Archive | December, 2012

The Hours Response

12 Dec

The Hours

The story centers around three women of vastly different backgrounds and times who share the common thread of depression. The movie skillfully weaves together the humanity and trials of womanhood while highlighting the social constructs of their eras.  The first character, Virginia Woolf, suffers excruciating headaches while writing her novel, Mrs. Dalloway.  The movie opens with her suicide attempt.  Decades later, Laura Brown, suffering from depression and a fear of motherhood, finds solace within the pages of that same novel.  In modern times, lesbian publisher Clarissa Vaughn finds herself at a crossroads as she prepares a celebration for a friend suffering from AIDS.  Despite the time and distance that holds these women apart, the novel fiercely holds them and their suffering together.  Although all three wrestle with the issue of suicide, it is the catalyst, Virginia Woolf, who is successful in ending her life, while perhaps providing solace to the others in their struggles.

 

Is The Hours a feminist or an anti-feminist film?

One could argue that this film was both a feminist and an anti-feminist film.  All three women felt constrained by societal norms and the pressures of womanhood, albeit in different ways.  Woolf’s husband, in consideration of his wife’s mental health, insisted that the couple not have children.  When faced with others’ children, Woolf found herself lacking as a woman, perhaps feeling that motherhood was a rite of passage for all women.  This is a fairly anti-feminist view of women as child-bearers.  Laura, conversely, wrestles with the idea that she may not be cut out for motherhood.  She questions her own abilities.  She takes a more feminist view, although her pregnancy is an ever-present reminder of her station in life.  Clarissa Vaughn presents a different perspective of the adult mother and an alternative lifestyle outside of the confines of a traditional marriage.  For her, feminism seems to drive her choices but it is anti-feminism that tears her heart in her own experience as a mother.

Advertisements

Inception Response

12 Dec

Inception

This movie questions the morality of mind control during sleep.  The main character Cobb, played by Leonardo DiCaprio is tasked with entering people’s dreams to attain information.  The rules change when he is asked to plant an idea within another’s dream, not simply report on his findings.  This idea of “inception” has not been legalized and has no government or medical oversight.  It is dangerous because it makes people question reality and lose control over their innermost thoughts.  Additionally, it presents risks for those entering others’ dreams.  The question of reality is a thread that follows throughout this movie including the suicide of Cobb’s wife who believed she was dreaming.  As Cobb accepts a mission to plant an idea in the mind of a rival energy company, he realizes that inception is inherently flawed and works to find a true reality.

How does Inception resemble a video game? How is it different?

The movie resembles a video game in that the physics and architecture of the dream can be manipulated and created.  Additionally, once inside the dream, the adventurer is on a “do-or-die” mission with the subconscious subjects who pursue them.  Like video games, inception is addictive to players.  The adventurer must find a key piece of information much like in a video game where the player needs to find hidden items.  Once in the game, the player enters a new reality separate from their own life.  Unlike in games, within the movie Inception, these reality lines blur.  The reality within the game can be extracted into real life as valuable information. 

I’m Not There Response

12 Dec

I’m Not There

This movie presents six distinct characterizations of Bob Dylan at different times in his life.  Instead of following one character, it suggests that at different times in our lives, we can seem completely foreign to the person that preceded us and the person we will become.  Like Across the Universe, this movie is set to the music of a single musical act.  However, in this movie, the musician is also the subject.  Each character portraying Dylan emerges from a crossroads, embodying one of Dylan’s distinct characteristics. The many stages of Bob Dylan’s personal and professional life emerge from the piece giving perspective to his multifaceted personality.

 

How does the film I’m Not There show the postmodern idea that identity is fluid and socially constructed? How does the director Todd Haynes show that sexual and gender identity are fluid and socially constructed?

 

The very notion that one person can be portrayed through the use of six distinct characters, each representing a trait or time certainly enhances the feeling of a fluid identity.  When surrounded with different social influences, Dylan sees himself as a completely separate person from who he was before or will be after.  He defines himself through this social lens or construct.  Even race is not a barrier to the characters used, suggesting that Dylan’s identity can be seen even across racial divides.  Additionally, the women in this movie seem to drive the male characters, not simply succumb to the traditional “woman-sufferer” role.

Intolerable Cruelty Response

12 Dec

Intolerable Cruelty

The movie follows the attempts of divorce lawyer, Miles Massey, to win the affections of gold-digging Marilyn Rexroth.  Clooney’s portrayal of Massey is endearing as is Catherine Zeta-Jones as his love interest.  As a representative of her current, extremely wealthy husband in their divorce, Massey prevents Marilyn from milking her husband’s wallet in the divorce.  He hopes that she will turn to him as a new source of support once penniless.  However, in the end, the gold digger prevails and marries another man of extreme wealth leaving Massey out in the cold.

Is Intolerable Cruelty a satire of divorce American style or rather a satire of the marriage industry?

This movie can be seen both ways; however, it is more of a satire of the marriage industry.  Both characters represent the opposite side of the spectrum.  Massey is an attorney dedicated to helping tycoons keep their money whereas Marilyn is a gold digger intent on milking those same tycoons.  What audiences might miss in a traditional romance is the “love conquers all” ideal that everyone will live happily ever after.  In this case, the movie provides a satirical view of the marriage industry where love is last on the list of priorities and money rules the day.

42nd Street Response

12 Dec

42nd Street

                 A depression-era movie, 42nd Street tells the story of a young girl, Peggy, fresh from a small town arriving in New York hoping for her big break.  Peggy meets the director, Julian Marsh, who offers her an audition.   When the principal actress is injured, Peggy assumes the leading role.  This musical presents both perspectives of the story.  It is a typical musical showing what an audience traditionally sees.  At the same time, it chronicles backstage life and the struggles of show business.  All of this occurs against the backdrop of a love story which, as expected, ends well with a “happily ever after” feel.

 

How is 42nd Street realistic? How does it compare to other musicals you might have seen? And do you prefer realistic musicals or more fantastic, escapist musicals? Why? (There are no wrong answers).

 

Certainly, the backstage version of 42nd Street is realistic because it shows the hard work and less-than-glamorous aspects of making a musical.  The façade of the main house and ticket stubs is presented as just that – unreal.  This movie was considered “cutting edge” for its time because of the change in perspective.  One of the innovative techniques used by filmmakers includes a flexible, moving camera.  Musicals prior to this had been shot in a single frame and appeared much like a live show.  Additionally, the movement between the front and back of the house give this movie both a realist and escapist aspect.  Sometimes audiences want a little bit of an escape to combat the realism of life.

Across the Universe Response

12 Dec

 Across the Universe

                The movie begins with Jude played by Jim Sturgess in 1960’s England leaving for America to find his father.  He arrives thinking his father will be a professor at Princeton but is dismayed to find that he is the janitor there.  Additionally his father has a new family and seems disinterested in pursuing a relationship with Jude.  Jude bumps into Max, a free spirit who is failing out of school.  The two become friends and Max brings him home for a family holiday where he introduces Jude to his sister, Lucy, played by Evan Rachel Wood.  Even though both of them are technically in other relationships, the two flirt with each other from a distance.  Lucy’s boyfriend is in Vietnam and Jude’s girlfriend is in Britain.  When Lucy’s boyfriend dies, she is drawn to Jude for support.  Lucy, Max, and Jude go to New York for the summer.  While they are in New York, they experience the culture of the time including drugs, music and anti-war protests.  To Lucy’s horror, Max is drafted.  This triggers changes for Lucy who becomes an anti-war activist.  At the end of the movie, Max is injured and returns home.  After a brief deportation period, Jude reunites with Max and eventually Lucy.

Write about how drugs are represented in Across the Universe.

Drugs are represented in Across the Universe through the use of astounding imagery.  While they do not actually show the characters engaging in drug use, it can be assumed that they are under the influence of hallucinogenic drugs.  This is suggested by the psychedelic images that surround them.  An excellent example of this is the musical piece, “Because” which includes spiraling camera techniques and a “rippling” sky.  The characters are positioned in a circular pattern in the grass, seemingly strung out.  Additionally, the famous underwater scene of “the kiss” includes even more bizarre images of nudity and weightlessness.

Dead Man Response

12 Dec

Dead Man

                The story revolves around William Blake who travels west for a new employment opportunity.  The job does not pan out and he finds himself caught in a love triangle with a prostitute and her ex-boyfriend.  Although Blake is the only surviving member of the triangle, he is mortally wounded with a bullet lodged close to his heart.  Throughout the movie, Blake is dying a slow death – his days are numbered.  A bounty is placed on his head for the slayings and he retreats to the wilderness with Nobody, a Native American.  Nobody believes Blake to be the reincarnation of the late poet, William Blake.  The two embark on a journey west to save Blake’s soul.  Along the way, they kill several people and Blake experiences a vision quest. In the end, Blake dies with little fanfare shortly after witnessing Nobody’s murder.

What story does Dead Man tell about manifest destiny and the “civilizing” of the American West?

                Manifest Destiny refers to the belief that the uncharted lands of the American West were subject to white expansion, regardless of the native persons that resided there.  This patriotic notion that all land should naturally belong to whites and the struggle it creates forms the basis of this film.  Whites believed they were taming the west, but instead of civilizing the area, they merely changed who lived there.  They seized the land, killing whoever lived there.  One might argue that this was not civilizing the west at all, just taking control and in many respects making the land far less civilized than it had been before.  Iggy Pop discussed transitions of power in his most famous scene from the movie when he references Emperor Nero of Ancient Rome and his exploits against the Christians.  Was this civilization or greed?