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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

End of Term Film Festival

Believe it or not, today is the last day of classes at University of Louisville. Tomorrow is reading day and exams begin Friday. I actually gave an exam yesterday and will receive take home exams from my graduate students early next week. So, I have plenty of grading to finish before the semester is really concluded.

As this term comes to its end, I've been screening some films on DVD for potential use in a special undergraduate section of my film course. This fall, I'll be teaching it as one of the Department's capstone course offerings (POLS 495).

Sunday night, I watched Quentin Tarantino's "Inglourious Basterds." In the final scene of the film, Brad Pitt's character does something remarkable and violent that he's done previously in the movie -- and then says, "I think this just might be my masterpiece." It's easy to think that the director was signaling how he positions this film in the context of his own career. This is Tarantino's best work in more than a decade and a fitting entry into the war film genre. Tarantino adds his typically audacious mix of violence, spark, and wit.

That said, I'm not sure precisely how I'd use it in my "Global Politics Through Film" course. This will take some thought.

Monday night, I finally saw Clint Eastwood's "Gran Torino" (2008). The film is not the actor/director's masterpiece, but it is a solid piece of work well worth watching. Though some of the lines and scenes are clich├ęd, the movie nonetheless works as an examination of how globalization has local and unexpected consequences. Eastwood's elderly character is disaffected from his own family and his deceased-wife's Catholic faith, but finds renewed life in the Hmong family now living next door to the house he's occupied for decades. The man recognizes that Hmong values are basically his values and his (arguably bigoted) character is sufficiently tolerant to integrate them into his life.

I could see using this film in my course, but I probably will not given the specific narratives I like to cover during the term.

Both films will be eligible for a student review project.

Last night, I viewed "Moon," which is a thoughtful work of science fiction starring Sam Rockwell as an astronaut working for a corporation on the moon. The talking computer, GERTY, provides a nice contrasting character to comparable machines you've seen in other sci-fi flicks. This is not a serious candidate for my film class, but it was entertaining and provocative. Check it out.

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