Thursday, 12 March 2015

So Fetch Friday: Essay Trouble

Rough week so far. I found out I have an essay due next week, one that I had only started to put together an outline for. I've been working on this essay about film noir, but there's a catch: the bulk of my sources have to be written within the era we covered in this semester (roughly 1927-1968). This has proven to be extremely difficult, seeing as it is very hard to find any material on the subject written prior to the 1970's that is not in French. Amusingly, though, I did find an article published in Film Quarterly somewhere between 1962 and 1963 that was actually titled Hitchcock's World.

In general I've just been feeling anxious and agitated as well. I haven't even been able to watch any of the film noirs I'm covering yet. I started watching The Maltese Falcon and for some reason it ended up feeling like too much. I had the same problem when I tried to watch The Other Woman, and felt overwhelmed after the first few minutes. Also, should I be concerned about how often I seem to be watching Con Air? This is at least the fourth or fifth time I've watched it since December. My parents expressed some concern and I'm not sure if this is a sign that something's wrong. Right now it's hard to say.

On the bright side, I did finally see Non-Stop (a modern update on the "Die Hard on a Plane" structure) and it actually turned out to be really good. There was a lot of tense action and I certainly didn't see the identities of the villains coming (they also did a pretty good job throwing suspicion on the wrong people). I really liked Julianne Moore in that film, she was great. Admittedly, when they revealed her heart condition I did half-expect something to happen with that, and it never did. That wasn't really a problem, though. I had planned on doing a review, but that ended up turning into an essay about how 9/11 affected airplane hijacking movies.

This week, we watched the original Cape Fear and learned a bit about Hollywood soundtracks. It's an interesting area of study but I can't say much about the film itself. Maybe this is just me but I never really could get into either version of Cape Fear, even with Gregory Peck in one and Robert De Niro in the other. We also watched The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 and learned about the "final girl". However, I'm not sure Stretch is the best example of a final girl in slasher films considering I'm not entirely convinced that she's a strong female character. She starts off promising when we first see her on her radio show and she gets to slash one of the slashers at the end, but she spends most of the film screaming and being victimized by the villains. Dennis Hopper is also his usual crazy self. If you've seen him in Speed or Blue Velvet, it's the same kind of deal only now there is a sword fight with chainsaws (seriously).

What a strong female character!

I've actually been able to somewhat keep up with The Walking Dead, and this is getting... peculiar. It was definitely shocking to see Rick shaving off his beard and dressing like a cop again. The same goes for much of the rest of the cast, who were barely recognizable after being cleaned up and redressed. The one thing I haven't been able to shake is a sense of paranoia that comes with Alexandria. It seems to be a nice place but I keep half-expecting that either there is some sort of catch that hasn't been revealed yet (as was the case for Woodbury and Terminus) or that Rick is somehow going to ruin everything. These Alexandria residents seem like decent people but it just seems to hard to believe, which I guess is fitting given that those are likely the exact same feelings experienced by Rick and his party.

As for Banshee, there's been some exciting developments as I've just finished season 1. Carrie Hopewell has finally gotten a chance to show how tough she really is. She spent a large portion of an episode locked in a brawl with a mobster that makes the infamous fight scene from They Live seem tame by comparison. I wouldn't be surprised if they drew a bit of inspiration from that scene, considering its structured a bit similarly; with the whole thing being an extended sequence in which the two characters are constantly going at each other and neither one seems to get a lasting advantage. Of course, it is Carrie who gets to save herself (after getting stabbed, no less) so that's good. Also, Kai Proctor got to show his more sensitive side. I won't deny that guy has engaged in some shady dealings (up to and including murder) but it's a nice touch that they decided to give him a bit more depth instead of going the obvious route and depicting him as a monster.

That finale was quite exciting. The crooks and the cops had to team up in order to rescue Lucas from the dangerous gangsters that were holding him. Carrie got to continue to prove her abilities as an action heroine and the rest of the cast got to have a hand in the action. Sadly, Carrie's family has left her on account of all the lies she's been revealed to have told them, but there seems to be more to do as some bodies have mysteriously turned up. I

In Season 2, Lucas barely avoided being exposed as an identity thief after the body of the original Sheriff Hood was found (and subsequently reburied before it could be identified). We've also got an great new character in Nola, a tough girl who works as muscle for the Native American reserve (and who has certainly had a few moments to show herself). She seems to be yet another excellent addition to a show that's practically exploding with strong female characters (and some interesting male characters, too). She might also have come closest out of the entire cast to actually killing Lucas Hood, and the only reason she doesn't is because her boss doesn't let her (something she isn't exactly happy about either).

Also, I finally finished Strange Empire and its had quite the ending. The whole series has been building up the growth of the various women in this town, and now they've finally started to take power. Most of the extreme misogynists that have been causing so much trouble are gone now, including the villain John Slotter, who was killed by a bow and arrow. Now the women are starting to take control of things, and by the end of the episode there was not a single woman in town still wearing a dress. Prior to this episode, the only women in pants were Kat Loving and Morgan Finn, the latter of whom was disguised as a man (and maintained that look even after she was revealed). Now even the women who did wear dresses constantly have started wearing pants. Annoyingly, the show has apparently been cancelled by CBC, so I won't be able to see what happens next.

In other news, I have heard one story that has left me completely baffled. I know I'm somewhat in a minority as I'm one of the few critics to actually defend the planned all-female Ghostbusters reboot. The people involved seem promising enough and it looks like they have an okay cast so at the very least I think it could be entertaining. The weird part is that it turns out they are also making a "male-oriented" Ghostbusters reboot alongside the all-female version, which they also hope to expand into a whole universe similar to what has been done with Marvel.

Uh... wasn't the original Ghostbusters already a very male-dominated movie? It did after all center on an all-male team of paranormal exterminators and the only two women were a love interest and damsel in distress (who had to be rescued by the men) and a secretary who added pretty much nothing to the overall film (and I personally found to be a bit irritating). In fact, was it not the fact that the original film was so predominantly male one of the main reasons why the reboot is going the route of being all-female? Why is an "male-oriented" companion film necessary? It's like announcing that you're going to do an "all-female" remake of The Descent. It just seems a bit redundant.

Also, there's talk going around about a Toy Story 4... and it's a romantic comedy. This is yet another baffling choice and I'm not sure what to make of it. Either this is brilliant out-of-the-box thinking that will allow something new to be brought to the series and for it to go in some curious new directions, or it will be a terrible idea that will be the point at which the Toy Story series begins jumping the shark. I'm not sure which one it is yet. I'm not even sure how exactly one would go about turning Toy Story into a romantic comedy. The movie news these days is completely insane, and seems to often be about really bizarre choices made by studios.

Okay, so that's another week of craziness and confusion. Just three more weeks and I'll be done with my classes for now, though unfortunately that also means only two more weeks before I'm forced to watch Jean-Luc Godard again (someone whose wrath I've otherwise been spared this year). If I ever end up going through a year without being forced to watch a Jean-Luc Godard movie, I might just have to throw a celebration of some sort. Still, a rough week to be sure, but things seem to be looking up a bit.

What it's like to be forced to watch a Godard movie.

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  1. Thanks for the link! The Toy Story 4 announcement is just weird. I'm one of the few that hated Toy Story 2 and 3, so another one just sounds like a terrible idea to me. And "male orientated Ghostbusters?" smh.

    1. Yeah, I really don't get what the idea is behind that. Do the filmmakers really think that male audiences can't relate to a predominantly female cast (a notion I would argue is absurd).

  2. Thanks for participating in So Fetch Friday! Having to find sources from the 1920s-1960s is one of the more peculiar requirements I've heard for a class. Have you tried Google Scholar? I just found out about it this semester and it's proved fairly useful.

    Ghostbusters reboot, all-female or all- male, doesn't really excite or intrigue me, to be honest. I really only love the original, and the subsequent ones are all just trying too hard.

    1. Actually, I have. In fact, somewhat amusingly, just before this post went up I actually managed to get lucky and find two valuable articles through Google Scholar. A classmate gave me the name of "Nino Frank", the guy supposedly responsible for coining the term "film noir" and found an essay by him and one by another French critic touching on the subject of film noir (although in the former's case he doesn't actually use the term, it still serves as an early example of French critics noticing these patterns in American films).

      This "all-male" version of Ghostbusters definitely sound like it is trying too hard. I'm trying to stay optimistic about the all-female version, but I guess we'll have to see how it turns out.

  3. It sounds like a tough week and it brings back nightmares of all nighters I did. I wish they would leave Toy Story alone. It will go past it's prime then. I will enjoy seeing the female version of Ghostbusters but it almost feels like the men involved in creating films felt emasculated and had to "one-up" the female ghostbusters....shame