Indie Filmmakers: Grit and Imagination

 

Nia Dacosta, independent film writer/director, known for “Little Woods” and “Night and Day.” IMDb. https://www.imdb.com/name/nm4804442/?ref_=fn_al_nm_1

 


Star Wars: The Force Awakens. IMDb. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2488496/

Most of the general population is aware of the big film studios such as Warner Brothers, Disney, and Paramount. They probably are even aware of other large production companies which do not belong under the studio umbrella like Bad Robot (Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Mission Impossible, Super 8) or Scott Rudin Productions (Lady Bird, The Grand Budapest Hotel). But what most people are unaware of is the wide breadth of the independent filmmaking circuit which runs under our noses, unnoticed. Scrappy filmmakers that are creating art through limited means of funding are still able to bring compelling stories to life through visual language, just like their big studio brothers in Hollywood.


The Grand Budapest Hotel. IMDb. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2278388/?ref_=nv_sr_1

So what sets independent filmmaking apart and who are the main players? The biggest differences between Hollywood and independent filmmaking are the people and money that back up each film. Large media conglomerates such as studios have a surplus of money as they are pulling it in from all sectors of the industry. With the promise of an unlimited amount of resources, production companies are able to approach these studios with scripts to which the studios can attach big stars and directors. These films are the able to then be distributed widely and brought to many theaters all over the world.

In independent filmmaking, funds for individual films are either raised through crowdfunding or through private investors who believe in the dreams of the filmmakers. Oftentimes, actors from Hollywood will also be attached to independent films, but there are also many actors who only act within the indie-film circuit. Much of the time, the writer of the script is also the director of the film. Once the film is completed, the filmmakers must find a way to distribute their film as well, without the help of a large corporation.


The DuPlass Brothers. The Hollywood Reporter. 17 July 2013, https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/live-feed/duplass-brothers-comedy-gets-series-586412

One example of independent filmmaking comes from the Duplass brothers, who run their own independent production company, The Duplass Brothers Productions. Mark and Jay Duplass are originally from New Orleans. Both brothers are prominent     actors in TV (The League, Transparent) but also run an independent filmmaking production company. Together they wrote, directed, and produced the films Baghead and Cyrus. The Puffy Chair may be one of their most famous films. Their filmography is known for heavy improvisations by the actors involved. They intentionally write lean screenplays that have room for dialogue change, which brings an organic sense of humor to play when the actors perform off of each other.

Togetherness. HBO. 2018, https://www.hbo.com/togetherness

Through the successes of their independent films, the Duplass brothers have been able to expand into a number of other activities. They were able to co-create Togetherness, a television series for HBO, and they have also signed a four-year agreement with Netflix. Netflix will be helping to finance their films, and after a short distribution release, the films will be released on the Netflix streaming platform as well. Because the brothers are doing so well, they have started an annual campaign, called the “Hometown Heroes” competition, to encourage and aid other independent filmmakers. Teaming up with Seed&Spark, a film-centered crowdfunding company that also provides on-demand video streaming, the Duplass brothers promise $50,000 in funding each year to a filmmaker who will film a movie in their respective hometowns. Along with the money, the brothers will also be attached as executive producers. In a heavily competitive art form, their efforts to encourage other filmmakers are commendable.

Even through all of the hurdles that independent filmmaking must overcome, indie filmmakers are able to create very touching films, and they often focus on otherwise-untold stories. They may not be as well known or revered as the Tarantinos or Spielbergs of their day, but they continue to entrance us with their masterpieces. SM

Sami Masaki is a junior studying Cinema Production. She enjoys spending time with family and friends and watching movies. This past summer, she did two different film internships in Los Angeles, including one at Heydey Films.

♦ Here is IMDB’s  Top 25 Best Indie Movies of All Time. What’s on your list?

♦ Women writers and directors are one of the quickest-growing demographics in indie film. Want to know more? Just check out IndieWire’s 20 Rising Female Filmmakers You Need to Know in 2018.

♦ Got a favorite? Tell us about it!

 

 

Crazy Rich Asians

Crazy Rich Asians. IMDb. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt3104988/?ref_=nv_sr_1

On August 15th, Crazy Rich Asians opened in the United States. That stormy Wednesday evening, a tornado warning was issued just as I pulled into the theater’s parking lot. Though the Bloomington theater was barely half full, the film has gone on to be sold out across the country, earning 26.5 million its first weekend. As the first Asian-led and Asian-cast movie in twenty-five years, it has been hailed as an entertainment milestone in diversity. (See “The Connection Between ‘The Joy Luck Club’ and ‘Crazy Rich Asians,’” https://www.npr.org/2018/08/18/639822957/the-connection-of-the-joy-luck-club-and-crazy-rich-asians)

Family interaction, Crazy Rich Asians. IMDb. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt3104988/mediaviewer/rm956647680

The plot, very simply, is about a Chinese-American college professor (Rachel) who visits her boyfriend Nick’s family in Singapore only to find out not only are they “crazy rich,” they also do not think very highly of her as an Asian American raised by a single mother. Most of the movie is set on the lush island country at the tip of the Malay peninsula, and while a brief detour into a mouth-watering food spot–shot on location at Newton Food Centre–introduces us and Rachel to Singapore, not much time is spent on the details of the place in which the romance and family drama unfolds.

Singapore food, Crazy Rich Asians. Michelin Guide. 22 August 2018. https://guide.michelin.com/us/chicago/features/crazy-rich-asians-movie-food-styling/news

I left the theater that night wanting to know more about Chinese Singaporeans, especially intrigued by the detail about Nick’s family and how they had emigrated to Singapore and made their fortune. What was that history, and why did the film skip over it so quickly?

It didn’t take long for me to find voices who were framing the film and its representation of a place and its people quite differently. Some are Chinese Singaporeans themselves like Kirsten Han who wrote an article that says the movie “gets Singapore wrong.” She writes, “The all-East Asian cast of Crazy Rich Asians is also a misrepresentation of Singapore at the most basic level, obscuring Malay, Indian, Eurasian, and more populations who make the country the culturally rich and unique place that it is.” Why does this matter? It all has to do with power and historical context.

Chinese Singaporeans have long enjoyed privilege and power in the Southeast Asian country where they have been the ethnic majority since 1826, despite the fact that it was a British-controlled colony at that time. By 1877, an administrative body called the Chinese Protectorate was put in place to ensure the well-being of Chinese Singaporeans, many of whom were immigrant laborers and some of whom were forced into prostitution.

Baedeker map of the city and environs, ca. 1914, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Map_of_Singapore_(Baedeker,_1914).jpg

Almost a century later and following a brief period of Japanese rule, Singapore became a fully independent republic and elected Lee Kuan Yew as its first Prime Minister in 1959. Yew was a Cambridge-educated, fourth-generation Chinese Singaporean, and he came to be known as the “founding father” of Singapore, ushering the new republic from “third- to first-world in a single generation.” Since that time, Singapore has never had a non-Chinese prime minister. All of this is part of why some scholars and cultural theorists refer to the situation in Singapore as a form of “Chinese supremacy.”

Having read the critiques and talked to friends about the movie, I see the film as an opportunity to learn and reflect about the different racist  global histories that persist in popular media.

In a conversation with Jeff Yang about the choice not to explain the rules of mahjong in the movie, CRA director John Chu said, “We didn’t want to give people an excuse to think of this world as some kind of obscure, exotic fantasyland — this is a real place, with real culture, history and tradition, and instead of just giving them answers to their questions, we want them to have conversations.” The movie itself becomes a fun and emotional way to begin a conversation that hopefully leads us to a better understanding of Singapore, classism, colorism, and what our needs and expectations for representation tell us about what to look for next.

The Joy Luck Club. IMDb. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0107282/mediaviewer/rm175930880

If you are one of those people that likes to read the book before they see the movie, Wells Library can help! Crazy Rich Asians: https://iucat.iu.edu/catalog/15266801. And you can come to Media Services to find The Joy Luck Club, the movie that inspired similar questions a full 25 years ago: https://iucat.iu.edu/catalog/10023013, along with a wide variety of other Asia-focused cinema milestones. AL

Anni Liu is a graduate student in Creative Writing at IU and a published poet and essayist. For a brief analysis of the history of Chinese cinema, see her previous blog post entitled “Chinese Cinema: Classics and New Trends in Context,” Media Beat blog, July 3, 2018: https://blogs.libraries.indiana.edu/mediabeat/2018/07/03/chinese-cinema-classics-and-new-trends-in-context/

Sources Cited:

https://www.vox.com/first-person/2018/8/17/17715124/crazy-rich-asians-movie-singapore

https://www.vox.com/first-person/2018/8/17/17723242/crazy-rich-asians-movie-mahjong

https://wearyourvoicemag.com/more/entertainment/crazy-rich-asians-not-radical-win-representation

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_Singaporeans

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Singapore

Sex and the City and GIRLS: Women and TV Then and Now

1930s Map of New York Subways. Amazon. https://www.amazon.com/1930s-Subway-Vintage-Framed-Poster/dp/B012J7QUCS

New York City. The five boroughs have hosted their fair share of television and movie backgrounds but none so iconic with the female crowd than Sex and the City and more recently GIRLS. Four women in New York deal with careers, family, mental health, and most importantly, friendship. The basic setup could apply to either show and both were broadcast on HBO. GIRLS feels like a symbolic continuation of SATC. In its time, SATC was edgy. It made important strides in depicting the complex nature of relationships from a refreshingly wide scope of four distinct characters, and there is a considerable amount of scholarship centered on SATC and feminism. When viewed today, however, it can miss the mark of what makes a show feminist by contemporary standards. But because of this show, which opened those complex issues for women to discuss without the taboo, we now have shows like GIRLS that can continue that trend, explore issues of the next generation, and not fall into the same niche narratives that SATC couldn’t avoid.

Sex and the City. Trova Moda. 2017, http://www.trovamoda.com/news/sex-and-the-city-la-serie-cult-compie-20-anni

SATC depicted four stereotypes of women out in the world, trying to have it all. Samantha, although older than the other main characters, was in many ways the most progressive of the bunch. Contrary to this, each GIRLS main character has a distinct yet unique personality that doesn’t allow for any “Oh I’m a Carrie” or Miranda, Charlotte, Samantha talk. GIRLS acknowledges the similarities between the shows in the first episode when main character Shoshanna matches up her friends with their SATC counterparts. There are quirky qualities that these characters have been crafted to have that make them shine much brighter and resonate with a much larger female audience than SATC ever did.

Zosia Mamet play Shoshanna on Girls. Paste. 23 March 2016, https://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2016/03/shoshannas-life-on-mars-girls-and-the-embodiment-o.html
Sarah Jessica Parker as Carrie Bradshaw. Zimbio. http://www.zimbio.com/Actors+Who+Regret+Their+Iconic+Movie+Roles/articles/ulwpu13v0Tp/Sarah+Jessica+Parker+Carrie+Bradshaw+Sex+City

Both shows fall prey to common but truthful criticisms. The show is too white. Too upper class. And most of the time, too whiny. Both SATC‘s Carrie and GIRLS’ Hannah tend toward narcissism and emotion-driven behavior, being the principal characters, but unlike SATC where all the girlfriends would complain to their boyfriends about their friends, in GIRLS the conflicts and confrontations happen between the characters, allowing the audience to see positive instances of communication and growth between characters.

Girls. Madmoizelle. 23 May 2017, http://www.madmoizelle.com/girls-serie-101181

But what makes both shows worth the trouble is the treatment of those complex issues from a distinctly female perspective that allows women to start the conversation, connect with other women and, at the very least, laugh a little.

Both Sex and the City and GIRLS are currently available in Media Services. Be sure to check them out! CC

Casey Callas is a senior studying Liberal Arts. When she isn’t watching movies, you can find her napping in a hammock somewhere around campus.

Criterion Collection

Sex, Lies, and Videotape. Criterion Collection. https://www.criterion.com/films/28832-sex-lies-and-videotape
Beyond the Hills. Criterion Collection. https://www.criterion.com/films/28618-beyond-the-hills

When you’re in the mood to watch a movie, picking the right film can be a daunting process.  Everyone hopes to enjoy whatever film they commit themselves to watching, and nobody wants to waste their time.  In this regard, something that has personally helped aid me in selecting great films to watch is the Criterion Collection.

What is the Criterion Collection?

The Criterion Collection is a video distribution company that licenses only what it considers to be exemplary classic or contemporary films.  The Collection was founded in 1984, and currently licenses an astounding 1,265 films with more being added every month.  If you’re struggling to find a film to watch, simply browse the Criterion Collection’s catalog of films and you surely won’t be disappointed.

Mishima. Criterion Collection. https://www.criterion.com/films/588-mishima-a-life-in-four-chapters
El Sur. Criterion Collection. https://www.criterion.com/films/27745-el-sur

At this point, you may be asking yourself if this post is actually an ad for the company: it’s not. The Criterion Collection does get a lot of love from the film community, though. In a 2009 blog post, Roger Ebert called Criterion “the standard bearer among high-quality DVDs.”  What makes the collection attractive is the care taken to present a film in all its celluloid glory, with a lot of attention given to image restoration and digital transfer. The DVDs also have spiffy packaging, and the special features—interviews, artist bios, etc.—add context that helps viewers understand and appreciate the film.  Most of us take these add-ons for granted nowadays, but Criterion was one of the first companies to routinely include them.

The Criterion Collection meets the high standards of film industry aficionados, but it is also good for regular folks who just want to see something different—it’s been called a “film school in a box” (“Criterion DVD Collection,” NPR, June 12, 2004). In the blog post mentioned above, Roger Ebert profiles a guy named Matthew Dessem who, after renting a few Criterion titles from his local video store, decided to watch every single Criterion movie and blog about it. Dessem decided to blog “to keep myself honest and force myself to think critically, because I had a premonition of dust collecting on The Seventh Seal” [a challenging Swedish art film] “while I watched This Is Spinal Tap.” https://www.rogerebert.com/rogers-journal/the-man-who-is-scaling-mt-criterion-film-by-film

Dietrich & Von Sternberg in Hollywood. Criterion Collection. https://www.criterion.com/boxsets/1329-dietrich-von-sternberg-in-hollywood
Female Trouble. Criterion Collection. https://www.criterion.com/films/28704-female-trouble

My Criterion Picks

While working at Media Services, I’ve been using the Criterion Collection to learn about film in the same way. Listed below are three of my favorite films that I’ve chosen from the collection, that I’m sure can be enjoyed by everyone.

Che

Che. Criterion Collection. https://www.criterion.com/films/20987-che

To begin, Che is a two-part film with a total runtime of 4 hours and 28 minutes; all of which you will be captivated and enthralled by as you follow the true story of Che Guevara, a major influence of the Cuban Revolution.  Che is a realistic depiction of the volatile and turbulent life of those living in a country plagued by dissonance, turmoil, and undergoing a revolution, and does not shy away from difficult but realistic circumstances that these individuals are exposed to.  Che is exemplary in the sense that the film focuses heavily on the psychological and moral aspects of revolution and human nature, instead of relying on violence to draw the viewer in.

Secret Sunshine

Secret Sunshine is a South Korean film focusing on a woman named Lee Shin-ae and her young son, who moves to a town named Secret Sunshine after the tragic death of her husband.  Secret Sunshine is a story of Lee Shin-ae’s battles with grief, faith, and acceptance.  This film paints a very brutally honest yet realistic portrait of unexpected tragedies that affect good people and the psychological trauma that that is subsequently induced.  The film’s cinematography and ambient feelings of atmospheric beauty serve as a catalyst to cause the viewer to reflect on their own life, realizing that even unfortunate events can sometimes contain beauty depending on your perspective.

Secret Sunshine. Criterion Collection. https://www.criterion.com/films/27750-secret-sunshine

Fish Tank

Fish Tank. Criterion Collection. https://www.criterion.com/films/27541-fish-tank

Fish Tank is a gritty, ultra-realistic film depicting the life of a young girl’s struggle with leading an aimless life.  Mia is depressed and socially isolated, taking her anger out on those around her.  Mia finds solace in dancing to hip-hop music, and attempts to pursue her dreams of competitive dancing in order to break out of her monotonous, mundane and seemingly hopeless life.  Fish Tank has won numerous awards for its skillful portrayal of life and the unexpected struggles and hardships that accompany it.

The Criterion Collection consists of films that are sure not to disappoint—or at least to provoke interesting thought and discussion—and here at Media Services we have a large portion of their collection.  Below is just a sampling of our holdings, along with a link to the full Criterion Collection list. Feel free to stop by and browse for a movie that’s right for you!

This blog post was written by William Power, a junior majoring in Informatics who enjoys reading and watching movies.

See full Criterion Collection here

A few of the many Criterion titles available at Media Services (links take you to the IUCAT item record):

Angst essen Seele auf Ali, fear eats the soul

Ballada o soldate Ballad of a soldier

Carnival of souls

I fidanzati

Kumonosu-jo Throne of blood

Les vacances de Monsieur Hulot M. Hulot's holiday

Leti͡at zhuravli The cranes are flying

Monty Python's Life of Brian

Muerte de un ciclista Death of a cyclist

Mystery train

Nóż w wodzie Knife in the water

Orphée

Quadrophenia

Rashōmon

Repo man

Slacker

Sommarnattens leende Smiles of a summer night

Symbiopsychotaxiplasm two takes

Ṭaʻm-i guylās A taste of cherry

The harder they come

The 39 steps

 

It’s the Hottest Color Trend in TV and Film. But Why?

Stills from Diva, 1981. Architecture and Film. 28 December 2004, http://www.tboake.com/diva_questions_2004.html


Blue, Purple, Pink. Slap on some neon and you have yourselves, at the very least, an aesthetically pleasing scene. This color trio has been showing up increasingly in TV and film. Is Stranger Things to blame? An 80s-nostalgic itch that this generation of content makers is scrambling to fill our screens with? Let’s dive deeper into the psychology of why these colors are so engaging.

The Pantone Color Institute named Ultra Violet as its 2018 color of the year, stating the choice was influenced by the aesthetics of artists Prince, David Bowie, and Jimi Hendrix.

Blue: This color calls to mind feelings of calmness and serenity. It is a sign of stability and reliability. While there are many positive traits associated with this color, the age-old phrase “feeling blue” can hold true as well.

Purple: This color does not often occur in nature, and therefore has become a symbol of wealth and royalty. It can be symbolic of strength of character, as seen with the Purple Heart award in the military.

Pink: The lovechild of white and red, this color is strongly associated with femininity. Other traits associated with pink (and femininity) are kindness, nurturing, and compassion. Due to these strong associations, this hue appears frequently in discussions about the complex social constructs between gender and color.

So, what are these colors doing together? Let’s look at some examples of this aesthetic phenomenon available now in Media Services!

“San Junipero,” the Emmy Award-winning episode of Black Mirror, explores emotions transcending consciousness, decade, and even lifetime, as well as producing a rich and layered story revolving around two bisexual female characters in the 1980s.

Black Mirror – San Junipero (2016). Deviant Art. https://www.deviantart.com/cael-fernando/art/Black-Mirror-s-San-Junipero-646211340

The Academy Award-winning film Moonlight also includes this color trio, right on the cover. Moonlight tells the story of Chiron, a Black man in Miami whose life is presented in three stages. The film covers many topics such as sexuality, identity, race, family, abuse, and drugs.

Moonlight: Is This The Year’s Best Movie? The New York Times. 20 October 2016, https://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/21/movies/moonlight-review.html

 

The nostalgia can once again be seen in Blade Runner 2049. New fans to the franchise can rest easy, as you do not have to have seen the original to enjoy this Academy Award-winning and visually captivating film. This neo-noir film employs gorgeous cinematography that at many points makes up for some lackluster storytelling.

Blade Runner 2049 (2017). Vox. 9 October 2017, https://www.vox.com/culture/2017/10/9/16433088/blade-runner-2049-spoilers-review

Atomic Blonde, a 2017 action thriller starring Charlize Theron and set in the 80s, rounds out this list.

Atomic Blonde. Project Casting. 12 April 2018, http://www.projectcasting.com/news/atomic-blonde-2-coming-soon/

There are many more examples of this color combo in contemporary film and television. We may not be able to pinpoint just why hot pink, electric blue, and Paisley Park purple are so hot right now, but from what we can see so far, the trend will continue to captivate audiences a while longer. CC

Casey Callas is a senior studying Liberal Arts. When she isn’t watching movies, you can find her napping in a hammock somewhere around campus.

Chinese Cinema: Classics and New Trends in Context

When it comes to mainland Chinese cinema, many in the United States are familiar with wuxia (martial arts) films such as House of Flying Daggers. Some may be fans of “scar films” that emerged from the extreme hardships of the Cultural Revolution. I myself was introduced to Chinese cinema through 90s classics such as Raise the Red Lantern and Farewell My Concubine. What these all have in common is that they were made by filmmakers in the “Fifth Generation” or before.

 Leslie Cheung in Farewell My Concubine (1993) by Chen Kaige

The Fifth Generation filmmakers–such as Zhang Yimou, Chen Kaige, Tian Zhuangzhuang–comprise a group of Beijing Film School graduates who began working around the mid 1980s. After graduating, many of them were recruited by the Xi’an Film Studio where they went on to make a number of aesthetically and commercially successful films like the ones mentioned above. The term “Fifth Generation” is thought by many to be an umbrella term that is more descriptive of a time period than of a collective style or subject. However, as they were the first filmmakers to work after the period of absolute government control, they are united in their divergence from the socialist-realist style and ideological adherence of Cultural Revolution Cinema.

Gong Li in Raise the Red Lantern (1991) by Zhang Yimou

While most of these directors are still active today (Zhang Yimou’s largest-budget film The Great Wall was released in 2016), there has for some time been a Sixth Generation of Chinese filmmakers who have made their own way. After the protests and massacre at Tiananmen Square in 1989, the government censorship and the lack of funding forced many aspiring filmmakers underground. Some of these films, such as Golden Lion winner Still Life by Jia Zhangke, are made with non-professional actors. Others are shot with low quality equipment with budgets less than $10,000. The films by Sixth Generation filmmakers are more interested in contemporary industrialization and loneliness, and are far less lush and romantic than their Fifth Generation counterparts.

Han Sanming in Still Life (2006) by Jia Zhangke

In addition to Jia Zhangke, there is Wang Xiaoshuai, Zhang Yuan, and Lou Ye. Anyone who is a fan of the florid and expressive films like Ju Dou or Hero might at first find films like Still Life or The Days cold and gritty, but there is an urgency to them that is very compelling.

Since the early 2000s, there has been a “dGeneration” of filmmakers, with “d” standing for digital. Most of these have been screened on the independent circuit. Some well-known titles are Taking Father Home by Ying Ling and Oxhide by Jian Yi.

If this seems like a lot to you, it’s because it is. And these are just the mainland Chinese films from the past 30 years or so. If we broaden the scope past the People’s Republic of China to include filmmakers from Taiwan (Hou Hsiao-Hsien, Edward Yang), Hong Kong (Wong Kar Wai, Ann Hui), and diasporic filmmakers like Ang Lee, the list grows exponentially.

We have many of these titles here at Media Services. Come check one out! AL

Anni Liu is a graduate student in Creative Writing at IU and a published poet and essayist. 

Wilfred: An Unorthodox TV Treatment of Mental Illness

Mental illness is not something to be taken lightly, although Wilfred, an American remake of the original Australian series, manages to bring in dark comedic themes while still taking it seriously. The main character Ryan (Elijah Wood) bonds with his neighbor Jenna’s dog named Wilfred. Oddly enough, he is the only one that can see that the dog is a talking human in a dog costume. Wilfred puts Ryan through all sorts of antics and grows on Ryan and also the audience. Although it is never clear why he sees Wilfred the way he does, all that is for certain is that Ryan is deeply depressed and likely to have other mental issues that are not completely spelled out throughout the series.

The show tackles some philosophical themes that leave the viewer with open-ended questions: Why is Ryan the only person that can hear Wilfred talking? Is he actually the only person? Is it a delusion or is it real? Does Wilfred ever have Ryan’s best interests in mind? What even is Wilfred, exactly? It constantly leaves the viewer questioning what is going on, as some episodes in the series are very surreal.

Since it is a comedy, there are a few light-hearted and uplifting episodes to offset the heavy and morbid ones from time to time. For example, the first few minutes of the first episode start out with Ryan typing out a suicide note and attempting suicide. This show does not romanticize suicide or depression by any means, but provides insight on how it can impact its victims and odd ways they can often cope without anyone really noticing the signs and symptoms.

Wilfred aired from 2011-2014 on FX. David Wiegand of the San Francisco Chronicle thought the show was quirky but worth the effort. In a 2011 review, he noted that Wilfred was “perhaps an acquired taste for some viewers, but if the sheer absurdity of the show doesn’t get you, the rather sweet undercurrent just may do the trick.” (full review: https://www.rottentomatoes.com/tv/wilfred/s01/reviews/). If you’re intrigued, come check out seasons 1 and 2, available in the Browsing section of Media Services! FC

Fatima Coulibaly is a junior at IUB with an eclectic taste in film who enjoys playing the piano. Except Jingle Bells.

All images courtesy Google Images.

Fun, features, and sun all summer long at Media Services!

Media Services likes to keep our readers and patrons updated with monthly celebrations happening in the U.S and around the world. If you have been to Media Services before and have had the opportunity to look around, you have probably noticed our Staff Picks shelf where we highlight films that tie in with the special holidays and observances that happen each month. For the month of June, we have picked some films for you to watch! So whether you’re in a film rut and don’t know what to watch for your next movie night, or you want to branch out and watch films about different topics, or you’re sick of not having a favorite movie to list for those let’s-get-to-know-each-other games, Media Services is here for you.

African-American Music Appreciation Month

The widespread influence African-American artists and music have had on our culture today is a no-brainer. It was probably for this reason that, in 1979, President Jimmy Carter mandated that the month of June should be Black Music Month, spurring the celebration of the contributions Black artists have made in all different genres of music. If you want to join in on the celebrations, feel free to come to Media Services and grab a copy of Ray, a biopic on the life of Ray Charles, or Bessie, a story about the legendary and groundbreaking blues performer Bessie Smith, and much more!


Pride Month

In celebration and observance of the history of the LGBT community around the world, we have selected films such as Paris is Burning, which explores the queer community in New York City, focusing on drag queens and their lives, and Milk, which tells the story of Harvey Milk, a gay rights activist as well as the first openly gay person to be elected into public office. Sean Penn’s portrayal of Milk earned him an Oscar win for Best Actor, 2009.

Fun fact: This month was chosen to commemorate LGBT pride in honor of the Stonewall Riots of 1969 which happened at the end of June, marking it as one of the most important events that spurred the fight for LGBT rights in the U.S.


Father’s Day

Fresh out of Mother’s Day month, it’s now time to give the fathers out there some love. With picks such as Finding Nemo and the Pursuit of Happyness—both films about how far fathers are willing go to for their kids—we have something for everyone!


National Candy Month

Last but definitely not least, for my fellow sweet-toothed people, June is National Candy Month. That’s right I said month, so in honor of this, we have chosen some classics such as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, among other films, to indulge the inner child in all of us!

During the month of June, let’s not forget that films not only entertain, but they also have the power to educate and celebrate, so if any of these topics interest you, treat yourself and stop by Media Services to grab a copy of your next favorite film! RE

Robi Endashaw

Robiati Endashaw will be a junior in the Fall and is studying public policy analysis in KSB with a minor in Economics. In her spare time, she enjoys reading non-fiction and watching crime documentaries.

All pictures courtesy Google images.

 

The (Wo)man, The Myth, The Legend: Katharine Hepburn

Alfred Eisenstaedt more Agency Prints (Katharine Hepburn) http://time.com/3842230/katharine-hepburn/

When you hear the phrase “classic Hollywood”, what do you tend to think of? The black & white images, used before color film was invented? Steamy romances? Pre-CGI special effects? For me, when I think of classic Hollywood, my mind jumps to Katharine Hepburn, an exceptional actress and an outspoken character.

I was first introduced to Hepburn’s work when watching one of her films Summertime (1955) in Media Services, on the ground floor of the Herman B Wells Library. The story follows a single American woman named Jane, who spends her entire life savings on a solo trip to Venice, Italy. I remember being struck immediately by the amount of courage Jane had to have had to take on Italy herself, especially considering the times. Jane is also a lover of film and photography, taking out her camera wherever she finds herself. She eventually meets an Italian man, and the two have an affair that spans her entire trip.


https://medium.com/@JoeSommerlad/katharine-hepburn-the-monster-and-the-making-of-the-african-queen-f685af78c05c

Hepburn has starred in countless Hollywood classics, such as Adam’s Rib, The African Queen, and even Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner. Whether she was actively defying her husband’s wishes or challenging the country’s oldest of prejudices, each of Hepburn’s characters embody the bold conviction that first drew me to the actress.

With all of these inimitable performances, it is no wonder that Hepburn was named “the greatest female star” of Classic Hollywood Cinema by the American Film Institute. However, even when out of character, she was anything but “classic”. Hepburn consistently rejected the status quo for the female actress by leading an extremely private life, maintaining a casual style in the age of Hollywood glamour, and being extremely active. She openly advocated for women’s rights, specifically for birth control and abortion access, which remain taboo subjects.


Actress in Wardrobe for "Philadelphia Story" Theater-Legit-Philadelphia Story, The Vintage Print Hepburn http://time.com/3842230/katharine-hepburn/

Admittedly, my admiration for Katharine is quite new. I still have a lengthy list of her films that have yet to be watched and curiosities about her personal life. Suffice to say, however, that there is a lot to learn about, and from, this icon. LA

Leah Ashebir is a business major at the Kelley School and will spend the summer gaining valuable business experience through an internship at a firm in New York City.

 

Thelma and Louise – a Timeless Roadtrip

As summertime dawns on us, many of us are left with much more free time and carefree living thanks to the end of yet another academic year. It brings on a time of self-exploration and perhaps an exploration of entertainment past and present.

Taking a look back on films from the past, we see May 24th marks the 17th anniversary since the release date of Thelma and Louise, a film about two best friends that set out on an adventure to escape the mundane which quickly turns into an actual escape from the police for the crimes that they have committed. It stars Susan Sarandon (Louise) and Geena Davis (Thelma) and has received 21 awards. Among the awards include the Academy award for Best Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen and the Golden Globe for Best Screenplay. As these awards suggest, this screenplay has been artfully written and have often been used as examples for screenwriters to use in their own writing. If this is not enough to convince you of what great writing this is, the screenplay is also mentioned extensively and analyzed in what writers in the industry would call their bibles: Screenplay by Syd Field and Save the Cat by Blake Snyder.

Delving into the screenplay, we can take a quick look at the synopsis of the film – with no spoilers of course. At the beginning of the film we meet Louise, a headstrong and independent woman, and her best friend Thelma, a passive and naive woman that is married to a moronic hothead. They set out for a weekend getaway in a 1966 Thunderbird convertible. In tow: a gun. While on the road they decide to stop for drinks where a man takes a liking to Thelma. He attempts to sneak her away and rape her when Louise shows up brandishing the gun. The man’s body is soon discovered and it doesn’t take long before the authorities connect his death with Thelma and Louise. Thus begins a chase.

Now we’ve seen many “best buddy” type films such as 48 Hours, Wayne’s World, and Dumb and Dumber, but this film is set apart from the others because the heroes in this film are women, making it ahead of its time. The two women are strong, quick-witted, and full of compassion. As the film progresses, these women grow into characters that we, the audience, might identify with. They become role models for female empowerment, and perhaps empowerment to all genders.

If you would like to experience this film this summer, be sure to stop by Media Services and check it out. SM

Sami Masaki is a sophomore studying Cinema Production. She enjoys spending time with family and friends and watching movies. This summer, she will be interning with Heydey Films in Los Angeles.