Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Auteurship: Robert Altman

For my essay responding to auteurship, I choose to review the American director Robert Altman. I chose three of his films from completely different stages in his career. I at first thought that doing this would prohibit a more accurate analysis of his style as a director, as each film was done for such different reasons at such different times. However, I feel that this kind of challenge allows me to delve deeper into the core of Robert Altman as an Auteur.
One continuing theme that I have noticed in Robert Altman’s films is his use of fight scenes.
The first film I watched was The Delinquents. The Delinquents was made to show the effects of juvenile misbehavior in the fifties. The film was bought by the government and released in 1957. The story follows Scotty, a nice kid in his senior year of high school. In a desperate attempt to continue seeing his girlfriend, Scotty find himself traveling down paths he normally wouldn’t. In The Delinquents, Scotty finds himself in a few unwanted fights in order to defend himself. Even though Scotty gets himself, as well as his girlfriend, mixed into some trouble with a youth street gang, he is still remains more of a pure character. Since this film was made a type of public announcement service, I believe any type of auteurship might not be as well shown in this type of film.
The second film I reviewed was California Split, which came out in 1974. The two protagonists, Bill and Charlie are addicted to gambling. Despite this character flaw, they are still likeable characters. Bill and Charlie attempt to be good friends to each other until the end, in which one of them decides they don’t want gambling anymore. The two also find themselves in many unwanted fights in an attempt to defend themselves from other angry gamblers. Nevertheless, unlike Scotty and his girlfriend in The Delinquents, Charlie and Bill have a looser moral code.
Popeye was the last film I watched. It’s the story of the sailor Popeye stopping in a small town looking for his long lost father, while in the process falls in love with Olive Oyl and finds his son Sweet Pea. Released in 1980, Popeye would be more closely associated with The Delinquents. Both films have more of a black-and-white type of moral to them. However, Popeye has many heavily choreographed fights, each one becoming more intense until the final battle. Out of the three films I reviewed, Popeye was the most stylized.
Overall, I only felt a small amount of auteurship from the three of Robert Altman’s films I watched. Though all movies were excellent, they didn’t connect together as I have seen in other directors.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Response to "Lolita"

The novel “Lolita” has been known to be one of the most controversial. It follows the story of an unconventional relationship between a grown man, Humbert Humbert, and a 12-year-old girl, Dolores, better know as Lolita. Despite most readers’ initial reaction of disgust and disapproval, “Lolita” has become a best seller. It has also been turned into a movie, twice. So what exactly is so compelling about such a seemingly horrible situation?
Reading Lolita throws the reader into a moral battle. First of all, the main character of the book writes the story of Lolita from jail. He presents the book, not necessarily to purely document their relationship, but more so to defend himself to a “jury”. Therefore, the reader must take into consideration how much of his story has been adjusted in his favor. Did Dolores really seduce Humbert Humbert first?
However, looking past Dolores’ age and simply examining Humbert Humbert’s love for her still raises questions of morality. Throughout the book, despite times when he expresses anger or disappointment towards Lolita, he still writes of his unwavering love for her.
At one point in his writing, he write Lolita’s name ten times in a row and then writes: “Repeat till the page is full, printer.” He also writes poetry about Lolita;

“Wanted, wanted: Dolores Haze.
Hair: brown. Lips: scarlet.
Age: five thousand three hundred days.
Profession: none, or ‘starlet’.”

This, paralleled with the author’s incredibly romantic style of writing, would make this one of the greatest love stories. However, in love or not, readers cannot look past his forcefulness with Lolita. At one point she is drugged by Humbert Humbert. Several times throughout the book, Dolores exclaims that she would turn Humbert over to the police if she doesn’t get her way. This is a normal way for a young girl to react, especially one in Dolores’ situation. When Humbert doesn’t get his way, however, he tells Dolores that she will be sent away because he is all that she has.
Whether Dolores really loves him back or not, she had no choice and nowhere else to go. If this novel was written from Lolita’s point of view, I think it would have had a different tone throughout. Where Humbert wants to suggest he simply was being punished for being too in love with too young a girl, Lolita’s story might be the opposite. She was a young curious girl when she met Humbert Humbert. To her, sex was just something fun to do. And though she may have thought at some point that she really loved Humbert Humbert, she was really to young to have known. The fact that Humbert Humbert was technically her father figure along as her lover could not have allowed her to be anything but incredibly confused and misguided.
In conclusion, I believe “Lolita” has become such an iconic novel because of our nature as humans to be drawn to things we have labeled unorthodox. “Lolita” is an unfiltered peek into the mind of someone that we would not normally get to experience.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Lit and Media...

Some assignments for my Lit and Media class:

a conversation about media:

a modern day fairy tale:

Cassie was staring at her ceiling trying her best to fall asleep. She was only 14, but still felt like she was old enough to stay out in the city late by herself. Her parents disagreed, however, and so here she was, stuck in her room, at nine at night. The soft ticking of her clock was the only sound until she heard the gentle vibration of her phone, followed by the glowing of it's screen. She rolled over and checked to see who would be contacting her at this hour. It was a text message from a strange number: 1-000-000-0000. The message read: "Cassie, look out your window."

Curious enough, and not in the mood for sleep, Cassie sat up and opened her blinds. Normally, she would have seen the slow moving night traffic seven floors below. This time, however, outside of her window was nothing but a long stretch of grassy fields. Without questioning anything, Cassie put her cell phone into her bag, but her bag over her shoulder, and opened her window wide enough to crawl out of.

As soon as she tumbled out of the window and onto the soft grass, she realized it was daylight. She looked back at her window. It was just floating there. Cassie walked around behind it, and nothing was there.

Wondering what to do now, she reached into her bag to check her phone again. Another text message from the mysterious number appeared: "Find the manhole, enter the sewer."

Not really wanting to leave the lovely field, but seeing nothing else much left to do, she proceeded to wander around searching the ground for a manhole. One finally appeared a few yards to the left of her floating window.

Lifting the cover, Cassie slipped down and grasped the musty ladder. Minutes felt like hours as she climbed deeper into darkness and away from the light, until a small butterfly fluttered around her ear and whispered to her, “why not just take the escalator?”

As she turned her head to question the butterfly, she saw there was the top of an escalator directly behind her. She carefully stepped over onto the escalator as the tiny butterfly fluttered away.

“This is much more convenient” Cassie thought to herself.

The escalator suddenly started changing. The stairs became gold and the railings sprouted gems. The tunnel Cassie had been traveling through was rapidly turning into a deep maroon silk. She was so entranced by what was going on around her she fell to her knees as the escalator ended.

Picking herself back up, Cassie looked down a great hall with elegant eggplant carpeting and a high ceiling. A fantastic large diamond chandelier hung above her head. On the walls hung impressive frames of all shapes and sizes, but with no pictures inside. Finally, at the very end of the hall in a majestic throne sat a tall woman in a shimmering evening gown and a large ruby crown. She was slouched down with her legs thrown over the side of her chair, and she was staring into her phone typing madly with her thumbs.

Cassie took a deep breath and walked toward the end of the hallway. The women didn’t look up until Cassie stood right before her. Her piercing green eyes finally looked up from her phone and into Cassie’s.

“I thought you would never arrive!” The tall women said.

“Was it you who sent me these text messages?”

“Indeed! I need that key around your neck.”

Cassie began to protest as she felt around her neck, only to find that there was, in fact, a thick plastic black key with white gems inlaid into it. She took it off and handed it to the women. The women stood up, took the key, and walked around to the back of her throne.

She dragged a large rectangular metal box out from behind it, and then knelt down. Taking the key in her left hand, and steadying herself with her right, the tall woman lightly swiped the key in front of the lock. With a soft clicking noise, the box popped open. The tall women excitedly pushed open the lid of the box and took out a long golden staff with pink gems encrusted in the head.

“I ordered it a few days ago. It came sooner than expected. Thank you for coming on such short notice.”

Cassie told her it was not a problem as she was handed her necklace back.

“You can get back pretty easily through the window over here.” The tall women pointed to the left of her throne at two large eggplant curtains that seemed to sprout directly out of the carpet. Cassie walked over and pushed them aside. She looked into the window and saw her bedroom. She turned to wave to the tall women, but she was busy admiring her new staff, as well as typing madly on her phone again.

Cassie opened the window, crawled through, and almost drifted to sleep immediately as she fell into bed.

Cassie awoke the next morning and almost forgot completely of the magnificent dream she had had the night before. Lying there and thinking about how real it felt, she touched her neck and realized she was wearing a thick black key.