Week 4

Topics for M 10/28

Here are points of discussion about Zodiac for M. Feel free to suggest other topics and to start the conversation in comments.

  • Use of sound, especially music, and how those choices affect our reading of mise-en-scène.
  • Use of lighting.
  • The choice to keep the killer out of frame or obscured in the m-e-s.
  • Parallels between the police, Toschi (Mark Ruffalo) and Armstrong (Anthony Ewards), and the journalists, Avery (Robert Downey, Jr.) and Graysmith (Jake Gyllenhall), investigating the killer.
  • The use of setting to show character, e.g., Leigh Allen's (John Carroll Lynch) trailer and Paul Avery's houseboat.
  • The effects of casting choices, especially for the actors playing the suspected or implied killer. Carroll Lynch and Bob Vaughn (Charles Fleischer). How do these choices play on stereotypes people may have about what a serial killer like the Zodiac would look like?

 


Topics for mid-term theory review

On M (10/28), we will be using some of our time to start a series of review sessions on film theory. So, if there is a concept, or part of a concept, like mise-en-scène, the frame and the shot, that you are confused by or want to know more about, post those here and I will address them in our discussion.

In future sessions, I will also be asking for topics that might be unrelated or adjacent to our core concepts, e.g., editing and sound. But for this week, I'd like to stay focused on our primary ideas.

The film we will be screening next, Leave No Trace, will afford us some time to also review on W.

Topics posted by noon on M 10/28 will be addressed in class. Topics posted after that deadline, may be addressed on W or at a future date.


First three films

What are your thoughts on our first three films (The Perez Family, Children of Men and Goodfellas)? Had you seen any of these films before? Which did you enjoy watching the most? Which do you think was the most interesting in terms of critical discussion of mise-en-scène? What about in regards to the theme of "On The Margins"?


Goodfellas: On the Margins

How do you see the central characters in Goodfellas as being marginalized in ways that may be both similar to and different than the main characters in The Perez Family and Children of Men? How do these characters demonstrate the central idea that "marginality" may always be a question of perspective (how someone sees themself and their place in the world) and context (who you and where you are)? For example, is it possible for someone to be centered in the world of organized crime, but marginalized in "normal" society? Are there particular scenes from Goodfellas that demonstrate these kinds of differences?


Topics for M 10/21

Here are some topics for our discussion of Goodfellas on M. Feel free to start the conversation in comments or to suggest additional points for discussion.

  • The characters as demonstrations of marginality and marginalization as contingent and relative depending on context and the kinds of relationships someone has with other people.
  • The use of sound in the movie and how it affects our interpretation of m-e-s, especially the voiceovers and music choices.
  • The use of freeze frames.
  • The camera as a "character" in the film.
  • Violence as part of m-e-s.
  • M-e-s and "the life."