Where can humor take place?

When I first enrolled in this class, I thought by around this time this semester, I would mimic a certain “Key & Peele” skit, in which movie hecklers interrupt the treasured silence of the theater in order to loudly complain about poor filmic techniques that the director of the movie chose. The skit is made even more humorous to me after taking the course, since the terms they throw around (like “mise-en-scene” and “crane shot”) actually make sense now. However, the skit does make me question one aspect of our movies that we’ve continually discussed: the placement/use of humor in apocalypse settings.

Of course, one might easily make the point there is no real room for humor in movies concerning the apocalypse when you think about the amount of damage and casualties that usually take place. But as we have seen in a good portion of the movies we’ve watched, this is often the opposite. For many of these films, humor works to disguise the tragedy and calamity we would otherwise witness firsthand. By reimagining the actual event in a way that’s easier to mentally digest, we can receive the message behind it without becoming depressed at watching it for ourselves, like how a dog owner might hide their pet’s medicine inside a treat. Take, for instance, Andrew Stanton concealing the hard-hitting subjects of the damaging effects of consumerism and environmental consciousness in a cute, children’s movie with animated robots. Or Don Hertzfeldt letting a third-generation clone explain the pain of existence to a babbling four-year-old in his movie.

But then, how much more effective are humor-based apocalypse movies over their serious counterparts at conveying a message? Would the presentation of deep, thematic elements hold more weight in viewing outright carnage and destruction, or does the feeling of laughing over grave subjects feel unnerving enough to pay attention to them?

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Sacrificing Hope for the Future

Throughout the semester, we have been concerned with how we imagine our futures and ends, and what is at stake from thinking beyond the present. Of course, thinking beyond our current situations allows us a sense of pleasant escape, encouraging thoughts that the grass is likely greener on the other side. On the other hand, if the grass we wish to be more vibrant appears brown in our imaginations of the future, we can become inspired by that vision to attempt and rethink our current situations so that the future aligns with our desires. However, as films like Mad Max: Fury Road have taught us, we must not become so caught up in our illusions in order to actually produce the future that we imagine for ourselves.

“Hope is a mistake,” the character Mad Max says multiple times throughout the film. “If you can’t fix what’s broken, you’ll go insane.” We witness mental breakdowns from various characters in the film as they come across this same truth for themselves. Although pessimistic, the idea is easy to relate to.

Take for instance this incoming holiday season. A month from now, so many will rededicate themselves to some new goal or purpose, in the efforts of satisfying a resolution for the New Year. Oftentimes these goals are large and too grandiose to actually work, resulting in many crashing and burning on these goals with no chance of success. However, some people may not be going about their goals the right way — someone who plans to exercise more to lose weight isn’t going to get very far by eating out socially every weekend. Thus, many will attribute a failure in their plans as a failure of themselves, when this is not necessarily the case.

Imagining our futures is very similar to this. Like Max, Furiosa, and Nux all put in work towards a strategy to accomplish what they imagined for their possible future, we must also organize ourselves to create our visions and see them actually manifest before us. Does strategizing in this way, then, limit the risk that comes with thinking beyond the present? Or should the risk always remain present, in order to keep us in check?

Children of Men – Confusion on Confusion on Confusion

Children of men is quite the fascinating film. The premise is very interesting while it is also visually stunning. The main character remains with some level of mystery throughout the film as we wonder why he drinks so much and is such a politically driven person when his friends are so anti-government. The long 1-ers make the film very pleasing to watch and give you a sense as if you are there with the people watching it all happen right before your eyes. What I wonder when watching this is what is Luke’s motivation for ruining everything? He’s such a douche in this movie and its very clear that Julian’s cause is the better cause because it fights for everyone’s rights and not just the uprising’s cause, but Luke had to go and kill her to get his side on the upper hand. I was confused on how people couldn’t just be mesmerized that a baby was just born after 18 years and not try to use it for their gain. The selfish side is the losing side.

Also, does the fact that there has been a baby born mean that women will no longer be infertile, or is this one occurrence just a miracle? If so, if women aren’t infertile anymore, does that mean that the world would just go back to normal? Because the film makes it seem as though the problem that caused the downfall of society was infertility. So does the infertility fix mean that everything will be fine and dandy and the immigrants will go back to their home countries and just start over? Also how does the infertility of people cause the downfall of the world? I am just confused by this film even though I enjoyed it a lot.

Wall-E – The End of the World is Imminent

Wall-E imagines our world after a wasteful people fill it with a bunch of garbage. The planet gets abandoned because of it and Wall-E is left on earth. My realization with this film is that the end of the human race living on earth is imminent. If the garbage problem didn’t catch up to them then I think that something else would have. Later in the film, we see Otto try to take control of the ship, one could argue that Otto has had control of it throughout it’s entire journey. Otto comes pretty close to taking control over the ship and he would have done it if it weren’t for the rest of the “dysfunctional” that helped. Basically the robots are what control the outcome of this film. So if the robots control so much, wouldn’t you think that if the garbage didn’t catch up to the humans, then the robots would eventually take over? I mean each human is obese and can barely walk as it is, they would have no way of defending themselves against a raging robot so how would they stop an overtaking?

Even if the humans did stop the robots from taking them over, the end of the world would still be pretty near. They seem quite incapable of doing anything for themselves. At the end of the film the humans get back to earth, but the would die off shortly because they have no idea how to live for themselves. The captain of the ship, one would assume that he would be one of the smartest because he has the fate of the human race quite literally at his fingertips, says that they can plant things and grow pizza. The human race is doomed in this film regardless of the precautions taken to survive.

Snowpiercer – Is Curtos actually a leader?

Snowpiercer is pretty much everything that I want in a film. I love the action, the mystery, the dystopian world, and the twist. I can honestly say that this is one of the best movies that I have seen. Throughout the film, we see Curtis on his journey to stop the tyrannical leader that is Wilford. Curtis struggles to have a leader and moral values for people other than the ones at the back of the train, because they have been put through so much hell. Curtis is a good guy but he is very malleable. By this, I mean that he is influenced and pushed by people of higher powers. Rather than remaining in a calm and cool state, he lets others words just drive him to make decisions that he should think about first. He tries to push through the train as quickly as possible rather than establish a plan each time he accesses a new car. He wants to get to the front of the train so badly but doesn’t think after he gets out of the tail section. He takes everyone’s word about what goes on in the train without hesitation and he seems to trust everyone. With all of this being said, would Curtis have been as good of a leader as we all thought when watching the film? We see him almost give up his entire cause when he gets into the engine room, so what makes us think that all would be fine and dandy if he didn’t listen to everyone? If it wasn’t for finding little Timmy inside the floor of the engine room, I don’t think that Curtis would have turned down Wilford’s offer of taking over his position on the train.

SPOILER ALERT: Colors of Arrival

The color gray is consider to be a dull color. It is neither light nor dark. It is often used to show depression. Many directors use colors to show emotions of the characters in a scene. However, Denis Vileneuve, director of the new movie Arrival, uses colors to hide the twist in the movie.

In the beginning of Arrival, the main character, Doctor Louise Banks, raises a child by herself. Then, after a short montage of the child growing up, the child dies. During the montage, most of the memories where happy and very colorful. However, when the montage shows the hospital, the color of the scenes goes from bright colors to dull grays. Afterwards, Dr. Banks has a short montage of getting up and going to work. The sky that day is very cloudy and looks like it is about to rain. One can infer that the director wanted to make the viewers think that Dr. Banks is feeling gloomy and depressed over her loss of her daughter. However, quite the opposite is true.

The viewers later find out that the visions that Dr. Banks is having are not flashbacks but flash forwards. The daughter Dr. Banks will have is the daughter of a man she has just met. She can see into the future because of the language an alien race has taught her. That is the twist and climax of the movie.

Now, Vileneuve used the color to make the viewers think the tragedy has just happen. If the viewers think that events happen in the past, they will not look in the future. If the viewers think that these past events are some montage of memories, they will not think that Dr. Banks are seeing these events in real time. The question I would like to ask is what ways did Denis Vileneuve use to hide the plot twist in Arrival.

Apocalyptic Fascination: A Semester Recap

One thing that we discussed in class that really stood out to me was the question of why apocalyptic films are so popular/so frequently made.  Many of my classmates gave excellent answers that I agreed with, but after it made me think about what I thought to be the real reason behind this fascination.  I concluded that our obsession with the end stems from our insecurity about not having a definite answer about how or why it will happen.

What each of the films throughout the semester did so well was that they created a world where the audience truly bought into the circumstance of their specific ending.  In each film, the rules and limitations of humanity were clearly laid out so that the audience could imagine themselves in similar situations.  What this does is makes us empathize and put ourselves in the shoes of the characters.  It almost becomes fun to imagine what we would do in these situations, but at the same time comforts us because we know that these circumstances are too far fetched to happen in reality.  Speculating every which way of how our world could end provides a sense of comfort, as we don’t have to face the realities of what really could potentially wipe out our existence.  Instead, we fantasize about tentacle-wielding aliens or living on a never-stopping train.

I personally find enjoyment in watching these films for similar reasons.  It is fun to imagine all of these scenarios, but being able to see the credits at the end and know that I can turn off the TV after is comforting.  I view these films as tiny ventures away from the inevitable reality that one day our world will end too.  Because I know this subconscious is shared by countless others, films like these will never go out of style.

To you, which film from the semester seems the most realistic in terms of an apocalypse that could actually happen?