Discussion Questions and other assigned responses count for 30 percent of your grade. I assign them points from 5 to 0. I am not on canvas, but you may contact me any time to ask me about how you are doing.

Discussion Questions and three shots (or three big words if there is an assigned reading) or other assigned responses count for 30 percent of your final grade. I assign them points from 5 to 0. I am not on canvas, but you may contact me any time to ask me about how you are doing or to ask for feedback from me.

Discussion Questions and three shots or three big words are always due by 5:00 p.m. the day before we meet for class on the material assigned for that class, unless I say otherwise. If this class meets M W F, DQs are due Sundays and Tuesdays by 5:00 p.m. Nothing is due on Thursdays. If this is a Tu Thurs class, DQs are due Mondays and Wednesdays by 5:00 p.m. If there is a reading and a film assigned on the same date, you may write one question on the film and one on the reading. Write three BIG Words for the reading and Three Shots for the film, as usual.)

It is essential that you understand what I mean by "discussion question." If you send me work that is merely perfunctory or is not what I consider to be a discussion question, I will not include it in the listerv email I'll send out. If you don't see yours posted, you can also ask me why not by email or during office hours or by appointment. I do really want to help you learn. And I am very patient (but firm).

If you don't turn in the discussion questions and three shots for films , or three "Big Words" if we are discussing a text, I count you as absent.

Give time stamps for all shots you mention and page numbers for any part of the reading you quote. Anyone who reads your work should be able to go directly to the film or text and find exactly what you are talking about.

NOTE: Your discussions questions are limited to the film itself. Our aim is to explore the film under discussion, not to explain the film by assigning it a theme (see descriptions on wikipedia or Criterion.com), nor to pass judgment on the film: does it represent "x" identity in an "empowering" way that includes "agency?" Or does it represent "x" in a "stereotypical" and "damaging" way?: or on its characters (social media). Those are subcritical discourses, opportunist, I'm saving the world, watercooler conversations, that close down film analysis through ad hominem hatchet jobs masquerading as left-leaning criti. See the Richard Jewell clickbait ("demonizes"; "damaging"). Thumbs up or thumbs down (cancel). They are bureaucratic exercises in sorting. You don't need to go to college to learn how to do that.

Good and Not So Good DQs

This is a great DQ. 

5 points.

"There is one recurring shot present in the image, and it is shown every time Julie reads a letter. The first time is at 26:22, then again at 1:10:40, and also at 1:32:20. The shot is of a landscape with trees and a field, but it is mostly of the sky. At the end of the film, a large door is opened and the scenery behind it is the same as in the shots of her reading the letters. What is the significance of this shot in the film?"

I consider this DQ excellent because the student notices the recurrence on the same shot, gives the timestamps for its recurrence, and describes the shot clearly and concisely. She also includes the motivation for each shot, namely, Julie reading a letter. Reading her DQ, I know exactly the shot she has noticed. I can share my screen with the film up and go to each timestamp and then open discussion. We could spend an entire class on this DQ. It's the perfect basis for a paper.

The question below should include timestamps.  Otherwise, it is brilliant.

The first and last shots of the film parallel each other, both showing a black background with four television screens. The first scene is of four different news anchormen, and the camera zooms in on Beale’s screen until it fills a majority of the frame. The last scene is much more volatile, changing what each TV is playing several times. First there are three screens covering Beale’s assassination and one showing a commercial for a beverage company, then two screens discuss Beale’s death with the other two showing cereal and plane commercials, and finally the narrator has a last voiceover that pauses the screens until he’s done speaking, and that’s when three of the screens fade to black with the remaining one showing Beale’s dead body as the credits roll. Why is the opening of the film orderly and symmetrical and the ending so chaotic? How does this reflect the progression of events in the film itself?

These questions are also great:

The time period is never established in the film. The era in which this film is intended is important because there is in effort for the time to not be in our present era. One big thing is the amount of cigarette smoking that we see, this is not a common thing for our present generation and isn’t seen a lot in films these days that are meant to be modern. We can also see a difference in time through the objects we see being used at film school and Julie using a typewriter (34:32), as well as Julie using a payphone (1:09:42). There is an attempt to make things appear dated in a different time in this film but there isn’t a whole lot of significance given to it. Why is the time era important for the setting of this film?

There are several times Anthony asks Julie for money, but most of the time his requests are nonverbal. It starts off with just 10 dollars at 34:25, then he silently hands her the check for their lunch at 48:13, and he implies that she should be the one to tip the bellboy at 57:05. How do his actions belie his usually done up appearance? Does this help to foreshadow his drug use?  Anthony mentions his job many times, but it is unclear exactly what he does. He claims to have to keep things secret from Julie about his work, but there are other things he keeps her in the dark about as well. How does his vagueness about his job hint at his untrustworthiness?

What is the significance of the movie’s final shot pre-credits (01:54:30)? Before the shot, in the shot that precedes it, we see a medium close up of Julie’s face (01:54:24). She looks straight into the camera and is in the center of the shot. She appears melancholic, yet determined. Then there is a  rough cut into this shot. We see darkness, with some yellow steel on the left side. Then a massive door begins to open. As it opens, it becomes more clear to us that the shot is inside of some hangar. The environment outside looks to be a runway, surrounded by lush green, with grey clouds hanging overhead. We hear the sounds of birds humming, followed closely by the diegetic sounds of footsteps, followed by the appearance of a person who may we infer (by the outline of her figure) to be Julie (01:54:54-01:55:08). The humming of the birds suggests an upbeat tone, but this is juxtaposed by the grey clouds hanging overhead. The lush green around the runway is another manifestation of nature. The shot contains in total three manifestations of nature: the humming of the birds, the lush green outside, and the grey clouds hanging overhead. They are collectively juxtaposed by the industrial-looking airplane hanger and the cement runway, both of which are man made, rather than natural. Julie, an inhabitant of a world filled with nature as well as man made constructions, stands in the middle of the open doorway. This extreme long shot makes her appear incredibly tiny, as she occupies what might be a tenth of the vertical space in the doorway.

Numerous times in this film, we see short montage-style flashbacks of Tommy’s life on his home planet. The first time we see Tommy’s wife and kids is after Mary Lou takes him to church, and he seems to be reminiscing on the car ride home [45:56]. One of the most intense and jarring flashbacks is at [1:22:30] after Mary Lou learns that he’s an alien, she verbally and physically assaults Tommy saying, “I don’t care what you are, I want you!” Subsequently, she offers him a tray of cookies that she pulled from the oven. Visibly shaken and angry, Tommy slaps the tray of cookies making them spin into the air and crash to the ground. We get a low angle shot of the cookies as they are launched into the air, and it looks like they are in the sky even though they are in the kitchen. We also hear an electric guitar blaring as he slaps the tray away. We then see an image of two aliens spinning in the air, and then back to the cookies in the sky again. It then cuts to the cookies crumbling as they hit the kitchen floor [1:23:16]. Why do they constantly remind us of Tommy’s family, and what’s the point if he never makes it back to them?


This is a not as good DQ. 

2.5 points.

The student should have given more examples with timestamps and should have described the shots.  The names of the man and the woman should also have been given. The uncorrected typos indicate rushed work. And this quesion is so general it is almost a joke: "I think they use these different shots in this film whenever something of importance happens or is said." The same point could be made about every film.

DQ 2: 16:20 - Throughout the movie, we see multiple shots where it’s zooms in on someone face fast. one instance is when we see a man walking to his car and we see a girl look at him. The camera then zooms in on her face fast while she checks him out. Why do they decide to do this in the middle of conversations and at random times? I think they use these different shots in this film whenever something of importance happens or is said. We see this technique used a ton after someone will say something or if a character has their attention on someone or something

This is a failing DQ.  Nothing is said about the film.

0 points


This is a great description of a shot.