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Author Archives: Andrew Albert J. Ty

About Andrew Albert J. Ty

"All these worlds are yours except Europa. Attempt no landings there."

Paris, je t’aime (various, 2006)

Paris, je t’aime is a portmanteau film (or, more commonly, an anthology film) that I chose to show at the end the course for a couple of reasons:

First, it serves as a cinematic sorbet after the concentration of The Godfather and the breadth of The Godfather, Part II. Paris, je t’aime is generally lighter in mood, at least for most of the 18 short films that make it up.

Second, there is little to tie together the short films in terms of plot and characters. What we have instead is the foregrounding of theme and general setting/place. Oddly, this results in a film that remains engaging and accessible, even if it’s typically plot and character that dominate our appreciation for mainstream cinema.

Third, by having several directors “doing their own thing,” so to speak, it produces a sense of perspective and perception as multiple. We began the class with Blow-Up so that we can learn to paradoxically focus on how what we see is closely related to what we cannot see. Paris, je t’aime is a pleasant variation on that idea, giving us an experience that offers a plurality of perspectives that are nevertheless placed together in a rather tentative “whole.”

It’s been a short course, and I figure the best way to encourage you to keep watching films and to keep watching them with differing points of view is to show you a film that pretty much celebrates that with something as fundamental as love and human connection.

Trivia: Several actors we’ve seen in some of the other films this summer appear here: Miranda Richardson, the terminally ill woman in the red coat, was in Spider. The beauty care salesman who visits a Chinatown hair salon was the owner of the auto repair shop where the brothers in The Darjeeling Limited came to pick up their father’s car. Even the character of Oscar Wilde has been in Velvet Goldmine and this one. And then there’s Natalie Portman.

 
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Posted by on 18 May 2011 in Resources

 

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The Godfather Part II (Francis Ford Coppola, 1974)

Godfather II: A deal Coppola couldn’t refuse” by John Hess is one of the few essays available online that talks only about the second Godfather film. Most essays are like “Papa…I’m With You Now: Coppola’s The Godfather Films As Literature,” which deals with the first film as well.

While The Godfather Part II is obviously a continuation of the first film, as expected from a sequel, what makes the two films so interesting when watched together is how different they are in terms of structure and scale. This difference becomes obvious when you try to describe the respective stories told by the two films: not only does the sequel feature two parallel storylines, it also has a far broader historical scope.

 
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Posted by on 17 May 2011 in Resources

 

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The Godfather (Francis Ford Coppola, 1972)

There are loads written about this film and its sequel, but here are five to start with:

  1. “More Damned And More Heroic: The Enigma Of Michael Corleone In Coppola’s The Godfather
  2. “A Study In Ambiguity: The Godfather And The American Gangster Movie Tradition”
  3. “Michael Corleone’s Transformation From Outsider To Leader: An Examination Of Coppola’s The Godfather
  4. “Revisiting The Godfather
  5. a storyboard analysis of the diner scene
 
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Posted by on 12 May 2011 in Resources

 

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Zodiac (David Fincher, 2007)

Steven Shaviro on Zodiac:

In all these ways, Zodiac creates a overwhelming, but distanced, sense of flatness, mobility, and creepiness: a kind of low-key affectivity that is as much an expression of our general mediascape as it is of the mind of a serial killer. … Fincher has mapped the stylistics, or the geography if you will, of our contemporary form of subjectivity.

Graham Fuller on Zodiac:

As games go, Zodiac—no less than Fincher’s Se7en, The Game and Fight Club—is rigorously masculine, a double buddy movie that stretches over several years and underscores Graysmith’s desperate need for fraternal approval…

Robert Koehler on Zodiac:

Even before it arrived on American screens during the dead of late winter, David Fincher’s Zodiac was destined to be misunderstood, since it was conceived not as a slasher movie or a killer thriller, but as a film with the grand intention of exploring how experiences change human beings.

James Crawford on Zodiac:

there is so much detail in the gloom that it’s difficult to assimilate it in a single viewing, but appropriate for a film where blind alleys are given as much credence and weight as the narrative through line. As storytelling slows, the level of ambient detail increases such that the drama becomes less about easy release and more about the crushing, immobilizing weight of evidence, and a truth that lies just outside the field of vision. … in Zodiac shadows are textured, expressive, subtle, and—here comes that word again—natural, promising a wealth of detail, but yielding no information.

Mike Miley on Zodiac:

While nominally a police procedural film, David Fincher’s Zodiac (2007) is at its heart a film about filmmaking; it is less about the obsessive process of tracking a serial killer than about the obsessive process of creating meaningful work.

 
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Posted by on 10 May 2011 in Resources

 

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Spider (David Cronenberg, 2002)

From “Phantasmatic Fissures: Spider by Patricia MacCormack:

David Cronenberg’s Spider (2002) is a film about the tentative and risky world of memory. … Viewing film is a practice that involves the coalescence of phantasy and memory. The memory of viewing – like Spider’s memory – does not always present an authentic or reliable version of what we have seen. But this transgression is not a flaw or failure at truth and authenticity. Cronenberg’s film is about versions of memories rather than, and occasionally opposed to, actualities of history.

From Mark Fisher’s blog entry “She’s Not My Mother”:

While this seems to be the preferred interpretation, the film does not close down any of the narrative possibilities it has opened up . I think we can enumerate nine distinct narrative options that the film leaves open:

[SPOILER SPACE: Drag your mouse pointer across the space below.]

Bill killed his wife, and he really did co-habit with a prostitute called Yvonne.
Bill did kill his wife, there really is an Yvonne, but she never moved in with Spider’s father.
Bill killed his wife, but there is no such a person as Yvonne.

Spider, not Bill, killed his mother, but Bill moved in with Yvonne after his wife’s death.
Spider killed his mother, there is a prostitute called Yvonne, but she never moved in with Spider’s father.
Spider killed his mother, and there is no such person as Yvonne.

Neither Spider nor Bill killed Mrs Cleg, but Bill moved in with Yvonne after his mother’s death.
Neither Spider nor Bill killed Mrs Cleg, there really is an Yvonne, but she never moved in with the Clegs.
Neither Spider nor Bill killed Mrs Cleg, and there is no such person as Yvonne.

From Dennis Grunes’s blog entry on the film:

In other words, to see this film is to find oneself, metaphorically, inside Cleg’s damaged, dissolved and dissolving mind, along with what turns out to be a host of horrific childhood memories—although here, also, the match-up of “memories” and realities proves to be indistinct.

 
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Posted by on 5 May 2011 in Resources

 

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V For Vendetta (James McTeigue, 2006)

There are many controversies having to do with the political impact (or lack thereof) of V For Vendetta, especially in comparison with the much-praised comic book that was its source material, but Iain Clark’s Strange Horizons review and Pádraig Ó Méalóid’s review for Emerald City provide a good starting point for positioning the film in the context of our class.

This blog entry is also very good, both in itself and for the discussion that follows in the comments section and in other blogs.

 
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Posted by on 3 May 2011 in Resources

 

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Primer (Shane Carruth, 2004)

“Re-Membering The Time-Travel Film” is an essay that, as its subtitle indicates, moves “from La Jetee to Primer.” There are several other good resources and essays available online for coming to terms with what actually happens in the film, but here are two diagrams: one that explains how time travel works in the film and another that sketches out a timeline of events.

The film’s rather prosaic style is misleading, making the film almost seem boring when something absolutely momentous is actually taking place. You may want to compare more commercial approaches to this kind of nested storytelling like Inception.

 
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Posted by on 28 April 2011 in Resources

 

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