weekly watchathon

Posted: October 7th, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: Film | 1 Comment »

Let’s do it! Every week, we should all get together in Tallahassee and wherever everywhere to watch a really terrific, mindblowing documentary. It could even inform the theme of the paper magazines we’ll be pumping out. Every week a different one of us could write the review, or we could collaborate on the reviews, either way. Before the viewing, we could have our meetings and brainstorm. If everyone statewide watched the same movie at the same time, we would have an explosion of commentary on the website regarding the film, which would be a great boost as well.

Occasionally we could do something besides a documentary, too…like just really cool movies with a progressive themes, like Stranger Than Fiction. :) I’m ready to get excited! It’s autumn! Let’s go jump in a pile of leaves together and then write about it!

who killed the electric car?

Posted: July 27th, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: Film | 5 Comments »

Do whatever it takes to go see the documentary film "Who killed the Electric car?"

We recently got Netflix and Jeremy requested it. The movie came today and we spent the better part of the evening watching it, placing it on pause to discuss it, rewinding and replaying and absorbing all of the maddening details.

This film made me never want to buy another car unless it is electric and run from solar energy.

I don’t want to have anything to do with the automotive industry and the oil/hydrogen industry any more.

This is another motivator to keep me on the right path and make most of the time that I have alive. I hope that you will all take my suggestion seriously! I’m so sick of corporate imperialism. I am still optimistic that a better world is possible.

I want a car that I can put an Om sticker on and not feel like a hypocrite. I’m sure all of you would too.

the broader workings of a destructive system

Posted: July 9th, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: Film | No Comments »

they sound soooo amazing!

go to the link to read the other half, i’m lazy.

Sci-FI films aren’t all about white heroes obsessed with an all-powerful conquest to stamp out invading forces threatening the glory of Western civilization. Independent, first-time feature filmmakers Alex Rivera, a New York-based, second-generation Peruvian immigrant, and Jennifer Phang, a Malaysian and Chinese American, have infused their new sci-fi films with insightful political critique. Rivera’s Sleep Dealer and Phang’s Half-Life, which both had successful world premieres at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival, offer fresh coming-of-age stories featuring surprisingly uncommon heroes-an amateur hacking migrant worker and a working-class Hapa tween.

Although they are set in futuristic, near-apocalyptic worlds with uncontrollable technological advances, obscene economic exploitation and environmental disasters run amok (eerily reminiscent of the current global climate), these two films don’t leave us hopeless. Instead, they provoke us to externalize personal power to reclaim what has been used against us: the revolutionary possibilities of technology and imagination. And they are due for more attention: Sleep Dealer is expected in theaters later this fall, and Half-Life won the Grand Jury award at New York’s Gen Art Film Festival.

Sleep Dealer seduces us with vivid colors and glossy special effects into a thrilling futuristic world packed with high-tech wonders that are at once familiar, petrifying and full of possibility. At its heart is Memo Cruz, a young amateur hacker who craves virtual escape from his water-starved small village home of Santa Ana del Rio, Mexico. It’s all entertainment until his radio signals get tapped by an American-based reality TV show hunting for "aqua-terrorists," revolutionaries who struggle against the pervasive privatization of water.

Forced from his home, Memo heads to Tijuana to work in a factory where people use their "nodes" — implants in their nervous system — to plug themselves into a global network of virtually-operated robots in the United States that do the jobs immigrants once did (from construction to childcare to sex work). "This is the American Dream," the factory foreman explains to Memo. "We give the United States what it’s always wanted: all the work without the workers."

Memo finds the possibilities of node technology to remotely travel around the world to be exciting until he realizes the human cost of a capitalist economy sustained by the same technology.

Across the border in the sluggish suburbia of California’s Diablo Valley, Half-Life offers another future through the eyes of doodling second grader Timothy Wu and his moody 19-year-old sister, Pam. The sun has reached its half-life, a scientific term for the time it takes for "one unstable element to decay and transform into another," and irrepressible solar flares blaze around the world. Playfully blending poetic reflection and teen/tween angst, Half-Life explores the emotional entanglements of everyday lives on the brink of transition. The kids’ increasingly temperamental mother, Saura, needs love so desperately after their father abandons them that she drowns herself in the distraction of her young, white, jock boyfriend, Wendell, whose dysfunctional presence is breaking the Wu family further apart. Increasingly stifled by a daily spiral of heartbreak amplified by a relentless soundscape of devastating news reports, Tim is inspired by the chaos theory’s proposition that any little thing can alter the course of reality.

Unlike the heroes of traditional sci-fi films that have an identifiable "bad guy" who must be extinguished in order to save both the day and Western civilization, Memo Cruz and Timothy Wu are trying to negotiate the broader workings of a destructive system. Director Alex Rivera asserts that there is no single evil in Sleep Dealer that can be obliterated, because the enemy is the "economic system of the so-called free market that surrounds the characters, manifesting itself in the privatization of water" among much more. These high-tech factories are called "sleep dealers" because after too many hours of being "plugged in" and having one’s life force channeled across the border, the node-workers can no longer keep their eyes open to see the real world they live in.

http://www.alternet.org/movies/90651/?page=1 sleep_dealer_movie_2.jpg

harold and kumar: gitmo review ~ funny!

Posted: April 23rd, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: Film | No Comments »

but also insightful? also can you imagine if your professor directed harold and kumar!?! no fair!

AMERICAN political cinema of the George W. Bush era has come to assume a few familiar forms: the documentary indictment (“Fahrenheit 9/11,” “No End in Sight”), the sober memorial (“World Trade Center,” “United 93”), the angry or earnest Iraq drama (“Redacted,” “Stop-Loss”). In this cheerless landscape “Harold and Kumar Escape From Guantánamo Bay,” the sequel to the 2004 cult favorite “Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle,” creates its own category: the stoner protest film.
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Guantánamo, Evil and Zany in Pop Culture (February 18, 2008)
Video Clip: ‘Harold & Kumar’ A. O. Scott on Harold and Kumar (July 25, 2004)

The writer-directors Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg, who also wrote the first “Harold and Kumar” movie, are reluctant to think of “Guantánamo Bay,” title notwithstanding, in strictly political terms. This is perhaps understandable, since their film features a “bottomless party” (where guests disrobe from the waist down), a brothel visit and a threesome involving a giant anthropomorphic Ziploc bag of marijuana.

“Our top priority was to make people laugh,” Mr. Schlossberg said in a recent telephone interview. “But the secondary priority is that there’s something a little smarter below the surface. I guess in a certain way it’s our reaction to post-9/11 paranoia.”

The new film, which opens Friday, picks up where the first left off, with the two pot-loving roommates — a Korean-American corporate desk jockey Harold Lee (John Cho) and an Indian-American ex-pre-med slacker Kumar Patel (Kal Penn) — en route to Amsterdam having satisfied a killer case of the munchies. Kumar, despite being harassed by airport security, manages to smuggle a stash of weed onto the plane. A bungled attempt to light up in the lavatory — not helped by the fact that “bong” sounds like “bomb” — lands the guys in Gitmo on terrorism charges. The homeland security official overseeing the case, a paragon of belligerent idiocy played by Rob Corddry, takes one look at our heroes and concludes that Al Qaeda and North Korea are in cahoots.

In devising the plot the filmmakers borrowed from Mr. Penn’s own travel experiences since the Sept. 11 attacks. “That’s probably one of the only parallels between Kumar and me,” Mr. Penn said. “We both get pulled out of line at airports.”

This became a routine occurrence when he and Mr. Cho were flying around the country to promote the first film. “Once we were with a friend of mine — he’s the same age, same height as me, except he’s white,” Mr. Penn recalled. “I was stopped at security, but he went through even though he had a hunting knife that he forgot to take out of his backpack. They were so focused on pulling out the brown guy, they didn’t even notice.”

The detention camp is just one brief, if indelible, pit stop in “Harold and Kumar Escape From Guantánamo Bay.” “It’s not that Guantánamo Bay itself is funny,” Mr. Schlossberg said. “But it’s utterly ridiculous for Harold and Kumar to be thrown in there.” As for what happens to them inside the prison, the movie imagines a ritual punishment that draws from both the squeamish homophobia of frat-boy comedy and the sexual humiliations now associated with Abu Ghraib.

After an improbable escape Harold and Kumar make it back to the States. What follows is a gentler version of the “Borat” odyssey, a road trip through the American subconscious as much as anything else. Race is at once central and beside the point in the Harold and Kumar movies. Casually integrating nonwhite heroes into a genre that has always been a white male preserve, the films seize on smutty, gross-out humor as the great equalizer. Even in its title “Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle” signified a comedy of assimilation.

“It wasn’t intentional,” Mr. Hurwitz said. “We came up with White Castle because it has a history of being a place where intoxicated people go at the end of the night. But then we did see it as a sort of metaphor. It’s about the burgers, but it’s more than just the burgers.”

Mr. Hurwitz and Mr. Schlossberg, who grew up in Randolph, N.J., have known each other since high school, where the idea of Harold and Kumar took root. “We always had a very multicultural group of friends,” Mr. Hurwitz said. “One thing that struck us was that no matter our ethnic background, we were very much alike. But whenever we saw Asian or Indian characters on screen, they were nothing like our friends, so we thought we would write characters like them.” (Mr. Cho’s character is based on an actual Harold Lee. Mr. Hurwitz and Mr. Schlossberg are Jewish, as are Harold and Kumar’s best buddies.)

The signal achievement of both Harold and Kumar films is that they make race incidental without taking racism lightly; they presuppose an enlightened audience. “When we start to write, we’re under the assumption that everyone knows racism is bad,” Mr. Schlossberg said. “If you don’t know that, you’re a moron. Harold and Kumar’s attitude toward racism is more frustration at having to deal with idiocy than moral outrage. We try to create a world where racism is stupid.”
As tends to be the case with ethnic humor, the filmmakers rely on the exaggeration or subversion of prejudices. Mr. Cho, having witnessed uproarious laughter at screenings, suggested that there might be a cathartic element in play. “It’s not an exact science, making laughs out of this kind of stuff, but I think there’s a desire on the part of the audience to, if not discuss race, at least laugh about it,” he said.
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Guantánamo, Evil and Zany in Pop Culture (February 18, 2008)
Video Clip: ‘Harold & Kumar’ A. O. Scott on Harold and Kumar (July 25, 2004)

The over-the-top crudeness of the films makes it easy to forget their subtly radical impulses, not to mention the sheer unlikeliness of “Harold and Kumar” as a studio franchise. (The first film did not do especially well in theaters but was a hit on DVD.) By the standards of the regressive buddy comedy, Mr. Schlossberg and Mr. Hurwitz’s deft aggregation of stereotypes and counterstereotypes amounts to something like complexity. Harold and Kumar are intelligent stoners, overachieving slackers and — in defiance of the model-minority myth — Asian American party boys looking for sex, drugs and a good time.

Mr. Penn, who is now teaching a class on images of Asian-Americans in the media at the University of Pennsylvania, said that discussions of context and subtext entered into even the crudest scenes. There is a notably vulgar gag in the opening montage featuring Kumar and a pornographic magazine. “I still can’t believe I participated in that,” Mr. Penn said. He eventually decided that “if we’re going to introduce or deconstruct a sexualized image, the kind of image that has been reserved for white males in teen movies since James Dean, we have to go all the way.” (Suffice to say he does.)

That Harold and Kumar are typical pothead heroes ironically makes them more lifelike than the protagonists of most melting-pot movies, who tend to be saddled with representational burdens and identity-politics placards. Mr. Cho recounted an encounter with a fan, a young Asian-American woman, after the release of “White Castle”: “She was starting to thank me and I’d expected her to say something along the lines of ‘Thank you for representing Asian-Americans,’ but she said, ‘Thank you for representing stoners so well.’ ”

One concern of the filmmakers is that “Guantánamo Bay” not be perceived as politically polarizing. “Some people might think we have a liberal bias because we’re poking fun at the government, or we’re not being patriotic,” Mr. Hurwitz said. “But it’s quite the opposite. We love this country and we’re speaking out about how we feel about it.”

President Bush (played by the professional Bush impersonator James Adomian) shows up in a deus ex machina role, and while not exactly respectful, it is arguably the most sympathetic movie portrayal of him to date.

“It was important that we not vilify George W. Bush,” Mr. Schlossberg said, while Mr. Hurwitz added that “In our minds he isn’t that much different than Kumar in terms of motivation and certain life issues. Both characters have a family trade they’re pushed toward and have a certain attitude of resistance.”

Off screen Mr. Penn has been stumping for Senator Barack Obama, though he declined to discuss his political involvement in an article about “Harold and Kumar.” But Mr. Hurwitz and Mr. Schlossberg, who said they’ve heard that Mr. Obama has seen (and liked) the first film, were willing to draw a connection. “He is a symbol of moving beyond race,” Mr. Schlossberg said. “Obama is a sign of the times, just like Harold and Kumar.”

Which is not to say that Harold and Kumar exist in a postracial society. The larger point, as Mr. Hurwitz put it, is that “race matters to the other characters but not to Harold and Kumar,” a misalignment that is by turns funny, poignant and maddening.

“They’re beyond racism but live in a world that isn’t,” Mr. Schlossberg said. “In many ways Harold and Kumar represent what we want the future to be.” 281x211.jpg

camera lense

Posted: January 4th, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: Film | No Comments »

It can be disputed that this society is equal, but it simply is not. Plenty of people would like to believe that men and women share equal rights and equal opportunities but this is a complete denial of the true social structure that we live in. We live in a patriarchal society where women are commodities and are treated much like cattle for the use of man. We are their wives, their daughters, their sex toys, their cooks; our function is to serve but this is not so blatant and it is not always the case. We are not equal because man has created the guidelines by which gender is defined. We can only be categorized and placed in this binary system because we can be visibly identified as “not male’.
In The Patriarchal Gaze by Laura Mulvey it is discussed that film, a visual representation of popular culture, can be seen as the representation of our patriarchal culture due to the male gaze. The camera is the male gaze; film is also a form of indoctrination and a form of society control by the man. To Mulvey, women are the objects of the gaze and men are always the gazers. Women are subjected to men’s gaze and are taught to scrupulously care and conform to the desires of men in order to gain social acceptance. The example Mulvey uses to show man’s control over the world and the binary systems at large is women’s blind acceptance of “high heels” as something natural for her to wear. Women have roles but men do as well. We see in film how we are supposed to look, act, behave, and even believe. We see what kind of treatment we are supposed to accept as normal and what type of behavior that men will accept from us. Society is socially constructed and film helps to perpetuate the constructs into our minds. This binary system is so ingrained in who we have become that we never stop to ponder that this is not actually us but merely what we can been told to be; we are conforming to the desires of man. Men have everything to gain from this while women have their entire identity to lose in the shaping of a false one.
Women are, to men, the spectacle. We might as well all be in the circus with the audience consisting we all men. Women are the entertainment; we have been made slaves to men’s reason. Men decide the rules and all meaning while women simply put it on and dance around for them. We are the representation of a world created by and for men. Any control women believe they have is merely the allowance by men for their amusement, such as a sexually dominate women. This women is not really in control though is seems like she is in power she is really just a tool; man created her to turn him on. Mulvey claims that the camera is always watching the women from a male’s perspective while women do not have control over the narrative or happenings.
Mulvey believe that there is not male objectification in film but only female objectification. This shows the control of the male gaze. The pleasure from what is on screen is all for the male. Everything is constructed in a way that pleases them. Women are the pleasers and men are the pleased. Men are the onlookers and women are the looked at. Women are the objectified and men are the objectifiers. Anyone who denies these facts must not have a clear view of the world. Government mainly consists of men, white men, corporations, media, the job and career world are all dominated by men. We cannot even begin to step outside of something that we have been constructed as. This patriarchal domain is so flawlessly ingrained that people are actually in denial of their crude unequal world.
Mulvey claims that women can only take pleasure in film by taking on the male gaze and accepting the women in the film as objects. Man is so obsessed with woman and feels insecure because he worships her so much that he feels compelled to degrade her while still finding pleasure in his observations. Man hates that he loves her so much and seeks to punish her due to his own childish desires. There needs to be seen a gaze from a different perspective if this society is ever going to be able to get out from under the power and corruption of the male self-perpetuating gaze.
It is the realization of accepted ideologies being false that will allow us to become free of this tangled web of inequality. If we accept high-heels as something for women instead of something that is said to be for women then we will be breaking free from this degrading self-serving binary system of stereotypes men have created. It is too hard to step outside of the norm; people are too afraid to not be accepted by the masses that it should be feared that we will never rise above our indoctrination. The naturalization of the man woman binary system is at fault. If we believe something to be natural we will succumb to it unknowingly and without question. This is what needs to stop. Women need to buck up and stop performing for men. Women need to seek their own acceptance above any one else’s. This is the only way we can ever take a step in the right direction towards equality. We need to brake from traditional practices that perpetuate and help the system claim more lives and minds. This is important enough to do something about and it is able to happen. Men and women need to team up in the move towards a better society, a world where woman is not degraded and defiled on the big screen.