Tuesday, January 24, 2012

American Movies and the Politics of Idealism (Media Mondays at the JCC)

I want to thank Adam Nayman for the shout-out in his piece on these classes in The Grid. - D.D.

You like the movies? And you want to hear and talk about them? You should check out the eight-part series by veteran critic Kevin Courrier (Critics At Large), Reflections in the Hall of Mirrors: American Movies and the Politics of Idealism. As part of the Media Mondays at the Miles Nadal JCC every Monday, except for February 20th and March 12th, from 7PM to 9PM, Courrier will be connecting the changing zeitgeist from the sixties onwards with the Hollywood films that best encapsulates them. From John F. Kennedy assassination in 1963 all the way to Barack Obama's inauguration in 2009. No American presidential era will be left unexamined. Like the great new Stephen King book 11/22/63, Courrier starts the course off with one of the turning points in American history - the death of John F. Kennedy. The shooting that happened in Dallas and its portrayal and discussion on network broadcasting will have a large impact on the population and culture and there will be a rippling effect throughout the following eras. News footage and video clips from the eras are examined and, for someone that was born in '88, these clips and background are revelatory. Even though the course is on American idealism there is still something quintessentially Canadian about them. Courrier's tone and demeanor is that of the infectious Canadian friendliness along with a modest authority and a well-researched intelligence. While Courrier's background in journalism and music brings a comprehensiveness as it allows him to bring up many other aspects of the culture. While there is also something personal about the series as this is his selection and he has lived through these times in both Oshawa and Toronto, Ontario. From the two classes that I have attended the lessons have been on par with other zeitgeist film critics like Siegfried Kracauer, Robin Wood and Jim Hoberman. Particular images from films are studied to see how they resonate with a wider culture of the time and the filmmakers that have receive the most focus, so far, are John Frankenheimer and Arthur Penn. All of these classes are for the preparation for a book Courier is writing, which I am sure would be fantastic, but there is just so much more that you get through the classes. If you are in the area you should definitively check them out.

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