Reviewing “Ladybird” (Cultural study activities autumn-winter 2019-20)

Dear Students,

we’re going to talk about the film Lady Bird today. First though, a quick review of the concept of culture and few words about movie reviewing.

Culture

  • A variety of cultural artworks and activities (like movies, going to the movies). Not high or low culture, but artworks and activities we can judge on their own merits.
  • A way of life
  • A society’s values

Movie reviewing

  • Title, topic, release date, country of production.
  • Story, plot, characters.
  • Genre (type of movie, see definition below), style.
  • Creative craft elements including, for example, quality of script, direction and performances, visual design and cinematography,  lighting, set design, costume, hair, make-up, special effects, sound, music, editing.
  • Social, historical, cultural, political themes and significance. 
  • Your relationship to/perspective on the film.

Small group discussion 1: Hometowns and high schools

SacramentoCalifornia
“Anyone who talks about California hedonism has never spent a Christmas in Sacramento” Joan Didion
  • What kind of a hometown is Sacramento for the character Lady Bird/Christine?
  • Where does she want to go? What kind of a place is that?
  • What is your hometown? Where is it? What is it like? How does it compare to big cities like Beijing, Shanghai and Tianjin?
  • What was your high school like? Do you miss anything about it? If so, what or who? How does it compare to the high school in Lady Bird?
  • If/when you were to go to America to study what kind of a city would you like to go and live in while studying?

Group discussion 2: Lady Bird characters

twopeasinapod
Marion and Christine McPherson
lb friends
Lady Bird and Julie
dad
Larry McPherson
warmup
Danny
thecoolgirl
Jenna
thecoolguy
Kyle
ShellyMiguel
Manuel & Shelly
fthr
Father Leviatch
SrSarah
Sister Sarah Joan

1.Who are they and what are they like?

2. What are the main relationships in Lady Bird. What is the story of those relationships (what happens)?

3. What do you think of the way the film shows the different romantic relationships and gender identities (male, female, gay)?

4. How do the relationships in the film compare to your experience of or ideas about Chinese relationships?

Craft elements of the film.

  1. Genre and style.

Genre is the term for any category of literature or other forms of art or entertainment, e.g. music, whether written or spoken, audio or visual, based on some set of stylistic criteria, particular forms and particular kinds of content.

Genres are formed by conventions (ways of doing things/showing or expressing things) that change over time as new genres are invented and the use of old ones are discontinued.

Often, works fit into multiple genres by way of borrowing and recombining these conventions.

Discussion questions:

  1. What kinds of genre(s) does Lady Bird use?
  2. Can you talk about parts of the film where you thought the visual design and cinematography was especially interesting or good?
  3. What other craft elements did you think were interesting or particularly good in the film? (reminder, craft elements include quality of script, direction and performances,  lighting, set design, costume, hair, make-up, special effects, sound, music, editing.

Questions for bookworms.

These lines are recited at the beginning of the film.

Her hand moved behind his head and supported it

Her fingers moved gently in his hair

She looked up and across the barn

And her lips came together

And smiled mysteriously.

Q: What novel do they come from, who is the author and where in the novel do they come?

Lady Bird and the different concepts of Culture

1. We’ve discussed aspects of Lady Bird as an artwork, as a filmic text with various artistic qualities.

2. We’ve also discussed Lady Bird in terms of various forms of the American (teenage, family, working/middle class, urban) way of life.

3. What about Lady Bird and culture in terms of values. What American values can you see in the movie?

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