Monday, November 17, 2008

Independent Film Assignment #1

Due: Depending on your section, either Dec. 11 or 12.

This is the first of two independently chosen assignments for the second quarter. The second, coming at the very end of the semester, involves both a paper and presentation. This first one involves only a paper.

Choose one of the films from Ebert's book. I'm especially interested in having you choose something you haven't seen. Check with me to make sure it's not a film I'm covering in class. You can choose this film in collaboration with others; watching the film together would be both enjoyable and useful, as you can gain insight from each other's views.

The end result is an approximately five-page paper, a critical overview of the film plus your own view of its value and success as a movie. Use Ebert's comments as a springboard, but also use other critical commentaries on the film. I have several resources myself or can point you to some at the public library. Knowing something about the history and having behind-the-scenes information about the film can also help flesh out your writing.

Friday, November 7, 2008

On Cloverfield

Yesterday, I watched Cloverfield. I avoided it at the theater because of warnings from reviewers about the vertigo caused (for those who are susceptible) by the shuddery, handheld camera. I picked it up at the library yesterday, with some hesitation, given that it might be unwatchable even on a small screen. This turned out to not be a problem, for two reasons, I think: first, I could always pause the film and look around a bit, exercising my eyes; second, though the camera was shuddery, it wasn't as extreme as it might have been (the few times it was, I looked away), nor did it swing abruptly from one side to another very often, which can be vertiginous.

I enjoyed the film much more than I expected to. The performers were all fine, the script worked, the special effects were integrated well into the cinematography (an easier task given the grainy mock-video effect in any case), and the film contained quite a few shocks and surprises, which is what's wanted in a monster/horror film. I recommend it.