I will rank all of the films I have discussed over the past couple months in descending order of greatness.
1. Do The Right Thing - This was my favorite film out of the list because I really enjoyed the editing and unique camera angles. Although the plots are separated, I never saw a dull moment in this movie. The dialogue was always enjoyable/interesting and the really intense ending took the cake for me. I think the ending was effective because it had a much more serious tone than the lighthearted nature of the rest of the film. It was gritty and realistic, as it featured absolutely no music. I dont care much for the social/racial criticism but I am glad the film wasn't preachy and didnt take sides.
2. The Devil's Backbone - This movie was great mainly because of the story. It presents itself as a fable but also takes the metaphorical concepts quite literally (e.g. the "ghost" being both physical and a metaphor for karma). The movie keeps you interested and takes many plot turns that keep you on edge. Just an overall enjoyable movie.
3. Seconds - I really liked the concept of this movie. I think the idea alone invested my interest. I also enjoyed the editing of the opening sequence with the eyes. The story was interesting, but I feel like it was missing something. I wish the film was longer and if they fleshed out more of the plot and personality of the protagonist. That wouldve made the ending where they kill him more effective than it already is.
4. Double Indemnity - Great noir style. The shadows and cinematography really appeal to the eye. The film captivates your attention and continues to build, up to the very end.
5. Sherlock Jr - Loved this timeless classic. The comedy was slapstick and thoughourly enjoyable, however the stunts were incredibly well choreographed and this movie featured very early examples of unconventional editing techniques that aid the story of the movie.
6. El Topo - This film had very beautiful cinematography at times and I really like the mythology behind each of the gunmen. Each had their own niche/superpower that made this story feel like a fable or an epic. However this was only for the first half of the movie. The 2nd half had an entirely different tone which I honestly didnt like and found a bit pretentious. This film is inconsistent which I did not prefer. My taste in this movie is bipolar as I also found some of the imagery annoying and disgusting.
7. Blancieves - This movie was able to capture my interest with its story. But I feel the silent film angle was not utilized in a very effective way. And I did not like how this turned out to be an exact retelling of Snow White.
8. M - I personally found this film a bit hard to watch. I enjoyed certain aspects of it but found it a bit boring and dull.
9. The Hitchhiker - I felt the story was too predictable with not much interest beyond the single main plot.
10. The Piano - This film was just not my taste. I usually dont like period films and this is no exception. It was bearable at parts but overall it did not captivate my interest.
11. Zero Dark Thirty - There was a lot more about Osama's past that I really wish this film would have glossed over. The fact that this film emphasizes or even touches the main female's personal relationships is stupid. The only good part of this movie was the raid.
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
Blancanieves is about about the daughter of a very famous bullfighter, whos wife died giving birth to her. She is named after her late mother, Carmen. Her father is injured in the bullfighting ring - suspending him to a wheelchair. Most of her life she grows up under the care of her step-mother who is cruel; making her do hard work around the house, forcing her to sleep in a dirty basement on the floor, prohibiting her from seeing her father, and many other things. Her step-mother eventually kills the father and attempts to kill Carmen as well. Luckily, she is saved by a team of bullfighting dwarves, although her memory is now gone.
The first, very obvious stylistic choice you notice is the fact that it is presented as a silent film despite being made in 2012. I honestly dont know what the intention of this was, maybe the director wanted to give a homage or maybe he felt his story would best be told in this style. I also noticed the music was sometimes reminiscent of that time period and sometimes modern. I noticed a use of the theremin - which was used commonly for "creepy" scenes in old sci-fi films. I liked how the text wasnt only used for dialogue or to explain time passages, but also stylistic ways like showing the names next to the dwarves and when Carmen is looking Pepe and a single "?" appears on the screen.
At some point, you'll begin to notice the obvious allusion to Snow White. Everything from the evil queen, the apple, and the 7 dwarves are all reflected in this movie. I believe the director wanted to make this movie a Spanish-themed retelling of Snow White. Even though the fairy tale is referenced in the film itself as well. I wasn't very thrilled by this decision, as I was expecting something new when I watched this movie. Then again, it was different enough to hold my interest and still entertaining at parts.
The editing was pretty good in this film. Even subtle things like- the skull that flashes on the screen in the beginning when the father is mauled by the bull is the same skull that is overlayed on the apple the step-mother gives to Carmen. There was an excellent montage of clips perfectly synched to the clapping music of footage from the film showing that Carmen has regained her memory of past events. All the cinematography was solid, and convincing acting despite being mute. The film making itself was all pretty solid overall, but nothing terribly interesting to me personally.
Overall, this movie was alright for me. Nothing too great, didn't really encapsulate my interest. The story wasnt interesting or different enough for me - it felt very plain and predictable with no turns keeping you on edge. Again, the story was basically just a retelling of Snow White, in a 1920s mexican setting. Same with the cinematography - solid, just not extraordinarily impressive. I felt the obvious limitations that come with a silent film in this day and age were not compensated properly - visually and audibly - to appeal to most people. Personally, I feel that if you are going to make a silent film in this age, at least add a unique, modern twist. 3/5
ZDT has an interesting take on gender roles. Firstly, the woman is the main protagonist and sort of an underdog hero because her ideas are ignored by the "higher-ups". Her personal life comes into play briefly but she has an undying obsession with catching Bin Laden - showing she has at least some sense of nationalism. She also seems to have no objection to the torture of the terrorist they hold hostage, showing she leaves her emotions out of play when it comes to this. These are all very unusual traits of the typical Hollywood female. Shes strong, independent, and a leader in her own right.
This movie couldnt really hold my attention, but thats probably because I never had a strong interest in politics. I really enjoyed the Osama raid however, mainly because the lack of music and first person views gave it a realistic intensity. 2/5 for movie. 5/5 for the raid.
This movie was of an interesting style. There were definitely elements of horror - as you can see from the picture above. But the story also had a message about greed and revenge. In this way it can be seen as a fable. The GHOST in this film is exactly what makes the genre hard to define. The GHOST isnt merely there to scare and shock the audience, the GHOST symbolizes an entity that seeks respite from a tragic event. The narrator even says the GHOST is like this, comparing it to a blurry photograph. Perhaps the GHOST wasnt meant to be taken literally, but as a metaphor for karma and the past coming back to haunt you.
I overall liked this movie. It had an unusual feel and the slowly unfolding story kept me interested. 4/5
The relationship between Ada and George is a very complicated one, and it drives the plot. It is at first glance immoral because George is forcing her to do things she normally wouldn't allow just so she can get back the one thing in this world she loves. Not only that, but she is married - unhappily so however. However I think there is more to it than what's on the surface. Her entire life, she's only been able to comfortably communicate with her music. George only wants to touch and grope her when she plays. George could just have easily done so without the piano playing, but he finds her most beautiful when she plays. Yes, George has sex with her when shes not playing, but he quickly regrets it the next day and confesses to Ada that he has feelings for her, despite never exchanging any words. Perhaps George an Ada share an unspoken bond through music.
I thought this movie, while solidly scripted, was just not for me. I dont really enjoy romantic dramas or period films and this movie provided nothing special to motivate my interest. 2/5
Thursday, October 24, 2013
Do The Right Thing is a film in the streets of Brooklyn following a string of different characters all reacting to the heat of the sun. All of the characters have some sort of conflict with at least one other character in the film. Ranging from just messing around, to a legitimate hatred. It is apparent throughout the film that morality is a major theme. Constantly forcing the audience to decide what they consider "the right thing", as most of these conflicts have moral weight on both sides. Leaving the "true" answer ambiguous.
This whole philosophy is summed up in the last seconds of the movie, when contradictory quotes from Malcolm X and MLK scroll on the screen. Concerning the application of violence. However, I do believe certain characters in this film TRY to do the right thing. And that character is Mookie, who is give that advice by Da Mayor very early on in the film. Although his final act is questionable, Mookie has always remained calm and rational, trying to make peace for any situation.
As a conclusion, I do not believe there is one "right thing", only the "better of 2 evils" to any given situation. Mookie did the right thing at the end because he knew the place was insured and I believe he wanted to rioters to take out their agression on the establishment instead of hurting any more people. 4.5/5 film. Great directing, acting, and cinematography overall.
Thursday, October 10, 2013
This is a screenshot from the first few moments of the film. You can see El Topo nonchalantly walking through a river of blood, implying that he has dealt with violence of this magnitude before. This shot is a long shot intentionally to show just how horrible this massacre was. You can see the entire length of the shot littered with dead bodies and a blood "river" flowing down the middle of the street. However, the shot serves not only to shock and appall, but is also intended to be artistic and appealing to our eyes, ironically. This is a very common theme throughout the film. In this shot, all the dead bodies are wearing the same white clothes and there is blood not only splattered all over every white wall, but also in the streets in a way that resembles a river. The intention was artistically inclined as opposed to making the massacre look realistic.
I thought this film was very interesting. Cool shots like above and interesting philosophical themes are what kept it going for me. Some parts of the movie dragged on a little too long in my opinion. But if you're looking for a unique film that's not like anything else, El Topo is what you want. 3.5/5
Wednesday, October 2, 2013
The scene i will be analyzing from this movie is the drug scene that the company uses to blackmail Arthur. The first thing you see is him getting very sweaty and passing out. There are multiple cuts as he passes out, all from different angles while skipping a few seconds of time. The different shots are about the same distance from his face however - a close up. He is then walking through a hallway with a tracking close up on his face. It quickly cuts to the shot of him sleeping and then back, to insinuate this is some sort of dream sequence. You see footage of a women lying in bed, screaming as he approaches. However all sounds are inaudible in this scene including the screams. The only sound is a very creepy, droning song. This really adds to the effect of a scary dream sequence. You can see the room he is walking through, which has a very unnatural curve to the floor, walls, and objects. Alice-in-Wonderland esque. The cuts are also chaotic. Switching from him near the woman screaming to the tracking shot to a shot of him entering the room where the woman is still sleeping in bed to an identical tracking shot except the lights around him are switched off etc etc.
I really liked this scene. The chaotic cuts and camera angles really emphasize the dreamy atmosphere of the event. This movie overall was very interesting. I enjoyed it, 4/5
Wednesday, September 25, 2013
The Hitch-Hiker is a film noir type movie, much like last week's film - Double Indemnity. However these two movies, while being classified within the same genre, have many vast differences as well as similarities. First of all, both movies follow one particular story of the killer(s) and his/her victim(s). Very few murders actually occur throughout the course of the film. The killer(s) are on-screen the most out of all of the characters. Excluding stylistic choices like dark shadows over the face, etc. this is where the similarities end.
The films have pretty relevant differences. Double Indemnity follows the story of a man who has never dreamed of killing before who is tempted to do so after being seduced by a manipulative femme fatale. Hitch-Hiker, on the other hand, is simply 2 men being kidnapped by a killer/robber. Double Indemnity is psychological in the sense that Neff believes he is doing justice in the name of love, creating a moral grey area. The battle is mostly between the minds of Neff and Phyllis. Double Indemnity is simply a killer, with a supposed troubled past, who uses guns to get what he wants. The battle is between the killer and his victims who desperately try and escape.
The fact that both these movies are classified as film noir is interesting. I thought the movie was alright, not much depth and nothing impressive. Nor was it awful. The story, acting, etc was solid, just too plain and simple for me. 3/5
Thursday, September 19, 2013
Women play a very interesting role in this film noir classic. First off, its important to remember that this a time where men were the dominant voice in the family while females often lived a quiet, submissive life as a housewife. You can see this culture shine threw particularly in the scene where we meet Lola's boyfriend, Nino. Nino bosses her around with little to no struggle of resistance from her. While Lola and Walter agree that Nino comes off as mean and hostile, she seems to have no problem with the bossy behavior. Now, obviously, the lead actress is a different case. She at first comes off as desperate and weak. In need of a loving man in her life. She wants to kill her husband so she can live with Walter. However, at the end she pulls the rug under our feet and turns out she has manipulated the whole situation for her own selfish satisfaction. This is the femme fatale of the picture, the evil seductive lying woman. This is an interesting viewpoint of females in an era where men control the household. She uses her charm to get what she wants and won't hesitate to kill. Well, actually she does hesitate for Walter, maybe she is the dependent, desperate female deep down. Great movie 4/5
It is hard to identify the true genre of M for several different reasons. First off, the film was created before genre conventions were established. Thus, as a result, many different scenes have different vibes and style that is not modern conventional genres (Horror, comedy, etc). The film also lacks a soundtrack that would help establish the mood of the film. Some would argue that it is a horror film because the film is about a serial killer. However, I disagree with this label because the film does not revolve around the children's and mothers' point of view. It does not try to invoke the same fear and suspense that the characters experience in the film. Some also label it as a melodrama. I also disagree with this because the film does not emphasize the emotions of the characters. You dont feel any personal connection to any particular character in the film. Rather, the film tells a story that involves many different characters with different intentions. It is for this reason that the film, in my opinion, is a criticism on society as a whole, not on any particular individual. The ending is the pinnacle example of this theme, where the killer argues that at least he isn't lazy and selfish like the other criminals. That it is beyond his control. Even when the lawyer argues it is unlawful to kill him, the crowd of criminals rush towards him to kill him anyway. Pretty decent movie overall, although I felt some parts dragged on for too long. If I were to see this movie back when it was released, however, I dont know if I would have had that opinion considering its one of the first movies ever. 3/5 in my modern eye.
Sunday, September 8, 2013
This film is almost 90 years old, yet its entertainment value has not began to decay. Timeless may be a good description. This is largely in part due to the carefully choreographed stunts, physical comedy, and editing techniques that creates laughs, excitement, and surreal visual effects. One scene in particular that I will analyze is the "pool table scene."
In this scene, the thieves plan to kill Sherlock Jr. by making him hit an explosive cleverly disguised as a 13 pool ball. The thief demonstrates by throwing the ball out the window and the camera then cuts to a separate scene of a vague object hitting the ground and exploding. This way, the producers of the film were able to get the message across without actually building a 13 ball grenade. They then invite Sherlock Jr. to play a game of pool. Sherlock Jr. manages to hit every single ball with expertise without ever scraping the 13 ball. He hops over it, grazes mere centimeters around it, hits the balls touching it, etc. The thing that makes this impressive is the still camera angle showing this all in one shot. This decision was wise because it shows you that the expert-level pool playing is real and not just "movie magic" with lots of cuts and different angles.
I loved this movie. The stunts were genius and entertaining. The editing pushed the limits of what movies could do (i.e. the scene where he jumps 'inside' the movie screen, or the scene where his dream ghost exits his body). An influential piece of cinema for sure. 4.5/5
I love movies and have for a long time. I am the token "movie buff" within my group of friends. I like the idea of creating whole new worlds to explore and travel within. Creating alternate versions of our reality that are both conceivable and surreal images non-existent in our reality. A moving painting. I hope I get to watch awesome films in this class that I have not seen before, as well as learn many editing, filming, acting techniques. I also look forward to debates and differing viewpoints from other students in my class.