I want to talk, quite seriously, about “Magic Mike XXL.” And also “Mad Max: Fury Road.” Not just because they were the two best movies of the summer, but because they represent two sides of a conversation about gender and audience identification in Hollywood movies.
So as finals dawn on us once again, many of you will be looking for ways to less productively divert your time and eradicate stress (while preserving brain cells). And while, as a film student, watching films “technically” counts as studying for me, it remains the absolute perfect way to kill a couple of hours. So without further ado, I humbly present a list of films, from old favorites to new friends, with which to amuse, thrill, reflect on and altogether distract yourself this, or any, exam’s eve (and for bonus points, most of them are on Netflix).
It seems super easy to compare the latest Russian cinematic masterpiece, Andrey Zvyagintsev’s “Leviathan,” to the great literary works of Fyodor Dostoevsky or Leo Tolstoy; just look at the number of reviews that described the film as being “novelistic.” And to be fair, the comparison (especially to Dostoevsky) isn’t entirely ungrounded. The film shares its breathtaking scope (and runtime), band of fully realized and psychologically complex characters, questions of suicide/existence and overt, proud references to the Bible with the likes of “The Brothers Karamazov” and “The Idiot.” Plus the film’s wordless, eye-opening passages rank with the most awe-inspiring moments of prose in any language.
We have a problem regarding how we understand history in movies. Our criterion seems to be “objectivity at any cost,” so that any liberty being taken with the actual, concrete “event” disqualifies it from laying claim to being based on actuality. This misunderstands both film and history—two things that I care a lot about—because it acts like either/both of them are anything other than narratives that are designed to impart certain ideas. In the same way history books don’t read as dry lists of objectively presented facts, films that use history as material do not need to strictly adhere to some pseudo-omniscient objectivity of what “really happened” that distances us from the past, and acts like it isn’t part of a complicated, ongoing story.
Ah, Oscars eve-eve-eve-eve-eve. A time for reflection. A time for predictions. The Academy Awards will be handed out soon, as they are every year, but before they are I think it’s important to remember; they don’t really matter.
So as a film and history major, the issue of “historically accurate” films has been on my mind lately, what with “American Sniper,” “Selma,” “Foxcatcher” and “The Imitation Game” all being largely talked about movies. But it winds up being just part of a larger conversation I’ve had a few times recently, so to talk about this issue I’m going to talk about something else.
Okay so straight up, the thing I want to talk about is the Mini Indie Film Festival which is happening this weekend, because golly gee is it cool. While I am super biased given that I helped put it together, I also think that the idea of a completely free, student organized and run independent film festival is incredibly cool. So take it as you will. Anyway, here’s the lineup.
So here’s the thing. My original plan was to run out tonight, catch the first screening of Christopher Nolan’s newest work, “Interstellar,” collect my thoughts and calmly put down some words about the movie. However when I made these plans, I wasn’t expecting the film to be the full body spiritual gut punch experience that I just had (and am still kind of shaking from).
So I want to talk a little about definitions. Mostly, I want to talk about the fact that TV and movies are, more and more, the same thing, sort of? Because they maybe weren’t so different in the first place? But all that comes later. First, we have to talk about comic books.