As an exhausted senior, I constantly think and dream of change: moving to a new city, starting a new job, meeting new people—there are so many exciting moments and experiences ahead. But of course, change isn’t exclusive to any one point in time. Life is defined by continuous change and is often comprised of ones that you can’t anticipate.
I was recently introduced to a show that well captures the constant change that characterizes life: Fleabag. It’s about a woman referred to as Fleabag (yes, Fleabag) navigating life after loss and in between a whole lot else. The circumstances of her life and relationships are always changing in tragically hilarious ways. She owns a cafe, has a carousel of men at her disposal, and navigates intense family relationships. Fleabag’s dry, dark sense of humor clocks the otherwise tragic narrative and disguises it as a very clever comedy. The show is as painful and awkward as life itself.
What makes Fleabag so unique is that not only do we see the circumstances in Fleabag’s life changing, but we also see how they influence her interactions with others in her life. One of my favorite dynamics is between Fleabag and her sister Claire, because it’s probably the most erratic on the show. A self-described “cold” woman, Claire is certainly an opposite of—and foil for—Fleabag. She’s a high-powered international lawyer with great acclaim, an impressive office, and a recent promotion. To Claire’s dismay, however, she still manages to have a life that’s just as messy and crazy as her sister’s. This just goes to show that no matter how solid a hold you think you have on the course of your life, there will always be something beyond your grasp.
A key part of the show’s narrative is Fleabag’s use of asides within the story. When she breaks the fourth wall to make comments to viewers and/or herself is often when we see the most vulnerable and witty side of her. I believe there’s a lesson there; it’s important to contextualize the immediate events of your life into the the main overriding themes of your life: your relationships, your goals, and your fears. And of course, the main lesson from Fleabag is that, even when you wish to keep things constant, there will always be something unexpected around the corner, whether you like it or not.
Even if we can’t anticipate change, we can choose to look at it in different ways. Fleabag chooses to look at change with a self-deprecating humor, which is what makes the story so tragically hilarious. Even if she doesn’t deal with pain in the best way, there’s definitely value in being able to smirk in the face of adversity.
Note that this show is only for mature audiences, as it contains a lot of sexual content. There are conflicting reports on whether or not there will be a third season, but creator & lead actress Phoebe Waller-Bridge seems ready to leave Fleabag behind in pursuit of other creative ventures.
Waller-Bridge’s self-deprecating humor and wit form part of a great tradition in British comedy, and there are many films and shows in the Media Services collection emblematic of that same classic British comic style. The entire original British series The Office, on which the American version is based, is available for check-out, as is another dry British series, Absolutely Fabulous, which follows a group of friends having a good time and making bad decisions. Be sure to ask our Media Services staff for these titles upon your next visit! LA
Leah Ashebir is a senior majoring in Finance at Kelley. She enjoys watching Katherine Hepburn movies and the 2000s TV series Smallville in her spare time.
The Academy Doesn’t See Color And Gender. That’s Their Biggest Problem.
It’s a new year, a new decade, and a new world of cinema. Recently, the Academy released their list of nominations for the 2020 Oscars. This year’s broadcast of the Oscars is predicted to have a large viewership due to the number of groundbreaking films released last year and the large increase in diversity on the big screen. However, as predicted, with their nominations the Academy has once again failed to acknowledge that diversity (for a sampling of the widely discussed lack of nomination diversity, see USA Today, The New York Times, Forbes, CBS News, and BuzzFeed).
This year in the performance categories, only two people of color are nominated: Cynthia Erivo (for her portrayal of Harriet Tubman in Harriet) and Antonio Banderas (for the role of Salvador Mallo in Pain and Glory). Most major news outlets had at least one piece on the many snubs of actors of color and women this year (see links above or Google “Oscars 2020 snubs”). Among actors of color, the snubs included Lakeith Standfield for his role in Uncut Gems, Lupita Nyong’o for her groundbreaking role in Us, Nora Lum (aka Awkwafina) for her role in The Farewell, and Jennifer Lopez for her role in Hustlers. There are many great performances that are snubbed this year, but these were arguably the most notable. For decades now, the Oscars have been very “white,” and increasingly, it has been a topic of discussion each year when the nominations are revealed. According to the history of the Academy, since the first Oscars in 1927, fewer than 20 black people have won an Oscar for a performance, and only three Asian actors have won. According to the Washington Post, in the last 25 years, there have only been 16 nominations for Latin/Hispanic actors. Diversity has historically been a huge issue for the Academy and at this point, if the Academy is working on becoming more inclusive, it is not showing in the Oscar nominations (as the New York Times put it, “The Oscars Tried to Diversify. Somehow Diversity Didn’t Follow” (see article link in the first paragraph)).
On the topic of gender, the Best Director category has historically been dominated by men. Since 1927, there have only been five women nominated for Best Director, with only one of them winning the award (Kathryn Bigelow in 2010 for The Hurt Locker ). This year, the situation is no different: for the 2020 Oscars, all the nominees for Best Director are men. Many news outlets remarked on the slap this represented for all the great films directed by women this year (see article links in first paragraph). Lulu Wang, director of The Farewell, Lorene Scafaria, director of Hustlers, Claire Denis, director of High Life, and Céline Sciamma, director of Portrait of a Lady on Fire, were all snubbed. Given the history of the category, these omissions are quite disappointing but not surprising.
We are now at the beginning of the third decade of this millennium. Judging from the increasing amount of vocal backlash in response to the Academy’s nominees, the frustrated modern consumer and struggling filmmaker are fed up with the lack of diversity at the awards. If the Academy pays attention to the backlash and begins to acknowledge a wider array of film cultures and genres, the awards ceremony may continue to draw a sizable audience. If not, the Academy’s relevance will likely diminish as the 21st century unfolds, as audiences find other means of recognizing the filmmakers and actors they value. DH
Here are some of the many great films that were snubbed this year that are available in our collection at Wells:
As winter darkness drags on past the holidays, some folks combat the bleakness with weapons of coziness. Others relish the continued spookiness of the short days and dark nights. Still others strike a balance by watching eerie movies while snuggling up with warm apple cider and fluffy blankets. As your guest blogger and movie guide this week, I know a film that is the perfect blend of creepiness, comedy, suspense, and romance, with some great music thrown in for good measure.
It is hard to find someone who has not at least heard of the 1993 film Hocus Pocus. It is my favorite movie to watch with a warm drink and some fuzzy socks. Why? It’s got everything!
This movie is crammed with creepiness! There are multiple deaths within the first fifteen minutes, which ramps up the creep factor to at least an eight before we even meet the main character. Also, there’s an eyeball on a book, the cover of which is made of skin. I mean, come on!
The suspense is more subtle, but the uncertainty woven into the plot keeps the tension high. Children possibly walking towards their doom, dead people being brought back to life—these things keep you on the edge of your seat!
The comedic timing and script are all genius, and are an integral part of what makes this movie so great! Winifred’s sass. . . spicy! Max’s skepticism and quick thinking. . . on point! Allison’s bratty yet clever personality. . . amazing! This dynamic, and the kooky cameos, lend themselves to great dialogue and lines that stand the test of time. Truly iconic!
Some people want romance even in the spookiest of stories, and this film fills those needs. While the romance is present and memorable, it in no way distracts from the central focus of the plot, which is crucial in a movie like this. Having a strong, female love interest that is helpful to the plot is one of the film’s strengths, and it is nice to see playful banter and even antagonism between the pair before their relationship blooms.
The amalgamation of all these thrills and delights makes Hocus Pocus a movie that will continue to be a go-to for years and years to come. If you have not seen it, come check it out from Media Services at Wells Library, and let us know if you agree! SM
Have a favorite wintertime movie of your own? Let us know in the Comments section!
Guest blogger Sydney Morrow is a third-year Choral Music Education major. She likes to spend time reading and watching musicals, Law and Order SVU, or the Hunger Games series!
Since making waves at the Cannes film festival and unanimously winning the Palme d’Or prize (the first film to do so since 2013), South Korean director Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite has been getting hype worldwide as the best movie of the year. Artistically shot, with an all-too-relevant social message for today’s times, full of symbolism and messages delivered in morse code, it is easy to see why Parasite is topping film nerds’ Top 10 blogs. However, what really makes this film stand out is that it doesn’t allow these cerebral conceits to take away from the fun of the movie. Like many other movies in the recent trend of “social thrillers”—think Jordan Peele’sGet Outor Boots Riley’sSorry to Bother You—Parasite defies genre categorization, jumping between witty comedy, family drama, and high-octane thriller in a matter of moments.
The film dropped at the same time as Scorsese fans and Marvel fans debate the role of film in contemporary society.* Throughout film history, people have argued about what movies should do for people: should they, as any other art medium, constantly strive to evolve and challenge the viewer? Or is it okay that Marvel puts out massive blockbusters that rake in millions, epics that people love to watch again and again, even though they all blend together and can feel like the same movie over and over again? Are movies a tool of enlightenment or escape? The obvious answer to this is “yes.” We can have both types of movies and let people enjoy what they want, how they want. In fact, I’m not sure how the either-or film argument has persisted for so long.
What is so special about Parasite is that it expertly fills viewers’ desires for enlightenment and escape: it is simultaneously a “smart” movie and a “fun” movie. The comedy and action, along with the heart-poundingly tense scenes scattered throughout the movie, are expertly blended with the symbolism, social message, and evocative dialogue, such that in one fell swoop the film invalidates the entire “smart vs. fun” debate. This is likely why Parasite is getting so much buzz and winning so many accolades: it feels like a real breakthrough. Along with the other “smart thriller” films mentioned above, it represents fresh new cinematic territory, and I hope we see a lot more of it in the coming years. JB
Our guest student blogger Joey Bassett joined the Media Services staff this year. This is his second contribution to the department blog.
*In reality, Martin Scorsese’s contribution to this debate is more nuanced than “fun” vs. “smart” and centers on the effects of corporate monopolization on the film industry. Read more about his thoughts here.
The films of “Classic Hollywood”—the 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s—are fun and fascinating to watch, especially for their glamorous aesthetics. This era of cinema was also filled with period pieces, many set in the ancient world of the Mediterranean. When classic Hollywood took on the classics—ancient Greece, Rome, and Egypt—the results were often spectacular, dramatic epics. The sumptuous costumes and grandiose art deco sets make for a very different picture of the ancient world than contemporary adaptations like 300 orTroy.
Cecil B. DeMille’s epic drama, depicting the life of the biblical figure Moses, is a visual treat regardless of religious affiliation. The film is nearly four hours, but every scene is filmed in striking VistaVision and packed with colorful detail. At the time of its production it was the most expensive film ever made, and it won the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects.
Charlton Heston plays Moses, who struggles against the Egyptian pharaoh Rameses (played by Yul Brynner ofThe King and I) for the freedom of enslaved Israelites. Filmed on location in Egypt, the epic follows the story of Moses and the Israelites searching for the Promised Land for forty years.
Media Services recently got a special edition of The Ten Commandments,which includes the 1923 silent film as well. Come check it out! (Click on the title link above. All title links connect to the item’s IUCAT record.)
Another Cecil B. DeMille classic, Cleopatra jumps several centuries forward in history to depict the famous story of Cleopatra, Julius Caesar, and Marc Antony.
Claudette Colbert plays the powerful, glamorous and seductive Cleopatra, who is vying for power over Egypt and throughout the Roman Empire. Cleopatra follows the political and romantic intrigue between its titular queen, Julius Caesar (Warren William), and Marc Antony (Henry Wilcoxon)—but like The Ten Commandments, the visual spectacle of the Egyptian costumes and set designs is just as exciting as the plot.
Because it was made just before the enforcement of the “Hays Code,” the film is a bit more risqué than other black-and-white films of the period. Still, it was a smash hit: nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Picture, it took home the award for Best Cinematography.
Available in the Media Services Teaching & Research section.
Helen of Troy (1956)
Jumping back to 1100 B.C., my next pick is the 1956 Warner Bros. film Helen of Troy. The film stars Jacques Sernas and Rossan Podesta, and is loosely based on Homer’s account of the Trojan War and the “face that launched a thousand ships.” Brigitte Bardot appears as Andraste—at 22, this was her first American film!
For a change of pace, check out the 1995 documentary film The Celluloid Closet. The documentary is broadly about the history of LGBT representation in Hollywood. Filled with 90’s stars and narrated by Lily Tomlin, it tracks progress from stereotypes in early Hollywood, to covert representation in the Hays Code era, to emergent representation in the 90’s.
In the documentary, Gore Vidal shares a fascinating story about his contributions to the script of the 1959Ben-Hur, which sets Charlton Heston in ancient Jerusalem. Vidal reports that, unbeknownst to Heston, he wrote the characters of Ben-Hur and Messala as former lovers. While Heston denies the story, it is an interesting take on the subtext of the campy Hollywood classic.
The Celluloid Closet is available in Media Services’ Teaching and Research and Browsing Documentary sections. JW
Josie Wenig is a PhD student in Religious Studies, studying early Christianity, philosophy, and transgender theory.
As a member of the Eskenazi School of Art, Architecture, and Design here at IU, I was struggling after the closing of the museum on campus. The Museum had been closed since mid-2017 for remodeling, but reopened last month (November 7th, 2019)—yay! During the closure, I met my need to discover new and exciting artwork by turning to the collection of arts-related films and TV shows housed right here in Media Services at Wells Library. Media Services’ collection of arts videos expanded significantly upon the permanent closure of the Fine Arts library branch that coincided with the Eskenazi renovation. The collection touches on many different artists and movements from all around the world. With everything from series about ancient and medieval art to features on modern-day creatives, our library is bound to have a title for you to enjoy.
If documentaries are more your speed, you might be interested in one of our recent acquisitions—Kusama: Infinity. This gripping documentary on the life and artwork of Japanese artist Yoyoi Kusama gives you a detailed account of Kusama’s battles against formidable odds in her fight to make her mark on the world. The viewer is invited to reminisce with Kusama and other historians about her upbringing in a strict family, her daring move to New York in the 60s, and her ongoing battle with mental illness that caused her to leave America and move back to Japan. All the while we gain an understanding of how her work was not only a reflection of herself but of the socio-political atmosphere in which she lived. The film also provides a retrospective of her work, from early watercolors and net paintings to her infinity rooms. Your eye is bound to be tickled and intrigued by Kusama’s masterpieces. At age 80, Yayoi Kusama is now the highest-grossing female artist worldwide from a financial standpoint, and her creative spirit continues to inspire millions.
Trying to avoid the outdoors as temperatures drop? How about streaming a title from one of our online services? As an IU student, you have access to our ResLife Cinema online while you’re on campus. Whether you’re snug in your dorm or bored between classes, we have hundreds of titles for you to explore. One title worth watching is director Julie Taymor’s Frida, starring Salma Hayek. This biopic focuses on iconic female artist Frida Kahlo and the life that fueled her work. Beginning just before her traumatic accident that became the subject of many paintings and ending after a solo exhibition of her work in Mexico, the film follows her rise to world-renowned artist as well as her turbulent marriage with fellow-artist Diego Rivera. The film allows the viewer to see the entangled experience of art-making and life for Kahlo while visually exploring her work. Visit ResLife Cinema to see the performance that won Salma Hayek an Oscar nomination in Frida.
Do you prefer to get an overview of an artist, but you’re strapped for screen time? No worries, we have just the series! Housed in Media Services is a variety of seasons of the PBS show Art:21 Art in the 21st Century. Providing the public with insight into the lives of leading creatives in contemporary art, this series focuses on all kinds of disciplines—sculpture, film, fashion, and painting are just a few. Kick off your binge-watching with Seasons One and Two of the show, which highlight artists like Barbra Kruger and Trenton-Doyle Hancock. The show seeks to answer important questions about the contemporary art world. Who are some of today’s most fascinating artists? How do they work, and why? Go beyond museum and gallery representation of these creators with Art:21, and get a glimpse of artists’ personal communities to augment your understanding of their work. These vignettes of each artist’s practice, thematic inspiration for work, and process all provide a wonderful jumping-off point for further research on someone you find interesting. You can also access their website, which provides an extensive list of artists they have filmed and explains more about their project.
For many, art is not just the production of an object but an integral part of life. These films and series go beyond explaining how creators make their work to highlight the intricate connection between living and creating. Come explore your creative side with these titles and many more at Media Services!
Guest student blogger Olivia Kalish is a Junior studying Painting and Art History in the Sidney and Lois Eskenazi School of Art, Architecture, and Design. In her free time, she practices art making, spends time with her family, and listens to podcasts.
Themester is an IU program held each Fall that combines classes and special events, like lectures and exhibits, to encourage students to experience that semester’s topic through multiple disciplines and formats. This program is part of the university’s attempt to give students a well-rounded educational experience. In honor of IU’s bicentennial, the Fall 2019 Themester topic is Remembering and Forgetting. Below are some movies that offer perspectives on memory, all of which can be checked out at Media Services.
This film is all about personal memory. From the same director of Inception (2010), this is another movie that will mess with your mind. The main character, Leonard, is searching for the man who raped and murdered his wife. One problem: he has short-term memory loss due to the attack and cannot make new memories. After a few minutes of hearing any new information, he forgets it. I highly recommend this film to anyone who likes to have their brain broken by a movie.
Set in a fascist, dystopian Britain, this story follows the life of Evie and a masked man known as ‘V’ while they ignite a revolution to overthrow the government. The film explores how we remember heroes and ideas. I recommend this movie to any superhero lover or lovers of revolution.
This film is all about how the dead are remembered in Mexican culture. The main character, Miguel, dreams of being a musician despite his family’s ban on music. After stealing a guitar from his dead idol, he finds himself in the Land of the Dead. He must make his way back to the Land of Living before he disappears forever, but he refuses to go back before getting his family’s blessing to play music. I recommend this movie to any Pixar lovers, or if you are in need of a good cry.
Director Spike Lee brings to life the true story of Ron Stallworth, a black police officer in Colorado who infiltrates the Ku Klux Klan in an undercover operation. This film is all about how we, as a nation, remember our history of racism. I highly recommend this film to anyone interested in watching a great film about past and present racial tensions.
This film is about personal memory and how we remember those we love. After the main character, Joel, finds out his ex-girlfriend has had a procedure to forget him and their relationship, he chooses to do the same. The movie follows him as he desperately attempts to stop the procedure while it is happening and before his ex, Clementine, is permanently erased from his memories.
Do you have memories you wish you could keep forever? Ones you would rather forget? Scientists are constantly learning more about human memory. Recent research has even identified specific neurons that map memories in the brain. For more information about Themester for Fall 2019 or to view upcoming Themester events, check out this link: https://themester.indiana.edu/about/theme/index.html
Isabella Salerno is a junior studying Political Science, American Studies, and Sociology. In her free time you can often find her in a coffee shop around Bloomington.
Three Foreign Films That’ll Make You Cry Your Heart Out
It is hard to believe, but semester finals are around the corner , and finals can bring stress! Sometimes, the best way to release your stress is to cry, and there is no better time to cry it out than while watching a real tearjerker. If you need to let some tears flow while the film rolls, here are three foreign films I recommend for you.
Farewell My Concubine is not only the movie’s name, but also the name of the traditional Peking Opera it was inspired by. The film revolves around the joys and sorrows of two lovers who rely on each other during a time of political tensions. Farewell My Concubine showed thoughts and understanding of traditional culture, the living conditions of society, and human nature. In 1993, the film won the highest prize (Palme d’Or) of the Cannes International Film Festival and became the first Chinese film to win this honor. What’s more, the film has won many international awards, such as the Golden Globe Award for the best foreign language film and the International Federation of Film Critics award. In 2005, Farewell My Concubine was selected as one of the 100 best films in the world by Time magazine.
This film offers an interesting perspective on the afterlife with drama and suspense. There is a law in the underworld: the dead have 49 days to go through seven extreme trials. Only those who go through all the seven trials are declared as innocent by the ruler of death and get the opportunity for another life. The story centers around a firefighter named Ja-hong Kim who died trying to save a child in a fire accident. This film is a funny, heart-touching, and also thought-provoking underworld adventure whose tender moments will give you misty eyes. The film’s deep grasp of emotions has been well received by audiences since its debut in 2017.
Along with the Gods: The Last 49 Days is the intense sequel to Along with the Gods: The Two Worlds, but in this film the narrative takes a much crazier turn compared to part one. The film tells about three amnesiac underworld emissaries who are on their last of the seven trials. They meet a god that knows about their secret previous lives. But what secret? And who is this strange deity? Along with the Gods: The Last 49 Days is tender and thought-provoking like its predecessor, but it also has some ironic moments and includes deeper underlying narratives about socioeconomic struggles.
If you need to cry, doing so while watching these films provides some great cover. They just might help you sail through the end of your semester! LL
Lilly Li is a new Media Services staff member. This is her first guest blog post.
Films have no boundaries when it comes to the topics they can cover, and I find them a great resource to expose myself to new ideas. For example, bioethics was a topic I was unfamiliar with, but through several films, I have had the chance to be exposed to the concept and how it is relevant to today. The main focus of the following films isn’t bioethics itself but the telling of a particular story. However, through their narratives, they reveal instances where morality and ethics intersect with the medical industry. The four basic principles of bioethics are: 1) acknowledging the autonomy of the patient; 2) doing no harm/non-maleficence; 3) doing good/beneficence; and 4) justice. The following films explore these themes.
A biographical drama, this film follows the life of John Nash, a Nobel laureate mathematician. During his time as a graduate student at Princeton University, he begins to develop paranoid schizophrenia. However, John is resistant to medicating his illness as the prescriptions interfere with his work, and the film shows his struggle to cope with his hallucinations and episodes. This film relates to the four principles of bioethics (listed above) that physicians and other practitioners are supposed to uphold. As seen in A Beautiful Mind, a patient, especially one with cognitive impairment, can make a decision that isn’t in their best interest (i.e. John deciding he doesn’t need the medicine), thinking that there is nothing wrong with them. John’s decision not to treat his illness brings up the question of whether his doctors should respect John’s autonomy to make that decision for himself, or if his illness makes him incapable of doing so.
This film follows the titular character and her involvement in an abortion debate. Ruth, a woman with drug and alcohol dependency, finds herself pregnant and in jail for her drug use. Fed up with Ruth’s frequent appearances in his court, and the lack of responsibility she exhibits toward her four other children who are in foster care, a judge presents her with felony charges but promises to be less harsh with her if she gets an abortion. This sparks a huge battle between people on both sides of the argument. The pro-life supporters treat her with kindness and support her, but only as long as she vows not to get an abortion. On the other hand, the pro-choice supporters do the same exact thing of providing conditional kindness to Ruth. As the film progresses, it becomes clear how no one on either side really cares about her. They only care that she makes a decision that supports their agenda. The film doesn’t try to make a statement supporting one side over the other. Instead, it highlights how, being overly concerned with an agenda, all parties fail to recognize Ruth as an actual person and not just a vessel for sending a message to the world. This film brings up themes similar to A Beautiful Mind: does Ruth, a person with alcohol and drug dependency, have the competence and the autonomy to make a decision for herself? In addition, the actions of the pro-life and pro-choice supporters spur the audience to consider the implications of utilitarianism: a doctrine in which the end justifies the means. In Citizen Ruth, both sides are willing to do whatever is necessary to win the battle against each other.
This film follows the lives of two immigrants as they struggle to make a new life for themselves. Through a series of events, they end up involved in an organ-harvesting ring where immigrants exchange their kidneys for forged documents. Unfortunately, organ harvesting isn’t limited to the big screen; it happens all around the world today as people sell their organs for money, for paperwork, etc. (some recent statistics can be found here). It brings up the controversial question of whether people should be able to sell their organs in the same way they can sell their sperm or plasma for money. The current state of affairs leads to deaths both from a lack of kidney donations and from incorrect harvesting practices. However, if organ donation were to become a legal market, it might cause people to donate their organs for some extra cash—thereby disproportionately affecting those facing poverty—and it might decrease donations made for altruistic reasons. The film shows the leader of the organ harvesting ring misinforming those immigrants who spoke poor English and were not fully aware of the situation they were entering, raising questions of the bioethics of such a practice. In a gross underestimation, he tells some of them that their procedure would be similar to a tooth extraction, violating their right to make an informed decision.
This film sees Maggie, an amateur boxer, as she is taken under the wing of a seasoned trainer named Frankie, in hopes of achieving her dream of becoming a professional. After all her hard work and training, an unfortunate accident halts her dreams—permanently. Struggling to cope with her new reality, Maggie starts considering assisted suicide. While watching the scenes following Maggie’s accident, I couldn’t help but wonder how she would ever be able to create a different life for herself. I remembered how in the beginning of the film, she had said that boxing was all she had.
With no chance of ever fighting again, Maggie had to rethink the course of her life. This film explores the bioethics of assisted suicide: should Maggie be allowed by the hospital and her doctors to decide to end her life? The film also explores social attitudes with regard to disabilities. In general, society often views a disability as a deficit, defect, or problem. Often times, what is portrayed in the media and the current discourse around disabilities is comprised of negative imagery: “disability” is understood as synonymous with weakness or a lack of dignity. Maggie makes choices based on her expectations of what it means to live with a disability. In treating this topic, the film creates an opportunity for viewers to examine their own feelings and challenge their assumptions on the subject.
This film depicts the doctor-patient relationship as well as the difference between sympathy and empathy. One of the main principles of bioethics is beneficence toward patients. The film portrays the transformation of Dr. Jack McKee’s bedside manner: when he is diagnosed with throat cancer, he goes from being a top surgeon to experiencing things from the patient’s side. In the beginning, Jack is very detached from his patients and preaches that view to his interns. In one operating-room scene, he makes callous jokes about the patient during their surgery and seems to be having a grand time. One could argue he was violating one of the basic principles of bioethics: doing good/ beneficence towards patients. However, by the end, he has realized the errors of his old ways. After being diagnosed, he begins to understand that he is in fact holding people’s lives in his hands, and this revelation causes him to freeze in the OR. These two scenes show the extremes of the spectrum, from being completely apathetic towards his patients to being crippled by the enormity of his responsibility to them once he understands their struggles.
This film also explores the doctor/patient theme. The film follows Vivian on her journey after being diagnosed with ovarian cancer and agreeing to undergo aggressive and experimental chemotherapy. From the outset, Dr. Kelekian treats Vivian as a mere guinea pig. While breaking the news of her illness to her and explaining her options, he mentions how her “contribution” would mean a lot to advancing medical knowledge. The scene ends with him looking pleased and excited while sitting across from a woman whose whole world was just disrupted. From this, the audience grasps that he was more focused on his own research opportunity than on Vivian’s health. At one point, Vivian says that she should have asked more questions, and it is revealed that Dr. Kelekian had no faith that this experiment would help Vivian’s health improve. His failure to fully disclose all the information meant that he also failed to respect his patient and to give her the autonomy to make an informed decision. Although Vivian makes clear that her treatment was detrimental to her health, the doctor had already decided that the benefits of the experimental trial were greater than the burden it put on his patient, failing to meet the non-maleficence clause of biomedical ethics. He used his own principles to make that moral judgment, and his utilitarian reasoning is apparent when someone tells Vivian that the doctor is willing to do anything as long as “the life continues.” Vivian was denied her humanity for the sake of research, a situation that is not without real-life historical precedent.
All of these films cover complex, sometimes difficult terrain, where simple answers remain elusive. If you like films that challenge you to expand your perspective, stop by Media Services to find these and many more thought-provoking titles!
Guest student blogger Robiati Endashaw is a senior studying Public Policy Analysis in the Kelley School of Business. In her free time, you can catch her reading and watching crime documentaries.
Along with the smell of cinnamon pine cones and Ginkgo trees, the falling of leaves and temperatures—if only slightly)—and the sudden influx of pumpkin spice, comes the cluttering of our calendars. I think we are six weeks into the semester now, which means that it’s been six weeks since I’ve been to a concert. Normally, I can squeeze in a show at the ‘Bird or the Bishop almost every week. But I’ve experienced a drought of music as the semester gets busy. Maybe some of you experience the same thing. If you do, I have something that may help.
I really do need to get out soon. But until then, these databases have kept my hunger for live music satiated, and I can keep chugging along through the semester.
Duncan Hardy is an IU Bloomington junior pursuing dual degrees in Arts Management and Creative Writing. Some of his favorite musical artists are Frank Ocean, Mid-Air Thief, and Andre 3000. Any music, movie, or book recommendations can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
*For a complete list of available streaming databases, visit Media Services’ streaming library research guide.