Thursday, July 17, 2008

Scott is looking for a few good double features

[Scott is looking for interesting pairs of movies for his class. I make a 2 suggestions below.]

Since the topic of movies that paralell one another already came up in the comment thread, I would like to ask the blog for a little help: As I mentioned, I do a Compare and Contrast paper using movies in my Freshman Comp Class. I generally give them about 20 or so pairs of movies to choose from; these can range from straight up remakes (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Sabrina), movies that are interpretations of a common source (Emma/Clueless, Dangerous Liasons/Cruel Intentions) or movies that are more thematically linked (High Fidelity/Annie Hall,Fatal Attraction/Swimfan and, a recent addition I'm quite proud of, American Graffiti/Superbad). I'm always looking for suggestions of new pairings to add to the list (especially in the latter, thematic category) so I was hoping you guys could help me out. It's also helpful if you can think of a recent big movie since it will: A. be easier for students to find a copy and B. It might be more familiar to them.

My friend Zack recently came up with the idea of Halloween vs No Country For Old Men which I thought was pretty brilliant and I was thinking of Juno vs Knocked Up... I was also trying to remember some horrible 80's comedy about teen pregnancy that I could pair with Juno....but I can't remember the name.

Other teachers, feel free to steal freely!

[The one I would recommend is The Breakfast Club and The Faculty. The Breakfast Club was a justifiably great movie, but the ending is seriously weak as the Goth Girl requires a makeover in order to date the Jock: this in a movie whose theme is supposed to be that anyone can get along. On a lesser, more realistic note, it is disappointing that the nerd and the cheerleader ultimately find the social order to big to get over and be friends after the movie ends. The Faculty fixes this as it takes the same high school types (Druggie, Nerd , Cheerleader, Goth Girl, Jock) also in a kind of war vs authority (the teachers are aliens) but "fixes" the ending. Note the fate of the one character who is not a member of the Breakfast Club "types."]

[One More: Adaptation and Shrek: I think it is worth comparing the use of "meta" storytelling devices to soup up a basically classical simple story.]

[And finally a pet peeve of mine: the phrase "compare and contrast" while insisted upon by English Departments everywhere, is just WRONG, as "compare" means to measure similarity AND dissimilarity. Compare and Contrast really means " show similarities, dissimilarities and dissimilarities, which is just stupid. I think it is silly that I teach my students to use a dictionary and use words precisely when the department does not.]

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

Schindler's List and Empire of the Sun, as investigations of Spielberg in wartime.

2001 and Contact, to prompt a discussion of adapting science fiction and how to compare explanations of the "boundaries of human experience."

scott91777 said...

My bad Geoff... I'll refer to it as a "Comparitive Analysis" paper.

Geoff Klock said...

no. not your bad. this is a whole institutional bad that no one can correct because the phrase "compare and contrast" has so much momentum that no one will change it because it will confuse students. This is, let me remind you, being said by people in charge of EDUCATION.

Anagramsci said...

a few great pairs to work with:

1. Third Man and Altman's Long Goodbye--linked by the theme of friendship-at-what-price? and the latter's direct visual allusion to the former at the close

2. Lady Eve and Vertigo--kind of the same movie, only one is played for comedy, and the other for tragedy

3. Milestone's The Front Page and Hawks' His Girl Friday--just to show how different two movies with the same script can be... from ultrapolitical call to socialist arms to apolitical Hawksian cynicism; from demented buddy film to demented romance

Dave

Marc Caputo said...

If it's the one where Molly Ringwald gets pregnant, For Keeps? is the name of the movie. Along with The Pick-Up Artist (with Molly saying, "Did you come yet?") and Pretty Horses, it effectively killed her off as America's sweetheart.

James said...

I saw a great double-bill last year, The Big Sleep followed by The Big Lebowski. I haven't read Ben Walters' book, but I sure felt like a dunce for not having previously noticed the parallels he brought up.

scott91777 said...

Marc,

I believe For Keeps is the one I was trying to think of.

Just thought I'd mention that my students are also allowed to come up with one of their own if they like and I once had a student who compared Hamlet with Strange Brew (an 80s movie featuring the MaKenzie brothers [Dave Thomas/Rick Moranis] from SCTV). From reading the paper, it is, apparently, loosley based on Hamlet(the idea being 'Hamlet as a comedy': Bob and Doug are cast as Rosenkrantz and Guildenstern, the brewery in the movie is the Elsinore Brewery, and, in the Ophelia role, we have a Hockey player who has been hit in the head one to many times with a puck.

I know you're all dying to see this movie now.

Streebo said...

May I suggest a pairing of George A. Romero's works - Night of the Living Dead and his latest Diary of the Dead?

Night of the Living Dead was filled with socio-political subtext about the 60's and the Vietnam War - whereas Diary of the Dead addresses our use of modern technology during another time of war.

Geoff Klock said...

Oh! and Vertigo and Lost Highway!

angelina ballerina said...

Try Pan's Labyrinth and Life is Beautiful. I'm not sure how much your students would enjoy films with subtitles but both are really beautiful and show how imagination can be used as a means of "escaping" the real world. Good idea for an assignment...I probably will steal it; high schoolers are more likely to do work if they get to sit around and watch movies. And now i really want to see that Hamlet movie.
Slightly off topic...ever notice how much The Breakfast Club resembles a morality play? We did: The Perseverance Club

Prof Fury said...

Geoff, your compare/contrast rant reminds me of a line in a student paper that my friend Matt received once: "These two works have many of the same similarities. However, they also have many different similarities."

Geoff Klock said...

Nice.

Timothy Callahan said...

Movies I have paired in my cinema class:

Frankenstein and The Ring
Network and Bamboozled
His Girl Friday and Harold and Maude

Paul said...

Some Like It Hot & Tootsie (Adventures in crossdressing and the perception of gender roles during two distinct decades)

Of Mice and Men & Rain Man (The mentally handicapped and their protectors)

Wall-E & Brazil (Dystopian future, bureaucracy, dead end jobs, rebellion by example, love and the idea of love within the confines of the system)

Shawn said...

Lethal Weapon and Hellboy II: the theme would be the acceptance of outsiders, figuring out what it means to be human, finding your place in society, that sort of thing. Hellboy II would work with a lot of movies, since it explores very common themes, growing up, being a good mate, but it uses monsters as the main characters. If you did Hellboy II and High Fidelity, you could also contrast the pop music in each movie and how it either tries to distinguish characters from other people or make them seem more like other people.

scott91777 said...

Thanks for all the suggestions guys!

Some of these might be a bit over the heads of my average students so I might hang on to them for something for a student with an interest in film to study for the research project in 102.

Paul,

I love the Mice and Men/Rain Man one!

Geoff, Prof. Fury, other teachers,

We should keep track of some of our best student ... how shall I say this... moments of ignorant brilliance... and compile a post at the end of the semester.

A favorite of mine from the past:

The answer was 'Diedrich Knickerboxer' ... the student wrote 'Derrick Kickboxer'

I've had some clever students as well... on an Am. Lit exam a student answered "I would know the answer to this question but I was taking Walt Whitman's advice from "Spontaneous Me"

I'll leave it to you guys to look that one up :)

Mikey said...

Late, but just wanted to add:

Obvious:
Pale Rider as a remake of Shane. (And Unforgiven as a revision of the genre).

Glorious:
Forrest Gump versus Bad Boy Bubby. Seriously - the class could have serious fun with this one. The latter as a kind of nightmarish (Australian) inverse of the former.

(My Latin teacher put me on to this comparison at school. There was a man who used Pulp Fiction to teach Roman poetry, and, y'know, cheerfully encouraged his students to watch horrific experimental movies that would damage them in inexplicable, enduring ways.)