Ways in which the stylistic tendency of minimalism has been explored throughout cinema history.

Write a research plan on a topic selected from the list provided.Include entries on two to three films relevant to your argument, outlining salient aspects of each film’s style and form using the methods of formal analysis from Film Art: An Introduction. 
Take your time to research and think about your essay from the early weeks of the semester. The work you put into the Research Plan is critical to produce a successful Research Essay. Remember that the percentage grade for the Research Plan and Essay is 50% of the total marks for this course. Aim to select and decide on a topic by Week 3 (or 4 at the latest) so that you have 5 weeks to do the required research. The time taken in doing the groundwork will be invaluable in the crafting of your eventual Research Essay in weeks 9-12.

Secondary Research
You must review the literature on your topic and incorporate external scholarly/critical sources to support your argument. Ensure to consider the validity of the sources you decide to cite. Who is considered an expert or a leading scholar in your field of investigation? You are able to determine this by noting the frequency of people’s names referenced by others writing on the topic. For example, film scholar Robin Wood is widely cited on the subject of the critical interpretation of Hitchcock’s films. (See Ken Mogg’s list of sources under aesthetic or critical studies in his great director’s profile of Hitchcock http://sensesofcinema.com/2005/great-directors/hitchcock/).
Primary Research
When researching your topic you will discover critics and scholars discussing particular films. You are required to watch a selection of relevant films (the Bond Film & Television Collection contains over 4,000 films) and critically analyse their form and style using the Bordwell method. Ensure you take detailed screening notes during your viewing (it may be a good idea to have the textbook handy to help describe particular techniques), think about these observations and write up parts of your analysis that you feel are most relevant to your essay’s argument. You will need to return to your key secondary critical sources following your viewing of the films chosen to draw out further insightful ideas.
The quality of both your primary research (critical analysis of chosen films) and secondary research (literature review and discussion) is an important consideration in this assignment.
Your Research Plan will follow the normal scholarly conventions of citation and documentation and will be due on Thursday week 9 by 3pm.
You must submit your Research Plan by uploading to Turnitin by the due date below


  1. Authorship: Select three films which you believe are major works by one of the following directors:
    Alfred Hitchcock David Cronenberg Jean Renoir John Cassavetes
    Martin Scorsese Akira Kurosawa François Truffaut P.T. Anderson
    Peter Greenaway Stanley Kubrick Yasujiro Ozu Catherine Breillat
    Krzysztof Kieslowski Gus Van Sant Todd Haynes Leni Riefenstahl
    Woody Allen Ingmar Bergman Brian De Palma Abel Ferrara
    Orson Welles Atom Egoyan Wong Kar-Wai Raoul Ruiz
    Hou Hsiao-hsien Howard Hawks Jean-Luc Godard Stan Brakhage
    Michael Mann John Woo Christopher Nolan Terry Gilliam
    Michael Haneke David Fincher Billy Wilder Steven Soderbergh
    Robert Bresson John Waters Federico Fellini Andy Warhol
    Michelangelo Antonioni Jane Campion Jia Zhangke Douglas Sirk
    Luis Bunuel John Ford Andrei Tarkovsky Tsai Ming-liang
    Sergei Eisenstein Kenji Mizoguchi Dario Argento Vincente Minnelli
    R.W. Fassbinder Terrence Malick Alejandro Jodorowsky Guy Maddin
    Wes Anderson Michel Gondry Errol Morris D.A. Pennebaker
    Abbas Kiarostami Sergio Leone Guillermo del Toro Takashi Miike
    Kathryn Bigelow The Coen Brothers Lars von Trier Agnes Varda 
    Richard Linklater David O. Russell John Carpenter Joe Dante
    Bela Tarr Harmony Korine Lynne Ramsay Joss Whedon*

Tim Burton Sofia Coppola Nicholas Winding-Refn Asghar Farhadi

Examine the major formal, stylistic, and thematic patterns present in the 3 works in an effort to establish the authorial signature of the chosen director. NOTE: NO NOT USE interviews with the chosen director as research sources for this question. DO NOT include biographical aspects of the chosen filmmaker. Responses are to be critical interpretations of the filmmaker’s work.

  1. Describe ways in which the stylistic tendency of minimalism has been explored throughout cinema history.
  2. It has been argued that the films of a nation “reflect its mentality” since they are collective activities intended for a mass audience. Critically apply this statement to one of the following, making sure to connect formal/stylistic/thematic factors with social, historical, and cultural concerns:
    a- Italian Neo-Realism
    b- German Expressionism
    c- Soviet Montage
    d- French New Wave “Well, you know, it’s a dream of dark and troubling things.”
    -David Lynch describing Eraserhead (1978)
    “It’s a strange world, isn’t it.”
    – from Blue Velvet (1986)
  3. Assess these statements with respect to at least three of Lynch’s works.
  4. Critically assess the function of popular music as a stylistic device. Consider instances in some of the following works:
    – Mean Streets (1973), Boogie Nights (1997), American Graffiti (1973), Casino (1995), Spring Breakers (2013)
  5. Discuss either A) the concept and functions of ‘intensified continuity’ OR B) ‘Chaos cinema’ and its connections to intensified continuity
  6. Comment on the significance of nostalgia in Woody Allen’s oeuvre. In your answer be sure to refer to at least one of the following Woody Allen pictures: Play it Again, Sam (1972)*, Annie Hall (1977), The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985), Hannah & Her Sisters (1986), Crimes & Misdemeanours (1989), Manhattan Murder Mystery (1993).
  7. “I steal from every single movie made… If my work has anything {to it} it’s because I’m taking this from this and that from that, piecing them together.”
    -Quentin Tarantino
    Examine the stylistic influences on the films of Quentin Tarantino and how this is crucial to understanding his approach to cinema. Take specific note of some of the following: Scorsese, Peckinpah, Godard, Melville, Corman, Leone, Schrader, Argento, and Woo.
  8. Outline the stylistic function of low-fi aesthetics in art cinema. Use examples to demonstrate how low-fi aesthetics create particular meaning.
  9. Critically analyse the concept of surrealism in cinema.
  10. Define and classify the formal strategies and conventions of at least one strand of Independent American Cinema.
  11. Examine the style, form and genre of ‘Quality TV’ of the last decade. In what ways do recent major cable series differ from the television style of earlier decades (consider narrative complexity), and in what ways do they employ ‘cinematic’ tendencies? Refer to such shows as The Sopranos (1999-2007), The Wire (2002-2008), Six Feet Under (2004-2008), Deadwood(2004-2006), Battlestar Galactica (2004-2009), Mad Men (2007-2015), Game of Thrones (2011- ), Girls (2012- ) and Westworld (2016- ).
  12. Examine A) a sub-category of documentary cinema or B) a major approach to experimental film. Isolate the particular aspects of the sub-category / approach by discussing a small range of salient films and explain its contribution to documentary / avant-garde cinema.
  13. A) Trace the pattern of development of one of the following film genres from its early traditions to its current state highlighting significant shifts throughout its progression or B) Examine the significance of a single period in the development of one of the following film genres or C) Examine the particular codes and conventions of a sub-genre of one of the following genres and explain its significance to the genre as a whole:
    a- Western b- crime thriller
    c- horror d- science-fiction
    e- musical f- romantic comedy
    g- biopic h- Teen movie
    I- action film j- Fantasy film
    k- gangster film l- film noir
    m- war film n- epics
    o- exploitation film 
  14. What is a cult film? Using a wide range of examples, critically outline the defining characteristics of this mercurial type of cinema.
  15. Examine the concept of comic parody in film referring to at least two of the following:
    •the spy movie- The Austin Powers series (1997-2002)
    •the disaster movie- Flying High (1980)
    •police thriller- The Naked Gun (1988)
    •the classic horror film- Young Frankenstein (1974)
    •the suspense thriller- High Anxiety (1977)
    •the Western- Blazing Saddles (1974)
  16. Choose 3 musicals (one from the Classical period (1930s-1950s), one from the 1960s-1990s and a musical from post-2000) and discuss key formal, thematic and stylistic characteristics of the musical film genre. Ensure you address how musical sequences are integrated into each film.
  17. Examine the formal similarities and differences between the family melodrama film genre [eg. Imitation of Life (Sirk, 1959)] and its television manifestation in the form of the soap opera – eg. Melrose Place (1992-1999), Dawson’s Creek (1998-2003), The OC (2000-2007), Gossip Girl (2007-2012).
  18. What are the implications of J. P. Telotte’s claim that film noir is “a nearly schizophrenic form, powerfully pulled in different directions by both realistic and fantastic impulses”? (see J. P. Telotte, “The fantastic realism of film noir: Kiss me deadly”. Wide angle 14, no.1 (1992):4-18.)
  19. Comment on the proposition that screwball romantic comedies such as Bringing up Baby (1938), The Awful Truth (1937), Moonlighting (1985-89), Love and Other Catastrophes (1996), and Gilmore Girls (2000-2007) clearly expose the class differences, social problems and sexual issues of the period in which they are produced.
  20. What is understood by Post-Classical cinema and how are ideas about narrative form and storytelling inflected by this concept?
  21. ‘It’s an ultra-violent, romantic musical-western set in space!’ – Discuss the concept of genre hybridization. Examine a small range of films that could be considered to belong to a hybrid genre, considering how the genre signifiers and conventions interact.
  22. What formal characteristics are shared between cinema and videogames? In what ways have film conventions influenced videogame form since the 5th console generation?
  23. Discuss the ‘puzzle film’ (eg. Last Year at Marienbad (1961)) in terms of its defining characteristics, especially its complex approach to narrative form. Use film examples drawn from both mainstream and art cinema.
  24. Consider the music video genre in relation to form and aesthetics paying attention to the relationship between music and abstract qualities such as space, texture and time. Analyse a selection of significant music videos by leading music video directors such as Michel Gondry, Spike Jonze, Mark Romanek, Jonathan Glazer, Chris Cunningham, and OK-GO in an effort to identify key qualities of music video form.
  25. Discuss the formal characteristics of sequence elements in relation to a selection of film series.