07 January 2008

A real topic

Even though I'm beginning my preparations for graduate school application, well, not now, but in a few weeks (once the production and post-production phases of the moviemaking are over), and I've only been out of school for something like seven months, I've been experiencing this weird desire to write a paper. Preferably a film paper (mostly because I haven't read a book demanding a fully fleshed out, critical response for a long time, but also because my brain thinks a lot better in film terms these days. Maybe that'lll shift back someday soon), but I'm open to other topics.

I doubt I'd be able to write a good poetry paper, but that's a challenge I should step up to one of these days. Force myself to think in a different way.

I've long been joking about writing a paper called "The Importance of Being Kurt Russell," about the man's importance to what you might call modern film (seeing as how he's grown and aged onscreen - according to IMDb, his first onscreen credit was on a show called "Sam Benedict" in 1963, and Bonnie & Clyde, which I believe is one of, if not the first truly post-Production Code film, came out in 1967). As American film has been able to tackle grittier, more "adult" - if we can remove some of the stigma that word has gained in the past few years - subjects more directly, so, really, has Kurt Russell. He moved from The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes (1969) to a couple of episodes of "Gunsmoke" (1964, and later 1974) to The Thing (1982) to Death Proof (2007), and the theaters saw the release of Sky High and Dreamer two years before.

Okay, so I may have shot myself in the foot by mentioning those last two movies, but I kind of think it helps to prove my point. American cinema encompasses a lot of stuff these days; there aren't just the "six reels of vice, one reel of virtue" gangster movies and heavily marginalized, Sirkian "women's pictures" (I doubt there was ever a time where those were the only motion pictures available - I hyperbolize to illustrate a horribly obvious point). Kurt Russell, by the same token, can do movies like Dark Blue (2002) and Miracle (2004) - he's not a single-genre, single-style performer, not by any stretch of the imagination.

Despite the fact that I said I've been joking about it, it's horribly obvious at this point that I've been thinking about this for far too long. I just worry that I might not be able to back up my ridiculously worded thesis properly. That, I suppose, is why one does capital R Research.

I've also been perusing the pages of some decent horror film criticism books, and I get the feeling that I could add something interesting to that area of scholarship (The Descent, or The Devil's Backbone - something relatively contemporary that hasn't been analyzed to death, because the last thing I'm interested in thinking about is one more person writing a thesis about a Shakespeare play). A good, sincere paper on Sean of the Dead wouldn't hurt anybody, either (like that hasn't been done already - has it?).

The one other thing I've been kicking around is about the changing use of the camera in television comedy ("Dick Van Dyke" to "Arrested Development" - something like that), and what the transition from three- or four-camera, fairly static setups to a single or dual mobile, active camera setup indicates about the way TV has evolved, how the audience, perhaps, has evolved, and a third topic that I'm not thinking of at the moment.

Admittedly, that last idea is ripped pretty thoroughly from Everything Bad Is Good For You, but I think I'd have some important points to make (and my scope would be much, much narrower than Mr. Johnson's).

Those are the three most inspiring ideas I've had thus far; it's clear that the one on Kurt Russell is the most fully-formed, but that doesn't mean the others aren't worthy of consideration.

More on this story as it develops.

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