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1 Public Pedagogy Meet & Greet

January 15, 2011

  Following are the DVD covers with which I am confronted when I search my shelves.  I own all of these and return to them for an occasional viewing. 

At some point, each of these would be some form public display, either through billboards, movie posters outside the theater, or in a TV or online ad.  Most of the DVDs were selected by me through purchasing or others purchasing them for me as gifts.  A few were selected by others as movies in the genre they thought I would enjoy.  Among the latter include Transformers, The Dark Knight, and Star Trek.

Based solely on the movies below, one might guess that I am a suspense/action movie buff with a few sci fi/fantasy and comedies thrown in.  That guess would be correct.

The Bourne Supremacy

The Bourne Ultimatum

 I have not read Ludlum’s Bourne book series, but I love the feel created by director Tony Gilroy in all three films as well as the storyline and action.

The Bourne Identity



Catch me if you can

I was not a fan of Leonardo DiCaprio until this film came out in 2002.  Now I enjoy his work in such films as Shutter Island and Inception.

The Fellowship of the Ring

I did not like Tolkien’s The Hobbit, but I was a fan of the films.


Still the best Batman film, in my opinion.

Basic Instinct

Enemy of the State

The Royal Tenenbaums

  I often reference The Royal Tenenbaums as being one of my favorite movies of all time.  Something about the droll cast of characters and the bizarre realm that director and writer Wes Anderson has created never gets old.


Dumb and Dumber

Dumb and Dumber:  always good for a cheap laugh.

L.A. Confidential

L.A. Confidential perfectly captures how I envision 1950’s Los Angeles.  Whether it’s accurate or not is a different story.

The Two Towers

The Fugitive

The Usual Suspects

Absolutely The Usual Suspects is one of my favorites.  I figured out the twist ending within the first couple minutes of the film, but it still never gets old.

Ocean's Eleven

Ocean’s Eleven, an updated departure from the original 1960 version, remains one of my favorite films.  This is one I could watch anytime.

The Negotiator



Minority Report

The Rock

I visited Alcatraz this past summer which let me look at this Michael Bay film in a different light.  Transformers (another Michael Bay film) kept me captive, but I walked out of the theater during the second movie twenty minutes into the film.


The Game

Both The Game and Primal Fear have excellent twist endings.

Primal Fear

The Dark Knight

A Perfect Murder

The Shawshank Redemption

Star Trek

I was not a fan of the Star Trek films or series until this film.
11 Comments leave one →
  1. January 17, 2011 3:56 pm

    James, take a look at this 2 minute video on YouTube at and let us know which films in your list pass The Bechdel Test. This is one way to discern the public pedagogy of these films. Karen

    • January 18, 2011 3:38 pm

      Wow. I saw several of the DVDs listed above in this clip. I think the only DVD that comes close to passing is Hook. Although that’s questionable since the women may be talking about a man.

      I started thinking about what films exist that might pass this test. I thought of Sex and the City, but I’m guessing they are talking about men frequently. I thought about Something’s Gotta Give with Diane Keaton, Amanda Peet, and Frances McDormand, but they are usually talking about men (Jack Nicholson and Keanu Reeves). I thought about The First Wives Club, but then I remembered that they talk almost exclusively about men.

      Finally, I went to and found a list of movies that pass the test. From the 2010 list of 129 titles that pass the test, I have seen Alice in Wonderland, Clash of Titans, Date Night, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

      Perhaps it’s time for me to expand my cinematic horizons.

  2. Stephen Izzo permalink
    January 18, 2011 4:59 am

    I too have a ton of DVD’s. I actually had a lot of good movies on VHS, but the VCR is in storage and most of the tapes are so worn out it isn’t worth it.

    I remember my first DVD…it was GLADIATOR with Russell Crowe. Great flick.
    I would have to agree with you on some of your movies as being very good. My personal favorite from the list you provided is The Shawshank Redemption. I was surprised you didn’t have Forest Gump on that list. That is probably in my top 5 as well.

    My wife and I like different movies most of the time. I enjoy a good, stupid comedy every now and then (aka, Dumb and Dumber). She likes the mystery ones where she likes to figure out who the bad guy is in the first 15 minutes. But in the end, there are a lot of movies on your list that we’d both agree to watching.

    I also like movies that have actors such as Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones and anything with Tom Hanks.

    In undergrad about 10 years ago, I took an art history class on the history of film and video. I was introduced to a lot of classic, black and white films with actors such as Humphrey Bogart, Orson Welles and Charlie Chaplin. I probably never would have watched those movies if it wasn’t for that class.

    I think my most recent favorite movies that has come out in the past two years has been Gran Torino and Up!. How do you feel about animated movies? You also mentioned Royal Tenenbaums. What is that about? I never heard of it before.

    AED 813

    • January 18, 2011 3:22 pm

      I am a fan of Forrest Gump. It is a movie I can watch any time it’s on TV, and it doesn’t get old.

      I am also a Harrison Ford fan. I wasn’t big on the newest Indiana Jones film, but a lot of that had to do with the story and the diaglogue.

      I went to something called Screen on the Green where movies are shown on the National Mall. They were showing Arsenic and Old Lace which is a hilarious older black and white film. This opened my eyes to films of this time period. The only older movies I was familiar with were The Wizard of Oz, Gone with the Wind, and It’s a Wonderful Life until this movie.

      I can handle certain animated films. I did like The Incredibles and the first Shrek. I did not like Up! as much as I thought I would however.

      The Royal Tenenbaums is a sort of dark comedy. Karl Williams from writes the synopsis as:

      “Royal Tenenbaum (Gene Hackman) was a successful attorney who had three children with his wife Etheline (Anjelica Huston), an archaeologist. Each of the Tenenbaum kids was a precocious genius: Chas (Ben Stiller) made a killing as a child investor. Richie (Luke Wilson) was a junior tennis champ and three-time U.S. Nationals winner. The adopted Margot (Gwyneth Paltrow) was a playwright who won a 50,000-dollar Braverman Grant in the ninth grade. When Royal abruptly left his family, however, it was the beginning of two decades of betrayal and failure that would scar the Tenenbaums for life. Their past resentments are bitterly held against Royal when he suddenly reappears, claiming to have six weeks to live and a desire to reconnect with his family. Typically, Royal’s story is a sham, but his presence and sincere desire for absolution soon have a profound effect on the Tenenbaums, who are each dealing with thwarted desires and relationships. Among them are Richie’s lifelong love for Margot, who’s unhappily married to Raleigh St.Clair (Bill Murray) and Etheline’s eccentric engagement to Henry Sherman (Danny Glover), who wishes to marry her. The Royal Tenenbaums also co-stars Owen Wilson and features narration provided by Alec Baldwin.”

  3. January 19, 2011 7:44 pm

    Hi James,

    The Royal Tennenbaums is my favorite movie! Steven: it’s a really dark comedy with a fabulous soundtrack. In fact, I couldn’t help but hum along to the soundtracks of some of the films listed–perhaps that truly shows how multimodal art (or Visual Culture) is.


    • January 20, 2011 3:56 am

      March and Steven,
      The soundtrack truly is outstanding. A lot of the songs were composed by a man named Mark Mothersbaugh, but others by Paul Simon, Nico, Bob Dylan, The Velvet Underground, John Lennon, and more are included.

      Visually, Wes Anderson does not always follow the norm of using the rule of thirds in his shots. Instead he will often intentionally have the emphasis in the center with other elements being symmetrically placed on screen. It gives the film a completely unparalleled feel.

  4. January 20, 2011 1:17 am

    As a very visual person I enjoyed how you incorporated the DVD covers in your blog. I think sharing movie interests is a great and creative way to get to know someone. When reading your blog I also couldn’t help but think about the ways in which movies have impacted me throughout my life. Movies are a very influential medium.

  5. Kate permalink
    January 20, 2011 3:00 am

    I have always thought my DVD collection was a bit odd. I like many different genres of films. Many of the movies you listed, I didn’t think I would like, but my boyfriend, father, or brother convinced me to go and I ended up enjoying the movie. (Lord of the Rings, Batman, and Transformers are a few of these examples). My own collection is small, but mostly made up of Six Feet Under, The Gilmore Girls, Sex & the City, and older DVD’s like West Side Story and Gone with the Wind. The one that I picked out that seems most out of place with the rest would be Fight Club. I also have two Leonardo DiCaprio movies, Romeo & Juliet and The Departed (complete opposites!).

  6. January 20, 2011 4:55 am

    I find the styles of the movie covers so interesting, and so clearly linked to the time period in which they were made!

    The Bechdel test is quite fascinating. It makes me consider the chicken and the egg. How does this develop, so many movies without strong female presense? I was at The Dark Knight on opening weekend. I might have been the only female in the audience! Truly, in the packed theatre, I was outnumbered, 6 to 1. I didn’t know that as a female, I was supposed to drop my little brother off at The Dark Knight and go see Mamma Mia!

    (Personally, I was way too excited to see the movie. I loved Batman Begins and was all too happy that Batman made his way to Hong Kong, since I was flying through Hong Kong the very next weekend on my move to China!)

    But that brings me to another dilemma. I just watched Oceans 11 (above and mentioned in the youtube clip) again with some friends. The one girl announced in the beginning “I’ll watch anything with Brad Pitt.” But I have to say, I love the Bourne movies, for the movie AND Matt Damon. (Though I wouldn’t want to be Jason Bourne to be my boyfriend—they might accidentally shoot me because I switched seats with him during an intense car chase!) So we feed into these male-dominated movies, but at least some of them have some substance! Some of these movies that “pass” the Bechdel test only do so because two women happen to have a 30 second conversation about buying shoes or getting their nails done. Nothing of substance.

    It’s an interesting test, but I’m always looking for the loopholes and grey areas. Wall-E seems to cause some question for people—can we be upset if two women don’t talk when the movie is primarily non-humans and involves very little words at all? Also, if the (new) karate kid’s mom is talking to his principal about him (her son), does that count as talking about men? And how many of the movies that pass this test spend 75% of their plot with women pining over men? Most aren’t sophisticated movies where the characters just happen to be women; they’re chick flicks of little substance.

    Anyway, it’s a complex dilemma and I have no clue where I stand on this, except that I own the Bourne movies and will watch them over and over again…

  7. Rodney Draughn permalink
    January 26, 2011 4:20 am

    I also liked how you included the artwork for the dvd covers/movie posters in your post. This seems to provide a snapshot of the movie which will appeal to consumers and movie buffs alike that will draw them in to purchase/watch.

  8. January 26, 2011 4:04 pm

    It is a complex dilemma in which the chicken and egg contested origin is an apt analogy. The Bechdel test raises questions that Stephanie poses, why so few box office hits of popular films include women engaged is substantive conversation?

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