The body

Topics for M 11/18

Here are topics for our discussion of Blindspotting 0n Monday. Feel free to start the conversation in comments and to suggest additional topics.

  • Setting, particularly through contrasts.
  • Use of props, costume and make-up for character development and also setting.
  • Masculinity through action and performance.
  • Color and lighting, especially in Collin's dreams/memories).

Questions and topics for M 10/7

Here are possible topics for discussion about The Perez Family for M. Feel free to make additional suggestions or to start the conversation here:

  • Showing marginalization through costume, and also character styling like with hair or make-up.
  • Showing marginalization through setting.
  • Action and performance as a way to show which characters have marginal identities and which do not.
  • Visual symbolism, e.g., water and flowers.
  • Uses of color.
  • How the film shows what makes a “family.”

The language of "being John Malkovich"

In the film, characters use a variety of phrasings to describe what "being John Malkovich" is like:

  • JM Corp promises customers the ability to "be someone else."
  • Lotte, after her first experience, says, "I knew who I was." And Craig reponds, "You weren't you. You were Malkovich."
  • Maxine describes an experience of seeing "two people" looking at her "with complete lust and devotion through the same pair of eyes."
  • After learning of Lotte and Maxine's meeting, Craig says, "You were with him, right? And she was with him."
  • After starting to assert control, Craig compares Malkovich's body to a "suit", and says all he has to do is "make friends with the Malkovich body".
  • Even after years of "being John Malkovich" Craig still refers to Malkovich in the third person. When he is being pressured to leave he says, "If I leave Malkovich, I'll just be me."

What are the gradations of meaning in these phrasings? Which way of expressing the connections between mind, body, and identity make the most sense to you? Would you take issue with any of the ways that the characters see these connections (for example, in class it was suggested that Maxine was merely seeing what she wanted to see when she claimed to feel both Lotte and Malkovich looking at her with desire)?

The puppets

The one question from the preview for Being John Malkovich that we did not address at all in class is the one about puppets and puppeteers:

What is the narrative purpose of making Craig a puppeteer? What is the semiotic function or effect of the repeated references to puppets and puppeteering? How do these relate to your understanding of mind/body relationships in the film?

Shared dream space

Continuing our discussion from last night, what did you notice about how the space of shared dreams work in Inception? What is the nature of the relationship between dreamer and subject? And between both and others sharing a dream? What is the relationship between mind, body, one's body in the dream and things in the dream, like bullets, buildings, vehicles? What are the physics of the dream space? What are the relationships between the places of the material world, the shared dream, and dreams within dreams?

Does it help to think in terms of comparing the space of shared dreams with the space of the matrix? Were there moments during the screening of Inception when you found yourself referencing The Matrix to make sense out of what you were watching?

Minds and bodies in THE MATRIX

Continue our discussion of mind/body relationships (or, as noted in class, relationships between mind and bodies - digital and "real"). How do the film makers use character bodies to signify differences in the space of the matrix and the space of the real? For you, what are the most effective devices used to show the relationship between mind, digital body, and material body? By the end of the film, how has Neo reconfigured that relationship to do things that no one else can do? By reference to the film text, can you offer an explanation for how or why he is able to do this?