Full course description
Instructor Mick LaSalle, SF Chronicle Film Critic
This workshop, based on Mick LaSalle’s new book of the same name, is all about the California ideal as depicted in movies, and about California ideas that, through movies, have made their way into the culture. The California ideal is one of material splendor, glamour, youth and youthfulness, and it can create, within viewers, a sense of longing so intense that it can feel spiritual. Yet there is a dark side: spiritual emptiness and isolation, heinous crime, natural disaster and nihilistic cruelty as depicted in film noir. Over five weeks, this workshop will explore California notions of fame (“A Star is Born”), utopia (“Monterey Pop”), crime (“Psycho”), natural disaster (“San Andreas”), the glorious past (“San Francisco”) and romance (“Cherish”). It will show how “The Wizard of Oz” is the ultimate film about the film business, and how and why California has been the dominant cultural trendsetter for the past 100 years. Students will come away with a rich understanding of the meaning of California, both in movies and in American life.
Workshops are taught online through Zoom and Canvas. Students will need a computer or smart phone with webcam and microphone, internet and web streaming capacity, and the Zoom application installed to their device.
Mick LaSalle is the film critic for the San Francisco Chronicle, where he has worked since 1985. He is the author of two books on pre-censorship Hollywood, "Complicated Women: Sex and Power in Pre-Code Hollywood" and "Dangerous Men: Pre-Code Hollywood and the Birth of the Modern Man." Both were books of the month on Turner Classic Movies and "Complicated Women" formed the basis of a TCM documentary in 2003, narrated by Jane Fonda. He has written introductions for a number of books, including Peter Cowie's "Joan Crawford: The Enduring Star" (2009). He was a panelist at the Berlin Film Festival and has served as a panelist for eight of the last ten years at the Venice Film Festival. His latest book, a study of women in French cinema, is "The Beauty of the Real: What Hollywood Can Learn from Contemporary French Actresses."