February 19th, 2008

Old Books

Ready and waiting for a heart worth the breaking, but I'd settle for an honest mistake...

I am cheerful because my wretched Geography class was cancelled. And I used the time I would have been there to go grocery shopping. So well done, all around.

I have also realized why a) I am so disenchanted with the UCF film program, b) I hate gen-ed class, and c) art history has become my most fascinating area of study. And all are related.

It's theory. I love theory. I love discussing and analyzing and theorizing. It can be applied to any humanity, really. Maybe even sciences. But so far, the only classes I've been exposed to this kind of learning since high school has been art history. Gen-eds never delve that far into curriculum (actually, my Chemistry class bordered on it...which is why I obsessed over getting an A in that class....I studied 18 hours for the final exam because I wanted to make sure I did well...who does that? For Chemistry?).

Anyway, the film program here is SERIOUSLY lacking in theory. I even took Theory and Criticism in Film and we didn't get beyond the most basic formalist theory. We literally spent half the semester on Seigei Eisenstein's concept of montage (aka - what has become standard for film editing). It was revolutionary...in 1915. We barely scratched the surface of André Bazin, who had some interesting, critical ideas. We never once discussed anything like feminism, black theory, Marxism, queer theory. We never even looked at social or political context of films or discussed how the biography of a filmmaker can affect the work. (All of those are things we've covered in the first 6 weeks of my Theory and Criticism of Art History course). To it's credit, the American Cinema class I'm in currently is all about biography and social context. But it lacks severely in anything else. We don't discuss thinkers in film classes. And we should.

I was in the library today, picking up a book for a film paper I have due in two weeks (I'm highly doubtful that anyone else in my class will use an academic source. Maybe an online newspaper or journal article...but I'm guessing Joe Schmo's Film Review website is going to be their top source. But whatever. In the books I picked up (and when I'm in the film books section, I pick up many that are not related to my research...just to see), there were plenty of references to Baudelaire or Walter Benjamin (whose work Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction is paramount to Marxist theory and any duplication-based art, like printmaking or photography or film). Yet has Walter Benjamin been mentioned in ANY of my film classes? No. Not once. Maybe back at Indiana, but definitely not at UCF.

Perhaps I'm expecting too much from a school whose art history department is slowly imploding while they build a new Biological Sciences building, but it's my education and shouldn't I be getting more than this?

I guess the bottom line is that if I want to learn it, I'll have to teach myself. Or go to grad school (I'm making the broad assumption that grad school actually teaches based on theory and discourse.


In other news, Nilla wafers and vanilla frosting is the best snack ever. Plus, the frosting entirely defeats the purpose of eating Reduced-Fat Nillas (yes, I'm using that as a "plus").

My thesis is not progressing greatly, but I am having a great time reading through some of the books and articles I've found.

And now I'm taking a break to watch American Gangster, which I picked up from a redbox today (it was just released on DVD). Mmm...$1 movie night. Life is grand.

(As a sidenote, I think it's really sad that there are really only two prominent, black dramatic actors (Morgan Freeman and Denzel Washington). I mean, I think you can make an argument for Jamie Foxx or Will Smith as a Denzel-follower, and possibly someone like James Earl Jones for Freeman (had his career been fuller in more recent years), but really...)
Cinéphile sepia

Don't you ever be sad, lean on me when times get bad...


Academy Award Nominated Films I've Seen:
- Atonement
- Juno
- Michael Clayton
- No Country For Old Men
- There Will Be Blood
- Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
- Eastern Promises
- Elizabeth: The Golden Age
- Away From Her
- La Vie en Rose (La Môme)
- The Savages
- The Assassination of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford
- Charlie Wilson's War
- American Gangster
- Gone Baby Gone
- The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (Le Scaphandre et le Papillion)
- Lars and the Real Girl
- Ratatouille
- The Bourne Ultimatum
- Across the Universe
- Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End
- 3:10 to Yuma
- August Rush
- Enchanted
- Once
- Transformers
- Persepolis
- Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience
- Sicko

The Nominees I Have Yet to See (or possibly will never see *cough*Norbit*cough*):
- In the Valley of Elah
- Into the Wild
- I'm Not There
- The Golden Compass
- Norbit
- The Kite Runner
- Surf's Up

I also haven't seen three of the documentaries (No End in Sight, Taxi to the Dark Side, War Dance), any of the five foreign language films (Die Fälscher, Beaufort, Mongol, Katyn, 12), or any of the 14 shorts, due to lack of opportunity (they weren't distributed at a theater near me).

And all but In the Valley of Elah and Surf's Up will be released on DVD after the Oscars air, so I probably won't see anymore until then.

And for fun...

Categories in Which I've Seen All Nominees:
- Best Picture
- Best Lead Actress
- Best Director
- Best Screenplay, Original
- Best Screenplay, Adapted
- Best Cinematography
- Best Costume Design
- Best Original Song
- Best Sound
- Best Sound Editing

And in EVERY OTHER CATEGORY, I've seen all but one film.

I'm impressed with myself at this point. And I lament a little the amount of money that has gone the way of the studios and cinemas. What am I going to do in May if I don't have an income that allows me to average a movie per week?