Reading Film (Fall 2011)

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Investigative Proposal #3 latest revision

October 31st, 2011 by martinvukaj · 3 Investigative Proposal


Martin Vukaj

English 110

Prof Ferguson


Investigative Proposal revised 3


The Wizard of Oz, directed by Victor Fleming in 1939, was a depression era American musical fantasy film, revolving around the protagonist Dorothy and her trustful sidekick dog Toto. The film was based on the children’s novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, written by L. Frank Baum. Initially regarded as a box office flop, The Wizard of Oz is highly regarded as the most popular film of all time and most beloved. The film introduced new technicolor features which were highly expensive. Technicolor provided the audience with flashy colors previously not experienced with any other film released during the Depression. The depression was in full force by 1939, and when the film came out it seemed to have an uplifting effect on the population, especially with songs like “Over the Rainbow,” which was one of the most popular songs after the film was released. The family oriented musical genre, in general, was one in which families during the Depression seemed more likely to watch and that was due in part to the fact that these films provided the viewers with an uplifting feel during these harsh economic times. The psychological frailty in the minds of the American population during the Depression were deeply affected by films, and the question at hand is: How have family oriented musicals, such as The Wizard of Oz, provided the movie viewing population a psychological sense of escapism during the time of the Depression?

After performing this study, the research gathered will provide the film viewing population more evidence in how films can help affect the psychology of minds in general and under a specified scope during the hard economic times in the Depression. An analysis of how family oriented films affect the attendance ratings of films in comparison to other genres will also be accounted for. I will also look for attendance ratings due to region in the United States, and an analysis of the film The Wizard of Oz on society during the Depression in comparison to now will also be made. The cultural undertones in the film will also be examined as well, such as the “Yellow Brick Road.”

There would be many methods for researching this topic that I would employ. I would first research the attendance ratings of family oriented musical movies during the Depression, prior to The Wizard of Oz, then those after, which would provide me with evidence if this genre actually affected attendance. I would research film reviews and criticisms of The Wizard of Oz, and relative films in the genre, which would provide me with views of how the film was received in1939 in comparison to now. Research about the signs and messages the film conveys, such as the “Yellow Brick Road” and the “Ruby Red Slippers” will also be utilized in an effort to understand the historical context the film has as well. I would examine how films affect psychology, especially during the times of the Depression. I would also examine how film was used as an “escape” from reality, especially during this poor economic era, and how The Wizard of Oz did a great job of providing that “escape” for viewers.

For me to answer these questions, the use of various resources would be utilized. I would use a filmography book which would tell me most of the important information on The Wizard of Oz, as well as the use of the internet on the film also. I would look at reviews and criticisms of The Wizard of Oz from 1939, and some reviews and criticisms years after. I would also use statistics and data analysis on movie attendance ratings prior to The Wizard of Oz and then statistics of those after, and research among family oriented musical films attendance ratings for the depression would also be used as well. I would look at books regarding film as an “escape” from reality, then specifically of films during the Depression, and how these films reflect the psychological frailty of the population during this time.

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Class Summary For Oct. 26

October 26th, 2011 by Denisha Bayley · Class Summary

Today, our main focus was on revising our investigative proposals. The majority of class time was spent on trying to spruce up our proposal questions. Prof. Ferguson metioned that if anyone was really having any difficulty with their question, they should start with a list of key terms and then build their question around them. He then went around the room helping everyone with their questions, individually. Meanwhile, others helped their peers. Towards the end of class, Prof. Ferguson said to not post any revised proposals on the blog but to email them to him directly, for a faster response. (Make sure to email them in document form.)

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Revised Investigative Proposal

October 26th, 2011 by Kaitlin Stevens · Uncategorized

Kaitlin Stevens
Assignment #3: Investigative Proposal
Robert DeNiro: Arguably one of the most legendary actors of our time. He has played and mastered many different roles in various movie genres. It’s rather obvious that DeNiro consistently plays “bad guy” roles – but that could depend on what your definition of a “bad guy” is. Anyway, no matter what role it is that DeNiro is playing it is certain that he will perfect it and make it unforgettable. He is known for method acting with his characters by heavily studying their backgrounds, which would explain why he always seems to give an exceptional performance. He consistently works with director Martin Scorsese, playing gangster roles. My question is: Which Scorsese gangster role did DeNiro do a better job of grasping and bringing to life – Jimmy Conway from Goodfellas, Vito Corleone from The Godfather Part 2, or Sam Ace Rothstein from Casino?
Obviously all of the roles aforementioned were legendary ones. DeNiro is an unbelievably talented actor. However, it is obvious that one of the roles had to be more significant in his career than the other. By investigating and analyzing this specific subject, I will be learning more about one of my favorite actors (one of America’s favorite actors for that matter) and digging deep into what traits he possesses that make him such an impressive actor. I will be able to pinpoint the certain characteristics DeNiro masters in his acting method.
I plan on watching each movies numerous times and using skills I’ve learned in both this class and my Film History class to examine and interpret the qualities both characters possess, and the qualities that separate them from each other, therefore making one “better” than the other. I will read multiple reviews on tje movies by acclaimed critics and try to understand their opinions on both characters and performances to determine which they seem to prefer. In addition, I will read the books that the movies are based on to get a better sense of what the characters are really like and offer my opinion and arguments on which character DeNiro did a better job of grasping and why.
As I stated in the previous paragraph, some resources I will use are movie reviews and the books the films are based on. I also plan on researching the director of the films, Martin Scorsese, and seeing if I can use any opinions or statements of his to help get an answer to my proposed question. I am going to research the making of both of the films in depth to see which film DeNiro put more work and effort into. I believe that by researching this topic I will be able to give DeNiro fans and just people who are curious about his work a better sense of which role could be classified as his “defining role”, and additionally figure out which role he enjoyed playing more and why.

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investigative proposal revised

October 25th, 2011 by martinvukaj · 3 Investigative Proposal


Martin Vukaj

English 110

Prof Ferguson





Investigative Proposal


Film, a rather contemporary art, has evolved in many ways since its first inception in the early 1900s. Introduced in the earlier part of the 20th century, it has progressed as an art form and is used in many forms today. The Great Train Robbery, created in 1903, introduced great film techniques and new film technology, which were unseen before. With the use of cross-cutting, on location shooting, and camera movements, these new cinematographic elements led to an astounding new view of films, especially given the primitive time period. Over the coming years, new cinematographic elements would come into play which transcended the film industry, and some of these new cinematographic elements were possible with the advent of new technology. Taking a look at films pre-depression and those during and post the depression era, an analysis of the techniques and technology used will give us, as film viewers, a better understanding and appreciation of films. The films themselves, pre, during, and post depression are an indication of a change of the techniques, technology, and the stylistic and cinematographic elements which are contained in them. How did new film techniques, such as cross-cutting, on-location shooting and new camera movements, along with the introduction of new technology in films such as sound on film and technicolor change and advance the film industry from 1930 to 1945, and what effect did these changes have on the film viewing population?

After providing research and studying this topic, the information gathered will provide the film viewing population a better insight and appreciation of films during this era. We will also gain knowledge in new technology and techniques used in films, as well as the cinematographic and stylistic elements, some of which are also used today. Through the research and information accumulated, the evidence will ultimately try and prove that from 1930 to 1945, the film industry underwent major changes and leaps forward to become the

The methods being utilized for this research are few and far between. Research would begin with an analysis of cinematographic and stylistic elements found within films from that time period. To find out how films evolved, and discuss some of the major factors that caused films to change in how they were made. An analysis on the many advances in technology would also be utilized. Finding how the implementation of color came to be and the use of different camera angles, are just a few examples of new technology and film techniques that arose during this era. I would also analyze the unique stylistic elements found in many popular directors of that time as well. On a final note, this research will all be combined in an effort to discover how the film industry changed and transcended over this period of time.
Possible resources that could be used are also a variety as well. I would look at films from this time period, pre, during, and post the depression era. I would also look at reviews from this time, as well as reviews from contemporary time, in order to see differences or similarities in the view of film style and portrayal. I would also gather research and use books coinciding with film technology that arose in this time, such as technicolor and advancements in sound. An analysis of many big name directors from this time will also be used, to understand the stylistic elements and techniques used, in comparison to techniques found in earlier films and used by directors. Articles and possible biographies or autobiographies on directors will be used to understand their standpoint on how these new additions in film either helped or hurt the industry. I would also gather studies on movie attendance ratings to see if the changes and advancements in film had an effect that coincided with attendance in movies as well.

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Investigative Proposal revised

October 25th, 2011 by Roberto Rodriguez · 3 Investigative Proposal

Star Wars, one of the greatest film series of all time and beloved around the world for the way it captured its audiences with its use of imagination and compelling storyline. It is hard to argue that the 70’s brought about some of the greatest film series of all time like the Godfather and Rocky and also Jaws but it is also hard to argue that few films have had a greater impact on pop culture than Star Wars . You can see Star Wars everywhere you go and all around the world and that just shows how much this film series has impacted society today. So the cultural significance of Star Wars is pretty apparent but the effect that Star Wars had on the film industry may not be so apparent to some. How has the original Star Wars trilogy effected  the film industry as a whole?

What makes a film great is not only the way that it was received by its audience but how it has endured even after its release and one of the best examples of that would be Star Wars. My purpose is to explain how this film series has had an enduring legacy not only in our society but in the film industry as well. What has been the movies influence in the film industry? How did it impact the way that movies were made? These are the types of questions that I will try to answer in my research. I will try to help the reader understand the influence that this film series had on the film industry as a whole.

I think there is a very social aspect to my research because I am trying to explain how the film series has impacted the film industry today. I feel like this film has been influential in many aspects of our society not only in a cultural sense but in the way we view films. So in terms of a social aspect I will be taking a sociological approach to my research to show the effect that this film series had on the film industry. I think that is the best approach to this research because sociology is all about the roles that people play in their lives so I am trying to explain the role that the film series has played in film making.

I think that I will read many blogs and reviews about the film series to use in my research. I will also read interviews as well to see what the actors think has been the impact of the film series. So I will take advantage of modern technology and use the internet to my advantage as well as gaining info the old fashion way by going to the library and reading books on the films. And I will also look at videos of the films to gain a fan perspective of what has made this film series so influential.



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Revised “Investigated Proposals” #5 by Steven Rengifo

October 25th, 2011 by Steven Rengifo · 3 Investigative Proposal

Steven Rengifo

October 29th, 2011

English 110-13 “Reading Film”

Manhattan: Woody Allen’s Neglect on Diversity

            Woody Allen is a well-known award winning filmmaker and screenwriter, for making movies that mainly feature the point-of-view of one specific culture and race. Woody Allen spent the 1980’s mainly focusing on shooting his movies in Manhattan. The first Woody Allen movie I saw was “Crimes and Misdemeanors”. Though I knew who Woody Allen was in name, I was impressed with the movie and loved it from the start. I loved it because the setting takes place in Manhattan, a borough I enjoy going out every other weekend. The film displays qualities of a typical Manhattan intellectual, like the New York accent, living in small apartments or lofts, wearing pea coat jackets and wool V-neck sweaters, and stressed out from their demanding jobs. The island of Manhattan is very unique because of the diversity that exists. Downtown is the financial capital of the world, midtown is the place to shop and hang out, then uptown is the home to wealthy residents, and after that you have a completely different transition from upper-class homes to then lower-class homes. I was born and raised in this city and it seems ignorant of the fact that Allen fails to portray diversity in his pictures. Many people living above uptown are of African American and Latino/Hispanic descent. How does Woody Allen control race when he uses Manhattan to represent white upper class intellectuals instead of Latino/Hispanic intellectuals in his movies during the 1980’s?

But why does this argument contribute anything to his films? My transition from middle school to high school was huge because of the amount of diversity my high school had. The experience of attending a high school with students of many different backgrounds made me proud of whom I am as a Latino in this city. It is hard to believe that such a well-known director somehow forgets that Latino’s even exist in the island of Manhattan. The topic investigates whether Woody Allen is a racist or just ignorant that African American and Latino also live in the culturally and economically diverse borough of Manhattan.

Approaching the subject with an urban studies point of view, I will be able to examine further into why Mr. Allen features a similar race in his motion pictures from the 1980’s. This method will decipher the reason Mr. Allen controls the common race that is seen on screen, in a huge urban environment. The borough is home to many people including people from the highest elite in the Upper West Side, to the homeless person living in Bowery. This allows me to examine the reason why his characters are mostly doctors, lawyers, writers, or anyone related to show business. Manhattan is the home to over 1 million residents and from many diverse backgrounds. Woody Allen tends to use modern Jewish traits in his characters on film. Portraying Jews in his movies is most likely his “mode of operation”, but why not take the chance of portraying Latino/Hispanics on camera? If I wrote and directed movies, I would also want to portray my culture as a Latino in this city, but at least, I would take the chance of making a movie of different cultures.

Developing the research will allow me to identify several resources. Secondary sources such journals on Mr. Allen’s films from the 1980’s and analytical essays on race in movies will be essential to solving the question that I posed earlier in the proposal.

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Investigative Proposal (2nd revision)

October 24th, 2011 by sandra411 · Uncategorized

Sandra Czaja

Prof. Ferguson

October, 21, 2011

Investigative Proposal:

Going to the movies to view a film for the first time, without having any knowledge on how it will be is very common among moviegoers. But many people these days want to know if their money will be put to good use when seeing a film. Many people tend to read reviews of the films even before seeing them to get an idea if will be good or bad. When a bad review is given, not many people are as excited or may even change their minds about viewing these movies. So how much do different film genre adaptations affect box office sales when given bad reviews by their fellow critics?

Before going to the movies many people are curious to see if the movie they are about to view will or will not be worth the money.Looking up critics reviews is the best way to get an idea of how their movie going experience will be, and if it will pay off. If someone sees that a film got a horrible review, box office sales might suffer severely as a result. No one wants to spend their hard earned money on a bad movie; it’s like pouring money down the drain. The purpose here is to see exactly how much of an affect do these critics have, when a great review is given do the box office sales rise or do critics not play a huge role at all or vice versa if the review is bad do the sales plummet or is there zero affect ?

I would look into many methods for going farther with this investigation. First I would pick a movie, (of any genre) and examine the critiques given to the film. After this I would see how this movie did it the box office. If it did bad and the movie review was not a good one it would help validate the point I would be trying to get across with this investigation. I’m sure other questions would be asked, such as does actor/actress choice also play a role in people viewing these films? But my investigation is purely devoted to viewing these reviews and seeing their effect on the sales.

When researching this topic further and when trying to come up with an answer for this question, Andre Bazin’s essay on “Adaptation, or the Cinema as Digest” would be of big help. Looking up critique reviews on various website would also be beneficial. Comparing the reviews to how these movies did at the box office would be another good thing. Many reviews can be found on websites such as Imdb or And lastly the library would definitely contain many sources on further researching this proposal.

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Assignment #3 (3rd Revision)

October 24th, 2011 by Daniel Min · 3 Investigative Proposal

Daniel K. Min

October 24, 2010

ENG 110

Assignment # 3

            Film critic Anne Thompson referred to Steven Soderbergh as a “stylistic chameleon”, he is a versatile director and is known for multifaceted features throughout his body of work, it’s very hard to categorize his way of filmmaking because of his undistinguishable characteristics (not keen on one particular genre, but a whole assortment of genres such as science fiction, war, heist, romantic comedy, german expressionism etc.) and how he interchanges his style. Alfred Hitchcock on the other hand is an “auteur”, where we as film goers are able to recognize his approach to cinema and more than capable enough to identify his signature (persistent use of protagonist falling from high places, countless images of birds etc). Career filmmakers have their own unique distinct voice that progressively grows throughout their career. Since most renowned directors have personal creativity over their collection of works by establishing their signatures in the world of cinema, it should also be apparent in some of Soderbergh’s films regardless if he acknowledges it or not. Therefore, Is Steven Soderbergh a stylistic chameleon that intentionally creates films with undistinguishable characteristics (features that doesn’t specifically stigmatize the work of a filmmaker) or is he an auteur much like Hitchcock that establishes a signature (features that do specifically stigmatize the work of a filmmaker) with a unique distinct voice of his own?

Some audiences can overlook the concept of the auteur theory as they watch certain movies from well known directors. Although film enthusiast might be familiar with Hitchcock’s innovative use of all sorts of elements into his films and establish a unique distinct voice of his own, it is more so difficult for audiences who are unfamiliar with Hitchcock’s films, therefore I would like to investigate the concept of what it means to be an auteur and how this can also apply to Soderbergh’s style of filmmaking. I will investigate further questions as to whether if Soderbergh is putting his own creativity throughout his body of work as an auteur or Hollywood exercising their restraint through conventional means of having full control of Soderbergh’s films by enforcing collaborative integration with other film producers who might not consider his creative method as idealistic, thus dubbing him a stylistic chameleon due to Sodebergh flip-flopping between independent films and mainstream cinema. Upon further investigation this will help the audience outline the director’s signature that makes his films uniquely his own.

Initially I would like to investigate the essence of which a career filmmaker must have in order to become an auteur. It leaves a query how auteur can manipulate our range of emotions by evoking us with his or her unique sense of creativity through the choice of material and underlying symbolism just like other form of art. I would also like to distinguish what characteristics that Steven Soderbergh has and why some might consider him an auteur or a stylistic chameleon based on the fundamental level of the auteur theory. Steven Soderbergh is different from other directors because of his diverse body of work. Fans of Soderbergh who try to pin down their own interpretation on what similar values that all of his films share will most likely be debated between what is considered an art film or mainstream cinema, therefore I would like to observe this matter on the principle of art because it will help me delineate the work of Soderbergh from other well known directors.

In order to analyze further proposition, I will be reading treatises from Cahiers du Cinéma. Discourse from Andre Bazin, Francois Traffaut, Claude Chabrol, Eric Rohmer and other directors associated with the Nouvelle Vague which will help me understand more about the auteur theory and the artistic perspective of cinema. I will look for more information from other magazines and journals such as the New Yorker, Los Angeles, Interview and other publications that discusses about Steven Soderbergh’s stylistic approach to cinema. I will also read film journals such as Film comment, Film quarterly, Film society review in order to understand his undistinguishable characteristics and well known career filmmakers like Hitchcock who establish his signature throughout his body of work, therefore as I go further into this project I can decipher if Steven Soderbergh is really a stylistic chameleon or an auteur.

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Tom Schalk’s Investigative Proposal (3rd Revision)

October 24th, 2011 by Tom Schalk · Uncategorized

Mankind has maintained a sense of wonder since its inception. When answers were needed for questions such as the origin of our kind, they usually were assumed to be the responsibility of greater beings of power beyond mortals. It’s still a debatable subject today, but there was a time in Greece when people believed that a God existed for each and every element of the Earth and all beyond it. A Greek tale couldn’t be without the presence of figures such as Zeus, god of the sky and justice. However, as many wonders of humanity were answered with the existence of gods, many have sought for answers more complicated than those of religion or mythology. The Trojan War, as described in Homer’s story of The Iliad, prominently featured the Greek gods and goddesses. Alas, our sense of knowledge has exceeded the need for superficial beings being the answers to historical mysteries. The film, “Troy” (2004) follows the same story, but does not have any Greek gods present in the film. How have audiences, particularly those of film adaptations of Greek mythology, responded to changes in the storytelling within films as seen in 2004’s “Troy,” which follows a very historical approach to the infamous Trojan War as opposed to the original fantasy-based narrative presented in Homer’s epic poem of The Iliad?

Go back a few thousand years. Tell anyone about the concepts of human evolution, the Big Bang, and other scientific explanations to life. Assuming you aren’t executed for degrading the efforts of said person’s religion, you may just learn that these people find reasons beyond the concept of Gods are foolish and confusing. Naturally, we have grown more keen to expanding our knowledge, becoming more liberal to ideas such as the lack of involvement of God’s in events such as the Trojan War. Among us are audiences of films who are curious as to how such an event like the Trojan War occurred from a historically accurate perspective.

It would be best approached from the perspective of a theologists interested in the portrayal of Greek Mythology in film. He would understand that society over the course of generations have become more secular than in the past. Looking back at America in the 1960’s, people were greatly influenced by their faith, and found it common to rely on God for answers. There was an understanding for why the Greeks believed in Gods, despite seeming very different from our system of beliefs. Yet in recent times, people have become more separated from faith, and this can be reflected upon by how people allow for a change in a story like that of the Trojan War. What would it be like without the influence of Gods? Better yet, were Gods involved at all?

In order to analyze the question, I will be using The Iliad to reference to the original narrative of the Trojan War. I will then use the 2004 film “Troy” to compare each of the narratives of the story told. Since the audience will be a primary focus, it is important to research chances within the American masses on aspects of faith in the individuals social life. Changes within society, especially their faith, may be reflected within entertainment media such as the field of cinema, as seen in “Troy.” Comparisons should be made between the modern public opinion of religion and the recorded opinions by those within the Ancient Greek era concerning their faith in the Greek mythology.

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Class Summary of 24th Oct,

October 24th, 2011 by Daniel Min · Class Summary

Initially our class began to talk about the cinematic experience much like Barthe’s essay on “Leaving the theatre”. The quality of cinematic experience compare to watching it on a smart phone are vastly different in terms of developing a taste of true art. That experience when ushers were instructed not to let people in after 10 minute into an Alfred Hitchcock’s film will surely prevent the late coming audience to watch an unabridged film, therefore come to class on time.

We reviewed and revised what could have been done better on our investigative proposal. Professor Ferguson hand us out a sheet of sample questions and used a rating scale of 1 to 10 for the following. Is it a question? Is the Investigative proposal researchable in terms of being just right instead of being too narrow or too big. Is it open-ended or too black & white? Is the question true, but arguable? Is it the right balance between being overwhelmed with sources and lack of sources?  Is the question appropriate in respect to a discipline or a method? How does the questions use key terms? We’re criticizing each question on what could have been done better. Think of the question like a thesis, you want to make sure your question has everything encapsulated for your essay. What is the bigger context of the question? How you can go more into specificity for your keyterms? Is there a sense of motive? You want to make sure there’s a sense of motive, so you can convince the reader why your essay needs to be read.

Afterwards we’re given another sample essay which is “Politics of Superhero Comics Books in the 1980s”. We’re to look for a sentence and model after it so we can have an idea on how to improve our investigative proposal. Since our investigative proposal needs to be revised once more, we won’t be doing 4 paragraphs of our research strategy. Lastly, our latest revision of our 3rd assignment is due tomorrow and make sure to bring a hardcopy on Wednesday.

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