Bruno started off recitation on 3/7/12 by discussing the midterm assignment. He suggested that you meet him ahead of time because is next office hours are Monday, the day before the paper is due.
Some suggestions about the midterm paper:
- write as clearly as possible
- make sure your argument is stated very clearly
- the body should develop your argument using sources
- must use atleast two sources from the readings
- this is not as informal as a blog post.
- Try not to use judements of value (I love this film!)
- Can use the blog to post related stills or clips
- No title page
Then we saw a clip of a 1976 Jaws parody, known as Bacalhou, or “Codfish.” The film by Adriano Stuart, was obviously of lesser quality than Jaws, and was meant to be funny to highlight the concept of the “blockbuster,” the New Hollywood, and profit. Using Jaws made sense, because everyone at the time knew about it.
We further discussed blockbusters in the film industry. Blockbusters were not only defined by having intense special effects, but also by having a big star name, like Jack Nicholson, attached to it. In many ways, blockbusters were a big move from great film to great spectacles. Through blockbusters, stars became hot commodities, and the plot of a movie became more important to its success than development of the characters. It became more about making a lot of money from movies, instead of creativity; if you could describe a movie in 25 words or less, people would go and see it. The rise of malls and multiplexes added to the rise of blockbusters, with people going to see more and more movies, and the money being made from them becoming greater.
Then we had three reading presentations:
1) Malory on the Schatz reading:
This reading defines New Hollywood, which starts post 1975 with the collapse of studios and the end of the classical era. The entertainment industry at this time is fragmented and New Hollywood as a lot of new ideas. Advertising became more influential, with really shocking promotional photos, including an infamous poster of Jaws. It became difficult to distinguish quality from commercial. Independent films were no longer lucrative for investors. This was a very important time because it shaped Hollywood as we know it today. The plot of movies became much more important to its success than the characters. With plot driven films came the replacement of a character, with a big star. At this time also came film rentals, VHS, and TV. New Hollywood was interested in making money from films, and not take risks that could make a film’s quality better.
2) Dom on Biskind
George Lucas advertised Starwars as being exhilarating for younger kids. Dom explained that the main character of George Lucas’s films like Luke Skywalker, do not go through as much change as the secondary characters in the films. Luke is an “”empty vessel,” which makes him an easy character for anyone to relate to. Then Dom showed us a clip of a critique on Starwars, which highlights the underdeveloped characters.
3) Morgan’s on Kael
The Kael reading discusses why movies are bad now, and the element of being spectacles. The movies are not being run by artists, but by business people who are only interested in making money. A films success began to be based on the amount of money it made, and not on the quality of the film. This makes it easy to predict what kind of movie is going to be successful. The only risk put into a film became going over budget, and so people who would not go over budget were hired instead of better artists. Artists’ integrity is lost because after negotiations are done, the artist is demoralized. They have lost so much creative power. The essential argument of this reading is that the people in control are not the artists and this takes from the quality of the film.
We further discussed throughout recitation the actually meaning of blockbuster. The term is actually talking about numbers, or how much money a film is making. It refers to actual busting or breaking of a block because of the amount of people coming to see the movie and standing in line. We talked about sleeper hits, which are when low-budget films make a lot more money than expected, or are advertised more through word of mouth.