Thursday, June 16, 2005

Query: Seeking Opinions About Film

(I'm developing a film course and thinking about possible movies to be used in the course--here are some themes for classes and films I'm thinking about--I would appreciate any comments, suggestions or complaints--feel free to suggest films, new themes, or critical works. Its an introductory film course and I'm going to shape the course around lectures/clips about classics and showings of contemporary examples. What I want to do is give a sense of the development of cinema, its essential function as a profit-making venture, how it reflects social concerns and the basic ways of analysing the art of filmmaking. A third of the course would be about technique/art/business of filmmaking, a third about the genres of film, and third about the historical/social/political power of film. Any suggestion is appreciated, I've already incorporated some suggestions from my last query--thanks to those that responded.)


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.}


But I Am Cheerleader
Four Weddings and a Funeral
Groundhog’s Day
Office Space

Crime (Gangster):

City of God
Gangs of New York
The Godfather
Miller’s Crossing


The Coen Brothers Films
I Heart Huckabees

Digital Film and Special Effects:

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Jurassic Park
Sin City


Control Room
The Corporation
Dark Days
Independent Media in a Time of War
Laramie Project
Metallica: Some Kind of Monster
Super Size Me
The Thin Blue Line
Weather Underground


Being John Malkovich
Fight Club
King Arthur


Night of the Living Dead
Silence of the Lambs

Military Film:

Apocalypse Now
Blackhawk Down
Three Kings

Narrative Structure:

Pulp Fiction
Royal Tennenbaums
Run Lola Run

Science Fiction:

2001: A Space Odyssey
Starship Troopers

Social Realism:

Boys Don’t Cry
Boyz N the Hood
Do the Right Thing
Iron Jawed Angels
Monsoon Wedding
Norma Rae

Teen (High School):

Breakfast Club
Dazed and Confused
Over the Edge


American Cinema: The Western
Ballad of Little Jo
Dead Man


Anonymous said...

Blood Simple (Coen Bros), definitely for the dialogue - as in, what's left out. (Also this is my fave film for a lot of things.)

But, docos - how about Aileen Wournos (Broomfield), both the first and second docos.

Michael Benton said...


I'm planning on re-watching some of Coen Bros. to figure out which one will be the best choice. I'll start off with Blood Simple, but I'm also thinking about Miller's Crossing and Big Lebowski which have some great examples of dialogue.

I've never seen Aileen Wournos, but since you mention it I'll take a look at it.

The documentary choice will be one of the hardest sections as they contain some of my favorite films.

The Continental Op said...

Under "Dialogue", you absolutely must include "His Girl Friday".

Bill said...

Having trouble thinking of others, but I'd throw these on the list:

Military: Some kind of propaganda film, WWII style. Nothing in particular. Maybe something by John Ford.

Since you've listed 'Apoc Now,' I've always enjoyed foiling that with 'The Green Berets.' The latter is an atrocious film, but it illustrates nicely the collapse of the John Wayneish narrative of the 40s and 50s, particularly when juxtaposed with Coppola's take on 'Nam.

Narrative Structure: 'Adaptation'

Crime/Gangster: 'Scarface'

Documentary: How bout Mock-umentary? 'This Is Spinal Tap,' of course.

Not sure of what precise format you'll take with the class or if you already recognize this, but you probably should cover early classics like 'Birth of a Nation', 'Metropolis', 'Citizen Kane', et al. in some way, even if you just talk about what they're notable for and perhaps show some clips.

My suggestion, that's all. :)

Good luck with getting this together.

Kamran and Tori said...

Totally agree with His Girl Friday. Under crime, you should show Orson Welles's "A Touch of Evil." Try to show the version that was re-edited according to his notes. It is the genre definer.

Plus I think William Wyler's film "The Best Years of Our Lives" is a shockingly good war film.

If your goal is to show the business of Hollywood, why aren't you showing 2 of the most financially successful documentary films: Hoop Dreams and Paris is Burning?

You might also want to include a beach party movie or an Elvis film or Help! or Hard Days Night (2 excellent movies) in the teen film genre.

Kamran and Tori said...

Oooo... and since Bill mentioned John Wayne, The Searchers is a brilliant and dark, dark Western starring John Wayne.

et alia said...

My $0.02 (since the Euro is down):

Billy Wilder's One, Two, Three. It might take a bit of explaining to young 'uns who can't remember the Cold War. OTOH, if you get over that hurdle, there's probably a lot to discuss about the context and transmission of capitalist ideology. And it's funny as hell, and has Jimmy Cagney's last performance before his retirement.
The Rules of the Game

I'm loudly seconding et's suggestion of the restored Touch of Evil. Racial identity as crime? Say it ain't so, Captain Quinlan!

The Sweet Smell of Success
Both created their own faux-slang. In the case of Heathers, that faux-slang ended up becoming real slang.
Sullivan's Travels

Special Effects
Citizen Kane
Nope, not joking. Absolutely not.

A beginning, and an end with the middle chopped up all over it.
Three Women

Social Realism
I am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang

Susannity said...

great list so far! my suggestions:
Digital/Spec Effects
1. 2001 Space Odyssey - I saw it under sci fi, but one of the things this movie was hailed for was the spec effects/capture of space in 1968 vs what was usually depicted.
2. Star Wars - ditto as it was 1977. Lucas first showed (I believe) overhead entry of an object (like spaceships) vs side/forward entry.
Fantasy - why is fight club in there? and why isn't LotR? =)
Horror - Alien! spec effect too
Military - I think both Platoon and Full Metal Jacket displayed aspects and lifestyle of military life and combat very realistically. The palpable fear the soldier feels as he hides behind a barrier or save his compatriot is amazing in FMJ.
Social Realism - I would add American History X and Silkwood. Silkwood well discusses the relationship between a corporation and an employee, touches on the nuclear age, and was an early movie to have a lesbian central char.

Susannity said...

I also wanted to mention a great documentary, but not sure if I would say it's worthy of the list, but definitely worthy of watching sometime if you haven't done so yet.

Origin of AIDS
Startling in its thesis, compelling in its argument and chilling in its measured presentation, this award-winning documentary by Peter Chappell and Catherine Peix delves into the possible origins of AIDS in the jungles of Zaire (formerly the Belgian Congo). Investigating a theory detailed in journalist Edward Hooper's controversial book The River, THE ORIGINS OF AIDS looks into the possibility that the deadliest disease known to mankind came as a result of a risky, mass inoculation of an experimental polio vaccine during the late 1950s.