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Sci-Fi without spaceships

The title is a simplification, but one of the things that defines sci-fi is gaving science as a frame for the possibilities of the world. There are many classical sci-fi topics such as space exploration and time travel, for instance. I am interested in thinking about sci-fi on a very small scale. I can’t really think of many examples from the top of my head. "Melancholia" and "The Piano Tuner of Earthquakes" would be examples where the sci-fi elements dwell in the background. Any thoughts?

  • Could you kindly correct the typo "gaving?" – Munjeera 4 weeks ago
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  • Interesting. You might delve into the original Twilight Zone series (you can find it on Netflix) for examples. Several episodes deal with spaceships, aliens, and/or space exploration, but just as many do not. Personally, the ones that do not are some of my favorites, partly because the "usual" sci-fi elements aren't used. – Stephanie M. 4 weeks ago
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The Quiet Man and Domestic Abuse

The Quiet Man (1952, starring John Wayne, Maureen O’Hara, and Ward Bond) won the Academy Award for Best Director (John Ford) and Best Cinematography. The Library of Congress selected the movie in 2013 to be included in the United States National Film Registry.

The basic theme is boy moves back to Ireland, boy meets girl, boy meets girl’s brother, boy fights girl’s brother and, in the end, everyone is happy and friends for life. It is an enjoyable movie that presents Ireland in a quaint way, although the film is filled with stereotypes of the Irish.

The issue is that there are some uncomfortable moments throughout the film that raise the issue of domestic abuse and present it in ways that somehow they can be glossed over as simply entertaining and appropriate in their settings. At one point Wayne (Sean Thornton) pulls O’Hara (Mary Kate Danaher) off a train and drags her (as his wife) five miles to her brother’s farm, where Wayne throws her back at her brother and tells him to keep her. During the lead up to this scene, a woman in the crowd that has been following Wayne drag O’Hara from the train to the brother’s farm, anticipating the fight that will culminate in the film’s big scene, steps forward to give Thornton a tree branch and the woman says, “Here’s good stick.” The point is he can use it on his wife.
The COVID-19 pandemic has contributed to an increase in domestic abuse, with one Irish mental health authority saying it has reached “epidemic levels.” Ireland may not necessarily have a more heightened level of abuse than other countries. In addition, the issue of domestic abuse predates the pandemic. But, in focusing on Ireland, on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women in November 2019, a study placed the number of Irish women who suffered at the hands of domestic abuse at 23,000—so before the pandemic.

Someone agreeing to write on this topic can address films, such as The Quiet Man, and how they may have glossed over domestic abuse and what changes have taken place since this film’s release in 1952. In addition, the impact of films and domestic abuse should be addressed. Did, for example, The Quiet Man, provide a way to rationalize domestic abuse which allowed it to be “swept under the rug” and be treated on a lesser level than other crimes?

    Taken by John Wilson (PM) 4 weeks ago.
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    B-Movie Actors and Movies: Where do We Draw the Line?

    Defining a B movie is not necessarily easy to do. Generally, a B movie is considered a low-budget production. There have been certain movie studios that were associated with the production of B movies, Monogram and Republic Pictures among them. B movies might be training platforms for directors who subsequently moved to more well-known works (Edward Dmytryk) or actors who moved on (John Wayne, Humphrey Bogart). The term associated with more modern-day B movies is direct-to-video, which is an indication a film is not good enough for theatrical release. Direct-to-video has, in some ways, replaced films that were shown only at drive-in theaters in an earlier era.

    Bruce Campbell ("The Adventures of Brisco County Jr.," and "Evil Dead") wrote "If Chins Could Kill: Confessions of a B Actor." There is a site titled "bmovies," where one can get their fill of B movies (interestingly "Hillbilly Elergy" is listed along with "Sky Sharks"). One Internet site lists "The 100 1 Best ‘B Movies’ of All Time." Another site lists "1000 Cult B-Horror Movies." Where is the line between B actors, actresses, and movies and whatever is not in that category? "Plan 9 from Outer Space," "Attack of the Killer Tomatoes," or "Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead," might be easily considered as B movies and never in contention for an academy award, but how do we categorize these movies and who acts in them?

    Someone agreeing to write on this topic should address: 1) What characteristics distinguish B movies (and those acting in them) from whatever is on the other side; 2) What changes have taken place in B movies since there are movies as far back as the 1930s, and even earlier, that can be categorized as B movies, and 3) How might B movies be understood regarding their impact on both Hollywood and American culture.

    • This enhances my conceptualization of B movies. Great job – AmeerShash 1 month ago
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    Who should be the focus of the next biopic?

    A biographical film, or biopic, attempts to document the life of a real person or organization on film. Some examples of famous biopics include Schindler’s List (for Oskar Schindler), A Beautiful Mind (for John Nash) and Selma (for the American civil rights movement, including Martin Luther King, Jr). Who are some examples of people, living or dead, that would make good biopic material? What is it about them that suits the biopic format? If a biopic were to be made of them, what details would need to be included?

    • I think is inevitable that there will be many Barack Obama biopics made in the future. Some film have already began to portray him over the past 5 years or so and with his publishing output (new book selling tremendously well) I think he will be featured in a host of biopic projects. – Sean Gadus 2 months ago
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    • I think that this could be quite interesting. I think an angle that is important for this would be perhaps exploring when criteria is needed in order to determine the subject of a biopic! – RheaRG 2 months ago
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    • My choice would be someone like Jadav Payeng, an Indian man who has spent the last 30 years plus planting a forest in what was once a barren tract of land. His single-handed, selfless work has created a new ecosystem and yet few have ever heard of him. – Amyus 2 months ago
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    • I would advise that it be an under appreciated figure that nonetheless made large historical contributions in his time. – J.D. Jankowski 2 months ago
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    • Bass Reeves would be an excellent choice as a subject for a biopic. He was a lawman in the Old West who possessed unfailing honesty, a deep sense of justice, and dogged determination to get the bad guy. He once even served a murder warrant on his own son. He was one of the few black lawmen serving in the Wild West, and earned near universal respect among his peers. Many historians believe he is the inspiration for the legendary fictional character The Lone Ranger. – NatDog55 2 months ago
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    • I agree with J.D. I see the future of biopics not in 'famous' people who led incredible lives, but 'average' people who greatly affected history. In our age of information it's rather easy to find info on famous people and we are constantly bombarded with celebrity culture. Perhaps we'll turn to the aforementioned biopics as an escape from this aspect of media. – Landon 1 month ago
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    • I think a good subject for a biopic would be a figure that has been erased from our history books yet whose life would serve to represent those who are marginalized still today. Figures from queer history would be very important to see, as well as women who were not respected in their eras. The most famous biopics that you have listed are films that feature men, and while they are excellent biopics, I know there have to be queer/female figures from the past who equally as deserving of the big screen. For example, Madame Lulu White, who rose to riches as a brothel madame in the early 1900s, would be an incredibly fascinating figure to explore in terms of her controversy, eccentricity, and rarity. – aspentaylor 6 days ago
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    Music video films

    When music videos were introduced, they were merely another form of consuming songs. Music is capable of telling a story just as a film can, and both media involve time (a linear progression from beginning to end) as central to their stories. Artists like Daft Punk and Fall Out Boy, however, have demonstrated the coalescence of music and video to an extreme conclusion. Songs do not have to follow a specific concept or recurring cast of characters-like a concept album would-but the two groups’ music videos demonstrate the power to have all the songs on an album tell a story. Those self-contained story parts within music videos can then be released as a single feature-length film.

    Analyse the function of the music video as a storytelling medium, using Daft Punk’s ‘Interstella 5555’ (based on the album ‘Discovery’) and Fall Out Boy’s ‘The Youngblood Chronicles’ (based on ‘Save Rock and Roll’), along with any other examples of films constructed from individual music videos you might be able to think of.

    • You could also look at Kpop videos like 1NB's "Stalker," where the song doesn't even start until halfway through the video. – OkaNaimo0819 2 months ago
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    Nuns in Horror Movies

    Nuns appear as antagonists in many horror films, from The Nun to The Conjuring 2. What’s the fascination with them? What are the possible connotations/themes? Horror-themed TV series (e.g. American Horror Story) and video games with nuns can also be discussed, but the focus should be primarily on films.

    • I am not sure how helpful this will be, but in Matthew Lewis’ The Monk (an eighteenth century horror gothic novel), there is a horror figure known as the ‘Bleeding Nun’. She was basically a symbol for female sexual transgression. I think the idea relates to the nun being an allegedly ‘pure’ or ‘innocent’ woman. Thus, it’s ‘scary’ (or, for societies in the past who were afraid of giving women power, it was scary) to see a nun that is not pure or innocent. – Samantha Leersen 3 months ago
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    • I do agree with Samantha Leersen to some extent, since the nun is considered to be a manifestation of the Loving Mother archetype which when subverted gives us the Chaotic Mother who is embodied in many of the subversive feminine tropes. However, the subversion of the Great Father is the Tyrant Father whose embodiment inspires hatred as opposed to fear (like the Archdeacon in The Hunchback of Notre Dame). I can think of the Church in AOT etc. – RedFlame2000 3 months ago
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    • i think the sense of horror comes from a nun, typically associated with purity and innocence, doing out-of-character things. you could explore that. – BLOOPINBLOOPZ 2 months ago
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    Do Culturally Sensitive Notices at the Beginning of Certain Movies Matter?

    In June 2020, HBO removed Gone With The Wind (1939) from its films available to be shown. A spokesman stated, “[The film was] a product of its time and depicts some of the ethnic and racial prejudices that have, unfortunately, been commonplace in American society." Two weeks after it was removed, HBO brought it back with two video clips that address the stereotypes of slaves depicted in the film and how the film downplays the horrors of slavery.

    On the Disney network, the movie, Mr. Magoo (1997) contains a statement, before the movie begins that partially states, “This program includes negative depictions and/or mistreatment of people or cultures.” Do these videos or statements matter and in what ways?

    The Birth of a Nation (1915), a silent film originally called The Clansman, depicts the Ku Klux Klan in heroic ways. The film is available for sale on Amazon but not found online easily if at all. Somewhere there seems to be a line that can and cannot be crossed. A warning label allows one film to be shown online but is not sufficient for another.
    Addressing culturally insensitive and disturbing issues in movies from previous eras will, no doubt, be an ongoing issue for years to come. Someone choosing to write this essay can address these issues and even might speculate about if or which current films might need warning labels and why. It may be difficult to be completely free of grievance by some group that feels a film has offended them in some way. Is cultural sensitivity in films a goal that can be completely achieved? Several questions and issues are raised in this proposed topic and an essay can address them.

    • I personally have mixed feelings about the warning labels and removal of films. As a black man, I'm used to seeing racist depictions of people of color. And I don't believe removing these movies fixes the situation. I believe having an actual discusion about what is being shown is far more important than censoring. Censoring doesn't change the fact that the people who made these movies or see nothing wrong with them still hold these ideas.While adding the caption at the begining of the movies does help (Toon heads a cartoon anthology series on did something similar in the late 1990's for early merry melodies cartoons) I still think more should be done. It's a very difficult conversation to be had, as where the line should be drawn is difficult to determine.More recently, people have been critcizing Quinton Tarrintino for some of his more questionable decisions on how he depicts race in films. People Like Samuel L. Jackson have defend him, but that doesn't mean Tarritino hasn't made a mistake in his depiction.But I think this is a good topic for who ever wants to write on it. Believe looking into director's intent is the key to determing what should be done with certain films as films like The Birth of a Nation were often used to recruit members into the KKK. Not only that but they actively demonized black men and women. Simultaneously, other filmmakers like Tarrintino despite being accused of racism often sought to depict racism and social divide realisticly or mock it. How succesful he was is up for debate. – Blackcat130 3 months ago
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    • Warner Bros. disclaimer (I'm not sure which films they apply to) states that they have chosen to continue showing the films, despite their outdated depictions, because they believe simply not showing the films would be to pretend the prejudice never happened. So in some way, cultural sensitivity warnings can serve as a tool of accountability for the filmmaker, to acknowledge they have made offensive content in the past. This could potentially form an interesting point of discussion. – Samantha Leersen 3 months ago
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    • Its quite the difficult question. On the one hand movies are products of the historical process and the prejudices reflected in the movies are often present even in contemporary society, but on the other I feel that movies like The Birth of A Nation and The Triumph of the Will have aesthetic value. That being said, anything other than censorship is preferable as a method of engaging with these issues. – Sathyajith Shaji Manthanth 2 months ago
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    Explore the emotional responses within the film American History X

    American History X can be considered to be shocking on many levels, as visually and psychologically it deals with issues and themes that cover a variety of emotional responses to shock such as:

    Visceral – shock created through disturbing imagery (gore, body trauma).

    Sexual – sexually disturbing actions that are seen as taboo (rape, rawness).

    Ideological – messages and ideas that are not socially accepted and go against mainstream values.

    Emotional – Shock that is unexpected and evokes a powerful emotional response.

    Explore one of these themes that explores an emotional response.