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Chapter Objectives
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Contradictions: From The Gipper To Blue Velvet
After reading this section, you should be able to:
  • discuss the similarities between Ronald Reagan's persona and themes of "Reaganite" films of the period, as well as films that reacted against these themes.
Reaganite Cinema: "Morning in America"
After reading this section, you should be able to:
  • discuss the themes of rejuvenation and resurrection in both the speeches of Ronald Reagan and such films of the 1980s as Cocoon, E. T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, and Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan.
  • discuss nostalgic "returns to the past" in films of the 1980s, whether literal or figurative.
  • discuss themes of returns to nature and "paradise regained" in films of the 1980s, with attention to the sites of authentic American experience.
  • discuss images of malls in films of the 1980s, and consider the ways in which the films treat these images.
  • discuss the themes of conservatism in action films of the 1980s, with attention to both the goals and submerged violent desires of the central characters.
Castles in the Air: Reimagining Traditional Institutions
After reading this section, you should be able to:
  • discuss the way in which films of the 1980s criticize individual actors in economic or media fields while accepting the fundamental fairness of the fields themselves, with attention to films such as Wall Street, Broadcast News, Trading Places, and Risky Business.
  • discuss the restoration of public trust in the military exemplified in films and characters of the 1980s.
  • discuss the films of the 1980s in terms of images of reconciliation and reunification with the father and figures of patriarchal authority.
  • discuss the ways in which films of the 1980s and early 1990s treat images of childbirth and parenting, with examples from specific films.
After reading this section, you should be able to:
  • discuss the ways in which the films of Martin Scorsese, as well as those of filmmakers he inspires, resisted the thematic trends of 1980s films.
  • discuss the "queer" films of directors such as Gus Van Sant, Todd Haynes, and Gregg Araki, and consider the ways in which queer cinema positions itself as deliberately oppositional.
  • discuss the films of Spike Lee, with attention to the ways in which Lee's films stage narratives as allegories for racial politics.
  • discuss the independent films and careers of filmmakers Jim Jarmusch and Julie Dash.
Into the 21st Century
After reading this section, you should be able to:
  • discuss the effects of the current cultural prevalence of computers, video games, and the Internet on contemporary Hollywood narrative.
  • describe the two-way exchange of techniques and themes between Hollywood films and video games.
  • explain the image of "hypertext" as a new style of narration, and discuss both films that might be considered hypertextual and films that comment on this new narrative style.
  • discuss several potential definitions for "independent film," and describe the economic profile of independent cinema in the 1990s, with reference to specific films.
  • discuss the thematic, stylistic, and financial integration of independent cinema with mainstream Hollywood film.
  • define "fantasy film," discuss the prevalence of fantasy films in the late 1990s, and consider several reasons why the fantasy film has become the prevalent genre of contemporary cinema.
  • discuss digitization and contemporary cinema.
  • analyze the films Being John Malkovich and Adaptation as commenting on the factors leading to the production of fantasy and fantasy films.
  • analyze the film Fight Club in terms of its fantasies, with attention to the fantasy of the destruction of buildings housing corporate headquarters.
  • discuss the relationship between 9/11 and Hollywood films, both in terms of the pre-9/11 films that fantasized about apocalyptic destruction and the post-9/11 films that attempted to come to terms with it.
  • explain the reasons for studying films.

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