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1950s - Late 60s: Studio Decline –1963: Worst year for US film prod. w/ 121 films –1969: Hello, Dolly! flops, ends Gene Kelly’s career Late 60s - Late.

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Presentation on theme: "1950s - Late 60s: Studio Decline –1963: Worst year for US film prod. w/ 121 films –1969: Hello, Dolly! flops, ends Gene Kelly’s career Late 60s - Late."— Presentation transcript:

1 1950s - Late 60s: Studio Decline –1963: Worst year for US film prod. w/ 121 films –1969: Hello, Dolly! flops, ends Gene Kelly’s career Late 60s - Late 70s: “New Hollywood” Era –Hollywood goes bankrupt; Auteurs go mainstream Late 70s - Present: “Blockbuster” Era –1970s: Jaws, Star Wars bring back big movies –1980s: Home Video Helps Studios and Indies 1990s: Emergence of “Indiewood” –The Tarantino Effect: New Money for Odd Movies 2000s: “You wanna just stay home?” –Netflix, On Demand, New Markets?

2 American History Cliffs Notes : Vietnam War 1964: Civil Rights Act : Assassinations of Malcolm X, MLK, Bobby Kennedy 1969: Stonewall Rebellion 1974: Nixon Resigns : Reagan 1981: First U.S. AIDS Case 1980s: “War on Drugs” 1989/1991: Fall of Berlin Wall/Fall of USSR : Clinton

3 New Hollywood Era Who Makes Hollywood “New”? –Independent, Film-School-Educated, Auteur- Style Directors like Coppola, Scorsese, Kubrick, Woody Allen Thematically –Moral Ambiguity, Rebellion and Anti-Heroism –Sex, Drugs, Rock n Roll –Revision of Established Genres Ex. McCabe and Mrs. Miller (Western), Bonnie and Clyde (Gangster Picture), Chinatown (Film Noir) Aesthetically –Experimental use of sound (rock n roll!) –Flashback and forward, Jump Cuts, Long takes –Lyrical treatment of violence Politically –Paranoia and General Distrust of Authority –Skepticism Toward “American Dream” –Disillusionment with Consumerism

4 Hollywood Blockbuster Era Growing Budgets: –Batman (1989): 50 Million –Titanic (1997): 200 Million –Pirates (2007): 300 Million “Franchise” pictures: –Sequels, Action/Adventure Movies –Target Audience: year-olds (75%) Fast-Paced, Special effects-driven: –CGI, Motion Capture, Digital Sound, 3-D & 3-D Animation –Quick Cuts: Fom 4-6 seconds/shot in ‘85 to 2-3 seconds/shot in 2000s

5 1970s1980s Star Wars (1977) Jaws (1975) The Exorcist (1973) Grease (1978) The Sting (1973) National Lampoon's Animal House (1978) The Godfather (1972) Superman (1978) Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977/80) Smokey and the Bandit (1977) E.T (1982) Return of the Jedi (1983) The Empire Strikes Back (1980) Batman (1989) Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) Ghostbusters (1984) Beverly Hills Cop (1984) Back to the Future (1985) Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)

6 1990s2000s Titanic (1997) Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999) Jurassic Park (1993) Forrest Gump (1994) The Lion King (1994) Independence Day (1996) The Sixth Sense (1999) Home Alone (1990) Men in Black (1997) Toy Story 2 (1999) Avatar (2009) The Dark Knight (2008) Shrek 2 (2004) Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (2006) Spider-Man (2002) Transformers 2 (2009) Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (2005) The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) Spider-Man 2 (2004) The Passion of the Christ (2004)

7 What makes a movie independent? Its Funding: –Does funding from a major studio disqualify a film from the ‘independent’ category? Its Audience: –Smart people and cinephiles? A micro-targeted market segment? Its Distribution: –Does it get a theatrical release? Does it play in multiplexes? Art house theaters? Its Director/Writer/Actors: –Are auteur-driven films independent? Is a David Lynch movie ‘automatically’ independent? What about Michael Mann? Its Aesthetics: –Does deviation from classical Hollywood conventions make a film independent?

8 The ‘Indie’ Umbrella

9 History of the Indie Late 1970s: –U.S. Alternative/Art films go underground –Ex. Eraserhead (1977) 1980s: –‘Mini-Majors’ and Major Indies –Ex. Sex, lies, and videotape (1989) 1990s: –Hollywood conglomerates establish ‘specialty’ divisions –Ex. Pulp Fiction (1994) 2000s: –Most ‘Indies” are produced and/or distributed through major studios; –“Indie” becomes a genre descriptor –Ex. Juno (2007)

10 Why The American Indie Grew 1. Home Video –1976: VHS introduced –1988: Majority of U.S. Households own VCR –1997: DVD Introduced; Netflix launches, currently at 23 million subscribers –2000: Hollywood takes in $20 billion in home video revenue (3x domestic box office) –2010: Blockbuster Video files for bankruptcy 2. Hollywood Funders Seek Niche Markets –Big pictures dominate, but there’s still money on the table –Mini-Majors, Specialty Divisions, “Indiewood” 3. Film Festivals Connect Buyers and Sellers –Connecting independent films and major distributors –Ex. Steven Soderbergh’s sex, lies, and videotape debuts at Sundance 1989, Grosses $100 million

11 What Does a Typical “Indie” Film Look Like? Thematically –Focus on the “offbeat” and “quirky” Marketed to audiences not served by Blockbusters –More likely to have: Anti-heroes, Ambiguity, Non- Mainstream Values and Politics Aesthetically –Formal “flourishes” (i.e., discontinuous editing) But usually w/ some kind of narrative or character-based justification –Strong personal vision of director –Lower budgets –Non-Professional and Character Actors Politically –All over the map, really –Often designed to challenge viewers, make them think

12 This Week: The Watermelon Woman (1996) Director: Cheryl Dunye Country: United States (filmed in Philadelphia) Movement: New Queer Cinema Formal Focus: Sound (Ch. 9) Why Are We Watching It? –Good intro to the low-budget American “indies” of the 1990s (think Clerks, Reservoir Dogs, etc.) –Raises questions about race and sexuality in American cinema –It works well in dialogue with other films we’ve watched, esp. Perfumed Nightmare, 8½, and Sherlock Jr. –It’s smart and fun

13 The Watermelon Woman (1996) In Three Claims 1. Cinema is a way of creating and validating personal identity. 2. American Film History does not represent the history and lived experiences of African- Americans or LGBT people. 3. When your history seems to be absent, you either have to dig it up or create a totally new history.

14 African Americans And Hollywood History of Hollywood Racism –e.g. Al Jolson in The Jazz Singer (1927), Disney’s Song of the South (1946) All-Black Film Productions: –Oscar Micheaux (1920s and 30s) Black Actors in Hollywood –Hattie McDaniel (1939), Sidney Poitier (1963) Blaxploitation and African-American Indies –Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song (1971), Shaft (1971), Foxy Brown (1974) –William Greaves’s Symbiopsychotaxiplasm (1968), Burnett’s Killer of Sheep (1977) African-American Indies in the 1990s: –Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing (1989), Malcolm X (1992); John Singleton’s Boyz n the Hood (1991)

15 New Queer Cinema Avant-Garde Roots: –Kenneth Anger’s “Fireworks” (1947) Early 1990s: “New Queer Cinema” –Todd Haynes’s Poison (1991), Gus van Sant’s My Own Private Idaho (1991), Rose Troche’s Go Fish (1994) Themes: –Documenting (mostly young, mostly urban) LGBT Life and Love: “We Exist” –Often subtle critiques of discrimination, Response to AIDS The NEA Debates (1990s) –Some “New Queer” films funded by federal grants; Congress defunds NEA 2000s: Queer Cinema Goes Mainstream: –Brokeback Mountain (2005), Milk (2008)

16 Questions To Consider Why does Cheryl want to find the Watermelon Woman? When is the sound conspicuous? When is it diegetic and when nondiegetic? How does this film compare with other films we’ve watched to this point? What makes this movie “Indie”?


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