Tuesday, February 28, 2012

What is American Splendor?

From Stephanie Harrison's Introduction:  Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini, the team who cowrote and codirected American Splendor (the film), were only vaguely familiar with Pekar's comics when they were approached about the project. When they settled down to read, the two became fascinated by the various artists' incarnations of Pekar and decided to use this shifting perspective as a device. The film intertwines Pekar as played by actor Paul Giamatti, Pekar as cartoon, Pekar as seen on David Letterman's talk show, and Pekar as himself. "It felt appropriate to call attention to the artifice of the filmmaking in American Splendor," Pulcuni says, "because it...[is] in spirit with the character and the rebellious nature of the comic book."

For your blog post please reflect on the filmmakers' approach and the self-reflexive nature of both texts.  How does the stylistic approach of the film (think cinematic tools, too) also help to explore the questions of identity that can be found in Pekar's writing?  Did they capture the "comic book style" in the film as well?  And what about this quote from Pekar himself: "I want to write literature that pushes people into their lives rather than helping them escape...I think the so-called average person often exhibits a great deal of heroism getting through an ordinary day, and yet the reading public takes this heroism for granted." Did you find a hero in Harvey? 

You don't need to answer all those questions - but please use them as jumping off points for your post.

As always a minimum of 300 words for your blog post, due Friday, March 9th.  Please also be sure to comment on TWO other blog posts (and yes, if you check the syllabus there is a min word count of 150 for comments, though I'd be okay with only 100 - I'm looking for QUALITY more than anything) by Tuesday, March 13.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Freaks and Spurs

In 1970 Ivan Butler wrote about the film Freaks: "Browning has turned the popular convention of horror topsy-turvy. It is the ordinary, the apparently normal, the beautiful which horrify - the monstrous and distorted which compel our respect, our sympathy, ultimately our affection. The visible beauty conceals the unseen evil, the visible horror is the real goodness."

Do you agree with this interpretation of Tod Browning's film and the characterization of the characters in it?  Do you think that Tod Robbins (the writer of "Spurs") had a similar treatment of his characters?  Write a post in which you examine how the "author" of each text presents to us their characters and how that presentation affects our feelings towards the characters, keeping in mind the different themes that each piece actually explored.  Be sure to back up your ideas with specific examples from the texts themselves.

Minimum 300 words. Due by Tues, Feb 28th.  Response to two other blog posts by Fri, March 2.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Film Genres - Auggie and Paul

In her introduction to "Auggie Wren's Christmas Story" and the adapted film Smoke, Stephanie Harrison points out that "many of Auster's narrative tics are present in his screenplay, including his fascination with coincidence, his fondness for digression, and what he has called the 'force of contradiction.'" Can you trace these tendencies in both the short story and the film?  Are they merely in the narrative, or can you trace them in any aspects of style as well?  Why does Harrison point out the "self-reflexive" nature of both pieces, and how does that relate to Auster's "inherent questioning of reality and fiction, truth and lies?"

Definition of self-reflexive from Merriam-Webster Dictionary online:
marked by or making reference to its own artificiality or contrivance 

Please write a post spurred from these questions, minimum 300 words, by Tues, Feb 14th.  I don't necessarily expect you to answer all the questions, but please make sure you address them as much as you can.

Please also make sure to comment on at least two other blogs by Friday, Feb 17th.  Please make sure you don't comment on the same blogs each week.