Jaap’s Recitation 4/25

Class began with a reminder from Jaap that final papers are due this Friday – how’s that coming along, folks? You don’t have to answer, I get it.

From there, we launched into last year’s summer blockbuster Super 8 (dir. J.J. Abrams). We watched as a train crash exploded into scientifically impossible degrees. The discussion from there regarded the film’s play on nostalgia and fan culture, taking heavy influence from Spielberg’s early days (especially Close Encounters of the Third Kind and E.T. Extra-Terrestrial). The very idea of Super 8 cameras is a culture that Abrams’ generation grew up in, and this is what drives the movie’s homely feel.

Speaking of fan culture made for the perfect segue into Denzel and Evan’s presentation on the Jenkins reading. Though Jaap made them skip their various Star Wars references (which the reading discussed quite a lot in example), they improvised well and spoke about the interaction of movies with their audiences. With the mainstreaming of the Internet, fanfiction become a phenomenon, and fans had a new medium to laud their favorite movies and form a mythos.

When the Wachowski Brothers created The Matrix, they were very much aware of this. Taking advantage of other media and marketing ploys, they created the Animatrix as not just an optional extension for fans, but as a necessary device in order to fully understand the world they’d created. The Animatrix goes back and shows you the war between man and machine, and how things have become what they are – not always in ways you were expecting. For instance, it turns out that the nonexistence of the sky in The Matrix is actually at the blame of man, as a last-ditch effort to block their nemesis’ power source. Such a necessity allows for further audience participation and interactivity with the mythos, even though the Wachowski Brothers are still in control.

Finishing the class was a presentation from this really awesome kid named David B. Jacobs. I swear, that guy has the coolest slideshows ever – did anyone else notice how his picture choices for last week’s American Psycho presentation became progressively more violent throughout the slideshow? Now that’s structure! This week, he spoke to us about Mulholland Dr., specifically regarding Todd McGowan’s essay analyzing the film.

McGowan refers to the most common interpretation of the film, that the first part is a dream of Diane’s, subconsciously satisfying all her desires presented in the second. McGowan points out how each element of Fantasy in part one reflects upon some Desire in part two, and discusses that the power lies in Lynch’s separation of Fantasy and Desire. Where they meet, he claims, lies the “Real,” a horrifyingly traumatic state which is best to merely graze.

David, however, cleverly pointed out the flaw of McGowan’s reading: He only discusses one interpretation. Some additional research (WOW, that kid even did additional research for his presentation! He totally deserves an “A”!) uncovers a massive amount of a variety of interpretations of Mulholland Dr., many of them completely incompatible with each other. David’s slideshow included a cool-looking collage illustrating just a few of the more interesting theories.

Ultimately, we decided that the film’s multitude of interpretations is possible its most interesting quality. This is what compels viewers to return for repeat viewings – it is a movie you cannot only watch once. And so, we cycle back to our discussion of audience interaction, in this case with the so-called “puzzle film.” A film which we must piece together for ourselves.

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