About a decade before George Lucas created that galaxy far, far away, where Jedis wield light sabers against the “Dark Side,” he directed a low-budget film called American Graffiti (1973) that defied low expectations and exploded with profitable success. This coming-of-age film is about teenagers not all marching well into adulthood in the summer of 1962. While the plot does not sound terribly exciting, there are several reasons that this movie resonated so strongly with its audiences. Continue reading American Graffiti: How Time Flies When You’re Cruising
American Graffiti (1973) is a coming-of-age film directed by George Lucas, and one of the most profitable blockbusters of the twentieth century. Set in Modesto, California in 1962, it contains four storylines of teenage angst and comedy. Can you decide what the title signifies? Continue reading American Graffiti: To Write or Rite of Passage?
Many have mourned the loss of Robin Williams and his comic genius. In revisiting The Birdcage and his other films, we can consider aspects of his work that may have changed us all without realizing it.
[W]hat makes the film interesting is that [Robin Williams] must play against type, toning down his manic persona in the face of Lane’s hilarious over-the-top turn.
—Chuck Koplinski, The News-Gazette
You do an eclectic celebration of the dance! You do Fosse, Fosse, Fosse! You do Martha Graham, Martha Graham, Martha Graham! Or, Twyla, Twyla, Twyla! Or, Michael Kidd, Michael Kidd, Michael Kidd! Or, Madonna, Madonna, Madonna! … but, you keep it all inside.
—Armand, The Birdcage
A comedian has been described as a person who seeks to entertain audiences, primarily by making them laugh. Filmmakers employ comedy in the same way, seeking to make their targeted audiences laugh. How do they do this? We have learned from our series on comedy that they do this in a number of different ways—using social satire, slapstick, etc. Might they do this also as a way to dispel prejudice against certain groups or against certain individual characteristics? Alternatively, might screenwriters focus so totally on what to them seems funny that the result is irresponsibly mean? Continue reading The Birdcage: Can We Learn from Our Films?