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Posts tagged ‘capitalism’

Animation and the Compelling Commercial

There is a stunning short animated film making the rounds in movie theaters, about a farmer who goes from agrarian to industrialized production and back again.  In a single two-minute shot, a green pastoral landscape gradually transforms into a series of drab warehouses.  Cute oblong pigs with tiny scuttling legs get pumped with pharmaceuticals that inflate them into immobile spheroids, which then get crushed into pink cubes of meat that match the impersonal complexion of the new urban environment.  The camera neatly mirrors that subtly violent process of abstraction by slowly changing its perspective over the land: an angled bird’s-eye-view of an open horizon becomes a schematic, straight-down aerial shot of the production line.  While not exactly understated, the short is ambitious, elegant, and strangely moving.

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The Long Apocalypse in Jericho and Jeremiah

Kim Hawthorne as Theo in Jeremiah

In retrospect, the short-lived and prematurely canceled series Jericho (2006–2008) and Jeremiah (2002–2004), the first on CBS and the second on Showtime, struck a different tone, and expressed keener anxieties, than their contemporaries in the cluttered, and otherwise profitable, post-apocalyptic genre. While the more well-known and spectacular blockbuster releases of the oughts – The Day After Tomorrow (2004), I Am Legend (2007), 2012 (2009) – tend to treat the event of global destruction as an awesome spectacle, Jericho and Jeremiah are more concerned with the aftermath and its difficult, uneven realization. In the three Hollywood films, by contrast, the end of the world unfolds in a dramatic, thrilling present, its causes transparent if not advertised on the movie poster.

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Great Recession and Financial Meltdown Films

For the past year or so I’ve been keeping a shortlist of post-AIG recession-themed films, with the hopes of one day teaching a Great Recession film class. There are, however, a number of concerns – some pedagogical, some ideological – that come with the topic. For one, I wouldn’t want to put students’ political and economic beliefs so squarely on the table, with nowhere to hide and no end in sight. Nor would I want the class to become my own personal soap box to proselytize and indoctrinate. (That’s what the blog is for, after all.) On the other hand, maybe it would be a good thing to bring students’ feelings and thoughts on the current economic situation directly into the classroom. In this job market, it’s something that’s no doubt already in either the back or front of their minds, in which case why not talk about it openly and explore its popular and cinematic representation? Read more