Jaap’s Recitation, April 11

We started class by discussing the assignment for our final papers. The paper is going to be 10-12 pages on a film from the 80s, 90s, or 2000s. Topics will be posted sometime this week, and there will be a possible option of proposing a different topic to Jaap. Proposals will be due next week. Jaap suggests we choose a film that might not be extremely famous or have a lot written on it.

We continued with a rather disturbing clip from David Lynch’s “Blue Velvet,” which Jaap identified as one of the most important American films from the 1980s. This particular clip showed Dennis Hopper raping Isabella Rosselini, and we discussed the question of whether we thought this film was mainstream of independent cinema. The overwhelming agreement of the class was that this had to be an independent film. Jaap eventually divulged the fact that it was produced independently from the studios but was distributed through MGM, so the lines between independent and mainstream are a bit blurred out.

Jackie and Lauren then presented on the Lewis reading about the auteur filmmaking of the 90s and its decline. They identified Oliver Stone, Spike Lee, Tim Burton, David Lynch, Adrian Lyne, Quentin Tarantino as the auteur filmmakers finishing off the century. They continued to discuss how towards the end of the 90s, film became less of a director’s trade, and movies became more well known than their directors. Additionally with the rise of independent filmmaking, niche films and independent films gave way to female filmmakers, and money was made for these films through loyal audiences. They shared the quote that, “anyone with enough money to make movies made money making movies.”

We then discussed Katheryn Bigelow as a bridge between independent and mainstream cinema, for she reworks the genre film. We then furthered our conversation by talking about filmmakers like Quentin Tarentino and whether we can consider his movies to be mainstream or indie. Tarentino’s films appear stylistically independent but we must think about whether his narrative voice is independent or simply unique and different. We concluded that the 90s did not always allow for a definitive distinction between the mainstream and the independent, particularly as independent studios were bought out by the mainstream and then the independent literally became the mainstream.

 We proceeded to watch a clip from “Starship Troopers.” We watched one scene with the students in the classroom and another, later, during training for the war against the bugs. We discussed this movie and its ideology, what the director’s voice was, what its representation of gender was, and whether or not we could distinguish a clear authorial voice within the bigness of this blockbuster.

We continued with a presentation on the Kathryn Bigelow article, and ended with a clip from “The Hurt Locker.”

We then discussed gender in “Point Break” and asked what Bigelow tells us about masculinity. We talked about the dichotomy between males in the law world and the surfer world, and the alternative representations of masculinity, and further, the equally powerful but different representations of it. 

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