American Political Shows and Movies to Get Your Mind Off of American Politics

776Media Beat Blog HeaderWith the recent election and a newly elected president, there have been many talks about politics. Here are some of the items we have in our collection with a focus on all that good political stuff (or you can watch these to get your mind off of the most recent election! Whichever you prefer, here are some quality pieces of entertainment for you, at the Media Services Library in Wells)…

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Five Dystopian Films to Put on in the Background While You Plan the Revolution

8776Media Beat Blog HeaderEarly Wednesday morning, it was announced that the American public unpopularly chose to elect Donald Trump as their 45th commander-in-chief, ushering in a demagogic nightmare period wherein people are already being attacked and assaulted for their difference (TW: racism, misogyny). Many people are understandably responding with grief, fear and general anxiety to the symbolic (and soon to be material) victory of a racist, misogynist Grand Ole Party monster, and some are even … organizing! Protests are springing up across the nation in the wake of Trump’s election. After the public demonstration of your disturbed sentiment, though, you may be thinking “now what? How are we going to navigate this potential dystopian future?” Well, we here at Media Services have prognosticated your pleas and prepared for you our list of five dystopian films to play in the background while you and your friends gather ‘round the holiday hearth and plan the revolution…

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When A Movie Memes: An Exercise In Relevance

6Media Beat Blog HeaderThe end goal of nearly every movie is to make money and have a staying power within them to continue to make money throughout the years. In other words, a movie production company wants their films to stick around and stay relevant for a while so they can continue to keep the lights on in their studios, and by far the most effective way to ensure that your work will make money in this day and age is to make it into a meme-level masterpiece…
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Some Foreign Films You Won’t Want to Miss

2Media Beat Blog HeaderThere are so many movies released in theaters each year, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the amount to choose from- even more so since you can’t always know if they’re good or not. Sometimes, it’s easy to look over a great film, and this goes for foreign films especially. Many people are disdainful to the idea of watching foreign movies, as they must either deal with reading subtitles or watching a poorly done dub.  Not only that, but often times, foreign films have names that make little to no sense to viewers who only speak English; and are sometimes difficult to find.  Although there are many obstacles when it comes to finding a foreign film to watch, in the end, many times the struggle is worth it…

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2016: The Fall of Film, the Rise of TV?

Media Beat Blog Header12016 has now become, to many, a terribly disappointing year in cinema. There are only a handful of films that have genuinely (and positively) surprised people, as well as garnering a respectable amount of buzz… but of all the films that have had a lot of excitement surrounding them… almost all of them have either flopped or been seen as just “bad movies”.

On the other hand, it seems that television shows, mainly streaming shows on Netflix or other original series, have grown to become popular and well-received, even after just one season. It’s almost as if TV is surpassing film in quality of story this year. Of course, there are, and always will be, exceptions to any rule, but I’d say there have been many more disappointments in film than TV this year, and many more surprises in TV than in film…

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Moving Image Collections & Archives Host 20th Annual African Film Festival, September 12-15, 2016

The 20th African Film Festival Traveling Series is sponsored by IU Libraries Media Services, Black Film Center/Archive, the African Studies program, The Media School’s Cinema and Media Arts program, the Department of African American and African Diaspora Studies, the Department of History, the Department of Comparative Literature, and the IU Cinema. Special thanks are due to Brian Graney of the Black Film Center/Archive and Alimah Boyd of the African Film Festival, Inc.

 

Head Gone (2014, Dir. Dare Fasasi)
Monday, September 12, 2016 | 7:00 p.m. | IU Cinema
Nigeria/Sweden, 111 min. In English & Pidgin with English subtitles. Introduction by Professor Akin Adesokan, Comparative Literature, and Cinema and Media Studies at the Media School.

Facebook Event:  https://www.facebook.com/events/1564260263876037/

Due to a road mishap, a bus driver loses a group of psychiatric patients on the way to a federal hospital. To cover up the mistake, he and a nurse pick up unsuspecting commuters to substitute the patients and the plot thickens as the new passengers must try to prove their sanity in a psychiatric institution, while the escapees try to adjust to a new environment. This allegorical comedy of errors features some of Nigeria’s biggest names.

Red Leaves (2014, Dir. Bazi Gete)
Tuesday, September 13, 2016 | 6:00 p.m. | IUB Library Moving Image Collections & Archives, BFC/A’s Phyllis Klotman Room (Wells 044B)
Israel, 80 min. In Hebrew and Amharic with English subtitles.

Meseganio Tadela, 74, immigrated to Israel from Ethiopia 28 years ago with his family. He has chosen to zealously retain his culture, talks very little, and hardly speaks Hebrew. After losing his wife, Meseganio sets out on a journey that leads him through his children’s homes. He comes to realize that he belongs to a rapidly disappearing class that believes in retaining Ethiopian culture. As this harsh reality begins to hit him, he struggles to survive according to his own rules.

Afripedia: Ghana (2014, Dir. by Teddy Goitom, Benjamin Taft and Senay Berhe)
Wednesday, September 14, 2016 | 6:00 p.m. | IUB Library Moving Image Collections & Archives, BFC/A’s Phyllis Klotman Room (Wells 044B)
Ghana/Kenya/Sweden, 28 min. In English.

The whispers among connoisseurs talk about Accra as the next big hotspot for African cultural production, and Afripedia: Ghana suggests they’re not wrong. Meet outspoken and androgynous music star Wiyaala, exciting trick-bikers whose BMX skills and flamboyant style have taken neighborhoods by storm. Visual artist Afrogallonism puts on extraordinary outdoor performances to highlight environmental issues.

Afripedia: Kenya (2014, Dir. by Teddy Goitom, Benjamin Taft and Senay Berhe)
Wednesday, September 14, 2016 | 6:30 p.m. | IUB Library Moving Image Collections & Archives, BFC/A’s Phyllis Klotman Room (Wells 044B)
Ghana/Kenya/Sweden, 28 min. In English.

Take an intimate look at Nairobi’s urban culture scene and its leading personalities and stars. Meet 3D-artist Andrew Kaggia, creator of a 3D-animated political short film, taking you to his futuristic vision of Nairobi and proving that disability is never inability. Afro-futuristic pop band and DIY-enthusiasts Just a Band redefine music videos, and visual artist Cyrus introduces us to his remarkable collection created solely with found materials.

The Longest Kiss /A jamais, pour toujours (2013, Dir. by Alexandra Sicotte-Lévesque)
Wednesday, September 14, 2016 | 7:00 p.m. | IUB Library Moving Image Collections & Archives, BFC/A’s Phyllis Klotman Room (Wells 044B)

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The meeting of the Blue and White Nile in Sudan’s capital, Khartoum, is referred to as ‘the longest kiss in history.’ As the Arab Spring was in full bloom, Sudan, straddling between the Middle East and Africa, was about to split in two. The film follows six young Sudanese searching for a place to call ‘home’ as their journeys take us up and down the Nile, between north and south Sudan, ahead of the south’s secession. Facing conflicting identities, youth in north Sudan grapple with a stale dictatorship while others in south Sudan hope to start over—but at what costs? For the first time a film gives a voice to Sudanese youth from different origins, Muslims and Christians. It is an intimate portrait of a complex society that bears witness to its inevitable fragmentation.

Cholo (2014, Dir. Muzna Almusafer)
Thursday, September 15, 2016 | 4:00 p.m. | IUB Library Moving Image Collections & Archives, BFC/A’s Phyllis Klotman Room (Wells 044B)
Oman, 21 min. In Swahili with English subtitles.

The dark-skinned, 11-year-old Cholo meets his fair-skinned younger stepbrother Abdullah for the first time when their father Said arrives in Muscat. Although strikingly different, the boys have great chemistry. Cholo is a young boy full of imagination and a great love for nature and life. However, jealousy, competitiveness, and curiosity arise between the two, as they go through a journey of self-discovery.

Panic Button (2014, Dir. Libby Dougherty)
Thursday, September 15, 2016 | 4:30 p.m. | IUB Moving Image Collections & Archives, BFC/A’s Phyllis Klotman Room (Wells 044B)
South Africa, 25 min. In English.

From the moment that Tshepo, a security guard, breaks through Jenny’s multi-locked door to save her, she feels as if she’s been swept off her feet. But as Jenny imagines herself falling in love with him, an unhealthy, delusional obsession begins to take shape.

The Prophecy (2015, Dir. by Marcia Juzga)
Thursday, September 15, 2016 | 5:00 p.m. | IUB Moving Image Collections & Archives, BFC/A’s Phyllis Klotman Room (Wells 044B)
Senegal, 20 min. In French & Wolof with English subtitles.

Concerned about the environmental issues that Senegal is facing, photographer Fabrice Monteiro, in collaboration with the designer “Jah Gal,” created The Prophecy. The objective of this photographic project is to raise global awareness of the environment by combining art, culture, fashion, and tradition. The essence of each site photographed is characterized by a Jinn — supernatural genies omnipresent in African cultures — merging with its environment. Marcia Juzga’s film is a behind-the-scenes look at the making of Monteiro’s project.

The African Film Festival National Traveling Series has been organized by the African Film Festival, Inc. This series has been made possible by the generous support of The Bradley Foundation, Domenico Paulon Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

For more information, contact Monique Threatt at (812)855-1650.

Disney’s Long Awaited Sequels and Prequels

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Who doesn’t love a good Disney movie?! I know I do! In case some of you were wondering, YES the rumors of their movies are in fact true. I’m sure many of you are well aware of Finding Dory, the sequel to its 2003 Finding Nemo (PN1997.2 .F49 2003b), hitting theaters this Friday. However, this is only the beginning of some of your Disney favorites making a comeback.

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Over the next four years or so, Disney is set to release many more movies including live action films, such as the Jungle Book released April of this year, sequels, and prequels. This list includes Cars 3, a live-action Beauty and the Beast, Toy Story 4, and the Incredibles 2 which is rumored that the characters will have aged real-time and will be centered around Jack-Jack Parr, the baby of the superfamily during its first movie.

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A Closer Look at The Princess and the Frog

The-Princess-And-The-Frog-posterIn 2009, Disney released The Princess and the Frog, which had a lot of pressure from unprecedented anticipation, as this was to be the first Disney Princess film with a black princess. Most audience members were extremely happy with the film, and critics were as well; the film scored an 84% on Rotten Tomatoes and a 73 on MetaCritic, both of which are impressive scores. While it had success as an animated film, a Disney film, and a princess film…how does it stand as a black film? I recently took AAAD A278 “Contemporary Black Film” which sparked a lot of interest for me to explore The Princess and the Frog, using “black film” as a magnifying glass to inspect it. Really, the one thing that this film should have done is appeal to young black girls as the white princess did for the young white audiences, but taking away all sense of #BlackGirlMagic loses it’s appeal to a large portion of the black audience who came to see The Princess and the Frog – not A Tale of Two Frogs. A lot of people remember this film as “the one where the black princess got to be a frog for the whole movie,” but it’s even more than just that. One article we read, titled “Black Film as a Genre,” defines them as “motion pictures made for theater distribution that have a black producer, director, and writer, or black performers; that speak to black audiences or, incidentally, to white audiences possessed of preternatural curiosity, attentiveness, or sensibility towards racial matters; and that emerge from self-conscious intentions, whether artistic or political, to illuminate the Afro-American experience,” and in using this definition, how does the film hold up? Without further ado, let’s break this down.

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By my count, there are 13 princesses in the Disney Animation and Disney/Pixar films: 1. Snow White in Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (1950), 2. Cinderella inCinderella (1950), 3. Aurora in Sleeping Beauty (1959), 4. Ariel in The Little Mermaid (1989), 5. Belle in Beauty and the Beast (1991), 6. Jasmine in Aladdin (1992), 7. Pocahontas in Pocahontas (1995), 8. Mulan in Mulan (1998), 9. Tiana in The Princess and the Frog (2009), 10. Rapunzel in Tangled (2010), 11. Merida in Brave (2012) and 12 and 13. Elsa and Anna in Frozen (2013). Based on the acquisition of their status of “princesshood”- I divided into these 13 girls into two categories: those who became princesses by birthright, and those who became princesses by marriage; there are only four of these 13 girls who were not princesses at birth, and were instead had to work for their crown (disclaimer: when mentioning “royalty” or “princesshood,” I do not always mean that these girls were actually royalty in the traditional sense, but rather at the top of their respective hierarchy in their kingdom, whatever that may be). In this way, The Princess and the Frog differs from all other films moreso than just the inclusion of the first black Disney “princess”; this movie actually contains a white princess who was meant to marry the prince, Naveen, but was unable to do so as the prince was turned into a frog by the antagonist in the film. Because of this occurrence, Naveen hops into the window of the princess’ room and tries to kiss the girl to break the spell. Alas, he kisses Tiana instead of the real princess, at which time Tiana turns into a frog and must discover a way to turn back into a human in order to fulfill her father’s dream. Side note: A classmate of mine, David, noted that her father told her at the beginning of the movie that food brings people together and makes people happy, which is important. Tiana misses the point completely as she only literally takes his advice, which is to make people food but doesn’t understand that it’s the purpose of the food and not the food itself that’s important: the sense of community that comes with sharing food with friends.

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Tiana’s transformation insulted, or at the least disappointed, many people who were looking forwards to seeing Disney’s first black princess, and were instead given a film about a frog who used to be a girl (skin color really isn’t touched upon in this film). “Black Girl Magic is a term used to illustrate the universal awesomeness of black women. It’s about celebrating anything we deem particularly dope, inspiring, or mind-blowing about ourselves” is how Julee Wilson defined the social media “#BlackGirlMagic” which has become extremely popular. The Princess and the Frog should have at least made young black girls proud of the character who was supposed to have been their first representation in the Disney princess series, but instead they were left with a slimy- I’m sorry, “mucus-y”- frog to portray the character. The only other princess who transformed in the films I mentioned was Ariel in The Little Mermaid, but by transforming, she became a gorgeous human with legs instead of a mermaid with a tail fin: quite literally (as in, in the dictionary definition sense) this transformation sexualized Ariel. I’m not sure how mermaids reproduce but I see no obvious genitalia, so if I had to assume, I’d say asexually. Because of Ariel’s transformation, she was literally sexualized by becoming a woman who could mate with a man- not a transformation to complain about. Tiana on the other hand, was desexualized when becoming a frog (even though they reproduce sexually) she is now unattractive to the male population (I assume), except for the one “male” whom she’s stuck with. While Prince Naveen seemed to be attracted to her upon first meeting her (when they first kissed in the house), he seemed to be quite the womanizer, and only seemed to want to kiss her out of necessity to turn back into a human. So, is Prince Naveen actually attracted to Tiana as the person she was before turning into a frog? The world may never know.

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Towards the end of the second act of the film, we find out that Prince Naveen wants to propose to Tiana while they’re still frogs (how he got the engagement ring, I’m not sure but I believe it was from when he was going to marry the other girl instead of Tiana…and now just wants to marry Tiana because he really doesn’t have any other options, right?). Anyway, upon marriage, Tiana becomes a princess finally! Disney’s first black princess is finally a princess… however, she is from New Orleans, and they don’t have princesses there. Here’s another huge difference from all of the other Disney Princeses: she can’t be the princess of where she was born. By marrying the prince, she became the princess of where Prince Naveen is from, Maldonia (who’s main language is based off of Italian, so I’m guessing it’s an imaginary European country), and she still has no royalty in New Orleans. The only other Disney princess who becomes a princess of another land besides her own is Ariel, who marries Prince Eric… but she is still the princess of King Triton’s undersea kingdom as well (Tiana got swindled in pretty much every aspect of this film). This first “black Disney princess” is missing all sense of #BlackGirlMagic, and from the definition from “Black Film as a Genre,” this hardly even qualifies as a Black Film in any sense of the definition. However, this is just one man’s opinion: what do you think if you’ve seen this film? How do you think it compares to the traits of the other princess films? Were you let down by Disney’s story involving their first black princess? Be sure to head to Media Services to check out this movie and all other great animated films in our collection! /BS

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Classic Films in the Age of Blockbusters

the-avengers-battle-in-cool-concept-art-for-captain-america-civil-warWith the releases of major blockbusters such as “Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice,” “Captain America: Civil War,” “X-Men: Apocalypse,” etc., I thought it would be fitting to take a step back into some old school cinema. Over Christmas break, I picked up the Steve McQueen collection on Blu-ray at Best Buy on sale, and I watched them all to try to appreciate some “classic” films. Admittedly, they don’t all hold up to my spoiled, CGI-ridden expectations, but I could definitely find things to enjoy in them. One of these films we have at IU Media & Reserve Services, and the most recent film I watched from this collection was called “Bullitt,” which IMDb describes as “an all guts, no glory San Francisco cop becomes determined to find the underworld kingpin that killed the witness in his protection.” Here are my thoughts on the film…

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I watched this movie about 3 days ago, but wasn’t sure exactly what to think of it for the first few days. Recently, I’ve thought about this film a lot and many aspects of it have now been made clear to me. I won’t lie to you, I was slightly disappointed while watching it because I was told this is “one of the best car-chase films ever” (thanks, Dad). That statement could not have been more misleading. Don’t go into this film expecting a car chase movie; actually, don’t go into this movie expecting anything at all. In this little review, I will discuss the film in-depth without spoilers, and talk about why this film may just be a masterpiece. As I mentioned, I was initially disappointed with this film because it wasn’t what I thought it would be. I wasn’t really able to follow the story and I’m still wondering exactly what all happened; I also asked myself at the end “what was the point of that?” After watching it, I knew that there were things that I was missing (not just in regards to the story itself, but the film as a whole) and I wouldn’t feel right writing an “okay” review for this. The more that I think about this film, the better it gets and now I want to talk about why. “What was the point of that?” Like I did, you may also ask yourself after watching the film… and the point is that there really isn’t a point; more specifically, the point is just to show what police officers do on a daily basis. This film isn’t meant to be an action-packed extravaganza, but rather just to show a day in the life of a cop with extreme realism (I suppose… I’m not a cop so I can’t assume it’s super realistic but I definitely got that vibe). This wasn’t obvious to me until I thought about it a lot and even did some research online. To make this film seem real, the doctors and other extras in the movie weren’t actors but real people. There is a scene in an Operating Room, which feels very real and not like your average film because they hired real doctors to perform here to emphasize the realism.

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There is one scene in which Bullitt’s wife sees a murder victim in a house and freaks out about it, confronting Bullitt, commenting on if seeing this everyday is making him numb to everything else. One of the things that stood out to me here is the camera angle. Simple over-the-shoulder shots are common in films; they allow you to see one person’s face while recognizing the position of the other. In this scene, an over-the-shoulder shot was used, but the camera was so low that Steve McQueen’s shoulder blocked the mouth of his character’s wife. As I watched this, I was bothered because the cinematography/directing here seemed so lazy and misplaced, but as I thought about it I realized how brilliant it was. During that whole scene, the actress’ eyes (and voice) were the only things that showed us her emotion. We couldn’t see her mouth, so like Tom Hardy’s Bane, the emotion in her eyes is all we could perceive. This is actually a recurring “theme” throughout the film; Steve McQueen didn’t have much dialogue in the film at all, thus he had to use body language and facial expressions (especially with eyes) to convey emotion. The character of Bullitt is a stone-cold, tough-as-nails cop because he deals with these hard cases every day, like his wife mentions. He has become accustomed to seeing death and dealing with it like any other thing in life without making a big deal out of it, which makes this day not stand out to him at all, even though his wife is beside herself at what she saw. Remember what I mentioned about the eyes when we didn’t see the mouth? There is a saying in writing and in film to “show, don’t tell.” The scene with the wife and the strange but brilliant camera angle exemplifies this saying- literally in the fact that we can see her eyes but not her mouth. The whole film is a “show, don’t tell” example because we see so much more than we hear, as far as dialogue goes.

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There is very little talking, but a lot to be seen (not even to mention the absolutely gorgeous cinematography and directing which far surpasses many films these days), which immediately reminds me of “Drive.” If you’ve seen Drive, you know what I’m talking about. There is hardly any talking in Drive, and everything that you can take from the movie is what you see. Many people also went into that movie with the wrong expectations: wanting a “car chase” movie as well only to end up receiving a movie that was smarter than they were (but no offense if you didn’t like it. I’m mainly talking about the lady who tried to sue for her lack of enjoyment…). Also like Drive, the emphasis on character and not just story gives this film a very intimate feel to it, which allows the audience to feel for the main character on a more personal level. By common definition, this may not be the most “entertaining” or “enjoyable” film to watch; it’s one of the few that I’ll sit down and expect not to be merely “entertained” while watching it, but will be amazed while thinking about how well-made it was afterwards. Not comparing the film with this other material (as to not offend anybody), but like Holy scripture, many people don’t just sit down and read it for light reading or entertainment. They read to be able to take something away afterwards and I think there’s a lot to be taken away from this film- more so than what just meets the eye for sure.

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Many may pass this film off as a simple cop drama, but it’s so much more than that. This is one of the best cop dramas I’ve seen- not for the story, but for the filmmaking genius. The part of the film that really drove the main idea of realism home for me was one of the last shots of the movie, of a bumper sticker that read simply “Support Your Local Police.” This reemphasizes the idea of realism in the film, that the people in the film *are* your local police in what they do every day- which is what this film represents. To me, the story was good, and the acting was great but the directing was incredible. Now go watch this film and come back and read this again and think about the movie and I hope it grows on you as much as it did for me. I hope you can have as great of an epiphany as I did! Thanks for reading and be sure to check this film out at IU Media & Reserve Services. /BS

the Mid-’90s Female Bildungsroman, Part 2 : “Party Girl”, Adornment, and the Sublimation of Femme Intelligence

“Party Girl” (1995), Parker Posey’s feature debut, has the dubious honor of being the first commercial comedy-drama film to be broadcast in its entirety over the internet. Over twenty years later, deep in the internet age, it still provides plenty of #inspo fodder for blogging aesthetes and fashion magazines due to the remarkable work of its costume designer Michael Clancy. Indeed, Clancy’s genius (in conjunction with Posey’s performance, the ‘90s house soundtrack, and the high school existentialism)
is what draws me back to this movie every few months: his intentional design work creates readable surfaces throughout the film–the clothes become a text, in a (tactile?) sense.

 Posey’s character Mary is epitomized in reviews as a wayward girl whose only preoccupations are amassing a couture wardrobe and attending “it” functions. That is, until she’s arrested for hosting an illegal rent party and must pick up a clerk job at the library to cover bail. She’s a reluctant worker, but finds over time–through acknowledging the potential Sisyphean value of the drudgery–that she may have an innate skill for library work. She also strikes up a romance with the falafel vendor on the corner, all the while turning look after look, in the stacks or at the club. Continue reading “the Mid-’90s Female Bildungsroman, Part 2 : “Party Girl”, Adornment, and the Sublimation of Femme Intelligence”