Saturday, November 21, 2009
Trainspotting chronicles Mark Renton, played by Ewan McGregor, and his struggle with friends and heroin. He surrounds himself with three other “characters,” including Spud, the scapegoat character, Begbie, who’s drug of choice is people, ruining them, that is, and Sickboy, a mischievous kleptomaniac junkie. Renton deals with getting through his addiction, leaving his friends and choosing life, as is referenced in the opening scene, and opens up the end to the audience to decide what he chooses.
This clip is the opening sequence in which Renton explains to the viewer that he can choose life, he can choose a career, he can choose a “big fucking television,” but why would he do all that? After all, he has heroin. The film opens with Renton running from the police after stealing from a store, in order to get cash to buy more heroin. It introduces us to Renton’s life and friends and demonstrates the society with which Renton surrounds himself.
Hayao Miyazaki’s Ponyo and the Sea is a beautiful retelling of The Little Mermaid, following Ponyo, an adorable yet rebellious fish-girl who undermines her wizard-father’s authority and swims ashore in order to explore the world above. Ponyo quite accidentally gets caught in a glass bottle at sea and gets carried to a shore near the cliff where Sosuke lives. Sosuke finds Ponyo (in the form of a goldfish) and puts her in a bucket, and the two children spend a day together before Fujimoto, Ponyo’s father, forces Ponyo to go back to the sea. But Ponyo wants to see Sosuke again, and so she fantastically escapes from his father’s lair, visually bursting out of her marine home.
When Ponyo and Sosuke reunite this time, Ponyo has grown legs, and turned into an exuberant little girl. The two characters come to share their mutual experiences, and grow to love one another. Unbeknownst to the pair however, Ponyo’s escape from her father’s lair triggers an imbalance in the ecosystem, causing a gigantic tsunami to hit Sosuke’s town. In the final act, the purity of their love is tested, and it is up to them to find Sosuke’s mother, and restore the balance of the ecosystem together.
Friday, November 20, 2009
Requiem for a Dream (2000) is a film by Darren Aronofsky that follows the lives of four individuals, all of whom are addicted to some form of drug. Sara Goldfarb is a lonely, TV-obsessed widow who dreams of being on TV. She becomes hooked on diet pills in a desire to lose weight so that she will look good on TV. Harry Goldfarb, Sara's son, is a heroin addict who dreams of being able to “get off hard knocks.” His girlfriend, Marion, is addicted to cocaine and dreams of being a famous designer while Harry's best friend, Tyrone, is also addicted to heroin. The movie follows them as they pursue their individual dreams, all of which are fueled by their drug use but eventually become unattainable due to that same drug use.
In the sequence above, we see a film technique that Darren Arnofsky pioneered, called the hip hop montage. It is a series of fast cuts one after the other, accompanied by a mix of diegetic and non-diegetic sound.
For more information on Requiem for a Dream: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0180093/
Thursday, November 19, 2009
The story of Amélie plays out as a modern day fairy-tale, with elements of magical realism. The year of its release, Amélie took home several top movie honors, including four César awards (the French equivalent of the Oscars). The soundtrack for this movie was composed by Yann Tiersen.
In one of the movie’s more famous sequences, Amélie leads a blind man through a crowded marketplace, describing the sights and sounds all around them. Amélie incorporates stunning camera work and non-traditional narrative techniques and a great cast of actors bring to life a
warm and funny script.
This film is an adaptation (from reviews, the film seems to have taken as much liberty as possible with the novel)of Neil Gaiman's 2002 novel of the same name published by Harper Collins and Bloomsbury. To get a background of the novel that becomes the inspiration for this film, watch the clip of the interview with Gaiman
I was first acquainted with the production of this film at Siggraph 2009 in New Orleans last August, when one of the people working on the 3D design team talked about the process in which they had to go through, as well as a lot of painstaking manual hand-painting (I kid you not!\) which they had to do just to make sure that the details look right. The puppets, which are made in many different ways and thus have individualized qualities, had most of their minutest expressions created with a 3D printer, thus creating an almost invisible montage between CGI technology and good old-fashioned puppetry design. However, despite the emphasis on technology, much attention is paid to the way in which the story is told and the director, Henry Selick, made sure that vivid story-telling remains the focus of the film, and that the multiplicity of eye-candies found in the film only enhance the affectivity of the story. As the film is animated, there are many usages of transitions, though subtle, such as wipes, cuts, fades, and dissolves. The mise-en-scenes you will see throughout this film were constructed out of real solid objects before they were superimposed with CGI effects.
Website of the Film: http://www.coraline.com/
IMDB site: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0327597/
I have chosen two short clips. Unfortunately, as it is a bit too difficult to rip out the 3D version of the film, you'll have to contend with the 2D version. But do try the 3D version, watching through a pair of good 3D glasses, when you get the chance, if you haven't already done so.
1. To show the opening sequence as well as its relation to the overall film (this clip goes from the opening credits up to the point where Coraline is trying to dowse)
2. The next 5-6 minutes here will give you a better lead into the film :)
This particular clip shows Bolscu going "railing", a high speed race on the tracks against both each other and the approaching Metro train, with the leader of a rival gang of Kontroll. Although the clip is not the best example of the humor of the movie, or the message of the film, nor is it the most exciting part of the film, it does an excellent job of providing the viewer with the feel of the movie. It is tense, with elements of humor, showcases some of the stranger personalities of the characters, and perhaps most importantly, displays the amazing way Antal interacts with his setting.
The clip begins with the beginning of this youtube video, and ends at approximately 4:25.
For more info, please check:
Leo McCarey’s An Affair to Remember (1957) is about a romance between two people who fall in love aboard a cruise ship, despite the fact that they are both engaged to others. The film is essentially divided into two parts: their magical time spent together during the cruise vacation, and the year or so following their arrival back in the US (where being together is more of a challenge than they had anticipated). Despite a plan to reunite atop the Empire State Building six months prior to their homecoming, a chance occurrence leaves one of them unable to arrive, leading them both to believe that their chance has passed. But Nikkie Ferrante (Cary Grant) and Terry McKay (Deborah Kerr) are meant to be together, and in the end, their destiny is fulfilled, as any classical Hollywood film would have it. In the following clip, Nikki and Terry enjoy the company of Nikki’s grandmother, whom they have come to visit while temporarily docked in Italy during their cruise. Until now, they have resisted violating their faithfulness to their partners back home, but this scene represents a turning point in which their romantic connection reaches a point of no return.
Details on first tweet:Through various techniques, this clip (see 1:38-3:20) conveys that, although they have just met, Nikkie and Terry are undoubtedly in love. For example, the lighting, which produces a bright glow upon/surrounding Kerr, seemingly serves to create an aura of love radiating outward from within her. Visions of Light, a documentary on film making, discusses the importance of dramatizing leading ladies’ beauty, particularly in moments when their characters are filled with sentiments of love. Here, note the stark shadows cast on the wall behind Kerr during the intervals 2:49 -2:53 and 3:03-3:07. Clearly, the lighting was directly focused upon her in this sequence, and a strong, bright light was utilized to enhance this representation of her joy. The fact that she (not the others) is positioned against the wall allows for this lighting scheme, and the white walls in themselves contribute to the brightness surrounding her.
Details on second tweet: From 1:38-3:20, several eyeline matches connect Nikkie, his grandmother, and Terry as the women perform this song about a sacred love affair. Sometimes, these eyeline matches literally move in a circle, signifying the crucial role of Nikkie’s grandmother in their romance. Now at the end of her life, she awaits reuniting with her late husband in death—her life was fulfilled in true love. Her looks back and forth from Nikkie and Terry (2:56-3:03) and her expression of warmth suggest that she believes that a love as magical as she and her husband’s could exist between her grandson and Terry. Rather than conveying this through dialogue, the film makers chose to have her communicate her thoughts to Nikkie via eye contact. From 2:04-2:11, the eyeline match between them and their expressions convey their mutual understanding. Nikkie subsequently looks up at Terry, depicting his comprehension of his grandmother’s message.
VIEW 1:38-3:20 BELOW! Enjoy.
With a tagline like “In the future there is no law and no order. Only John Travis, The last cop on Earth.” are you setting yourself up for disaster?
Karate Cop (1991) is actually a low budget sequel to a 1990 film Omega Cop. The film starts out in the future with Rachel (Carrie Chambers) running (that’s what I’ll call it) away from the evil cronies only to be “hit” by a rock.
We are then introduced to the hero of the film—John Travis (Ron Marchini), the last cop on Earth. As for the other cops, we don’t know, I guess the directors felt that that fact was irrelevant to the story. John saves her and through some dialogue and a couple of “hee-yahs”, we find out that she is some sort of unidentified “scientist”. She is also the leader of the Freebies, a rebel group. Seeing as they are the only remotely attractive middle aged people in the film—as everyone else is in some kind of Halloween costume as the bad people or too young—we assume that these two are love interests.
The plot, more simple than the characters, is John and Rachel scour the city in search of a priceless stone. The villain, David Carradine, of course, intends to rule the world with that stone.
There’s some time travel, but you can’t tell, because the whole set looks like the backyard of a rundown 1980s city projects. There’s some acting, for example when Rachel falls down, she looks genuinely hurt. There is supposedly martial arts too, but it’s hard to tell when you kick and knock someone down 7 feet away from you. All in all, with Karate Cop, you get what you’d think a title like that would bring.
Youtube clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CYA6JWB5tHs
Chocolat (2000) is a romance film starring Juliette Binoche. Set in a beautiful French village, it is about Vianne Rocher's arrival and the changes she incurs by setting up her chocolaterie during Lent. At first met with criticsm by the townspeople and especially the mayor, she manages to win over everybody with her charm and chocolates. Vianne's feats include reviving a couple's marriage, reuniting estranged family members, saving a woman from her husband's drunken beatings and overall inspiring a benefitical change in the town. The film culminates with the arrival of gypsy river crew members, one of which Vianne eventually falls in love with. Although the film has been classified as a romance, there is much more to be taken away from it. Binoche's performance as a feisty, independent woman willing to break rules to rouse a sleepy town certainly should have won the Oscar she was nominated for.
American Gangster (2007) is an adaptation from Marc Jacobson's article "The Return of Superfly." Denzel Washington stars as Franc Lucas in his rise to the top of the Harlem drug trade. After taking over his mentor Bumpy's position, Lucas quickly finds himself at the top of the heroin business and having difficulty staying clear of a detective team led by Richie Roberts (Russell Crowe). The scene below occurs around the middle of the movie. Pay careful attention to how the camera is able to zoom in and show us what Lucas is looking and thinking about as he pears out the window around the waitress.
A film about drugs.
But also about true love.
But mostly just thug.
Francis Ford Coppola’s 1972 film, The Godfather, documents the lives of the Corleone crime family from 1945 to 1955. The Corleone family is a Sicilian Mafia family that settled in New York City and served as one of the five most influential crime families in America at the time.
The drama serves as a fictional commentary on the American mafia and the ways in which it is adapting in order to hold on to both honor and power in a modernizing world. The film focuses on the developing ways of the American mafia from old and traditional to modern, while revealing some differences between the American and Sicilian mafia and the relationship between the two.
The following clip is a turning point in the film, which takes place about an hour and a half in. In this series of shots, Michael, youngest son of Don Corleone, makes a 180 degree turn and transforms from a “civilian” and outsider to the most influential player for the Corleone Mafia family. Here, he guns down a corrupt police captain and another family’s boss in order to protect both the life and the honor of his father, Don Vito Corleone.
The clip above is from the climactic scene in Rob Reiner’s A Few Good Men. The entire movie centers around the case of two Marines who killed a fellow Marine by accident while they were disciplining him in a manner called a Code Red, essentially an unofficial disciplinary practice. The defense, played by Tom Cruise (Lead Counsel), Demi Moore and Kevin Pollak, argues that they were ordered to give the Code Red, and that they hadn’t taken the matter into their own hands. The clip is a battle of words between two great actors, Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson (playing Colonel Jessup, the head of the base where the two Marines were stationed), in which Tom Cruise is able to get Jessup to admit that he is the one who ordered the Code Red, and thus putting the blame of the accidental death on him. The clip is a great summation of the themes of the movie, is extraordinarily acted, and I would be remiss not to mention the incredible writing done by Aaron Sorkin in his very first screenplay (based off of his play by the same name). It is a movie well worth watching, and I think this clip really highlights that point.
Here is the link to the IMBD page on the film: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0104257/
The shot sequence I focus on during my analysis occurs from 3:52 until 4:09.
Though at the surface, Boaz Yakin’s Remember the Titans seems to be an inspirational, intense sports movie, it several persistent ideological themes centered around racism emerge throughout the film. Though the film critiques racism in society, it is ineffective in its criticism because it is made in a society in which racism is always present. According to Comolli and Narboni, a “type d” film is defined as one with “explicitly political content,” but it does not “effectively criticize the ideological system in which they are embedded because they unquestioningly adopt its language and imagery.” The first requirement, that the film is explicitly political, is clearly fulfilled by Remember the Titans as its main plot is about desegregating the high schools, and more specifically, desegregating the football teams. The second requirement is a little more difficult to classify. Since the film does portrays a racist society, and for the vast majority of the movie, a segregated football team. The following shots emphasize that the latter is true, proving that Remember the Titans is a “type d” film.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
In this scene Robbie has arrived on the beach at Dunkirk during the evacuation of British troops from France. The director creates a starkly realistic and naturalistic depiction of one of the darkest periods of Britain’s empire. Layered on top of this near defeat is the back-story of the protagonist Robbie who is attempting to return to his love Cecilia, anxiously awaiting him on the other side of the English Channel. These two themes of personal loss and the losses of war combine with Wright’s verisimilitude depiction of the event to create a memorable and moving scene during which Robbie ultimately realizes he may never return to his love Cecilia.
For more information go to: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0783233/
For more information see: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0206634/
Jack Nicholson plays McMurphy, a recurring criminal who finds himself in jail once again. Rather than spend his time in jail, he tries to convince the guards he is mentally insane so he doesn’t have to spend another stint of jail time. In the mental hospital, he befriends some of the patients and emerges as a leader. Nurse Ratched, a merciless nurse in charge of the patients, is threatened by his attempts to get through to the other patients. He tries to liven up the place but she is constantly on his back. In an unlikely setting, McMurphy befriends the patients and even helps to improve their conditions. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest won all of the "Big Five" Academy Awards at the 48th Oscar ceremony.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
The film The Wizard of Oz is about a twelve-year old girl named Dorothy and her dog Toto’s adventure through the Land of Oz. Dorothy ran away from home after Miss Gulch threatened to take away Toto. However, Dorothy decides to return home after a man she runs into tells her that her Aunt is sick. A twister suddenly appears and she is knocked unconscious in her room when a windowpane hits her head. She then experiences a “dream” which transports her to Oz. She runs into trouble when her house, which also landed in Oz, kills the Wicked Witch of the East. The Wicked Witch of the West tries to kill Dorothy to get the prized ruby slippers that ended up on Dorothy's feet. Along with Dorothy’s new friends- the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion, they all travel through Oz hoping to find the Wizard of Oz who will guide Dorothy back home.
A trailer from the 1950s:
The Departed, dir. Martin Scorsese (2006)
IMDb page: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0407887/
When Boston-Irish mob boss Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson) claims the Joycean anti-establishment motto non serviam —“I will not serve” — as his own, he is doing more than testing the young Colin Sullivan’s grasp of literary trivia. As a literary trope, the non serviam has a long and distinguished history stretching back to the prophet Jeremiah. Two-hundred and fifty years before Joyce, John Milton’s Satan had put a rosy spin on his arrival at the burning lake of Hell by saying cheerfully to his fellow demons: “Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven.”
In Scorsese’s film, Hell is South Boston. Moving from the scene of liturgical service (the church) to the scene of auto service (the garage) to the scene of public service (police academy graduation – next frame) this sequence very efficiently puts its finger on the film’s potent ideological critique of post-liberal America: that “serving the commonwealth” and serving the self just might be mutually exclusive.
Monday, November 16, 2009
My tweets will focus mostly on the scene from 3:45 to 6:00 in the above clip, as Tre lies to his father for the first time.
Boyz n the Hood was released in 1991 and directed by John Singleton, a 23 year old first time director. Featuring performances by Laurence Fishburne, Ice Cube, Morris Chestnut, and Cuba Gooding, Jr. as the protagonist Tre, the film was nominated for 2 Academy Awards and has been selected for preservation in the National Film Registry.
Boyz tells the story of three friends growing up in South Central Los Angeles in a poverty stricken, violence ridden neighborhood. Tre is the son of Furious Styles (Fishburne), a disciplinarian who instills values in his son and tries to steer him away from the street. Ricky (Chestnut) is Tre's best friend and a star football player who seems poised to win a scholarship to USC. Ice Cube plays Doughboy, Ricky's half brother, a gang member who is drawn to the street life. The film is mainly concerned with the relationships between the three young men and also Tre's relationship with his father. Singleton's camera deftly guides the viewers through seemingly ordinary events in his characters' lives which come together to speak loudly about the harsh realities of life in the inner city.
The film's imdb page can be found here: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0101507/
The trailer can be viewed below.
The above clip is from Chapter 11 of the film Twilight.
Below is a link to the trailer. Please definitely watch the trailer!
Yujin, let me know if I'm forgetting anything.
Twilight is the first film in a series of four, all based on the Twilight series of books by Stephenie Meyers. New Moon, the second installment comes out at midnight Thursday (technically Friday, November 20th). The IMDb plot summary can be found at http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1099212/plotsummary.
Twilight is essentially the tale of two lovers, divided by what seems to be insurmountable obstacles. One is a vampire and the other is vampire food, for example. Bella, the human, has recently moved in with her father in the middle of no where Washington state. She immediately finds herself drawn to Edward. He's just not like other boys, but for some reason he seems to be disgusted at the very sight of her. The plot thickens when Edward saves Bella's life (more than once), and just can't seem to distance himself from her. The attraction is mutual and undeniable. The relationship, however, in a world of vegetarian vampires and some not so vegetarian vampires trying to eat Bella, is far from simple. Rob Pattinson plays Edward Cullen, while Kristen Stewart stars as Bella Swan.
PLEASE NOTE: YOU MAY NOT LIKE TWILIGHT. I DO, HOWEVER, SO PLEASE BE RESPECTFUL OF MY MOVIE. THERE IS A DIFFERENCE IN CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM OF A FILM'S SHOOTING TECHNIQUES OR PLOTLINE AND DOWN RIGHT HATING. :) PLEASE KEEP AN OPEN MIND WHEN READING MY TWILIGHT TWEETS AND BLOG.
Jet Li (Nameless), Tony Leung Chiu Wai (Broken Sword), Maggie Cheung (Flying Snow), Daoming Chen (King of Qin), Donnie Yen (Sky), Zhang Ziyi (Moon)
The film is set in the Warring States Period in China, at approximately the time when the King of the kingdom of Qin began his campaign to unify the seven warring kingdoms under one rule. Nameless (Jet Li), the prefect of a small jurisdiction in the King's budding empire, travels to the palace to announce his defeat of Sky (Donnie Yen), Broken Sword (Tony Leung), and Flying Snow (Maggie Cheung), three dangerous and highly skilled assassins that had long been planning to murder the King. As a reward for his victories, Nameless is granted an audience with the King, and allowed to sit within 10 paces of the throne to tell his story. This leads into a series of flashbacks, divided into three distinct arcs, and marked by different color schemes. The first arc, presented in vivid reds and oranges, consists of Nameless' account of his encounter with and defeat of the assassins. As he describes the circumstances behind his victories, however, the King of Qin notices flaws in his story. This leads into the second arc, colored in muted blues and purples, in which the King of Qin presents his conception of the events that led up to their meeting. In the third and final arc, presented in white and green, Nameless corrects various mistakes in the King's version of the story, briefly mentions his own background, confesses his true motive in coming to the palace.
The clip begins at approximately 00:34:17 in the film. This is the red leaves scene from the first arc of the story, as intially presented by Nameless to the King of Qin. In the previous scene, Flying Snow killed Broken Sword in a fit of jealousy after seeing him make love to his servant, Moon. Now, Moon, who is devoted to Broken Sword, confronts Flying Snow in order to avenge him.
A group of journalists and production engineers arrive in a Kurdish village to document the locals' mourning rituals as they anticipate the death of a hundred year old woman.