All posts tagged: cinema

New to Catch-all? Start Here

Social distancing has left me with no excuse for neglecting this blog, so I’m back—for now. If you’ve landed on this page for the first time because you were bored and cruising the internet, well, welcome! And if you’ve been here before, welcome back. Thanks for returning again and again, despite years of inconsistency. I started this blog when I graduated from college in 2013. Since then I’ve had a handful of jobs, moved to another state, went to graduate school, and have done all sorts of other “adult” things. Yet I’m still here working on Catch-all because of what it provides for me. It’s an escape and a place to share my thoughts, but it’s also something more. It’s where I put the things I make that have no other place to go. Where my creative ideas have room to be planted; maybe they’re left there for a few years, maybe they die in the unwatered soil, but at least there’s a place for them. I’ve spent the past decade imagining and then re-imagining …

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 …

What “Lady Bird” Means to Me

When I finally watched Greta Gerwig’s beautiful Lady Bird, I felt so much and still do. Unlike Lady Bird I have a wonderful mom who’s kind and understanding, I was never ashamed of my socio-economic status, and I wouldn’t lie to a peer about the house I live in or who I’m friends with. But like Lady Bird I wanted to go to college in New York City despite never having been there, felt stifled by the mid-sized city I called home, and was sure that there were bigger and better things out there for me – whatever that actually means. Lady Bird somehow brought me back to my undergraduate years, when I felt like the world was this new and exciting place to explore and express myself within. Since then I’ve grown to be more realistic and a bit cynical, but seeing Lady Bird’s struggle to figure herself out reminded me of a part of myself I had forgotten. While I’m much more sure of myself than I was in college, I missed the hopefulness I found within my confusion. I …

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 …

On America, Mobility, & Freedom in “Easy Rider”

“A man went looking for America, but he couldn’t find it anywhere.” Few taglines remain relevant long after a film’s release, but Easy Rider’s ominous warning (“he couldn’t find it anywhere”) maintains its potency nearly 50 years after its debut. In David Laderman’s Driving Visions, he situates the road film genre within an explicitly American context and characterizes Easy Rider (Dennis Hopper, 1969) as “arguably the quintessential, genre-defining road movie.”[1] Following the cult popularity of low-budget biker exploitation films, Easy Rider seems to have borrowed from the aesthetic and tonal vigor of these works, but extended itself to a broader cultural critique that was relevant for a wider spectrum of Americans falling under the banner of “the counterculture.” While the influence of cinema imported from Europe and Asia facilitated the rise of the American auteur, the explosive socio-political context of late 1960’s could also be credited for cultivating unique works which explored social tensions and questions of identity, and more specifically, what it means to be an American. Easy Rider – in addition to preceding …

What Film School Taught Me as a BFA

Though it’s been a little over three years since I completed my undergraduate program at The University of Arizona, I’ve decided to revisit those years in a post about what film school taught me as a production student. Now that I’m in graduate school at USC, I’ve decided to shift my academic focus to film studies for a variety of reasons, but production is still at the heart of what I hope to accomplish in the future. A few notes about this list: while I didn’t go to a prestigious undergraduate production program at NYU, USC, UCLA, or UT Austin, I think many of the lessons I learned are somewhat universal at all institutions. Also, this is a slightly snarky, but thoroughly honest list. Long story short, take what you will from it… You can’t be unreliable. No one will want to work with you if they can’t rely on you to show up when you’re needed and put in the work. Hearing “we’ll fix it in post” is common for a reason. Yeah, you might be able …

La Filmothèque: An Online Film Library

I recently discovered La Filmothèque, a web-based public domain film library, and I thought it would be a great resource to share here on Catch-all. As an online film library, La Filmothèque provides easy access to classic films that are available in the public domain. Their library includes M, Man with a Movie Camera, and Un Chien Andalou, just to name a few film history essentials. La Filmothèque curates both well-known and more obscure films in order to create a space where film scholars, students, and fans alike can dive deep into the fun and exciting world of cinema’s past. La Filmothèque aims to expose audience members to films, genres, and directors that they might not have been aware of otherwise. The site categorizes films by genre, decade, country of origin, and director, allowing users to peruse the library however they see fit. The site also features a Film Store, where users can buy classic films recommended by La Filmothèque’s team. I myself am truly excited to be able to use La Filmothèque for my own academic and entertainment purposes, and am looking forward to sharing the site with the students …

The Decay of Cinema or a New Cine-love?

I recently read Susan Sontag’s “The Decay of Cinema,” published in the New York Times in 1996, for the undergraduate class at USC that I’m a teaching assistant for. In the essay she laments the commercialization of the Hollywood studio system, and how spectatorship evolved from an intimate and exciting experience in a darkened theater, to the less immersive comfort of a living room. At the crux of her essay is a memoriam to cinephilia, which she argues was once celebrated, but eroded by the turn of cinema’s 100th anniversary. Sontag’s argument essentially equates cinephilia with a certain type of movie-lover; for a true cinephile, cinema is their everything, and they elect to watch films in the most enveloping of spaces – the movie theater. “Cinephilia itself has come under attack, as something quaint, outmoded, snobbish. For cinephilia implies that films are unique, unrepeatable, magic experiences. Cinephilia tells us that the Hollywood remake of Godard’s “Breathless” cannot be as good as the original. Cinephilia has no role in the era of hyperindustrial films. For cinephilia cannot help, by the very range and eclecticism of …

AFI FEST ’15: A Week of Films, Filmmakers, and Fun

This year marks my first time attending AFI Fest, and my experience was truly one to remember. Festival passes start at $375, but my class schedule only allowed for me to attend a few screenings, so I took advantage of the fest’s free tickets (yes, free!). This year I attended the premiere of By the Sea, with an introduction by Angelina Jolie-Pitt, Mustang with both an introduction and Q & A with the film’s director, Deniz Gamze Ergüven, and ensemble cast, and Youth, followed by a conversation with Michael Caine and director Paolo Sorrentino. I had plans to see The Lobster, which looks bizarrely entertaining, but unfortunately had to miss it due to schedule conflicts. After as much fun as I had this year, I plan on attending AFI Fest for as long as I’m living in Los Angeles – it’s a festival that all film lovers should experience at least once! What I found so refreshing about AFI Fest can be summed up in their mission statement: AFI Fest is “American Film Institute’s annual celebration of international cinema from modern masters and emerging filmmakers. ” In her introduction of Mustang, festival director …