The End

I chose to take this class at the last second because Norse Mythology got cancelled. I fumbled around ISIS to look for a suitable class, and then Film Analysis brushed across the screen. I registered for this class even though I wasn’t the biggest film buff, but man I am happy that I did. This class really exceeded my expectations and has become one of my favorite classes to have taken. This class has widened my view and appreciation for cinema, introduced me to film directors, and taught me of the intricacies of film.

What really surprised me is the depth of and variety of movies we viewed. I wasn’t expecting to watch films dating back the black-and-white silent films. And frankly I quite enjoyed those films. Really shows that older films can still hold their flair to this day.

My favorite films to have viewed in this class would have to be Blade Runner, Kairo, and Spirited Away. Blade Runner introduced me to aspects of film noir and the importance and effects of lighting in film. Kairo really showed that horror is not all about jumpscares and intensely creepy music and can really differ among nations. Spirited Away had an amazing array of animation and was a nice piece of nostalgia for me. 

Really this class was a treat. I truly enjoyed every aspect and minute of it. From now on, I’m gonna analyze each and every aspect of film when I’m watching a movie. From the techniques and effects of cinematography(As much as I disliked Contempt, it did give me that), sound, mise-en-scene, etc. I would easily recommend this anybody in need of that extra class.

This was a great class to take for my first semester and I thoroughly enjoyed it and I will miss it. But hey! No more blog posts!

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Week 14 Blog Assignment

Hugo is a Scorsese’s personal homage to early cinema, most notable of Georges Melies, through a narrative regarding Melies own work and the tragedy and blessing that is of time.

Hugo combines many techniques conventionally found in older films and combines it with his own take as well as modern technology. The combination of techniques and the narrative played onscreen makes a contrast and comparison of the progression and evolution of cinema throughout time.

Many themes and motifs are notable strewn throughout the film in the form of the many clockwork machines, a motif of the role each piece or person plays as a greater whole. In the beginning, Hugo himself is inside of the clock, possible a metaphor that he is already part of the system. After all, a machine is useless without a caretaker. Hugo plays the role of the caretaker in multiple forms from fixing misc. machines to even fixing Melies himself. And thus overcoming his own dreary loneliness.

The mise-en-scene really captures the cultural and time period the film takes place, from the French couture and mannerisms to references of films and happenings relevant to the time.

While the animation was very vivid and elaborate, I believe it played a larger role in Scorsese’s personal homage to older film as it applies a very modern technique and technology that contrasts to a story mainly regarding older film.

My only complaint is that perhaps there was too much going on, from a mini-story about the elderly couple and the Officer and Flower Shop Lady that felt forced and rushed.

But that aside, Hugo is still a wonderfully pieced together film that pays homage to Georges Melies.

A Spirited Analysis

Miyazaki’s Spirited Away is a wonderful piece of Japanese animation, and truly in animation in general, that exudes and exhibits the creative mind that created it.

The animation is top notch and the visuals breathtaking. Most notable is the fact that majority of the film is hand-drawn with added digital effects. Through multiple techniques of shading, shaping, lighting, and movements, the animation is very life-like and believable with highly detailed and elaborate backgrounds and smooth movements. An astounding trait as much of the characters and visuals are so fantasy-driven, from Yubaba’s and Zeniba’s bulbous head, the colorful palette and form of spa house staff and customers, to Haku’s stoic look and dragon form, and of course No-Face’s deep and meaningful expressions.

Characters are varied and lively – almost eccentric – with a plethora of traits that brings the audience to enjoy their presence. Even the protagonist Chihiro, while altogether quite unassuming and plain, makes up for in her sheer character and progression of character.

The underlying tones and themes really stand out from the onscreen visuals. From the ravenous hunger of Chihiro’s parents and turning into pigs, to Yubaba’s and her staff’s most evident greed. Greed and Overindulgence leads to severe consequences, the search of purpose from No-Face,  or the want of home from Chihiro.

Spirited Away is a mesmerizing and timeless animated film that stands out in its visuals, characters, and themes.

Horror Across Cultures

Horror films between cultures often share key features and story-lines, but vastly differ in the craftsmanship of the film. This is most seen between Kairo and Pulse. Though the two films share the same story-line, the same exact scenes, same theme, and even the same name, they could not be any more different.

Camerawork is quite distinct between American and Japanese films. In Kairo, camerawork is much more reserved and utilizes slow panning that heightens suspense and extends time of scenes, providing a progressively growing atmospheric feeling of eeriness and psychological fear. Whereas Pulse utilizes a rapid paced style of camerawork, applying intense zoom-ins on characters expressions – cue the over exaggerated horrified face – and equally as fast jump cuts, a staple of American horror, in order to evoke fear from the imagery on screen, having a very direct method to scare viewers.

Speaking of imagery, Pulse places grotesque and graphic props and images on screen to further evoke a disgusted feel and fear from the audience. American imagery appears to be much more explicit and straightforward, from the intimidating images of the “ghosts” that appear suddenly in order to get some sheer terror from unsuspecting viewers. However, Kairo had a much more natural scene and imagery that derives fear from the slowly creeping cinematography.

Sound significantly differs between the two. Kairo had a much more atmospheric and strategic use of a low pitched sound and extra-diagetic music that sets the eerie tone and nature of the film. Pulse has a much more loud in your face music that explicitly cues in with the actions onscreen and wants to make the audience feel suspenseful and tense.

In general, Kairo delivers a lingering atmospheric feel that progresses alongside the story and evokes similar feelings to the audience; several times I found myself synchronizing my breathing to the breathing or beat of characters or sound onscreen. Pulse has a very direct style of fear from the pace of camerawork and extra-diagetic music in order to place those feelings of terror and suspense.

Film Noir & Blade Runner

Blade Runner is undoubtedly one of the better films we have watched in class throughout the year told in a sci-fi setting with film noir stylistic elements.

The most obvious of which is of course the style of lighting. In Blade Runner, lighting is sourced from side lights that creates a a very shadowy setting. Majority of scenes are lit as if it is night and deliver a bleak tone characteristic of film noir. Another application of the dreary lighting, is the shadowy nature of the background, especially compared to the characters, whom of which are still shrouded amongst the darkness, delivering a feeling hopelessness and dreariness also commonly seen in film noir. There is very little contrast in the film, which heightens the dark tones of a film noir. This is most notably seen in the scene where Deckard is with Bryant discussing the rogue Replicants.

Framing and cinematography play huge roles in film noir. As seen in the film, framing of scenes places great sense of the bleak undertones as seen in the conservative and unassuming expressions of characters, especially those of the protagonist. Action is not solely directed by character’s movements, but more so in the hands of the movements and framing of the camera and scene.

The themes characteristic of film noir is most definitely seen in Blade Runner. Extremely dark and often bleak and hopeless future and loss where characters can take solace only in the past.

Of course the presence of rain is a common attachment seen in film noir, as it  almosts directs and intensifies with the drama of the film. In Blade Runner, rain could be seen in almost every scene where death would be abound and inevitable. Or in scenes where extremely dreary messages would be delivered, especially in the case of Roy’s line where he likens memories as fleeting and lost as tears in rain.

Week 10 Blog Post

While westerns may not be the most well liked of movie genres, it is most certainly the most distinguishable. If compare all the westerns we’ve watched in class, we can pick out the defining features that make a western a western.

From Django to Sukiyaki Western Django and to even Yojimbo, we easily discern the nonchalant, brooding, and almost enigmatic protagonist with a strong will to conduct his deeds of justice. Despite the cultural and time differences between them, the silent anti-hero protagonist is an almost guaranteed thing to occur. Alongside their rather plain style of clothing, which is something that I’ve noted a few times.

If we look at the movies where and when the place doesn’t truly matter, except that the setting takes place in a desolate, rundown town where trouble is a brewing, especially in that well-placed road where all the buildings run by. Buildings that usually involve a bar or tavern of some sort where majority of characters and exposition will most likely meet and take place. The bar that will eventually have some sort bar brawl. The bar that will most likely have majority of the furniture and items destroyed in some way.

And of course what western wouldn’t have a good ol’ stand off to heat the tension. It might have our warring characters meander the battlefield as they gauge each other. Or it might have a long intense stare-off with close-up shots and zoom-ins to the combatants weapons of choice(as we can see weapons can vary) and faces. Westerns always have that moment where there is nothing but silence following the villains monologue on how “Muahaha, you don’t stand a chance” or something alike to that and(cue tumbleweed/wind) and battle ensues. A battle, mind you, that often begins and ends within a moments notice.

And why does the battle end so quickly? Because the protagonist is skillful master of his weapon/firearm of choice with moves so swift that leave majority of his foes bewildered and dead before they hit the ground. Movements with astonishing speed that leave onlookers and viewers stunned at what just happened.

As we can see, it doesn’t really matter on many aspects of the film except a few key notes on what makes a western a western. And from this, the western formula can interchange its variables and still be a western with some differences.

Week 9 Blog Assignment

My chosen scene is where Hendrick becomes the newly appointed director/owner/some leadership role of the theater in Berlin. This scene could be considered more like multiple very short scenes smashed together as one united scene lasting several minutes. It is precisely why that I chose it, it stood out very much from other scenes.

Throughout the entirety of these scenes, it shows Hendrick hard at work – and a bit over exaggerated, though he is an actor – at his new found position by rapidly going over several factors, problems, or just general things regarding the state of his theater and business. From talking with his employees, to examining the cleanliness of objects, interviewing a man, going over wardrobe, and even more responsibilities that come with the job. The scene quickly transitions from each, I suppose, smaller scene through very succinct cuts, almost without warning. The cuts are also quite inconsistent, immediately switching to a different room of varying size/color with different people or even with different garb and a contrasting tone of voice from the scene it cuts from, showing that Hendrick is always on the move and conducting some sort of task that may or may not be related to helping his theater and the arts flourish.

Aside from the cuts, it also utilizes several camera angles and shots. Both the rapid cutting between his tasks and varying camera angles really play off that Hendrick is working laboriously and intensively in his job, be it due to genuine care for the business or because he is ordered to by the general is still quite unclear at this point.

Sound can also be related, in a sense, as even when scenes cut, someone’s voice will be heard, mostly Hendrick’s of course. Between scenes, his tone and pitch of voice changes depending on the situation he is in. Sometimes he will be yelling, almost in an annoyed rage, other times his mocking, but for the most part he uses a rapid and comprehensible voice to get his point across effectively and quickly. Again, this plays off his busy nature as director/owner of the theater.

Week 8 Blog Post

Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange is a masterful film that combines many techniques and almost forbidden arts and ideals(at least for his time) to craft his sickeningly fascinating film of every dark theme imaginable  from rape, murder, police brutality, corrupt government, inhumane medicine, and dystopia while mixing it well with such wonderful sounds that blatantly contrast from what is onscreen.

But the probably the most influential and integral part of what makes the film what it is would have to be the brilliant use and placement of sound. The most obvious of which is of course Beethoven’s Ninth, which became apparently symbolic of all the “good” that Alex holds: his joy, his pride, his pleasure, his dominating status, and his – or at least what he thinks – majestic and whimsical nature and ideals. Once he loses it, once it becomes his pain, his happiness is nonexistent, eliminated as byproduct of his “cure.” What was once his rapture from the filthiness of the world – including his own person – became his misery and motive to commit suicide. Interestingly, his treatment, the Ludovico Technique, sounds a lot like his dear old Ludwig van Beethoven. A clear connection that is just the one of the many pieces of irony in the film.

Of course Singing in the rain is another integral soundtrack in the film. From Alex and his “droogs” mercilessly beating the writer and raping his wife, it could just about be seen as Alex’s song of brutality and immorality and sardonic glee he radiates from his dastardly deeds. Later on when he happens upon the writer’s home once again, he sings again. This time not as a sign of his grim deeds, but for his own fortuitousness and finally good condition to be in. It’s quite the turnaround to be frank, both in songs and his own character.

But that was just diagetic music alone. Extra-diagetic music contributed more the the very atmosphere of scenes and to the film as a whole. For instance, music – mostly majestic classical style – plays in most scenes where it appears that Alex has found himself in favorable circumstances and his own plotting is coming to fruition. While dead silence purveyed when Alex was met with something he found intolerable or disapproving, such as his capture by authorities. Or the scene when Alex was in bed with two women and a much more whimsical, fast-paced, music-piece played, probably showing his carefree nature and how he treats relationships, restricting and unfun.

While the material onscreen can off-put many, the sounds and music played can really change the atmosphere and play off characters quite well if applied practically and purposefully. Which Kubrick does with resounding success.

Week 7 Blog Post

My scene is the infamous Hamburgers scene from the film Pulp Fiction, a film of which that I have never fully scene. Here’s a link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DIvUGUzR9N0

Here, we can see several uses of editing in order to provide several aspects of the scene that add further depth into an otherwise “normal” interrogation scene. This scene and the editing used really plays off the intimidation factor(although any scene with Samuel L. Jackson is intimidating). This scene utilizes many cuts that serve to demonstrate a graphic relation between shots. Especially when cutting from a close-up shot of Samuel L. Jackson’s stone-cold, serious, intimidating face to another close-up shot of the “kids'” own very fearful and tense face. This is also emphasized by Samuel L. Jackson’s domineering personality and standing position to their more docile recumbent position.

A spatial relation can also be scene when cutting from a view of behind the kids which shows off John Travolta’s character in the kitchen and to in front of the kid showing the living room. This provides a sense of what the setting looks like as a whole to viewers connecting Travolta’s otherwise distant character to the entirety of the scene.

Due to the continuity editing, the visuals onscreen maintain a consistent look and setting, especially when cutting between the couch, kitchen, and living room. This is also maintained in the continuous and consistent eye lines between characters and the central area of action and narrative by characters. Our axis of action is mostly centered around the middle of the living room, with small bits of roaming to the outside of that axis to the couch, which can be considered on the very edge of the axis. At the end of the scene, action really heightens at what would be the very center of our axis, emphasized by the cuts to Jackson’s and Travolta’s characters shooting the are between them.

Week 6 Blog Assignment

Jean Luc Godard’s Contempt is while a very unique and fascinating film, I found it to be rather drawn out and relatively unexciting. In all honesty, I may have missed out on 10 minutes due to me literally falling asleep at one point.Those ten mintues were probably relatively unexciting and another reminder of how the relationship between Camille and Paul was oh so tragically, yet slowly… very slowly… crumbling at the seams. While I find the plot very bland and unattractive, the visuals really stood out to me. The cinematogrophy was just astounding and added a great depth and feeling to the scenes.

For instance, the scene where the couple is in their apartment and arguing. Here, Camille is seen in a black wig that almost makes her look completely different then initially. I believe that this change in appearance was a small representation in how their relationship was tearing at the seams, how Paul says it really doesn’t fit her. In fact, her new image really clashes with the first scene in the film where they were in bed and speaking of the things Paul likes of Camille.

But further in the apartment scene, Paul and Camille openly argue with one another, continuously moving between rooms and corridors to the point where a wall separates the two. Here, Camille is in a much more crisp and brighter room decorated with furniture whereas Paul is in a very plain, white, and dull hallway. This just perfectly represents the relationship between the two, that they have drifted so far apart that a wall has formed between their hearts. The contrast in each other accentuated that feel immensely, and overall it was a wonderful use of cinematogrophy.

I would also like to note the bright red color of the furniture that Camille’s room had. It is almost similar in color to the producer’s bright red car, ostentatios and showy just like its owner. From my years in literature and troupes in general, red has always been seen as a color close to death, thus the car crash involving the two could have been foreshadowed from almost the very beginning.

Whereas the movie was dull in my opinion, the visuals throughout the movie really stood out and made it for me.