It has been a rollercoaster of a few weeks for me. I’ve gotten unfortunately behind in a few of my classes but I’m already catching up. I haven’t been able to watch all of the films I’ve wanted to for classes buy I have seen a number of films from this year that I’ve wanted to catch up on. I now have a computer that works which means I can actually work on things from places other than my house.
Phantom Lady (1944) dir. Robert Siodmak
Last thing before we start, I am no longer putting ratings beside films here. Obviously contenders are officially 9* but the comparative power of ratings has been slightly lost on me. I’d rather you just read what I say about each film and if you do want to see what my specific ratings are you can go to my letterboxd account. Onto the update.
FS252 – Film Noir
Detour (1945) dir. Edgar G. Ulmer
If you want to explain to anyone the concept of an unreliable narrator and don’t want to use the typical Memento example – this is the film you should show. It’s because Memento is only unreliable because you can’t trust what the character is saying while in Detour it’s what’s on screen that you don’t know if you can trust. It’s a deeply unsettling movie with a fantastic ending and should be seen more widely than it has been.
Gun Crazy (1950) dir. Joseph H. Lewis
If you want to explain how penis-envy can be demonstrated on film, this is the film you should show them. It’s not great and the ending is pretty lackluster, but the first half hour is awesome.
Woman on the Run (1950) dir. Norman Foster
This film on the other hand is not lackluster. It’s not as good as Detour or Phantom Lady, but it has got some really really remarkable scenes spread throughout. Particularly the ending with the roller coaster. Holy crap, its awesome.
Phantom Lady (1944) dir. Robert Siodmak
Below is a clip from the film that demonstrates both the beauty of noir cinematography and the incredible opportunities offered by diegetic music. This is a contender because every scene is totally noir, its dripping in atmosphere to the point of being overwhelming and oh boy do I love me some style.
FS341 – Classical Film Theory
Kon-Tiki (1951) dir. Thor Heyerdahl
This is one of the weirdest documentaries I’ve ever seen. It’s a nature documentary but the science in it is total BS when you read about it. But it fits the concept of realism in film when you think about how much you want to believe Heyerdahl at the films’ conclusion
WS210 – Feminist Thought and Practice
Forbidden Love: The Unashamed Stories of Lesbian Lives (1992) dir. Lynne Fernie, Aerlyn Weissman
Yes, this wasn’t for a film course but I feel it should still be in this section. It reminds me of the history of these struggles in Canada and how far we’ve come and how far there is still to go. For me, this was just a series of love stories happening in the face of strife. The sexuality was almost irrelevant which I find interesting to my own psyche. Now that I’ve been fairly successful in decolonizing my own mentality, I need to remember what it was like when I hadn’t so I can still relate to those who haven’t. So I can still engage in those conversations. Anyways, great movie. If you want to learn about lesbian culture in a very specific context and time, this is a great choice.
Creature From the Black Lagoon (1954) dir. Jack Arnold
I’ll only say one thing about this. Double feature this with Kon-tiki – your mind will be blown.
The Giver (2014) dir. Phillip Noyce
They already made a movie about this kind of thing. It was called Pleasantville. And that movie is SIGNIFICANTLY BETTER. Skip this. Skip this every time.
The Fabulous Baker Boys (1989) dir. Steve Kloves
This is a really interesting movie about brotherhood and love and it is hugely entertaining.
Pleasantville (1998) dir. Gary Ross
I don’t understand how a producer saw this and said, “that guy is Spiderman.” I really don’t. Because he’s really good in this but not in a way that makes me think he’d be a good Peter Parker. Anyways, this is a super interesting film especially because it plays with the limitations of doing the film in that way. Most interesting for me was the gender role and race allegories that didn’t need to be made but added many layers of subtext about the politics of Leave it to Beaver traditional America.
Million Dollar Arm (2014) dir. Craig Gillespie
The three Indian characters are totally homogenous and that is super racist. Just saying.