There’s A Musical For You!

Are movie musicals coming back into style? I think so! I for one have always been a lover of musicals! They are not always everyone’s cup of tea, however. In the last decade or so, it seems that there has been a lull in movie musicals that actually involve live people. While some believe that the music cheapens the story line and messes with the suspension of disbelief, I think the world of cinema is beginning to warm back up to live-action movie musicals.

In my opinion, there has always been a childlike feeling associated with musicals. This is probably because there have been so many musical works that are targeted towards younger audiences. Disney movies are a good example of this, even though they are beloved by people of all ages. I believe that people allow that association with their childhood to affect how they see musicals as adults. With this association in place, people tend to believe that serious and/or sophisticated plot lines cannot be told for adult audiences if there is song and dance involved, and that is false.

Often, the plots of movies are enhanced by music that is added. It can give an audience a look into the inner thoughts and motivations of characters that would have probably been left to speculation had the song not been included. Try to think of some musicals that could completely thrive without music. My first thoughts are of works such as Les Miserables, Jesus Christ Superstar, Hair, and Chicago. These all quickly debunk the idea of limited complexity when it comes to musical films.

Musical films are making a comeback. After the near win at the Oscars, the film La La Land seemed to capture the hearts of many people. It also seems to have ushered us into a new era of musical films. After watching the film The Greatest Showman and seeing the reception that it received, I am only more convinced of this idea. For those who are not familiar with the film, it is the story of P.T. Barnum, the father of the modern circus. This biopic sets his life, struggle, and success to wonderful and exhilarating music, lively and creative choreography, gorgeous and colorful sets, and a top-notch cast. I personally adored this film. It took over seven years to make, and I think that it could not have come out at a better time.

Having two very strong and well-received musical films released two years in a row gives me hope. I think that it shows that audiences may have started to appreciate the genre in general, which in turn will bring them back into demand. I also hope that these two films will work as models for modern directors on how to make successful musical films in this day and age. I am very hopeful for the future of musicals, and for anyone who is still on the fence concerning them, I encourage you to give them a chance. Music speaks to everyone in different ways, and there are so many different types of musicals that you are bound to find one that speaks to you. You just have to look, and our friendly and enthusiastic Media Services staff is always here to help! SM

This week’s blog author, Sydney Morrow, has a background in music and is currently pursuing a degree in Music Education through the Jacobs School of Music.

The Underbelly of Nostalgia in Film & TV

“In my day, we listened to real music!” “Back in the day, there was no Netflix—we just had the drive-in.” “You just don’t see any good films nowadays…”

You have probably heard someone express one or more of these sentiments sometime in your life, whether it was your grandparents or your “90s baby” roommate. Nostalgia is a powerful emotion that can be triggered by anything from a bite of cake to a stray tune. No age seems to be immune to its charms, as reflected in the recent trend we have seen in contemporary film and television: sequels. Reboots. Remakes. Stories set in the 70s or 80s. These “blast from the past”-type productions have been on the rise since 2008 and have reached the point where it feels like almost everything up on the big (or little) screen has already had its time to shine. The question is no longer about if there will be a remake of any given classic but when…and why?

No matter your age, watching old classics from your childhood would likely be an experience you’d pay money for, and investors count on that. Say you are out at a coffee shop. While waiting in line for your much-needed espresso, you check out today’s selection of pastries: the salted caramel brownie similar to one at Kroger and the oatmeal chocolate chip that you’ve never seen before. While both are appealing, you’re statistically much more likely to pay for the choice that is familiar and, moreover, gratifying to you, even if you have been on an anti-brownie diet for years and have forgotten exactly what they taste like (can’t relate). We can apply this model to the large-scale trend we see in film & TV investments today. The tried-and-true approach is to reproduce already-successful films with new technologies and a mix of new & classic acting talents. Naturally, the main goal for these investors is to minimize risk/losses (wasting $$$ on a yuck-o brownie) and maximize rewards/profits (complimenting your coffee with the perfect brownie). Since the film selected to be rebooted or remade is likely already well-established among the masses, consumers are that much more likely pay and see it again, especially around the holidays. Plus, the directors, producers, and actors can rely on experiences (positive or negative) and materials of the original productions to create the best version possible.

However, while nostalgia is a great concept to capitalize upon in theory, there are still some problems. While many of these remade productions may have been considered (and celebrated for!) progressive storylines in their contemporary, they may be considered problematic or even backwards in this time. For example, the sitcom Will and Grace was considered a milestone for LBGTQ+ representation in the ‘90s. However, in 2017 and 2018, they have received backlash for not positively representing transgender people or people of color as they do cis white gay men.

On the other hand, many films have received criticism for not communicating what made the original so special for their contemporary, either well or at all. Tim Burton’s remake of Planet of the Apes is a famous example of this. While the original plot followed issues surrounding civil rights and McCarthyism, the Burton plot simply relies on brute violence and weak allusions to animal rights violations to sell tickets. Either way, consumers are not watching the films that they grew up with, and no amount of new technology or hot new actors can change that.

These problems are starting to translate into the entertainment industry itself. Although the volume of reboots & remakes would make you think otherwise, there has actually been a decrease in both ratings and box office sales for these titles since 2008, according to Contently, a technology company that studies media trends. These productions solely rely so much on what was great in the past to be what is great in the contemporary without adding in the extra context. If such a trend continues or grows, it may discourage fresh storylines and talent from being produced. Hollywood already fosters one of the most competitive environments imaginable, but incessant repeats may push the underprivileged, untested, and unknown even further away from realization. By continually investing resources into something consumers keep rejecting, we are wasting capable human and physical resources.

Nostalgia in film is such a difficult idea to capture, because nothing is ever the same the second time around. Growing up, you experience so many defining moments that are punctuated by the events from film premieres to new gaming consoles. The truth is that everyone wants to believe that they were a part of the “chosen” generation and have experienced the one “true” entertainment culture. However, we need to start investing in new stories today, so that future generations will have something to be nostalgic for as well.

You certainly don’t need to go to the box office to relive your childhood! Here at Media Services, we have a wide selection of films that cater to any type of nostalgia, from the entire Austin Powers collection to In a Lonely Place. Feel free to stop by any day of the week and ask a librarian about our current collections.

-LA

Why You Should Come to Media Services

Everybody loves convenience and saving money where you can. If given two options, one of which allows you to save time, save money, and reduce stress while the other does the opposite, almost everybody would choose the former option. Media Services offers you the perks of living life in a happier way! Of course, the comparison being drawn here is between checking out a movie from our selection, or driving to the theater to catch a movie there. While we may not have a DVD or Blu-ray until a few months after release, you’ll be saving a lot of hassle in exchange for patience. 

        Even without a substitution for theatergoing, the process itself is still a growing pain. For one, the convenience is nonexistent: having to leave 30 minutes early to drive, park, and wait in line for tickets proves to be a hassle. On top of that, you have the possibility of sell-outs or bad seating. Then, you are forced to sit through 17-23 minutes of trailers (if you go to AMC 11 or 12), and then leave in traffic through the painful stoplights. If that’s not bad enough, the price of the movie going experience keeps rising as if they are trying to keep movie fans away. On an average night, you’ll spend between 8 and 10 bucks just to get in the door, more for 3D or other gimmicks, and even more for food since you can’t bring your own. On a date paid for by one person, it’s 20 for entry and 20 for food and that’s just for a 2 hour experience.

        Once you manage to get your seat, it’s always a gamble on how the patrons around you will act. The environment of the theater is created by the people around you. While these patrons don’t create uncomfortable temperatures, dirty seats, small armrests that make elbow encounters awkward between strangers, they’re still responsible for the talking, texting, moving, and other distracting habits. Sure, you can politely ask the person to cease their distracting, but then you also become a person who disrupts the peaceful environment that the people around you paid 40 bucks for. You could tell a manager, but then you miss part of the movie and surrender a greater amount of enjoyment than just putting up with the annoying patron.

But what does the movie theater have to do with Wells Media Services?

Well…all of the aforementioned problematic gambles that you must take when going to a theater are nonexistent when you watch a movie from our collection! Not only are checkouts free, but you’re able to watch the movie in whatever environment you’re most comfortable in. Comfort, convenience, and contentment are almost guarantees when you’re able to watch a movie at home. You get to eat your own food, order delivery, or get candy from Village Pantry and pig out on your own bed. If a movie is coming out in theaters, you can request that we pre-order the DVD or Blu-ray so that it’s here just a few months later. Not only saving you time, money, and hassles but rewarding your patience by allowing you to have the best possible experience with the movies that you know you’ll love. For every movie you skip out on in theaters, consider that 20 more bucks in your own pocket to spend on other things, like student loans, rent, or insurance of various colors.

        With thousands of other movie options in our collection, and the ability to see what we have on IUCAT.IU.EDU to save you a trip, the perks of browsing our many titles far outweighs many other places to rent movies. You can check out a title from our Browsing collection for seven days, with the option to renew for another seven.  Almost all patrons forget about the Teaching and Research collection located behind the front desk. Although the loan period for those titles is only three days, don’t hesitate to ask because there is a variety of genres to choose from! But not only do we have movies…you can check out video game consoles such as PlayStation (all of them, 1-4), Xbox (Original, 360, and One), Wii, Nintendo, Sega, etc., as well as hundreds of games on each console, audio books, board games, tv shows, anime, documentaries, and much more! All in all, Media Services offers you almost anything you need to be entertained and relieve the stress that college classes can sometimes offer.

        So don’t hesitate when you’re feeling bored, a trip to Media Services can strike your chord.

-KG

That’s Gay: LGBT Representation in Cinema

Living in a culture that centers itself around entertainment and materialism, sometimes we take movies for granted. Some display affectionate love stories that seem shallow on the surface, but ultimately entwine themselves into a deeper connection with an audience that has only gone through the same story. Others appeal to people that have a certain appreciation for the artistic liberties a film might take to express an abstract feeling that no one has a word for, but is universally comprehended. But sometimes, movies are just… gay.

Premiering at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival but releasing to theaters in November, Call Me by Your Name (dir. Luca Guadagnino) spread like wildfire between the queer and straight communities, revitalizing the book by the same name. This emotional masterpiece of a love story between two young men one summer in Italy has been raved about across the internet and beyond. In light of this iconic film and a bulk of other queer films to release in 2018, including Love, Simon, Boy Erased, and Lizzie, here are three must-watch LGBT movies you may have not seen (all are available for checkout at Media Services).

  1. Moonlight

Moonlight, released in October of 2016, has been an audience favorite since its release. The story follows Chiron, a man who has struggled with his sexual identity his entire life. He endures physical and emotional abuse from the community around him, including some whom he trusted. The story has an interesting format; it takes place in three parts of Chiron’s life, bouncing from childhood to adolescence and inevitably adulthood. The three parts of the movie, although chopped with hardly a transition, find ways to connect themselves eloquently and unfold into a memorable film about the struggles of sexuality in an unaccepting society.

  1. Paris is Burning

Next, in this classic piece made by Jennie Livingston, the audience explores late-twentieth century queer culture that took place in New York City. It focuses on “Drag Balls,” where contestants that participated were to “walk” and be judged by a round of critics on their “realness.” Not only does Paris is Burning shed light on the queer community, but also the ethnic minorities that were involved in said community. The film’s representation of the world upon its release is miraculous, and therefore a great way to revisit the life of queer people in the era in which it takes place.

  1. The Way He Looks

Last but most certainly not least, this coming of age film is set in Brazil during the senior year of a young man named Leonardo. He walks to school every morning with his best friend Giovana, likes to listen to classical music, and is blind.

The reason this film sticks out so well is that it has a rosy, golden vibe to its coming-of-age romance based story between Leonardo and the new boy at school, Gabriel. A beautiful friendship blossoms into an innocent romance between the two, and shows how love really is blind, and in this case literally. The movie released in 2014, and was directed by Daniel Ribeiro, who created the film under inspiration of one of his short films with a similar synopsis.

Whether you like drama, comedy, romance, action, or anything in between, what makes a movie great is its relatability. This sudden burst of queer movies to come this year will be amazing representation for LGBT people. Whether they struggle with their identities, or they come out to someone new every day. Hollywood is starting to get the hang of telling the stories of underrepresented populations, and many welcome the recognition.

-BC

Black Mirror

Black Mirror is a futuristic anthology TV series originated in Britain that acts as a platform depicting the moral and societal conflicts that technological advancements produce.  Black Mirror impressively addresses these prominent social issues that are a byproduct of technological advancement in a way that is not only highly entertaining, but also causes the viewer to reflect on their own life regarding their technological practices and media ideologies.  While the series contains four seasons, each episode expresses its own sense of individuality through the use of unique concepts, realism, and relatability.  Black Mirror is a considerably dark television series, as there is a linear theme of emphasizing the negative yet often disregarded aspects regarding technology’s role as a catalyst that exacerbates detrimental influences accompanied with its widespread use.  Black Mirror is critically acclaimed as it has won a multitude of awards, most impressively being three Emmys in 2017 alone.

Nosedive

Nosedive, potentially one of the most pseudo-realistic episodes, focuses on a young woman named Lacie in the not-too-distant future and her technology-induced enslavement spurred by society’s ever increasing importance placed on social media.  In Lacie’s world, everyone has a rating: that is, a score (out of 5 stars) that everyone can see, completely contingent on other people’s opinion of you.  Everyone has a phone, which has the ability to influence other people’s rating, creating a superficial society forcing everyone to be social actors, in order to maintain their rating, which is reciprocally their social status.  Nosedive serves as a tangible canvas illustrating the philosophical conflicts that arise when enough value is placed on social media, causing the viewer to reflect on their own relationships with social media, their phones, and in what ways social media subtly affects them.

Hated in the Nation

Hated in the Nation is an episode set in contemporary society, which focuses on a police detective working to solve a mysterious string of murders.  While this plot appears to be cliché, there is a twist that makes it unique; each murder is decided through the use of a voting system that is available for the public to participate in using social media, allowing everyone in the world to act as a ‘judge’, voting on who they believe deserves to be executed.  Hated in the Nation uses this intriguing concept to simulate how online relations may potentially cause users to view others objectively, in an oversimplified manner.  This premise plays on the ideology that the panoptic atmosphere social media creates produces an omnipresent barrier that divides its users into judge and judged, and the philosophical and moral connotations that arise with generalized categorizations.

Playtest

Playtest is about an American backpacker who agrees to be a subject in the testing of a new form of virtual reality as a side job in order to make money.  Playtest confronts the moral issues that are very capable of occurring with the upcoming development of the virtual reality market, and provides an entertaining scenario where these issues are taken to the extreme.

Black Mirror is an enthralling, conceived as a modern-day Twilight Zone, and is still in production.  Season 4 has recently been released, which has provided the series with another 6 episodes.  Black Mirror seasons 1 & 2 are available for checkout here at Media Services, and the entire series is available on Netflix; feel free to stop by and catch up on all that you’ve missed!

IUCat Seasons 1 & 2

https://iucat.iu.edu/catalog/16568920

https://iucat.iu.edu/catalog/16574843

WP

From India to Indiana

As I embarked on the journey to the United States for my Master’s Degree which promises to be a truly life changing experience, I was excited but a little scared at the same time. Culturally, America differs vastly from India and experiencing a new environment and culture seemed a little intimidating at first. I was worried about making new friends and butchering the language. But in reality, it turned out to be really easy as people are very nice, sociable and kind and they appreciate you for your efforts in accepting their culture.

Even learning the American culture wasn’t that hard as I always used to watch Hollywood movies, TV shows and listen to Rock music and this helped ease my assimilation into American culture. The movies I saw gave me some early insight into this new culture that I was going to explore, learn about, and live in. Binge watching sitcoms like Friends, Seinfeld, Married with Children helped me learn a lot about the American traditions, festivals and their day to day life. When it came to socializing with people, movies were the best common experience to talk about while connecting with people.

Since their inception, movies have been the basis for a shared social experience. There is something about experiencing movies that fosters a desire to talk about what you’ve experienced. Whether it’s a hilarious comedy, an emotional drama, or a thrilling action movie, you’ve had the experience. Maybe it elicited the same response from all of you, maybe you hated it and your friends loved it. No matter what the outcome, the experience of seeing the movie gave me something in common that I could discuss, debate, marvel about, and bond over. Seeing a movie or even discussing the favorite movies was one way to connect with the new people I met at college.

Connection, in a word is what movies are all about. You connect with the story, the characters, and the themes. A difference of opinion when discussing movies isn’t necessarily a negative thing. Debating these points can help you understand the movie from a different perspective, giving you insight into another’s interpretation, or allowing you to understand something that you may have missed during the first viewing.

Connection is also what college is all about, especially at the beginning. Over the next few years, you will be developing lifelong friends, meeting new colleagues, and forming future professional contacts. They will help you to learn more about American culture and, in turn, maybe you’ll get a chance to familiarize them about your culture (and perhaps introduce them to some films from your country). We welcome you all to come into Media Services to explore American and foreign language films and share your experiences with your friends.

Movies are keys that can be used to open new doors by starting conversations and discovering common interests. Just remember, when the lights dim, the screen flickers on, and the show starts, we’re all one and the same. We’re all part of the same cultural audience of awe and wonder, experiencing the story together.

PM

Native American Heritage Films

Celebrating Native American Heritage Month

What do you think of when you first hear “Native American”? Pocahontas? Thanksgiving? Or do you imagine the Chiefs or the Redskins? No matter what it may be, this month, I challenge you to dive into the rich history and culture of the indigenous people of the Americas and learn something new because often times, what we imagine when we think of Native Americans is directed by what we see in the media: the extreme whitewashing of Hollywood and the stereotypes they popularize. I’m here to make it easier for you by compiling some resources that may be helpful in your endeavor… Continue reading “Native American Heritage Films”

What to Watch: Alias Grace


Alias Grace is an original Netflix series based off of Margaret Atwood’s award winning novel. It is the depiction of a historical figure from the 1840s, Grace Marks. She is a poor Irish immigrant who works as a domestic servant in Canada and was imprisoned for twenty-eight years for her part in the double murder of her employers… Continue reading “What to Watch: Alias Grace”

Insecure: A Cultural Milestone

Since its debut last October, the HBO series Insecure has been a hit. Following the dating adventures, work fiascos, and overall personal struggles (and successes!) of LA-native Issa Dee, played by co-creater of the show Issa Rae, it is hilarious and dynamic, with a talented cast and a seamless music selection to support its complex plotline. However, what makes the show so hard-hitting is how authentic it is in its depiction and support of black American culture and black womanhood, in particular. Continue reading “Insecure: A Cultural Milestone”