February 13th, 2011


Discussion questions: films-that-don't-necessarily-seem-like-they-should-go-together edition

Compare and contrast the social worlds depicted in Whit Stillman's "Metropolitan" and John Cameron Mitchell's "Rabbit Hole". Are the values and customs of the Sally Fowler Rat Pack similar to, or different from, those of Howie and Becca? Discuss.

Discuss the role of socioeconomic status in the relationship between Tenoch and Julio in "Y Tu Mama Tambien". What details give us hints about Tenoch and Julio's place in the world?

Read the essay "Obscenity"* by Kurt Vonnegut, then discuss the symbolism of the color white in Michael Haneke's "Funny Games" and "The White Ribbon". Would Haneke agree with the ironic definition of "class" Vonnegut offers at the end of the essay? Discuss the quote from Vonnegut, "Good manners had made them defenseless against predatory members of their own class", as it relates to the characters in "Funny Games".
(IMPORTANT: These films contain disturbing violence and are not for everyone. Proceed with caution.)

Apply the Bechdel test to the films "Roger Dodger" and "Frozen River" and discuss the results. "Roger Dodger" is at least partly about sex relations; is "Roger Dodger" a sexist film? What does it mean to say that a film is sexist?
(NOTE: "Roger Dodger"'s depiction of sex may upset some viewers. Proceed with caution.)

Does "Roger Dodger" (the film) share Roger (the character)'s attitudes toward women? Are the female characters fully developed, or are they figments of male desire and anxiety?

One reviewer has said of "Roger Dodger" that Nick goes into Joyce's bedroom with the intention to date-rape Joyce's assistant, but then his conscience gets the better of him. Do you agree or disagree with this reading? What was Nick's intention?

Compare and contrast the characters Roger ("Roger Dodger") and Johnny ("Somewhere"). Pay attention to Roger's handkerchief and Johnny's Ferrari. Does Roger resolve his central conflict? Does Johnny?

Compare the visual style of "Roger Dodger" to that of "Somewhere". Pay attention to lighting, composition within the frame, and pace of editing. How does each film's look affect its emotional tone and character development?

*in The Outlaw Bible of American Essays, Alan Kaufman, ed.