Posts Tagged ‘cousins’

So now back to our scheduled work…

BLOG TASK 3: (due week12 semester 1)

Given the screenwritingexercises you have been doing the for past few weeks you should by now be experts at discerning a stories central dramatic question, defining character choices and nominating ‘whose film’ it is.

I would like you to take a short film or substantial scene  and analysis it in the following ways:

1. Establish whose story it is?
2. What is the central dramatic question of the short film/scene? When is the question asked? When is the question answered? Is it answered in the positive or the negative? Is it answered at all? How does it (or not) reflect the thematic questions of the scene/short film?
3. What choices does the central character make that defines their journey through he scene/short film?

AND GO!

The vignette above, Cousins comes from the larger piece Coffee and Cigarettes, directed by Jim Jarmusch.  The scene revolves around the relationship between the famous Cate Blanchett, playing herself, and her fictional cousin Shelley.

Although we first meet Cate, waiting for Shelley, it is clear that this is Shelley’s story, as she attempts to reconnect with her cousin, as well as undermine her glamorous lifestyle. The central dramatic question is will Shelley gain the respect of Cate, and fit in with her famous life? Whist, yes, I know I should be trying to find something more ‘practical’, this seemed to be the only conclusion I could find.

The dramatic question is posed right near the start of the scene. Cate doesn’t not remember the name of Shelley’s boyfriend, and has not read any of Shelley’s letters. Shelley attempts to empathise with Cate about the frustrations of the paparazzi and being famous, but is in fact attempting to undermine her. The two women then continue to not connect, with Shelley undermining Cate and refusing to share her boyfriend’s music. Cate gives Shelley a bag of ‘swag’, failing to understand how frustrating her privleges are to those outside the glamour of showbiz. The answer to the question is a resounding no. Whilst Shelley initially tries to copy Cate and be like her when they order coffee, she is reduced to mocking her hand gestures by the end. The two promise to catch up again, but the chances of it happening for a long time are unlikely. It seems that the cousins will not be able to find a common ground.

At the conclusion, Shelley defies Cate after she has left, removing her glamorous fur coat, revealing a T-shirt. She orders a double tequila and lighting another cigarette. She is told she is not allowed to smoke in the lounge, despite doing so earlier with her cousin, again emphasizing the difference in class and lifestyle, and how irreconcilable their worlds are. Curious it is that Jarmusch chose to use Cate in both roles, perhaps hinting that the fame is really the only thing separating them.

Throughout the scene, Shelley is the far more active one, and her major actions are –

  • Offering Cate a cigarette and smoking with her.
  • Attempts to copy Cate whilst ordering coffee.
  • Adds five sugar cubes to her coffee.
  • Admits she has used Cate’s name to get into a club.
  • Confronts Cate about not reading her letters or listening to her boyfriend’s CD.
  • Refuses to share her boyfriend’s CD.
  • Admits she didn’t send a CD after all.
  • Subversively suggests her gift from Cate is swag.
  • Affirms Cate and thanks her, though she is really attempting to undermine her status.
  • Refuses Cate’s offer to go up to her room.
  • Takes off her glamourous coat, orders tequila and takes out a cigarette.
  • Puts away her cigarette.

Through these actions the viewer can trace Shelley’s awe and jealously for Cate, which slowly turns to contempt. She has attempted to fit in with the glamourous lifestyle, talking about her boyfriend’s band, and discussing a club she has been to, but she finds herself ultimately disgusted by the lifestyle: “It’s just funny, don’t you think? When you can’t afford something, it’s like really expensive, but then when you can afford it, it’s like, free. It’s kinda backward, don’t you think?”