Lilo and Stitch: Untold Disney Masterpiece?

When most people think of Disney movies they tend to think of the classics such as The Lion King, Aladdin, and films of that variety. The company’s decade of filmmaking from 1989-1999 is commonly known as The Disney Renaissance. This name derives from the view that there was a renewal of the Disney identity and that the “Renaissance” period was the source of their best works to date. While this may be true, I think that there is a real underdog that outshines a good portion of these films: Lilo and Stitch. To place this movie on the Disney timeline, Lilo and Stitch was released in the post-Renaissance era, when there was a definite lull in animation box-office successes. However, to me this film is a diamond in the rough.

Lilo & Stitch. IMDb. Nov 26 2018, https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0275847/mediaviewer/rm4048525568

Lilo and Stitch is the story of a young girl being raised by her older sister—and trying to find her own place in the world—and a hyper-intelligent, little blue alien, bent on destruction, trying to escape capture while masquerading as a dog. While dealing with an intergalactic force closing in and a deadline set by a strict social worker, the misfits seem to find something that neither had had before: true friendship. This is a tale filled with all the makings of a great story: action, comedy, drama, and suspense. Audiences deeply relate to the character Nani as she scrambles to apply for jobs all over the city, and is willing to go to hell and back for her sister. *SPOILER ALERT* There are not many dry eyes when Stitch is being led off to the ship and he says, “This is my family. I found it, all on my own. It’s little, and broken, but still good. Yeah. Still good.”*END SPOILER*

Lilo & Stitch. IMDb. Nov 26 2018, https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0275847/mediaviewer/rm4212390656

Disney is known for their great classic romances, so for them to create such a refreshing, relatable (other than the aliens!), feel-good film, makes this one of their best that, to me, beats out any of “the greats” any day of the week.

What’s your favorite Disney movie? Character? Soundtrack? Find a list of Media Services Disney titles here!

Sydney Morrow is a Junior majoring music education with an emphasis in choral education. In her free time, she likes reading ebooks on her phone and singing with the Singing Hoosiers on campus.

Being Human

In life, we all make mistakes. We all have misjudgments and harbor less-than-perfect behaviors. At the end of the day, however, we can all use this trusty phrase to exonerate ourselves: “I’m only human, after all.”

But what if this isn’t the case? What if you had to grapple with all of the terrible actions and thoughts you have executed but not even have that comforting phrase to turn to? What if, in fact, you’re not human?

The ideas of humanity, guilt, and evil are explored in the show Being Human (2011-2014). The series follows a vampire (Aidan), a werewolf (Josh), and a ghost (Sally) as they struggle with their humanity in their shared Boston apartment. Like anyone else, they make errors and fall victim to their own impulses, but considering their individual monstrous natures, the effects of such normal (human) missteps can be dangerous and even deadly.

Being Human. IMDb. 14 November 2018, https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1595680/mediaviewer/rm902899968

Each of the main characters in Being Human has a unique backstory, an expansive community, and undeniable capability to commit evil acts. Aidan is a veteran (of the Revolutionary War) who runs with the most powerful and dangerous vampires in town, although no longer by choice. Josh was on track to attend medical school and marry his high school sweetheart until an attack in the woods, leaving his friend dead and Josh as a werewolf. Both work as nurses in a hospital in Boston and decide to room together as part of an “experiment,” with the ultimate goal of restoring their humanity. Upon move-in, the two meet Sally, a ghost who recently died in the apartment, and the rest is history.

Phillippe Bosse/Syfy. BEING HUMAN, Episode 102. IMDb. 14 November 2018, https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1595680/mediaviewer/rm1946256384

Ghosts, vampires, werewolves, and all supernatural creatures enjoy some sort of separation from human laws and customs. However, whenever Josh, Aidan, or Sally do something evil, the act is never simply accepted by the others. What makes these three unique is a consistent moral compass. Certainly, each of the roommates falls prey to their supernatural nature more than once, from committing mass murder to using black magic. However, the cohabitation experiment certainly yields positive results for all of those involved, especially Josh, the most troubled of them all.

I found Josh’s story to be the most interesting, and ultimately the most uplifting, among the three original roommates. According to legend, a werewolf is an otherwise normal human until the full moon is risen. Only then do they morph into wolves and act on their purely animal, often violent instincts. Josh, however, carries the guilt of his wolf (the werewolves of the show treat lycanthropy almost as an alter ego) all days of the month. Unlike Aidan and Sally, Josh had some degree of separation from his supernatural identity and yet felt that he was the ultimate monster among them. Perhaps such close proximity to humanity makes him feel guiltier for his actions, although of the three he has the least control over his actions. As the series goes along, he begins to understand himself better, and even though he makes major mistakes along the way, he maintains a great amount of personal accountability. Only once he grapples with this personal struggle can he open himself up to the wonders of human life, such as having a werewolf wife and werewolf children.

Being Human. IMDb. 14 November 2018, http://beinghuman.wikia.com/wiki/File:Being-Human-Wedding.jpg

Amazingly, the three maintain the same accountability and goals as when they first moved in, even when things go catastrophically wrong. Although they make tragic mistakes, Aidan, Josh, and Sally are all aware of the impact of their actions and never stop trying to make up for and ultimately change their ways. And isn’t that what being human is all about after all?

The first three seasons of Being Human are available at Media Services, in the basement of the Herman B Wells Library. If you are interested in shows that explore both self-reflection and the supernatural, I highly recommend it!

Click the links below for the IUCAT records for Seasons 1 through 3:

1 2 3

Leah Ashebir is a business major at the Kelley School. She speaks German and spent last summer gaining valuable business experience through an internship at a firm in New York City. She is scheduled for a return engagement in NYC during Summer 2019, after participating in a study abroad program this spring.

Halloween’s Over, But Things Are Still Scary: Five Halloween Films to Watch This Weekend for the Weak Minded

Why do people like to get so scared? Where is the fun in that? I never understood people that can just purposefully push themselves to their limits by tricking their brains into experiencing pure fear. However, that does not mean I do not like Halloween movies.

Halloween movies are among my favorite genre of movies, but people too often associate Halloween with scary movies that make you want to pee your pants with fear, either literally or figuratively, depending on how much of a scaredy-cat you truly are. If you are like me and would prefer to be able to sleep comfortably this weekend without worrying about childhood traumas (I’m looking at you, Chucky!) slinking into your room in the middle of the night, literally manifesting as your worst nightmare, then I have the perfect list for you. These are five movies that I consider absolute necessities for this year’s post-Hallow’s Eve “Halloweekend.”

  1. Coraline
Coraline. IMDb. 2 November 2018, https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0327597/mediaviewer/rm419596800

Based on the novella of the same name, this mysterious 2009 film has gotten raving reviews from multiple critics, and was one of the American Film Institute’s AFI Movies of the Year for 2009. If you have not already delved into the crawlspace to see for yourself, Coraline takes place in an odd house with a strange past. Bored with her new home, Coraline explores the Crawling Space, an alternate world where all her desires are possible, all thanks to her Other Mother. However, when Coraline realizes this ethereal world is not what it seems, she needs to make it out in time to save herself and her parents. If you are looking for action, fantasy, and a little bit of childlike imagination, then this is the film for you.

  1. Coco
Coco. IMDb. 2 November 2018, https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2380307/mediaviewer/rm2374917632

Arriving in theaters in 2017, this feature film was perfect for a cultural shift with just the right amount of spooky. Nominated for over 20 awards, and winning 12 of them, this touching film follows the story of a boy set in a small town in Mexico. This young man, Miguel, was raised in a family of shoemakers that forbade music, even though music is Miguel’s passion. On Día de los Muertos, Miguel finds himself in the Land of the Dead, where he discovers an opportunity to prove to his family that they are the descendants of the famous late singer Ernesto de la Cruz. A touching tale about family, loss, and heartbreak takes you on a magical journey through the Land of the Dead for a compelling and heartwarming story. I would watch this film during any season! Who says you have to wait until scary season to enjoy a good movie about the dead?

  1. Over the Garden Wall
Over The Garden Wall. IMDb. 2 November 2018, https://www.imdb.com/title/tt3718778/mediaviewer/rm517732608

Deviating from the trend of films, this Cartoon Network serial is a must-watch. This series was animated in 2015 as part of a 10-episode Cartoon Network Halloween special. Full of trademark CN absurdist comedy, the show takes place in another alternate world following two stepbrothers, trying to remember where they came from and how to get out. Each episode has a different story—following a town of pumpkin folk, a witch with a secret, or even a steamboat musical number. The setting, a rural 19th century landscape, teleports you to a world of mystery and charm with warm colors to remind you of fall, and adorable music reminiscent of classic jazz. If you would rather enjoy something spooky in fragments while being able to sleep the same night, then this is the show for you!

  1. The Corpse Bride

Did you really think Tim Burton wasn’t going to make this list? You were wrong. The Corpse Bride, a morbid musical Claymation by Tim Burton, stars Johnny Depp and yes, you guessed it, Helena Bonham Carter. Dive with Victor into the gates of hell, where an arranged marriage quickly takes a turn for the worse. When Victor accidentally marries a vengeful dead bride, he must discover a way to return to the mortal world for good…or will he stay? This animated film has a catchy soundtrack, vivid colors, and poses the question, “How often can love change?”

Corpse Bride. IMDb. 2 November 2018, https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0121164/mediaviewer/rm1216384000
  1. The Rocky Horror Picture Show
The Rocky Horror Picture Show. IMDb. 2 November 2018, https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0073629/mediaviewer/rm3983063808

The oldest on this list, the classic Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975), is, if you haven’t seen it, one of the most musically powerful and strange films in American cinema, debuting the iconic number “Time Warp” written by Richard O’Brien. Although the film does feature a bit of blood in one of the musical numbers, it is muted and barely noticeable so your stomach can rest easy. The story is sometimes hard to follow, but paying close attention to the things the characters say in between scenes will help in plot comprehension. There are often live performances or late-show cinema showings of Rocky Horror throughout the year, including Halloween of course, and I suggest experiencing the movie in that atmosphere if you ever get the opportunity. Traditionally, there is a high degree of audience participation—the crowd comes with their own film-related props, and on cue everybody shouts out favorite lines.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show. IMDb. 2 November 2018, https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0073629/mediaviewer/rm2540223232

For instance, in the opening wedding scene, it is the audience’s responsibility to throw rice at the stage/screen to create the setting of a happy wedding amongst the audience. Watch and immerse yourself in a musical comedy full of diverse characters and stellar performances in this cinematic monument!

 

 

 

 

 


At the end of the day, whether you aren’t in the mood, can’t stand jump scares, or just simply don’t enjoy scary movies, just know you have other options! There are tons of spooky movies for people that don’t care for the blood and gore of the mainstream horror genre. Coraline,  Coco, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show are all available for check out in Media Services in the ground floor of Wells Library (links go to item IUCAT records).

Yours Truly,

Media Services (BC)

Brandon Carr is a sophomore majoring in psychology, with minors in Japanese and counseling. Brandon enjoys walking around campus and getting chai lattes with friends.

Pokemon: Where the Relationship You Have with Your Pets Actually Matters

Pokemon The First Movie. IMDb. 19 October 2018, https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0190641/mediaviewer/rm1090388992

The name Pokemon can refer to a video game, a TV show, a movie, a card game, a toy, and probably something else I haven’t heard about yet. Pokemon is huge! It has been capturing the minds of kids since before I was even born. I’ve been a fan since my introduction to the Pokemon world with the GameBoy game Pokemon Sapphire. Since then, I have stayed up to date on games, special collector’s events, Pokemon news, and sometimes the Pokemon movies, too.

How Pokemon Sun and Moon are Improving the Pokemon Formula. Kallie Plagge. www.ign.com, 12 October 2016, https://www.ign.com/articles/2016/10/12/how-pokemon-sun-and-moon-are-improving-the-pokemon-formula

For those of you that don’t know what it is, Pokemon started out as a video game where you capture animals in the wild, train them, and use them to fight other powerful trainers, and even bordering-on-terrorist groups (look up Team Rocket). The world’s fascination with the original games Pokemon Red and Pokemon Green sparked the start of an anime craze in Japan. The Pokemon TV series began in 1997 and still continues to run today. I believe they are on their 21st season now.

Adorable Switch Bundle and New Moves Revealed for ‘Pokemon: Let’s Go’. Liz Lanier. variety.com. 10 September 2018, https://variety.com/2018/gaming/news/switch-bundle-moves-revealed-pokemon-lets-go-1202934739/

Surprisingly, the childish world of Pokemon sometimes strikes a profound chord. Without diving too deeply into the powerful relationships and thoughtful dynamics of pairing wild animals with humans in Pokemon, I’m going to elaborate on one shining moment in the Pokemon series.

To set the scene, I had just beaten my very first Pokemon game, was feeling proud of my team of six Pokemon, and got invited to my best friend’s house to watch the Pokemon movie with him.

The movie starts out like any other children’s show, but quickly develops into this tense scenario. As a child expecting to see bubbly characters bounce around in bright primary colors (the stereotypical kid’s TV show), I was surprised to hear the profound lesson of the movie. In the midst of a fight between a dragon Pokemon and a synthesized Pokemon-weapon thing, a quote is slipped in: “I see now that the circumstances of one’s birth are irrelevant. It is what you do with the gift of life that determines who you are.”

I certainly wasn’t expecting it. Neither was the friend watching with me. Forever ingrained into us was this very important lesson: Don’t judge someone because of their situation, respect them for how they make use of it. All that from a kid’s TV show.

Media Services has a number of Pokemon games available to play on our Nintendo game consoles (GameBoy, DS, Nintendo 64), including Pokemon Sapphire Version, Pokemon Y, and Hey You, Pikachu! Come in and play your favorite! If you are new to the Pokemon world, come discover what it takes to be a Pokemon trainer. DH

Duncan Hardy is an IU Bloomington sophomore looking to pursue dual degrees in Arts Management and Creative Writing. His favorite musical artists are Frank Ocean, Kanye West, and Andre 3000. Favorite movie: Robots. Any music or movie recommendations can be sent to duhardy@iu.edu.

Themester Continues! Animal/Human: The Role of Animals in Film

The Thin Man, featuring dog character “Asta.” TV Tropes. 19 October 2018, https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Film/TheThinMan

Animals have played a big role in film and media for as far back as most of us can remember. It is easy to “take the over” on a bet that every American who enjoys movies, TV shows, or videogames has seen an animal in some capacity with an integral role. It is important to step back from time to time and think about why animals are used in media and what they give to a narrative, whether it be live-action or other.

Upon hearing “animal” and “film,” adults’ minds may not jump to animation. However, especially where Disney & Pixar are concerned, animated films are teeming with animals. This is because one the most effective uses of animals in film is as replacements for humans.

Zootopia. IMDb. 19 October, 2018, https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2948356/mediaviewer/rm623073280

Animation has the ability to approach various topics with a flair that live-action film cannot. For example, Zootopia managed to present racism, sexism, and stereotypes in a manner that was not seen as offensive, or an attack, and was overall perfectly appropriate for a younger audience. Other movies, including Finding Dory, Monsters, Inc., and Megamind, discuss persons with disabilities, achieving dreams without a college degree, and the boxing-in of individuals based on appearances, as well as the effects of incarceration and education. If these movies had been created with people in the roles, they would likely have received a heavier rating and a harsher critic’s gaze. It is also important to mention that when a film that touches on these topics is made with people, there often tend to be more adult themes attached to it, which also prevent them from being viewed by a younger audience. Though the research is still catching up to current filmmaking trends, overall, it seems that animals make tough topics much easier to approach.

Megamind. IMDb. 19 October 2018, https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1001526/mediaviewer/rm1592142848

Another reason animals are great in film is the emotional response they elicit. If you want to make a gruff character more lovable, give them a kitten. Even better, construct the story line so that he lives next to a bunch of dogs and takes care of them. Sure, the character may have been a bit rude on the elevator ride up. But look! There are puppies! So the guy cannot be that bad. On the other hand, there is this approach: if you want the audience to know the person is the bad guy, make them cruel to animals. The animals might even serve as plot devices, a means of moving from one scene or struggle to another. Either way, animals in these scenarios—especially pets—can elicit responses and help establish a character’s alignment with good or evil, or a little of both.

I Am Legend. IMDb. 19 October 2018, https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0480249/mediaviewer/rm1563858944

In other films, there are animals whose role is more important than simply telegraphing the character traits of humans. A few films representative of this genre would be Old Yeller, Life of Pi, Stuart Little, and I am Legend. In these movies, we have animals who are pivotal to the story or are actors in their own right. In I Am Legend, Will Smith’s character (Robert) has a dog named Sam who plays a crucial role. Sam is as much a partner to Robert as any human would be in a world ravaged by some form of zombie, and *SPOILER* when Sam dies, the audience is left all the more heartbroken for it. *END SPOILER* Life of Pi presents the audience with a very unlikely pair, a Bengal tiger and a person. The film provides an interesting take on the role of the animal in film as well, especially because tigers are not a typical everyday pet.

Life of Pi. IMDb. 19 October 2018, https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0454876/mediaviewer/rm1770238976

These are just a few of the many types of roles animals play in film. Animals are in our everyday lives, and to leave them unrepresented in the media we consume would result in films missing something many feel is an important part of the human experience. The next time you watch a movie and see an animal, consider what they are doing for the scene. Are they there to establish a character, or is it something more? Are they talking? If so, how would you feel if a person were saying the words instead of the animal in question? The Animal/Human relationship is complex, and you may find some compelling points to ponder.

TL

Tamara Lane is an IU Bloomington senior majoring in Japanese Education, with a minor in Studio Art. In her spare time, she reads and plays video games. Current media obsession: Monster Hunter: World.

In Celebration of Themester: Animal/Human

Frogs. Digital Image. IU Themester https://themester.indiana.edu/about/theme/index.html.

Each fall the College of Arts and Sciences hosts a Themester: a year-long program that is meant to engage students and faculty in an overarching topic by integrating the specific topic into curriculum and events around the community. In the past, Themesters have covered topics ranging from sustainability to diversity. This year’s Themester is Animal/Human, and it aims to explore the multi-faceted relationships and interactions between humans and animals by looking back at history and engaging audiences on related issues such as protecting biodiversity, exploring animals in the food industry, and figuring out    what exactly makes dogs so special. We treat some animals like members of our own families while we consider others to be the bane of our existences, and this Themester is going to explore the full range! Whether you were already aware of Themester or this is the first you’re hearing about it, Media Services invites you to participate in this year’s Themester by picking some films that are guaranteed to put you in the mood to embrace learning all about the complexity of our relationship with animals!

Farmer and Pig. Digital image. Two Bears Farm. 3/17/10. http://www.twobearsfarm.com/2010/03/farmer-hoggett-and-cortmonster.html

Babe

In celebration of this year’s Themester, I have chosen to highlight Babe. For me, it is one of those movies that automatically takes me back in time to the exact setting in which I watched the film. I thought it would be an appropriate film to mention because it exemplifies the connection between animals and humans.

Babe follows the journey of a clever little pig and his relationship not only with his environment, but also the farmer with whom he forms a close bond with. After its release, activists used this opportunity to bring attention to the plight of animals in the food industry. Some statistics show that the film might have led to the drop in the sale of pork and the increase in the number of vegetarians. But you don’t have to take my word for it: The “Babe” Vegetarians.

Babe’s impact goes farther than stirring a sense of nostalgia in some, but it started serious conversations about the treatment of animals in the food industry and raises some moral arguments for vegetarianism.

This film is one of many that highlights the interaction between humans and animals. If you’re interested in learning more about this year’s Themester, you are more than welcome to attend the free events that will further explore various themes related to the Themester. Also, feel free to stop by Media Services and pick up a copy of Babe or other films that are related to this year’s Themester. RE

Hachi poster. Digital image. Amazon. https://www.amazon.com/Hachi-Dogs-Tale-Richard-Gere/dp/B008Y768XO

King Kong poster. Digital image. Fanart. https://fanart.tv/movie/254/king-kong/

The Black Stallion poster. Digital image. https://www.themoviedb.org/movie/17264-the-black-stallion

Blackfish. Digital image. Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blackfish_(film)

Robiati Endashaw is a junior 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.

Summer Screens

Now that the weather is turning and the stress of the school year is upon us, I find myself wishing I could go back to summer and enjoy it more. I would often be at the movies with friends trying to stay cool. Below are some of my favorite movie picks from this summer.

A Quiet Place. IMDb. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt6644200/mediaviewer/rm3634710528 

A Quiet Place*(links take you to IUCAT item record)

Although released in the spring, I did not get the chance to watch this movie until classes let out. This film follows the life of a family who is forced to live in silence. If they make any noise, monsters with ultra-sensitive hearing will attack them. Director John Krasinski also acted alongside his wife, Emily Blunt; the two have great chemistry on screen. The movie being a drama/thriller is not as scary as one might expect it to be. This film has a take on horror that I have personally never seen in a movie before. It really explored horror without the presence of sound, making you rely mostly on sight to be frightened. Directors are currently working on a sequel, to be released in the summer of 2020.


Incredibles 2. IMDb. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt3606756/?ref_=nv_sr_1

Incredibles 2

This was one movie that I had been looking forward to all year. The inner child in me was highly anticipating the sequel to my favorite childhood movie, and it definitely lived up to the hype. Incredibles 2 followed our favorite superheroes as they tried to balance their superpowers and being a family. This animated movie was surprisingly funny. I felt that most of the jokes were aimed towards older audiences. Characters also made plenty of comments about important social issues, such as women in the workplace. Although a lot of sequels are not as great as the originals, this was not the case with this movie. Check it out while it is still in select theaters! Or come down to the Media Services and check out the original, The Incredibles.


Ocean’s 8. IMDb. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt5164214/mediaviewer/rm4228596224

Ocean’s 8

Talk about a movie full of girl power! This spin-off of the Ocean’s trilogy exceeded my expectations. The original Ocean’s 11 was an action packed crime film filled with stars such as Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Julia Roberts and more. Ocean’s 8 follows Sandra Bullock, Mindy Kaling, Anne Hathaway, Sarah Paulson, Rihanna and others as they pull off a diamond heist at the annual Met Gala. This is a great date night movie, as it is filled with both action and comedy. Come check out the other Ocean’s films at Media Services!

Ocean’s Eleven (2001)Ocean’s Twelve (2005)Ocean’s Thirteen (2007)

or, hop in the time machine and watch the Rat Pack version that started it all: Ocean’s Eleven (1960)


Nyren, Erin. “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again.” Variety. 21 July 2018, https://variety.com/2018/film/news/mamma-mia-here-we-go-again-the-equalizer-2-box-office-debut-above-forecasts-1202880323/

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again

I know musicals get a lot of hate. At least, most people either love them or hate them, but I am somewhere in between. However, I have to give credit where it is due. The Mamma Mia sequel was everything I could ask for in a movie, and more. I’m a sucker for ABBA, great style, and happy endings, and this film did it all. The sequel had better overall acting and story line than the original. It featured a star-studded cast including Lily James, Meryl Streep, and Cher. Lily James will make you want to drop everything and move to Greece to open a hotel. The catchy tunes will be stuck in your head for weeks. It’s still showing in select theaters so make sure to catch it while you still can! Or head down to Media Services to check out Mamma Mia! IS

Isabella Salerno is a sophomore studying Political Science and American Studies. She enjoys watching rom-coms and history movies. In her free time, you can find her petting dogs around campus and at the Farmer’s Market. This is her first year on staff at Media Services and her debut Media Beat blog post.

 

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.

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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.