Category Archives: Final Paper

Final Paper Proposal

I plan to do the second option of comparing and contrasting two films from the 1990’s in terms of their depictions of gender or masculinity. I chose Johnathan Demme’s Silence of the Lambs and Martin Scorcese’s Goodfellas as the focus of my paper.

Silence of the Lambs and Goodfellas provide interesting contrasts of how masculinity is portrayed through the protagonist. In the former film we have Clarice Starling who is portrayed as this tough, butch FBI agent who is completely independent and can physically face off her male counterparts. She is the picture of “masculinity” in this film. The man she is trying to find and capture is the exact opposite, wanting to embrace more feminine features and roles and trying his best to rid himself of his innate masculinity. Goodfellas presents the stereotypical male and female domesticated roles, with the men exhibiting the brute masculinity through fighting and shooting guns, while the woman seek a man to become their husband and then work to support them in crime and anything else that will allow their families to continue. I think it will be a interesting topic to investigate further into.

Final Paper Proposal

I must say I was dissatisfied with the final paper topics. Therefore I wish to discuss my own topic, which stems from the topics of our first papers. I want to discuss the mental health of the nation after the late 70’s, depicted in Hal Ashby’s Being There. I prefer this film because of its original and timeless nature, but especially for its depiction of a nation that seeks solace in the most unlikely of candidates, an idiot savant.

I want to begin this paper with a discussion of Chancy “Gardener,” the protagonist. As an idiot savant, it is important to understand his background and depicted nature to understand the impact he has on America as a whole. I will then briefly detail how he stumbled across the richest and most powerful man in America. I believe this man is meant to personify the desire of America (of anyone) to find an answer to every ailment, or at least employ a philosophy to bear the weight of existence, especially the paranoia that is constant in any country – the paranoia of destruction. This man is a good friend of the president of the United States. I believe the president is a personification of the mental health of America at this time (and often at any time of its contemporary existence). Because of this, I will describe his nature in detail and the ultimate fear he has for Chancy. I will then discuss how Chancy’s ideas spread like wildfire, even as everyone that hears them reinterprets them. Chancy becomes an answer to the mental health of a nation, and ultimately the world at large (referenced in the Masonic imagery depicted at the end of the film). The final images, depicting Chancy as a Christ figure, express this answer in the simplest terms – that “life is a state of mind.”

Final Paper Proposal

One of the most charming American films of the 2000s I’ve seen was “Down With Love” (2003). It’s a light-hearted romantic comedy that nonetheless addresses many of the topics we’ve discussed in class, especially nostalgia, feminism, masculinity, and effects of consumer culture.

The film is made in a style of sex comedies of the 1960s, which should be interesting to explore: how do contemporary filmmakers see old cinema? what effects are they trying to achieve? where does the film succeed in resembling the 1960’s movies? where and most importantly why does it fail? what feelings does it raise in contemporary audiences?

One of the film’s biggest themes is feminism and women’s struggle. Social and political changes that have happened in the past 50 years inevitably transformed our attitude towards this subject, and I think “Down With Love” reflects the effects of not only feminism, but also post-feminism, as well as the filmmakers’ subjectivity. What do they think about gender equality now, and how is it shown in a story that’s taking place back then?

Overall, “Down With Love” is an interesting and quite unique mixture of past and present sensibilities, and as such looks like an intriguing and fun film to write about.

Final Paper Proposal

In the wake of the hard body action films of the 1980’s, there lies a cache of films re-examining what it means to be a woman and re-defining gender roles through depictions of female sexual liberation. I’ve chosen to compare and contrast two very different depictions of this liberation Spike Lee’s She’s Gotta Have It (1986) and Ridley Scott’s Thelma and Louise (1991). How is gender defined in each of these films? What does it mean to be a female? How is masculinity re-evaluated?

One of the most important comparisons between the two films is acknowledging the presence, influence, and gaze of a male director. Can Lee and Scott create accurate representations of a sense of female liberation if they’re males? Who is the one characterizing and defining Nola Darling’s “liberation”? What are the differences between a sexually liberated white female as opposed to a black female?

Final Paper Topics

Due as hard copy in recitation on April 18th.

In one or two paragraphs, write a proposal for how you plan to answer one of the following topics in a 10-12 page final essay. Your final paper must engage with some of the ideas presented in the readings, the lecture, and in recitation discussions. You must, therefore, engage critically with—not merely cite—at least two of the assigned texts we have read thus far.

You must choose American films that we have not previously screened in class.

1. In a detailed analysis of a film from 1980s, 1990s, or 2000s, describe how it makes use of postmodern aesthetics and/or appropriation to re-imagine, repurpose, or otherwise transform older cinematic narrative, thematic, or formal concerns.

2. Compare and contrast two films of either the 1980s or 1990s (or both) in terms of their depictions of gender or masculinity. What are the formal, thematic, and ideological relationships between the two?

3. In a detailed analysis, discuss how one or two films of the 1980s, 1990s, or 2000s attempt to depict a counterculture or critique dominant ideologies. How successful is/are the films in offering a alternative to mainstream culture? How is this achieved?

4. How did filmmaking change with the advent of digital media (examples: online video, video games, interactivity)? How does digital media express new aesthetic forms or ways of seeing and understanding the world? What are the social, economic, or political possibilities opened up by digital media? Your argument should include an analysis of two to three online examples.

5. Compare and contrast a film from the 1960s or 1970s with one from the 1980s, 1990s, or 2000s in terms of a theme (e.g. race, masculinity, politics, gender, brainwashing, law and order). How do the different social/economic/political contexts in which the respective films were made impact their meanings?

6. Formulate a topic and thesis of your own choosing.

Your proposal must receive the approval of your TA.