Chinese Theatre

Basically you need to comment 4 films with each additional two readings. At the end of commenting each film with the two additional readings that come with it, there is supposed to be a conclusion about one point that you want to make.

Start with commenting each film. You want to examine the following questions: how did watching the film make you feel? What sensations did the film evoke for you? What about the film made you feel that way? Address a specific scene, even a seemingly unimportant one, especially if it produced an unanticipated reaction. Speculate as to what the director might be trying to convey if it was indeed his or her intention to elicit this emotion from audiences. Then continues with commenting on each reading, address specific passages or quotes (include page numbers if possible), especially ones that relate to your reaction to the film. Express your opinions: do you agree with the author? Does the author’s analysis or concept work for this particular film? Why or why not? If you have trouble getting started, you are welcome to directly address one of the discussion questions provided by the instructor for each discussion section. You are also highly encouraged to read your classmates’ posts and respond to points they bring up.
While posts should cite specific passages and scenes, they should not be a simple summary of plot or events in the narrative. If you begin your post by writing: “This film was about…” and then proceed to recount what happens in the narrative, you are on the wrong track. While you should demonstrate that you watched the film and did the readings, you should do this by specifically articulating your reaction to the narrative (only summarizing relevant details).

All in all, the paper should include reaction, speculation, specific scene, summary of detail relevant to reaction, connection to at least one reading, and perhaps responds to a point raised in another post or compares film to previous ones

So, here’s the format. The first film is going to be Hero (directed by Zhang Yimou in 2002) and the readings for it is “Hero and the Globalisation of Propaganda” and “Hero”. You also address these:
– Describe the action and martial arts choreography, compare it to the movie “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”
– Describe the contrast between the battle choreography of the youxia (wandering knights) assassins (Nameless, Broken Arrow, Flying Snow, Sky) and the Qin military.
– How are elements such as water (rain), leaves, sand, ink, cloth, scrolls (books), and calligraphy used in martial arts fighting and what do you think they symbolize?
– Why is “fighting in the mind” an important trope in this film?
– Describe the use of color and color saturation in the film. What do the dominant colors (black, red, blue, white, and green) represent and how are they used?
– What is the function of storytelling, persuasion, and dissuasion in the film? What tropes and elements are used to detect fact from fiction?
– Discuss the concept of tianxia (“all under heaven”) in the film in terms of the following themes:
? Violence and peace
? Multiplicity and uniformity
? Freedom and security
? Cultural expression and idealism
– On the reading “Hero and the Globalisation of Propaganda,” you have to address these two questions:
1) What does Harrison mean when he calls Hero a “new kind of globalised propaganda” (572)?
? What aspects of the film denote a globalized style?
? Why does Harrison see the film as an apology for Chinese state dictatorship?
2) As works of global cinema, what, according to Harrison, are the main differences between Hero and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon?
– On the other reading by Wendy Larson “Hero”, you should address these three questions:
1) What are “fascist aesthetics” and why have some critics claimed that Zhang Yimou’s Hero is an overt demonstration of them?
2) What is “culturalism” and why does Larson interpret Hero as a failure of culturalism to wield power and help nations gain recognition on the global stage?
3) According to Larson, how does Hero narrate the clash between the generic totems of “Chinese culture” (embodied by the xia assassins) and the supreme authority of the military state (embodied by the Qin emperor)?
? Why does “embellished storytelling” in the film “contain the seed of its own destruction” (188)?
? According to Larson, why do the two assassins voluntarily relinquish their mission and what does this act symbolize?

After done with commenting the movie Hero, continue with comment the movie Eat Drink Man Woman (Directed by Ang Lee in 1994). The readings for this movie is titled “Domestic Tragicomedy” and “Exoticism Repositioned”. For the movie, you should also address these questions:
1) How are the banquets, particularly the ritual Sunday dinners at the Chu household, choreographed in this film?
? Describe the montages of cooking and food preparation, including the images of food. What feelings are these shots designed to elicit among viewers?
? How do cooking, food, appetite, and taste work as motifs in the film?
2) What are some of the generic features of family melodrama in the film?
? Describe the relationship dynamics of the different families in the film, focusing on the Chu family but also paying attention to the Liang family and others portrayed in the film. What are the individual roles that each family member plays, and how do they transition in the film?
? How are traditional gender roles in the family reinforced or undermined in the film?
? What is the central family crisis in the film? What is at stake? Is the crisis resolved? How so?
3) Discuss the effects of the cinematography of Taipei in the film. How are Taipei’s landmarks, streets, and architecture presented?
4) Even though this story takes place entirely in Taipei, where the three Chu daughters grew up and still live, how might this be an “immigrant” narrative? What are some examples of immigrant dislocation and nostalgia in the film?

On the reading “Domestic Tragicomedy”, you should also these questions:
1) According to Ma, what is “domestic tragicomedy” and how is each film in Ang Lee’s “Father Knows Best Trilogy” an example of this genre?
? What is the dual meaning of “domestic” here?
? How does each film resolve a family crisis/conflict/tragedy through a “comic denouement” (195)?
? How does each of the films revolve around the father figure, and what does the father figure stand for?
2) Why does Ma refer to Eat Drink Man Woman as “gastronomic tourism” and “food pornography” (198)?

For the “Exoticism Repositioned,” you should also address these questions:
1) Even though Ang Lee’s Eat Drink Man Woman is set in Taiwan and Wayne Wang’s Joy Luck Club in the United States, what are the main similarities between the two films that Ty identifies?
? In what ways do both films valorize exoticism?
? How do both films offer viewers a mode of safe tourism?
? How do both films approach (or reaffirm) dichotomies of East and West, or New World and Old World, and what is their critical commentary on these cultural or generational differences?
2) What does Ty mean by “autoethnography,” and why does she see Eat Drink Man Woman as an example of this mode of filmmaking?

Once you are done with Eat Drink Man Woman, comment on the film Together (Directed by Chen Kaige in 2002). The readings for this movie is “Together” and “Chen Kaige”.

Lastly, comment on 12 Storeys (Directed by Eric Khoo in 1997). The readings for the movie is “Global Modernity, Postmodern Singapore, and the Cinema of Eric Khoo” and “Singapore Cinema”

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