"Tivo-ifies the web" Paul Kedrosky

He Hit Me (And It Felt Like A Kiss)

The Crystal’s “He Hit Me (And It Felt Like A Kiss)“, caused a storm of protest when it was released in 1962, and its ambiguous sentiment underlies ‘It Felt Like a Kiss’, Adam Curtis’ new film. It is a portrait of America between 1958 and 1965, a period when radical individualism emerged with superficial freedom and underlying entrapment. The film has been conceived of as much as a multi-media art piece, as a TV documentary, the BBC having given Curtis an unusual degree of freedom, possibly because they are not quite sure what to do with him.

Curtis is like the Malcolm Gladwell of film making, there is a nagging doubt that what is being argued isn’t science but the delivery is so masterful and thorough that its utterly compelling. It Felt Like a Kiss looks stunning from the trailer (look out for the full version), but perhaps its rhetoric will elicit similar mixed feelings as inspired the subject. Regardless, Curtis, who creates movies that are like the conspiracy theory films that clog Youtube (except that they produced with intelligence), will no doubt become a web celebrity when his next film, which deals with the Internet itself is released combining the meme like qualities of his format with a self-referential subject.

The BBC, in their infinite wisdom, have regionally restricted everything including trailers of It Felt Like A Kiss, so I am linking to the Guardian. A full version of the film is on Curtis’ web site, but is also UK only (I cannot watch it, because I’m in France).

It Felt Like A Kiss (Trailer).

history, society

17 comments on “He Hit Me (And It Felt Like A Kiss)

  1. boaby says:

    This is currently available via p2p at http://thebox.bz/. Only 384×288 but looking forward to watching it anyway. Can't see myself getting to see full installation in London or Moscow.

  2. Dan Westlake says:

    I watched the whole of this and found it incredibly disappointing. I do not think I learnt anything significant new from it (unlike all of Curtis's previous works). This was essentially a series of now bland a clichéd info-bites e.g. CIA tries to kill Castro with cigar, Rock Hudson was Gay, Sadam Hussein was backed by America. If any of this was news to you you must have been hiding under a rock for the last 20 years. There where a few interesting titbits such as a Sadam Hussein propaganda film that glorified his roll in Bathist take over of Iraq was directed by the director of a couple of the James Bond movies but so what? There was also some good archive clips such as a Vietnam vet confessing to American war crimes but this film had nothing of great interest to say other than that the utopian vision America presented of itself in the post-war years wasn't all it seemed and that Americas covert foreign policy saw the CIA get up no good but this is hardly front page news. Please repost all The Power of Nightmares, The Trap and most importantly The Century of the Self. All of these are widely available online and in provide socio-political histories of the 20th century that allow us to see just how we got to where we are today. The Reithian remit of the BBC was to educate, inform and entertain: these three works do this.

    1. david galbraith says:

      Yeah – I've now watched it in full thanks to boaby's link – and I must say it was kind of disappointing for exactly the reasons you suggest. Like a more cerebral version of the pop promo for Paul Harcastle's ne ne ne ne '19'.

  3. boaby says:

    David, Could you explain what you mean your "nagging doubt that what is being argued isn’t science but the delivery is so masterful and thorough that its utterly compelling."
    Is this that the rhetoric/experiential force of the films image-sound rush hides argumentation and linkages that wouldn't hold up if expressed in language?

    1. david galbraith says:

      I remember when I was at college studying an essay by Freud that made some amazing and thorough conclusion about Leonardo and connections with his adult life to childhood experience (the whole thing was very like an Adam Curtis premise – that some deep subconscious psychological force was shaping everything).

      Except that particular Freudian intellectual edifice ultimately rested upon a mistranslation/comprehension of Ancient Egyptian of all things. It was complete crap but utterly compelling, otherwise well researched and well presented.

      I think there are many forces which drive culture both ideological and psychological, but that Curtis pulls a Freud and creates an argument that may be either wrong or just part of the truth. Furthermore arguments by design, like his, appeal to our inner conspiracy theorist, tendencies that drive sales of books like the Da Vinci Code and are exacerbated on the Internet.

      The problem is that Curtis is really clever, so its like watching the best version of what may or may not be conspiracy theorist nonsense (frankly I don't know).

      I'll give a concrete example that makes me suspect this, however. Curtis' next film is about the Internet. His premise (expressed in the interview in the post above) is that the Internet changes communication because it allows people to take more time to create deeper more thorough, longer pieces than TV which is based on short term engagement of an audience.

      This sounds like someone who is imagining the Internet rather than using it. You may be able to create a 3 hour in-depth multimedia presentation online because you don't have a BBC commissioner telling you not to, but to argue that people's attention spans are longer means that you have never immersed yourself in LOLCats, Perez Hilton, Twitter, and Youtube.

      He is confusing the flipping of the pre Internet world limited channels, with finite supply and insatiable demand to the fact that now there are unlimited channels and content but people are competing for people's finite attention. They end up doing that competing with 30 second videos, 140 character articles and cute pictures of cats.

      Curtis' argument about the Internet is wrong but plausible. I think the same might be true of The Century of the Self, Pandora's Box etc.

      Incredibly, considering that much of what he says about things like the PR industry is backed up by evidence, that implies that perhaps these industries themselves are largely based on fallacies – but that is another story.

      1. boaby says:

        Thanks for that clarificatory reply David. Having watched it now I'd be more positive about it, but it does not seem to work fully outside the installational context it was intended for. It lacks the detail of the on screen interviews his films usually have and seems often to repeat visual associations and pop tunes to no real effect. There are some curious parts where what you might call his cultural pessimism about the west is so strong he could be channelling Sayyid Qutb's bilious hatred for Western consumerism. I still consider myself a tremendous fan of his methods and ideas, especially as regards "The Power of Nightmares" and "The Century of the Self". All in all, it makes me more curious to try to see the overall installation.

  4. daave says:

    Errrrrr, i think your all missing the point here.

    the film is the was the centre section of a walkthrough theater production with curtis and punchdrunk theatre company. The first half of which you with 6 others walk through rooms set out like clips form his docs.

    then the middle is the film.

    then the second half is something that scared the living daylights out of me and having been in there for hours quite disturbing.

    You will never get this film unless you attended one of the performances in manchester. On its own the film doesnt make sense, but Just hearing that song now is giving me the creeps

    http://www.mif.co.uk/events/it-felt-like-a-kiss/

    1. Dan Westlake says:

      daave, I think you may be missing the point here that the version being critiqued here is posted online and re-edited by Curtis to be viewed in this context.

      1. daave says:

        No, if you were expecting a documentary then youve got it all wrong. the points might be obvious to you, but in the context of the performance they are important. Its not a documentary, its an experimental film that forms part of a bigger piece. its only on the bbc because they funded part of it and its almost exactly what i saw in manchester. if you compare it to all his other work then you are missing the point that they are completely different things, almost like the works of shakespeare vs shakespeare in love

  5. Dan Westlake says:

    erm yes… if that is, Shakespeare in Love had been a re-edited and re-contextualised version of a previous realised piece of work called 'Shakespeare' (which it isn't).

  6. daave says:

    dont be daft, your talking rubbish.

    your just upset you never got to see it in all its glory.

  7. aikowest0002 says:
  8. severina says:

    It is an interesting job. It is sad to see this musical style estinção.

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    good

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