Guest Lecture: Film Scholar David Greven (Professor, USC Columbia), 5:00pm, Monday, April 3

The Film Studies program is delighted to announce that Dr. David Greven, Professor of English Language and Literature, University of South Carolina, will present a lecture, entitled “‘She Isn’t Quite Herself Today’: Psycho Before and After Queer Theory.” In addition to being a scholar of 19th-century American Literature (particularly the work of Hawthorne and Melville), Dr. Greven is a scholar of film, television, and popular culture—specifically of the work of Alfred Hitchcock—as well as of Psychoanalytic Theory and Queer Theory. In the area of Hitchcock Studies, Dr. Greven has published two books, Intimate Violence: Hitchcock, Sex, and Queer Theory (Oxford University Press, 2017) and Psycho-Sexual: Male Desire in Hitchcock, De Palma, Scorsese, and Friedkin (University of Texas Press, 2013), as well as articles in Hitchcock AnnualScreen, and Studies in Gender and Sexuality. Outside the area of Hitchcock studies, he has published several books on gender and sexuality, including Queering the Terminator: Sexuality and Cyborg Cinema (Bloomsbury, 2017) and Ghost Faces: Hollywood and Post-Millennial Masculinity (SUNY Press, 2016).

The talk will be at 5:00pm on Monday, April 3, in Addlestone Library, room 227. The talk is free and open to all faculty, students, staff, and public. The talk is co-sponsored by the Women’s and Gender Studies Program, the School of Humanities & Social Sciences, and the Nuovo Cinema Italiano Film Festival.

Fall 2023 Film Courses

ENGL 212-01*

The Cinema: History & Criticism

Dr. Glenn



ENGL 212-02*

The Cinema: History & Criticism

Dr. John Bruns

TR 10:50-12:05


ENGL 212-03*

The Cinema: History & Criticism

Dr. John Bruns

TR 12:15-1:30


ENGL 351-01*

Studies in American Film: Hollywood Genres

Dr. John Bruns

TR 1:40-2:55

LTIT 370-01**

Studies in Italian Cinema: Mafia in the Movies

Dr. Giovanna De Luca

TR  1:40-2:55


JWST 300-01***

Jews and Comedy

Dr. Ezra Cappell

W 4-6:45

Literature and TV/film content


LTRS 270-01**

Studies in Russian Film

Dr. Irina Erman



ARTH 294-01***

The City & Cinema

Dr. Jeffrey Youn

TR 2:10-3:25


THTR 488-01***

Screenwriting II

Michael Smallwood

TR 10:50-12:05

Note that this course meets concurrently with Playwriting II

* meets the requirement for Cluster 1 of the FMST minor
** meets the requirement for Cluster 2 of the FMST minor
*** meets the requirement for Cluster 3 of the FMST minor

Summer 2023 Film Courses

ENGL 212-01*

The Cinema: History & Criticism

Dr. Glenn



CLAS 270-01**

The Classics in Cinema

Dr. Noelle Zeiner-Carmichael



ARST 240-01**

Arab Cinema

Dr. Garrett Davidson

Summer 1. 6/5-6/30/23.


LTRS 270-01**

Studies in Russian Film

Dr. Irina Erman



HIST 210-01***

Horror Films: Terror in the Aisles

Dr. Scott Poole


TR 8:30 am.- 12 p.m.

* meets the requirement for Cluster 1 of the FMST minor
** meets the requirement for Cluster 2 of the FMST minor
*** meets the requirement for Cluster 3 of the FMST minor

Blockbusters of 2022: A Year in Review

By Keller Hollingsworth


After a long, pandemic-induced period of halted productions, the movies are back in 2022! Audiences were excited to return to theaters and found no shortage of exhilarating set pieces to entertain them. Superhero movies seem to be pulling the largest crowds, so let’s take a look at all of the superhero titles from the year:

  • The Batman
  • Morbius
  • Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness
  • Thor: Love and Thunder
  • DC League of Superpets
  • Black Adam
  • Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

That’s a lot, but it felt like there were even more this year. Let’s throw in all of the other blockbusters from 2022:

  • Top Gun: Maverick
  • Jurassic World Dominion
  • The Gray Man
  • Turning Red
  • Fantastic Beasts: Secrets of Dumbledore
  • Lightyear
  • Uncharted
  • Minions: Rise of Gru
  • Moonfall
  • Strange World
  • RRR
  • The Bad Guys
  • Avatar: Way of Water

All together, these movies run for 43 hours and 1 minute, have an estimated collective budget of $3,303,058,120, and made a staggering $11,022,279,885 at the box office (IMDb).

As if the fact even needed to be explained, this proves how strongly this modern form of blockbuster is dominating the film industry. Some would say it has defined the previous decade, but it will most certainly define the 2020s. The nail in this coffin being that these movies (and their respective franchises) bore the weight of pandemic closures and helped both theaters and the industry stay afloat amid such turmoil. 

This year’s award nominations seem to reflect this as well. The Golden Globes nominated Avatar: Way of Water and Top Gun: Maverick for best drama picture of the year, on top of Top Gun already winning the same award from The National Board of Review. India’s RRR has been gaining accolades across the globe. Even the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences have given twenty nominations to films on our blockbuster list, including two Best Picture nominations. But in a year ripe with great dramas, are we really valuing the coolest spectacle over the most touching stories? Does awarding these films signal a degradation of film as an art form? 

Much has already been written on the mind-numbing “amusement park” tendencies of these kinds of movies and their need to please over their need for storytelling. Many of the above listed movies are so obsessed with providing what audiences ravenously demand that they wouldn’t be able to piece together a compelling theme even if they wanted to. Others are so muddled by studio interference that anything resembling an original idea was cut to pieces in the editing room or stamped out entirely.

And yet, despite the merit in this cynicism, these critiques do not apply to all the blockbusters of 2022. Sure, there is some pretty hot garbage in that list, but since blockbuster movies are such an important financial pillar for the industry, we need to champion the ones that are well made. 

Marvel Studios, for example, took the time to create a meaningful sequel in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever; seemingly giving director Ryan Coogler more artistic freedom than any of their other directors since Thor Ragnarok and Coogler’s first Black Panther. Unfortunately, when the superhero studio titan made their other 2022 films, they did so with significantly less care. Both Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness and Thor Love and Thunder had the incredible creativity of their directors stifled by studio heads.  It shouldn’t come as a surprise that audiences felt those two films had inconsistent pacing and messy, half-baked ideas. 

The other superhero studio on the block experienced the exact same phenomenon with their films. DC’s The Batman was an incredibly unique and expressive film about class and the nature of law enforcement. The film is riddled with gorgeous sets and locations with carefully planned effects, both practical and digital. Black Adam was flashy, hollow, studio fodder that will be forgotten by most before the next release in the franchise. The most notable aspect of The Rock’s new film are his social media manifestations that the film is a hit. According to IMDb estimations, The Batman made roughly $700 million with a budget of $200 million while Black Adam only grossed $392 million with a nearly identical budget of $195 million, exemplifying that careful artistry can in fact pay off. 

Film has always been the most accessible art form, and that is an element of the medium that should be cherished. Audiences clearly enjoy the blockbuster, and filmmakers who are able to innovate within their genre and tell their stories in a framework that appeals to the masses should be celebrated. If we don’t take the time to separate the wheat from the chaff, then the industry might really be at risk of degradation.

Purists can expel limitless energy trying to prevent or minimize the blockbuster’s hold on the film industry, but they will never convince most moviegoers. Their efforts would be better spent convincing studios to make the sorts of blockbusters that might win awards, even if an auteur’s latest tear jerker might be more deserving of the accolade. 

Ultimately, neither Avatar: Way of Water nor Top Gun: Maverick took home the Golden Globe for best drama film of the year, but the Hollywood Foreign Press Association saw what the films represent within the context of the broader industry. The Academy’s final verdict will be known soon, but either way, it’s an honor just to be nominated. Anything that can be done to influence studios to create more work like that of Joseph Kosinski and James Cameron are steps toward a brighter future for film.


Article by Film Club officer Keller Hollingsworth

Local Screening Opportunity: Gibbes Museum of Art

The Gibbes Museum of Art is hosting a screening of Studio Ghibli’s Princess Mononoke (1997) this Sunday, March 12th at 1:30pm as a part of their Film in Focus series on environmentalism. Following the screening will be a discussion led by Film Club officers Max Meyers, Bristol Barnes, and Keller Hollingsworth. The screening is in tandem with their Un/Natural Selections: Wildlife in Contemporary Art exhibit, which will be on display until April 16th. 

$5 Student Tickets can be reserved here!


Celebrating Black History in Film

To commemorate Black History Month, on February 1, the CofC Film Club hosted a screening of the 1996 film The Watermelon Woman written by, directed, edited by, and starring Cheryl Dunye. The Watermelon Woman was the first feature-length film directed by a black lesbian woman and is an important piece of film history. The film follows Cheryl, a video store clerk who becomes infatuated with a black actress from the 1930s and 40s, who was typecasted as a “mammy.” This infatuation leads Cheryl to film a documentary attempting to discover as much as possible about this actress credited only as “The Watermelon Woman.” The film blurs the line between fiction and reality, incorporating scenes shot both on tape and on film to visually represent the documentary efforts and the narrative moments, respectively. In this groundbreaking film, Dunye indicts the film industry’s exploitation of black artists and its revisionist attempts to force individuals into discriminatory boxes.

The thoroughly unique film can be streamed on Kanopy.

Article by Film Club officer Keller Hollingsworth

Film Producer Michael Uslan Industry Talk: Recap


Last week, film and television producer Michael Uslan gave an industry talk here at CofC as part of the Dorothea Benton Frank Writing Series. But to anyone who already knows of Uslan and his work, he is far more than just a producer. A comic book fanatic at heart, Uslan is the person who brought DC Comics’ Batman to life on the silver screen with Tim Burton’s Batman (1989) and every other Batman film or television series released since.

If you have watched any Batman film or television series produced in the past four decades, then chances are, you’ve seen Uslan’s name in the credits. It was Michael Uslan who first committed to delivering compelling, dramatic Batman stories onscreen to audiences around the world. Batman has been a dynamic figure in American pop culture since his Detective Comics debut in 1939, and Uslan’s passion for the character developed into an unyielding creative drive to bring well-rounded depictions of Batman to life.

As a Batman comics fan myself, I jumped at the chance to hear Uslan’s personal and professional Batman journey firsthand, and it is an event I will not soon forget! His discussion about the chaotic (but ultimately revolutionary and innovative) film adaptation of DC Comics’ Swamp Thing in 1982 dove deep into the technical side of film production. A producer’s primary job, he said, is crisis management. No matter how well put-together the final product of a film may appear, it is no doubt due to the creative thinking and determination of the crew behind the scenes in spite of the many obstacles that will come about during filming. After all, he says, “There is no such thing as a problem—just creative solutions.”

What resonated the most with me as an audience member was Uslan’s insistence on being proactive and nurturing your passions. For those of us in college, we’re still finding our passions. There is always time to explore what clicks and what doesn’t, he says; but once you figure out what drives you in your personal and creative/professional development? “Don’t wait around with this false sense of entitlement thinking that the world will come to you. You gotta get up off the damn couch and go get it.”



For anyone interested in hearing more about Michael Uslan’s story, you can find his TED Talk here.

Article by Film Club officer Anna Deason

Review: “Babylon” is an epic tribute to Hollywood’s past and future

By Noah Futch


Babylon is a stunning achievement and milestone engraved in history. Not for the film industry in its current state, or during the transition to talking movies, but for us as a society. As Jean Smart’s character of Elinor St. John states to Diego Calva’s Manny Torres, “you will dine with angels and ghosts.” We are only temporary in this world, and this film is altogether a love letter and a breakup letter in one. Damien Chazelle has crafted a masterpiece that not all will love, but plenty will adore. This is an epic on a grand scale disguised as an intimate and personal story of four characters who are navigating life and all that comes with it.

Spanning three decades, we intertwine between these four characters’ stories, rise to glory, and fall from grace all in the same. The undeniable star of the film is Diego Calva as Manny Torres, a Mexican immigrant who works from the ground up to reach his ambitious dreams. Margot Robbie is enthralling as the electric and bold Nellie LaRoy. In her own words, you are either born a star or you aren’t, and both Robbie and her portrayal of LaRoy are undeniable. Jack Conrad, played by the one-and-only Brad Pitt, is a superstar in the silent film era. He knows his role and acts like it. Conrad drinks himself to the edge on and off set and somehow always finds the performance of a lifetime. The underrated star of the film in my eyes is Jovan Adepo who plays Sidney Palmer, a jazz trumpet player who starts out playing party gigs and works his way up to headlining film scores and eventually acting in movies centered around his playing abilities. His nuanced anger and tension when it comes to the racism thrown his way are beautiful and palpable.

The fast-paced and chaotic nature of the film perfectly captures the energy and excitement of the era, and Chazelle’s touch of the camera is nothing short of tangible. However, Babylon is not just a love story set against the backdrop of the film industry. The relationship and power dynamics of Nellie and Manny shift depending on where we are in the story. It’s truly a tragic tale of the cost of success and the sacrifices one must make to achieve their dreams.

The film industry is depicted as a ruthless and unforgiving place, with the characters constantly fighting for their place in the spotlight. It’s a harsh reminder of the price of fame and the sacrifices one must make to achieve it. But despite the tragic undertones, there are moments of levity and joy throughout the film. The party scenes in particular are electric and full of energy, with the camera whirling and pulsating to the beat of the music.

The stunning cinematography is the cherry on top. We are thrown into the deep end of Chazelle’s love and admiration for classic film and Hollywood while getting to admire every shot for the perfect amount of time. The lengthy 189-minute runtime is intimidating to some, but I felt as though it hit every note and squeezed every second out of the screenplay. The moments that required breathing room received it, and the quick cuts and fast-paced editing sped us through the party scenes and got our hearts racing. The soundtrack is an unbelievable achievement that Justin Hurwitz should be praised for. His epic score coupled with Chazelle’s respect for music and how it plays into a script can be paired together as a perfect match.

Overall, Babylon is a must-see for any film enthusiast. It’s a chaotic and energetic rollercoaster ride through the early days of Hollywood, with standout performances from Diego Calva and Margot Robbie. Chazelle’s direction once again proves he is a master walking among us as one of the best filmmakers alive. The film’s ending scene is a beautiful homage and tribute to the silver screen from the beginning of celluloid to recent blockbusters. Babylon’s tragic and euphoric story will stay with you long after the credits roll.


Article by Film Club member Noah Futch