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FLM 122 — The Scary Utopia: California in the Movies

Quarter: Winter
Day(s): Thursdays
Course Format: On-campus
Duration: 10 weeks
Date(s): Jan 17—Mar 21
Time: 6:30—9:00 pm
Drop Deadline: Jan 30
Units: 2
Grade Restriction: No letter grade
Tuition: $480
Instructor(s): Mick LaSalle
Status: Open
6:30—9:00 pm
Jan 17—Mar 21
10 weeks
Drop By
Jan 30
2 Units
Grade Restriction
No letter grade
Mick LaSalle
This course looks at the ways in which California ideas, through the medium of motion pictures, found their way into the mainstream of American life. These are ideas about life, religion, and the contours of happiness, and attitudes about sex, achievement, and the American dream.

Mick LaSalle is your guide in an immersion into these California ideas projected on screen—the idea that success is best exemplified by palm trees and a swimming pool, that nothing is better than fame, and that if you’re in a film noir, sex can kill you, but it’s probably worth dying for anyway. We will look at the real and fictional differences between Los Angeles and San Francisco, that Los Angeles cares only about the present (Sunset Boulevard), while San Francisco was always at its best decades ago, as in Milk (2008) and San Francisco (1936). Gruesome crime, utopian dreams (Monterey Pop), the Japanese internment, Hollywood movies about Hollywood, and the freedom of the open road will be explored, through full-length features and clips from titles such as Out of the Past, Boogie Nights, and American Graffiti.

Mick LaSalle, Film Critic, Hearst Newspapers

Mick LaSalle is the author of three books: Complicated Women: Sex and Power in Pre-Code Hollywood, Dangerous Men: Pre-Code Hollywood and the Birth of the Modern Man, and The Beauty of the Real: What Hollywood Can Learn from Contemporary French Actresses. He writes for the San Francisco Chronicle, the Houston Chronicle, and other Hearst newspapers.

Textbooks for this course:

There are no required textbooks; however, some fee-based online readings may be assigned.