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5

What do we do with beloved older films like Carousel that are pretty problematic by today's standards?

Seems like a significant amount of older films that are historically important/culturally significant have some serious problems in the context of today. For example, Carousel perpetuates the idea that domestic abuse is normal and okay. How are these films useful to us now– can we look back on them and appreciate them for what they are/were, or is that problematic? How should we talk about these films now?

  • I can see the deliema. The Disney classics were sexist and racist, yet people love them to the point that they will remake them but with out the racism and sexism parts. but I feel like they should be celebrated as a way to see how much society have progressed – Amelia Arrows 2 weeks ago
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  • What is important is that viewers and critics such as ourselves be ready and willing to acknowledge and criticize these problematic parts of media. This practice is common in the literary discipline, where pretty much all works admitted into the canon are problematic in some way shape or form, but I feel as though popular culture does not have this practice applied to it. There is a tendency now a days, especially among the younger generations, to reject all media that has any sort overtly problematic element to it. This results in people being unable to discuss positive aspects of problematic media and we as both critics and consumers miss out on a lot of well crafted media or are driven to feel guilty for enjoying it. I would even argue that problematic media is more important to be viewed and discusses, so long as there is an understanding and criticism of the problematic elements, as it allows us to be able to observe our culture in all aspects, not just the positive ones. – IvanBlue 2 weeks ago
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5

Beloved Villains: The Line Between Love to Hate and Just Love

Many villains are fan favourites, some are sassy geniuses, some are sexy temptations, some have tragic backstories and a point of view you understand, some a pure unrelenting evil. A good antagonist can be the highlight, the draw point, of a book, show or movie. But where does loving a bad guy in their role as a wicked character and source of suffering become genuine love and desire by the audience?

As fandom culture becomes more widespread and relevant in social media, it’s easier than ever to see peoples opinions. And it’s easier than ever to development entitled feelings to media when you can communicate with the creators over the same platforms we reveal our inner thoughts.

So when does love for villains become an issue, a detriment to the enjoyment of the content? When a viewer forgets the character is a bad guy and is devastated when treated as such? When a casual fan posts a tweet about how horrid the character is and gets bombarded with hate?

Think Joe Goldberg from You or Kylo Ren from Star Wars, add whomever you think fits into these categories, and discuss how people’s opinions and entitlement have gotten out of hand.

  • In terms of fans who treat the villains as if they're actually the "good guys" in some sense, I feel as though it's important to draw a distinction between ignoring the villain's faults and liking the villain BECAUSE of those faults. For instance, I've seen fanfic where authors ignored everything about how horrible the villains were and treated them as if they were secretly huge softies all along, and then I've also seen fanfic that made the villain do the same terrible things he always does, while framing it as positive and expecting the audience to root for him anyway. It seems like there's two different mentalities there. – Debs 2 weeks ago
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6

The Art of the Unreliable Narrator in Joker

One of the important and rather interesting aspects of Joker is Arthur’s position of an unreliable narrator. He invents an entire relationship with a female character in the film, which makes the question of his paternity that arises later even more interesting, with questions around whether his mother did the same, based on the reaction from the Waynes when he attempts to investigate.

Arthur’s lack of reliability also seems to suit the typical murky origins of the Joker character, as having appeared out of nowhere and not really having a clear "origin" compared to the other characters in the DC universe.

Explore the use of unreliable narration in the film. How does it contribute to the film’s overall message? If there weren’t these same questions in the film, how would the film have changed?

Feel free to draw on other examples of unreliable narrators in film or fiction, or on other depictions of the Joker for examining this.

  • This is an excellent topic. Also could look at a film like American Psycho with Christian Bale as another example of a unreliable narrator. – Sean Gadus 3 weeks ago
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  • It could extend even further, you could look at other works based on this like memento, shutter Island, fight club, mr robot. Plus it could also be a discussion about how the audience will side with the character they've spent the most time with despite their actual actions. As an example, despite Walter white's actions the audience still roots for him to win. – Shinji15 3 weeks ago
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  • Something to be cautious of or to jump into is especially his mental illness. Some believe that the Joker is a terrible portrayal of those with mental illness, that it’s too extreme. Is there a way to think about how this unreliable narration could be a source of that? That maybe Arthur views himself as worse than he is? The portrayal of himself is very fascinating. – lizzietheck 3 weeks ago
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  • Agreed with Sean... EXCELLENT TOPIC!! It may be helpful to reference characters like the narrator from Fight Club, Amy from Gone Girl, and Leonard from Momento... These are the three most unreliable narratives I can think of throughout any film that I've ever seen. Hope this helps!! – carly 2 weeks ago
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  • The best instances of unreliable narrator I've seen show up in the works of Caitlin Kiernan. Both the author and many of her characters have schizophrenia, and so in any given story it's often virtually impossible to tell whether something's really happening to a character or whether they're just imagining it. – Debs 2 weeks ago
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5

In Defense of the Absurd in comedy

The early forms of comedy in mass entertainment (vaudeville, the Marx Brothers, the Three Stooges) were unapologetically absurd. They embraced silliness. We see that tradition in more modern British comedy (Monty Python, Peter Cook and Dudley Moore). And yet, American comedy seems to suffer from an unwillingness to be silly, as if silliness is somehow beneath us. There are notable exceptions of course (The Simpsons, Steve Martin’s early standup), but, by and large, we seem to be mired in a bog of socially relevant comedy, or rigidly responsible satire. Where’s the silliness? Is comedy allowed to be funny for funny’s sake? And here, I’m referring mostly to film and sitcoms, not to stand up comedians who are as varied in their style as they have always been.

  • This would be a good topic for one to explore the evolution of comedy in the US; how we went from vaudeville & Marx to more contemporary comedic styles. From there, one could argue whether the decline of absurd comedy is just a sign of the times, or a result of something else. – majorlariviere 1 month ago
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  • I would be interested to discover if the rise of the United States and the decline of the British Empire as respective world powers had anything to do with a more collective trend toward silliness in comedy. Perhaps it’s a potential thesis, mere speculation or something else. – J.D. Jankowski 4 weeks ago
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Locked

Sound and Silence in Sofia Coppola's Lost in Translation

Sound (or lack thereof) plays an important role in Lost in Translation. From the opening moments with Bob Harris (Bill Murray) filming a commercial in Japanese to the jazz singer in the bar to the culmination of the film with the muted exchange between Bob Harris and Charlotte (Scarlett Johhansson). Analyze the various ways in which sound and silence function in the film.

  • This would likely require at least 5 scene-by-scene analysis to prove significance. You could also check screenwriting patterns and indicate whether sound and silence specifically navigate through the plot points. – hazalse 1 month ago
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Taken by hazalse (PM) 1 month ago.
5

Is the Disney-fication of popular culture *really* a bad thing?

Particularly following their purchase of 20th Century Fox and their gallery of successful IP, Disney now stand to own the primary market share of global box office. Many critics are decrying the ‘Disney-fication’ of culture as the death of diversity, a crushing blow to independent production, and the continuation of a soulless future of endless sequels and franchises.

Is this, however, a fair approximation? Are Disney simply representing what audiences have sought since the birth of the blockbuster in the mid-1970’s and the arrival of the high concept in the 1980’s? Is the jewel in their crown, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, not simply the ultimate expression of audiences’ desire for cinema to be the ultimate escapist entertainment? Are Disney destroying originality or simply reconfiguring the way we engage with culture and media?

  • This is a great topic. I run into many people who think that Disney is trying to monopolize the market, but I don't think it's an evil agenda. I think Disney, like all corporations and businesses, are trying to do their job and make money. If purchasing 20th Century Fox will help them do that then that's what they're going to do. Disney has been creating entertainment for years and they are in some ways the standard for entertainment. Finally, if you really think Disney is destroying film and is a terrible corporation, stop seeing their movies. If you really believe that's a problem, you are contributing to that problem by watching their movies and buying their merchandise. – OliviaS 6 months ago
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  • This would be very interesting to explore. There's definitely something to be said about one company producing the majority of the content released in cinema, which has the side effect of controlling what we're exposed to, would could be harmful under the wrong studio heads. Yet, it could lead to the production of amazing films, as seen in some of their latest releases. What will the future of cinema look like? – BelletheBrave 3 weeks ago
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  • You could look at given historic eras of Disney history to see if there is a difference of quality. – J.D. Jankowski 2 weeks ago
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3

The value of prequel development

Prequels are often seen as cash-ins that don’t add much to the original text. For example, even Solo’s fans tend to admit that the movie wasn’t particularly necessary: it does not add much to the themes, ideas, or lore of Star Wars. But other prequels have offered deeper insight (or counterpoints) to the original text. For instance, Rise of the Planet of the Apes was used to deepen the apocalyptic themes of the main text.

So: what makes a valuable prequel? If a prequel isn’t adding anything to the original, then should it be "re-skinned"?

  • I think there are a lot of really good and really important prequels especially in the superhero genre. X-Men is a really good example. Also I think its important to add spinoffs of tv shows that are meant to be prequels because I think you can see a strong difference in a film that is a prequel and a series that is a prequel. – tingittens 1 month ago
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  • "Re-skinning" a prequel is a waste of time and money, especially if we keep getting stuck in a rut (with some sequels I can mention). I think a good prequel gives enough information without being stuffed while staying faithful to the original. Peter Jackson's The Hobbit series would be a good example of how that did NOT happen (at least in the second film). – OkaNaimo0819 1 month ago
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  • A prequel can be useful in the case of Captain Marvel where it introduce a new character to a series. Or it can give a character a back story which is what they are doing with Black Widow, but It is useless to tell the back story when she is dead. I think there can be a good prequel but it must be written well – Amelia Arrows 2 weeks ago
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  • As with sequels, adding substantive depth in a way that develops the plot and is stylistically pleasing is vital. It’s pretty much like writing a new story, but with a pre-made narrative to work with and to accommodate. – J.D. Jankowski 2 weeks ago
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8

Motion Capture and the "Uncanny Valley"

Since its technological and artistic breakthrough in the character of Gollum from Lord of the Rings, filmmakers have experimented with the possibilities and limits of the technology, with varying success. From single characters (like King Kong) to whole races and worlds (like Avatar and several Robert Zemekis films), motion capture elicits anything from wonder in the face of its breathtaking realism, to criticisms that overuse of the technology dumps the audience smack dab in the center of "Uncanny Valley." Why does motion capture draw from critics and audiences such polarizing responses? What films use the technology wisely, and which overuse it to the extent of alienating its audience? Look at both the original instances, like Gollum, and more recent instances, such as Alita in Alita: Battle Angel, and analyse how the different instances work and how they avoid or encapsulate "Uncanny Valley" in their films and characters.

  • I wonder if this is an issue with veracity, a sense of truth in what we're seeing. One of the most unerring examples I remember was 2001's Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, a film with such weirdly photo-realistic animation it made little sense that real actors were not simply used. It's different with physical creatures or aliens, or say Caesar in the Planet of the Apes trilogy, as they can benefit from strong motion capture, but humans? I suspect it feels like a blurred line. – A J. Black 7 months ago
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  • Interesting topic. It would be topical to tie it into the upcoming "Cats" adaptation. I suggest you check out Patrick Willems' recent YouTube video essay on the topic: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b1nQoWnFBSw&t=1264s – Matt Hampton 6 months ago
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  • I think it's important to define a "wise" use of technology. How much is too much? Is it possible to draw a line applicable to all films or do we have to take it on a case by case basis? We rush to embrace technology for all of its spectacle and newness, but do how often do filmmakers ask themselves, "Is this really necessary?" I'm of the opinion (for what it's worth) that technology should be used as sparingly as possible. As an audience member, too much technology overwhelms me and creates an emotional distance from the narrative. – fspinelli 1 month ago
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