Monday, April 29, 2013

Blog Assignment 5

Your last blog assignment asks you to compare and contrast two recent movies from Brazil: Cidade de Deus and Quanto Vale: Ou E Por Quilo?  These movies seem to share several thematic concerns: the representation of poverty and social marginalization, the representation of violence as an everyday phenomenon, corruption within the police force and the government, and the representation of the favela as a culturally important space within urban society.  Nonetheless, it seems that there are also important differences between these two films, both in terms of the way that these themes are represented and in terms of the overall message.  In this last post, comment on what you notice about the relationships between these two films.  How might they speak to each other? 

350 words or so.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Blog assignment 4

This posting is about the representation of history.  In the past two weeks, we have screened 3 films (Boys Don't Cry, The Thin Blue Line, When the Levees Broke) that use the documentary (or docu-drama) form to deal with a historical event.  Choose one of the films and read it in terms of the political intervention that the film attempts to make.   What is the political message of the film, and how does it mobilize various techniques (interviews, historical footage, media footage, documentary evidence, fictionalized reconstruction) to make it's case?  Why do the filmmakers choose to represent this specific event?  And what political, cultural, or social impact did this film have?

You may wish to do some outside research on the history you are describing, or on the reception and impact of the film  (using an internet search is fine for this.)  If you find something interesting, feel free to embed a link in your post so that your classmates can see it as well.

350-500 words, and as always, make your post by commenting on my post.


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The second blog post is on the politics of film.  In the forward of Augusto Boal's book Theatre of the Oppressed, he puts forth the following thesis: "This book attempts to show that all theatre (film) is necessarily political, because all the activities of man are political and theatre (film) is one of them."

In light of Boal's statement, do a reading of one of the films that we have viewed in class (Modern Times, M, or Caligari... not Fargo.)  Explain how this film can be thought of in a political context: what ideas about political relationships can you read into the film?

Below are some questions that you may want to consider, which can serve as starting points.  You do not need to specifically address all of them in your response.  Respond to the issues that you find interesting, ignore the others.

- What political context does this film exist in?
- How does the film respond to this context on the level of narrative?  Is there a political aspect to the structure of the story, the relationships between characters, or other thematic elements of the plot?
- How does the film respond on the level of form?  Can we read a political message in elements such as lighting, camera angles, costumes, set design, or other elements of mise en scène?
- Does film allow us to approach politics in a different way from other forms of art (like novels or TV shows) or from other kinds of information (like newspapers or political debates)?
- Do you agree with Boal's claim that all film is political, or do you think that the primary function of the film is, in fact, apolitical?
- Are there any class readings or discussions that support your response?  How?

(350 words is about right)

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Hello, this is the management.  For your first post, I am going to ask you to consider how mise-en-scène is used to create meaning in the Cohn Brothers 1996 film Fargo.  Choose an element of Fargo's mise-en-scène (costuming, setting, staging, color, or any other elements that Phillips discusses in Chapter 1 of our textbook) and discuss how it contributes to the meaning of the film as a whole.  What is the film's message (or what is a message in the film) and how does mise-en-scène convey this idea?  Please respond by using the comment button to reply to this post.


Monday, January 21, 2013

Welcome to the conversation.

This blog will be a forum to continue our conversations outside of the classroom, in this virtual space.  I (aka Brendan, aka The Management) will meet you here several times over the course of the semester with a topic, question, or idea.  Your assignment will be to contribute to this conversation by using the "comments" tool to respond to my post, as well as the posts of your classmates.  Please remember that the blog is a public forum, and that your writing will be visible both to your classmates and to the internet community at large.  This means that all your posts should follow the University of Minnesota code of conduct - and I reserve the right to remove posts which do not.  Further instructions for writing will follow soon.