Review Comment

Film Theory I

February 07, 2007

Schamus, James Silver_nugget
Film Theory I

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

Let's admit it. Everything about the Columbia film department smells of pretention. From the harsh grading to being a department that is somehow above posting discussion sections ahead of time-like everyone else in the school-you're like, please. But. If they all were as cool as Schamus, they could carry the ego. Very good teacher. Intent on teaching. Very friendly. Good man. Good course. Take a class and join the fan club.

Workload:

Fairly hard. Definitely a manageable workload but the readings are dense. If you didn't read them, absorb it, understand lecture and the like, they really will notice. Grading slightly hard. Not at all cruel but definitely not an easy A. On the upside, I'm writing film papers currently and, now, I understand the language and pov of the theorists.

January 12, 2005

Schamus, James Silver_nugget
Film Theory I

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

I have to agree with the other reviewers -- Schamus is absolutely brilliant and puts to shame every other professor i've had so far. His class is difficult, but in the end, extremely rewarding. He says in the very beginning that he will grade harshly, and sticks to his promise. However, his insight and ability to connect film with philosophy not only dazzle you, but allow you to understand the otherwise difficult readings. The films he shows vary from the typical (Potemkin) to the not-so-frequently-seen (Close-Up), but are always relevant to the reading and usually enjoyable. He deserves to be the rich and famous man that he is. Hands down the best Columbia class i've taken.

Workload:

Hard, sometimes long readings, that always turn out rewarding; 2 papers -- he claims he gave only 6 A's and A-'s on the first one (75 person class); 2 exams that are only check-ups and can pretty much only help your grade.

December 27, 2004

Schamus, James Silver_nugget
Film Theory I

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

This class was amazing. Schamus is blatantly brilliant-- the best professor I've had so far at Columbia. The class, being theory, is very philosophical; it will relate more to CC than any film class you've taken. Some people may not like this deviation from the typical film class, but those people are boring. The class is definitely a challenge, but it is incredibly rewarding. Most film classes give you in-depth analyses of a few movies....so you can talk about those movies....but I feel like this class allowed me to walk away with a different perspective on the world. Not gonna lie, the reading is dense as hell, but you shouldn't worry if you don't get it at first. Schamus somehow makes everything clear and comprehendable. Take this class! And yes, he does screen a brand new Focus Features film for the final.

Workload:

A bunch of reading-- sometimes 150pgs/week, sometimes 15, but always dense and time consuming, but really really interesting. 2 papers- graded harshly (by TAs), but rewarding to write. 2 quizzes that are just a check up to make sure that you're reading (not too bad).

March 30, 2004

Khaja, Jameel Silver_nugget
Film Theory I

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

I signed up for this expecting Schamus, but as it turned out, Jameel made the class more engaging, informative, and fun than I expected. Jameel is very well-versed in film theory, and does a terrific job of making even the driest of theorists (Kracauer) relevant to contemporary popular and avant garde film. He is extremely enthusiastic, and pushes his students with questions and analogies until the theory readings come alive for them. His lectures never failed to clear up ambiguities in the readings, although the films screened were not always as obviously relatable to the readings. If you take this class as a junior or senior, there will be a few films you've seen before, but movies like "Potemkin" and "Rules of the Game" deserve another look. Jameel is a great teacher, not at all like some of the prima donnas in the film department. Take this class.

Workload:

Ample readings for each week. 3 in-class quizzes with short take-home essays, 5 "journals" (2-3 pgs. each) on readings, final paper (~5 pgs.).

March 09, 2003

Schamus, James Silver_nugget
Film Theory I

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

Pay attention to James Schamus and with luck, maybe you'll be as successful as him. He is the co-president of Focus Features--you know, that production/distribution company that put out The Ice Storm, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Far From Heaven, and The Pianist. He's considered a prolific screenwriter, and he has a few producer credits to his name as well. All that aside, he is an incredible professor with an extensive background in film theory. Kinda makes you think--someone who knows this much about classical film theory can put it to use and work with Ang Lee to pen The Ice Storm and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon? He makes the material--some of it can get a bit heavy-handed at times--quite understandable. He also likes to chat up the audience for the first ten minutes of class, asking what movies everybody's been seeing and if they liked them and whatnot. He actually very interested in student responses to new releases--not only to incite some discussion about recent films but also to get some imput in terms of his role in the film business. All around great professor in the film department, and I highly recommend him. Why the hell can't they kick Milena Jelinek out and have Schamus teach Script Analysis I don't know!

Workload:

A midterm and final test--neither of which really count for anything and 2 papers. On the day of our final he screened a print of The Pianist for us several weeks before its release.

Directory Data

Dept/Subj Directory Course Professor Year Semester Time Section
FILM / FILM FILM FILM W4098: Film Theory I James Schamus 2012 Fall M / 10:00- 1:50 PM 1
FILM / FILM FILM FILM W4098: Film Theory I James Schamus 2010 Fall M / 10:00- 1:50 PM 1
FILM / FILM FILM FILM W4098: Film Theory I Nico Baumbach 2009 Fall W / 6:00- 9:50 PM 1
FILM / FILM FILM FILM W4098: Film Theory I James Schamus 2008 Fall T / 10:00- 1:55 PM 1