Film Theory Fall 2015


This seminar looks at various models to interpret and understand a wide range of film forms and theories—formalism, realism, psychoanalytic, etc.—to demonstrate how various frameworks can produce insight into a film’s form and meaning. Professor: Eric Faden. Screenings are free and open to the public.

Tuesday, August 26 at 1:30pm

HER

Spike Jonze (U.S. 2013) 126 min. DCP. With Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams, Scarlett Johansson.In the Los Angeles of the slight future, the soulful Theodore Twombly (Phoenix), heartbroken after the end of a long relationship, meets Samantha (voiced by Johansson), a new, advanced operating system. Their friendship deepens into a unique love story in Jones’ first original screenplay, described in The Atlantic as “a work of sincere and forceful humanism [that] uses the tools of lightly scienced fiction to pose questions of genuine emotional and philosophical weight.”

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Tuesday, September 1 at 1:30pm

SHADOW OF A DOUBT

Alfred Hitchcock (U.S. 1943) 108 min. 35MM. With Joseph Cotten, Teresa Wright, Macdonald Carey.Set in a small all-American town Shadow of a Doubt engages one of Hitch’s most disturbing proposals: evil lurks close-by, veiled by the familiar. Cotten’s Uncle Charlie is the perfect foil for his adoring niece, a young woman whose yearning for adventure meets its match when she suspects her charming uncle may be a hunted serial killer. Hitchcock called the film his personal favorite.

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Tuesday, September 8 at 1:30pm

MULHOLLAND DRIVE

David Lynch (U.S. 2001) 147 min. 35MM. With Naomi Watts, Laura Elena Harring, Justin Theroux.A midnight car wreck on winding Mulholland Drive opens this outlandish noir vision. “Fashioned from the ruins of a two-hour TV pilot rejected by ABC in 1999, David Lynch’s erotic thriller careens from one violent non sequitur to another… Whatever Mulholland Drive was originally, it has become a poisonous valentine to Hollywood.” (J. Hoberman, Village Voice)

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Tuesday, September 15 at 1:30pm

LIVE DIE REPEAT: EDGE OF TOMORROW

Doug Liman (U.S. 2014) 113 min. DCP. With Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Brendan Gleeson.One of last summer’s biggest blockbusters blends science-fiction alien warfare with Groundhog’s Day’s repeating plot structure. The addition of a stupendous visual-effects budget and a “metaphorical overlay of fantasy and history” (the landing at Normandy) whips up a “well-wrought yarn [with] a shiver of curious power” (Richard Brody, The New Yorker).

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Tuesday, September 22 at 1:30pm

KEVIN B. LEE AND THE VIDEO ESSAY

Film critic and video essayist Kevin B. Lee will screen several video essays and discuss the history and mission of this emerging genre.

 

 

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Tuesday, September 29 at 1:30pm

L’ICEBERG

Dominique Abel, Fiona Gordon, Bruno Romy (Belgium 2005) 84 min. 35MM. With Lucy Tulugarjuk, Fiona Gordon, Dominique Abel. French with English subtitles.When Fiona, a suburban mom and manager of a fast-food restaurant, is accidentally locked overnight inside a walk-in freezer, things change. She realizes that her family didn’t notice she was missing and that she enjoyed the experience of nearly freezing to death. Fiona develops a possibly delusional obsession with endurance tests and all things frozen, depicted in a deftly deadpan series of slapstick tableaus that recall the stylings and tone of Buster Keaton and Jacques Tati.

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Tuesday, October 6 at 1:30pm

WERKMEISTER HARMONIES

Béla Tarr (Hungary 2000) 145 min. With Lars Rudolph, Peter Fitz, Hanna Schygulla. Hungarian with English subtitles.

In a remote town over which the dread of coming apocalypse hovers, a traveling circus appears – its main attraction a stuffed whale carcass accompanied by a Prince who foments already present stirrings of civil unrest. Tarr’s opus is dark and devastating but also suggests, in its “sensuous black and whites” and the “stately, calculated movements” of its camerawork, “that intelligence and balance are not completely absent from this world” (Fred Camper).

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Tuesday, October 20 at 1:30pm

TIMECODE

Mike Figgis (U.S. 2000) 97 min. 35MM. With Jeanne Tripplehorn, Stellan Skarsgård, Salma Hayek.

The tagline for this all digitally-shot millennial film, described by its director as an experiment, says it all: “You are looking at a movie screen split into four parts. You will see a tale of sex and power, captured by four different cameras. You will witness a story told in real time, without any edits. You will experience the first movie ever told in four dimensions.”

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Tuesday, October 27 at 1:30pm

32 SHORT FILMS ABOUT GLENN GOULD

François Girard (Canada 1993) 98 min. With Colm Feore, Derek Keurvorst, Katya Ladan.

An exploration of the idiosyncratic world of celebrated classical pianist Glenn Gould’s ideas and music, from his thoughts on technology and northern climates to his fondness for prescription drugs. Designed as 32 separate visual and sound fragments, Girard’s film uses drama, documentary, animation and performance art to consider the life and work of an enigmatic genius.

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November 3 at 1:30pm

SITA SINGS THE BLUES

Nina Paley (U.S. 2008) 82 min. With Aseem Chhabra, Bhavana Nagulapally, Manish Acharya.

The Ramayana, a 7,000-year-old epic and central text of Hinduism, is updated as an animated, musical breakup parable with a feminist focus. Mixing visual styles throughout, writer/producer/director/star Paley draws parallels between the dissolution of her own marriage and the trials of Sita, faithful and long-suffering wife of Rama, the titular god of the ancient Sanskrit poem. Introduced by Karline McLain, Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Bucknell.

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November 10 at 1:30pm

EX MACHINA

Alex Garland (U.K. 2015) 108 min. DCP. With Oscar Isaac, Alicia Vikander, Domhnall Gleeson.

A computer programmer wins a trip to his CEO’s secret compound and research facility, but this is no weekend at Wonka’s. Nathan (Isaac), the reclusive and powerful techie, tasks his employee with the Turing test: the unlucky lackey has been chosen to befriend the company’s newly developed, top-secret AI (Vikander) to see how close she is to human. Garland’s first feature as director is sleek science fiction that resonates as possible near-future fact.

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November 17 at 1:30pm

STARSHIP TROOPERS

Paul Verhoeven (U.S. 1997) 129 min. 35MM. With Casper Van Dien, Denise Richards, Jake Busey, Neil Patrick Harris.

Two hundred years from now, an alien species known simply as “the Bugs” attacks Earth. After the planet’s near-destruction, Johnny Rico (Van Dien) rises through the military ranks and embarks on an interstellar journey to annihilate the arachnid invaders. Verhoeven’s space-age shoot ‘em up is equal parts high camp and serious satire, drawing on the parodic violence and sexuality of his earlier work (Robocop, Showgirls) and modeling its fight scenes on actual World War II battles for a blockbuster that blurs lines between patriotic passion and fascist fervor.

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