All posts tagged: Cinema studies

Representations of Urban Space & Masculinity in “Taxi Driver”

Representations of Urban Space & Masculinity in “Taxi Driver” & the Rise of the American Right-Wing Though Martin Scorsese’s 1976 psychological thriller, Taxi Driver, was released over 40 years ago, one could argue that many layers to the film’s harsh societal critiques are just as relevant in today’s sociopolitical climate. By exploring 1970s New York City through the perspective of Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro), an intense man whose past we know little about other than that he served in the Vietnam War, Scorsese and screenwriter Paul Schrader allow the audience to see the world through a particularly conservative lens. In the film, Bickle’s taxi cab works as a device that carries him through spaces he may not otherwise occupy. In this vehicle he’s shielded from that which fuels his fear and contempt. He sees, though might not necessarily be seen. He’s a vigilante on the edge of sanity, a sort of messiah figure who strives to clean up the city, though his racist and sexist rational for this metaphoric “clean up” is never stated …

Brown, Kiddo, & Tarantino

OR: Tarantino’s Leading Ladies: Jackie Brown, Beatrix Kiddo, & Women’s Empowerment On-screen Quentin Tarantino’s body of work – from his feature film debut Reservoir Dogs (1992), to his most recent epic The Hateful Eight (2015) – consists of films that are violent, highly stylized, dialogue-driven, oftentimes problematic, and always provocative. Though each film in Tarantino’s oeuvre is quite different from the one that came before it or followed, numerous qualities of his work remain consistent. In each of his films Tarantino celebrates popular culture by commemorating genres that were once relegated to the margins by Hollywood, such as martial arts cinema, Blaxploitation, and spaghetti westerns. While appropriating genres, Tarantino provides his own authorial stamp by writing dialogue-driven scripts which are benefited by episodic structures. A “Tarantino film,” one can almost always be assured, features revenge at the heart of the narrative and creates pleasure through the irreverent combination of humor and violence. And, with each of Tarantino’s films, the appropriateness of his representations of violence, race, gender, and revisionist history, come into question time and …

Hollywood’s Global Domination

My experience of foreign cinema – or the value that it has provided for me personally – is deeply rooted in my national identity and Hollywood’s history of global dominance. Scholar B. Ruby Rich writes in Subtitles: On the Foreignness of Film, “My guess is that foreign films function as a rebuke for some viewers, offering up evidence that the world is not made in ‘our’ image, and that neither our society nor our language is universal.”[1] While I agree with Rich’s evaluation, I’d like to complicate it just slightly. My argument, instead, is that foreign films function as a rebuke for most American viewers specifically, though not all. In his chapter titled Hollywood’s International Market, from The American Film Industry (ed. Tino Balio), Thomas H. Guback describes how Hollywood began to permeate the global film market after World War I, acting in a moment when numerous countries were economically devastated by the war and left financially indebted to the U.S. As a result, due to the surmounting strength of the American film market, international film …

Exploring “Twin Peaks”

In honor of Twin Peaks Day, I’m reposting this video essay I made on the series last spring. Enjoy, and please feel free to share any feedback! For my final project for CTCS 587: Television Theory, a graduate Cinema & Media Studies course at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts, I elected to do a video essay on Twin Peaks. In “Exploring ‘Twin Peaks’” I take a brief look at the production history of the series, as well as the show’s hybridization of genres. Because this was my first attempt at creating a video essay it certainly has its issues – but despite some technical and conceptual roadblocks, I truly enjoyed working on this project. In retrospect, I realize that I underestimated the amount of effort video essays require. From conducting research, to writing a script, recording voiceover, gathering clips, and assembling them into a cohesive format – it’s quite a time-consuming undertaking! All in all, I’d describe making a video essay as a labor-intensive, but immensely fun endeavor. I’m interested in exploring the video essay genre further, so any constructive criticism or feedback is welcomed. Incase you’re interested, here …