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Babyteeth and the Subversion of Terminally Ill Tropes

Almost everyone is familiar with the coming of age genre in which a teen is diagnosed with a terminal illness. From the popular adaptation of John Green’s A Fault In Our Stars, to more recent additions such as 5 Feet Apart, this type of film is normally associated with its ability to provoke tears rather than to impart the cinematic experience. Unlike its predecessors however, Babyteeth is simultaneously both moving and cinematic. It is not a movie about death, but rather the pursuit of life.

By avoiding the cliches of its genre, Babyteeth is ultimately able to impact a greater audience. Rather than portray its protagonist as a victim, Milla (Eliza Scanlen) becomes the film’s hero and is able to retain the dignity that her illness threatens. With the film in mind, examine the way that illness is conceived and thought of in today’s society. What shift in thinking has contributed to this change? In your opinion, what is the best way to present terminal illnesses in film?

  • A thing that grinds my gears would be the representation of mental illness, specifically, as something that either provides a limitation or a superpower... because plot. Often depictions are oversimplification of a person's experience or comically inaccurate. A bipolar charming-but-secret-murderer or autistic savant hacker with trouble speaking are some stereotypes. Another issue is when it feels like a checkbox has been crossed out. One egregious example would be in "The Predator" a while back where the main character's son is depicted as a school child that feels compelled to put back a chess set that has been knocked over into its original mid-game position, but then in the next scene is bullied after some kids pull a fire alarm that begins making loud noises. Main character's-kid-with-autism balls their hands and rocks back and forth to deal with the stimulation... of course later in the movie the kid is able to understand the Predator technology and language and is literally called a pinnacle of human evolution to be harvested for his DNA. This is lazy and uninspired writing at the expense of those with the mental condition being misrepresented, courtesy the media industry. – DancingKomodos 4 weeks ago
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Historical Accuracy, Costumes, and the Oscars

In this day and age, historical accuracy is more important than ever. At least, to some people. When "Little Women" won the Oscar for Best Costume Design in 2019, a few people were unimpressed, given the inaccuracies of the costume design compared to what people would have worn at the time.
This article would look at various films in Oscar history that won or were nominated for Best Costume Design with some modifications made to period clothing that raised a few eyebrows. These could be to send a powerful message (see Emma Watson’s corset-less dresses in "Beauty and the Beast") or to make a fashion statement (Elizabeth Taylor’s wardrobe in "Cleopatra"). The films can implement changes for the better or for worse, so long as they are slightly different from the outfits they’re based off.
Some sources that the author might want to look at are Bernadette Banner and Karolina Zebrowska, YouTubers who not only know their fashion history, but also try out fashion items, critique films, and debunk myths. Of course, other sources besides YouTube can be used.

  • Another source to consider is the TV series, Outlander, which prizes itself on historically accurate costume (there are many resources about this online and YouTube with interviews from cast members who comment on how their costume impacted their abilities) – telltaletalovic 2 months ago
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Why have apocalypse-style films and TV shows become so mainstream in recent years?

The idea of an apocalypse has existed in history for hundreds of years, but why in recent times has the idea of an apocalypse become to mainstream? Whether it’s zombies, nukes, or anything in between, these stories have taken a deep root in our modern culture. Is it because we feel detached from our primal survivalist selves? Take for example the show The Walking Dead. The show is a massive success, second only to Game Of Thrones during its run time. Apart from the amazing writing and impeccable acting performances, there is a certain allure to the idea of a group of at-first strangers growing into a family through trials and tribulations and lots of zombie guts. It is also interesting to see how these stories are received in different cultures around the world. For example I know that in many parts of Asia, there is a massive love for all things zombie. Why do you think this is?

  • Good topic! I think apocalypse-style media is cathartic. People consume it as a way to reassure themselves that what they see can't really happen for one reason or another, or that if it did, they would survive. Sometimes people consume this media and plan what they would do in certain situations. There's also an element of dark humor, as in, if we laugh at the poor decisions we think characters are making, the apocalypse won't seem so threatening and potentially realistic. – Stephanie M. 3 months ago
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Taken by SSartor (PM) 1 month ago.
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The Marvel Trajectory: Cinematic Potential or a Downward Spiral?

In light of the relatively recent comments on Marvel films made by the likes of Scorsese and Coppola, does the superhero film have a place as an artistic work? Is it a modern reiteration of older genres of filmmaking (the Western, the gangster film, etc.) replete with popular cultural furnishings? Or, as the New Hollywood filmmakers suggest, does Marvel’s cinematic universe mark a downward spiral in quality for the cinema of America (and likely the world at large)?

  • The most important part of writing on this topic is establishing what is a "good" and "bad" film. While Scorsese and Coppola are considered great film maker's, their opinion on films at times are subjective. And while they've have been praised throughout the years, we have to acknowledge that they have bias on what they believe is "good" and "bad". Most people will simply let their comments go without actually questioning them, because they've established themselves as an authority on film through their successful career. But by that same metric we could say people Micheal Bay and Seth Rogen are great film makers, as they have had successful films. Meaning simply finding someone in film that believe superhero movies are "good" would be enough to counter the opposing opinion. What makes a quality film can vary from person to person. Good example of this is many people felt Star War's the last Jedi was a good movie. Though when you look at critical and fan opinion the feeling were split. So, I would recommend using your early paragraphs to establish how you will be measuring a films quality and then apply that to modern Superhero films and the films that Coppola and Scorsese believe are "good". I find this topic really interesting, albeit a difficult one to discuss. This is mainly because people use personal enjoyment to decide if a film is "good" or "bad" when that is entirely subjective and can vary from person to person, as how we may react to an experience can vary greatly. My last bit of advice is there are people out there who get pleasure from pain "masochist". And people who can enjoy eating shit. Pleasure is always subject to the individual. It is the same when discussing the quality of a film. – Blackcat130 3 months ago
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  • As with any form of media, trends come and go. The initiation of the MCU encouraged a lot of failed imitations of the "cinematic universe formula" (see universal's Dark Universe, the DCEU, and the limping corpse of Sony's Spider-Man universe). However, I would argue that such criticisms from Scorsese etc are indicative of the wider blockbuster "genre", the commodification of individual films into franchises owned by huge conglomerates, and the frequency with which blockbuster films are now produced. As Warner Bros, Universal, and especially Disney continue to churn out more and more productions, it's almost inevitable that the quality will begin to decline. We're now looking at several tv series and 3 or 4 MCU movies per year, as opposed to waiting three years between each Star Wars film, as it was in the 70s. The commodification of franchise cinema has a lot to answer for, and the MCU's consistency in terms of quality can likely be attributed to the singular vision of Feige, so at least everything is consistent. The lack of this same vision is the same reason that the new Star Wars films have felt so dissonant from one another and have been suitably lambasted. So yes, I think a case could be made for the MCU signalling the end of "quality" blockbusters, but less mainstream art pictures, smaller studio productions, and independent films will likely remain unaffected. However, the precedents set by the MCU have bled into other blockbuster franchises who all want the same financial returns; so I'd argue for blockbuster cinema their concerns are valid. – NathanialEker 3 months ago
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Scientific accuracies in Sci-fi movies

Christopher Nolan’s Tenet (2020) is said to employ many physics theories. Compared with historical drama films, sci-fi movies tend to receive less attention on accuracy – critics and viewers alike often note historical inaccuracies in Braveheart (1995) or Gladiator (2000), but much less so do we discuss scientific inaccuracies. We all know movies to a certain extent are worlds of make-believe, but why such difference? Is it because history and most films are narratives but scientific concepts and theories are not?

  • I think scientific inaccuracies have been discussed in YouTube videos. I think that a simple examination of scientific inaccuracies in science fiction movies would suffice. If anyone had one particular one in mind, that’s fine too. – J.D. Jankowski 4 months ago
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  • I agree that scientific in/accuracies are discussed over YouTube videos, but my question is why is there a bigger general disregard than accuracies in historical dramas. – KM 4 months ago
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  • Interesting topic. I would wager that it has a lot to do with history being significantly more accessible to laymen than the hard sciences typically are. Anyone who's done as little "research" as skimming William Wallace's Wikipedia page can boast a relatively firm grasp on the inaccuracies plaguing Braveheart, but the same can rarely be said about doing minimal research on quantum mechanics to know if/where Tenet errs. In light of the average spectator's inability to recognize scientific inaccuracies, they'd likely have an easier time taking the film's claims at face value. Neil deGrasse Tyson owes much of his early reputation as a public intellectual to some series of tweets he made about the inaccuracies in various science fiction films; it's noteworthy that the one-two punch of his scientific credentials paired with the easily consumable quips (in 280 characters or less) made the flaws comprehensible enough for a largely scientifically illiterate general audience to suddenly feel intellectually superior to Hollywood screenwriters. – ProtoCanon 4 months ago
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  • Great topic, but I have to quibble with the idea that science doesn't rely on narrative. I'm pretty sure it does, in fact. Natural selection and global warming seem to me like good examples of scientifically-grounded narrative. Scientists can complete small, controlled experiments or analyze big data for years, but in the end their findings -- if those findings are to have any larger significance -- have to be related through narrative and ultimately woven into the much larger narrative of what we call "science." – JamesBKelley 4 months ago
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Future Ways of Filmmaking

The film industry is always changing and innovating the essence of storytelling.

For example, "Malcolm & Marie" is one of the latest Netflix films to be released. Focusing on only two characters, as the title suggests, has a vastly unique way to present how it is not like most films that are released for millions to see in these current times. The almost two-hour film explores the character’s emotional complications within the intensity and fragility of a very passionate relationship. Between the woes of their pain, pasts, insecurities and the powerful love they have for each other, the film being a back and forth conversation highlights the lack of communication about their real emotions. Whether these emotions are justified or not, this noir film does provide drastically distant perspectives of their relationship and who they are not only as an individual, but as a couple. This conversation centres around a range of topics. An example of the "distant perspectives" is when Malcolm passionately challenges how the filmmaking industry seeks validation from millions of people that try to generalise the reasoning of every little detail in films, specifically the one he made. Malcolm suggests through this comment that like the film industry, Marie seeks validation from him constantly as her way to give a concrete confirmation that she is appreciated and loved by the man that supposedly saved her life multiple times, as he suggests in their chaotic debate-like talk.

The question of whether Malcolm and Marie are ultimately compatible with each other will be continuously debated. However, I want to address if Netflix and the filmmaking industry will make more films in this matter. The concept of turning films where one of the goals is to convince the audience of a fictionalised world being humanly possible and appealing into films where the characters have a conversation driving the story doesn’t sound strongly convincing. Let me put it into perspective with one of the most instantaneous grabs of relevance of shows of all time, "13 Reasons Why". Imagine the show condensed into a movie with Clay and Hannah as the two main characters having a conversation where she reveals the whole truth, even the truth that she wants to kill herself instead of having 4 seasons of a show that first begun with tapes to find. The potential for this hypothetical film has a higher ceiling than the show in its entirety. Does it not?

  • Given how skittish the cinematographic (and most artistic industries in general) are about risk in terms of these kind of things, my bet would be that you don’t see much in the way of film-making form innovations unless you have someone already well-established. – J.D. Jankowski 3 months ago
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Get Out (2017)'s Grand Conspiracy

In Jordan Peele’s psychological thriller, wealthy, homogenous individuals congregate to buy and possess other humans. Motives vary, between desire to live past one’s own ‘natural’ lifespan, to replacing physical function that one has lost. The hosts relinquish control of their body, retaining limited consciousness as they become slaves to whoever won the bid.
This concept feels far-fetched, but is it plausible? The movie presents this ‘new’ form of slavery directly, as all hosts shown in the movie are Black, whereas all known possessors are White. The master-slave duality is certainly present, with White characters navigating delicately (and awkwardly) around unpossessed Black characters; however, what current systems are in place to enable this conspiracy?
Does this movie accurately display the race relations in America by enabling this new-age slavery to exist? How does it comment on current forms of slavery in America, such as the prison-industrial complex? I’d argue that this movie could easily take place in other countries, such as Canada, by substituting Black characters with First Nations–Canada’s got a brutal current and historical reputation with the treatment of First Nations.
Nonetheless, is it plausible for groups of elite, wealthy, aging individuals to meet at an undisclosed location to auction a living body to possess? Disregarding the scientific plausibility, what might compel such a conspiracy to form and crystalize? Could this film be metaphorically commenting on the appropriation of Black culture and art by White-owned corporations? How so? Is this conspiracy already in motion, present in a form that treats culture as hosts, and elites as slaveowners?

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    Peter Weyland is Responsible for Everything in the Alien Franchise's Universe

    Upon rewatching "Alien Covenant" for the third time recently, the discovery of just how deep the influence of Peter Weyland and his company, Weyland Yutani, have drastically impacted the known universe which the Alien films take place came into full view.
    Weyland funded the mission to discover the engineers in "Prometheus," he created David, the self aware and free-willed Android that is ultimately responsible for creating what we know as the xenomorph, his company is responsible for discovering them on LV-426, for returning there to capture them and use them as bioweapons, his company returns in the next film to take Ripley in order to extract the queen inside of her, and even Alien Resurrection" could be tangentially tied to Weyland’s company as who else in this future hellscape of interplanetary discovery would have the resources to fund studies into cloning and making a xenomorph queen/human hybrid?
    The article I propose is taking a deep dive into how Weyland was far more integral to the creation and manipulation of ever single person and android connected to the Alien films (we’re going to disregard AVP as those two films break cannon) like a spider knows everything that occurs within its web. Weyland had the resources and capability to look out into the known universe/galaxy and see how interconnected everything is and how he could control events even past the death of his physical body (spoiler alert, I think he also created an AI that is himself that continued to manipulate everything still even beyond his death). I would like to conclude on the theory of what the next film would then have to accomplish in order to complete the new trilogy and tie all six canonical films together.