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May 10, 2004

Film Schedule Brainstorming

Here's a quick tentative schedule of my film screenings for my summer film course. I'm running into the difficulty of having only eleven weeks (rather than the normal fifteen), which allows me only one week on documentary film and one week on global/independent cinema. Of course, I'm trying to include some indie/global films elsewhere in the semester, but it's hard to juggle everything. Here's the schedule so far. Suggestions are welcome.

Week One: Distribution, The Player (1992)
Week Two: Mise-en-scene, Blonde Venus (1932)
Week Three: Cinematography, Vertigo or North by Northwest (1958 or 1959)
Week Four: Editing, Very tentatively, Bonnie and Clyde (1967)
Week Five: Sound, The Conversation or Meet Me in St. Louis (1974 or 1944)
Week Six: Narrative, Citizen Kane (1941)
Week Seven: Documentary, The Thin Blue Line (1988)
Week Eight: Genre I, Lady From Shanghai or another film noir (1947)
Week Nine: Genre II, Blade Runner (1982)
Week Ten: Global/Indie Cinema, Do the Right Thing (1989)
Week Eleven: Film Theory, Run Lola Run (1998).
I think the syllabus seems a little too heavy on contemporary films right now, but if I don't include The Conversation for sound, I'll pretty much lose "New Hollywood." I really wish that I had two weeks on documentary so that I could work in a cinema verite documentary (Harlan County, USA, for example). I'm also short on experimental films. I'd like to do Man With a Movie Camera, among others. Citizen Kane seems mandatory, and "narrative" is probably the best fit for it. I have some reservations about The Player, but I think it does the meta-Hollywood thing well, and it introduces auteurism, distribution, and exhibition issues nicely. Other suggestions, again, are welcome.

I have a few supplemental scenes that I'm already planning to use. I watched Sullivan's Travels (the film that inspired O Brother Where Art Thou) last night, and it conveys crosscutting nicely during one chase scene. His Girl Friday is perfect for overlapping dialogue, and will allow me to discuss screwball comedy during the sound week. Right now, it's a pretty conventional syllabus, so I'm trying to find alternative short films, etc, that might broaden the scope of the class beyond Hollywood.

Posted by chuck at May 10, 2004 6:03 PM

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I love how under film theory is Run Lola Run. One could also talk about music/soundtracks - it's one of my all-time favorites. His Girl Friday too... I used it to discuss the gendering of civic identity & how HGF explores the divide between morals & norms through the figure of Hildy; oartly with the outfits Hildy wears, the contradictory look and structure of the outfits, the space she takes up - with her outfits, with her motion (like when she sweeps into the office in the first part of the movie in her New Look-ish, faddy dress, after the long panning shot of the entire office, then the incredible sequence when she runs after her story in front of the prison, hitching up the very professional narrow skirt of her manly business outfit,) and with speech, of course.

I also love La Jetee - the original of Twelve Monkeys - and the way the entire movie (except for three minutes in the middle) is made up of still images.

Your course sound like so much fun. Eleven weeks... That seems like such a long time. A normal semester at my university is 12 weeks. Insanity, if you ask me.

Posted by: LiL at May 10, 2004 10:30 PM

Oh, wow! "La jetee" would actually work really well with "Run Lola Run." I'm trying to keep all screenings around 120 mins, so they would fit nicely together for that chunk of time. Thanks for the suggestion!

The soundtracks are also very interesting in both films, and they both experiment with time...

If I had a 15 week semester, I'd strongly consider using HGF. I've taught film several times, but I've never taught a screwball comedy (usually b/c the professors where I'm teaching determine the films). That office sequence in HGF is fantastic. I'll certainly show it when I teach overlapping dialogue, maybe when I teach mise-en-scene, too (for the reasons you describe). Thanks again!

Posted by: chuck at May 10, 2004 10:43 PM

I love screwball comedies. My current absolute favorites are It Happened One Night and The Women. It Happened One Night has brilliant cinematography. I wish I'd have the chance to teach a class on them someday - but for now, I guess I'll have to stick to thinking & writing about them.

Posted by: LiL at May 11, 2004 12:51 AM

"It Happened..." is also a very cool film. I haven't seen "The Women," but I'll put it on my list.

Posted by: chuck at May 11, 2004 9:06 AM

I loved "It happened..." too but I haven't seen many screwball comedies so I don't have much to compare it to.
Regarding the film/media industry, my first choices would be "All About Eve," "Network," and "Sunset Blvd." "All About Eve" would be particularly good since it would introduce students to Mankiewicz's directing and writing; and the superb acting of a slew of women --Anne Baxter, Bette Davis, Celeste Holm, Thelma Ritter, and Marilyn Monroe. Whereas with "The Player" they'll see actors they already know.

My favorite noir films are "The Sweet Smell of Success" and "Double Indemnity." The dialogue alone in "Double Indemnity" is to die for (pun absolutely intended). I've seen a lot of noirs but somehow have missed "The Lady from Shanghai."

Can you find an excuse to squeeze "Singin in the Rain" into your syllabus? Sorry, just shamelessly plugging one of my faves :)

Posted by: Chris Martin at May 11, 2004 10:41 AM

I'll probably show clips of "Network" in my class, if I can find a way to work it in. "All About Eve" would have been a great idea. I wish I'd added this entry earlier, but I tend to procrastinate. I'll certainly keep it in mind in future semesters. And it will definitely be in one of my in-class "clip-fests." Again, I need to find a way to work it in.

I thought about doing "Double Indemnity" for noir, but decided to do "Shangahi" because it's Welles' last "Hollywood" film and because it has an amazing sequence at the end using mirrors in a fun house.

My two "finalists" for musical (a genre I don't really like, to be honest) were "Singin'" and "St. Louis." I decided to go with "St. Louis" b/c it's a great film for teaching technicolor, WW II, etc. Plus, I've taught it before, so it seemed a little safer.

Posted by: chuck at May 11, 2004 11:00 AM

No MT at school, so here's a quick link to an article on "The Player" that just showed up on Metaphilm. I've linked the article underneath my name, and the URL is:


Posted by: chuck at May 11, 2004 2:21 PM

Testing the HTML for my comments section. Here's my course blog for my class this summer, Introduction to Film.

Posted by: chuck at May 13, 2004 11:11 AM


Posted by: yemyem at August 11, 2004 12:26 PM

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