Monday Links

I’m procrastinating on some grading again, but at least now with three or so weeks left, I can see the light at the end of the semester, so here are a few of my morning and (almost afternoon) distractions:

  • After seeing Smart People this weekend and reading about The Visitor (and contemplating Luke Wilson’s tenure movie) I’m stuck on one of my favorite questions again: representations of academics on the big screen. I’ve obviously complained quite a bit about stereotypical depictions of frumpy academics, but what I haven’t articulated quite as clearly is the fact that invariably professors on the big screen are male, a point that The Bittersweet Girl raised in a recent blog post. BSG mentions Sally Kellerman’s Sex Pot professor in Back to School and Barbara Streisand’s character in The Mirror Has Two Faces, and in the comments Flavia mentions Julia Roberts’ character in Mona Lisa Smile, but I’m having trouble thinking of any others. Obviously, there are female professors in supporting roles in many of these films, but depictions of female professors seem to occur with far less frequency.*
  • I’ve been planning to promote Chris Cagle’s proposal for a Film of the Month blog/group for a while now, but with all of my Full Frame blogging, I’d forgotten. Basically, once a month, a participant will select a movie that others in the group will watch, and then the blog will provide a space for the discussion of that film. It sounds like a great way to discover new movies and to have conversations about them. Girish has selected the first movie in the series, The Emperor’s Naked Army Marches On.
  • There’s an interesting Hollywood Reporter article on the role of 3-D cinema in driving the conversion to digital projection in theaters, and Scott Kirsner at CinemaTech also points to an interesting article on some low-budget 3-D films in the works.
  • Finally, Anthony Kaufman has an interesting blog post about the “big” movie fallacy. Addressing the hype over small-screen convenience, Kaufman challenges the conventional assumption that “small” films such as documentaries and indie films work better on the (super) small screen than big screen epics such as Lawrence of Arabia or Transformers. I think he’s basically right on many of the key points, especially in his reading of the “gulf” between the two main protagonists in Old Joy, a gulf that seems significantly larger on a big screen. But I’m really citing Anthony’s post because it reminded me of the degree to which this year’s Oscars almost seemed to be mourning the obsolescence of the big screen experience.

* The Cinetrix points out that Ann Hornaday used Smart People as a vehicle for thinking about the whole “professors on film” phenomenon.  Given that Hornaday was a finalist for a Pulitzer this year, I think that puts BSG and me in pretty good company.


  1. The Bittersweet Girl Said,

    April 14, 2008 @ 4:03 pm

    Thanks for picking up the thread. I’m curious to see if your readers can think of any more examples of the elusive female professor on film. Or, maybe I really don’t want to know. I have visions of neurotic, frumpy, and bespeckled scolds.

  2. Chuck Said,

    April 14, 2008 @ 6:03 pm

    The two most fleshed-out female professors in Smart People were pretty stereotypical. One was a frumpy scold obsessed with identity politics. The other was a (needy) younger Asian woman who was sleeping with the Dennis Quaid character’s daughter. There’s probably a stereotype in there somewhere. At least in Wonder Boys, Frances McDormand’s dean was the sanest character in the film.

    I did write about this topic almost exactly four years ago, in the earliest days of this blog, and looking back at that post, I find that virtually all of the professors I mention are male, although that rule isn’t quite as strong, of course, for high school teachers.

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