Saturday, May 11, 2013

Presentation schedule so far

Next Wednesday: Solomon, Ketan, Graham, Sam, Simon

Friday: Jamie, Preston, Wes

Still to schedule: Aaron, Meghan, Kaitlyn

Everyone see me as soon as possible with your clip—the best means being a selected spot on a DVD you have in your possession—so we can preset it on my computer.

If you're having trouble locating a DVD of your film, let me know immediately so I can track down a copy.

UPDATED: Meghan, Kaitlyn, and Aaron will go on Friday. (Right, Aaron?)

Wednesday, May 1, 2013


Sorry I didn't do this earlier—dealing with a sick dog, and then we had the chorus concert.

So, here are the first two segments of one guy's view of The Shining. The third segment, so he says, was removed.

YouTube provides links to related videos, and some of those might also be interesting to peruse. There's a truly strange idea floating around that The Shining contains Kubrick's hidden message that he helped to fake the Moon landing.

Yeah. That's right.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

PSYCHO assignment

Read the handout by Roger Ebert. Answer the following questions:

1. Had you seen Psycho previously? If not, what did you know of the story before you watched it?

2. Whether or not you'd seen it before, what elements struck you as surprising during this viewing of the film?

3. Ebert (and most critics) say that Hitchcock makes us sympathize with Norman. To what extent did the film successfully do that for you?

4. Ebert doesn't care for the psychiatric monologue at the end of the film. What do you think of his position? What are reasons the screenwriter and director might use to argue against Ebert's position?

5. How do you think the use of black-and-white enhanced this film?

Typed; double-spaced; 12 pt.; 1-inch margins.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Double Indemnity assignment

Hey there, film fans!

Note that, in my links (to the right), I've put a PDF of the Hays Code for reference for this assignment.

Please do one of the following for the Monday after break; the piece should be approximately 250-300 words:

a. Write a response to seeing Double Indemnity as if you were a reviewer of the time (1944). In this case, you will need to look over the Hays Code, because you'll either be complaining about how the film violates the letter or spirit of the code or how you think the film masterfully avoids crossing the line.

b. Write a personal response to the film, keeping in mind that it's a black-and-white film from another era. What did you like or especially appreciate? What surprised you? How did it compare to modern films? What seemed better than a modern film?

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Some links of interest

I've added some new links at right (and updated the "film terms" link so that the proper terms are checked off).

Two links are to lists by Jonathan Rosenbaum, a serious critic of film who writes for both popular and more narrow audiences. His "100 greatest American films" was written in response to the American Film Institute's release (and occasional revisiting) of such a list. Especially of interest, I think, is what he objects to in the AFI list. The other Rosenbaum link lists "1,000 essential films" from all over the world. This list proceeds by decade, and you can see there several things we've watched or that you've heard referenced in class. If you really want to see the full history of film, this list provides a tremendous resource.

Another resource I've linked to is the website They Shoot Pictures, Don't They? (It's a reference to the 1969 film They Shoot Horses, Don't They?, based on a 1935 novel.) This site, which I believe is no longer updated, contains a host of informative links, as you'll see.

Finally, here's a link to an interview with the guy who wrote the screenplay for the actual planned science fiction film Argo—the movie at the center of the deception in the Oscar-winning film.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Caligari assignment

Here's what I'm expecting:

First, your recollection of two scenes that especially stood out for you. What was it that struck you about each of them?

Following that, provide a more general response to the film, even following up on some things you said in the first part. What did you like about it? How did you feel about the visual style? Did you find it enjoyable, interesting, disturbing, dull, confusing . . . what? What about the absence of "color"—how did you feel about watching a full film that's in black and white (though tinted)?

Please double space. I'm expecting at least a page in length.

Next week: Comedy.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Film review assignment

I detailed this cursorily in class. Here's the skinny:

The idea is for you to interact with the reviews of others. I often read movie reviews of films I haven't seen and may not ever see; I enjoy the act of critical examination, even if ultimately it's not a movie I'll see or that even interests me. (I also like reading book reviews, of course, but additionally I get a kick out of critical reviews of new buildings or painting exhibitions. I have no ability to paint or design architecture, but the kind of craft that goes into any of these forms is analogous to the craft that goes into writing, which is my own specialty.)

I want you to "interact with" two reviews by professional reviewers. Pick something you've seen recently (in the past few days) or go see something in the next week or so. I want to hear your thoughts on the movie, but I want to read them as a kind of argument or discussion you're having with these other reviewers. (It is to be written in essay form, however—not in dialogue form or some sort of free form.) Ebert does this in some of his essays, mentioning other reviewers and how they perceive something. Use proper form when quoting or paraphrasing the other reviewers.

On the lower right of this page is a link to the Internet Movie Database ( Any movie may be found there; from any movie's site, you can, lower down on the page, link to "External reviews." You should be reading reviews from major newspapers (San Francisco ChronicleLos Angeles TimesChicago Sun-Times [those are available at]) or magazines (SalonRolling Stone, the New Yorker (available at, not from unaffiliated reviewers or from someone's amateur blog.

This assignment, of 500-750 words, is due on Thursday, February 28.