We started the class by going through our papers and what we can do to improve on our next one. The main issues that came up were a redundancy of ideas and quotes that didn’t support them. I got the sense that the papers were not extraordinary.
The first clip we watched was from Michael Moore’s The Awful Truth. The clip was a comedy sketch routine of Moore interviewing people from rich and poor groups. He asked them fairly menial questions, which made the wealthy look stupid. The clip was pretty skewed, as Moore has been criticized for with all of his films. He only shows the “enemy” when they’re down. This was considered an independent film and we talked about how we defined that genre.
We found that The Awful Truth was independent because it had no big studio presence, a low budget, and it didn’t play to all audiences. It also had a mode of production that didn’t belong to the mainstream media. That was due to its radicalness, something that was rare in cinema. It was completely liberal in a time when America was much more conservative.
We tried to break down these ideas of independence and radicalness. Perhaps the idea of an independent movie encompasses larger movies as well because of their content or context. And are Michael Moore’s films really radical if the only people who watch them are already on his side? Regardless, Hollywood was divided into three new waves of filmmaking. Left, Black, and Queer were defining radical cinema.
In My Own Private Idaho, we saw a comment on gender in America. In this film, gender was cultural and was paired with rules and standards. The movie really played with these standards, subbing one for the other.
Boys Don’t Cry had the opposite ideology with Hillary Swank’s character playing a woman searching for a hetero-normative family structure with another woman. These films represented queer filmmaking and finally pointed out this culturally relevant topic.