Writing about Film: Contemporary East Asian Cinema
This course examines many aspects of contemporary East Asian cinema. In particular, it highlights films that were made and became popular exclusively in the 21st Century. By focusing on the artistic and thematic trajectories of directors, as well as social frameworks and genre conventions of each film, the course aims to help students to analyze cinematic texts in an academic context. Through the ten weeks of intensive viewing, analyzing, and writing practices, students are expected to articulate their ideas and critical questions about various issues including the definition of cinema, cinema and its cultural implications, transnational trend in film production, world cinema, and the question of genre.
By studying and writing about thematic and formalistic heterogeneity in contemporary East Asian cinema, students will be able to understand both cinematic grammar each director deploys and the social and cultural commentary each film provides. Cinema has its own language and style, and we will learn to appreciate the cinematic aesthetics through viewing and analyzing a film shot by shot, or sequence by sequence. Basic terminology for film analysis and its proper usage will be taught throughout the quarter.
Along with the lecture as well as in-class debates and activities, this class will be structured mostly by your own writing. Your writing will be conducted either with specific guidance or with your own creativity. In both cases, you will be prepared and backed up by the skills you will learn and the texts as well as sources you will get in class. Especially, all of the texts you will read along with film screenings are very good sources for your research, and might be included in the bibliography of your own writing. Each writing assignment of yours will be reviewed carefully by the instructor, and sometimes by your peers. Through this interactive and cooperative process, you will be able to revise and edit your writing more effectively. And at the end of the quarter, you will submit your own portfolio electronically: you put together what you have written so far, carefully revise them, and submit it through canvas website.
Week 1 - Introduction to Film Analysis; Introduction to Academic Writing
Week 2 - Cinematic Grammar and Formalistic Aspects of Film
Week 3 - Retracing and Reviving Trans-Asian Genre Films
Memories of Murder (살인의 추억, Bong Joon-ho, 2003)
Rigor Mortis (殭屍, Juno Mak, 2013)
Week 4 - Ecocinema in the Age of (Post-)Industrialization and Bubble Economy
Spirited Away (千と千尋の神隠し, Hayao Miyazaki, 2001)
Still Life (三峡好人, Jia Zhangke, 2006)
Alternative Film: Princess Mononoke (もののけ姫, Hayao Miyazaki, 1997)
Week 5 - Writing about Auteur: Park Chan-wook
Oldboy (올드보이, Park Chan-wook, 2003)
The Handmaiden (아가씨, Park Chan-wook, 2016)
Alternative Film: Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance (복수는 나의 것, Park Chan-wook, 2002)
Week 6 - Loss and Mourning: Beyond Melodramatic Conventions
Mourning Forest (殯の森, Naomi Kawase, 2007)
Secret Sunshine (밀양, Lee Chang-dong, 2007)
Alternative Film: Poetry (시, Lee Chang-dong, 2010)
Week 7 - Writing about Auteur: Wong Kar-wai
Happy Together (春光乍洩, Wong Kar-wai, 1997)
In the Mood for Love (花樣年華, Wong Kar-wai, 2000)
Alternative Film: Grand Master (一代宗師, Wong Kar-wai, 2013)
Week 8 - Slow Cinema and the Aesthetics of Stasis
Goodbye, Dragon Inn (不散, Tsai Ming-liang, 2003)
The Assassin (刺客聶隱娘, Hou Hsiao-hsien, 2015)
Alternative Film: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter...and Spring (봄 여름 가을 겨울 그리고 봄, Kim Ki-duk, 2003)
Week 9 - Blockbuster after the Tohoku Earthquake and Sewol Ferry Disaster
Train to Busan (부산행, Yeon Sang-ho, 2016)
Your Name (君の名は。, Makoto Shinkai, 2016)
Alternative Film: The Land of Hope (希望の国, Sion Sono, 2012)
Week 10 - EWP Portfolio Prep.
Note 1: Students should be prepared to spend additional four hours weekly watching the assigned films. Failing to watch assigned films will affect your final grades negatively (weekly quizzes are based on both readings and the films you watch). All films are available through the Canvas website (class-restricted) and you are required to watch them before the class day when they are discussed. There will be no in-class screenings. But for some short films, I will arrange screenings during class.
Note 2: This class is not a survey course of East Asian cinema/culture. Prior knowledge of East Asian languages and cultures is thus NOT necessary to pass this course with success.
Note 3: Cinematic texts in this course range from popular blockbusters to arthouse cinema. Be prepared to watch speculative films.