Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Harold & Maude

I first saw part of this movie in high school. My first impression was that it was weird and I didn’t really understand what was going on. First of all, my teacher only showed us a brief portion of this movie. Second, I don’t think I really paid any attention. Seeing a portion of the movie out of context was really confusing and turned me off from this movie. I didn’t view enough of the film to get the theme or meaning behind what was happening. After seeing it for a second time I absolutely love this movie. For most of the movie we were all hysterically laughing and it really is a “feel good” movie.

I thought the contrast between Harold and Maude was vital to the movie being so good and odd at the same time. Other than the obvious difference in age, Maude loved to live and Harold loved “being dead.” Although he didn’t really love death (especially when Maude decided it was her time to go), but wanted to recreate his mother’s reaction to thinking he had been killed in a tragic chem. lab accident. Harold wanted to feel loved and worthwhile (it was a cry out for attention). Throughout his life he had been given everything (material wise) but his mother never showed him any affection or said that she loved him; she just seemed to enjoy controlling every aspect of his life (the kind of car he drove, who he dated, etc). Maude filled this void and showed Harold attention, affection and love.

This movie absolutely could never be recreated again successfully. Even during the time period it was made I think it would have been extremely difficult to find actors that could make it work, and definitely not today. Between Harold’s priceless facial expressions and Maude’s ability to show how she still thinks she’s hot, (even at 80) I do think it would be nearly impossible to recreate. Harold and Maude is such an odd movie that it teeters between being terrible and extraordinary. One mistake could ruin the entire movie; this movie is so great because it hits every topic just right, whether it is comedy, romance, inspiration, and even the political undertones. When we were discussing in class who would play these characters today, we could only imagine how it would turn out ha!

In the movie Harold says, “I haven’t lived, I’ve died a few times.” I think living with his mother almost made Harold feel as life wasn’t worth living. The poor kid was crying out for attention and to be treated like a normal kid. He could be given anything on a silver platter, and his mother literally suffocated him on a daily basis. Who wants to live by being suffocated? When Harold met Maude he felt as if he had been given life. Maude’s character is everything that Harold’s mother isn’t and Harold loves that aspect. As Harold’s mother is naming off the questions from the dating service and answering them, her answers are very conventional, whereas Maude is very unconventional and free.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Celestina Presentation

I really enjoyed this lecture on human subjectivity. Reading the play Celestina, I was very captivated by the humorous parts. This play differs from the traditional Romeo and Juliet timeless love story by the realistic portrayal of human weakness and longing. Each of the main characters shares the tragic flaw of loving an image. At the end of the lecture we concluded that humans are in love with being in love. Whenever our desires for the time being are fulfilled we may experience instant gratification, but then desire something else. There is a never ending cycle of unfulfilled desires that continues throughout our lives. I like this play because it echoes something that everyone experiences in their loves. Not everyone experiences a timeless love story as Romeo and Juliet, but everyone identifies with desiring something and the search to fulfill those desires.

Also, we discussed the power of the image. The fact that an image has no agency on its own, but is so powerful is a fascinating concept. Calisto and Melibea fall in love with the image of perfection, which they believe the other embodies. When we fall in love we love the image of the person, but this image is not true. We may say that we get caught up in being in love that we reject the imperfections that the person has. We have an idealized image of who we want the person to be and how they will make our lives complete, but we know this isn’t the case. Maybe there is an incompleteness that all humans are looking for another person to fill; we want to believe that this person is the end all and will make us “happy.” “Happiness” being a fleeting emotion until reality sets in. Like when you first begin dating someone it’s all fun and games, but once you’ve established a serious long lasting relationship you begin to have to deal with serious relationship issues. I think it’s interesting how this cycle of desire continues throughout our entire lives. We think we are truly happy with the person that we love, we think that our dream job makes us truly happy, we think that moving will make us happy…all these things can and usually do change in an instant when we least expect it, then we continue looking for the next thing to “really make us happy” and so on.

I like how the end of our discussion tied in together nicely, it’s simply what it means to be human. We are meant to have unfulfilled desires and trying to constantly fill these with whatever will make us “happy” at the time. The journey and learning are the most important part of being human. One thing in our lives is not going to fulfill all of our desires, hope and dreams; it’s more about accepting what actually will happen and learning from the not so perfect things we encounter. How could we appreciate the good if we didn’t have the bad? We must learn that one “thing” cannot make us entirely happy, or even a combination of “things.” Life is guaranteed to throw you curveballs, so you must be prepared to deal with these. As humans we must accept that change will always be consistent and we need to adapt our lives in order to maintain sanity.

And this reminds me of a Grey’s Anatomy quote:
"Maybe we're not supposed to be happy. Maybe gratitude has nothing to do with joy. Maybe being grateful means recognizing what you have for what it is. Appreciating small victories. Admiring the struggle it takes to simply be human. Maybe, we're thankful for the familiar things we know. And maybe we're thankful for the things we'll never know. At the end of the day, the fact that we have the courage to still be standing is reason enough to celebrate"

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

"Rape is Funny" Presentation

I really found this topic interesting and I’m glad that we were able to discuss this topic. As society continues to push the envelope, I think that we become numb to certain things. For instance some rape jokes may not have any humor whatsoever, but do we laugh just because that is the expected response and we’ve been conditioned to thinking things such as rape are funny? I think the major issue about rape jokes is the context in which the joke occurs. If a television show or comedian uses in the joke in a witty, tasteful way than the joke can be genuinely appropriate. These jokes make us think and get us somewhere. When jokes are made in a vile manner, for no constructive purpose than it becomes too much. I think people do use the “it’s not me” card and separate themselves so far from the situation that rape jokes may seem funny in any context. By saying “it’s not me” we draw attention away from the real problem and tastefully done jokes can make us think about the bigger picture.

The quote that got me really thinking was the one about if we aren’t able to control rapes in prison with gates and guards with guns than how will we able to stop it from happening in the outside world? This is so true. There is obviously the stereotype of if you go to prison you will be raped and made “someone’s bitch.” The frightening part is that law enforcement may be able to do more to stop this treatment of prisoners, but they don’t. There is the misconception that all prisoners are low lives and deserve what’s coming to them. As we discussed, there is a difference between a teen caught with marijuana and someone that has murdered and raped. As many believe that all prisoners may deserve this treatment, I think that’s a broad generalization that needs to be reviewed.

The different laws ranging from state to state really gets me angry. It’s so dumb that someone can do something disgusting in one state and get off with a pat on the wrist and in another they would go to jail. This is where I don’t understand the legal system at all. I’m not saying that there needs to be one universal law, but at least some consistency and something that makes sense. The law we discussed in Mass., when a woman has a regret within 24 hrs and can accuse a guy of raping her (or something like that, I don’t know the exact law) got me thinking. Laws like this are frightening because I’m sure people have used it to incriminate innocent people. These types of laws leave gray areas which are tricky.

As far as the South Park episode, I haven’t seen the entire thing and I’m not sure that I want to. From the small clip that we watched I think that they may have went overboard. I like South Park and everything that they do is generally clever. I know that South Park is known for pushing limits, but if there was no point or wit about the rape scenes than I don’t agree that it should have been so graphic and in depth. I would understand the scenes if it raised some relevant questions and got people thinking about issues, but I agree that it might have just been too much and unnecessary…

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Requiem for a Dream

I think this movie is brilliant. I have seen it once many years ago and remember it being very intense. During the movie last night I thought “I remember this being a lot more disturbing”…well I must have thought that too early because then the ending came and was even more intense than I remember. The movie makes my stomach turn, but I think it is reality and necessary for people to see. I like how there is no stereotypical happy ending or even a glimmer of hope…as horrible as that may sound. As we discussed in class we Americans need to have hope at the end of our movies, but this movie broke that stereotype. With a movie that begins with a son stealing his mother’s TV and selling it for drug money and the mom buying back the TV on a routine basis, the ending is going to be anything but “good” or “hopeful.”

The effects really make this movie. Without the visual and audio effects that were used I don’t think the film would be half as powerful. Especially at the end in the midst of all the character’s downward spiraling the images are all meshing together and it just looks and sounds really cool, but super horrible (like it’s supposed to be) at the same time. The characters are all connected but also so disconnected at the same time.

When watching this movie I wrote the word ADDICTION on my paper, I don’t know why I wrote it all in uppercase letters but I just felt compelled. Watching this movie I felt like I was almost experiencing an addiction because of the intensity. The question “how far will people go?” kept lingering in my mind. I love this movie because it almost makes you feel as though you are the character or at least can see things from their perspective and why they would do these things in order to keep living, which contradicts itself because it is causing their downfall and bringing them closer to death.

In class we discussed the question “what is a drug?” Usually we just think of hard drugs, pot and maybe alcohol, but this movie makes us wonder about how dieting and things that we don’t normally associate with being a drug. Sarah was addicted to the thought of being thin and able to fit in her red dress. Also, one could argue that her addiction to the TV and being on TV were also similar to drugs. She had multiple addictions in addition to her diet pills that were a drug in itself. I think that Sarah was the worst off in comparison to all the characters. Tyrone, Marianne and Harry all became addicts in a social group setting. Sarah became addicted to TV, being on TV, diet pills and this combination literally made her go crazy. She was a lonely old woman that got excited about an opportunity to be on television, which turned out pretty much ruining her life…