As can be expected, all the insightful comments have been taken. The "official scheduler" should stop by here and create a post telling the what and when (and if they want, the why), and the rest of us should participate or sit it out accordingly. As everyone above here has mentioned, it is nearly impossible to concentrate on said film and tweet and also read the people more creative or snarky than I'll ever be. Therefore, I wouldn't tune in for something I'd never seen. But my dorkiness might make me "pre-watch" it.

I disagree with those who feel that only stuff like Wrath of Khan (to callback Jarrod) would be fun because it's poppy and light. There is a place in the twitterverse for all flavors of film. Serious, light, chickflick, and Canary.

As for the blog v. tweeting info, the blog might be the place for official announcements that we then all refer to in our tweets. If @tassoula wants to drunktweet again, she puts it up here and we jump in or turn off our tweetdeck based on our mood. And there's nothing telling us we can't devise a live-film-tweet-drinking-game as our official selection. (THE LOST WEEKEND; LEAVING LAS VEGAS; BARFLY; ARMAGEDDON: Drink every time Bay moves the camera.)

My opinion would be that the official "chooser" (and a better title for said person must be out there) would tell us broadcast or DVD, a day and time, and maybe a reason. I'd love this to be a venue whereby people could champion something that others have missed. It would also expose most of us to genres we'd never seek out for ourselves.

It's a free country. We can choose not to be online for things we don't want to be online for.

But chooser picks and other "smaller" livetweets adapt to that person's choice and time.

This will never post so I'm not sure why I went through the trouble.

Patrick said... @ July 14, 2009 at 7:35 AM

I agree with keeping it organic. But man, we need another Jaws once in a blue moon too, especially if we have any interest in making this thing grow. People will jump in more readily to a group-tweet than trade solos.

Perhaps there should be a calendar of events in case someone actually wanted to plan something, or see what we've missed. How formal of me.

Drinking game tweet possibility: WITHNAIL AND I. Those learned Brits know how to pound.

Andrew Grant said... @ July 14, 2009 at 11:05 AM

I'll throw in my support as well for a balanced diet, though I admit my interest is more about opinion/analysis/reaction than "fun". I agree with Alejandro that JAWS was a nice balance of both, but then again, it's a populist film from an obvious auteur.

Twitter (and the interweb as a whole) is already packed with pop-culture snark -- not sure what a livetweet of WRATH OF KHAN would bring to the table. That's not to say I'm adamantly opposed to it, I just feel like we've got an impressive collection of minds here -- why not tackle something with substance? (Which, in my opinion, can still be fun.) Denis' TROUBLE EVERY DAY, for example.

I also strongly support Alejandro's idea of a locus for the effort, and the creation of this website was an excellent first step.

Andrew Grant said... @ July 14, 2009 at 11:06 AM

Oh, and Matt, I'd absolutely be up for a SATANTANGO livetweet. Perfect for one of those sweltering August days when it's far too hot/humid to do anything.

m. said... @ July 14, 2009 at 2:16 PM

In re Patrick's suggestion, I am pleasantly alarmed by the idea of a Withnail drinking game. Hide the lighter fluid. Right now. I mean it.

In re everything else...hmm. While I am likely to be happy with anything chosen for LTing, and I was very sorry to miss the JAWS event (but I saw AELITA and you didn't, ha ha), I really hope we can achieve a balance between big fun Hollywood and the lesser-known gems and anti-gems that not as many people will be immediately drawn to.

I agree that it's easier to LT a movie you've seen before at least once and better still multiple times. But why should it be easy? Challenging/frying your brain every once in a while is good for it. "Nothing like a little disaster for sorting things out."

I also agree that participation will probably be higher with more mainstream films that people have seen or have a known and active interest in seeing. But it needn't be high every single time, right? Does a meme have to go globalviral to be fun?

Finally, I second Andrew's point about this "impressive collection of minds." I eagerly anticipate some goofy fun LT movies, but I find I am less interested in what the big brains of New Vague & Company have to say about PREDATOR than in what they have to say about TIMECODE, although I love both movies equally.

So put me down as another vote for an even mix of both the well-known and the obscure.

Alejandro Adams said... @ July 14, 2009 at 8:32 PM

Andrew and memepunk have made something quite clear. Well-informed cineastes dominated the previous live-tweet events, and that was the group that went into Jaws. We didn't come to Jaws after having live-tweeted Predator. I think this is a slippery-slope situation. While I don't consider myself a snarkist, I did have a hard time contributing anything substantive to the Jaws event and contented myself with remarks that were later classified as MST3K. I agree with Andrew and memepunk that the group we've assembled is destined for greatness! If we aim specifically for "fun" titles, we might attract the sharks to our chum and manage to show up on the trending topics radar, but at what price?

To be honest, I would never encourage a Rohmer live-tweet, though he's one of my favorite directors--so I'm not arguing for "important" films, I'm arguing for films toward which intelligent, lively and amusing commentary can be sustained. And, to be clear, if this thing slides any further toward self-consciously popular titles, I doubt I'll make time for it.


All things considered, Eternal Sunshine seems like a great choice.

Kza said... @ July 14, 2009 at 10:56 PM

Some completely random comments, because I'm too frazzled to put together anything more coherent:

1. One thing that I've been sensing in these comments, and it's been really bugging me, is the sense that while JAWS is fun, it's something that's inherently unserious, that it somehow doesn't qualify for any deeper comments (or at least, as deep as one can get in 140 characters). I think that's bullshit. I didn't pick it because it was popular or fun, although it's both those things. (And let me say upfront that I was completely floored by the number of participants. I honestly thought it would ultimately be a fireside chat kind of thing, like a lot of Alejandro's previous live-tweets.) And while I think it's popularity brought in a lot of people who had no intention of more than making witty comments -- and God bless 'em -- there was absolutely nothing holding anyone back from going deeper. Lord knows I tried, I really did, but I could only go so far with a) trying to tweet and watch and read at the same time and b) my general lack of depth. But again, my point is that I sense there's this, "well, of course there was a lack of insight, it's JAWS", and it's just nonsense -- it's clear to anyone with eyes that JAWS has artistic merit, and it's up to each person to bring what they can to the live-tweet. If it's too much (or all) snark, we have no one to blame but ourselves.

2. Which leads to this: if you're picking the movie, I say pick one that you love, that you're passionate about, that you're totally obsessed with. And obviously, that means something you've probably seen more than once, probably more than three times. I really think that's the only way that it can work. The chooser has to be the ground zero, the center of gravity, for the thing. He or she has to set the tone. Maybe some of you can watch something you've never seen before, or seen maybe once, or something you just kinda like, and will be able to bring the rigor to your live-tweeting. But I doubt it. I know I won't be able to. I think, actually, that such a situation would create more noise than signal, particularly if the movies are more outre. (Imagine someone live-tweeting IRREVERSIBLE, having never seen it before. It'd be the text equivalent of a "2 Girls, 1 Cup" reaction video. Amusing, yes, but is that something we want?)

3. There is no point number three.

4. That's Ed, name the movie, name the day, name the time, name the delivery device, and I'll either be there or I won't. More likely will than won't, but that's all the promise I can make.

Alejandro Adams said... @ July 14, 2009 at 11:27 PM

I don't think Jaws is inherently unserious--Tom, Matt and yourself in particular managed to sustain an unironically illuminating commentary (structural notes, composition analysis, Lester comparisons), and I've already noted how much I appreciated the well-roundedness of the participants and the challenge of getting my head around everyone's contributions. You're absolutely right about the potential to go deeper--as Rilke said, if you can't make poetry out of your day-to-day life, don't complain to life, complain to yourself that you are not poet enough.

Marya said... @ July 14, 2009 at 11:35 PM

While Point #3 is the most intriguing, I'll address #1. JAWS is brilliant. I love the film. The genius of it as a livetweet is that it works in every direction. A damned good romp and a work to be endlessly analyzed. Like Citizen Kane. Thank you for choosing it.

m. said... @ July 15, 2009 at 1:32 PM

Kza: Apologies if what I said sounded dismissive of JAWS and similar fare. I certainly didn't mean it that way. Of course it's worthy of serious analysis. As someone who is equally career-focused on mainstreamish Hollywood (scripts) and low-budget arthouse Cultywood (stuff I want to direct), I would be deeply hypocritical to suggest otherwise. :)

Tom Russell said... @ July 16, 2009 at 7:31 AM

After being prodded more than once by Mr. Adams to leave a comment in this space, giving further credence to my theory that he sets up blogs specifically so that I can comment on them and that he makes movies specifically so that I can't see them, here I am. Or, rather, both of us-- Tom and Mary, weighing in.

All we have to say is, we pretty much agree with what everyone's been saying-- we're on board for both spontaneous live-tweets and the planned-in-advance things, we like the passing-it-off-to-someone-else thing, we think the films should be capable of deeper non-snarky analysis and we think it's a good idea to pick films that aren't universally admired so that we can get some contrarians up in there. (We know we're going to have a lot of fun in that regard with ETERNAL SUNSHINE.)

Sorry we don't have more to contribute-- the problem with be one reasonably intelligent voice in a sea of reasonably intelligent voices is that everyone's beat us to the points we would want to make.

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