Monday, March 5, 2012

Film Symposium Madness!!!!

This week at Rider University the Film and Media studies department held its annual film symposiums.  Previous years themes, that I remember, have been horror films (my favorite by far) and independent films.  The horror film symposium was my favorite because I love old horror films like Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Friday the 13th because I think they are scarier than horror film now-a-days.  Horror films now depend on blood and guts to get them through the film where old horror films depended on suspense, perfect example Friday the 13th because you never see who the killer is until the end so you are constantly wondering who it could be.  But anyways this year’s symposium was all about films of 1962.  This was the topic of the symposium because it is the 50th anniversary of Rider’s School of Liberal Arts and Sciences.  At first I had no idea why they picked 1962 but when they told us it was because of the anniversary it made sense.  Also 1962 was an AMAZING year of films because some of the greatest films to date came out in 1962.  In 1962 some of the films that came out were Dr. No, The Music Man, Lawrence of Arabia,  Advise and Consent, To Kill a Mockingbird, and many others. 
            So during the symposium there were many events that you could attend that were all about films, film industry, and the year 1962.  The events that I attended were the screening of Dr. Gerald Peary’s movie “For the Love of Movies: The Story of American Film Criticism”, the student faculty panel, the Actors Studio, The Method and Film of the Early 1960s, “Purely Geographical: Politics as Space and Movement in Advise and Consent”, Film and the Film Industry in the 1960s, and the student film festival and competition.  All of the events were very entertaining and informative and I thoroughly enjoyed attending them because they were very informative and thought provoking. 
            Dr. Gerald Peary’s film, “For the Love of Movies: The Story of American Film Criticism” was great.   It was very informative and gave the nitty-gritty inside into what it is like being a film critic in the world today.  Some of the critics made some great points that were very interesting when discussing whether people who are online bloggers are actually film critics like them.  Some of them believed that they are not really critics because unlike them they do not get paid and do not have the qualifications that they have.  I disagree with this opinion because even though a person may not be paid to write critiques they can still form opinions on what the films aesthetics and mise-en-scene.  Regular film viewers and film students like myself that are starting their own film critique blogs are just as knowledgeable or sometimes even more knowledgeable than the critics that are getting paid to make the critiques.  Overall, I enjoyed the documentary but I did find some technical aspects of it that bothered me, like during some of the b-roll footage and interviews there was a black object obstructing the view in the top right corner.  This became bothersome to me because I kept on noticing it and that was all I could focus on in some of the footage in the film.  But, the documentary and Dr. Peary were very informational and I enjoyed watching and hearing him speak.
            The next speaker that I went to was Professor Joe McElhaney who teaches at one of the CUNY schools.  He lead a discussion about Advise and Consent and then participated in a roundtable discussion about film and the film industry in 1962.  Both of these were very informational and I believed that I had learned a lot from both of these discussions.   A lot of people attended the first section of Professor McElhaney discussion where he paid great attention to detail in his scene analysis which I thought was very interesting because I honestly thought that he would be discussing more of the politics of the film rather than the meaning behind some of the scenes and the theatrical trailer.  The scene analysis that I discussed with the people that were left at the symposium and the roundtable panel was in the gay night club.  I thought it was quite interesting that this scene viewed gay men in a positive manner.  I thought this because during this time being gay was something that was still widely frowned upon but in the film the director does not glorify it but he doesn’t attempt to hide the fact that these men are gay and what they are participating in within the night club. 
            The last event of the symposium that I attended was the student film festival and competition.  The films that were shown of my fellow classmates were very interesting and enjoying to watch.  My favorite films of the night were Denise Petti’s Midlife Crisis, Marina Marcello Innocent, and Jordana Grosso The Offer.  Strangely enough the order that I put these in was the order of 3rd, 2nd, and 1st place for the competition.  I had seen both Denise and Jordana films before because I took the same class with them that they had made the films in but I still enjoyed both of theirs.  Marina’s film was the only one that I had never seen before and I really enjoyed hers and was very impressed when I found out it was shot completely done with the iPhone 4s; maybe Apple could use this in one of their campaigns???  But anyways, all the films had a great story line to them and I thoroughly enjoyed them and loved discussing each of the films with the creators that were present.  The symposium in my opinion for the 4 or 5 events I went to was a great hit and I wish I could be around for the next symposium that is happening next year.
            Just a side note, my next two blogs will be talking about The Lady in Black the Daniel Radcliffe film and The Lorax in 3D.  Hope you enjoyed this post and keep searching for that next great film!


  1. I do agree with you that 1962 is a GREAT year for movies and I learned this even more so after this event. I also found Dr. McElhaney’s lecture on Advise and Consent interesting because I was taken aback (in a good way) by the lecture content. I was expecting more of a lecture on the politics of the film and how it reflected back on Hollywood. However, I enjoyed the lecture very much.

    I have to say I agreed with most of what you said except the idea that anyone can be a film critic. I agree that film students are good enough to start branching out into the world of criticism but I do not agree that people who are not educated in film can truly critique film effectively. Unless the person is an avid film buff and has read up on critics and film history, most people lack the knowledge to put together a true critique of a film because so much more goes into a film critique than saying he/she liked it and why. There needs to be substance about the movie, like attention to detail, allusions seen or made, and connections to other movies either through comparison of the director’s other works or a similar film in its respective genre.

    I believe SO MUCH education is involved in being a critic otherwise what are we doing here? If it is so easy to be a critic and anyone can do it, why is there a major, why do people study it?

    I don’t want you to think I’m attacking your opinion. I do understand the other side of the argument. I get that some people love movies enough to educate themselves and are able to be really good film critics. However, I think it does take a degree to be able to truly understand what it means to not only be a good critic, but an effective critic as well.

    I just find the idea that we are in a department that does not really mean anything because anyone can do our job.

  2. I mentioned in my own blog how I was never a fan of film criticism and I agree that being able to attend the screening of a film about critics, directed by a critic was enlightening. I was most interested in your discussion about internet critics. I am very torn about this topic because I feel that one cannot take away another's creative liberties by saying they are unable to do something. One person's opinion can be just as valuable as another's opinion. One should not necessarily need a title to be respected. However, I do agree with Hailey's comment to this blog that it takes a lot of education to be considered a critic. It doesn't make us necessarily better because we're film students, but I'd like to think it makes us more equipped to address and critique things that go unnoticed by those who are not educated in film. Aside from the education, there was one critic in the film who stated that in order to be a good critic you need to explore your other interests, don't make life all about film. Gaining life experience will allow a person to be an even better critic because he or she will be able to analyze a piece of work from multiple perspectives, not just from the technical eye of a film student.

    I also found it interesting that you took notice of whatever was in the frame during the b-roll because I didn't notice anything at all. I find it fascinating the things that go unnoticed by some and not by others.

    Unfortunately, I was unable to attend Professor Joe McElhaney's discussion on Advise and Consent, but it's pleasing to hear he talked about form and scene analysis as opposed to the politics. That is a film I feel doesn't appeal to audiences of all interests and, as someone who is not well-versed in politics, it is easy to feel lost in a discussion purely on the political background. Cinematically, it is a fascinating film. It is very subtle, yet very deliberate in its composition. I would've liked to hear his opinion and analysis of the film.