Friday, June 12, 2009

The Film Class

What a bittersweet moment it is to write about the end of this fantastic chapter of my life. Actually, it's not sweet at all. Just bitter. First hearing about a film class elective made me giddy, and actually getting in made me ecstatic. I had never had Mr. Bennett before, and was intent on making a good impression. The first week of the class I tried my hardest to whip out every bit of knowledge I had about film in a pathetic attempt to look good. After we got into the class a little further, however, I realized that my knowledge of film was bottom of the barrel, and that I had much to learn. So for the rest of the year, I pretty much kept my mouth shut in class, and left it all to the blog. Humility: my first lesson of the film class.

Naivety is a hell of a thing. I've been writing movie reviews since February 2008 (and I promise, I will be getting back to that as soon as school ends), and I always assumed I had all the information I needed to do so. Though my estimations on acting were correct, my idea of what good direction and screenwriting were was seriously flawed. There are so much more to both aspects of film, and without this class I would have gone to my college film class just as simple-minded. I now have the ability to determine if a line is significant or an object on screen means something. I still haven't mastered this ability, but I'm on the track.

But a film class is pointless without good, nay, great films to watch. Of all the movies we watched, I had only seen two previously (there were even a few I'd never heard of). Although some films were leagues better than others, there was never a movie that I out and out despised. I was even enjoying Top Hat. The film I liked the least was A Simple Plan, which was a bit slow for my taste without enough stuff in between to keep me interested. But even this film had it's perks in Sam Raimi's direction and Billy Bob Thornton's performance. Though we already did it in class, I'll post what I believe to be the award winning films of the class. So put your hands together for the 1st ever Mayoral Choice Awards!

Best Cinematography - Runners Up - Unforgiven, Citizen Kane - Winner - THE SEVENTH SEAL

Best Screenplay (Original or Adapted) - Runners Up - Dark City, Fargo, Memento - Winner - UNFORGIVEN

Best Supporting Actress - Sorry ladies, not much in this department.

Best Supporting Actor - Runners Up - Sterling Hayden (Dr Strangelove), Eric Roberts (Runaway Train), Dustin Hoffman (Midnight Cowboy) - Winner - GENE HACKMAN (UNFORGIVEN)


Best Leading Actor - Runners Up - Orson Welles (Citizen Kane), Guy Pearce (Memento) - Winner - PETER SELLERS (DR STRANGELOVE)

Best Director - This was by far the hardest category to decide - Runners Up - Christopher Nolan (Memento), Stanley Kubrick (Dr Strangelove), Clint Eastwood (Unforgiven), Ingmar Bergman (The Seventh Seal) - Winner - ORSON WELLES (CITIZEN KANE)

Best Picture - Runners Up - Dr Strangelove, Unforgiven, Fargo, Memento (this remains my second favorite film of all time and is probably my favorite film shown in the class, but I wanted to give this award to one of the new films in my life and so...) - Winner - THE SEVENTH SEAL

I hope most of you find these picks satisfactory.

But these films were all nothing without our terrific teacher, Mr Bennett. The enthusiasm with which he spoke was infectious, and it made sitting in his class not a chore, but a privilege. I hardly considered us to be a "class" because I think that title is a bit insulting to it. Though learning took place, it was not the stuffy environment of an English class or the brain paralyzing environment of a Math class. We were just a group of people who loved movies. That's all we really needed to be. I loved how after the very first day of class, everyone seemed to have an immediate respect for Mr Bennett. I remember on that day, he explained to us the concept of labeling a movie as "pretentious". After that, "pretentious" was the word of the month. We all started saying it. It's died down since then, but the fact that it happened was telling. When Mr Bennett told us he'd probably be leaving Tech after this year, I was shocked. I wondered how much it would suck to be a Senior next year without being able to take Bennett's film class. It's a shame. I was looking forward to coming back next year to discover who the new Mayor would be. Though I guess it is much more presitigous to be the final Mayor to grace the classroom.

To wrap things up, I'll never forget this amazing class. It felt great talking about movies with people who actually cared. It gave my girlfriend a nice break from having me talk her ear off about something she is inept in. Thank you to everybody who made the class great.

Oh yea, I saw The Maltese Falcon yesterday. Would it be relevant to say this class was "the stuff dreams are made of"?


  1. The part about you being "bottom of the barrel etc. is absurd. You were always very knowledgable, both in an absolute sense, and to an amazing degree were we to add the modifier "for someone your age." Thanks for the very kind words. Obviiously I feel the same way. It was a terrific class.

    I watched The Seventh Seal again today, and I thought of our class when Antonius Block holds the bowl of milk in his hands and remarks on how beautiful yet ephemeral are the joys of life. Memory holds the key to making such transitory joys last. Thus will I hold dearly the memory of our class.

    Your list is pretty close to what I would pick. I only disagree strongly in that Runaway Train is totally absent. I think I'd place that as best screenplay, certainly a nominee. Jon Voigt perhaps could get a lifetime achievement award for his two roles.

  2. Beautiful comments Nick. I agree with some of your picks but I will have my awards very soon. I agree with all of your thoughts on the film class, and as Mr. Bennett said, you know alot about film in a relative sense, and you didn't turn about to be too bad of a mayor as Mr. Bennett first feared.