Thelma and Louise – a Timeless Roadtrip

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why Miyazaki’s Works are so Internationally Renowned

When Miyazaki’s name is mentioned, I am sure certain film titles come to mind. As a child growing up in a Japanese family, Miyazaki’s films were some of my favorite apart from the Lindsey Lohan remake of The Parent Trap. This may come as no shocker but what always surprised me was the number of my peers that also knew of his films. Miyazaki and his company Studio Gibli are often compared to Walt Disney. As a Japanese animation filmmaker, what makes Miyazaki’s works do so well internationally?

People around the world are moved by his various works that tackle themes and characters of great depth. They were first introduced to his films in 2003 when his film Spirited Away (2001) took home the Oscar for Best Animated Feature Film, opening the gates to all other Studio Gibli films. Although Miyazaki’s films are considered children’s movies, they explore themes such as war, man vs. nature, and identity, making them relevant to people of all ages.

Yet he does this in such an honest way. He captures the true emotions of life: joy, bewilderment, empathy. And he delivers them to us in the character’s actions that are so real.  Take, for example, Spirited Away. The protagonist, Chihiro, is a 10-year-old girl who is moving to a new town and leaving everything and everyone she knows behind. Her friends give her a bouquet and she says, “The only time I got a bouquet and it’s a goodbye present. How depressing.” Her mother tries to console her but she remains sullen and shrugs it off. These are actions that any little girl would take. Miyazaki even mentioned that he based this film off of a 10-year-old girl that he knew very well.

Although Miyazaki’s films dig into complex themes, they have many layers, making them multifaceted and the right fit for children as well. Through the younger characters portrayed in his films, he allows children to identify with the films. In this way, he is extremely respectful to the younger audience.

Miyazaki once said, “”I believe that children’s souls are the inheritors of historical memory from previous generations. It’s just that as they grow older and experience the everyday world that memory sinks lower and lower. I feel I need to make a film that reaches down to that level.”

The quiet innocence of his films are the reason I started watching his films in the first place. That is why I consider My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki’s Delivery Service, and Ponyo as some of my favorite films of his. There is something so special about the pureness of these films which have had the ability to impact my life so strongly.

It is quite an understatement to say that Miyazaki’s films are beautiful. His stills are some of the most stunning in art, let alone in animation. Sprinkled through his films are lush landscapes that capture the beauty of the countryside.  His great attention to detail brings the fantastic elements of his stories to life and suck the viewer in. His films are the perfect blend of realistic, supernatural, and the fantastic.

The moving stories combined with his beautiful artwork are what make his films timeless masterpieces for all people of all ages. If you have not had the chance to see any of his films, I encourage you to do so. The ones that I would start with are Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totoro, and Howl’s Moving Castle. I hope that the journey through his films captivates you as much as they did to me. All three movies are available at Media Services! SM

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

All photos taken from: https://www.buzzfeed.com/jasminnahar/the-most-beautiful-shots-in-studio-ghibli-history?utm_term=.wdg87eRZy#.knKkv5QLe

 

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”

How “It” Reinvigorates The Horror Genre

The horror genre is one that catches a lot of negativity for it’s inherently evil subject matter and it’s necessity to adhere to traditions that are often written off as clichés, but I’m here to discuss why horror movies are on the rise and how It (2017) may just reinvent the entire genre… Continue reading “How “It” Reinvigorates The Horror Genre”

Only with the Heart

The Little Prince, otherwise known as Le Petite Prince is a novella published in 1943 by the late author, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. The French novella is known as one of the most successful books in history, and is the origin of one of the most popular French quotes: “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.” The book introduces heart tugging themes such as loss, love, and growing up… Continue reading “Only with the Heart”

ALA VRT Notable Videos for Adults 2017 Winners

The American Library Association (ALA) Video Round Table Notable Videos for Adults Committee has compiled its 2017 list of Notable Videos for Adults, a list of 15 outstanding films released on video within the past two years and suitable for all libraries serving adults.  Its purpose is to call attention to recent video releases that make a significant contribution to the world of video.  The list is compiled for use by librarians and the general adult populace.

The Notable Videos for Adults Committee selected 15 outstanding titles from among 67 nominees for this year’s list of Notable Videos for Adults.  The availability of closed captions (CC) and/or subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing (SDH) is preferred; inclusion and exclusion of the same is indicated below.

3 ½ Minutes, Ten Bullets (2015) 98 minutes. HBO Documentary Films. DVD.  Ro*Co Films.  Subtitles.  Invoking the controversial “Stand Your Ground” defense, a Florida man opens fire on unarmed African-American teenagers, killing Jordan Davis. [Available for checkout from Media Services]

Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution (2016) 120 minutes; Firelight Films. DVD. PBS.  CC & SDH.  An historical overview of the rise and fall of a radical social movement that sought to empower African Americans and change the capitalist system.

Fire at Sea (Fuocoammare(2016) 114 minutes. Sternal Entertainment. DVD. Kino Lorber. Subtitles.  Desperate African and Middle Eastern refugees arrive by boat to the Italian island of Lampedusa and residents respond.

The First Monday in May (2016) 91 minutes. Relativity Media. DVD. Magnolia Home Entertainment. SDH.  A fundraiser for the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art’s fashion wing makes multicultural connections between East and West.

Heart of a Dog (2016) 76 minutes. Abramorama. DVD. Criterion Collection. SDH.  Experimental artist Laurie Anderson projects the canine perspective in this non-linear meditation on fear, loss, and love.

How to Change the World  (2016) 110 minutes. Sky Films. DVD. Kino Lorber. CC.This history of the developmental phases of Greenpeace serves as a primer for environmental activism and political organizing for social change.

Last Day of Freedom (2016) 32 minutes. Grasshopper Film. DVD. CC.  His image altered by the animation technique of rotoscoping, the sibling of a death row inmate recounts the military service and PTSD leading up to his brother’s crime and punishment.

Long Story Short (2016) 45 minutes. Icarus Films. DVD. CC.  Based on interviews with residents of California homeless shelters, the filmmaker uses creative audio and visual techniques to distill hundreds of stories of poverty into a single message.

Matt Shepard Is A Friend of Mine (2015) 89 minutes. Logo Documentary Films. DVD. Available from various distributors. CC.  Friends of the Wyoming student and hate crime victim remember his life while also revealing the depth and longevity of their grief. [Available for checkout from Media Services]

OJ: Made in America (2016) 520 minutes. ESPN Films. DVD. CC.  An encyclopedic analysis of the sociological impact of the murder trial of OJ Simpson, as seen through the lens of race, celebrity, and class. [Available at IUB Law Library]

Sembene! (2016) 89 minutes. Impact Partners. DVD. Kino Lorber. CC.  Ousmane Sembène, a laborer and son of a fisherman, becomes a pioneering and controversial African filmmaker.

She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry  (2016) 93 minutes.  Music Box Films. DVD. Cinema Guild. SDH.  The women who raised consciousness, organized, and demonstrated for equal rights, tell the history of second wave feminism. [Available from IUPUI Library]

Under the Sun  (2016) 110 minutes. Icarus Films. DVD. Subtitles.  Officially sanctioned footage demonstrates the mesmerizing, pervasive power of rhetoric, repetition, and propaganda in North Korean life. 

Welcome to Leith  (2015) 86 minutes. First Run Features. DVD. SDH.  Residents of Leith, North Dakota, struggle with democratic principles when a white supremacist buys property and moves to their small town. [Available via online streaming]

What Happened, Miss Simone? (2016) 116 minutes. Netflix. DVD. Eagle Vision. Subtitles.  The complex and emotionally charged life of legendary musician and activist Nina Simone is chronicled. [Being cataloged, ask staff]

Be sure to check with Media Services for availability of titles.  “We Like to Watch!” (an old ALA VRT motto!)

~ Monique Threatt

Shameless: A TV Show for Everyone

Recently, the show Shameless has become a household name recently as its popularity has skyrocketed. The story is set in Chicago and follows a dysfunctional family who runs into trouble wherever they go. The plot will keep you guessing and always has you on your toes as the surprises are endless…

Continue reading “Shameless: A TV Show for Everyone”

Zootopia Analyzed: Disney’s Timely New Classic

When many people think of Disney movies, their minds might go towards the token Princess movies, maybe the classics such as The Jungle Book and The Lion King, or perhaps the many wonderful Disney/Pixar collaborations. Just last year, however, Disney brought us a film that not only rivals the quality of the classics with the same heartwarming story and lovable characters but also goes to infinity and beyond in just about every way that we expect from their live-action films as well. Because of that, Zootopia is not just a kid’s film, but a family film that every viewer can enjoy and relate to; this one improves upon that notion by allowing kids to have fun while provoking adults to think more so than most other animated films will warrant. In my opinion, this film is a great example of how movies can balance not only just a relevant and relatable narrative but also subtle and smart comedy that allows the story to thrive as what it’s meant to be at heart: fun!… Continue reading “Zootopia Analyzed: Disney’s Timely New Classic”

A Spotlight on DreamWorks Animated Films

5Media Beat Blog HeaderDreamWorks Animation is a popular and continuously growing competitor of Pixar, Blue Sky, Disney Animation, etc. at the forefront of modern animated films. With iconic films such as Shrek, How to Train Your Dragon, Madagascar, and Kung Fu Panda, DreamWorks have turned box office hits into massive franchises totaling over 1 Billion Dollars in box office gross… each.With those films stealing the spotlight, however, it’s also important to remember the smaller films that DreamWorks Animation has made- and even though these films might not be remembered to be the “classics” that Shrek or Madagascar are in the animated films world, they are still important to watch and enjoy as they’re responsible for helping earn DreamWorks the status that they have…

Continue reading “A Spotlight on DreamWorks Animated Films”

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