FOUNDATIONS OF URBAN AND REGIONAL ENVIRONMENTS
Course Director Prof. Roger Keil – Fall/Winter 2015-16
Assignment #2 (15% of total grade) Main Purpose: Book or movie review
This assignment is a review. You have the choice of reviewing either a movie or a book.
For the movie, you can select one out of six. Please note that five of them are feature films, one is a documentary. If you are unclear about the difference, consider this: the feature films are fictional, they have actors; a documentary is defined as “a nonfictional motion picture intended to document some aspect of reality, primarily for the purposes of instruction or maintaining a historical record”. The latter usually don’t have actors in it but may use a narrator or dramatize certain aspects of what is depicted.
These films are all fairly recent and easily available in digital form, through providers such as Netflix and in libraries.
1) Omar (Palestine 2013)
2) Biutiful (Mexico 2010)
3) Revolutionary Road (USA 2009)
4) Do the Right Thing (USA 1989)
5) Kanehsatake (Canada 2008): 270 Years of Resistance
6) Halloween Special: Citadel (Ireland 2012)
For the book, you have only one option. Please note that Consolation is a novel (not a nonfiction book, for example). It is also not an academic book (like the textbooks for our course, for instance). Think about what that means in terms of how the author treats his subject matter:
Michael Redhill, Consolation (Toronto 2007). This is a truly captivating novel about Toronto that weaves two stories from two centuries into one narrative. You won’t regret reading it!
Generally, here is what you should keep in mind:
The review is a mix of observation and analysis. You will have to show what you have learned in class so far when watching and reviewing the movies or the book. The main point is that you use ideas and facts from the readings and the lectures to comment on the book/movie. There are various options for you here: how do cities change? Do the movies and the book show, illustrate or talk about how we are now living in an urbanized society? What is urban life like in the late 20th (New York, Montreal) or early 21st centuries (Jerusalem, Barcelona, Glasgow, Toronto, the world)? How are centrality, difference, mediation, segregation, the city as process and other important concepts expressed in the book and in the movies? Pick a thought, topic, idea and run with it!
Do it as elegantly as you can. Try not to be clumsy. Be creative.
Read a lot of reviews before you get started in order to see what is expected.
A review is not a reaction paper.
Prepare for this task by familiarizing yourself with the genre of the review. Read reviews in daily papers (Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, New York Times) or in specialized magazines (such as the LA Review of Books (my favourite but very demanding), London Review of Books, the New York Review of Books, or the Literary Review of Canada) in order to see how it is done.
Remember that a review includes an argument, a thesis about the work’s major points. It is not just a report, a description of the book’s or movie’s content. You need to engage with the text/film critically instead of merely rehashing it. This means you need to assess the merits and drawbacks of the work’s main argument(s) and claims. This assessment should take up most of the review.
More specifically, the review must include:
(1) a brief but precise summary of the movie/book’s focus and overall argument (not each point, not each scene). Ask yourself what the author’s/director’s main question is and how they answer this question. What are the images they use? How do they use the urban as scenery and landscape? What kind of characters do you see? What evidence is provided (in the book or the documentary)? This should take up one or two solid paragraphs.
(2) an extended assessment of the work’s achievements and flaws. You cannot do justice to all aspects of the movie/book equally. Make choices. The main thing is to focus on the work’s relevance to understand contemporary urban-regional issues, not technical or stylistic matters.
You can improve the review by drawing on other sources such as your own experiences as a resident of the GTA and an observer of Toronto-area urbanization, other course materials and lecture topics.
For example, Alejandro GonzÃ¡lez IÃ±Ã¡rritu, the director of Biutiful, is an established director and has made already a remarkable series of films in the past 10 years. His recent one, Birdman, received accolades. You will find those all over the internet. If you do Biutiful, you may want to consider watching Birdman or another one of his movies and read some of the reviews to understand the context of his work. Hany Abu-Assad, the director of Omar, all of them celebrated masters of their trade.
Under no circumstances get tempted to plagiarize any aspect of existing reviews. We will notice. Your review has to be specific and discuss the themes of the course: urban society, complete urbanization, urban process, etc.
Your assessment must be carefully documented (with page references to the book and scene references, actor’s/character’s names in the movie). Be clear on who and what you are talking about. The review must also be based on a precise use of concepts, terms, and facts. All references must be cited in an appropriate scholarly format.
The review should be between 3 and 5 double-spaced pages. It is due on November 6. 2015.
|Due By (Pacific Time)||11/16/2015 05:00 pm|
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