Postcolonial African Aesthetics

The following analysis was written for my “International Cinema” class…

Ousmane Sembene, a postcolonial African filmmaker, directed two of his earliest films in the 1960s: Borom sarret (1963) and La noire de… (1966). Both works deal with issues of aesthetics, hybrid identities (specifically European and African), and binary oppositions (modernity/tradition) that have become distinct in postcolonial African cinema. With many African films receiving funding from France during the 1960s, there is a question of whether this would be seen “as an influence on films’ content and aesthetics,” or rather “a form of appropriation, with African film adopting the ‘French conception of cinema’ as a universalist message” (Harrow 97).

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Cléo de 5 à 7

The following analysis was written for my “Women as Filmmakers” class…

Cléo de 5 to 7, a 1962 French film directed by Agnès Varda, follows the story of a young pop vocalist named Cléo as she awaits for her medical results. The plot takes place over the duration of two hours (as indicated by the title), which are broken up into small chapters, periodically shown through a timestamp at the bottom of the screen. The film primarily deals with the subjects of mortality and image, and how difficult it is for Cléo to seek the support of her friends during a time when she is getting ready to face a significant change in her life.

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The Hitch-Hiker

The following analysis was written for my “Women as Filmmakers” class…

Ida Lupino’s The Hitch-Hiker, a low-budget film released in 1953, portrays a story based on real-life events that occurred about two years prior to production. Edmond O’Brien plays Roy Collins, who is driving along late at night with his friend Gilbert Bowen (Frank Lovejoy) on a weekend-long fishing trip. While on the way, they stop to pick up a man who seems to be harmlessly out of gas. It is Emmett Myers (William Talman), a hitch-hiker who is wanted for a series of murders he committed while hitch-hiking more than halfway across the country.

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A Hard Day’s Night

The Beatles have never failed to put me in a cheerful mood ever since I was thirteen. Eight years after that fateful day when I first listened to the Love album, they still have that same effect on me, especially when I find myself watching their first film A Hard Day’s Night. It’s actually been about two years since I last saw this movie (my younger self is distraught over this), but the timing couldn’t feel more right to watch it again: I had just finished one of my most writing-intensive semesters a couple of days ago, and was in urgent need of a pick-me-up. It wasn’t long before that distinctive opening chord rang throughout the house, and images of smiling Beatles flickered past the screen as they ran around the streets of London with a horde of exuberant fans trailing close behind.

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Doughboys

In Doughboys (1930), Buster Keaton plays Elmer Stuyvesant, a wealthy young fellow who is enamored by Mary (Sally Eilers), although she makes it clear to him that she doesn’t reciprocate these feelings. Despite the juxtaposed 1930s aesthetics, the story takes place in the World War I era, during which Elmer accidentally enlists himself into the Army. To his surprise, however, he runs into Mary, who is now visibly impressed upon seeing him in uniform. Adding to the already grueling journey into war, Elmer faces some competition with the sergeant (Edward Brophy), who also has eyes for Mary. What to do, what to do.

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Psycho

Like every summer, I have those I’m-so-bored-I-could-stare-at-a-wall-for-hours kinds of days, so it’s nothing unusual when I spend most of my time digging through and organizing stacks of academic papers just to humor myself. Before letting them gather any more dust and become a home for spiders, I came across one particular assignment from my “Music in Film” class that I enjoyed working on, which was a listening assignment on the score of Psycho (1960). While reading through the notes I took, I thought I could try and expand upon them a little further.

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