Understanding the rise of the uncanny in contemporary television isn’t so much an analysis of societal preferences, as it is one of the television industry. Filmmakers of the uncanny have spent entire careers trying to emulate a Freudian model of finding the unfamiliar and perverse inside the familiar, or as Stanley Kubrick puts it, finding the aesthetics of dread. But why are these aesthetics of dread so much more attractive to audiences now?
In a panel hosted by IFF at the Granoff Center, Richard Brown, the executive producer of True Detective, and Dougray Scott, a Scottish actor known for his role in the Netflix series, Hemlock Grove, told the audience what they thought made the uncanny so appealing. Both men agreed, the audiences haven’t changed at all, but the TV business has. According to Brown, it all started with House of Cards signing on for 22 episodes without a pilot on Netflix. From that point forward, the power of the industry was in the hands of the filmmakers, not the networks, and the quality started to improve dramatically. In other words, people don’t like the uncanny now more than ever. It just so happens that the uncanny is better now than ever before.
Scott in Hemlock Grove, and Brown, in a similar pose.
Brown credits the success of True Detective to the leverage the show had over HBO. The fact that it wasn’t shot episode by episode — the standard for television — but instead in the same style as an 8 hour film, made it a better final product. Furthermore, the style in which it was shot, and the choice of the cinematographer were included in the initial contract. HBO gave way to these terms, in fear that the makers of the show would run off with their idea to Netflix, Brown said. For the same reasons, the contract is signed before any episodes are made, meaning the makers don’t have to listen to the networks once they start working.
The prospect of Jason Segel playing David Foster Wallace was, to put it nicely, daunting. Male college students and literary buffs—the two most vocal cohorts of Wallace fans—did not hesitate to express their chagrin that the stoner comedy fan favorite would be playing the enigmatic and genius Infinite Jest writer. Wallace’s family objected to the movie being made.
Fast forward two years: The End of the Tour premiered at Sundance on January 23 and is yet to be screened elsewhere, making the film an impressive grab on IFF’s part. The first of this week’s IFF screenings showed in the Martinos Auditorium in Granoff last night. The film is slated for a limited release in July. Boasting direction by James Ponsoldt, coming off of his critically acclaimed The Spectacular Now, and with its fair share of controversy, The End of the Tour was, if nothing else, tantalizing.
The good news is that Segel soars above expectations, delivering a surprisingly nuanced performance that brings Wallace’s words to life. And what words they are. The End of the Tour is an adaptation of David Lipsky’s 2010 book Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself, the true account of Lipsky’s time shadowing Wallace during the last four days of the Infinite Jest book tour.
Playwright Donald Margulies’ screenplay maintains much of the book’s insight. Part hyper-intellectual buddy comedy chock-full of snappy dialogue and witty retorts with its fair share of laughs, part genuinely moving rumination on how writers grasp for meaning through their work, the screenplay is truly driven forward by Wallace’s words.
While the Bechdel Test is used mainly for discerning gender biases in films, it can be applied to any medium with a narrative. If you think the movie industry has it bad, with only two Best Picture Oscar nominees passing in 2015, consider for a moment the music industry. When was the last time you heard a song, sung from the female perspective, about anything other than a boy?
In the spirit of critically analyzing films, a la IFF, and inspired by this article in Pitchfork, BlogDH presents a playlist comprised of songs that get an S with distinction in the Bechdel Test.
Monday, April 6
Event: Who Has the Right to Speak? Hate Speech and “Self-Infantilization” On College Campuses
Time: 8:00 p.m.
Location: Salomon 203
The Brown Political Forum is hosting a discussion attempting to answer, among other questions, “Is Brown restricting speech that is uncomfortable to students, and if so, is this justified?” There will be free pizza.
Event: Brown Annual Fund Student Board Awareness Event
Time: 6:00 p.m.
Location: The Chancellor Room in the Ratty
The Brown Annual Fund Student Board is hosting free food and drinks to get to know more about what they do, how they do it and how you can become a part of the annual fund.
Tuesday, April 7
Event: J. Cole at Lupo’s
Time: 8:00 p.m.
Location: Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel
Fresh off the release of his newest album, 2014 Forest Hills Drive, rapper J. Cole will be taking the stage tomorrow night.
Event: and red all over: a new play
Time: 10:30 a.m.
Location: Rites and Reason Theatre
Written by Noah Fields ’17 and Sofia Robledo Rower ’18, and red all over is described by the playwrights as “a multimedia mosaic-ritual-performance-prayer-riddle-poem unraveling queer multi-racial love.”
Wednesday, April 8:
Event: Student Journalists in Nicaragua
Time: 12 p.m. – 2 p.m.
Location: Watson Institute for International Studies
Ten students in the course called “International Journalism: Foreign Reporting in Practice” spent their spring breaks in Nicaragua covering different aspects of Nicaraguan life.
This year’s Ivy Film Festival will be held April 6 – 12. The festival is one of the largest student-run film festivals in the world, held annually for a week each spring. Last year, IFF brought us a variety of keynote speeches, panels, workshops, and screenings; there was a showing of The Grand Budapest Hotel, followed by a Skype Q&A with director Wes Anderson, a lecture by filmmaker Casey Neistat, an advanced screening of Neighbors, screenings of student selected films, and a panel on women in entertainment.
Now under a month out, IFF is in the midst of hosting a raffle for an all-access festival pass, good for all events for the winner and a friend. The raffle is open to everyone with a valid @brown.edu or @risd.edu email. To enter, share the IFF’s Facebook status as public by Wednesday, April 1.
IFF is also hosting an Instagram contest from Wednesday, March 18, through April 1. IFF is asking members of the Brown and RISD community to post an original photo that deals with a “movie moment from your life.” Valid submissions must be tagged with @ivyfilmfestival and #iff2015. The 1st place winner will win an all-access festival pass for them and a friend. Two 2nd place winners will receive Avon tickets for them and a friend. Three 3rd place winners will receive ~~IFF swag~~.
“My rape was bad, but the way I was treated in the process was worse.”
The Hunting Ground is a documentary that explores the world of sexual assault on college campuses, and the processes through which those cases are handled. BlogDH went to IFF’s screening with the intention of gathering student reactions at the end of the film. The night did not go as expected. What started as a montage of adorable college acceptance videos, quickly escalated to a platform for the interwoven narratives of college sexual assault victims across the nation. The overarching theme was to follow the first two women in this movement to file a Title IX case against their school, UNC Chapel Hill. The personal story arcs for so many of the victims made the story hit close to home, with one student who exited the theater saying “that could be me.”
As the documentary layered the various complexities that victims face on college campuses, at times going against inert administrations, athletic infrastructures, and the fraternity system, one would stop to catch a breath and think, “this must be the end of the movie,” only to be hit with another punch to gut. When the film let out, very few attendees wanted to speak with us. Some shook their heads, declined to comment, and one person said, “I have no words.” We gathered what afterthoughts we could, but we also would like to acknowledge that the film was very intense, and many people were unable to talk about it immediately afterwards. Another student said, “I don’t know if I have anything positive on the subject,” illustrating the moroseness that hung over the audience, despite occasional messages of hope.
In many of the featured cases, students filing sexual assault charges were downright ignored. When you did see change, it was often followed by a lack of institutional memory. Many have clamored for college administrations to inform their student body of potentially dangerous areas on campus in regards to sexual assault. Wesleyan did that just a few years ago, by sending out an email warning incoming freshman to stay away from a certain fraternity house, because they could not secure it as a safe environment. It was met with outrage from alumni, parents, and some students. The next year, they did not send out the email, and by Halloween a student was raped in the fraternity house. Despite the anticipated backlash, another student leaving Granoff still insisted that “Brown-specific sexual assault data should be reported to students, because the issue goes well beyond protecting image (of the University).” Continue Reading