I love Win Win

Your job is to write a short essay on one of the films (excluding The Third Man) we have watched. These steps might be helpful:

  • Choose the film that you enjoyed the most.
  • Pick TWO technical film terms from the glossary at the back of your textbook. (Do NOT use abstract concepts such as round character” or “mise en scene”. You need a narrow thesis; limiting your terms and your scene will prevent you from making generalized, broad and otherwise unhelpful observations.)
  • Think about the film you chose and those two technical terms—is there a key scene in the film where these two terms come into play?
  • Ask yourself who, what, when, where and even why and how (p. 95 Gocsik)
  • Ask yourself why the filmmaker would use those two elements or techniques or aspects in this scene? What does it accomplish? (pp. 38-45 Gocsik)

Here is an example:

  • Film: I love Win Win
  • Terms: Genre (indie drama) and Dutch angle and rack shot.
  • Scene: In the basement when Jackie asks Kyle not to smoke.
  • Who? Our protagonist is bunking in the basement of a stranger’s home. He is vulnerable, and these camera shots show how his world is both out of balance and yet more comforting than it has been before.
  • These angles help to increase our compassion for Kyle; we know he’s got a good heart, and we learn more about Jackie from this scene.

Working thesis: Tom McCarthy’s inventive and careful use of both the Dutch angle and the rack shot in his indie film Win Win serve to greatly enhance the viewer’s compassion and empathy for two characters in two key scenes where the protagonist Kyle must adjust to new difficulties in his life.

Your essay must include:

  • Two technical film terms that relate to your thesis and no more than two scenes of less than a minute each.
  • Two outside sources that validate your thesis in some way. This might be another discussion of the technical term and its importance in achieving what you are arguing. (e.g., the textbook says a close-up is ideal for showing shifting emotions. You show this. You find another source that argues the close-up is the most important way of showing changing emotions. )
  • A clearly stated thesis
  • Support from the film itself in very specific detail (a specific camera shot, particular sounds or expressions, exact scene description, etc.) The more general you are (“the dialogue is great”), the less you will succeed.
  • A Works Cited page (the film and your textbook)
  • Your thesis should be narrow enough in scope to allow for a 3-4 page paper (not including the Works Cited page). I am very fluid in my page requirements. However, a 2 page paper has less of a chance of success due to its limited argumentation. A longer paper has a greater chance of being vague and unfocused.

The rubric is as follows:

MLA format                                      20

Grammar/Syntax                             20

Thesis                                               40

Support/Argument                          50

Comprehension of terms                20         

Total                                                 150

 

Your essay should not use 1st person (in my opinion, me, my, I feel,) nor 2nd person (you first see the monster, he comes right at you). Your essay should not summarize the film. AT ALL. Jump right in with your argument and assume (correctly) that your audience (me) has seen the film but wants an actual definition of the technical terms you are using. Use last names of all sources (Barsam not Richard; Spielberg not Stephen). Document particular scenes with a time stamp, e.g. (2:11.15) OR the title of the scene (Don Corleone’s Wedding Scene).

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