Course A: Millennium Movies: Cinema and Culture from 1999 to 9/11
Nick Davis, Associate Professor of English and Gender & Sexuality Studies
NOTE: Each week of class, Prof. Davis will confirm where students may stream the following week’s selected film on their own time. Availability is contingent upon distribution and licensing agreements, over which we have no control. Should a film become unavailable, Prof. Davis will provide an alternative, as this course is thematic in nature and provides flexibility in film selections. (See revised schedule of films/lecture topics below.)
This course revisits landmark films released in the U.S. and around the world between 1999 and 2001—movies that, with twenty years of hindsight, already reveal different facets and implications. Cinema itself changed around this period, evolving from a principally photographic medium to an increasingly digitized one. Hollywood showed unusual boldness with narrative form. National film cultures from Mexico to Iran surged with renewed vitality. Meanwhile, the dawn of a new millennium prompted complex blends of nostalgia, anxiety, and creative speculation, regarding topics that still preoccupy us today: thin lines between truth and illusion, resurgent threats of fascism, and fluidities of gender and racial identity. Near the end of this mini-era, the events of 9/11 forced another kind of global introspection. In that dark hour, movies reminded us of how we see and what we recall differently from country to country, but also expanded our perspectives and, hopefully, our empathies.
Dear Course Participants,
I'm so thrilled that so many of you have signed up for the "Millennium Movies" course, and I'm extremely happy to be working with the NU Alumnae on a second collaboration.
In advance of our first session this coming Tuesday, I wanted you to know about some brief online resources I'd encourage you to look at if you have time. Just FYI, there will rarely be any assigned readings beyond the film itself in a given week. However, I do want to give you a little bit of context for your screening and for what we might discuss in each lecture.
If you visit this Google Drive folder, you'll see the full schedule of movies and discussion topics for the whole winter. You'll also see six worksheets to help you catch up on some basics of analyzing the images, editing, and sound aspects of the movies we watch. In relation to each of those three dimensions of filmmaking, I've offered a pair of worksheets: one illustrated guide of key terms and techniques in relation to cinematography, editing, and sound, and one list of questions you can always ask yourself about details or patterns you notice in any of these areas. Feel free to keep consulting these sheets throughout our ten weeks.
You will also see a specific subfolder called "Week 1: American Beauty." Inside that folder, you'll see two documents:
* a three-page worksheet that walks you through some of the key talent on the film, some behind-the-scenes trivia that might interest you, and some questions to ponder while or after you watch
* a magazine article I published in Film Comment in 2018 about teaching this film to undergraduates born the year the movie came out, especially in the wake of upsetting revelations regarding Kevin Spacey
All of this might give you ideas or questions to consider in advance of Tuesday's lecture. I will typically post similar materials for each week's films, again in a clearly marked subfolder, but I will NOT typically send another email, so keep this Google Drive link handy. I look forward to speaking to all of you throughout the quarter and to answering questions at the end of each class.
Click on link for Week 1: American Beauty documents: