I love movies. I have loved movies all my life. I grew up on them. When I was eight years old, I managed to convince myself I would make movies when I grew up. Now I am in the process of getting a degree in Film Studies. I write about film more than ever before, partly because I have to for my classes, mostly because I enjoy it, because I have something to write about. Sometimes it helps me understand the film better; sometimes it helps me understand myself better.
I created this blog as a place to showcase my work, and also as an incentive to keep writing reviews, analyses, and essays over breaks, when there’s no one here to grade me.
I have tried many times, and failed, to explain in a coherent manner why it is that I love films. Here is my best—and most coherent—guess.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Dismantling Narrative Conventions and the American Dream in "A Cool Million" and "The Big Lebowski"

Nathanael West and Joel and Ethan Coen have never been known for playing it straight. A Cool Million, subtitled The Dismantling of Lemuel Pitkin, and The Big Lebowski can be read as satires, if not parodies, of the American Dream of success. Their denial of coherence and lack of narrative discipline, deemed post-modern, their refusal to be constrained by the imperatives of conventional narrative and formal purity can be related to the way these works challenge the assumption that achievement is desirable and possible through hard work. Another connection between the novel and the movie is in the main characters’ embodiment of the Jewish folk character of the ‘schlemiel’—the clumsy, inept, charismatic character that stumbles from one situation to the next, pushed around by circumstances that are not of his own making. In following characters that are not in charge of their own destiny through convoluted plots that are ultimately absurd and somewhat incoherent, Nathanael West and the Coen brothers challenge not only narrative and stylistic conventions, but the conventional ideas of progress and improvement through work.