Welcome to the month of March on Special Affects! I go by the name of Antithesis (or The Antithesis or DJ Antithesis, depending on context), and I’ll be the blog’s editor for the month. I’ve lined things up so there’s lots in store—allow me to take this opportunity to give you a little preview of what we’ve got coming up this month.
First off, a couple of month-long series: First Encounters and Soderbergh Mania! Read more
Food is not properly the stuff of the cinema–it often functions as a prop, an expository device. In Dinner at Eight, The Man who Came to Dinner, and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, the actual dinner is shortchanged. To make food the subject of the camera– to linger on a close-up of a perfectly cooked and garnished porterhouse, to isolate the audible crackle of sizzling bacon–is to take us out of a world of characters and plots and rub our noses in the succulent sights and imagined smells emanating from the screen.
When food or feast is displayed as spectacle, it provokes our desire, sometimes our disgust. When foregrounded as a narrative device, food can serve as a marker of class and culture, and eating can become a social adhesive or a universal symbol for consumption. But films can play with these conventions, turn them on their head. In The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, it’s the relentless deferral of a meal that exposes the characters’ inner lives. In Diary of a Country Priest, it is the deprivation of food that constitutes a profound but tragically unnoticed martyrdom. At what point do cannibal films and vampire films crossover into the genre of the food film? When does the image of rotting flesh become something that we reluctantly consume, both as spectacle and as food?
For this Spring’s edition of Cinematheque, we were looking for presenters to screen films that not only indulged and overwhelmed our gustatory sensibilities, but reminded us that we see with our taste buds as well as our eyes, that we think with our stomachs as well as our minds. In other words, we wanted to push the boundaries of taste.
Over the next few months, Special Affects will feature a monthly guest editor to curate a variety of posts on diverse topics in film and media studies. These posts will also feature responses to a number of academic and cultural events happening around Pittsburgh and at the University of Pittsburgh that we believe have an important impact for our own community and for film and media studies at large. As this February’s guest editor, I’m excited to draw your attention to a number of exciting posts we’ll feature on the site over the next few weeks including Oscars coverage and Spring Cinematheque round-ups. Additionally, our theme for this month will parallel our Graduate Student Spring Cinematheque series “Food & Feast”. In this series so far, we have screened and discussed: Věra Chytilová’s 1966 film Daisies (Sedmikrásky), Eran Riklis’s 2008 film Lemon Tree (Etz Limon), and Karen Shakhnazarov’s 1989 film Zero City (Gorod Zero). Over the next few days, we will feature discussions and responses from the film’s presenters. In deciding on this topic, Cinematheque organizers Jordan Schonig and I, were curious about the broad application of both the ideas of food and feasting in the history of film. To continue our thinking about this month’s theme, I wanted to feature Jordan Schonig’s thoughtful introduction to our “Food & Feast” series. Thank You for stopping by, we’re hoping this will be an appetizing month! – Katie Bird
Anthropomorphism is the granting of that which is considered human to anybody or anything that is considered non-human. Think English-speaking lions and hyenas in The Lion King (1994). Or the talking moon in The Future (2011). Or Maria/Maschinenmensch in Metropolis (1927). Or R2D2. But anthropomorphism could appear in the movies in any number of ways, not just through the attribution of human characteristics to non-human characters. The camera itself might act human or its movements might seem best described in human terms (like in the opening camera movement of The Clergyman and the Seashell ). Anthropomorphism can also occur when something non-human becomes central to a film in a way that’s normally only allowed for humans, for example the horse in The Turin Horse (2010), the hotel room/bathroom in Psycho (1960) immediately following the shower scene, or the goat/tree/lump of coal in La Quattro Volte (2010). We invite presentations of films that feature anthropomorphism of any sort, including but not limited to any of the sorts mentioned above, for this spring’s edition of Cinematheque.
Get Your Human On.
NEW DAY: Wednesdays, 6:30 p.m. 1/18, 2/1, 2/15, 2/29, 3/14, 3/28, 4/11
E-mail Jeff Heinzl at firstname.lastname@example.org or Veronica Fitzpatrick at email@example.com if you’re interested in presenting.
LOCATION: Crawford 169
How to get to Crawford Hall from the Cathedral of Learning: Exit the Cathedral of Learning towards Fifth Ave. Take a right on Fifth Ave. Turn left on Tennyson Ave. (between Alumni Hall and Clapp Hall). Pass Clapp Hall and Langley Hall on your right. The building immediately after Langley Hall (and also on your right) is Crawford Hall.