Study of a Theme in Cinema: Bad Movies and Why We Love Them

Course Number
CIMS 0021 910
Course Code
Course Key
Secondary Program
Course Description
What is a "bad" movie, and who gets to decide? Can we still look at "bad" movies as an object of study? If, indeed, the movie is so "bad," then how is it so bad that it's good? This course urges students to embrace the good, the bad, and the low-budget film object as a means of advancing and practicing film literacy. Together we will reflect on methods of film criticism and theory and the practice of reading film itself. The emphasis of this course will be on how to apply methods of film criticism onto films that critics have deemed "unworthy". The approach is premised on the idea that both individual taste and world motion picture canon are open to question and revision. Each week we will grapple with an area of film criticism in tandem with a "bad film" and work towards applying an analytical frame to the film in question. We will begin by discussing the nature of a film object and question the hierarchies of taste that are attached to such objects. We will then interrogate the nature and history of cinephilia (and cinephobia) and film criticism, both as it is manifest in individuals and groups of individuals (a.k.a cult followings). Are all cult films created equal? What is a privileged moment or why do we like what we like, and can this be the basis for a coherent aesthetic? Other questions we will explore will be the notion of a canon and its use value. Are institutionalized standards necessary or do they merely limit the scope of film objects deemed "worthy" of study? What critical traditions and conditions of exhibition form the canon? Is it a matter of history, pedagogical necessity, audience demographics, critical fashion, or personal taste? If one person's trash is another's treasure, then this course invites students to dig through the wasteland of "bad cinema" in hopes of bringing theories of film criticism to task on a broader range of films than ever imaginable. Yes, you can write about that movie, and no, no one actually says you can't.
Subject Area Vocab