My interests when it comes to movies are pretty obvious. I like good movies. I like bad movies. I just like movies. I seek some genres or certain directors out more than others. But generally, if you stick me front of a movie screen for a few hours, I’ll be content. One thing I love is going to some movies with no expectations at all, which brings me to this story.
When I was on spring break during my first year of college, I went to the movies with some friends. This was a movie they wanted to see and I just went to go.
Midway through my friend realized something was wrong with me and she asked me if I was okay. I was sitting there with my jaw-dropped, completely engrossed in what was on the screen. I was obviously overwhelmed. The movie was 300 and I was reveling in the fact that as a first-year at a women’s college, I had not seen that many men in seven months.
I don’t even remember what happened in 300. There were just these men wearing the most ridiculous, completely gratuitous outfits conceivable. It was surreal and it was weird and it was homoerotic. And then they all died. Actually, that is everything is what happened.
I haven’t seen 300 since and I have no desire to see it again, but for that those two hours, I was completely into this movie.
April 29 marks the one year anniversary of when I handed in my senior thesis at Mount Holyoke, ending a year-long research project on post-9/11 independent cinema. The entire thesis process was an emotionally, mentally, and even physically draining experience. I never wanted to hear the words “Neorealism,” “American Dream,” “immigrant,” or “identity” ever again.
Something has changed in the past few weeks. My post-college life hasn’t been exactly thrilling. As boredom continues to settle in, I find myself wanting to revisit my former academic life. I wasn’t entirely satisfied with the conclusions I reached and because of that I find that my thesis is on my mind more than ever. How can I improve on it now? I am going to take this stage of my life as opportunity to fix what I was never content with.
One thing I never did while writing my thesis was blog about it. I always intended to in hopes of getting feedback from others about the films and theoretical concepts I was exploring. So that is what I am going to do now — really dive into this project in a way I was not afforded to before. Maybe it will help me get some real satisfaction from the project.
Five years ago I wrote a blog post about my acceptance in Mount Holyoke College. It was short, sweet, and idealistic. While I have been a student at MHC, I have posted random blog posts about Mountain Day, campus scenaries, and about my senior project. Four and a half years later, I have graduated from MHC, with BA in Film Studies. (Well, that was always the plan.) I’m not exactly sure what comes next, although I was naively sure of what I wanted to do when I was 17.
This day has been overwhelming and strange, to say the least.
About two weeks ago now I put up an installation in the student art gallery at MHC. The installation, entitled Postcards, took my extensive collection of over 1,000 postcards and put them on display. Some were framed, others were not. Some were on mobiles; others were not. Some you could read a message; others you could not.
The idea behind the installation was to examine how we think about communication and how we remember our lives. Some postcards, for instance, were sent by my grandmother to my mother. These are special to me but to other people, their significance could be lost over time. Other postcards were sent between complete strangers. I found these postcards in an antique shop, which is the last place I would ever want my collection to end up.
The installation also featured a video, Postcards. I am working on uploading to YouTube. But as it is nearly 20 minutes long I am going to have to edit it down. The video was also designed for the installation space (it is mostly audio that was overheard while someone perused the postcards). For the YouTube audience, the video will have to modified.
Now that I have revealed myself as a deltiologist (postcard collector) I’m going to blog about the various postcards that make their way into my collection. I receive about one to three postcards per week. So this is the beginning of an exciting project for me.
Months ago I posted that I was writing a senior honors thesis on film. At the time, I didn’t know what it would be on. But after months of deliberation I finally figured out, more or less, what I am researching: American Identity in post-9/11 American Independent Cinema. (Sometimes I wonder if this topic makes me sound way more intelligent than I really am, but I digress.)
I am focusing on three films: Frozen River (2008), In Between Days (2006), and Goodbye Solo (2008). On the surface, these three films seem completely unrelated but what I have found that they are linked by a foremost a common character and narrative: the immigrant. This films question how American identity and the American Creed are changing in the twenty first century as a result of immigration. Or at least, that is what I am trying to show.
Here are the trailers for Frozen River and Goodbye Solo:
And here is an interview with filmmakers So Yong Kim and Bradley Rust Gray. The more I research their work, the more I admire their dedication to independent filmmaking as a way to produce quality and exceptional stories and works of art.