The Ultimate “Makeover” in Clueless: Morality Hidden in Drama

by Brendan Boustany, Wyn Veiga, Emily Nagler, & Gabriela Horwath

Clueless is a coming of age tale that traces the development of wealthy L.A. teen, Cher Horowitz, played by Alicia Silverstone, as she searches the glitzy world around her for emotional substance and meaning. Exuding everything L.A., Cher begins the film as a spoiled, shallow, and relatively innocent girl who devotes all of her time to her self-image. Even more absurdly, during an extravagant montage of her life, she states, “I actually have a way normal life for a teenage girl,” emphasizing her profound ignorance regarding her privilege. Act two sees Cher realize that she initially undervalued emotional fulfillment and maturity, causing her to set off to find true love in the superficial environment around her. As the film progresses and Cher navigates the gossip and drama of high school, she learns that there is more to life than glam. Cher’s journey lies in the genre of drama as she struggles to find her revised place in her life through vignettes with her peers.

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Animation and Plasmaticness of Contour: Princess Mononoke, Big Hero 6, and Zootopia

by Junyoung Choi, Haina Lu, and Adayan Munsuarrieta

Introduction

Walt Disney once said, “Animation can explain whatever the mind of man can conceive. This facility makes it the most versatile and explicit means of communication yet devised for quick mass appreciation.” In this way, animated films can serve as a powerful bridge between reality and fiction; by perceiving reality with a specific lens and bringing in those “real” aspects into its world of fantasy, magic, or science-fiction, the animated film can provide impactful social commentary on the world outside the screen, without having to document reality via live-action. Within the film, the audience may encounter details of the animated world that is ostensibly far-removed from reality, but resonate with certain socioeconomic struggles, political injustices, or relevant changes (whether it be technological or natural) that occur just outside the screen. 

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The Disillusionment of Change: Analyzing the Effects of Urban Isolation and Globalization in Wong Kar-Wai’s Chungking Express

Final Project by: Meagan Johnson, Katerina Stefanescu, and Alan Countess

Echoing the mass anxiety felt in Hong Kong during the early nineties, Wong Kar-wai’s 1994 breakout film Chungking Express details the story of two cops searching for a meaningful connection in a somewhat isolated society. The filming of Chungking Express occurred during rather turbulent times in Hong Kong. Hong Kong was being handed over to the People’s Republic of China after being under the sovereignty of the United Kingdom for over 152 years. Its citizens were also in the midst of both a personal and cultural identity crisis. Before Hong Kong’s return to mainland China, pre-handover movies such as Chungking Express served as a political commentary on the fantasies of being integrated into their mainstream Chinese culture. In response to this uncertainty, there began to be an emphasis on time and routine–a way of seeking stability in an unstable and unpredictable world. Chungking Express follows the romantic journey of two policemen pining after a lost love. The film carries motifs of mass global connectivity, intoxicating youth, frustration, and hopeless romance. The film presents a dual narrative, or two stories told in a sequence of each other. In the first story, Cop 223 is blinded by his heartbreak. His ex-girlfriend broke up with him on April Fool’s Day; thus, Cop 223 chalks his breakup to a cruel joke. He lives in denial of what it means to lose someone and remains in a state of fantasy, replaying his memories and his love in his mind. In the second story, Cop 663 holds little hope for his ex’s return. Instead, he falls into a melancholic funk. In both stories, Cop 223 and 663 meet energetic women–a sign of hope and wonder in a disillusioned society. By analyzing Wong Kar-wai’s illustrious storytelling, cinematography, and editing, the film reinforces the idea that living in a city of millions does not always lend itself to forming meaningful human connections. Instead, urban isolation is an exigent circumstance for the characters to reflect on the inevitability of change. 

Rediscovering Mystery: How Return of the Obra Dinn’s aesthetic sends players back in time

by Tyler Araujo

Return of the Obra Dinn was the most fun I’ve had doing a “required reading” throughout my entire career as a student, and I’m not ashamed to say I’ve returned to complete it since playing the portion I was able to complete before class. The game was released by independent game developer Lucas Pope in 2018, and went on to win Best Indie Game at the 2018 Titanium Awards. The game also received a well-deserved accolade for Best Art Direction at the 2018 game awards. In Return of the Obra Dinn, players are tasked with uncovering the mystery of a ship which came into port with all 60 people who set sail on it either dead or missing. Using a “Memento Mortem” which allows to view still scenes which preceded each crew member’s murder, your task is to explore the dense crime scenes past and discover exactly what became of every single person on the vessel.

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Characterizing the Costumes in Clueless

by Mimi Taylor

Clueless by Amy Heckerling includes some of the most memorable costume design from the 1990s. Anyone who has seen the movie, even if they cannot remember a specific outfit, remembers the fashion as distinctly bold and of the moment. The movie is about a girl who loves shopping, so naturally the costumes reflect that. I counted and the protagonist, Cher Horowitz, wears 42 distinct outfits throughout the movie. That is a new costume roughly every two minutes. These outfits, and those of others in the movie, provide insight into character, demonstrate relationships and showcase the power of fashion for a teenage girl with a credit card.

Mad for Plaid

The most iconic outfit of this movie, one that has been recreated over and over, and still sells as a Halloween costume is, of course, Cher’s yellow plaid coordinated school look:

The first thing Cher does at the beginning of the movie when she’s introducing herself to the audience is to put together this outfit. This costume says a lot about Cher. For one, it speaks to a level of perfectionism. There are several pieces in this outfit and they all perfectly match with each other. Even her chewing gum matches.

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Butterfly Soup: Not Your Average Visual Novel

butterfly soup

Group project summary, by leader Bria Moore

Butterfly Soup is a visual novel that stars four 9th grade girls who join their high school baseball team. Or in the eloquent words of Brianna Lei, the developer, Butterfly Soup is “A visual novel about gay asian girls playing baseball and falling in love.” Furthermore, it is a tale of self-discovery, growth, and finding love. Romance is a central component of the story, though comedy is thoroughly embedded as well.

The four main protagonists are Diya, Min-seo, Noelle, and Akarsha. Diya is socially awkward and an exceptionally talented baseball player. Min-seo, also known as Min, has a short fuse and will not hesitate to cause bodily harm to get what she wants. She is only sweet to Diya. Noelle is a strait-laced and studious girl who is consistently pressured by her parents to succeed. Akarsha is an eccentric goofball who loves to ask ridiculously random questions just for attention. Other less prominent characters in the game are Jin-seo (also known as Jin), Hayden, Chryssa, and Liz. Jin is Min’s twin brother, Hayden is a childhood friend, and Chryssa and Liz are the leaders of the baseball team.

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Anonymity: An Analysis of Stranger Comes to Town 

Stranger

by Brendan Boustany, Joalda Morancy, Katerina Stefanescu, Shahrez Aziz, and Zach Cogan

Brendan

I would say that the film is a documentary, in a similar way that Waltz with Bashir is. Both stories rework nonfiction events into artistic images. Still, the stories of the characters remain entirely intact. The artistic style does not interfere with Goss’s goals in terms of the story that she is trying to tell. If anything, her decision to use video game images was simply an artistic choice to emphasize the themes of the film. The strong narrative voice is compelling enough without many visual distractions, so the sparing CGI images do not interfere with the interviews about coming to this country as visual reenactments might. Most importantly, the anonymity that this visual style allows may have been crucial to attaining these interviews. 

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