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.

The Strange Thing About The Johnsons

This short film (available on Vimeo) by director Ari Aster offers a spectacular take on a taboo subject with a twist. It instantly hooks the viewer; and while it is disturbing, it is nearly impossible to look away the entire 30 minutes. It leaves you a sickening feeling that you can never wash away and content that is unforgettable. This is intentional as its theme, long considered the ultimate family taboo, warrants discussion, and this film has already provoked a considerable amount of it.

An important element of the film is one of the main characters feeling helpless and alone. With no one to turn to about the trauma they are dealing with, the viewer can feel the pain of the character. Despite finally having a loved one in on the filthy secret, they turn a blind eye to it rendering the character with truly no one to help. The desperation for escape towards the end leaves the viewer rooting for the character’s freedom.

Aster’s artistic take on a very real and grim subject is meant to make the audience uncomfortable as it is a way to force people to think about an issue that hardly ever is mentioned but happens more than anyone would like to admit. Just like real-life victims, the audience must endure high levels of unease; but ultimately those watching the film get to escape after the 30-minute run time, and are left to ponder what they have experienced. There are so many different layers and elements to take in from such a short film that it’s extraordinary it isn’t more popular. This is likely due to its controversial subject matter.

The extent to which some people deal with the topic at hand is also addressed. One of the other characters literally destroys evidence of the secret after it has already destroyed their family. One thing to remember after watching it is that, while you can move on from this 30-minute film, people that face situations like those in the film live with the weight and have it impact them their entire life. If for no other reason than to support and validate those who have this experience, this film provides a valuable, if controversial, contribution to the film canon.

Few films take on such uncomfortable material. Family Affair, one of few documentaries on the subject, grapples with the highly complex emotions of an entire family that endure decades after the events transpired. This title is one of the many housed in Media Services’ Teaching and Research collection, home to a remarkable array of films that are sometimes challenging, sometimes provocative, and always thought-provoking. FC


The Underbelly of Nostalgia in Film & TV

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


All images courtesy Google Images.

That’s Gay: LGBT Representation in Cinema

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

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

  1. Moonlight

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

  1. Paris is Burning

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

  1. The Way He Looks

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

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

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


Need New Shows to Binge On? Look No Further!

4Media Beat Blog HeaderThis time of the year is great for several reasons…The weather is finally transitioning from the suffocating heat of the summer to the invigorating beauty of fall, the impending celebration of Halloween is sure to motivate people to tap into their imaginative side and get creative with their costumes, and of course…pumpkin everything. However, nothing quite compares to the joy of finding new shows to binge on or obsess over, and with this time of the year comes new TV shows! So here to help you find your new addiction is a compilation of several recently released/soon to be released shows…

Continue reading “Need New Shows to Binge On? Look No Further!”