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Although this might sound cliche, I learned A LOT in this class. Before I would watch movies and well, just watch them. I feel that now I watch a movie, and I’m getting, or trying to get, the purpose of its creation. My favorite films were:

 

1. Sukiyaki Western Dkango

2. The Tree of Life (WOW is all I got for that one)

3. Spirited Away

4. Modern Times

These movies broaden not only broaden my knowledge on film but also, open my eyes to the number of different genres (sub-genres) directors play with to bring about a film.

I really found the discussion of distinct film properties and techniques before watching a movie that used them very helpful. For example, when we explored the topic of sound and its influence on its viewers and watch a Clockwork Orange. The exercise of hearing it first, then watching with no sound, then putting it together really solidified the topic to me. It also, like many other things discussed in this class, made me more aware of how different aspects of a film go together to portray its message.

I believe something that could be done different is giving more time to make a blog post. I found it hard sometimes to write it the same day right after watching the film. I believe if a little bit more time is given the class could more deeply analyze the film and write a better blog post; better responses to them as well.

Besides that I believe the class is fair overall and I am very glad I can apply it to something I love to do; watch movies. It was nice meeting everyone and having conversations on different films and what makes them stand out. Hope everyone has a great break and rest of the year!

Hugo

Martin Scorsese’s Hugo was a beautiful film that can easily tap into the heart of any viewer.     In my opinion, it took a little bit more time than it should’ve to fully introduce all the characters. I like how Hugo’s tragic past was presented but believe it would’ve had a bigger impact if done in pieces.

I like how the movie plays into the concept of how each part whether in a machine or life comes together to make something whole. From the introduction of the movie as gears turning into the city to the specific heart-shaped key that fits in the back of the automaton. Hugo’s perseverance to find how he “fits” in society and aspiration of becoming more than just a piece within soceity is inspiring.

Another aspect of the film that is eye capturing is the mis-a-scene. From the set designs to the character customes. Every detail was accounted for and played together perfectly. The only thing I was confused about were the british accents in Paris. Was this to appeal to a bigger audience, being funny, or its just a big coincidence that the characters we are involved with are british.

Love and ambition I believe were the main themes of the movie. We really see this in the characters emotions and how they express themselves. I believe with the help of 3D filming  it played a huge role it capturing each of the actors expression during the many close ups within the movie. Overall, I enjoyed the film and found the message sent out to the audience really nice. Oh, and Sacha Baron Cohen is the man.

Spirited Away, its a great title

Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away is one of the best animation films I have ever seen. The various characters, story live, and outstanding visuals made me more curious about animation films.

Prior to watching this movie I believe animation, especially hand-drawn animation, was very rigid with low-quality and cliche themes. However, after watching Spirited Away I saw how much potential the genre of animation holds and how wonderfully Miyazaki uses this potential to get his point across to his audience.

Firstly, the visuals were incredible. Everything from the shadow of the characters and objects caused by sunlight or candle, the facial expressions of the human and non-human characters, even the glistening of the water on a sunny day. Miyazaki really out did him self with the attention to detail and large spectrum of characters. Each living being had a unique characteristic and personality that brought the movie together and makes it whole. Something very challenging to do when creating an animation film.

My favorite character was undoubtedly Chihiro. Till now i remain in shock of this littles girls maturity level and capability of shuffling multiple problems at once while keep her composure. Although the film is aimed for a younger audience, I believe it has various messages for older audiences as well. As explained in class Chihiro enters the tunnel as one person and comes out a completely different girl. It is during her time in the ghost word  that this occurs through various sequence of events.

In general I really appreciate the amount of creativity Miyazaki had to use to create this film. From the large number of characters, their appearance, role in the movie, and distinct behavior it was very pleasing to watch and take this all in. Needless to say I definitely have more of an open mind for animation films and the limitless capabilities they hold of telling a story.

Opinion based Horror

Not being a horror movie person both Kairo and Pulse were  hard to watch. However, besides my own biased opinion, these movie eloquently illustrate the differences between what is consider horror in two different cultures. If I had to pick I would go for the Kurosawa-portrayed horror versus the American, “omg there is a ghost run and scream” version.

As soon as Kairo ended I will admit I was a little confuse as to what I had just seen. However, after discussing it in class briefly and giving it some more thought, I love it. The film forces the viewer to think about the current plight and capture the realization that there is no solution. The use of long shots, low extra-diegetic music, and controlled character reactions to ghost makes the Japanese horror film stand out from what we might be use to. Not only did Kairo create this eerie feeling of hopelessness and despair but also left me with it too. In Pulse I am constantly being “scared” by ghost. Pulse does the opposite from Kairo: it grows a bigger connection between the viewer and fear versus the viewer and the plot with fear resonating from its main idea.

Furthermore, the acting and lighting is tremendously different. In Pulse there is a lot of low key lighting, kind of like its 12 O’clock in the after noon yet it looks like 4am in a bedroom versus Kairo has a more realistic sense of time. However, the acting differences really surprised me. In Pulse you had your typical high extra-diagetic sound correlating with the characters current state of fear and suspense and then boom, the ghost appears. In Kairo is a more subtle eerie tone, atmospherically lurking feeling capturing the audience as well as the character, softly introducing the ghost. Maybe this doesn’t scare you right away but it definitely builds up fear, creepily.

Blade Runner, Scott, and a light ending

Blade Runner does a very good job of sticking to its genre “film noir,” although as discussed in class, this genre is still under debate. Film noir films usually have a dark, unsettling feel to them. It attracts its viewers (or at least me) through its mysterious, eerie mise- en-scene which emphasize the dark mood and tonality of the film.

In Blade Runner we notice the constant rain fall on the city, day and night (even though the two are highly undistinguishable), along with low key lighting given by the dark rain filled clouds (or maybe heavy pollution?). These two elements within the film play into the sense of hopelessness the viewer picks up as the movie plays. In the movie, Deckard is searched upon by the police force to hunt and destroy replicants who have diverged from their intended purpose and come to earth seeking more than just the “life” they were designed to live. Most of the film if not all of it, no characters are given more importance than others through means of angles or lighting. I believe this adds on to the unsettling feeling of being ambiguous as to who to root for.

Although that may sound confusing think about it this way. Who really is the bad guy? Or good guy? Deckard for shooting and killing these robots who have caused harm upon human beings and disobeying their orders? Tyrell for creating these robots with extraordinary power to conduct operations impossible by a single human being? Or the robot itself, for being built “more human than human” and wondering how to expand its life span and completely mirror its creator, a human being. I believe the answer is NO. No, none of them are good or bad.

Scott does a wonderful job by using this genre to portray the inevitable end of any life-form, death. The fatalistic theme in the film beautifully portrays the characters illumination that everything has an end.

But to end on a lighter note, you would think after all those years, Coca-Cola would have changed its logo. Now thats a classic.

Sukiyaki with some Heinz ketchup

Sukiyaji Western Django is another one of those “acquired taste” films. At first you’re like, “woah! tarantino,” then “oh poor little kid” and out of no where, “wow, that was a lot of blood.” To be honest, I was only attracted to the film at first due to Tarantino’s presence then kinda of fell off track with the bad accents and the rather ambiguous plot being some times comic and other times serious.

It is interesting how this movie incorporates some classic western film techniques yet stays in touch with its Japanese roots. I went ahead and saw the movie again, this time with a more open-minded perspective and thought the whole thing was great. The action was just as heavy as it needed it to be (no doubt Tarantino helped out a little there), the accents are more appreciated once this movie was screened in Japan with Japanese subtitles, and the actors are actually speaking English. I believe if the movie was full on serious the whole time then the amount of violence and other aspects would darken even more the storyline and be almost too much to see in one seating.

Another thing I loved about it which I mentioned above was its western basis with added Japanese culture. the cowboy hats, gun scenes, beat up towns, all play a role in giving it that good ol spaghetti western feel however, most characters wore kimonos, wrote in Japanese, and kept at least the back ground of each set Japanese influenced (for example the glowing sunset behind a distant mountain during Tarantino’s appearance.

In conclusion, I believe the film was beautifully shot especially that one scene that stands out above all the others where the unknown gunman jumps out of the window and unto his horse, I really wonder how they practiced that back in the day…

Mephisto

This movie is kind of like sushi. Get it? Like an acquired taste? Not going to lie, I was kind of frustrated at the length of some scenes and the obnoxious over emphasized obsession Hendrick had for perfection. I kept trying to to find meaning for each individual scene and it wasn’t till the movie ended that I soon realized how well this film was brought together.

Throughout the movie we observed Hendrick gradually become more absorb into the theater he soon manages with minimal focusing on other characters. I believe this centralization on Hendrick only mixed in with  long scenes is what gives you that sense of, “ok, next scene please,” or “does anyone else talk in this movie?” feeling but that’s the genius of the technique! Hendrick is constantly in-and-out of character not only with the stage and its spectators but, with everyone around hes normal life as well.

We can glean vicariously the emotions of Hendrick because not only are we some what lost throughout the film, but so is he! This is noticeable through hes relationship with the prime minister and how he is more commonly called Mephisto but especially at the end, when the prime minister is shouting out his real name in a huge amphitheater open to the sky, almost metaphorically implying that not only can everyone in the theater see him, but so can the whole universe; not observe him as a character but as himself.

This last scene lets us know the that Hendrick is the real life version of Faust, a character he easily manipulates while playing Mephisto however, as a himself didn’t stand a chance against the evil, conceiving ways of the prime minister; the real Mephisto. The prime minister briefly eludes to this “soft” side of Hendrick in the movie while complementing him in his custom however, noting Hendrick’s, “soft eyes” that give away Hendricks true character.

Clockwork Orange

A Clockwork Orange, um, yeah. This movie is by far the most unique, eye capturing, brain picking movie I have seen thus far. From the camera angles to the sound even the vernacular used by the characters all ties together to give you a punch of confusion and taste of, “did that just happen?”

 

The most noticeable editing in this film is the diagetic and extradiagetic sound use of music to display Alex’s inner thoughts and perception of reality versus what is actually occurring. The viewer is sloshed back and forward between Alex’s eerie point of view of necessary action and the violence his victims undergo. As both of these perspectives are brought together through sound it makes the current situation somewhat “tolerable” to watch.

 

A scene that incontrovertibly caught my attention was when Alex brought home two girls and had sexual intercourse with the both of them. He goes from one to the other to satisfying both at the same time. Then one stops to get dressed as he continues with the other, stops and undresses the other girl, as the one he was with previously starts to get dressed. He continues by undressing the second girl till both girls and Alex continue to fondle with each other. All the while there is extradiagetic music going on in the background (Beethoven which is a recurring motif) that gives the scene some sort of comical relief by its raised tempo and classical origin.

 

Throughout the movie there is perpetual violence seen from both sides of the characters. Along with this constant, seemingly endless brutality amongst all characters, music is used as a means of intensifying or relieving the pressure the viewer feels as they make the journey through Alex’s “transformation” or cure that at the end, well, never really occurs; I would assume by his vivid daydream and reviving desire to in-and-out without the sickness creeping back in.

Scene Editing

In class we discussed the importance and most importantly, the power of editing has over creating suspense, joy, anger, sadness, or any other inducible feeling within the viewer. We talked about how scene cuts become more frequent and the lenghts becomes shorter as an even is going to happen (mostly seen in action/dramas). In this scene of The Matrix the editing provides a slow motion effect that details the characters movement and really lets the viewer observe the mise-en-scéne.

 

There is a lot going on in this scene. From the dramatic usage of weapons, to the movement of the two agents, even the destruction of the columns and wall all come together through the use of editing strategies such as condensed and expanded scene durations. A greatly used strategy is elliptical editing. This is seen throughout the movie but especially in this scene due to the fact that it is a small area with tons of actors and action going on. The agents are constantly being shot at while shooting back at multiple officers trying to kill them. However, the fancy acrobatic moves along with great gun-play is emphasized through this use of slow motion. Each cut is made to further attract the viewer by switching from agent’s face, agent shooting gun, officer getting shot, and back to another officer shooting at one of the agents. I believe the meaning of singling every individual out creates suspense for the viewer because you are left wondering where the other shooters are or will be when they come back into the viewing frame.

Whats unique about this scene is that most movies have an establishing shot in the  beginning of a scene to establish where the actors will be for some time. Here, the establishing scene is shown at the end of the fire-fight to show not only where  all this action has just occurred but also the damage it has cost. The columns are destroyed, bodies and all over the floor, and towards the end of the shot a piece of marble falls of the wall to fully give the effect of destruction. I believe this was a great strategy because during the gun fight you’re not thinking about where the shooting is taking place but if the agents will get shot. this suspense is created an left hanging in the air by the constant edits between slow and real-time movement. Then it is settled when the whole lobby is shown.

The Wachowski brothers really set the stage for this scene by introducing Neo going through a metal detector with about 5 cops casually reading the news paper and drinking coffee with no idea of whats about to occur. The scene builds up in action as the angles build up suspense. From the shot showing Neo fully covered in guns, to the marching feet of the swat team all ensue that something huge is about to take place. Then the suspense is dramatically dropped as the two agents enter the elevator as nothing has happen and give each other a casual look liek saying, “good job out there.”