Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Uni Chornicles

I have of course been at uni for the past three weeks, which is partly why I have no time to blog. It’s been good so far, pretty full-on but I suppose I couldn’t expect anything less with three post-grad subjects.

Popular Fiction on Mondays is proving to be a blast. It makes a change to be in an environment where genre fiction is encouraged, rather than snubbed in favour of so called literary fiction. That divide is in fact the source of much discussion in terms of where genre lines are drawn, and how often literary fiction still fall within a specific genre – or how some of the best genre fiction are of literary quality. This week is the final one of our crime module, dealing with the notion of sub-genres and adventure. Thankfully I don’t have to read another book - it’s The Da Vinci Code, already done and dusted. I’m quite annoyed as I read Raymond Chandler’s Farewell, my lovely for Monday just past, and then I was just too sick to go to class. Waste of time. It’s all just writing assignments for the class, which is lovely.

Theory & Writing is...well what you expect of a theory class, I suppose. It’s a lot of reading. A lot. Last week I naively attempted to do it during my lunch hour but it amounted to forty pages, and just wasn’t going to happen. We also had to read Madame Bovary , a classic by all accounts and a must-read for stylistic purposes. I read the first few chapters, skimmed the ending, and wikipedia’d the rest. I will try to read the whole thing at some point, it’s not stupidly huge like, oh I don’t know, Anna Karenina and it seems to do some interesting things with point of view, but I just don’t have the patience for 19th century fiction right now. For this class we sadly have to do a presentation/essay (but which I mean you present your essay but the presentation isn’t graded). I so desperately wanted the popular culture week but someone else wanted it too – I agreed to a coin toss but the girl doing it totally fucked it up. She dropped the coin, picked it up, dropped it on the table again, and then revealed it on her hand with a flourish – as you do. I would have called for another toss, but as I’d lost, it would just have looked like I was a bad loser. Huff. I should have called for a round of rock-papers-scissors-lizard-spock. So instead I have the following week – postmodernism. That thud you just heard is my head meeting the desk.

The past two weeks in that class has actually consisted of watching The Bicycle Thief (or Bicycle Thieves as the original translation goes), a much-loved, award winning Italian film from 1948. During our first viewing I was fairly ambivalent to it, I wasn’t wowed but I had no ill-feelings either. The second class changed this however. For one thing, after a week in between, I found it hard to muster any care factor. Secondly, I was both sick and tired, and so the agonisingly slow pace was especially grating. The way Antonio runs! Why? Just why? If he actually did it properly he might possibly have caught up to someone. Then there are the subtitles that only appear for certain characters. I think I’d appreciate this film much more if I actually spoke Italian, I find that things said in passing often add depth to a film, even if by a random characters – why else would it be in the script? When Antonio, for example, goes to visit the psychic, I’d like to know what she’s saying to the other people she sees, just to add some metaphorical colour to the proceedings. Also – spoiler alert – he should have thought to steal a bike ages before he does. Then there’s all the pained standing around while he wrestles of the moral implications and yadda yadda yadda. He really lost me in that scene because frankly, if he is that incompetent in everything, he deserved to have his bike stolen. I know, I’m a cold hearted bitch, what can I say? I know I’m supposed to sympathise with this down on his luck character and his situation as he tries to provide for his family in the depression of post-war Italy, but I think for me personally there is only so much tragedy and misfortune I can watch before my mind rebels against it. There’s no variation, it’s just a steady decline, and after a while I can’t help but roll my eyes.

On the other hand, in Writing Seminar we watched All About Eve, a 1950s Oscar winner starring Bette Davis, which is a brilliant film I had no idea existed. It is witty, engaging, so cleverly done, and quite ahead of its time really. It does remind me a bit of Sunset Boulevard in theme but it doesn’t feel quite as long as that one did. It’s just dazzlingly sophist acted in its execution. I’ve just realised both films actually have the same score on IMDb, how funny.

All the filming watching has made it a pretty cruisy two weeks and now we’re heading into the madness and mayhem of presentations, essays and workshops. I actually have to present on All About Eve and Election for ‘Interpretations of a theme’ which should be quite fun. My workshop pieces for two classes are due next week, and then everything else is due after the break. I can’t believe it’s week four already though. Where does time go?
But the learning mobile!

Music: Hard days night - The Beatles
Mood: Relaxed

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