Rent Boys – The Postmodernism of Gus Van Sant

My Own Private Idaho (Van Sant,1991) postures itself as the archetypal road movie, yet closer inspection proves that the film aspires to greatness by borrowing from the masters of art and literature. An obese derelict strolls the sidewalks of downtown Portland accompanied by his rent boy. “The things we’ve seen,” the young companion muses. Borrowed…

Women in American Cinema and the Prison of Social Constructs

American films reflect the contemporary serfdom chaining women to fixed roles in society, but also reinforce patriarchal conventions by proliferating images of women plagued by the expectation to both sexually gratify and mother the male ruling class. Analysis of three films highlight female protagonists trapped into becoming either sexualized children or maternal figures to emotionally…

The Celluloid Closet – A brief primer on the history of Queer Cinema

The Celluloid Closet (1995, Epstein and Friedman) demystifies the belief, propagated by cinema, that homosexuality manifests as a psychological disorder or behavior engaged in by perverse criminals. Based on the pioneering work of Vito Russo, the film documents the representation of homosexuality onscreen through both cruel stereotypes and the exclusion of authentic images of the…

Imitation of Life – Two versions of the same tale

The 1933 novel, Imitation of Life, by Fannie Hurst has been adapted twice into feature films. Both versions center around the relationship of two single mothers raising their daughters and deal with issues of race identity and women’s place in society. The 1934 film stars Claudette Colbert as young widow, Bea Pullman, who provides for…