Below are my answers to some of the questions on your homework assignment. Don't forget to mark up your assigned readings for comments and questions.
Do you ever watch just part of a film, and under what conditions?
If I’m flipping around on television, I might watch a few minutes of a cheesy action picture. We only get a few stations, so I don’t tend to stumble across great movies when doing this. I get a good laugh out of watch portly Steven Segal use his martial arts skills on bigoted toughs, and it’s kind of cool to see Jean-Claude Van Damme kick butt on evildoers harassing an innocent woman.
List three films you’ve enjoyed. You may have seen them once, many times, or they may be the kind of film that, no matter what else is happening, if it’s playing on television, you have to stop and watch. These can be films you enjoyed when you were a child; they don’t have to be recent. For each film, say a little about why you liked it.
Monty Python and the Holy Grail
Funniest movie ever. The thing I think I loved right away when I saw it, which was on television when I was in high school, was how the dialogue could be both silly and smart at the same time.
The movie manages to make science look exciting and action-packed, the special effects are beautiful, and Jodie Foster is just so interesting to watch. For all the obvious elements of the plot and annoying bits of directing, the film pulls me in because of the relationships surrounding the conflicted, smart character that Foster plays.
Certainly I’m pulled in by the time-travel idea. It shares, with Contact, that notion of communicating across a distance (both main characters operate ham radios) with a loved one. The plot goes a bit crazy at the end, but if you buy into the logic early on, it makes a kind of goofy sense. Jim Caviezel’s emotional performance appeals to me as well.
Name one film you’ve disliked. (Perhaps you didn’t even finish watching it.) What did you dislike about it?
The Sixth Sense
I figured out the movie’s “trick” right after its first scene. I couldn’t believe how obvious it was, and sat through the rest of the movie hoping I was wrong. I wasn’t, so the big surprise not only wasn’t a surprise, it seemed poorly revealed. In addition, the plot didn’t even follow its own rules for what the characters were capable of (this would also happen in Shyamalian’s next movie, Unbreakable, which was somehow both more moronic but more interesting).
List any reading you did over the summer that wasn’t part of a school assignment.
Blindness, José Saramago
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Jean-Dominique Bauby
Kentucky Straight, Chris Offutt
Mr. Muo's Travelling Couch, Dai Sijie
Hopper, Mark Strand
Second Skin, John Hawkes
The White Tiger, Aravind Adiga
Cool Hand Luke, Donn Pearce
Movies as Politics, Jonathan Rosenbaum
Written on the Body, Jeanette Winterson
The Heart of the Matter, Graham Greene
I also read various short stories from collections, many issues of the New Yorker, and books that I didn't finish.