Category Archives: Uncategorized

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.

It’s that time of Year… Movie Binge time that is

I’ve had the fortune of getting a lot of my essays out of the way, so I have been passing the time by watching movies non-stop. I’ve hit some pretty good ones along the way that I’d like to share with you all.

In case people haven’t seen these… go watch them right away. The Richard Linklater Trilogy Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, and Before Midnight are some of the most subtly brilliant films I’ve ever seen. The major highlight in each is the script… Written by Linklater and the two lead actors, Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, these films are some of the few that come class to true authenticity. Yes, they certainly feel like they are a part of the ideological cinematic apparatus, but the dialogue flows so naturally between the leads, many thought it was improvised upon initial release. The film also hosts 20 plus minute talking scenes where the camera doesn’t cut, meaning the actors memorized EVERYTHING and delivered it with an authentic touch that makes it seem like they’re saying it all for the first time.

Next, I switched it up and watched the Ocean’s Trilogy and don’t have too much to say other than they are fun, escapist heist movies.

I also just watched the new HBO documentary on Kurt Cobain which was really well done. It was very similar to the doc we watched in intro to film years ago called Tarnation, which is Jonathan Caouette’s self made autobiography told in trippy, terrifying fashion. Both films really succeed in dissecting troubled adults live’s through artistic imagery matched with candid records.

I also watched the new Avengers, Fury, and Saving Private Ryan. Plus, I had gone to the movies a few weeks ago to see a new low-budget horror flick called “It Follows.” I know Brian would love it since he’s into that type of thing. I’m not a big horror fan, but this film was extraordinary. 2 million dollar budget… beautifully shot, incredibly scary, well acted and it has stuck with me to this day. Highly recommend it to everyone if they want a thrill.

I also want to comment on how great the presentations have been. Everyone is doing a really good job and I’ve enjoyed everything we’ve talked about so far. Michael, I’ll always watch Fight Club like it’s a Fincher style, hyper masculine Calvin and Hobbes from now on. Angelina, seeing the various takes on Macbeth really do speak to the power of adaptation… I could put Romeo and Juliet in Space and it could still tell the exact same story as the 15th century England version.

This was a great class and I’m really glad I was able to take it. Since we’re all gonna be busy this summer, here are 10 must see movies to relax to if you have some down time:

1.) The Graduate

2.) All Quiet on the Western Front

3.) Breathless

4.) Rebel Without A Cause

5.) The Departed

6.) Life is Beautiful

7.) Inception

8.) Birdman

9.) The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

10.) The Elephant Man

And many more


Ba-ba-ba dook! dook! dook!

Lately, I ‘ve been bitten by the horror bug.  You know when you start realizing that something you at first only found entertaining is transcending into obsession? Well I know at least Randy does with that crippling Scorsese addiction of his.  But it’s just one of those phases when I can’t get enough, and it’s all I want to talk about.

I want to briefly shed some light on a film that I think is excellent and that everyone should see, if you’re a fan of horror or not.  The reason I say this is because this particular film, The Babadook (Kent, 2014), is an example of a horror that explores one of the deepest, truest anxieties that exists in the world: motherhood.  The story follows a woman named Amelia (Essie Davis) and her son Samuel (Noah Wiseman).  Amelia is a single mother, widowed in the most tragic of circumstances.  On the day she gave birth to Samuel, around 6-10 years prior to when the film takes place, her husband was killed in a car accident while driving her to the hospital.  Amelia faces single parenthood with crippling depression, as she struggles to find a reason to move forward raising her child every day since she was forced to sacrifice the love of her life for a huge burden of responsibility.  She is unable to let go of her husband, and keeps a shrine of memorabilia in her basement to constantly convince herself that he isn’t gone from her life.

It is clear that at the time the film takes place, she is just about fed up.  Samuel is rather strange and introspective, likely as a result of his mother’s subconscious rejection of the child, and as the frames tick by Amelia loses more and more patience for her son.  She won’t even throw him his own birthday party- she forces him to share the day with his cousin so she doesn’t have to make the effort herself.  Samuel’s dejected strangeness becomes so pervasive that no one, not even Amelia’s own sister, is comfortable being around him.  Then, one night before Samuel goes to bed, he asks Amelia to read him a story that just happens to be lying on the shelf.  This story is called “The Babadook.”  Here are the contents of this book (follow this link for the actual picture book itself

If it’s in a word, if its in a look, you can’t get rid of the Babadook.

If you’re a really clever one, and you know what it is to see, you can make friends with a special one, a friend of you and me.

A rumbling sound, then three sharp knocks, Ba-ba-ba DOOK! DOOK! DOOK!

That’s when you’ll know that he’s around, you’ll see him if you look.

This is what he wears on top, he’s funny don’t you think?

See him in your room at night, and you won’t sleep a wink.

I’ll soon take off my funny disguise (take heed of what you read), And once you see what’s underneath…

You’re going to wish you were dead.

As you might guess, The Babadook begins to haunt Amelia and Sam relentlessly.  In spite of her attempts to throw the book out and burn it, she can’t get rid of The Babadook.  However, this horrifying picture book isn’t all that it seems.  This is no simple children’s-story-gone-bad tale.  What Kent is doing here by using a creepy book is indicating Amelia’s slow descent into insanity as she fails to cope with the loss of her husband and her responsibility to her son so long after the accident.  Letting The Babadook “in” is really referring to Amelia’s increasing rejection of her child.  The creature is represented visually at times, and only Amelia and Samuel can see it, because it is only relevant to their relationship.

The story is really incredible to watch unfold when you start to see it in this light.  It is truly terrifying, but also sad enough to bring you to tears.  Samuel’s recognition of The Babadook and his simultaneous recognition of his mother’s struggle to move forward in her life is in itself a compassionate tale of familial relationships, and the interdependence and support that they rely on to press on through even the biggest and darkest of life’s obstacles.  Near the climax of the film, Amelia’s favorite picture of her and her husband is broken by the dark entity that has infected her house, and she is finally fully possessed by it; she has finally flipped a switch and gone dangerously insane.  She subsequently murders her dog, and chases Samuel.  After Samuel lures Amelia into the basement and subdues her, they confront The Babadook together, which takes the form of Amelia’s husband, and force it into submission, banishing Amelia’s depression into a compartment outside the self and allowing their two part family to finally move on.  As with most people who suffer from depression, however, the word “cured” is hardly ever appropriate – rather, the evil force of Amelia’s depression and insanity find their home in the basement where she keeps all of her memorabilia.  In order to move on, the past must be treated as what it is – the past.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t crying a little at the end.  It would be nice to always view evil in Horror films as though it were merely a killer with a mask, or a demon from another world, or some type of grotesque monster.  However, The Babadook highlights the type of potential evil that lies dormant in the hearts and souls of every human on earth – the struggle with despair, the destructiveness of loss, and the utter misery of loneliness.  It made me think of what Professor Sikand asked me after I finished giving my presentation last week – something like “where do you see the horror genre moving after minimalism?” Well, now I’ll say that I hope to see horror capturing the evil of reality in the way that The Babadook has.


Final Presentations

I have really enjoyed the in-class presentations so far.  I felt as though each presenter took it upon themselves to teach the class something important and specific about the film theory they are studying. Everybody had well thought-out arguments with a substantial amount of support and reasoning behind them. I believe that Maya Deren can easily be argued as an auteur along with Scorsese and DiCaprio as co-auteurs. I loved the discussion on adaptations and the different approaches to the horror genre. Because we all had a little bit of prior knowledge to the subjects, the presentations helped to solidify the arguments and theories and it was fun to see what others deemed important. Even during my presentation, I was able to learn a little bit more about my own analysis by the post-presentation discussion questions. I was asked what I felt was the most successful combination for a parody film. A parody film is a hybrid of a comedy and another genre, and because a horror is meant to scare, poking fun at it results in a much different reaction by the audience. I chose this as the most successful, and most obvious, type of parody. I was also asked if parody films are meant to leave the audience with the same message as the original film, and my answer was no. The emotions of the audience after seeing  a film tell a lot about what they will take away from it, and being scared/sad about a story is much different than laughing at it. I believe that important messages can still be presented in parodies, but these messages vary from the original films intent.

Feelings on 8 1/2

I wasn’t in class for the finish of Fellini’s 8 1/2 but just perusing through some of the posts I’m sensing that their was a great class frustration with the film and what it was attempting to accomplish.

8 1/2 is one of my favorite films and every time I see it I learn something new. However, I was wondering where people found difficulty with it as I’ve had trouble as well.

While it is certainly abstract, it is for me one of the few abstract films that 1. I can immediately relate to and 2. doesn’t feeling overwhelmingly pretentious

Fellini reportedly said, “this film is for you [the audience]”

I’m guessing a lot of  the class certainly doesn’t feel like that was apparent.