HIS 2605 / GSW 2600 “At the Movies” Assignment
The concept of “Thumbs Up” / “Thumbs Down” for movie reviews began some years
ago with legendary film critics Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel. The pair cohosted
many years a movie review series on PBS which appeared under several names,
including “At the Movies.” Each week the two men would watch approximately five new
releases, taking turns on providing a synopsis and independent review for two to three
of the films they watched that week. This assignment is designed in the spirit of Siskel
and Ebert’s work and you can find full episodes of their reviews at the webpage
IMPORTANT: This assignment has multiple parts and dates. Make note of each one.
PART ONE: Review the list of 10 paired movies below. Some of them you may know
and others you will not. Feel free to look them up as you determine which film you
would like to work with for this assignment.
Also, it would be helpful if you could inform both the instructor and your classmates of
the film you picked. Please do so in the “At the Movies Choices” Discussion Board; and
do so preferably before the end of the day on Sunday, July 8th.
PART TWO: You will be responsible for watching the movie which you have selected,
but you are not responsible for watching the movie it is paired with. Still, you may want
to watch that movie and maybe some of the other movies since it will add to the
dialogue between you and your classmates during the Discussion Board portion of this
For the movie that you have selected, it may be necessary for you to do some outside
research. If you do so, make sure to include a bibliography at the end of your essay.
The question for this assignment is as follows:
“What is the importance of gender and or sexuality in the main characters’
construction of their individual identities?”
Write up your findings in a 3 – 4 page analytical response essay. Your response is
not a simple review of the movie and or a retelling of its plot. Instead, your analysis is to
be a formulation of your own thoughts about the movie which effectively argues your
answer to the question. Proper grammar, sentence and paragraph construction are
expected. You are also to include a bibliography listing your background research
sources. The assignment link for this part of the “At the Movies” assignment will
be open from 12:00 am on Tuesday, July 17th, to 11:59 pm on Tuesday, July 24th.
Please note that this link will submit your paper through Safe Assign accordingly.
The analytical essay is due by 11:59 pm on Tuesday, July 24th.
PART THREE: Write up a 1 2
paragraph brief review of your selected movie and
post it to your assigned “At the Movies” Discussion Board, located in the assignment
folder. Your review should include the title of the movie (with the year it was released),
briefly describe what the movie is about, and a statement as to whether or not your
classmates should view it as well. Once you do this, make sure to respond to the
reviews posted by the other students in the group. Ask questions, offer your
perspective, and put your analytical skill sets to work; and as stated in the “Course
Conduct / ‘Netiquette’
Statement,” always engage with your classmates and the
instructor in a courteous and considerate manner. Failure to do so can and will result in
disciplinary action in accordance with the WSU Student Code of Conduct.
The “At the Movies” discussion boards will as well be open from 12:00 am on
Tuesday, July 17th, to 11:59 pm on Tuesday, July 31st.
Your movie analysis is not to be a simple review of the movie and or a retelling of
its plot. Instead, your analysis is to be a formulation of your own thoughts about the
movie; and make sure to effectively argue your answer to the question. Your paper
must begin with an introductory paragraph in which you present your thesis (argument
statement) and briefly discuss how you are going to back it up in the body paragraphs of
Some find it very helpful to utilize the “5 Paragraph Essay” format for this type of
assignment. With this formant, a paper begins with an “Introduction” which contains a
thesis statement. Following the “Introduction” there are a minimum of 3 “Body”
paragraphs. Each one of these paragraphs flows from the thesis statement and contain
material which builds/backs up your argument. It is best to limit each paragraph to a
particular idea / topic. Finally, your paper should end with a “Conclusion.” In this final
paragraph you restate
your thesis and sum up the points made by you in the “Body”
paragraphs. Usually the very last sentence relates your work to a general theme.
Utilize your full length 34
page movie analysis as a guide for writing up your
review to be posted in your assigned “At the Movies” discussion board group.
This assignment is worth 20% of a student’s overall grade. For the analytical
essay portion of this assignment, there is a potential of 70 points; and for the
discussion board group portion, potentially 30 points. Hence, there is a potential total
of 100 points. Good Luck!
HIS 2605 / GSW 2600 “At the Movies” Choices & Group Pairings
1. Forbidden Love
a. Brokeback Mountain (2005): Winner of 3 Oscars, including Best
Director (Ang Lee), Brokeback Mountain tells the story of Ennis
Del Mar (Heath Ledger) and Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhaal), two
cowboys in mid-20th Century Wyoming whose romantic connection
is troubled by both theirs‛ and society‛s conceptualization of
gender and sexuality.
b. Loving (2016): Stars Ruth Negga and Joel Edgerton in the story
of Mildred and Richard Loving, the Virginia couple whose story led
to the U.S. Supreme Court‛s 1967 ruling that laws prohibiting
interracial marriage were unconstitutional.
2. Sexuality & Coming of Age
a. Boys Don‛t Cry (1999): Hillary Swank won her first Oscar for her
portrayal of Brandon Teena, a young man coming of age and
hanging with the guys in a small Nebraska town; but Brandon‛s life
is ruined when his biological sex is discovered.
b. Moonlight (2016): Winner of the Oscar for Best Picture, this
poignant film examines three critical time periods in the life of
Chiron (Alex R. Hibbert; Ashton Sanders; & Trevante Rhodes) as
he comes to terms with his sexuality in a rough Miami
3. Sexuality & Family
a. The Kids Are Alright (2010): The lives of Jules (Julianne Moore)
and Nic (Annette Benning), a loving couple in a long-term
relationship, are turned upside down as their two children (Mia
Wasikowska; Josh Hutcherson) contact their sperm donor father
b. The Birdcage (1996): Based upon the 1978 French comedy La
Cage aux Folles, this movie is also a take on “Guess Who‛s Coming
to Dinner?” as Armand (Robin Williams) and Albert (Nathan Lane)
host for dinner their straight son‛s fiancé and her ultraconservative
parents (Gene Hackman & Dianne Wiest).
4. Sexuality & Social Issues
a. Dallas Buyers Club (2013): Matthew McCanaughey won an Oscar
for his portrayal in this film of Ron Woodroof, the real-life Dallas
electrician and rodeo bull rider who contracted HIV through
unprotected sex in the mid-1980s. Through both his efforts and
his business partnership with the transgender Rayon (Jared Leto),
Woodroof helped numerous others gain access to life prolonging
b. Rent (2005): Based upon the off-Broadway musical of the same
name, Rent is a year in the life of a group of struggling, young
New Yorkers as they attempt to deal with issues of sexuality,
drug abuse, the ongoing AIDS Epidemic, and paying the rent.
5. Transgender Individuals & Issues
a. Albert Nobbs (2011): Set in late-19th century Dublin, Albert
Nobbs (Glenn Close) has been an upstanding employee and waiter
at Morrison‛s Hotel who dreams of opening a business of his own;
and when he encounters painter Hubert Page (Janet McTeer),
Albert discovers that he can dream of companionship too.
b. The Danish Girl (2015): Both Alicia Vikander and Eddie Redmayne
received Oscars for their portrayals of Danish artists Gerda and
Einar Wegener, the real-life couple who came to terms with
Einar‛s gender during his pioneering transition to Lili Elbe, one of
the first individuals to undergo sex reassignment surgery.
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