Week 5

Topics for M 11/4

Here are possible topics for our discussion of Leave No Trace on M. Feel free to make additional suggestions or to start the conversation here.

  • Establishment of setting in the opening shots.
  • A related issue is the use of light and color.
  • Use of props to develop character.
  • Action and performance, particularly in terms of how Ben Foster and Thomasin McKenzie use their faces and bodies to communicate their place in the world.
  • Based on what we are shown in the first act of the film, what do you think we are supposed to think about how Will (Dad) and Tom live? How do you think these feelings are meant to change as the film progresses? Who did you identify with more, Dad or Tom? Why? Or is this a false choice? What did the filmmakers show you that persuaded you to feel this way?

Zodiac: On the Margins

How does this film show how some individuals and groups can be both centered and also marginalized socially and culturally? In particular, how do the law enforcement and media figures in the film demonstrate how wielding significant social power may or may not mean that someone is centered in other contexts? Is there a character or characters who are particularly shown to be caught in this tension?

On the other side of the story, how does the film show how marginalization (of people, of places) creates space for someone like "the Zodiac" to practice their violent compulsions and exercise power over others from those margins?


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.


General review and discussion of film and theory

Starting in week 6, I am happy to use class time, especially on R, to discuss general questions you have about film, filmmaking and film theory. Questions and topics could be related to out core concepts - m-e-s, the shot, the frame - or other subjects, such as editing and sound. Feel free to post questions for week 6 by noon on W 5/9 for discussion on R.