Since the last day of major directors class last semester I have had notes in my phone about blog posts I wanted to make and things I wanted to write about but I never got around to it. The first thing that has made me want to write a post in so long is the Stephen King adaptation, IT.
I had awaited the film with great anticipation just from remembering that I knew what the movie was as a child and that Annette O’Toole had a role. That and Tim Curry. I went to go see the 2017 version with two friends and it surpassed my expectations immensely. Not only was I freaked out, but I also felt so many other emotions throughout the whole film that I realized how great the story and writing was for the movie.
Even in the opening scene, right off the bat, I paid close attention to the characterization sound editing. The crinkling of the paper as Billy made the boat for Georgie. The music playing throughout this scene really sets the tone for the scene to follow. I fell in love with all of the kids and the actors who played them, as well. I laughed every time Richie (Finn Wolfhard) opened his mouth. My heart broke for Ben. Eddie knows more about infections than I do. Billy was so brave and just a fearless leader. I am still in awe of the amount of wit that these characters have to dazzle us with and how they became these completely multi-faceted people.
I was so excited for my family to see it and to talk about it with them and one by one they handed the phone off to me to tell me their complaints. I was annoyed, having explained the artistic value of each one of their complaints, but I guess that is a consequence of art. Not all art can be explained to someone who doesn’t see something the way you do. Obviously with Stephen King saying that this adaptation is one of his favorites of his works means a lot because art is only as valid as the artist says it is. The credibility for this movie as being done well and evoking what it was supposed to evoke is established simply by Stephen King enjoying the portrayal of his worldview.
Anyway, I loved the movie and can’t wait for part 2.
I initially took this class because it sounded interesting and I love film, so this was a win/win. I never could have imagined how much I would come to love and adore this class. I am the type of person that loves knowledge about a wide variety of topics. I have always been this way specifically about film. As a kid, my family and I would watch movies over and over and memorize quotes or funny parts or actions and act them out. Some of our family dinners would consist of us just quoting movies back and forth and laughing hysterically. I am also the type of person that has IMDB on my phone and I get a rush from recognizing an actor or homage and figuring out who or what it is from. That being said, I never paid much attention to directors. Until this class I had heard a few names and seen a couple movies, but was not able to actively conversate about auteurs. That is different now. I feel like I know these four major directors that we have learned about and I have come to love them (most of them)
for their style and technique.
Anyone who knows me knows that I have a problem keeping my mouth shut. I ramble on and on about certain topics or little tidbits of information. It gets even worse when I’m at the bar and I’ve had a couple drinks. Since this class, I deadass am the crazy girl at the bar, rattling off about Scorsese and Tarantino and everything they have done for film. My friends have even learned a lot from what I have learned in this class, simply because I cannot shut up about it. I have a newfound love for directors and their styles and I actually have a much better idea about what a director does and how much he or she puts him or herself into the movie. Whether it be cameos, stylistic points, wiring, or any combination of these.
Stanley Kubrick was the first director that we studied and I had not seen a single film that he had made. Now I have seen some amazing films like Dr. Strangelove that I still talk about months later. When we studied Martin Scorsese, I took it upon myself to make a list of all of his movies that I wanted to watch. Same with Tarantino and I actually plan on making it through his entire list. Now that we are on Spike Lee, I have taken a but of a turn. I do not like his style. I do not like his subject matter. I do not like how overt he is in his films. His style is so 90s (and hey that’ coming back-retro) but I just can’t get behind it. Not to say I haven’t been able to learn about and appreciate everything he puts into his movies, they just are not my cup of tea. This class has made it so that I can appreciate a style for its artistic quality though, and not necessarily enjoy it, but respect it.
I thank this class from the bottom of my heart for feeding into everything I love about film and for giving me that push to keep on learning because there is so much more to learn. I think this class will always be one of my favorite classes I’ve ever taken, and definitely my favorite film class I’ve ever taken. Farewell Major Directors. You have added another pupil to your list of admirers.
I have been racking my brain all week trying to figure out what to write about in relation to Quentin Tarantino. The man is an absolute genius and I couldn’t decide on a topic that would do him justice. I then realized that having too much to say is not a problem, and the only thing about this blog post that is difficult for me is that I’m typing it one-handed because I have an ice cream cone in the other.
The first movie we watched, Reservoir Dogs, had me hooked on this guy from day one. This was not the first movie I had seen by him. Pulp Fiction took my Tarantino Virginity last year, but it was just as good as everyone hyped it up to be. My brother had been harping me for years to watch it and I was like “Josh, what even is that? A movie about a reservoir full of dogs? Because that sounds amazing.” And as soon as he told me “No, Sam” with his snotty eye roll that he has, I lost interest. I am grateful to this class that we had to watch it because I will be thinking about it forever now.
Then we watched Kill Bill. I went into class sooooooo excited because this was another film that I had seen and heard people talking about for years, but never got around to watching. When I told my roommate we were watching it, she had the same thought about it that I did. She didn’t know anything about it other than the cover of the box and how it reminded us of Blockbuster (rip). Watching it, I was completely enthralled. As soon as it ended I had to stop myself from yelling out “Alright play the second one!”. So I went home and watched the second one before bed. Two absolutely beautiful movies with amazing choreography and scores. I have to say, these might be some of the best and most entertaining movies I have ever seen. And they reek of feminism, so take that misogyny!
Finally, we watched Inglorious Basterds. I have to say I had high expectations for this one and I was a little let down. The movie was great and I guess I can’t feel like every single movie I watch is the best thing ever because then where does the credibility go? So I enjoyed it, but was left a little disappointed. BJ Novak was great, but the whole time I kept thinking ‘Ryan started the fire!’ like he needed to get back to his temp job at the office. The movie was filled with iconic scenes, but my favorite by far was when the Americans were trying to be Italian. It really fed into the idea that us arrogant Americans can’t be bothered to learn other languages because we’re too busy kicking ass.
I have to say, I can’t wait to finish seeing all of Tarantino’s movies. I plan on filling in all the blanks of the ones I haven’t seen very soon, as soon as I can keep my head above water with school. He is my favorite writer and director right now and I have been preaching about him to anyone who will listen for the past month. It’s been a good month.
Martin Scorsese is an excellent directer, there is no disputing this. His directing is not all that he is known for, however. His cameos are just as famous as his directorial jobs. In class we watched some of the other fun things he has done like directing a Michael Jackson music video and it was always cool to see him starring in various roles like the crazy guy in the taxi in Taxi Driver. We failed to mention his greatest and most iconic (in my opinion) performance though! He made a cameo in the One Direction movie This Is Us and it should absolutely be discussed.
Lets talk about this movie for a second. A true gift to the world of film, This Is Us follows the life and stardom of boyband One Direction starring Harry Styles, Zayn Malik, Liam Payne, Niall Horan, and Louis Tomlinson. It starts by explaining how they got famous, what their everyday lives look like while on tour, and how their lives have changed before they got famous. The movie then goes on to feature many other stars talking about how much they love the band (because let’s face it: One Direction stole the hearts of an entire generation) like Chris Rock and Simon Cowell. Among these people gushing about the band is the one and only Martin Scorsese. He comes in backstage and talks to the members, explaining how his kids got him into the music and how he “has heard their stuff and likes it”. If One Direction was not the number one band in the world, they were after being endorsed by one of the greatest directors of our time. How did we not discuss this in class? It’s honestly a travesty.
Scorsese directed hit after hit. From his early gangster works like Goodfellas and Mean Streets to the romantic ballad movie Age of Innocence to his more recent kid-friendly movie Hugo, I think it’s fair to say he stays killin’ the game. His cameos are fun Easter eggs that true movie fans can look for and find like little kids scrounging the backyard for those little plastic eggs filled with all kinds of chocolatey goodness. He also steals the show just being himself and accepting awards with humor and charisma. It is apparent though that by being a One Direction fan and having his likeness in their smash hit of a movie that he truly seals his fate as a director and person of the ages.
I am not ashamed to say that before watching this movie, I had heard the name but had never seen his likeness or any of his films before. His role in the movie was my first taste of the refreshing drink that is Martin Scorsese. Let me tell you that sip led me to this class where I got to guzzle down the refreshing violence and directorial drink that we all have learned so much about. Pretty sure they should name a drink after him like Arnold Palmer or Jack Daniels. I say farewell to Scorsese with a heavy heart, but am so excited to move onto Quentin Tarantino because Scorsese is cool, but it’s hard to beat the dialogue and plot timings that Tarantino is so famous for.
Martin Scorsese’s film Age of Innocence is one that goes against the grain of everything else that he has made. Instead of the macho-ness of the mafia, it focuses on the macho-ness (or lack there of) of emotion. Men have always felt that there are certain things they must do and certain ways they must behave in order to feel like men. In many of Scorsese’s films he depicts them fighting and cursing and fighting some more. In Age of Innocence, he shows the emotional side of “being a man” and focuses less on the physical aspect of this idea. Newland, Daniel Day Lewis, is engaged to a woman. He ends up falling in love with her cousin Ellen, Michelle Pfeiffer. Instead of breaking off his engagement, he starts somewhat of a love affair with Ellen. In the end, they both end up alone. Instead of telling the world and everyone in it how he feels about Ellen, he denies it in order to avoid scandal. He also denies it because it is not what is expected of him. He denies it to keep his persona of a man who does what he is supposed to do.
A lot of people in class said that they didn’t like the movie because “it was boring” or they “can’t relate to the characters”. Guess what? You were bored? You thought the movie was slow-moving? Then you absolutely can relate to the characters. Newland was bored with his life. He stayed bored the entire movie except when he was with Ellen. The slow-moving of the movie represents the mundane life that Newland would have unless he did something to change it. He wanted adventure with Ellen, but the risk for him did not outweigh the reward. He chose boring and safe over happy and exciting.
People also said that they couldn’t relate to these characters in the problems that they faced in a love triangle. Love triangle is one of the most common problems that anyone can face, and that is if it doesn’t stretch into a love square or even a pentagon. I found myself relating too much with Ellen. Falling for someone that is promised to someone else. Continuing to get close to that person, past the point where it is “socially acceptable” and then having it be cut off in order to preserve someone’s way of life. The term “home wrecker” was also brought up. I don’t believe that this term should exist. People will not cheat if they don’t want to. Our society, and the society depicted in this film, put so much weight on preexisting relationships. People believe that if you’re in a relationship with someone for x amount of time, then when you break up you should wait y amount of time before dating someone else. Why? Why are there all these rules for how people can be with each other?
If society were free of all its social norms and constructs that have to do with relationships maybe they would be easier or harder. We will never know. But I do know that people are so concerned with how things should be done. The order of events of getting into a relationship with someone. The correct way to act when you’re in that relationship. I’m sorry but there is no specific way that someone should act. The fact that people think there is is a result of our culture. That culture will continue to change just like it already has from when Newland and Ellen were in love. It has changed from how it was when our parents were dating. It will change from how it is right now to when we have kids of our own. Change is inevitable in this area. Breaking the stigma of the humdrum “I’ve been dating him/her for so long why bother trying to figure out someone else” and the comfortability that people use as a crutch when in relationships that last longer than six months.
Perhaps if Newland had not felt so much pressure from society, or the baby he was about to have, or the fright he experienced from completely uprooting his life he might have been happier. If he didn’t feel coerced into staying in his boring relationship. If people could ever learn to mind their own business. If people could ever learn that feeling is not a bad thing. That it makes us human. Specifically if men understood that they are allowed to feel more emotion than “I angry”, maybe society would stop putting these expectations on people. Age of Innocence was a great movie about the human condition and how we as humans make our lives more complicated because of the imaginary cages that we tend to put ourselves in. Don’t be a Newland. Break the “rules” and be an Ellen (DeGeneres).
Martin Scorsese’s film Taxi Driver is one of his earliest iconic films. It features a young (and very beautiful) Robert DeNiro who struggles with his identity, relationships, and his overall world of being. While watching the movie I couldn’t help but realize that I felt like I had known his character for a long time. I knew his motives and his thought processes already. Why? Robert DeNiro’s character in Taxi Driver is a grown up Holden Caulfield from “Catcher in the Rye”.
Holden Caulfield is someone that most people know and can identify with, but for those of you who did not have to read his story in school I will explain him. He is a teenager who struggles with not wanting to grow up (same) and feeling like no one around him understands who he is (my 5th grade emo self says “same”). He struggles with the loss of his own innocence and not wanting anyone else to lose theirs and “catching” them before they fall off the field of rye into adulthood. He feels like adults are “phony” and no one is real or capable of honest emotion once they grow up and start trying to please others. Acceptance and appearances are what people seem to care about and Holden is not about it. Granted, Holden can be a whiny baby with a superiority complex, but I don’t think he is wrong at all in his view of the majority of society.
Travis Bickle is a young adult trying to make a life for himself in New York City. He longs for human connection but he is not always sure of the best way to accomplish this. It is apparent that he has some social awkwardness and he doesn’t know how to read people. He assumes that everyone around is like him and this gets him into trouble specifically with women. He feels like everyone in the city is dirty and scum much like Holden thinks everyone he knows is a phony. Travis voices his concerns to the presidential candidate, while Holden would spout his rants to us, the readers. They both just want to feel heard and understood. Travis also struggles with the loss of innocence of others, maybe because he experienced some traumatizing things in war that robbed him of his innocence before he was ready. Upon meeting Iris,he finds himself wanting to help her and decides against it. This was him choosing money over his morals. This was him being the scum that he hates. He finds her again and tries to “save her” from the cold life of prostitution, but hey a girl’s gotta make money right? She doesn’t wanna be saved (don’t save her). He is like Holden, wanting to help this girl get back to her parents and finish school. He doesn’t want her to grow up to be like the dirty scum in the city. If he could have, I’m sure he would have caught her before she fell off the rye. I think that Travis and Holden would have gotten along, before they both had psychotic breaks. Maybe they wouldn’t have been the best people for each other to know, as they probably would have encouraged the other to make more questionable decisions, but “live fast die young” right?
Until this class, I don’t think that I had ever heard of director Stanley Kubrick. I had maybe heard the names of some of his movies, but never even thought twice about them. The first day of class when we started talking about Kubrick and his life and the things that he included in many of his movies, we discussed one of his major recurring themes. That theme was rebellion to authority. I remember thinking ‘I can relate’. My friends, parents, coworkers, and roommate would all tell anyone who asked the same thing: I have a huge problem with authority. I don’t think that its necessarily me being disrespectful or me thinking that I shouldn’t have to listen to someone other than me. I think it is just that I have a problem with blind authority and listening to people who don’t respect me or have a valid reason for why I should be listening to them. It ranged from stupid little acts of rebellion like wearing socks that were too short for my high school’s dress code (scandalous) to simply refusing to comply to my license suspension a year ago because I didn’t see the point. As soon as this theme in Kubrick’s movies got brought up, I knew I would like his work. In his first movie that we watched, Paths of Glory, I was hesitant to know whether or not I would enjoy the film. It is in black and white and it’s about war, so these were two red flags that the movie might not be able to keep my attention. I was wrong. The protagonist struggles with having to follow orders from people less intelligent, more selfish, and overall less qualified than he. He struggles between choosing to follow the orders he has been given or to rebel and possibly be killed for it. In the second movie we watched, Dr. Strangelove, the same theme was featured. Soldiers were told to follow specific orders that could result in multiple deaths and striking first in a situation where the US would never do that. The soldiers in the plane followed the orders perfectly. They did not question them and they did everything in their power to follow them through. The man who gave the orders did not ask the president (didn’t follow the rules of authority) and the general didn’t want to listen to the president when he called to try to disengage the orders (didn’t follow the rules of authority). Kubrick really played with all the different ways that authority could be challenged and even broken. In the third movie, Clockwork Orange, this theme was almost too much to handle. This movie I found specifically disturbing, which is kind of hard to do. Alex challenges authority the entire movie. He breaks the law, clashes with his friends, disrespects his parents,tricks the prison into giving him special treatment, and even toys with the nurses and doctors that are trying to help him. Throughout the entire movie he is manipulating and being manipulated while manipulating. I think the other major homage Kubrick paid to rebellion to authority was this film being made in general. When it came out, there was nothing really like it. A movie being rated X was very rare and the images of the sex and violence were kind of a culture shock and a challenge to the authority of the filmmakers at the time. Stanley Kubrick was a very interesting director and his questioning or authority really should open more people’s eyes to who they are listening to and why.
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