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Wasp - Wasp is an excellent example of using flaws in order to make a character believable, sympathetic and real. The writer could easily have depicted the mother as a negligent slut, but instead chose to portray far more nuanced character who sincerely loves her children but does not do right by them due to her socioeconomic status and lack of support and parenting skills. This is accomplished through contrasting the mother’s negative actions, such as leaving them outside the bar, with her positive actions, like dancing for the children and rushing to them when they scream for her.

The subtext of this film is dripping with questions: Where did the children's father go? What had happened to the boyfriend that he had left the army? What was the mother and boyfriend's relationship with the past? The film offers up these tantalizing questions but refuses to answer them. Generally, I'm a fan of tying up loose threads, but as these questions are not incredibly relevant to the story, leaving them unanswered adds intrigue and allows the viewer to fill in the blanks themselves. Speaking of questions the film raises, the way to distinguish between good questions and bad ones, structurally speaking, is whether the question is a major one that impacts the plot or a minor one that adds intrigue. If I finished watching this film and was left wondering what the mother's motivation for her actions was, then that would be a 'bad' question, as this should have been answered in the film and is an essential part of the plot. However, since I'm left wondering how the mother and the boyfriend's relationship ended in the first place, it's a more subtle question that does not impact the plot. We don't need to know specifics about the end of their relationship - it's obvious that the two had been separated yet still liked each other. Knowing what happened is not relevant to the story.

The title of the film, Wasp, obviously refers to the wasp that lands on the baby's mouth. However according to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word 'wasp' also means "Something that irritates or offends one." I think there's an interesting bit of wordplay going on here, as 'wasp' can refer to both the event with the insect that causes the mother to ultimately choose her children, but also hints to their role in her life as something holding her back and irritating her. (This observation was brought to you by my Romantic Lit class, which consisted of me writing essays on how certain key words have multiple meanings to them and thus reflect a fascinating truth about the text in question. See: Middlemarch and the word/name "Will".)

Some Folks Call It A Slingblade - I'm eternally grateful to this film for providing me with the inspiration to name my final film project for Prod 1. We had just watched SFCIAS in class, and I was thinking of a title for my film when I realized that SFCIAS drew its title from a catchy line in the dialogue that related to the subject matter, and thus I was able to create a title the same way for my film (I Tried to Bribe God).

This film was heavily dialogue driven to the point of having one character speak an extended monologue, which is typically a big no no in script writing but I guess if you know what you're doing, then you can get away with it. This just makes me extremely bitter because my above mentioned film I Tried to Bribe God was also dialogue driven and my teacher was like, 'ok, cut 2 minutes from this five minute film because people are ADD and can't sit through dialogue driven material unless you have a disgusting amount of camera angles and shots' YET people are perfectly capable of sitting through SFCIAS and its dialogue? And then I realized that the "talking heads" on tv shows are no more sophisticated than anything I did in my film, which leaves me wondering what the hell she was talking about, and if she just really meant 'your script sucks' but wouldn't say it? Because I am extremely, extremely disappointed with this shortened version of my film. Um, back to SFCIAS, which is to say I had no problem with the dialogue driven material - in fact, I adore dialogue and the set up of the film was done in such a perfect way that even though exposition was being shoved down our throats, it was fine because it was being told to an outsider who had a legitimate reason for being told this story. Telling exposition to an outsider is always a great way to get away with it, and numerous tv shows and movies start out with a newcomer (the "messenger") or brand new situation ("intrusion") in order to capitalize upon this tactic (See: Mulder the believer explaining the supernatural to Scully the young naive skeptic or Neo the literal newcomer).

Great job raising a really controversial issue and leaving the audience to chew on it. The reporter models a form of behavior for the audience to follow: she initially comes in hostile to the murderer, and leaves far more sympathetic and thoughtful. There are a couple of questions being posed, namely "Are murderers born or made? (nature vs nurture)" and "How should we deal with murderers who have been released?" What's also nice is that it isn't blatantly obvious as to what the writer thinks the answers are. I wanted to say that the writer believes that murderers are made, but upon thinking it over, I don't think that's the full answer. There's a bit of a sadistic streak in Carl that hints at his being born that way.

Oh, and the lighting was pretty.

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tamar the great

December 2009

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