We Shall Overcome? The Problem of Self Infatuation in Western Ideology and Conflict Resolution

Wildly popular in modern culture, the medium of film operates as a pseudo canvas upon which current and historical social issues can be portrayed, then discussed, via cinematic narratives. In recent times, the topic of immigration and ‘the foreigner’ have been addressed frequently. Given the global culture which exists today, the question of the “other” is an important matter, with very real ramifications. The “other” or ‘the foreigner,’ seeking a sense of home in an adopted land, is faced with a myriad of struggles and prejudices. Many films carefully scrutinize this issue, hoping to assess the inhibitions and stereotypes which we, as a global society, must overcome in order to universalize ourselves and bring an end to the mistreatment of the theoretical “other.”

Reality is Indifferent as to Whether or Not We Believe: The Ethics of Found Footage

Chronicling the tragic death of self proclaimed ecologist Timothy Treadwell, Werner Herzog’s documentary film Grizzly Man draws upon over one hundred hours of video footage shot by Treadwell himself. Having devoted more than the latter decade of his life to studying wild grizzly bears in their native Alaskan habitat, the circumstances surrounding Treadwell’s death by bear attack were, at once, both ironic and sobering. As Bill Nichols, in his essay Telling Stories with Evidence, states: all documentaries are, to a given extent, fictional. The truth in this pronouncement stems from the fact that filmmakers typically function as voices of authority and as narrators, and thus documentaries are fictional in the rather unique sense that the documentary brings to light a specific version (i.e. the filmmaker’s) of the real world…

Western Flicks and the Academy Awards: The Values We Live and Die By

As long as there are movies, there will be Westerns. A love letter to a time in America when heroes loomed large and men (and women) lived and died by a strict code of ethics, the Western genre never seems to wear out its welcome, re-appearing in the box office in one form or another every few years. Sometimes it’s a remake of a classic, as was the case with the Coen brothers’ 2010 nod to True Grit. Sometimes it’s a comic send-up to the best of the Wild West, as offered up by Mel Brooks in Blazing Saddles or the animated Rango. And then there are the movies that disguise themselves as sci-fi or horror but are Westerns at heart, such as the Star Wars epics and many of the films of John Carpenter, an avowed fan of the Western whose influence can be seen in everything from his The Thing to Vampires.

Reimagining Star Trek: The Motion Picture

Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979) was the highly criticised, and often ignored, Science Fiction film that initiated a new chapter in the Star Trek franchise. It is renowned for its dull and plodding narrative, and for stripping the verve and vigour out of its long serving characters. Despite the fact that two years previous, Star Wars (1977) had made space an exciting and adventurous place to roam, Star Trek: The Motion Picture was literally a galaxy far, far away from the swashbuckling heroics of Luke Skywalker and Han Solo, and their attempts to bring down the evil intergalactic Empire.

It wasn’t always like this.

Peering Through Another Lens: 5 Broken Cameras

We have grown accustomed to documenting the world around us through a multitude of lenses. From birthdays, to marriages, to pet antics and cuisine masterpiece, we have taken to recording almost every aspect of our daily lives. It would seem that nothing is safe from the ubiquitous camera lens. The winner of the World Cinema Directing Award at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, 5 Broken Cameras explores what happens when an initial desire to film family moments turns into something more for Emad Burnat, a villager in the small farming town of Bil’in in the West Bank. Directed by Burnat and Guy Davidi, 5 Broken Cameras spans the course of five years as seen through five cameras, each of which is eventually smashed, shot, or otherwise broken.

Horror’s Next Step

I understand I am late to the game in voicing my opinions about The Cabin in the Woods. The movie has already been picked apart by seemingly all forms of essayistic expression by fanatics and haters alike, or been subjected to the looping rhetoric of reviewers who wish to talk without ever really saying anything. For me, a die-hard horrorphile, someone who truly believes horror cinema is among the most difficult of all artistic expression, this movie required a cool-down period, a releasing of the steam coming out of my ears, before I could allow myself to write one word about it. Cabin was released April 13, 2012 (a Friday), almost exactly 29 years after the first Evil Dead movie. In Evil Dead, five college-aged friends travel to a mysterious cabin in the middle of unpopulated woods, and unknowingly release an evil entity. The movie changed the genre, and arguably the Hollywood big-budget business model for profitable filmmaking. As 28 Days Later was followed by Shaun of the Dead, as Scream was followed by Scary Movie, so too has the teenagers-in-the-woods plotline reached the point of parody.

Interview: Budd Carr on Savages and Having the Best Job in the World

Budd Carr has one of the more easily envied job that I have ever heard of; he picks out the music that goes into major motion pictures. Music Supervisor is generally his official title, and he has played that role for eighty-eight films and television show since 1984, when he got his career started with Terminator. Budd, as he insists on being called, probably is best known for his work Oliver Stone, and indeed promotion of that director’s most recent film, Savages, seemed to be the reason why Carr was giving interviews. When I called him, he had another lined up for right after ours. I had seen Savages a few days before the interview, but, since I thought the movie was terrible, I focused our conversation more on his job generally. …CONTINUE…

Brave: How Princess Merida Might Have Saved Me

Since its release on June 22nd, Disney/Pixar’s Brave has garnered mixed reviews. Critics expected the much anticipated movie to build on the studio’s already staggering box office record and to bring audiences a leading lady unlike any we’ve seen, as it is Pixar’s first to feature a female protagonist and written and co-directed by a woman, Brenda Chapman. Discussions around Brave’s perceived shortcomings point to botched storytelling opportunities—another princess story, …continue…