Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Sample Annotated Catalogue

Does the constant use of a 'triumphant underdog' character make Clint Eastwood an auteur? 

Annotated Catalogue

Item 1 - Unforgiven (1992)
I chose this film as my focus film as it shows all of Eastwood's auteur themes, like his anti-hero characters, dark, gripping and embracing complex narrative, ...... It also stresses the importance of establishing shots and the landscape itself and the theme that I am focusing on, the triumphant under-dog; my focus being more on females triumphing. This film also offers a clear relationship between Eastwood and the genre (western) that developed, not only his ...... and style, but his directing style and views, influenced by Don Siegel (director for 'Man With No Name' trilogy). 

Item 2 - Changeling (2008)
This film helps to show my more in depth focus of women underdogs and Eastwood's subtle constant theme of feminism. This is also a good film to focus purely on Eastwood's directing as, unlike my focus film and other chosen film, he both stars and directs. I chose this film over any other film that Eastwood has solely directed because it portrays my chosen theme as well as being ............ I will also compare the similarities and differences with his progression as a director. 

Item 3 - Million Dollar Baby (2003)
This is my final film as it presents the theme of feminism clearly and the triumph of the male and female under dogs of Eastwood’s character and Hilary Swanks character. This was a successful film for Eastwood and enables me to discuss Eastwood as an auteur as his films often have a dark narrative, clearly seen through him directing the darkest of the Dirty Harry series compared to the others and the not fully happy endings, both in Million Dollar Baby and Changeling. This film gives a good focus point of a female in a male dominated world (like all three of the films I have chosen). 


Item 4 - Inside The Actor’s Studio
I have used this documentary because it not only gives the audiences response to the film and Eastwood himself, as an actor, director, producer, screenwriter and score composer, but also give Eastwood’s feeling towards his work and personal life. Knowing what happens in Eastwood’s personal life and what ............ reasoning to why he directs the way he does and how and why he chooses the scripts to produce and work on. This documentary offers a complete insight into Eastwood’s ways and attitude towards the film industry and others he has worked with and for and their influences on him. This documentary also helps to understand the constant theme of feminism and why Eastwood .......................................

Item 5 - David Letterman Interview (January 14, 2009)
This interview focuses on all of my films with additional films and from this I can use information about the film, in turn information about my chosen theme. Also I am able to have some insight into Eastwood’s personal life and personal reasons for why he chose certain scripts, settings and filming techniques. In this interview Eastwood also gives his personal feelings towards ................... 

Item 6 - Uncut DVD (Nov – Dec 2005)
I have chosen to use this magazine as a source due to the in depth information written about Eastwood and his films. This magazine gives the opinions of people who have worked close to Eastwood,....

Item 7 - Empire, Damon Wise, (May 20, 2008)
This article gives an outsiders view on Eastwood’s work and provides quotes from people who have worked with Eastwood; this will help me to understand his work more from behind the scenes of his films. .............................

Item 8 - Variety, Todd McCarthy,(May 20, 2008)
From this article I am getting a reviewers viewpoint on Eastwood's film Changling. This will help to add opinions from other people as well as myself and bring a more equally balanced argument. .........................

Item 9 - Empireonline (http://www.empireonline.com/search/default.asp?search=eastwood)
This is a good source, and provide reviews on all of my chosen films, giving others opinions on the films and not only close friend, Eastwood himself or from face to face interviewers, allowing .......

Item 10 - sensesofcinema.com
This website has many comments from close friends, people who have worked with and for Eastwood, and several comments from Eastwood himself. I am using this site as it gives a large range and variety of comments and opinions. It also gives a back-story to Eastwood and his history growing up and .....

Item 11 - http://www.screenplaydb.com/film/scripts/unforgiven.pdf
This is a copy of the script to Unforgiven; I am going to use this to use direct quotes for the film from here to help show the important physical defects that creates the triumphant underdog in ...........

Item 12 - Oxford Guide to Film Studies
I am using this book because it has an in-depth analysis of genre and .................techniques and effects, these will then in turn enable me to see and recognise common techniques used throughout my chosen films and help ........... I will also use auteur theory quotes from this book to help prove Eastwood as an auteur. 

Item 13 - Clint: The Life and Legend (Patrick McGilligan)
Patrick McGilligan presents Clinton Eastwood Junior -the man, the actor, and the star- as he is, not as he is portrayed to be. He effectively reveals ................. most of which are not flattering, from Eastwood's childhood, .......... success and stardom; all angles and every insight into Eastwood's life draws information for directing theme.

Item 14 - The New York Times (August 7, 1992)
This article gives a passionate review of Eastwood's performance in Unforgiven and compares it to his performances in "The Man With No Name" Trilogy and .......... I will use these comparisons as evidence in my presentation script on the topic of underdogs.

Item 15
- The Guardian, Elizabeth Day. Article - "Gentle Man Clint". (November 2, 2008)
I will use the interviews in this article from Eastwood's co-workers to get an in-depth feel of Eastwood's character and work behind scenes to help put forward the idea of Eastwood being an auteur and the factors that help make him one.

Item 16 - The New Yorker, David Denby. Article - "Out of the West". (March 8, 2010)
This article offers several opinions on two of my films, highlighting the feminist argument put across in Eastwood's film. I will use the comparison to shows the auteur theme that runs throughout Eastwood's films.

Rejected Items
Film: Play Misty For Me
I first chose this film as I thought it would be a good comparison piece of Eastwood's older and newer work; Play Misty For Me being the older works of Eastwood in my comparison. I considered this film, over other older directory works of Eastwood, as it was the first film that Eastwood directed, making it more significant, and offer a more precise depiction of Eastwood's auteur themes. ...... not to be the best comparison piece to show Eastwood as an auteur. 

Interview: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rsHbxgfyhM4
I rejected this interview because most of the information given I already have from other websites. The extra information given by Eastwood in this interview was irrelevant and added no extra support to why Eastwood uses my questioned theme.
Website: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000142/bio
This website only gave an overview and the years of every film Eastwood started in and directed and didn’t give any necessary detail about the themes used in the films or why Eastwood use them. It also provides a lot of interesting trivia but none relative to why Eastwood uses triumphant underdogs.
Website: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clint_Eastwood
The information that i found useful on this website i also found on others that i have decided to use. i chose the other websites over this on as they are more reliable and gave more in depth information about the same points made.

Sample Annotated Catalogue

Here is another sample annotated catalogue. Use it as a guide for structure and the content required.

First draft deadline: 20/10/17

Baz Luhrmann films constantly re-interpret classic narratives; can this make him an auteur?

Item 1: Romeo and Juliet (Dir Baz Luhrmann, 1996). This source is useful as it is one of the main films  Luhrmann has created. It depicts an old tragedy transformed into a re-interpreted version of the original play, which is a regular theme of Luhrmann’s. Luhrmann uses the old English language that Shakespeare intended but uses the mise-en-scene of the 20th century lifestyle. Although the mise en scene is modern it also has religious aspects like the statue of Christ, this also gives an element of history. The costumes of the characters represent their status’ which allows the audience to interact with the visual context, making it an ideal example to refer to for my topic.

Item 2: Moulin Rouge (Dir. Baz Luhrmann, 2001). Very useful source, it shows how Luhrmann uses music from his adolescence this gives the film a sense of modernisation because the music is from the 80’s. The music allows the audience to relate to the narrative because they are familiar with the score. The film is a love story which is shown through music and poetry this gives a classic theme similar to that of Shakespeare. The mise-en-scene from the 1800’s interlinks with the music making it a modern re-interpretation of a classic love story.

Item 3: Australia (dir. Baz Luhrmann, 2008). Very helpful, tells a historical story doesn’t have a modified re-interpretation to the film but does have the same strong romantic narrative which plays a big part in how the films are modernised. This source doesn’t represent the usual interpretations which Luhrmann normally uses: it is set in the past so we can see how society changes over time which helps the audience to relate to the film because of the diverse use of discrimination. The source makes the audience think how different it was then to how it is now.


Item 4: Interview with cast of Moulin Rouge and Baz Luhrmann (Empire magazine, 2001). This was a good piece of research as it not only showed how the director transformed the films into a re-interpretation, but it explains why he chose to do so. A quote from the article says that he explores his younger years by using modern music from the 80’s. The article mentions Luhrmann using an ancient myth for the play within the film which gives it another re-interpretation from the past. This source is useful because it gives detailed explanation to why Luhrmann uses the re-interpretation of his childhood music and the ancient myth.

Item 5: Magazine article on Moulin Rouge (Total film, 2001). This source gives a variety of relevant information about the modern re-interpretation which Luhrmann uses within his films, a quote says to expect the unexpected. Luhrmann is said to have used elements of plots from the plays La Boheme, Tosca and La Traviata, which are very classic plays, he uses older elements as well as some modern ones too. This source shows the logic behind his re-interpretations, a quote from Luhrmann: musicals contain music which the audience already have a relationship with. It also refers to the use of music which is taken from Luhrmann’s younger year the 70’s.

Item 6: Magazine article on Moulin rouge (Sound and light article, 2001). This source is valuable because it explains the modern re-interpretation which Luhrmann uses in his films, a quote says; he uses a combination of pop culture references and sung dialogue; this is one of Luhrmann’s traits as a director. This could suggest that Luhrmann is an auteur because of his own unique style. The source also says that ‘the story of Moulin Rouge is as faithful as Pearl Harbour which is an historic classic; with these two elements combined it explains the modern re-interpretation which Luhrmann is known for. This states that Luhrmann could be an auteur because he modernises classic narratives.

Item 7: Review of Romeo and Juliet, Empire magazine. http://www.empireonline.com/reviews/review.asp?FID=3654. This source is good; it explains how the director re-interprets the well known text into a modern day film. It shows how Luhrmann uses the MTV style of film making and transforms the play. This source also mentions how Luhrmann is able to make genres that are out of date into modern styled films which appeal to the public today. The source shows that the film has been re-interpreted into a popular film that the new generation can relate too.

Internet Articles

Item 8: Interview with Baz Luhrmann about Moulin Rouge, the Hollywood Interview, 2001. http://thehollywoodinterview.blogspot.com/2010/02/baz-luhrmann-moulin-rouge-hollywood.html. This source is very useful because it shows that Luhrmann has his own traits he is like an auteur, his films are described as heightened reality. The source explains the different elements that Luhrmann uses like theatre, opera; traditional cinema and pop culture which combined make a totally new genre. Quote from the article, it’s almost as if he took all the music videos, studio musicals, pop albums, and stage productions of the last 100 years and stuck them together to make Moulin Rouge.

Item 9: Interview with Baz Luhrmann, The guardian 2001. http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/baz-luhrmann . This source is helpful because it shows why Luhrmann became a director and how he found his love for musicals. Even at a young age he created his first play, strictly ballroom, which was made in a heightened metaphorical style and became his first film. This interview also shows how Luhrmann was influence by his parents; his mother was a dancer and his father was a cinema owner. Luhrmann says that the story of Romeo and Juliet was modified by William Shakespeare from a Greek play which demonstrates that stories are just use over again just adapted to the time which it is recreated, this shows how William Shakespeare also re-interpreted others work. This can be used because it shows Luhrmann’s childhood influenced his style and career choice.

Friday, 9 June 2017

Leavers 2017: A Farewell Message

Thanks to all A2 Film students for their hard work, effort and support this year. It has been most appreciated. I hope the results in August are what you expected.

I look forward to hearing of your continued success in the future.

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

FM4 - Spectatorship - Experimental and Expanded Film/Video

Definition of the ‘avant-garde’:

Rupture with Tradition: Characterised by an impulse to "make it new" and by an anti-traditionalism. A total rupture with tradition and attack on the institutions of Art and Literature within bourgeois society. A rejection of all absolute aesthetic conventions and considerations of taste. Characterised by intellectual playfulness and mystification.

Formal Subversion: Culture and its norms were viewed as an artificial arrangement to be subverted, parodied and transgressed. Shock tactics and anti-art gestures were used to shake the public out of its apathetic acceptance of outmoded values. 'Avant-garde' art decomposed old frames of reference; it values fragments, curious collections and unexpected juxtapositions - erotic, exotic, and unconscious. Spontaneous, the primitive and the irrational were prized. Breaks down barriers between conscious and unconscious and liberates the imagination bringing about new perceptions and new social relations.

Thematic Nihilism: A general loss of faith in absolutes: God, Man, Reason, Truth, Beauty, Honour, Authority, Reason, logic, language and accepted social values were all rejected. They defined themselves in opposition to the dominant conservative forces within society often seeing themselves as aesthetic terrorists antagonistic to accepted social ideals and values.

Andy Warhol
‘Sleep’ (1963) - Avant-garde/Static camera/Edited/Silent/Non-narrative
‘Empire’ (1964) - Avant-garde/Static camera/Silent/Non-narrative
Kenneth Anger
‘Fireworks’ (1947) - Avant-garde/Homosexual Drama/Music
‘Rabbit’s Moon’ (1950) - Avant-garde/Commedia Del’arte/Music
‘Scorpio Rising’ (1964)
Maya Deren
‘Meshes Of The Afternoon’ (1943)
Stan Brakhage
‘Mothlight’ (1963)
‘Stellar’ (1993)
Godfrey Reggio
‘Koyaanisqatsi’(1982)- Narrative inferred by images/Music/Environmental
The Quay Brothers
‘The Cabinet of Jan Svankmajer’ (1984)
Simon Pummell
‘Bodysong’ (2003) – Stock footage/Narrative inferred by images/Music
Chris Marker
‘La Jettee’ (1962) – B&W Stills/Photo narrative/Voice over narrative

Surrealist examples
Luis Bunuel
‘Un Chien Andalou’ (1929) – Surreal/No narrative logic/Aesthetic
Jan Svankmajer
‘Darkness Light Darkness’ (1990) – Surreal/Narrative/Stop-motion animation
David Lynch
‘Eraserhead’ (1977)

Music Videos
Music videos frequently draw upon techniques from experimental filmmaking. Experimental films differ from regular fiction filmmaking. They use narrative form, but they also have other distinctive tactics. Experimental films often draw upon two other types of form: "abstract" and "associational”. Abstract, and associational form are intended as ways of describing how different types of form have profound effects on the way spectators perceive films.

‘Super Massive Blackhole’ – Floria Sigismondi
‘Human Behaviour’ – Michel Gondry

Monday, 22 May 2017

Essay Writing Style Advice

WAFFLE AND PADDING: Don’t make a great essay

Don’t use superfluous words, phrases or sentences. If a sentence means the same thing with a word taken out, take it out. The same applies to whole phrases and sentences within the wider context of a paragraph. Using words and phrases which don’t add anything to what you’re saying will mean that your examiners will conclude that (a) you don’t have enough to say to meet the required essay length, and that (b) you are trying to hide this by means of a slow, repetitive and boring writing style. Which is not clever.

The left hand column contains 250% more words than the right-hand column, but it contains 0% more information. Examiners spot this kind of thing.

Furthermore, by not inflating the essay with space-filling nonsense, the writer of the right-hand column has got room to show their understanding of the subject by expanding on further points: what did Lil Ze do? Why might he be seen as power-crazed, or influential? How has he demonstrated his personal power? In other words, there is more room for lots of analysis, which is good news.

Good Essay Writing

Essay writing is a difficult skill to grasp, and sometimes people get bogged down in learning a 'formula’ and try to produce a perfect essay regardless of what the question is.

Plan Plan Plan

• Bullet point your main points;

• number those bullet points;

• associate them with pieces of evidence from your case studies or film/TV texts;

Essential features of a ‘good’ essay
  • A logical argument; once you have decided what the ‘answer’ is, you need to prove your answer in relation to a question or statement. 
  • A clear structure where the reader can ‘follow’ you through the essay – if you plan (numbering your points), you can ensure that each point is linked and will flow to create a smooth transition between your points.
  • An argument based on close textual reading. All of your ideas should stem from the case studies from class and your own wider reading/viewing; this will ensure that your comments are relevant, if they closely link back to a relevant piece of evidence.
  • An awareness of texts as ‘constructs’ – the creation of resources based on a series of deliberate choices.
  •  Equally you need to consider context; how contemporary audiences and producers differ from those in the past.

FM4 - Urban Stories: Strengthening Exam Responses

Exam Responses: Guidance 

  • Developing more thorough responses to exam questions is a key skill that needs to be developed in preparation for the exam. 
  • Below are sample paragraphs of A and D grade responses to an Urban Stories question from the January 2012 paper. 
  • These highlight the contrasts in content, detail and discussion that is required to get the highest grade possible. 
  • Strengthening your exam skills and technique to create better responses is not difficult if you can recognise your weaknesses and change your approach to answering questions from a more critical perspective rather than largely descriptive.

(Question 5.)
Compare the different ways in which conflict between the poor and the powerful are represented in the films you have studied for this topic?  

'D' grade response

The early sequences of the film are set post-riot when we see the destruction of Hubbert's gym and the vandalism of police cars by Said it is clear that there is obvious conflict between poor and powerful. The police have also killed someone and Vinz's readiness to go and kill a police officer to get even clearly demonstrates how conflict is rife between people and authority, and how they resent those in power. The unrest and continuation of the riots helps visualise the unhappiness that prevails in the projects and the readiness of people to change it shows how they want to be recognised and helped.

Lacks detail - has a tendency to generalise - lacks film language - fails to discuss wider issues

'A' grade response

With the use of black and white stock footage of the riots in the title sequence the audience are made aware that conflict is a key issue from the start. The grittiness of the style exemplifies the themes of conflict in French culture of 'Liberty, equality and fraternity' in mid 90's Paris and the way that the 3 main characters express contrasting attitudes to dominant social values. A particularly powerful character is Vinz who represents 'liberty' in the narrative; he is seen displaying power in the scene when he talks to himself in the mirror in a mid-shot and adopts De Niro's posturing from 'Taxi Driver'. His lack of any 'true' identity though suggests that he is a poor character struggling to gain respect from the society that wishes to exclude or devalue his participation in French society.   

Includes detail - does not generalise - uses film language - discusses wider issues - is confident

Strong Exam Responses:
  • Include detail
  • Don't generalise
  • Use film language
  • Discuss wider contexts
  • Are written with confidence
  • Understand that film is a visual language

FM4 - Single Film Critical Study: Fight Club

'A' Grade Exam Response

Section C – Single Film: Close Critical Study.

“Fight Club uses cinematic means to produce a fantasy which is also a serious exploration of masculinity”. How far does this statement capture your own response to the film?

The cinematic and thematic exploration of the undervalued blue-collar workers of America in “Fight Club” is an expression of the results of the suppression of masculine, animalistic and natural elements within modern society. While viewing the film the consideration the audience makes alongside the protagonist “Jack” (whose identity is questionable) appears to be questioning whether it is right to fight against this society of anti-masculine individuals who strive for materialism is really an emotional struggle.

We see that Jack experiences the consumerism of society while he is struggling with insomnia (created by the addiction to materialistic items in his apartment) through the sequence are fast-paced close-ups of popular items such as Starbucks cups, Crispy Creme Doughnuts and moreover a shot of his American dollars. These are noticeably crumpled and not at all patriotic with the logos not facing the framing. This focus upon materialism suggests a masculinity dealing with the feminine love of shopping coupled with the anonymity that American city dwelling brings. The idea that this could be anywhere in America is suggested with a memorable close up of stickers bearing “Hello. My name is _____” that evoke a response of loss of direction and identity within the audience. The anonymity and IKEA-catalogue based sequences we see Jack experience in his hallucinations are also a possible schizophrenic embodiment of this lack of any true identity or even his individuality hinting that arguably his importance as a man is being tested.

“Fight Club” embodies the idea of Nietzsche: the idea of a superman being possible is alluded to in the ever-repetitive doppelganger/split-persona of Tyler appearing in a subliminal flicker at the side of the frame throughout the first few scenes. This demonstrates the power that Tyler has over Jack’s mind, and it gets ever more present as the film progresses. It becomes more apparent when we see him in a tracking shot at the airport on an escalator, almost as if the camera shows a preference to following his movements rather than Jack's. This is because we see this side of the masculinity of the main characters split personality being the alpha male, also displayed when the camera tracks his movements from behind and in front as he is surrounded by a crowd in the basement. “Project Mayhem”, the needless fight of violence and terror, is powered by this dominant figure, giving the audience clues that this individual does not let himself be owned by possessions unlike Jack, and regards himself as his own.

Also seen in the masculinity of the postmodern traits of the film is the reference to a rape scene in “A Clockwork Orange”, as the eerily similar, exaggerated disorientation of angle of Tyler after beating up government officials is reminiscent of a more sinister, evil scene from a film about anarchy. This instils a sense of fear in the spectator, as the masculinity of this man appears to be turning into something more power-hungry and fascist. The intertextual reference to 'A Clockwork Orange' also confirms the postmodern significance of this film as it generates so many questions but ultimately and superficially fails to answer them.

The film also displays a radical array of misogynistic traits through the character of Marla, an anagram of the word “alarm” and met with the sound of sirens and non-diegetic influences of danger. This gives us the idea that the main character Jack is so terrified by this femme-fatale and disturbed by her appearance that his masculinity is challenged. In a neo-noir style, we see the framing of Marla introduced sinisterly via shadow and with her hat obscuring half of her face dominating the screen, she also gives the impression of power as it convinces us through the low-angle. Her character is also, while present during a scene in which the self-help group has to reflect and meditate, blurred in the background, while Jack thinks when we are catapulted into the frantic hallucination of Jack in a cool-blue icy cave, in his head, is interrupted by Marla smoking (that demonstrates further the hybrid of noir genre incorporated), she is clearly more dominant. It's as if she is the masculine one, she uses the word “slide” and this dialogue perhaps provokes the idea of Jack’s deterioration leading from here into the audience’s mind. When we next see her in the crosscut back to the church-style environment, it is Jack who is blurred and unimportant.

The narrative also relies on its use of cinematography to relay certain ideas through stylistic and mise-en-scene elements. Almost pornographically shot in a grotesque way is the footage of Jack turning up to his office beaten and bloody, with close-ups of his bruises after his decline into fighting that suggests that the main character has traded his addiction of self-help groups and materialism for the exhilaration of fighting as a form of release. The film also closely explores elements of homosexuality by referencing the experimental style of directors like Kenneth Anger, as we see that the fetishising of objects and improving the body of the men has elements that arise in “Fight Club”. It could be suggested that Jack is in love with the idea of Tyler, and therefore we are greeted with the notion that he is in fact homosexual or may have deep emotional struggles with such tendencies.

Furthermore, the response at the Viennese Film Festival to the film was an angry one of shock and concern over the films fascist, Nazi style links. The sequence in which we see Tyler and Jack stealing a liposuction factory’s human fat and processing it into soap to sell to the rich delivers a haunting message that there are still Nazi-style thoughts born of a generation in need of a disciplinary style of life to stop their masculinity going downhill. The cinematic means used to portray Jack’s early obsession with self-help groups, such as shot-reverse-shot from his close up face centred in the middle of the frame looking solemn, and then to a list of self-help groups not unlike a religious scroll, back to his face, and paired with organ, church style non-diegetic sound express the vulnerability of his addictive nature. This foreshadows his steady decline into being open to fighting and causing mayhem because of his easy transfixion’s with things.

Furthermore, the theme of gender confusion is embodied in the role of Bob, an ex-fighter who was once an alpha male, now resorting to crying at a self-help group and suffering from testicular cancer that physically and mentally feminises him. The viewer’s response is an automatic pity when Jack uses ironic dialogue that injects a hybrid of comedy into the film and we feel sorry for Bob. This emotive response is also strong in our fear that Jack will continue to gradually deteriorate as we see him jeering and fighting alongside the “Project Mayhem” gang – the division between Tyler, the alpha male, and Jack, the less superior character by means such as a phone booth window, trees, furniture and other characters suggest a fighting battle between Jack and his other persona. Because we see this vulnerability in Jack that lacks the usual American ego of a masculine male, we see that the masculinity he craves and worships is in fact slightly evil.

FM4 - Spectatorship - Experimental and Expanded Film/Video

'A' Grade Exam Response

Section B – Experimental and Expanded Film/Video

How has your experience of experimental and expanded film/video liberated your sense of what film spectatorship can be?

Admittedly my initial reaction to experimental film embodied exactly its catalyst behind the creation of it: my viewing as a spectator was an uneasy one, because I was not being told how to think or react to it. Without the body of work consisting of simple techniques such as back-story to hint to how I should perceive the genre, or in many cases dialogue, it left me bereft of the usual mainstream or even independent spectatorship of film I was used to that provided clues to how I should receive the films.

In the case of Andy Warhol’s experimental body of work, I suddenly began to appreciate the poetic relationship between visual and sound that is not always distinct in less avant-garde films, as I found that they were more of a feeling than a narrative. The 1966 film “Chelsea Girls” opposed the sanitized, deeply censored era of the time with its references to sex that the film industry ignored normally. This film, with its revolutionary split-screen techniques furthered the cinematic progress irreversibly, as did his film “Sleep”. With six hours of a man asleep shot in monochrome black and white stock that later influenced a film of David Beckham asleep, I found it refreshing how Warhol dodged categorization by pairing very “highbrow” films reminiscent of the type found in an art-house with utter trash cinema, the very epitome of pop culture. For his lack of snobbish outlook, I appreciated the concept and feel of his films exceptionally.

On the other hand, a film I did not enjoy was Kenneth Anger’s “Scorpio Rising”. I could see that the fetish of objects displayed to the audience through the tracking of items on a table had later influenced the visual elements of “Taxi Driver”. I could understand that with its energetic pace and hidden hints of homosexuality, its underground success in the 60s was part of a revolution in cinema that could not have progressed without in some ways being taboo. Perhaps the problem that I found was that the spectator was addressed too vaguely, too much in a culture of highbrow for me to fully appreciate while viewing.

I did find that the linear narrative of “Food” by Svankmajer, with its eerie addressing of themes such as consumerism, materialism and cannibalism easier to view, perhaps because, even if it gave me an unflattering sense of the human race being like machines, it still evoked some emotion.

Likewise, David Lynch’s “Eraserhead”, inspired by his dull and lifeless time in Philadelphia, gave me a nightmarish feel through the almost lazy pace of the film, non-personal mise-en-scene within his grey apartment and setting of an industrial, abandoned zone that had connotations of disfigurement. The strong elements of male sexual imagery with the worm at the beginning spookily similar to the idea of sperm and the theme of irresponsible sex leading to the mutant baby made me shudder. Furthermore, the minimal dialogue that suddenly collapsed when Henry said, “where have you been?” strengthened my reaction as the spectator wholly because it was the lack of speech leading to it that heightened its anguish. This film may have directed me wondering negatively behind the purpose of life, but it did evoke a matter of playing on my mind afterwards because of its haunting nature.

I found that in experimental cinema, stop-motion film was my least favourite, as I doubted its ability to suggest neither meaning nor reaction out of me, perhaps because the connotations that lie with me as a contemporary viewer are inspired by Keane’s “Bedshaped” music video, and I would only watch that and appreciate it because of its audio.

Enjoyable films such as “Koyaanisqatsi”, referencing Warhol’s breakthrough in post-modernism during the technique of filming people gazing hauntingly into the camera, breaking the fourth wall resulted in me expanding my knowledge on how cinema progressed with such avant-garde cinematic and thematic techniques. In contrast, whereas “Koyaanisqatsi” took a thoughtful few years between 1975 and 1982 to produce, I found “Bodysong” entirely slow-paced and devoid of the same meaning. Whereas “Koyaanisqatsi” had used the relationship between visual and sound in a manner that poetically embraced the rhythm of classical music, “Bodysong” dealt with random but similar images that didn’t fit together quite as well. For instance, the footage (that was found in archives rather than purposely filmed) displayed childbirth, something that is seen to be beautiful, in a grotesque way, and then went on to noisily expose themes such as bullying with clips from over the world. Having become annoyed with the off-beat, childlike repetition of the music that I was not accustomed to as a viewer, I noticed that everything I was seeing at the beginning were things not to be seen with the naked eye. Although I appreciated the concept behind it, I could not help but challenge the mundane and boring style by wondering if perhaps the audience does not wish to see these things usually left free of exposure. Regardless, it did evoke a reaction.

However, the linear narrative of “La Jetee”, which I found pleasing to experience as a spectator accustomed to plot and dialogue, was altogether put together in a surrealist style I recognised as someone who is used to mainstream viewing, and it perhaps did not play on my mind as much as the others due to its philosophical approach being engulfed by narrative. Whereas in the other cases, I had to really think about the films.

Finally, my favourite of all to watch was the 1992 film “For Marilyn” by Stan Brakhage. This film, filled with fast-paced shots of beautifully placed framing, mixed rhythm and light to demonstrate aesthetic enjoyment as a whole. As the other films had displayed asynchronous sound in some cases, or limitations of dialogue, I found that my response to this film as a viewer was extraordinarily liberating, as the silence of the work meant that the fleeting, rhythmic flickers of hand painted stills were the music instead. After enjoying the techniques used that involved the images to be ran through a camera reel for artistic effect, I could only say that my response to this type of experimental film blew my mind in that I had to think for myself rather than be spoon-fed. The liberation of my sense of what film spectatorship usually requires such as a plot, narrative, dialogue, sound and smooth editing gave me a sense to be free of these ideals and respond just how I felt suited it.

FM4 - Urban Stories - 'A' Grade Exam Response: City of God/La Haine

'A' Grade Exam Response

Section A – Urban Stories: Power, Poverty and Conflict.

“Compare the different ways in which conflict between the poor and the powerful are represented in the films you have studied in this topic”

The difference in thematic stylistic and cinematic conventions regarding the films “City of God” and “La Haine” have attributes of representation roles of characters that contrast one another.

For instance, the role of “L’il Ze” in “City of God” represents the possession of having power in the world of crime within his favela, as we see slowly throughout that his dominance is enhanced by giving his framing more thought and his angle being higher than others. This character is high-up in the world of the poor, but in the world of the powerful he is miniscule – we see the effective contrast of setting being close as the favelas and topsy-turvy, unkempt position of the handmade houses demonstrated with a binary opposition of how close-by but out of reach, the rest of the richer, more industrial Brazil is. The film takes place over the space of a few decades, beginning with a yellowish, warm sepia editing that basks the open space of the poor settlers in the early 60s and darkening into a more dangerous tone in the 70s and 80s, giving off a feel of gloominess and expressing the theme of having no escape. Colder colours in mise-en-scene such as grey and blue are used in comparison to the earlier warmth. The palette of vivid colours displayed that range of extremities of cold and warm are perhaps the only embodiment of the true cultural Brazilian nature of a jungle type, natural world.

In “La Haine”, however, the film takes place over a space of 24 hours – a short tie frame as if to portray a small portrait of the culture at the time. Also with a use of black and white stock that convinces the audience of its grittiness, the themes of the French “liberty, equality and fraternity” are expressed to us with three main characters. A particularly strong character, Vinz, who represents “liberty”, is portrayed in a mirror at the beginning shot in a similar style to “Taxi Driver”, when De Niro’s character talks to himself in the mirror. The reference of this film, added to the similar “skinhead” look, gives the audience a sense of the French culture being less influential in this film than the western American conventions. This lack of French culture suggests an anonymity of the characters, presenting Vinz as a poor individual who is living in a society in which has no connotations of the language he speaks. Rap music is also incorporated within the beginning sequence as a strong suggestion of a focus on this being anywhere in the world, as if perhaps the emotions conveyed here are global and this swings the audience into the meaning behind the film. Rather than accepting “La Haine” as a French film, because it has little references its own culture, the audience must instead focus on the conflict the poor face against the privileged all around the world, reinforcing its effect dramatically.

More differences are the amount of characters to focus on. In “City of God”, a voiceover suggests a story-like anecdote behind each random character that the camera pans fluently, suggestive that the main issues with power in the favelas stem from the way they all live on top of one another within a vast population. In contrast, the focus on three main characters in “La Haine” gives the audience an expectancy of self-contained narratives of each one of them, and their struggle is that there are not enough of them to make a difference against the corrupt police. The camerawork is also focused on coming out of the back of each dominant role’s head as their side of the story is focused on, linking the audience to the character emotionally and framing them centrally within their surroundings.

Similarities arise in both films, however in the two urban stories we are met with the representation of the films meaning by a smaller embedded narrative. This is seen during the beginning sequence of “City of God” that has a hysterically panning camera tracking the chasing of a chicken about to be slaughtered. With the diegetic audio of evil laughter in the background and a hurried, terrified escape failing, it is with this sense of despair and frustration that the audience comes to understand the display of non-escapism in the film, and alludes to the characters being hit by a glass ceiling every time they try and break free of drugs and crime.

This small story is also posed similarly in “La Haine”, through the minor character of an old man relating how, when he was a prisoner of war, pride stopped a fellow man’s life from being saved as he was too embarrassed by the falling down of his trousers to jump onto the train. This, intensified by a mirror reflection of the three main characters silently listening, tempts the audience via framing to assume the story means more than is let on. This theme of pride preventing courage is central to the way the characters are represented in Paris, in a reverse dolly-shot that blurs them from being in lace with the city as they appear to be lost amongst a rich world but are too proud to try and be like these people, as their background also prevents this.

The films also have the themes of unsustainable romance, with failure to be in love and nurture a relationship seen in liaison of the poverty and upbringing of the social circles. “City of God” portrays women being raped, mistreated and marginalised, with the main character unable to keep his girlfriend due to drugs, and “La Haine” presents us with a scene in which the three characters attempt to flirt with women of higher class, resulting in shaky camera angles as they fail and lose their footing. Altogether the films provide the audience with a portrait of the conflicting barriers between the underclass and the rich that provoke emotional response.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

'Fight Club': Single Film Critical Study (Nietzche)

Friedrich Nietzsche & the concept of ‘The Superman’

Friedrich Nietzsche (1844–1900) was a German philosopher of the late 19th century who challenged the foundations of Christianity and traditional morality. He was interested in the enhancement of individual and cultural health, and believed in life, creativity, power, and the realities of the world we live in, rather than those situated in a world beyond. Central to his philosophy is the idea of “life-affirmation,” which involves an honest questioning of all doctrines that drain life's expansive energies, however socially prevalent those views might be. Often referred to as one of the first existentialist philosophers he developed the concept of ‘the superman’ and nihilism as a mode of existence. Nietzsche's revitalising philosophy has inspired leading figures in all walks of cultural life, including dancers, poets, novelists, painters, psychologists, philosophers, sociologists and social revolutionaries.

Useful quotes: (Apply these quotes to events within the narrative of ‘Fight Club’. They will deepen your understanding of a Nietzschean philosophical perspective)
Battle not with monsters, lest ye become a monster, and if you gaze into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.

Be careful when you fight the monsters, lest you become one.

In heaven all the interesting people are missing.

Insanity in individuals is something rare - but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule.

Man is the cruellest animal.

No price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.

Talking much about oneself can also be a means to conceal oneself.

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.

The irrationality of a thing is no argument against its existence, rather a condition of it.

The visionary lies to himself, the liar only to others.

To forget one's purpose is the commonest form of stupidity.

What else is love but understanding and rejoicing in the fact that another person lives, acts, and experiences otherwise than we do…?

When you stare into the abyss the abyss stares back at you.

You need chaos in your soul to give birth to a dancing star.

There is always some madness in love. But there is also always some reason in madness.

God is dead.

He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.

What is done out of love always takes place beyond good and evil.

Become what you are