Friday, December 18, 2015

Trumbo vs. Spotlight

Maybe I should pretend to write this blog post as a compare/contrast paper as I've requested that my students do. One of the habits they have that I fight to break is the sentence that stretches on and on until you understand that they are trying meet the word count so that they can call it quits.

Title: Two movies based on factual occurrences that happened.

First off, both oaf these movies, Trumbo and Spotlight, have one word titles which are Trumbo and Spotlight. Both are about topics in society today that we care about. Both feature actors and are set in a specific time period not in the one of today. Trumbo, for example, is set in a time period known as The Cold War, or McCarthyism or Reaganomics. The second movie, Spotlight, is not about what it sounds like it should be about. For example, it is not about Mariah Carey or someone else on the stage where bright lights can be found. It too is set in a time period that is not the one we are in currently at this time, the twenty first century. In this second film, Spotlight, a bunch of reporters are trying to prove that Catholic priests have molested children every which way. This is done through characters investigating and going door to door to figure out what exactly happened when this occurred. In contrast, Trumbo centers around a guy who also writes, but his thing is screenplays for actors in the movies who are making films to be projected onto the screen, which at this time, was often in black and white when this was taking place, though we now have movies in Technicolor and have for decades. When summarizing the two films, the main points of each are different. For example, Trumbo tells the story of a man (Trumbo) who used to be in Breaking Bad who writes in the bathtub and has declared himself to be a  Communist, which others find to be un-American, causing him to be thrown into jail where he works for a black man typing and filing papers. Eventually, he gets out and gets a job writing for John Goodman who threatens this other guy with a baseball bat, which was my favorite part of the movie, and really  the only time anything exciting happened.  Louis C.K. starred as his side kick, and he had lung cancer from smoking because this was in a time period before the Surgeon General became popular.  Furthermore, in Spotlight, the story had reporters who

And then the paper just ends. It might be useful to do this exercise in class in real time to illustrate how easy and obvious it is to just write a bunch of words that lead nowhere.

Here is a review from The New Yorker about the two films. For the record, I liked Spotlight more. My boyfriend, Mark Ruffalo, is in it. I love him, even when he has a bad haircut.


Thursday, December 17, 2015

Preparing for the force to awaken

I remember that when the original movie that came out in 1977, I liked Luke Skywalker the best. He was the good farm boy, with sky blue eyes and a cleft chin. He was the innocent, the one who was orphaned, the one with the quest. Han Solo, I thought at age 8, was too conceited, mean, and old. I identified with Luke, because he was in love with the Princess and she didn't seem to even notice him (much like Rawl Brown in my third grade class). Han Solo bossed him around and was unreliable, a rebel who had a giant teddy bear sidekick and a sneer. However, by the time The Empire Strikes Back came out in 1980, I had aged considerably (age 12) and so saw both Luke and Han differently. The actor, by this time, had been in a car accident, which aged his face and took away his boyishness. I actually don't remember much about the movie, except that the love story between Han and Leia was more of a focus and I was at an age where swooning kisses seemed like the only thing I ever wanted to happen to me in real life. I had turned the corner, and now preferred the gruffness of Han than the earnestness of Luke. That has not changed. About Return of the Jedi, three years later, I only remember being appalled by the oozing Jabba the Hut with Princess reduced to his sex toy in a gold plated bikini and neck chain. Does she end up strangling him? I believe so. Luke remains the anointed one, but at the expense of having no love interest. I mean, other than his sister. But probably my favorite character of all was R2D2--he reminded me most of a really smart robot dog or cat. He was loyal and unafraid, and also the most vulnerable in some ways. I am excited about the movie, as long as R2 will be in it.