All posts by Christopher Aresco

Mad Max Fury Road and Feminism

Interesting article if anyone is still checking the blog. It seems the director of Mad Max teemed up with the author of the Vagina Monologues to create what people are calling a feminist film. Some people (well just this guys I guess) are pretty upset at this reworking of the classic film. This change could have some really interesting implications for Hollywood. Could we see other famous Hollywood films, rebooted with women in the starring roles? Maybe not the worst thing that could happen considering the receptiveness of males in lead roles in action films.  Interesting read none the less from a guy who doesn’t really get it. It will make you question some ideas about adaptation and feminism in films.

The Gaze in the Entourage Trailer

I know the semester is over and so the blog is practically dead but I recently viewed the trailer for the upcoming Entourage film based on the popular HBO television show. As I have found to be a tendency lately, I was watching it with some of the things I learned in critical in the back of my head. The main one being the idea of the gaze. Ever since Carly’s presentation, I have been thinking about the rule she presented about the test to see if two women  talk to each other on screen about something other than a man. Obviously this cannot be deciphered by a mere trailer but I was interested to see that for the first minute and a half of the trailer, there was not one women who spoke or was wearing anything other than a bikini, and there were many, many women. By the time I reached the end of the trailer, I realized that every single background women was in a bikini while the extras that were men were fully clothed. Obviously the Entourage series is targeted to the males 18-25 denomination so it is no surprise that they would throw in a hundred women in bathing suits in the background of each shot. This trend seems to be rather indicative of the road American Hollywood films are beginning (or have already begun) to go down. It will definitely be interesting to see this film in its entirety and judge its portrayal of women and masculinity because this film, although not on any ones Oscar ballots, is the type of entertainment that people have been demanding. It has been a heavily anticipated movie and to see how it fairs with these ideas of masculinity and feminism in the back of our minds, could be an interesting experiment on the culture of todays moviegoers.

The works videos

Just thought these were some interesting youtube videos that seemed to coincide with a lot of peoples presentations on auteur theory, they have them for a ton of directors so they are pretty interesting to take a look at.

Wes Anderson -

PT Anderson-

Stanley Kubrick-

Final Projects

Just a quick reaction to the final projects. I thought the final projects were very interesting in what it says about our study of theory throughout the semester. There was a decent amount of repeated material (auteur theory, the discourse around a film, etc.) but every presentation felt new. Each one, even the tenth on auteur theory, seemed like it was exploring a different area of the theory that the others had not. I think this concept is very interesting in the fact that this is what theory is all about. These ideas we read about all year are supposed to be taken and molded to different films. You are supposed to want to take a film that you have always loved and shed a new light on it under the scope of these new and interesting theories. Many of these theories have seen significant changes over the years because critics and film scholars alike have been doing what we did the past few weeks.  They break down films using the theories and potentially find flaw or even just unexplored areas of the theory in which they can contribute further knowledge to. After taking this class, I will find it hard to continue to consume media without thinking about what the filmmakers had in mind while producing it.

MCU and Auteur Theory

I know class has ended but I thought I would add another addition onto the blog. With the recent release of the second Avengers film, it had me thinking about the Marvel Cinematic Universe as it pertains to Auteur theory. The MCU is a series of movies that all take place in the same world. The characters, storylines, and events carry over from one film to another almost like a giant television show.  Because these “episodes” are supposed to be in the same world, marvel does a lot to make them similar. They feature similar cinematography, dialogue, and style. If you watched one after the other they would look very similar. This is what got me thinking in the context of auteur theory. These films all feature different directors, writers, and cinematographers. Does this mean that the studio who releases the film can be the auteur? If they all shared a common director then many a critic would pronounce him an auteur for his shared style from film to film. Is marvel studios an auteur? They are the selling point of the film. Some auteurs like Tarantino and Wes Anderson can bring fans into the theater based on their name alone. Marvel does the same. It is much more common to hear someone say “I can’t wait for the new marvel film”, then it is to hear them say “I can’t wait for the new Universal studios film”. This is because Marvel is seen as a brand that contributes consistently similar entertainment. I understand that the backbone of auteur theory is that the director can be seen as the sole author of a film but what I am suggesting is that perhaps their are larger forces at play and maybe there can be no author. The classic argument is that film is too collaborative to have a sole author, well maybe the MCU proves this. They can produces tens of films that have the same style, look, feel, and characters, and all with tens of different directors.

The Burden of Representation in “Color Adjustment”

Recently in class the discussion was brought up if any television show or film has been able to or could potentially be able to accurately depict the many facets of life as an African American. The conclusion was no because there is always some criticism from someone who cannot see their own story in a show or film. This is the exact problem with the burden of representation. How much are we obligated to show. After watching Color Adjustment, I started to think that maybe these shows weren’t un realistic but rather just the story of a certain person or group of people. Most of the criticism they received was that they did not do justice to all areas of the black experience, which in some cases (such as the portrayal of the ghetto) can be a problem, this overarching issue can be attributed to the burden of representation and its inability to touch upon all facets of life for an African American. Color Adjustment also talks about these shows promoting stereotypes which is one of the problem’s outlined in Mercer’s piece Dark and Lovely, he expands upon the representation problem by saying that when things are shown often, they may be seen as typical and therefore lead to stereotypes. This is a common problem still seen in todays media.

Modern Comic Book Film Adaptations and the Inconsistency of Reality in Source Material

After screening Maqbool in class, it was evident that much was changed from the source material in order to fit the new locale of the Bombay underworld. The main adjustment I noticed was the dismissal of the supernatural. While we still got some nervous, guilty hallucinations from Maqbool, the characters of the witches were switched to crooked police officers. This is a necessary change because that type of supernatural, while easy to accept in a play, is going to be strange and out of place in a film like Maqbool. Often today, one of the main reasons for change and disloyalty to source material when following the process of adaptation is the inconsistency of what is believable and accepted in the source format to what is acceptable on screen.

A huge trend in today’s Hollywood system is the emergence of the comic book film. In the past five years we have seen both Marvel and DC release films based upon their popular comic book heroes. In the adaptation though, things have to be changed to account for the differences in what is believable in a comic book and what is believable in a film. Hugh Jackman has played the famous Wolverine character in seven films yet we have never seen him in the classic Wolverine blue and yellow costume. This is because that would look goofy and ridiculous on the screen. The costume would completely crash with everyone the character represents. It would completely take the audience out of the film.

Arguably the most famous, successful, and acclaimed comic book adaptation of our time is Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy. Nolan is praised for creating a world where it seems both realistic and believable that a superhero such as Batman could and does exist. He even brings back many characters from the comic books. Robin, Batman’s famous sidekick, makes an appearance in the final installment of the trilogy, yet he never appears in the famous red and green tights. He simply cannot because although that is seen as normal in the source material, The movie versions call for a dark and grittier surrounding and Robin simply cannot be showing up in a green speedo.

This all brings up the question of how we can find a rebellious antihero wearing a ridiculous yellow jumpsuit acceptable in a comic book but would disapprove of it in a film. You could argue that a comic book platform is not held to the same standards when it comes to realism. They may have certain rules that don’t have to be spoken such as the fact that heroes wear tights. A film universe, however, has to start from the beginning. It has to recreate the universe the comic book established but it has to do so at the realism standards that we expect from Hollywood blockbusters. We are often quick to jump at the main problem of adaptation being its inability to maintain the orginal prose of a novel or encapsulate all of the action of a longer source material that could never fit in the two hour constraint of a film. An overlooked “issue” with adaptation, however, could be this inconsistency of realistic expectations. This may not even be an issue as much as it is an argument for why we cannot judge a film against its source material. It is a further argument for how a film is an original piece of art and should not be compared to its source material but rather just said to be different.


Ghost Dog and the Melding of Genres

When we watch a film, looking for melding of multiple film types and cultural inspiration, we can fall into the trap of looking for this in characters and themes. We look and see stereotypical Italian-American mobsters in a film starring a samurai and think that is were the combinations end. We can, however, look further into a piece of film and find that it draws inspiration in areas such as writing styles and character types. Having watched a decent amount of Japanese films, not even samurai films, such as Juzo Itami films and Masayuki Suo films. Watching these and then seeing Ghost Dog it is very difficult to not notice deliberate similarities in dialogue structure. In other words, a lot of the conversations and joke in Ghost Dog are very goofy. The one character acting cooky or strange (singing rap lyrics or making a buffalo noise) while the other characters give him deadpan stares back is a convention seen over and over again in Japanese films and it is shown off in Ghost Dog. Even the man dying of a heart attack rather than a gun shot is something that would be loved in Japanese cinema while maybe getting some looks of confusion from an average American crowd of movie goers. These inspirations are just as over the top as the portrayal of its Italian American Robert DeNiro lookalike Goodfellas impersonators.