14
December
2011

Bonnie and Clyde: An American crime/love story4

An awesome finish to the semester! Bonnie and Clyde, starring (and produced by) Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway, is a semi accurate film based on the real infamous couple of the Barrow gang in the 1930’s. This film returns back to our early semester’s study of the gangster era. The cinematography and style is highly influenced by the French new wave with it’s jump cuts and changeable tone techniques. Even though the film was shot in the 1966, I thought it was really believable to the 1930’s time frame because of it’s realistic setting and stylistc gangster costumes. One of the most memorable scenes to me (besides the ending) was when Bonnie and Clyde kidnap an undertaker named Eugene and his girlfriend. It was such a comical scene mostly due to Gene Wilder’s performance, which also happened to be his film debut. This scene depicts the Barrow’s gangs’ lifestyle viewed from an outsider’s perspective. The scene was also acurately depicted except for the result of Eugene’s release, which happened once Bonnie found out Eugene’s profession. In reality Bonnie only Commented that Eugene “might work on her one day,” which frightingly becomes true. Bonnie and Clyde are the most memorable duo in both crime history as well as cinema history. I truly feel that Bonnie and Clyde is one of the best films of all time!

9
December
2011

Analysis #2 Formal Analysis: Meshes of the Afternoon (1943)23

The Materiality of Film

Maya Deren’s short film examplifies the “Materiality” of film which breaks all of the rules of filmaking. Meshes of the Afternoon is a film that gratifies towards the subconscious level as it is presented as a mysterious, suspenseful dream within a dream. Since the opening shot of the film, the viewer can sense the dreamlike theme of the film. The first shot is a MCU of an artificial like arm placing a flower on the ground, then suddenly dissappears from view. This stop action shot is used often throughout this film, already giving an illusionary feel. The next shot shows a women walking in frame through shadow as we see  her take the flower. A CU shot of her hand picking up the flower automatically draws the viewers attention to the flower. A WS as she sees someone turning a corner who we can’t make out since the person is hidden in shadow. The CU shot of her hands trying to retrieve her key but drops it down the stairs has a dramatic effect as the rhythm of the music matches as a diegetic sound of the key hitting each stair.

Once the women enters her home we see through her POV shot scanning the living room but then jump cuts to the dining room table. The camera zooms in on the bread and knife then jump cuts again to a CU of the knife falling down on the table, then pans to a telephone that is off the hook on a stairway. As the women goes up the stairs, we see a POV shot of her looking in her bedroom, then jump cuts to her stopping a phonograph after the music stops almost seeming as if the score is diegetic. As she goes back downstairs to sit on the chair, the camera followes as a POV shot moving steadily towards the arm chair. When she sits down, the shot is a high angle which only shows from her kness up to her chest, cutting off her head as  she places the flower on her lap.  An ECU shot of her eye shutting is parallel to the WS of the outside view as it slowly darkens making it a POV shot. These shots places the viewer in a state of tranquility as the darkening of the shot and silence of sounds progresses into a dream state of consciousness.

A low humming sound abrubtly ends the silence in the next shot of the outside view, which the camera zooms out of a tunnel to reveal a dark hooded figure. A MCU shot of the hooded figure turns to the camera reavealing a mirror as a face holding the flower. The music in this scene abrubtly stops and re starts creating an eerie atmosphere. The women is shown trying to catch up to the figure through shadow and close ups of her feet running, but not showing her face. As she re enters her home through the door, the same POV shot is shown of her scanning the house, which jumpcuts to a CU of a knife on the stairway. She ascends up the stairs passing the knife in a close up shot of her feet in slow motion which examplifies a dream like quality of the scene. The women even slowely and dramatically enters through her bedroom curtains also dreamlike. When she scans her bedroom in a MCU shot, her facial expression is kinda frightened and cautious. When she finds the phone on her pillow, we view it as a POV shot as she pulls the cover to reveal a knife. The music humming starts up again setting the mood to suspense. A CU shot of her reflection on the phone also gives off an eerie vibe as her face in the reflection is somewhat distorted.

The next shot of her is MCU of her falling out her window, then cuts back to her falling against the stair railing at an odd angle. The scene cuts to many other odd angles of her hanging on to the railing as the camera shifts and turns following her movement on the railing. The camera then cuts to a low angle shot as she gravitates toward the ceiling while the music speedens up. The POV high angle shots of her looking down at herself and stopping the phonograph also gives off a dream setting. She views at herself numerously from her resting on the chair to viewing herself outside as she chases the hooded figure multiple times. A CU shot of her removing a key from her mouth is also repeated througout the film, which not only gives off a dream like quality but also alertness to the subject of the key. When she re enters her home in the next shot, we see her POV on the hooded figure walking up the stairs which the camera followes as well as her in the shot. As she ascends up the stairs, she is viewed at a high angle crawling up the stairs with difficulty as she is thrust towards the wall along with the camera following her. The camera shifts again as she slowly turns to the right away from the camera, then shifts again as she reaches the top of the staircase from below the camera viewpoint. The MCU of the hooded figure placing the flower on her bed as he slowly turns towards the camera is visualy unsettling when the humming starts up again, but is then confusing when it abrubtly dissappears in a stop action shot. This sequence is followed by numerous still shots of the women in the staircase appearing forward and backward creating another illusionary quality.

In a CU shot of her looking out at herself on the couch then towards the window, she views repetitive shots of herself chasing the hooded figure while (also repetitively) removes a key from her mouth. However, in the CU shot of the key on her palm, it cuts to a knife instead of a key. She re enters her home with a knife, then cuts back to the diner table which shows two versions of herself looking back impressively in the same shot. When she places the knife on the table in front of her twin selves, there is a stop action on the knife as it reappears as a key, and they continue to questioningly stare at her. These double versions of her, similar to a doppelganger, gives off an uneasiness danger vibe. As repetitive shots of each twin taking the key proceeds, there is a MCU of each women softly imitating the same hand gestures that the initial women previously done before she falls asleep. Once the initial women takes the key, a CU shot of the key reappears  as a knife, cuts back to CU of the womens’s shock expression then cuts to her sleeping body on the arm chair. The next shot of her is an odd turnaround since she is wearing mysterious goggles and advances to herself with a knife. Each shots proceeds with CU of her feet walking on sand near the ocean repetively, examplifying a difference in time and space.

After the knife lowers on her unconcious body, it cuts to a ECU of her eyes opening, then a CU of a man emerging in front of her. He lifts her up, and she slowly followes him as he ascends the stairs, a MS where he places the phone back on hook and carries the same flower with him. At this point as she followes him up the stairway, all shots are repetively similar to her dream sequence when she followed the hooded figure. A MS of her looking through her bedroom doorway entails that she is cautionary. A MCU shot of the man’s face appears as his reflection on the bedside mirror leads viewers to believe that he is the dark hooded figure in her dream. The shot of his reflection is half covered in darkness giving the impression of impending danger beneath the surface as he puts the mirror away. The music also gives off a suspenseful atmosphere as the humming sound speeds up almost imitating a heart pounding. We see a CU shot of the knife reappearing again on her pillow after she lies down which she throws towards the man. The shot cuts to the knife breaking the man’s reflection revealing a beach scenery behind it, signifying that this may be another dream. The film ends with the man entering his home with a flower to find shattered glass on the floor beside his dead wife.

 

Deren’s film clearly demonstrates a dreamscape atmosphere through over use of stop action cutting and abrubt editing. The abstract camera angles and movements generates a dream like quality that allowes audiences to question and wonder into a subconscious level. With all of the abstract editing and symbolic imagery, it’s evident to believe that Deren and husband Hammid wanted to show an artistic visual of the subconscious through film. Viewers that watch the film are lead to follow a normal narrative, but gets fooled once the first shot is displayed. There are many subjective shots that parallels with camera angles and movements. These technical shots are obvious to the viewer,while also subtle to clues and symbolism leaving an open ending. Deren’s objective for this film was to create a poetic visual art film, initially an avant garde personal film with her husband. However not only does this film carries out as an avant garde, but also is considered one of the most influential and powerful experimental films ever made.

 

9
December
2011

Extra Credit: Lolita (1962)5

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q2ilHiMf1F8&feature=related

Stanly Kubrick’s 1962 film Lolita is about a middle aged professor’s sexual infatuation over a 14 year old girl based on Vladimir Nabokov’s controversial novel. Kubrick’s film itself was also controversial due to the novel’s serious content of pedophilia. James Mason stars as the protagonist Humbert Humbert, and Sue Nylon stars as Lolita. In this clip that I posted, Humbert arrives at the house of Charlotte Haze looking for a room to rent. Here he meets Charlotte’s young adolescent daughter, Dolores, aka ‘Lolita.’

The clip starts off with Charlotte Haze giving Humbert a tour of the place. She shows Humbert her art paintings, then questions him about his marital status. They are viewed in a MS as Charlotte continues to flirtatiously converse with him about Paris. Humbert is a bit akward as he subtlety leans away and bemused when he learns about her husband. Charlotte continues to flirt with him which Humbert backens away, obviously showing viewers his disinterest in Charlotte. As he backs away, the shot cuts to him bumping into a portrait where Charlotte excuses herself and mentions how she previously commanded her daughter to put it away. She continues to tour him around when Humbert abrubtly asks her for her phone number so he could think about it. After she gives him her number, she insistently takes him to view her garde, which cuts to a MS of Lolita sunbathing on her lawn. CU shot of Humbert’s face as he gazes at Lolita with a fascinated expression. MS back to Lolita lowering the music playing on the radio, then slowly stares back at him. Humbert accepts Charlotte’s offer for $200 a month and eagerly asks Charlotte when he is to move in. The clip ends with Charlotte asking him what was the decisive factor of his wanting to move in, which Humbert replies “for her cherry pies.”

The clip demonstrates how slightly abnormal and disturbed Humbert is as a character. His appearence seems to look normal since his profession is an educator making him appear respected.  However once he discovers Lolita, it’s clear that his normality given in the begining of this clip slims due to his abnormal infatuation over Lolita. Charlotte Hazes is viewed as an assertive womon which can translate both as an over bearing mother and sexualy assertive widow. Lolita’s introductory scene demonstrates how unattached she is to the world around her. She is viewed as a sexual object by Humbert and an imposing threat to her mother. This clip visually shows her distance between them.

This film was set in the 1950’s but shot in the early 60’s. It was produced by MGM studios, but filmed in Londen due to financial reasons. The film contained lots of cuts from the book in order to achieve a reasonable MPAA  rating. Even Lolita’s age was altered to 14 instead of 12 which was her original age in the book in order to appear less suggestive toward pedophilia.

11
November
2011

Written on the wind (1956)2

After viewing this film for the first time, I was surprised to find how captured I was to the melodramatic story rather than annoyed by it. Since I’ve grown up watching Spanish novelas, I grew tired of all the exagerrated overacting and over the top melodramas and soap operas. However, Written on the Wind, which is classified as a melodrama,didn’t seem to nauseate me. The film stars Robert Stack  as Kyle Hadley the wealthy, neurotic alcoholic, who’s sister Marylee is a troubled promiscuous loner. Kyle succumbs back into alcoholism once he realizes he is unable to conceive a baby with his wife Lucy, who may have been a possible love interest to his best friend, Mitch. This may sound like a sappy love triangle, but is in fact an interesting melodrama with in depth characters.

28
October
2011

Scene Analysis 1: Double Indemnity (Billy Wilder, Paramount, 1944)3

 25 Shots. Dietrichson’s House, where Walter and Phyllis first meet.

  • MLS, two shot: Walter Neff knocks on door; house attendant answers door. She tries to dismiss him but he insistenly goes through. Non diegietic music coming from the background.
  • MS: Low key light; Walter continues to ask the maid for Mr.Dietrichson, but then looks up when he hears a questioning voice from upstaris.
  • MCU: Walter and maid looking up towards the staircase, Phyllis emerging from the top staircase in a white towel.
  • MCU: Walter answering to Phyllis, introduces himself to her.
  • MLS: Phyllis enters more into the frame under a glowing light that illuminates her.
  • MCU: Walter smiles at Phyllis, laughs nervously, is automatically attracted to her.
  • MCU: Phyllis, aware that she is still in a towel excuses herself so she can dress, exiting back into the darkness.
  • MLS: Maid makes a comical comment about locked up liquor as she directs him to the living room. Pans to walter walking towards the living room.
  • LS: Walter walking into the living room, low key light, shadows cast off from the blinds in the room, pans to him approaching desk.
    Reverse MS: photo frames of Mr. Dietrichson and his daughter Lola; VO of Walter.
  • LS: straight on; Walter feeds the gold fish, VO of walter’s thoughts on Phyllis, walks under light as he looks up staircase.
  • CU: Phyllis shoes descending the stairs, pulls back on Phyllis as she finishes buttoning up her blouse, pans to her approaching a mirror, high key light is on her, Walter is seen in the reflection then enters the frame from the back right side. As he conversates with her she turns around and addresses him about the insurance he is selling. Non diegetic music stops. 
  • MLS: Low key light, Phyllis enters right of the frame and sits down on chair, followed by Walter who sits on an armchair opposite her. Key light on Phyllis. As Walter discusses the insurance to Phyllis, she gets up from the chair and camera pans as she paces back and forth, she is illuminated under the key light and her dark shadow becomes much larger, emphasizing her dark nature as she plots something terrible.
  • MS: Walter notifies phyllis of his experience on his insurance company, looking pleased of her interest in him.
  • MS: Pans on Phyllils as she sits back on her chair, continues to ask Walter about the insurance policies.
  • MCU: Walter interested on her ankle bracelet, learns her first name.
  • MLS: low key light. Walter and Phyllis sitting across from each other. Phyllis rises from her chair as camera pans and followes her while Walter follows, he turns opposite and faces phyllis, begins to flirt with her.
  • MCU:  Phyllis facing Walter, high key light on her. Back and forth shots between Phyllis and
    Walter.
  • MCU: two shot; Walter continues to flirt
  • MCU: High key light on Phyllis, flirting is called off once Phyllis mentions her husband.
  • MS: Walter and Phyllis both in frame, but pans as walter turns to pick up his hat and briefcase by the mirror, low key light, then walks back to exist as phyllis returns back in frame to walk him out. When walter finally exists, Phyllis is still in frame under shadow as door closes shut. 

This scene illustrates the dynamic relationship between Walter and Phyllis. The introduction of Phyllis clearly demonstrates her role in the film, as she enters with a towel suggessting her sex appeal like a temptress. However, she is seen all in white, signifying purity, which fools Walter throughout the film, believing she is a “dame” that seeks refuge from an unwanted husband. All of the dark shadows in the house creates a dark, threatening atmosphere. With only the minimal light from the blinds, there seems to be no way out of the darkness and danger that lays ahead. In fact the only light that is shown is whenever Phyllis is in frame, and her clothing all in white giving her an illuminous glow, shows that even light can be dangerous falsification.

21
October
2011

The Lady Eve (1941)0

                    A screwball romantic comedy that deals with deception in a light hearted manner. Barbara Stanwyck is the flirty Jean, and Henry Fonda is the hopeless romantic Charles (Hopsie). Two of them on screen are a delight to watch as they fall for one another. However, their love is cut short when Hopsie discovers Jean’s intention was to use him for his wealth. Heartbroken since she was truley in love with him, and only continued with the ploy for his money because of her father, Jean decides to get back at him by taking a false identity as a high class english women named Eve. Eve manages to get Hopsie to marry her but then loses him on their wedding night when she babbles about her many sexual encounters. Upset and leaving off without settling a divorce, Hopsie embarks on another boat trip where he coincidently meets up with Jean again. The film ends with them rekindling their love for one another, as Hopsie admits to adultry because of his marriage  while Jean admittedly states “so am I,” signifying that they already are married.

With the lovers ongoing physical comedy and funny dialogue, it makes it enjoyable to watch those two onscreen. As much as I felt how Jean was portrayed as a manipulative and corruptive snake, I felt sympathetic toward her character since she was not all in on the ploy to get Hopsie as her father was, which shows her as a soft romantic as much as she is a temptress. Sturges shows how these characters go through turmoil within their romance, but undermines it as he uses slapstick comedy and smart wit as a way of their romance.

21
October
2011

Citizen Kane (1941)1

 

 Considered possibly the greatest film ever made, Citizen Kane is a memorable film notably by it’s story, cinematography and odd camera angles.
Orson Welles stars as Charles Foster Kane, a powerful newspaper tycoon who dies in the begining of the film, leaving the media in a frantic to dicover the meaning of his last words, “rose bud”.

Welles developed a strong narrative film with lots of contrast camera shots; High/low angles and deep focus shots.
In the opening scene, the first shot is of the no trespassing sign at the gate.  As the camera tilts up above it, there is a dark castle like mansion in the distance seen through fog that looks eeire and dangerous. A meduim close up shot of the window shows a light switch turned off. A close up shot of snowy cabin is the frame the zoomed out to reveal that it is the inside of a snow globe. An extreme close up of a mustached man saying the words “rose bud,” which the snow globe is then rolled away and crashes down the stairs. A nurse emerges from a door through a reflection in a mirror. Medium shot of her arms are seen pulling the covers over Kane, signifying that he has died.

This scene clearly sets the tone of film, begining with the first shot of the No tresspassing sign. Viewers are already alarmed that they are “tresspassers” sneaking in at Kane’s dark surroundings and witnessing his death.

29
September
2011

M: An early serial killer film2

This movie was probably the starter of all serial killer films. It revolves around a child murderer horrifying a town in Germany. The film shows the murderer as somewhat unsuspecting while he whistles on the street. I found the early scenes in the film to be incredibly creepy with the child leaving off with the murderer as he lures her with candy and a balloon while whistling that familiar tune.  The shots of the mother calling after her daughter is especially creepy because you only see a shot of an empty staircase/room. The shot of the child’s ball rolling away and her balloon floating away in the sky practically symbolizes the child’s death. Throughout the film the main audio you pretty much hear is the whistling of the murderer roaming around creating an eerie and dark atmosphere. All I kept anticipating for was for the murderer to be captured, however when he does he is in a way victimized by his capturers whom are also criminals. The murderer then begins to open up about his crime, explaining his sadistic ways as  uncontrollable. As he breaks down explaining this the capturers are non sympathetic to the character even when  he is shown as if he’s in pain and torment while pleading with the crime villagers, showing a vulnerabiltiy side to himself.  I felt this was a strong scene since this was the first time you get a vulnerable side of the main criminal which in a way makes you feel sympathetic towards him while his capturers now appear alarming as they intend to murder him for reasons only of their own personal benefit then the justifiable ones.

9
September
2011

Hello world!1

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