Category Archives: Assorted Thoughts

The Big Lebowski: Noir?

The Coen’s the” Big Lebowski” has long been one of my very favorite comedies, transcending genres and tones to stand as an entirely singular sort of film. Somewhere along the line I’ve heard it referred to as “slacker noir,” but I’d really never held the film in the same class as traditional noir, such as the other films on the list for this week. “Double Indemnity” in particular is a hallmark of the shadowy visual style of the genre. Considering further though, particularly in terms of plot, the Big Lebowski mimics many of the qualities of Wilder’s film, complete with femme fatales, conspiracies, and overall shadowy dealings. The Coens, however, have so much fun lampooning all of these qualities that I’ve never seriously analyzed it as a true work of noir. The kidnapping (or fake kidnapping) plot is hilariously absurd and over-the-top, having fun with the traditionally sketchy, shadowy dealings of films like Double Indemnity’s murder plot. In fact, the Coens have gone on record saying that the film’s plot is intentionally “hopelessly complex and ultimately unimportant.” Thus they are having fun with the genre’s notoriously mysterious, conspiratorial nature.

Where Lebowski is an entirely different beast is in the framing of its outrageous world, where nihilists roam free and severed  toes can be easily obtained by mid-afternoon. The colorful, zany LA presented by the Coens, politically punctuated by President Bush’s declaration that “We will not stand against this aggression in Kuwait,” reminds me a bit of Chinatown for some reason, even if I can’t put my finger on it. Perhaps the subtle political backdrop to both films naturally aligns them in my head. In fact, a 90s slacker version of Chinatown doesn’t sound too far off from Lebowski. The disparate time periods obviously do lead to different political preoccupations, and the Coens are all over the place with Lebowski. From romantic Vietnam Vet Walter Sobcheck quoting Theodor Herzel, “If you will it, dude, it is no dream,” to constant references to the Gulf War, the Coens are able to use their intentionally confounding plot as a lampooning vehicle for social/politcal commentary.

A Shaky History with Photography

I love film, but does that inherently mean I love photography? Well, yes and no.

I’ve been interested in landscape shots for as long as I can remember. I used to have my parents buy me those disposable cameras as a kid when we went on vacations so I could snap pictures of everything. I’m pretty sure I never once developed any of those, but the interest was undoubtedly there. Film made me fall in love with images in general I suppose, particularly color. I’m all about color. Weirdly though, I’m mostly about subtle colors; strong, simple colors. I like starkness and clear divisions in my photography. I prefer a strong, vibrant landscape of simplicity as opposed to a hectic, flashy one.

Here are a few random shots I took with my phone over Summer a few years back:

ferris wheel angle      Plane Cloud


Light pole


Ironically, I’m not sure if they really fit the description I just gave. That’s an interesting conversation in its own right. Regardless, I think this gives at least something of a background into my photography history. I have little technical background but a ton of passion and hopefully something of a knack for it despite my lack of professional experience. Finally adding some constructive guidance to my undeniable passionate interests would undoubtedly be helpful in bettering my photography skills.

First Post for ds106

hello world

Hello! This might end up something of a test post to make sure everything is coming through alright. I wasn’t sure what to pick for my Soundcloud bit. I’ve really never perused around there too much. I happened to see one of my favorite folk guitarists, Nick Drake, pop up and I listened to a remix of one of his most notable songs, Pink Moon. He’s a folk legend and this remix sounds really damn awesome in different bits.

A little about me: I’m a senior English major/ digital studies minor. I’m a lowly film buff, swearing allegiance to directors from Malick, Coppola, and Scorsese to newer guys like P.T Anderson, Spike Jonze, Charlie Kaufman, Darron Aronofsky…I could go on. I’m also big into video games, particularly history and theory. I’m into music as well, but much more casually than film or video games. I’ve been playing guitar, singing, and occasionally doing some personal recording for about eight or nine years. Folk rock is where it’s at.

As for noir this week, it was Dr. Barrenchea’s genre of choice when I took his intro to film studies class a number of semesters ago, so I definitely have a background interpreting its distinct visual style. One of the films we watched was actually made in 1987, Alan Parker’s Angel Heart. It’s a cool film that really harkens back to 40s/50s visual style. And you get to watch Robert DeNiro play the devil while Mickey Rourke of all people plays the hard-boiled detective. That’s a win in and of itself.

Anyway, I’m extremely excited to get going here with this class. I’m sure there are many good times ahead.