All posts tagged: Film

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 …

Catch-all in 2018

I decided against making resolutions this year, but that doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t put aside a little time to reflect on Catch-all and consider what the future of this blog should – or could – look like. Because blogging is just a hobby for me, I’ve never been particularly strict about narrowing down my focus (it’s called Catch-all for a reason) and I know that going into 2018 my posts will continue to be just as varied. I do, however, plan to put my media studies degree to use and share more work that examines film, TV, pop culture, music, politics, identity, and representation. With more serious work will also come some fun (I think it’s about time to write about Vanderpump Rules) and I’m hoping to maintain that delicate balance between content that reflects both fierce critical engagement, and lighthearted entertainment. Catch-all in 2017 Most popular posts this past year: Fun with Vinyl Resistance Reading List On America, Mobility, & Freedom in “Easy Rider” PHOTOS: Women’s March Los Angeles Riding the Pacific Surfliner Most …

Lena Dunham’s Rich White Kids

I haven’t had the time to blog lately, so I wanted to jump back into things with a super short post on Lena Dunham. This is just something I wrote on my notes app one night last week, so my thoughts aren’t fully fleshed out, nor are they particularly well assembled. I was thinking a lot about Lena Dunham after she defended an accused rapist and had one of her Lenny Letter writers quit, citing “hipster racism.” Dunham has been doing and saying problematic things for years, and although I really wanted to be a fan (she’s an outspoken writer/director/producer and I look up to that) her work has consistently rubbed me the wrong way. One of the things that has always made Lena Dunham’s work a bit difficult for me to digest (beginning with Tiny Furniture, even though I enjoyed it overall) is that her very wealthy artist New Yorker background is so much a part of her storytelling. Her film, TV series, and writing is always about white girls, but specifically elitist, posh, rich white girls, which is …

WATCH: “Wearing the Big Heart”

When I started Catch-all one of my intentions was to share short films by artists who I felt had something unique and important to say. I haven’t posted any such work in a long time, and I think Wearing the Big Heart by Tony Carter-Hill is a great place to start again. Carter-Hill’s film captures the Los Angeles Women’s March, showcasing the march’s complex mood while revealing remarkably intimate moments within an intense and massive public event. That day meant something very special to me, and I appreciate how Wearing the Big Heart paints the historic Women’s March with such vibrant images and sounds. Carter-Hill’s work is abstract, dynamic, rhythmic, and truly compelling. I was able to ask Tony about what that day meant to him. Here’s a bit of what he had to say: “As people began to walk with their banners held erect and in these colorful costumes, I became more inspired about filming. I thought about reproducing a feeling rather than a narrative, while keeping in mind consciousness and place, national identity, humanistic tendencies, …

A Few of My Favorite 80’s Movies

Oh the 80’s. It was the decade that came and left just before I was born and bestowed us with vibrant clothes, pop music, and Reagan’s regressive policies. It’s the time that my mom refers to mysteriously and with an air of disdain, telling a curious story from her past and concluding with a sigh, “well it was the 80’s.” And when I watch popular American 80’s movies, I think I catch her drift. Below are five of my favorite off-beat, magical, bizarre, and hilarious movies that are quintessentially of the 80’s. What are a few of yours? Raising Arizona (dir. Joel Coen, Ethan Coen, 1987) Raising Arizona is my favorite Coen brother’s film (followed closely by The Big Lebowski) and a Nic Cage favorite as well. Raising Arizona is charming, hilarious, well written, and perfectly cast and performed. The film’s very particular production design, cinematography, and soundtrack also adds to its magic. And as an Arizonan, I seem to have a warm place in my heart for any movie that takes place there.   The Breakfast Club (dir. John Hughes, 1985) Like …

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 …

Recommended Film & TV Books | Part 1

I’ve been studying film and television in school for some years now, so as a result I’ve amassed quite a collection of film and TV-related books. Here’s part 1 of my recommended media texts list – and you can expect a number of these posts in the future since there are so many books that I’ve found to be truly invaluable. Although I’ve linked each book to Amazon, buy locally if you can find them at your community’s bookstore! Save the Cat! The Last Book on Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need by Blake Snyder: Save the Cat! is, indeed, the last book on screenwriting you’ll ever need. The book includes information on high concept ideas, genre-play, beat sheets, and even a bit of pitching advice. It contains basically everything you need to know about coming up with an idea, writing your script, re-writing your script, and getting it sold. Designs on Film: A Century of of Hollywood Art Direction by Cathy Whitlock: There was a point during college when I thought that I wanted to be a production designer, so my boyfriend got …

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 …