Final Post/Hours Tomorrow

As I do a final overview of last week’s blog responses, I just wanted to thank you all again for a wonderful course. It’s been a pleasure working with all of you.

I have grading for the course completed. If you want to pick up essays or check on your grade, I will be in Stuzin 255 tomorrow (Tuesday) from roughly 10:00 to 2:00.

Remember, I cannot legally discuss grades via email, so if you want to know it before the final posting, you will need to meet with me in person.

I hope you all have a great holiday and an equally great next semester!

Essay 3

Those of you who missed class Friday and/or Monday missed a couple of complete class periods of discussion about how to approach the final essay. I’ve included the basics below, but you need to be sure to read chapter four of your Writing about Film text closely to gain a better understanding of the many possible critical approaches you might apply to your selected film.

Due Wednesday, December 4
2500 words (about 7.5 pages)
MLA format
Research required, including MLA works cited and in-text citations

For this essay, you will select a single film and apply a critical approach to analyze it. While you will focus on one primary approach, other approaches may overlap – for instance, if you examine Blade Runner in the context of its place in the scifi or cyberpunk genre, you will likely want to do some formal analysis that explains how films of the genre work as well as some historical analysis of where the genre was at the time the film was made and, possibly, where it has gone since.

Chapter seven of Writing about Film will be an invaluable resource in finding the best available research materials to back up your arguments.

As ever, email me if you have any questions.

Wow. One More Vote.

Well, folks, it appears we have a three-way tie, so you’re going to have to vote one more time.

Vote by 11:59 pm Tuesday. Choose only one film.

Schindler’s List, Steven Spielberg (1993)
Oskar Schindler is a vainglorious and greedy German businessman who becomes unlikely humanitarian amid the barbaric Nazi reign when he feels compelled to turn his factory into a refuge for Jews. Based on the true story of Oskar Schindler who managed to save about 1100 Jews from being gassed at the Auschwitz concentration camp. A testament for the good in all of us.

Tree of Life, Terrence Malick (2011)
The impressionistic story of a Texas family in the 1950s. The film follows the life journey of the eldest son, Jack, through the innocence of childhood to his disillusioned adult years as he tries to reconcile a complicated relationship with his father. Jack finds himself a lost soul in the modern world, seeking answers to the origins and meaning of life while questioning the existence of faith.

Zero Dark Thirty, Kathryn Bigelow (2012)
Maya is a CIA operative whose first experience is in the interrogation of prisoners following the Al Qaeda attacks against the U.S. on the 11th September 2001. She is a reluctant participant in extreme duress applied to the detainees, but believes that the truth may only be obtained through such tactics. For several years, she is single-minded in her pursuit of leads to uncover the whereabouts of Al Qaeda’s leader, Osama Bin Laden. Finally, in 2011, it appears that her work will pay off, and a U.S. Navy SEAL team is sent to kill or capture Bin Laden. But only Maya is confident Bin Laden is where she says he is.

Week 14 Agenda

Week 14 (November 18-24)

MONDAY
Class Activity          Complete Spirited Away
Assignments           “Hugo: Scorsese’s Birthday Present to Georges Méliès”
Blog post – Spirited Away analysis

TUESDAY
Class Activity          Discuss Spirited Away and changes in animation techniques
Screening               Hugo (2011)
Assignments           Blog post – Hugo analysis

WEDNESDAY
Class Activity          Discuss digital versus hand-drawn animation
Assignments           WaF, Chapter 4: “Six Approaches to Writing about Film”
WaF, Chapter 6: “Researching the Movies”

FRIDAY
Class Activity          Approaching the final essay
Assignments          Blog response
FT&C, Friedberg: “The End of Cinema: Multimedia and Technological Change”


Essay 2

I’m posting the Essay 2 description here for you so you won’t need to run back to the syllabus for elucidation.

For your second essay, you will conduct a study of the formal qualities and critical issue associated with a particular film genre.  Your study should elucidate the genre you are studying, explain the formal qualities that identify a film as part of the genre, and discuss two films which exemplify the genre.  Your films must come from two different national cinema traditions. (Note: classic and contemporary “Hollywood” films count as American cinema.).  You must use both primary sources and secondary critiques in this essay.

As I have mentioned in class, there are a number of ways you can approach this essay. Remember, though, that, first and foremost, it is a study of a genre, so – as I noted Friday – you will likely spend about 2/3 of the essay discussing the genre. What are its themes? Is it responding to particular social issues? What techniques do films in this genre typically use? About 1/3 of your essay will likely be devoted to using the two films you have selected to illustrating the points you have made about the genre.

You have a lot of freedom here in terms of structure and approach, so don’t feel hemmed in by this description (one of the reasons I have left this more open-ended than the last). By all means, though, if you are worried about your approach, drop me an email and we can discuss it.

Belated Update – Spirited Away

Sorry for the delay in getting you updated this weekend. You won’t be required to complete your blog post on Spirited Away until Monday night, but I would like you to read a few brief articles before class on Monday to focus our argument.

First, inspired by some of your tweets, actually, a couple of articles on the figure of the shojo (young girl) in Miyazaki’s work.

“An Interview with Hayao Miyazaki”
“Miyazaki’s Heroines”

I have also included a brief case study on Spirited Away itself.

Case Study: Spirited Away

Final Films for Voting

Again, note your top three in the comments. Voting will be open until Friday at 11:59 pm, at which time I will announce the winner.

Blurbs courtesy of IMDB. Some are definitely more helpful than others. Sorry 😦

Sunrise, F.W. Murnau (1927)
In this fable-morality subtitled “A Song of Two Humans”, the “evil” temptress is a city woman who bewitches farmer Anses and tries to convince him to murder his neglected wife, Indre.

La Regle du Jeu, Jean Renoir (1939)
Aviator André Jurieux has just completed a record-setting flight, but when he is greeted by an admiring crowd, all he can say to them is how miserable he is that the woman he loves did not come to meet him. He is in love with Christine, the wife of aristocrat Robert de la Cheyniest. Robert himself is involved in an affair with Geneviève de Marras, but he is trying to break it off. Meanwhile, André seeks help from his old friend Octave, who gets André an invitation to the country home where Robert and Christine are hosting a large hunting party. As the guests arrive for the party, their cordial greetings hide their real feelings, along with their secrets – and even some of the servants are involved in tangled relationships.

Rebecca, Alfred Hitchcock (1940)
A shy ladies’ companion, staying in Monte Carlo with her stuffy employer, meets the wealthy Maxim de Winter. She and Max fall in love, marry and return to Manderley, his large country estate in Cornwall. Max is still troubled by the death of his first wife, Rebecca, in a boating accident the year before. The second Mrs. de Winter clashes with the housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers, and discovers that Rebecca still has a strange hold on everyone at Manderley.

Citizen Kane, Orson Welles (1941)
A group of reporters who are trying to decipher the last word ever spoke by Charles Foster Kane, the millionaire newspaper tycoon: “Rosebud.” The film begins with a news reel detailing Kane’s life for the masses, and then from there, we are shown flashbacks from Kane’s life. As the reporters investigate further, the viewers see a display of a fascinating man’s rise to fame, and how he eventually fell off the “top of the world.”

Tokyo Story, Yasujiro Ozu (1953)
An elderly couple journey to Tokyo to visit their children and are confronted by indifference, ingratitude and selfishness. When the parents are packed off to a resort by their impatient children, the film deepens into an unbearably moving meditation on mortality.

Vertigo, Alfred Hitchcock (1958)
John “Scottie” Ferguson is a retired San Francisco police detective who suffers from acrophobia and Madeleine is the lady who leads him to high places. A wealthy shipbuilder who is an acquaintance from college days approaches Scottie and asks him to follow his beautiful wife, Madeleine. He fears she is going insane, maybe even contemplating suicide, because she believes she is possessed by a dead ancestor. Scottie is skeptical, but agrees after he sees the beautiful Madeleine.

2001: A Space Odyssey, Stanley Kubrick (1968)
“2001” is a story of evolution. Sometime in the distant past, someone or something nudged evolution by placing a monolith on Earth (presumably elsewhere throughout the universe as well). Evolution then enabled humankind to reach the moon’s surface, where yet another monolith is found, one that signals the monolith placers that humankind has evolved that far. Now a race begins between computers (HAL) and human (Bowman) to reach the monolith placers. The winner will achieve the next step in evolution, whatever that may be.

The Godfather, Francis Ford Coppola (1972)
The story begins as “Don” Vito Corleone, the head of a New York Mafia “family”, oversees his daughter’s wedding with his wife Wendy. His beloved son Michael has just come home from the war, but does not intend to become part of his father’s business. Through Michael’s life the nature of the family business becomes clear. The business of the family is just like the head of the family, kind and benevolent to those who give respect, but given to ruthless violence whenever anything stands against the good of the family. Don Vito lives his life in the way of the old country, but times are changing and some don’t want to follow the old ways and look out for community and “family”. An up and coming rival of the Corleone family wants to start selling drugs in New York, and needs the Don’s influence to further his plan. The clash of the Don’s fading old world values and the new ways will demand a terrible price, especially from Michael, all for the sake of the family.

The Last Emperor, Bernardo Bertolucci (1987)
A dramatic history of Pu Yi, the last of the Emperors of China, from his lofty birth and brief reign in the Forbidden City, the object of worship by half a billion people; through his abdication, his decline and dissolute lifestyle; his exploitation by the invading Japanese, and finally to his obscure existence as just another peasant worker in the People’s Republic.

Drugstore Cowboy, Gus Van Sant (1989)
A realistic road movie about a drug addict, his ‘family’, and their inevitable decline into crime.

Miller’s Crossing, Joel and Ethan Coen (1990)
Tom Reagan is the laconic anti-hero of this amoral tale which is also, paradoxically, a look at morals within the criminal underworld of the 1930s. Two rival gangs vie for control of a city where the police are pawns, and the periodic busts of illicit drinking establishments are no more than a way for one gang to get back at the other. Black humour and shocking violence compete for screen time as we question whether or not Tom, right-hand man of the Irish mob leader, really has a heart.

Schindler’s List, Steven Spielberg (1993)
Oskar Schindler is a vainglorious and greedy German businessman who becomes unlikely humanitarian amid the barbaric Nazi reign when he feels compelled to turn his factory into a refuge for Jews. Based on the true story of Oskar Schindler who managed to save about 1100 Jews from being gassed at the Auschwitz concentration camp. A testament for the good in all of us.

American Psycho, Mary Harron (2000)
Patrick Bateman, a young, well to do man working on wall street at his father’s company kills for no reason at all. As his life progresses his hatred for the world becomes more and more intense.

Battle Royale, Kinji Fukasaku (2000)
Forty-two students, three days, one deserted Island: welcome to Battle Royale. A group of ninth-grade students from a Japanese high school have been forced by legislation to compete in a Battle Royale. The students are each given a bag with a randomly selected weapon and a few rations of food and water and sent off to kill each other in a no-holds-barred (with a few minor rules) game to the death, which means that the students have three days to kill each other until one survives–or they all die.

In the Mood for Love, Kar Wai Wong (2000)
Set in Hong Kong, 1962, Chow Mo-Wan is a newspaper editor who moves into a new building with his wife. At the same time, Su Li-zhen, a beautiful secretary and her executive husband also move in to the crowded building. With their spouses often away, Chow and Li-zhen spend most of their time together as friends. They have everything in common from noodle shops to martial arts. Soon, they are shocked to discover that their spouses are having an affair. Hurt and angry, they find comfort in their growing friendship even as they resolve not to be like their unfaithful mates.

A Tale of Two Sisters, Jee-Woon Kim (2003)
Two sisters who, after spending time in a mental institution, return to the home of their father and cruel stepmother. Once there, in addition to dealing with their stepmother’s obsessive and unbalanced ways, an interfering ghost also affects their recovery.

Tree of Life, Terrence Malick (2011)
The impressionistic story of a Texas family in the 1950s. The film follows the life journey of the eldest son, Jack, through the innocence of childhood to his disillusioned adult years as he tries to reconcile a complicated relationship with his father. Jack finds himself a lost soul in the modern world, seeking answers to the origins and meaning of life while questioning the existence of faith.

Zero Dark Thirty, Kathryn Bigelow (2012)
Maya is a CIA operative whose first experience is in the interrogation of prisoners following the Al Qaeda attacks against the U.S. on the 11th September 2001. She is a reluctant participant in extreme duress applied to the detainees, but believes that the truth may only be obtained through such tactics. For several years, she is single-minded in her pursuit of leads to uncover the whereabouts of Al Qaeda’s leader, Osama Bin Laden. Finally, in 2011, it appears that her work will pay off, and a U.S. Navy SEAL team is sent to kill or capture Bin Laden. But only Maya is confident Bin Laden is where she says he is.