Monday, June 7, 2010

Saturday, June 5, 2010

An Interesting Read

I found this article useful when I started thinking about our final paper:

Muriel: Thinking With Cinema About Cinema

The author, Donato Totaro, makes some interesting arguments for the uses of montage and the functions of the long take.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Syllabus

VIS 152: Film in Social context
Professor Jean-Pierre Gorin
Office hours and location: WEDNESDAYS, 1:00 PM to 2:00 PM, VAF 454



Ross Karre
Section A01, Thursdays, 10:00-11:50 am
Office Hours: Wednesdays, 6:00-7:00 pm, VAF 238

Rayyane Tabet
Section A02, Thursdays, 12:00-1:50 pm
Office Hours: Wednesdays, 3:00-4:00 pm, VAF 265

Micki Davis
Section A03, Thursdays, 2:00-3:50 pm
Office Hours: Wednesdays, 6:00-7:00 pm, VAF 267

Monica Duncan
Section A04, Thursdays, 4:00-5:50 pm
Office Hours: Wednesdays, 6:00-7:00 pm, VAF 239


What is the relationship of a film to the social, political, historical, cultural context within which it is produced? How is it marked by the various and often-contradictory forces that collide to shape the specificity of that context? How is its aesthetic shaped by the complex interplay of these forces? How in turn does a film define or alter the perception(s) that one historical moment has of its self? These questions are in fact questions that pertain to all form of artistic practices; yet again the “modernity” of cinema has contributed to rearticulate them. Film appeared at the turn of the Twentieth century as a new technology of vision that created “an industry that was also an art” but also offered almost from the start a possibility for individuals to create images of themselves, opening the floodgate of self-presentation and representations that we know as home movies. It transformed as extensively the public sphere as it shaped the private sphere and in doing so it reshaped the problematic of the interaction of art and society in a fundamental fashion. The extensiveness and the complexity of the interaction of cinema with the Twentieth century and the beginnings of its successor is what this class will focus on.


1) Attendance in lecture and section is MANDATORY (per the dictionary: “authoritatively ordered; obligatory; compulsory”)
2) Roll call will be taken systematically in sections.
3) Four (4) random roll calls will be taken in lecture during the Quarter.
4) All absences have to be cleared with your TA a week prior.
5) Only justifiable absences will be granted. Medical and Familial Emergencies are of course unpredictable. But they still will have to be properly justified (medical note or parental note) immediately.
6) One unjustified absence in lecture or section will result in an n automatic 30% deduction on your grade. Two unjustified absences in lecture or section will result in an automatic F.
7) The use of laptops in class is banned. Take notes in long hand and reorganize them in your computer at a later date.
8) All communications regarding class matters should be done by email to your TAs. Do not rely on verbal communication alone, consign any communication to email and send it to your TA.
9) Email is considered an official form of communication by the administration of this University, and any additional communication regarding the class that might occur during the quarter will be sent to you by email. Make sure the department has a proper email address where you can be reached, and make sure to check your mailbox on a regular basis. All emails concerning this class that emanate from Pr. Gorin will be labeled “ URGENT VIS 152”


You will be graded on two take home requirements

1) MIDTERM: THE DOSSIER (40% of your grade)

- The Midterm will focus on he films presented in the first four weeks.

- You will be asked to present the various elements at play in a given film and to define the aesthetic strategy that is achieved by the interplay of these elements.

- You will present the results of this research in a three ring binder, the DOSSIER.

-This dossier will consist of eight (8) separate entries.

- Each entry will consist of two elements that will be presented on two separate pages facing each other:
- On the left: an example. It will Xeroxed, or scanned. It can be an illustration or a typed document. Each of these entries will address an element (formal; narrative; socio-political, historical etc…) you deem at play in the film and that you judge necessary to present. For instance you will Xerox a reproduction of a painting the compositional strategy of which you deem illuminating to address the compositional strategy of the film. Or, you will excerpt a page of a novel, the narrative techniques or the style of which you deem relevant to analyze the film. Or again you will present an historical document you deem necessary to clarify the context in which the film operates. The elements you will present can be as diverse as you want them to be: excerpts of newspaper, photographs, statistics, maps, graphs, comic strips, excerpts of books (fictions as well as essays).

- On the right: a written justification of your choice. This justification will be a 1 typed page (double spaced, 12 point times roman). You will analyze the example presented on the left and you will relate it to a concrete element in the film.

In short the midterm is there to familiarize you with research. You will be judge on the pertinence, relevance and originality of your entries and on the clarity and cogency of your justifications.

The prompt of the Midterm will be given to you on Week 4 in section (Thursday, April 22)

The Midterm will be due in lecture on Week 6 (Wednesday, May 5).
The results of the Midterm will be given in section on Week 8 (Thursday, May 20)

2) FINAL PAPER: (60% of your grade)

- The prompt will be given to you on week 8 of the quarter in section (Thursday, May 20)
- The paper will be due on Finals Day and hand delivered by you to your TA’s office between the hours officially assigned for the final (Monday, June 7, from 7 to 10 p.m.). No paper will be accepted before or past that deadline.
- Pr. Gorin will be present in his studio, VIS 454, if any problem arises that needs his intervention. Do NOT deliver him your papers; he will not accept them; they have to be hand-delivered to your respective TAs.

This paper will consist of one essay

- You will be given one prompt.
- The essay will be treated in 8 pages minimum.
- The essay will be typed, double space, in Times New Roman 12 points.
- Please indicate clearly all quotations used in footnotes and you will provide a proper bibliography at the end of your paper.
- Please indicate clearly your name and your PID; your section number and the name of your TA.

2) Any paper that your TA or I suspect of plagiarism will be turned to and checked. If the work is determined at fault a case of Academic dishonesty will be automatically pursued.


Your TAs received prior to the beginning of this class the following email. This information is relevant for you to know.

“Dear TAs,

Please read attentively the following grading guidelines.

A) Remember that the grade you assign to the midterm dossier serves as an initial marker of the comprehension and organization of associations between elements (forces) discussed in lecture, section, and, most importantly, through the student's own research. It should serve as a clear indication to the student of what he or she needs to do to gather and organize materials for the final paper. Thus it is your obligation to provide extensive comments to the students on their midterm dossier.
What we want to measure is the progress from this initial test to the final and it is this progress or lack thereof that determines the combined grade of the dossier and paper. Progress should be rewarded: a student, for example, who goes from a C- to a B+, should be awarded an A-.
At any rate, what you want to foster and reward is both the comprehension and integration of the concept presented in lecture AND the originality of their utilization by the students.

B) As far as the Final paper is concerned you should pay scrupulous attention to the following:

1) The way each paper treats the prompt that was proposed to the students and builds an argument.

2) The relevance of the examples used, IE the attention to formal strategies and the relevance of the description of these formal strategies (simple description of plot points do NOT qualify as formal analysis

3) The relevant use of the concepts developed in lecture and debated in section.

4) The proper use of quotations if any, IE
a) Their relevance to the argument built by the student [as you well know a quotation should NOT be an argument of authority that curtails an intellectual argument but simply an element used to construct and propel it]
b) The fact that these quotations are clearly indicated as quotations by the proper quotation marks and that they are backed by proper precise footnotes with indication of the source of the quotation and of the pages from which they are excerpted.

Please make all appropriate comments in the margins of the paper or in an additional page that you will staple to the paper.

5) The administration requires us to pay extreme attention to plagiarism. Any paper you suspect of plagiarism should be cleared by
Any confirmed plagiarism case should be immediately reported as a case of Academic dishonesty.

C) Once you have graded the final papers and combined that grade with the grade you assigned to the midterm dossier, you should give a final grade to the student.

This final grade should take in account the student participation in section. As you know enrollment in this class is by section and presence and participation in section is mandatory.

a) If you have noted the student active participation to the intellectual debate you organized in section you can boost the final grade by up to 20 %.
b) If you have been questioned intelligently and repeatedly by a student in office hours you can boost the final grade by up to 20%.
c) If the student does not show on the roll calls you were requested to make each week deduct 20% of the grade per non-justified absence.
The same rule applies each time a student does not show up on the four random roll calls that will be taken in lectures.
Two unjustified absences constitute an automatic F.
I hope these guidelines are clear and will help you in the grading process. “


1) Your final grade is evaluated by your TA and ultimately assigned by Pr. Gorin.

2) If any problem arises during the quarter or upon reception of your final grade, the proper procedure is to make an appointment by email to ask Pr. Gorin to examine the case.

An extensive bibliography. These are essential texts, and are, more often than not, difficult. They are not required reading, but they are offered to enlarge your conceptual horizon. Many of these texts are not about film per se, but they can offer insights back into it. Be careful though that the concepts elaborated in this class are original and that you will not find them sanctified in these texts: what you’ll find here is the conceptual background that led to the ideas presented in lecture.

Benjamin, Walter, 1892-1940
The work of art in the age of its technological reproducibility, and other writings on media / Walter Benjamin ; edited by Michael W. Jennings, Brigid Cambridge, Mass. : Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2008

Benjamin, Walter, 1892-1940
Selected writings / Walter Benjamin ; edited by Marcus Bullock and Michael W. Jennings Cambridge, Mass. : Belknap Press, c1996-

Brecht, Bertolt, 1898-1956
Brecht on art and politics / Bertolt Brecht ; edited by Tom Kuhn and Steve Giles ; translations by Laura Bradley, Steve Giles and Tom Kuhn London : Methuen, 2003

Brecht, Bertolt, 1898-1956
Brecht on film and radio / translated and edited by Marc Silberman London : Methuen, 2000

Kluge, Alexander, 1932-
Cinema stories / Alexander Kluge ; translated from the German by Martin Brady & Helen Hughes New York : New Directions, c2007

Kluge, Alexander, 1932-
The devil's blind spot : tales from the new century / Alexander Kluge ; translated by Martin Chalmers & Michael Hulse New York : New Directions, c2004

Vertov, Dziga, 1896-1954
Kino-eye : the writings of Dziga Vertov / edited with an introduction by Annette Michelson ; translated by Kevin O'Brien Berkeley, Ca. : University of California Press, c1984

Lines of resistance : Dziga Vertov and the twenties / edited and with an introduction by Yuri Tsivian ; Russian texts translated by Julian Graffy ; fi Gemona, Udine : Le Giornate del cinema muto, 2004

Godard, Jean Luc, 1930-
Cinema : the archeology of film and the memory of a century / Jean-Luc Godard & Youssef Ishaghpour ; translated by John Howe Oxford, UK ; New York : Berg, 2005

Godard, Jean Luc, 1930-
Jean-Luc Godard : the future(s) of film : three interviews 2000-01 / translation, John O'Toole ; followed by J.A. Whistler's Ten o'clock Bern : Verlag Gachnang & Springer AG, c2002

Pasolini, Pier Paolo, 1922-1975
Heretical empiricism / Pier Paolo Pasolini ; translated by Ben Lawton and Louise K. Barnett ; edited by Louise K. Barnett Washington, DC : New Academia Publishing, 2005

Rancière, Jacques
The emancipated spectator / Jacques Ranciere ; translated by Gregory Elliott London : Verso, c2009

Rancière, Jacques
The future of the image / Jacques Rancière ; translated by Gregory Elliott London : Verso, 2007

Rancière, Jacques
Film fables / Jacques Rancière ; translated by Emiliano Battista New York : Berg, c2006

Rancière, Jacques
The politics of aesthetics : the distribution of the sensible / Jacques Rancière ; translated with an introduction by Gabriel Rockhill London ; New York : Continuum, c2004

Badiou, Alain
The century / Alain Badiou ; translated, with a commentary and notes, by Alberto Toscano Cambridge, UK ; Malden, MA : Polity, c2007

Kracauer, Siegfried, 1889-1966
Theory of film : the redemption of physical reality / Siegfried Kracauer ; with an introduction by Miriam Bratu Hansen Princeton, N.J. : Princeton University Press, c1997

Lukács, György, 1885-1971
Essays on realism / Georg Lukács ; edited and introduced by Rodney Livingstone ; translated by David Fernbach Cambridge, Mass. : MIT Press, 1981, c1980

Lukács, György, 1885-1971
The destruction of reason / Georg Lukács ; translated by Peter Palmer London : Merlin, c1980

Shklovskiĭ, Viktor, 1893-1984
Literature and cinematography / Viktor Shklovsky ; translated from the Russian by Irina Masinovsky ; introduction by Richard Sheldon Champaign : Dalkey Archive Press, 2008

Lefebvre, Henri, 1901-1991
Critique of everyday life / Henri Lefebvre ; translated by John Moore ; with a preface by Michel Trebitsch London ; New York : Verso, 1991-

Lefebvre, Henri, 1901-1991
Introduction to modernity : twelve preludes, September 1959-May 1961 / Henri Lefebvre ; translated by John Moore London ; New York : Verso, 1995

Lefebvre, Henri, 1901-1991
Rhythmanalysis : space, time and everyday life / Henri Lefebvre ; translated by Stuart Elden and Gerald Moore ; with an introduction by Stuart Elden London ; New York : Continuum, 2004

Barthes, Roland
The language of fashion / Roland Barthes ; translated by Andy Stafford ; edited by Andy Stafford and Michael Carter Oxford ; New York : Berg, 2006

Barthes, Roland
The fashion system / Roland Barthes ; translated by Matthew Ward and Richard Howard Berkeley : University of California Press, 1990

Barthes, Roland
The responsibility of forms : critical essays on music, art, and representation / Roland Barthes ; translated from the French by Richard Howard New York : Hill and Wang, 1985

Propp, V. ︠I︡A. (Vladimir ︠I︡Akovlevich), 1895-1970
Morphology of the folktale, by V. Propp. Translated by Laurence Scott [and] with an introd. by Svatava Pirkova-Jakobson Austin, University of Texas Press [1968]

Goldmann, Lucien
Cultural creation in modern society / Lucien Goldmann ; introd. by William Mayrl ; translated by Bart Grahl ; bibliography and appendices compiled by Saint Louis : Telos Press, c1976

Walsh, Martin, d. 1977
The Brechtian aspect of radical cinema / Martin Walsh ; edited by Keith M. Griffiths London : BFI Pub., 1981


Mayra Vasquez

Samantha Peterson

Carlson Miller

Eric Nichol

Candace Sandoval

Trevor Dawson

Dianna Kim

Linda Skeens

Royce Choi

Marisa Llamas

Kris Choi

Vanessa Salcido

Brian Sanqui

Paul Nguyen

Kevin Lok

Iris Lu

Sharon Ptashek

Mark Chaivasin

Patrick Saris

Gabriel Lopez

Victoria Eklund

Toni Chen

Holly Eskew

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

March Forth

In hopes that some of you are still following this blog, even if the quarter is over, I wanted to share the film I made based on the Day of Action. Feedback is very welcome, and please pass it on. And if the group video is still happening, let me know, because you are more than welcome to incorporate this.

Friday, March 5, 2010


Hey, so I cut up the footage i took yesterday and I was just curious to see if anyone has set up any concrete times to get together and start compiling everything. It was very cool to see some of you guys at the rally and I'm excited to start putting all of our videos together. Let me know when you guys can meet up.

-Cameron Wilson

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Day of Action

Here are some March 4 Photos.
Just thought I'd post it.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Honeymoon Killers

Hey everyone,
So I know that its now several days after lecture/section but I wanted to pose a topic of discussion:
after the film JP talked about how decor was created in the space between actors. I'm not sure I understand what he meant by decor, anyone have any insight?

Friday, February 12, 2010

movie suggestion

Anybody who wants a concise and beautiful example of what JP was talking about concerning an actor using each individual part of his, (or in this case, her) body as a distinct tool should look at Robert Altman's "3 Women". I saw it yesterday and the first few sequences of that movie are driven entirely by the speed and gestures of the actor's limbs and facial features and stuff. Its an amazing film. Anybody seen it?

Thursday, February 11, 2010

...and by "Peter", I obviously mean Kevin.


This is for Peter. I's in Spanish and I am racing out the door however I suggest Spanish-speakers watch this and English speakers look for this, or something similar, in English.
"Reason is evil."-arendt
"reason and power go hand in hand"-Adorno *discussed in this clip


What's up bloggers!

I plan on writing some kind of post before next lecture (i hope) regarding some of the topics we have been discussing in lecture and section, but I first wanted to "check-in" to the blog and give it some activity.

Feel free to add me on facebook if you want to extend the conversation or your "contacts" any further.


Sunday, February 7, 2010

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

"There are no bad actors, only bad directors."

An idea repeatedly expressed by JP these past few weeks. What's your response to this assertion? JP has criticized actors like Meryl Streep, Sigourney Weaver, and Demi Moore for trying too hard to express emotion or embody a psychological state ("mimicry") onscreen.

But it seems the above idea suggests that actors are interchangable parts to be manipulated by directors to their own ends? Could someone like Streep easily replace Gena Rowlands in Cassavetes' Faces, for instance?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Now we can have "Night Classes"

Welcome everyone to our class blog!
Here is a proposed space where you as a group may continue to discuss the underlying theme in our class: "the Actor".

I look forward to seeing what fruit bears from this discussion board!

Bienvenue et bonne nuit!