Thursday, June 23, 2005

Developing My Film Course

Thanks everyone for your comments. A few explanation: 1) I decided to concentrate on contemporary films as the main texts to discuss current issues--with clips from older films to show the development of the cinematic traditions, genres and theories; 2) the films reflect my tastes and interests--there might be some better films or more relevant films, but I can't teach what I can't bear to watch; 3) thus, while I have a populist streak, I am also making statements about quality films and political issues; 4) I kept in mind the interests of my students who would be studying film for the first time--I want them to learn to appreciate and critique film--I want them to understand that it is a business--and I want them to think about the politics of representation--but I also want them to be able to engage with the texts and I do not want to chase them off before they have begun (its a 200 level course at a community/technical college)... so accessibility was a concern in choosing films and readings

This is still a work-in-progress so please feel free to make more suggestions about films and, definitely, readings (online and print). The sections are arranged alphabetically and are not structured for a course yet. In most of them the first film would be shown in the class and the students would choose one of the additional films to watch outside of class. The students will post responses to those films on a weblog and the class will then produce a body of critiques for each section.

From now on I will work with this over at the weblog Cineaste which I have set up as a Film Studies Resource site.

Thanks again to those that offered suggestions

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Auteur Theory: Two New York Directors

Do the Right Thing Directed by Spike Lee. Criterion Collection, 1989: 120 minutes.

Tasker, Yvonne. “Spike Lee.” Fifty Contemporary Filmmakers. ed. Yvonne Tasker. NY: Routledge, 2002: 235-243.

Rosenbaum, Jonathan. “Say the Right Thing.” Movies as Politics. Berkeley, Ca: University of California Press, 1997: 13-21.

LoBrutto, Vincent. “Political Objectives Through Cinematic Storytelling.” Becoming Film Literate: The Art and Craft of Motion Pictures. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2005: 114-121.

Gangs of New York. Directed by Martin Scorsese. Miramax, 2002: 167 minutes.

Larke, George S. “Martin Scorsese: Movies and Religion.” Fifty Contemporary Filmmakers. ed. Yvonne Tasker. NY: Routledge, 2002: 289-295.

Tepper, Craig. “Dickens, Griffith and the Gangs of New York: The Belatedness of a Modern Epic.” The Film Journal 12 (April 2005)


Cinematography: From the Silent Era to Digital Films

Visions of Light: The Art of Cinematography Directed by Todd McCarthy. American Film Institute, 1992: 95 minutes. {Easily one of the best films I have ever seen about making films. A history of cinematography that is gripping and beautiful—as soon as it was over, I wanted to start from the beginning again.}

Dyer, Richard. “Introduction to Film Studies.” The Oxford Guide to Film Studies. Ed. John Hill and Pamela Church Gibson. NY: Oxford University Press, 1998: 3-10. {Good place to begin in that he maps out the two main ways of looking at film technique/aesthetics and cultural/political.

Watch one (or more) of M. Night Shyamalan’s first three movies: The Sixth Sense (Disney, 1999); Unbreakable (Touchstone, 2000); Signs (Touchstone, 2002).

Totaro, Donato. “Visual Style in M. Night Shyamalan’s Fantastic Trilogy, Part 1: The Long Take.” Offscreen (November 30, 2003)

---. “Visual Style in M. Night Shyamalan’s Fantastic Trilogy, Part 2: Mise en Scène.” Offscreen (November 30, 2003)

The Art of Cinematography

Documentary: Truth is Stranger Than Fiction?

The Thin Blue Line Directed by Errol Morris. MGM, 1988: 102 minutes.

Buckland, Warren. “The Non-Fiction Film: Five Types of Documentary.” Teach Yourself Film Studies. 2nd edition. Blacklick, OH: McGraw Hill, 2003: 130-150.

American Movie Directed by Chris Smith. Columbia/Tristar, 1999: 104 minutes.

Beyond the Mat (Director’s Cut) Directed by Barry W. Blaustein. Universal Studios, 2000: 108 minutes.

Bowling For Columbine Directed by Michael Moore. MGM, 2002: 120 minutes.

Brother’s Keeper Directed Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky. New Video Group, 1992: 105 minutes.

Buena Vista Social Club Directed by Wim Wenders. Artisan, 1999: 105 minutes.

Capturing the Friedmans Directed by Andrew Jarecki. HBO, 2003:

The Celluloid Closet Directed by Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman. Columbia/Tristar, 1996: 101 minutes.

Confederacy Theory Directed by Ryan Deussing. University of California Extension Center for Media and Independent Learning, 2001: 57 minutes.

The Corporation Directed by Mark Achbar and Jennifer Abbott. Zeitgeist Video, 2004: 145 minutes.

Crumb Directed by Terry Zwigoff. Columbia/Tristar, 1995: 119 minutes.

Dark Days Directed by Marc Singer. Ryco, 2000:

Derrida Directed by Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering Kofman. Zietgeist Video, 2002: 85 minutes.

Dogtown and Z-Boys Directed by Stacy Peralta. Columbia Tristar, 2001: 91 minutes.

The Eyes of Tammy Faye Directed by Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato. Universal Studios, 2000: 80 minutes.

Fahrenheit 9/11 Directed by Michael Moore. Columbia/Tristar, 2004: 122 minutes.

Laskowski, Nicole. “Michael Moore and Fahrenheit 9/11.” Jump Cut 47 (Winter 2005)

Fast, Cheap & Out of Control Directed by Errol Morris. Columbia Tristar, 1997: 82 minutes.

The Filth and the Fury: A Sex Pistols Film Directed by Julien Temple. New Line, 2000: 103 minutes.

The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons From the Life of Robert S. McNamara Directed by Errol Morris. Columbia/Tristar, 2004: 107 minutes.

Calhoun, Laurie. “Death and Contradiction: Errol Morris’s Tragic View of Technokillers.” Jump Cut 47 (Winter 2005)

Go Tigers! Directed by Kenneth A. Carlson. New Video, 2001: 102 minutes.

Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse Directed by Eleanor Coppola. Paramount, 1991:

Hoop Dreams Directed by Steve James. Criterion Collection, 1994: 171 minutes.

Hype! Directed by Doug Pray. Republic Studios, 1996:

Independent Media in a Time of War Speech by Amy Goodman intercut with media clips. Hudson Mohawk Independent Media Center, 2003: 29 minutes.

The Kid Stays in the Picture Directed Nanette Burstein and Brett Morgen. Warner Brothers, 2002: 93 minutes.

The Laramie Project Directed by Moisés Kaufman. HBO, 2001: 96 minutes.

Lost in La Mancha Directed by Keith Fulton and Louis Pepe. New Video, 2002: 93 minutes.

Madonna: Truth or Dare Directed by Alek Keshishian. Artisan, 1991: 120 minutes.

Maya Lin: A Strong Clear Vision Directed by Freida Lee Mock. American Film Foundation, 1995: 83 minutes.

Mr. Death: The Rise and Fall of Fred A. Leuchter, Jr. Directed by Errol Morris. Universal Studios, 2000: 91 minutes.

Calhoun, Laurie. “Death and Contradiction: Errol Morris’s Tragic View of Technokillers.” Jump Cut 47 (Winter 2005)

Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch’s War on Journalism Directed by Robert Greenwald. The Disinformation Company, 2004: 114 minutes.

Paradise Lost II: Revelations Directed Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky. New Video, 2001: 146 minutes.

Opel, Andy. “Paradise Lost I & II: Documentary, Gothic and the Monster of Justice.” Jump Cut 47 (Winter 2005)

Roger and Me Directed by Michael Moore. Warner, 1989: 91 minutes.

Scratch Directed by Doug Pray. Palm Pictures, 2001:

Startup.com Directed Chris Hegedus and Jehane Noujaim. Artisan, 2001: 103 minutes.

Stranger With a Camera Directed by Elizabeth Barrett. Appalshop, 2000: 60 minutes.

The Subtext of a Yale Education Directed by Laura Dunn. Citizen Films, 1998: 31 minutes.

Super Size Me Directed by Morgan Spurlock. Hart Sharp Video, 2004: 96 minutes.

Lee, Christina. “Super Size Me.” The Film Journal #9 (July 2004):

LoBrutto, Vincent. “Birth of a Nonfiction Film Style: The Thin Blue Line.” Becoming Film Literate: The Art and Craft of Motion Pictures. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2005: 305-311.

Unconstitutional: The War On Our Civil Librties Directed by Nonny De La Peña. The Disinformation Company, 2004: 66 minutes.

The Weather Underground Directed by Bill Siegel and Sam Green II. New Video Group, 2003: 92 minutes.

When We Were Kings Directed by Leon Gast. Usa Films, 1999: 94 minutes.

Why Dogs Smile and Chimpanzee’s Cry? Directed by Carol L. Fleischer. Artisan, 2000: 100 minutes.

The Fantastic: Identity

Donnie Darko (Directors Cut: 2004) Directed by Richard Kelley II Fox Home Entertainment, 2004: 133 minutes.

Eig, Jonathan. “A Beautiful Mind(Fuck): Hollywood Structures of Identity.” Jump Cut 46 (Summer 2003)

Fight Club Directed by David Fincher. Fox Home Entertainment, 1999: 139 minutes.

Rothe-Kushel, Jethro. “Fight Club: A Ritual Cure for the Spiritual Ailment of American Masculinity.” The Film Journal (2002)

Taubin, Amy. “So Good It Hurts.” Science Fiction/Horror: A Sight and Sound Reader. ed. Kim Newman. London: British Film Institute, 2002: 103-107.

Zavodny, John. “I Am Jack’s Wasted Life: Fight Club and Personal Identity.” Movies and the Meaning of Life: Philosophers Take on Hollywood. eds. Kimberly A. Blessing and Paul J. Tudico. Chicago: Open Court, 2005: 47-60.

Jacob’s Ladder Directed by Adrian Lyne. Artisan, 1990: 116 minutes.

Memento Directed by Christopher Nolan. Columbia/Tristar, 2000: 113 minutes.

Baur, Mchael. “We All Need Mirrors To Remind Us Who We Are: Inherited Meaning and Inherited Selves in Memento.” Movies and the Meaning of Life: Philosophers Take on Hollywood. eds. Kimberly A. Blessing and Paul J. Tudico. Chicago: Open Court, 2005: 94-110.

Mulholland Drive Directed by David Lynch. Universal Studios, 2001: 147 minutes.


Gender:

Boys Don’t Cry Directed by Kimberly Peirce. Twentieth Century Fox, 1999: 116 Minutes.

Leigh, Danny. “Boy Wonder.” American Independent Cinema: A Sight and Sound Reader. ed. Jim Hiller. London: British Film Institute, 2001: 110-114.

Rich, B. Ruby. “Queer and Present Danger.” American Independent Cinema: A Sight and Sound Reader. ed. Jim Hiller. London: British Film Institute, 2001: 114-118

Hanrahan, Rebecca. “Popping It In: Gender Identity in Boys Don’t Cry.” Movies and the Meaning of Life: Philosophers Take on Hollywood. eds. Kimberly A. Blessing and Paul J. Tudico. Chicago: Open Court, 2005: 77-93.

G.I. Jane Directed by Ridley Scott. Hollywood Pictures, 1997: 125 minutes.

Williams, Linda Ruth. “Body Talk.” Action/Spectacle Cinema: A Sight and Sound Reader. ed. José Arroyo London: British Film Institute, 2000: 44-50.

But I’m a Cheerleader Directed by Jamie Babbit. Lions Gate Home Entertainment, 1999: 86 minutes.


History and Film:

Iron Jawed Angels Directed by Katjia von Garnier. Warner, 2004:

Hotel Rwanda Directed by Terry George. MGM, 2005: 122 minutes.

American Cinema: The Western (60 minute documentary)


Horror:

Jancovich, Mark. “General Introduction.” Horror: The Film Reader. ed. M. Jancovich. NY: Routledge, 2002: 1-19. {Excellent intro to horror as a genre, the history of horror genre criticism and the problems with genre criticism. Jancovich as always provides a general understanding while, at the same time, problematizing traditional assumptions.}

Russell, David J. “Monster Roundup: Reintegrating the Horror Genre.” Refiguring Film Genres: Theory and History. ed. Nick Browne. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998: 233-254. {Analysis and critique of past typologies of the horror genre, with an attempt at a more refined and inclusive system of mapping out horror genres. Good attempt that would be productive for the classroom.}

Guillory, Bradley P. “Stained Lens: Style as Cultural Signifier in Seventies Horror Films.” The Film Journal #10 (October 2004)

American Nightmare: A Celebration of Films From Hollywood’s Golden Age of Fright. Directed Adam Simon. (2004: 73 minutes) {Interesting look at five groundbreaking horror films of the 60s/70s, in particular, how they were a product of their social and political era. This documentary is not a long view history of the genre, rather it is a snapshot of a moment. The focus is on George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead, John Carpenter’s Halloween, Wes Craven’s Last House on the Left, Tobe Hooper’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre and David Cronenberg’s Shivers.}

Candyman Directed by Bernard Rose. Columbia-Tristar, 1992: 98 minutes.

Frailty Directed by Bill Paxton. Lions Gate Home Entertainment, 2002: 99 minutes.

Event Horizon Directed by Paul W.S. Anderson. Paramount, 1997: 97 minutes.

In the Mouth of Madness Directed by John Carpenter. New Line Home Entertainment, 1995: 95 minutes.

Lord of Illusions Directed by Clive Barker. MGM, 1995: 121 minutes.

Se7en Directed by David Fincher. New Line, 1995: 127 minutes.

LoBrutto, Vincent. “Defining Theme, Metaphor, and Character Through Color, Texture and Environmental Design: Se7en.” Becoming Film Literate: The Art and Craft of Motion Pictures. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2005: 280-285.


Independent Film: Dialogue/Language

Rausch, Andrew J. “A Shark, a Jedi Knight, and the Modern Blockbuster.” Turning Points in Film History. NY: Citadel Press, 2004: 199-210.

Shaw, Richard. “Are the U.S.A.’s Independent Films a Distinct National Cinema?” The Film Journal #6 (2002)

Schizopolis Directed by Steven Soderbergh. Criterion Collection, 1997: 96 minutes.

Slacker Directed by Richard Linklater. Criterion Collection, 1991: 97 minutes.

Miller’s Crossing Directed by the Coen Brothers. Twentieth Century Fox, 1990: 115 minutes.

Coughlin, Paul. “Language Aesthetics in Three Films by Joel and Ethan Coen.” The Film Journal 12 (April 2005)

Clerks Directed by Kevin Smith. Miramax, 1994: 92 minutes.


Military Film:

Three Kings Directed David O. Russell. Warner, 1999: 115 minutes.

Kataeff, Lila. “Three Kings: Neocolonial Arab Representation.” Jump Cut 46 (Summer 2003)

Apocalypse Now: Redux Directed by Francis Ford Coppola. Paramount, 1979/2001: 202 minutes.

LoBrutto, Vincent. “Tableau Narrative Structure and Sound Design.” Becoming Film Literate: The Art and Craft of Motion Pictures. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2005: 14-19.

Rosenbaum, Jonathan. “Vietnam, The Theme Park.” Movies as Politics. Berkeley, Ca: University of California Press, 1997: 134-139.

The Thin Red Line Directed by Terence Malick. Twentieth Century Fox, 1999: 170 minutes.

Saving Private Ryan Directed by Steven Spielberg. Dreamworks, 1999: 169 minutes.

Born on the Fourth of July Directed by Oliver Stone. Universal Studios, 1989: 145 minutes.

Platoon Directed by Oliver Stone. MGM, 1986: 120 minutes.

Full Metal Jacket Directed by Stanley Kubrick. Warner Studios, 1987: 117 minutes.

Philosophy and Film: Movies and the Meaning of Life

I Heart Huckabees Directed by David O. Russell. Twentieth Century Fox, 2004: 107 minutes.

Garrett, Daniel. “David Owen Russell’s I Heart Huckabees.” Offscreen 9.1 (January 31, 2005)

American Beauty Directed by Sam Mendes. Universal Studios, 1999: 122 minutes.

Hole, George T. “American Beauty: Look Closer.” Movies and the Meaning of Life: Philosophers Take on Hollywood. eds. Kimberly A. Blessing and Paul J. Tudico. Chicago: Open Court, 2005: 153-168.

Contact Directed by Roger Zemeckis. Warner Studios, 1997: 150 minutes.

Keith, Heather and Steve Fesmire. “Our Place in the Cosmos: Faith and Belief in Contact.” Movies and the Meaning of Life: Philosophers Take on Hollywood. eds. Kimberly A. Blessing and Paul J. Tudico. Chicago: Open Court, 2005: 17-31.

Science Fiction:

Blade Runner (Director’s Cut) Directed by Ridley Scott. Warner Brothers, 1982/1993: 117 minutes.

LoBrutto, Vincent. “Production Design: Blade Runner.” Becoming Film Literate: The Art and Craft of Motion Pictures. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2005: 39-45.

The Matrix Directed by the Wachowski Brothers. Warner, 1999: 136 minutes.

Solaris Directed by Steven Soderbergh. Twentieth Century Fox, 2002: 99 minutes.

Starship Troopers Directed by Paul Verhoeven. Columbia Tristar, 1997: 130 minutes.

O’Hehir, Andrew. “Starship Troopers (Review)” Action/Spectacle Cinema: A Sight and Sound Reader. ed. José Arroyo London: British Film Institute, 2000: 254-256.

Social Realism: Class

Ginsberg, Terri, Chuck Kleinhans and Dennis Broe. “Bibliography on Class in Film and Media Studies.” Jump Cut 47 (Winter 2005)

Slam Directed by Marv Levin. Vidmark/Trimark, 1998: 103 minutes.

Gosford Park Directed by Robert Altman. Universal Studios, 2001: 138 minutes.

Matewan Directed by John Sayles. Lions Gate, 1987:


Teen Films: The Sites of Youth

Foxfire Directed by Annette Haywood-Carter. Columbia-Tristar Studios, 1996: 102 minutes.

Boyz N the Hood Directed by John Singleton. Columbia-Tristar, 1991: 112 minutes.

Diawara, Manthia. “Black American Cinema: The New Realism.” Film and Theory. ed. Robert Stam and Toby Miller. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2000: 236-256.

Dazed and Confused Directed by Richard Linklater. Universal Studios, 1993: 103 minutes.

Naploean Dynamite Directed by Jared Hess. Twentieth Century Fox, 2004: 89 minutes.

Writer: Charlie Kaufman

Being John Malkovich Directed by Spike Jonze. Universal Studios, 1999: 113 minutes.

Human Nature Directed by Mike Gondry. New Line Home Entertainment, 2001: 96 minutes.

Adaptation Directed by Spike Jonze. Columbia-Tristar, 2003: 115 minutes.

Confessions of a Dangerous Mind Directed by George Clooney. Miramax, 2003: 114 minutes.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind Directed by Mike Gondry. Universal Studios, 2004: 108 minutes.

Mount, John. “How To Get a Head in Movies: Interview of Spike Jonze and Charlie Kaufman.” American Independent Cinema: A Sight and Sound Reader. ed. Jim Hiller. London: British Film Institute, 2001: 190-192.

Romney, Jonathan. “Being John Malkovich (Review).” American Independent Cinema: A Sight and Sound Reader. ed. Jim Hiller. London: British Film Institute, 2001: 192-194.

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7 comments:

Susannity! (Susanne) said...

not Event Horizon aaaaah! Terrible movie. Only time i've ever seen a movie in the theater and regretted it and immediately went to see another movie so I could wipe that one from memory. I don't know anyone who liked it.

Thivai Abhor said...

I liked it! Its not high art, but damn if it doesn't scare the shit out of people... Melissa hates it too, but she has a phobia about the eyes and that movie plays with that fear. I found that it caused me to think about a lot of things and I wonder why people hate it so much? (well only three people now that I know of, but each of them were very forceful in their hate!)

et alia said...

Gosford Park but not Rules of the Game? Say it ain't so!

Please, at least show them the hunting scene from Rules of the Game. Betcha some of the kidz will freak from watching Thumper get killed up close and person again and again and again....

“Was it as good for you as it was for me?”

Thivai Abhor said...

et alia,

Rules of the Game blew me away when I watched it on a big screen in a French Film class over a decade ago. Unfortunately I have set the parameters of exploring the politics of contemporary American cinema (last twenty years--including movies that have been rereleased as different versions in the theater, thus the inclusion of Apocalypse Now and Blade Runner).

I have placed the film in my Netflix queue and will watch it again as it is somewhat hazy in my overloaded data banks... and will keep it in mind for the clips in that section.

Thanks!

Thivai Abhor said...

Susanne,

Is there a horror movie you would recommend?

oso said...

But seriously. How do you do it? I need three lifetimes to get through what you get through. I'm about to finally check out Citizen Kane for the first time ... talk about a film virgin. Anyway, looking forward to leaning more from the new film blog.

Thivai Abhor said...

Well this summer, while waiting for my new tenure-track professor position to start, I have been very broke and that has hampered my desire to travel and experience the world...

thus, cheap entertainment has been checking out movies from the local libraries, the national library Film Connection, and from my netflix account.

Also I've had a few (OK, maybe more than a few ;) more years of viewing time. I don't think I saw Citizen Kane until I was a cultural studies student at Bowling Green State University (about 30 years old), so you are probably ahead of me there?

I'm planning on the film blog turning into a writing site for me, friends and students to share film thoughts/perspectives... it should really take off in the fall.