In Celebration of Themester: Animal/Human

Frogs. Digital Image. IU Themester

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

Farmer and Pig. Digital image. Two Bears Farm. 3/17/10.


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

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

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

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

Hachi poster. Digital image. Amazon.

King Kong poster. Digital image. Fanart.

The Black Stallion poster. Digital image.

Blackfish. Digital image. Wikipedia.

Robiati Endashaw is a junior and is studying public policy analysis in KSB with a minor in Economics. In her spare time, she enjoys reading non-fiction and watching crime documentaries.

Summer Screens

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

A Quiet Place. IMDb. 

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

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

Incredibles 2. IMDb.

Incredibles 2

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

Ocean’s 8. IMDb.

Ocean’s 8

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

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

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

Nyren, Erin. “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again.” Variety. 21 July 2018,

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again

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

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


Indie Filmmakers: Grit and Imagination


Nia Dacosta, independent film writer/director, known for “Little Woods” and “Night and Day.” IMDb.


Star Wars: The Force Awakens. IMDb.

Most of the general population is aware of the big film studios such as Warner Brothers, Disney, and Paramount. They probably are even aware of other large production companies which do not belong under the studio umbrella like Bad Robot (Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Mission Impossible, Super 8) or Scott Rudin Productions (Lady Bird, The Grand Budapest Hotel). But what most people are unaware of is the wide breadth of the independent filmmaking circuit which runs under our noses, unnoticed. Scrappy filmmakers that are creating art through limited means of funding are still able to bring compelling stories to life through visual language, just like their big studio brothers in Hollywood.

The Grand Budapest Hotel. IMDb.

So what sets independent filmmaking apart and who are the main players? The biggest differences between Hollywood and independent filmmaking are the people and money that back up each film. Large media conglomerates such as studios have a surplus of money as they are pulling it in from all sectors of the industry. With the promise of an unlimited amount of resources, production companies are able to approach these studios with scripts to which the studios can attach big stars and directors. These films are the able to then be distributed widely and brought to many theaters all over the world.

In independent filmmaking, funds for individual films are either raised through crowdfunding or through private investors who believe in the dreams of the filmmakers. Oftentimes, actors from Hollywood will also be attached to independent films, but there are also many actors who only act within the indie-film circuit. Much of the time, the writer of the script is also the director of the film. Once the film is completed, the filmmakers must find a way to distribute their film as well, without the help of a large corporation.

The DuPlass Brothers. The Hollywood Reporter. 17 July 2013,

One example of independent filmmaking comes from the Duplass brothers, who run their own independent production company, The Duplass Brothers Productions. Mark and Jay Duplass are originally from New Orleans. Both brothers are prominent     actors in TV (The League, Transparent) but also run an independent filmmaking production company. Together they wrote, directed, and produced the films Baghead and Cyrus. The Puffy Chair may be one of their most famous films. Their filmography is known for heavy improvisations by the actors involved. They intentionally write lean screenplays that have room for dialogue change, which brings an organic sense of humor to play when the actors perform off of each other.

Togetherness. HBO. 2018,

Through the successes of their independent films, the Duplass brothers have been able to expand into a number of other activities. They were able to co-create Togetherness, a television series for HBO, and they have also signed a four-year agreement with Netflix. Netflix will be helping to finance their films, and after a short distribution release, the films will be released on the Netflix streaming platform as well. Because the brothers are doing so well, they have started an annual campaign, called the “Hometown Heroes” competition, to encourage and aid other independent filmmakers. Teaming up with Seed&Spark, a film-centered crowdfunding company that also provides on-demand video streaming, the Duplass brothers promise $50,000 in funding each year to a filmmaker who will film a movie in their respective hometowns. Along with the money, the brothers will also be attached as executive producers. In a heavily competitive art form, their efforts to encourage other filmmakers are commendable.

Even through all of the hurdles that independent filmmaking must overcome, indie filmmakers are able to create very touching films, and they often focus on otherwise-untold stories. They may not be as well known or revered as the Tarantinos or Spielbergs of their day, but they continue to entrance us with their masterpieces. SM

Sami Masaki is a junior studying Cinema Production. She enjoys spending time with family and friends and watching movies. This past summer, she did two different film internships in Los Angeles, including one at Heydey Films.

♦ Here is IMDB’s  Top 25 Best Indie Movies of All Time. What’s on your list?

♦ Women writers and directors are one of the quickest-growing demographics in indie film. Want to know more? Just check out IndieWire’s 20 Rising Female Filmmakers You Need to Know in 2018.

♦ Got a favorite? Tell us about it!



Crazy Rich Asians

Crazy Rich Asians. IMDb.

On August 15th, Crazy Rich Asians opened in the United States. That stormy Wednesday evening, a tornado warning was issued just as I pulled into the theater’s parking lot. Though the Bloomington theater was barely half full, the film has gone on to be sold out across the country, earning 26.5 million its first weekend. As the first Asian-led and Asian-cast movie in twenty-five years, it has been hailed as an entertainment milestone in diversity. (See “The Connection Between ‘The Joy Luck Club’ and ‘Crazy Rich Asians,’”

Family interaction, Crazy Rich Asians. IMDb.

The plot, very simply, is about a Chinese-American college professor (Rachel) who visits her boyfriend Nick’s family in Singapore only to find out not only are they “crazy rich,” they also do not think very highly of her as an Asian American raised by a single mother. Most of the movie is set on the lush island country at the tip of the Malay peninsula, and while a brief detour into a mouth-watering food spot–shot on location at Newton Food Centre–introduces us and Rachel to Singapore, not much time is spent on the details of the place in which the romance and family drama unfolds.

Singapore food, Crazy Rich Asians. Michelin Guide. 22 August 2018.

I left the theater that night wanting to know more about Chinese Singaporeans, especially intrigued by the detail about Nick’s family and how they had emigrated to Singapore and made their fortune. What was that history, and why did the film skip over it so quickly?

It didn’t take long for me to find voices who were framing the film and its representation of a place and its people quite differently. Some are Chinese Singaporeans themselves like Kirsten Han who wrote an article that says the movie “gets Singapore wrong.” She writes, “The all-East Asian cast of Crazy Rich Asians is also a misrepresentation of Singapore at the most basic level, obscuring Malay, Indian, Eurasian, and more populations who make the country the culturally rich and unique place that it is.” Why does this matter? It all has to do with power and historical context.

Chinese Singaporeans have long enjoyed privilege and power in the Southeast Asian country where they have been the ethnic majority since 1826, despite the fact that it was a British-controlled colony at that time. By 1877, an administrative body called the Chinese Protectorate was put in place to ensure the well-being of Chinese Singaporeans, many of whom were immigrant laborers and some of whom were forced into prostitution.

Baedeker map of the city and environs, ca. 1914,,_1914).jpg

Almost a century later and following a brief period of Japanese rule, Singapore became a fully independent republic and elected Lee Kuan Yew as its first Prime Minister in 1959. Yew was a Cambridge-educated, fourth-generation Chinese Singaporean, and he came to be known as the “founding father” of Singapore, ushering the new republic from “third- to first-world in a single generation.” Since that time, Singapore has never had a non-Chinese prime minister. All of this is part of why some scholars and cultural theorists refer to the situation in Singapore as a form of “Chinese supremacy.”

Having read the critiques and talked to friends about the movie, I see the film as an opportunity to learn and reflect about the different racist  global histories that persist in popular media.

In a conversation with Jeff Yang about the choice not to explain the rules of mahjong in the movie, CRA director John Chu said, “We didn’t want to give people an excuse to think of this world as some kind of obscure, exotic fantasyland — this is a real place, with real culture, history and tradition, and instead of just giving them answers to their questions, we want them to have conversations.” The movie itself becomes a fun and emotional way to begin a conversation that hopefully leads us to a better understanding of Singapore, classism, colorism, and what our needs and expectations for representation tell us about what to look for next.

The Joy Luck Club. IMDb.

If you are one of those people that likes to read the book before they see the movie, Wells Library can help! Crazy Rich Asians: And you can come to Media Services to find The Joy Luck Club, the movie that inspired similar questions a full 25 years ago:, along with a wide variety of other Asia-focused cinema milestones. AL

Anni Liu is a graduate student in Creative Writing at IU and a published poet and essayist. For a brief analysis of the history of Chinese cinema, see her previous blog post entitled “Chinese Cinema: Classics and New Trends in Context,” Media Beat blog, July 3, 2018:

Sources Cited:

Sex and the City and GIRLS: Women and TV Then and Now

1930s Map of New York Subways. Amazon.

New York City. The five boroughs have hosted their fair share of television and movie backgrounds but none so iconic with the female crowd than Sex and the City and more recently GIRLS. Four women in New York deal with careers, family, mental health, and most importantly, friendship. The basic setup could apply to either show and both were broadcast on HBO. GIRLS feels like a symbolic continuation of SATC. In its time, SATC was edgy. It made important strides in depicting the complex nature of relationships from a refreshingly wide scope of four distinct characters, and there is a considerable amount of scholarship centered on SATC and feminism. When viewed today, however, it can miss the mark of what makes a show feminist by contemporary standards. But because of this show, which opened those complex issues for women to discuss without the taboo, we now have shows like GIRLS that can continue that trend, explore issues of the next generation, and not fall into the same niche narratives that SATC couldn’t avoid.

Sex and the City. Trova Moda. 2017,

SATC depicted four stereotypes of women out in the world, trying to have it all. Samantha, although older than the other main characters, was in many ways the most progressive of the bunch. Contrary to this, each GIRLS main character has a distinct yet unique personality that doesn’t allow for any “Oh I’m a Carrie” or Miranda, Charlotte, Samantha talk. GIRLS acknowledges the similarities between the shows in the first episode when main character Shoshanna matches up her friends with their SATC counterparts. There are quirky qualities that these characters have been crafted to have that make them shine much brighter and resonate with a much larger female audience than SATC ever did.

Zosia Mamet play Shoshanna on Girls. Paste. 23 March 2016,
Sarah Jessica Parker as Carrie Bradshaw. Zimbio.

Both shows fall prey to common but truthful criticisms. The show is too white. Too upper class. And most of the time, too whiny. Both SATC‘s Carrie and GIRLS’ Hannah tend toward narcissism and emotion-driven behavior, being the principal characters, but unlike SATC where all the girlfriends would complain to their boyfriends about their friends, in GIRLS the conflicts and confrontations happen between the characters, allowing the audience to see positive instances of communication and growth between characters.

Girls. Madmoizelle. 23 May 2017,

But what makes both shows worth the trouble is the treatment of those complex issues from a distinctly female perspective that allows women to start the conversation, connect with other women and, at the very least, laugh a little.

Both Sex and the City and GIRLS are currently available in Media Services. Be sure to check them out! CC

Casey Callas is a senior studying Liberal Arts. When she isn’t watching movies, you can find her napping in a hammock somewhere around campus.

Criterion Collection

Sex, Lies, and Videotape. Criterion Collection.
Beyond the Hills. Criterion Collection.

When you’re in the mood to watch a movie, picking the right film can be a daunting process.  Everyone hopes to enjoy whatever film they commit themselves to watching, and nobody wants to waste their time.  In this regard, something that has personally helped aid me in selecting great films to watch is the Criterion Collection.

What is the Criterion Collection?

The Criterion Collection is a video distribution company that licenses only what it considers to be exemplary classic or contemporary films.  The Collection was founded in 1984, and currently licenses an astounding 1,265 films with more being added every month.  If you’re struggling to find a film to watch, simply browse the Criterion Collection’s catalog of films and you surely won’t be disappointed.

Mishima. Criterion Collection.
El Sur. Criterion Collection.

At this point, you may be asking yourself if this post is actually an ad for the company: it’s not. The Criterion Collection does get a lot of love from the film community, though. In a 2009 blog post, Roger Ebert called Criterion “the standard bearer among high-quality DVDs.”  What makes the collection attractive is the care taken to present a film in all its celluloid glory, with a lot of attention given to image restoration and digital transfer. The DVDs also have spiffy packaging, and the special features—interviews, artist bios, etc.—add context that helps viewers understand and appreciate the film.  Most of us take these add-ons for granted nowadays, but Criterion was one of the first companies to routinely include them.

The Criterion Collection meets the high standards of film industry aficionados, but it is also good for regular folks who just want to see something different—it’s been called a “film school in a box” (“Criterion DVD Collection,” NPR, June 12, 2004). In the blog post mentioned above, Roger Ebert profiles a guy named Matthew Dessem who, after renting a few Criterion titles from his local video store, decided to watch every single Criterion movie and blog about it. Dessem decided to blog “to keep myself honest and force myself to think critically, because I had a premonition of dust collecting on The Seventh Seal” [a challenging Swedish art film] “while I watched This Is Spinal Tap.”

Dietrich & Von Sternberg in Hollywood. Criterion Collection.
Female Trouble. Criterion Collection.

My Criterion Picks

While working at Media Services, I’ve been using the Criterion Collection to learn about film in the same way. Listed below are three of my favorite films that I’ve chosen from the collection, that I’m sure can be enjoyed by everyone.


Che. Criterion Collection.

To begin, Che is a two-part film with a total runtime of 4 hours and 28 minutes; all of which you will be captivated and enthralled by as you follow the true story of Che Guevara, a major influence of the Cuban Revolution.  Che is a realistic depiction of the volatile and turbulent life of those living in a country plagued by dissonance, turmoil, and undergoing a revolution, and does not shy away from difficult but realistic circumstances that these individuals are exposed to.  Che is exemplary in the sense that the film focuses heavily on the psychological and moral aspects of revolution and human nature, instead of relying on violence to draw the viewer in.

Secret Sunshine

Secret Sunshine is a South Korean film focusing on a woman named Lee Shin-ae and her young son, who moves to a town named Secret Sunshine after the tragic death of her husband.  Secret Sunshine is a story of Lee Shin-ae’s battles with grief, faith, and acceptance.  This film paints a very brutally honest yet realistic portrait of unexpected tragedies that affect good people and the psychological trauma that that is subsequently induced.  The film’s cinematography and ambient feelings of atmospheric beauty serve as a catalyst to cause the viewer to reflect on their own life, realizing that even unfortunate events can sometimes contain beauty depending on your perspective.

Secret Sunshine. Criterion Collection.

Fish Tank

Fish Tank. Criterion Collection.

Fish Tank is a gritty, ultra-realistic film depicting the life of a young girl’s struggle with leading an aimless life.  Mia is depressed and socially isolated, taking her anger out on those around her.  Mia finds solace in dancing to hip-hop music, and attempts to pursue her dreams of competitive dancing in order to break out of her monotonous, mundane and seemingly hopeless life.  Fish Tank has won numerous awards for its skillful portrayal of life and the unexpected struggles and hardships that accompany it.

The Criterion Collection consists of films that are sure not to disappoint—or at least to provoke interesting thought and discussion—and here at Media Services we have a large portion of their collection.  Below is just a sampling of our holdings, along with a link to the full Criterion Collection list. Feel free to stop by and browse for a movie that’s right for you!

This blog post was written by William Power, a junior majoring in Informatics who enjoys reading and watching movies.

See full Criterion Collection here

A few of the many Criterion titles available at Media Services (links take you to the IUCAT item record):

Angst essen Seele auf Ali, fear eats the soul

Ballada o soldate Ballad of a soldier

Carnival of souls

I fidanzati

Kumonosu-jo Throne of blood

Les vacances de Monsieur Hulot M. Hulot's holiday

Leti͡at zhuravli The cranes are flying

Monty Python's Life of Brian

Muerte de un ciclista Death of a cyclist

Mystery train

Nóż w wodzie Knife in the water




Repo man


Sommarnattens leende Smiles of a summer night

Symbiopsychotaxiplasm two takes

Ṭaʻm-i guylās A taste of cherry

The harder they come

The 39 steps


It’s the Hottest Color Trend in TV and Film. But Why?

Stills from Diva, 1981. Architecture and Film. 28 December 2004,

Blue, Purple, Pink. Slap on some neon and you have yourselves, at the very least, an aesthetically pleasing scene. This color trio has been showing up increasingly in TV and film. Is Stranger Things to blame? An 80s-nostalgic itch that this generation of content makers is scrambling to fill our screens with? Let’s dive deeper into the psychology of why these colors are so engaging.

The Pantone Color Institute named Ultra Violet as its 2018 color of the year, stating the choice was influenced by the aesthetics of artists Prince, David Bowie, and Jimi Hendrix.

Blue: This color calls to mind feelings of calmness and serenity. It is a sign of stability and reliability. While there are many positive traits associated with this color, the age-old phrase “feeling blue” can hold true as well.

Purple: This color does not often occur in nature, and therefore has become a symbol of wealth and royalty. It can be symbolic of strength of character, as seen with the Purple Heart award in the military.

Pink: The lovechild of white and red, this color is strongly associated with femininity. Other traits associated with pink (and femininity) are kindness, nurturing, and compassion. Due to these strong associations, this hue appears frequently in discussions about the complex social constructs between gender and color.

So, what are these colors doing together? Let’s look at some examples of this aesthetic phenomenon available now in Media Services!

“San Junipero,” the Emmy Award-winning episode of Black Mirror, explores emotions transcending consciousness, decade, and even lifetime, as well as producing a rich and layered story revolving around two bisexual female characters in the 1980s.

Black Mirror – San Junipero (2016). Deviant Art.

The Academy Award-winning film Moonlight also includes this color trio, right on the cover. Moonlight tells the story of Chiron, a Black man in Miami whose life is presented in three stages. The film covers many topics such as sexuality, identity, race, family, abuse, and drugs.

Moonlight: Is This The Year’s Best Movie? The New York Times. 20 October 2016,


The nostalgia can once again be seen in Blade Runner 2049. New fans to the franchise can rest easy, as you do not have to have seen the original to enjoy this Academy Award-winning and visually captivating film. This neo-noir film employs gorgeous cinematography that at many points makes up for some lackluster storytelling.

Blade Runner 2049 (2017). Vox. 9 October 2017,

Atomic Blonde, a 2017 action thriller starring Charlize Theron and set in the 80s, rounds out this list.

Atomic Blonde. Project Casting. 12 April 2018,

There are many more examples of this color combo in contemporary film and television. We may not be able to pinpoint just why hot pink, electric blue, and Paisley Park purple are so hot right now, but from what we can see so far, the trend will continue to captivate audiences a while longer. CC

Casey Callas is a senior studying Liberal Arts. When she isn’t watching movies, you can find her napping in a hammock somewhere around campus.

Chinese Cinema: Classics and New Trends in Context

When it comes to mainland Chinese cinema, many in the United States are familiar with wuxia (martial arts) films such as House of Flying Daggers. Some may be fans of “scar films” that emerged from the extreme hardships of the Cultural Revolution. I myself was introduced to Chinese cinema through 90s classics such as Raise the Red Lantern and Farewell My Concubine. What these all have in common is that they were made by filmmakers in the “Fifth Generation” or before.

 Leslie Cheung in Farewell My Concubine (1993) by Chen Kaige

The Fifth Generation filmmakers–such as Zhang Yimou, Chen Kaige, Tian Zhuangzhuang–comprise a group of Beijing Film School graduates who began working around the mid 1980s. After graduating, many of them were recruited by the Xi’an Film Studio where they went on to make a number of aesthetically and commercially successful films like the ones mentioned above. The term “Fifth Generation” is thought by many to be an umbrella term that is more descriptive of a time period than of a collective style or subject. However, as they were the first filmmakers to work after the period of absolute government control, they are united in their divergence from the socialist-realist style and ideological adherence of Cultural Revolution Cinema.

Gong Li in Raise the Red Lantern (1991) by Zhang Yimou

While most of these directors are still active today (Zhang Yimou’s largest-budget film The Great Wall was released in 2016), there has for some time been a Sixth Generation of Chinese filmmakers who have made their own way. After the protests and massacre at Tiananmen Square in 1989, the government censorship and the lack of funding forced many aspiring filmmakers underground. Some of these films, such as Golden Lion winner Still Life by Jia Zhangke, are made with non-professional actors. Others are shot with low quality equipment with budgets less than $10,000. The films by Sixth Generation filmmakers are more interested in contemporary industrialization and loneliness, and are far less lush and romantic than their Fifth Generation counterparts.

Han Sanming in Still Life (2006) by Jia Zhangke

In addition to Jia Zhangke, there is Wang Xiaoshuai, Zhang Yuan, and Lou Ye. Anyone who is a fan of the florid and expressive films like Ju Dou or Hero might at first find films like Still Life or The Days cold and gritty, but there is an urgency to them that is very compelling.

Since the early 2000s, there has been a “dGeneration” of filmmakers, with “d” standing for digital. Most of these have been screened on the independent circuit. Some well-known titles are Taking Father Home by Ying Ling and Oxhide by Jian Yi.

If this seems like a lot to you, it’s because it is. And these are just the mainland Chinese films from the past 30 years or so. If we broaden the scope past the People’s Republic of China to include filmmakers from Taiwan (Hou Hsiao-Hsien, Edward Yang), Hong Kong (Wong Kar Wai, Ann Hui), and diasporic filmmakers like Ang Lee, the list grows exponentially.

We have many of these titles here at Media Services. Come check one out! AL

Anni Liu is a graduate student in Creative Writing at IU and a published poet and essayist. 

Wilfred: An Unorthodox TV Treatment of Mental Illness

Mental illness is not something to be taken lightly, although Wilfred, an American remake of the original Australian series, manages to bring in dark comedic themes while still taking it seriously. The main character Ryan (Elijah Wood) bonds with his neighbor Jenna’s dog named Wilfred. Oddly enough, he is the only one that can see that the dog is a talking human in a dog costume. Wilfred puts Ryan through all sorts of antics and grows on Ryan and also the audience. Although it is never clear why he sees Wilfred the way he does, all that is for certain is that Ryan is deeply depressed and likely to have other mental issues that are not completely spelled out throughout the series.

The show tackles some philosophical themes that leave the viewer with open-ended questions: Why is Ryan the only person that can hear Wilfred talking? Is he actually the only person? Is it a delusion or is it real? Does Wilfred ever have Ryan’s best interests in mind? What even is Wilfred, exactly? It constantly leaves the viewer questioning what is going on, as some episodes in the series are very surreal.

Since it is a comedy, there are a few light-hearted and uplifting episodes to offset the heavy and morbid ones from time to time. For example, the first few minutes of the first episode start out with Ryan typing out a suicide note and attempting suicide. This show does not romanticize suicide or depression by any means, but provides insight on how it can impact its victims and odd ways they can often cope without anyone really noticing the signs and symptoms.

Wilfred aired from 2011-2014 on FX. David Wiegand of the San Francisco Chronicle thought the show was quirky but worth the effort. In a 2011 review, he noted that Wilfred was “perhaps an acquired taste for some viewers, but if the sheer absurdity of the show doesn’t get you, the rather sweet undercurrent just may do the trick.” (full review: If you’re intrigued, come check out seasons 1 and 2, available in the Browsing section of Media Services! FC

Fatima Coulibaly is a junior at IUB with an eclectic taste in film who enjoys playing the piano. Except Jingle Bells.

All images courtesy Google Images.

Fun, features, and sun all summer long at Media Services!

Media Services likes to keep our readers and patrons updated with monthly celebrations happening in the U.S and around the world. If you have been to Media Services before and have had the opportunity to look around, you have probably noticed our Staff Picks shelf where we highlight films that tie in with the special holidays and observances that happen each month. For the month of June, we have picked some films for you to watch! So whether you’re in a film rut and don’t know what to watch for your next movie night, or you want to branch out and watch films about different topics, or you’re sick of not having a favorite movie to list for those let’s-get-to-know-each-other games, Media Services is here for you.

African-American Music Appreciation Month

The widespread influence African-American artists and music have had on our culture today is a no-brainer. It was probably for this reason that, in 1979, President Jimmy Carter mandated that the month of June should be Black Music Month, spurring the celebration of the contributions Black artists have made in all different genres of music. If you want to join in on the celebrations, feel free to come to Media Services and grab a copy of Ray, a biopic on the life of Ray Charles, or Bessie, a story about the legendary and groundbreaking blues performer Bessie Smith, and much more!

Pride Month

In celebration and observance of the history of the LGBT community around the world, we have selected films such as Paris is Burning, which explores the queer community in New York City, focusing on drag queens and their lives, and Milk, which tells the story of Harvey Milk, a gay rights activist as well as the first openly gay person to be elected into public office. Sean Penn’s portrayal of Milk earned him an Oscar win for Best Actor, 2009.

Fun fact: This month was chosen to commemorate LGBT pride in honor of the Stonewall Riots of 1969 which happened at the end of June, marking it as one of the most important events that spurred the fight for LGBT rights in the U.S.

Father’s Day

Fresh out of Mother’s Day month, it’s now time to give the fathers out there some love. With picks such as Finding Nemo and the Pursuit of Happyness—both films about how far fathers are willing go to for their kids—we have something for everyone!

National Candy Month

Last but definitely not least, for my fellow sweet-toothed people, June is National Candy Month. That’s right I said month, so in honor of this, we have chosen some classics such as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, among other films, to indulge the inner child in all of us!

During the month of June, let’s not forget that films not only entertain, but they also have the power to educate and celebrate, so if any of these topics interest you, treat yourself and stop by Media Services to grab a copy of your next favorite film! RE

Robi Endashaw

Robiati Endashaw will be a junior in the Fall and is studying public policy analysis in KSB with a minor in Economics. In her spare time, she enjoys reading non-fiction and watching crime documentaries.

All pictures courtesy Google images.