Monday, November 16, 2009
Sunday, November 15, 2009
Friday, November 13, 2009
The business of fancydancing is a tribute to homosexual life. The movie is covered in secrecy though. Not only in the fact that the two men are hiding their gay ways, but also the fact that they are an interracial couple and so the movie almost seems to hide the fact that its about gays and not about interracial love.
One point of debate for the accuracy of realism in documentaries is dramatic reconstructions, or scenes recreated because footage of the original event could not be obtained. The development of cameras that were hand-held and lightweight allowed documentarists to film on location for nearly any event, which helped lessen the use of re-enacted scenes. However, dramatic reconstructions are still used because cameras are not allowed access in all locations. For instance, scenes involving courtroom events must be re-created because cameras are not allowed in the court of law. The problem with dramatic reconstructions is that they are sometimes not used for an accurate portrayal of an occurrence, but rather to increase the dramatic appeal of a scene to an audience. This is where the question of credibility comes into play with documentaries.
Documentarists must also keep in mind perspective when attempting to stress the importance of a lesser known truth about a generally known reality. A documentary becomes spectacular when it uncovers or captures facts that lye underneath the surface of the obvious, but authors must be careful not to skew reality because of their own preconceptions. For instance, Michael Moore is technically called a documentarist, but his work is specifically made to expose weaknesses or faults in the Republican party, so his films are based on preconceived ideas favored by the filmmaker. It is often easy to get swept away by the strong narration and "value-laden language" of documentaries that coincide with strong selective imagery, but a viewer must inquisitively approach documentaries. Spike Lee is another prominent documentarist of modern times. Most of his films are meant to uncover and educate masses about race relations, urban life, and political issues. His films appeal to a wide audience because he exudes relation to his subject matter.
Documentaries are a quizzical form of film and raise many questions from critics and audiences alike. However, they are effective because they have no limitations on theme or topic. People sometimes look down upon the invasive methods used by documentarists to uncover "the truth" or the unknown, but it is an effective style of film that will evolve and exist in many forms.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
However, this homosexuality, as per movie industry regulations, had to be subtle, in secrecy, and often only detected at the time by those who were seeking homosexuality–gays and lesbians themselves. It went by often unnoticed, or in fact humored upon. A very funny scene of this subtle humor can be found in the last scene of Some Like It Hot, in which Joe E. Brown seems to be okay with the fact that the woman he’s fallen in love with is actually a man.
In addition, many instances in which gay men were shown in classical Hollywood film involved the “sissy,” or the effeminate man who clearly went against the ideal man of the first half of the twentieth century. Although this was and still may be a very comical character, it slowly demoralized and degraded the self-esteem of those viewers who were truly gay, because it portrayed them as something less than normal; a people to be ridiculed.
Watching The Celluloid Closet and hearing the guest speakers commentate on the true impact of classical Hollywood films opened my eyes to an entirely different view of the humor that I had never thought about in a criticizing manner. I realized because almost every instance or mention of homosexuals in older films involved humor and ultimately ridicule, it only served to instill fear and resent into the already closeted and embarrassed gay population of the time.
Nevertheless, in today’s world, homosexuality is becoming increasingly acceptable, and so it seems to me that gay humor now may not be quite as malevolent or alienating as it used to be, since there is less to worry about, so to speak, today. I know for sure that one of my gay friends is fine laughing at his own sexuality, because it’s ultimately about confidence; as any people are more socially accepted, they become more confident, and are more comfortable with laughing at themselves.
Ultimately, straight men propel the movie industry forward, so it is hard for homosexuality to dominate a production as a central theme. The documentary The Celluloid Closet details the growth of this subject in Hollywood films and exploits unfair or biased criticism against it.
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Amélie is one of the most impressive movies I've ever seen, not just in its production quality as a movie, but as a major accomplishment and progression of French cinema. Fifty years ago, the French New Wave presented a unique and rebellious film style that gave the French a true identity in a world highly proliferated and controlled by American movie conglomerates. It set a certain standard for French films, whether it’s the quirkiness of the camera angles, long shots depicting simple matters of life (often not essential to the plot of the movie), or the recurring themes such as the common, not too poor but certainly not wealthy family.
Amélie shows a clear evolution from the French New Wave. Watching Les Quatre Cents Coups and Amélie afterwards reminded me of seeing a small child, and then seeing her twenty years later as a matured adult. While she’s obviously physically substantially different, she clearly resembles herself from her youth, and even her personality shows a progression from a more primitive stage. Amélie includes scenes about topics which, in American cinema, would be considered irrelevant and unnecessary to the plot. An example of this would be the introduction to Amélie and the scenes describing the characters’ various likes and dislikes in life with few connections, save for those of Amélie’s mother and father.
Like many French movies, especially those of the French New Wave, Amélie is not just about plot and character development, it’s a leisurely paced story that makes the audience enjoy life’s little perks and wonders just as Amélie does. Similar almost to French culture, the movie is laid back but saturated with detail, curious spectacles, and even some witty humor that makes it an all around pleasure to watch. Amélie is truly a French masterpiece of film, in that it takes modern film and the French New Wave, and sews the two into a genuinely memorable motion picture.
Friday, October 30, 2009
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
The 400 Blows, a film directed by Francois Truffaut, is a prominent example of the quote on quote "French New Wave" of films that occurred in the 1950s and 60s. This new wave of French films were inspired by Italian Neorealism, the Auteur theory, and Hollywood cinema. The main lot of directors associated with the French New Wave all shared iconoclasm as a link between their films. Truffaut was one of the directors at the forefront of the movement and his domestic and international success with the movie The 400 Blows shed light onto the French New Wave and propelled it into the public eye throughout the world. Even the opening credits of the film seemed to reflect the artistic uprise and creative style of the French Revolution, for it consisted of a very long shot that moved through a city from a bird's eye view.
The film tells the story of young boy by the name of Antoine who gets himself into trouble from the very beginning of the movie. In class, Antoine is a class clown that loves to bring about the laughter of his fellow students at the expense of respecting his teacher. He and his best friend, Rene, is often the instigator of Antoine's troubles. Antoine lives with his mother and step father in a tiny house that is quite cramped for the three of them. Antoine's mother is very uptight and often stressed out, and she takes out her frustrations on Antoine's stepfather. The concept of producing a film centered around a family that is somewhat poor and hardworking is representative of the French New Wave, too. The 400 Blows is essentially a string of stories put together about the antics of Antoine and his growing experience through these things. Among many other things, Antoine skips school, pronounces his mother dead as an excuse for missing school, and runs away from home. One of the most important scenes of the movie, perhaps, is the scene in which Antoine's stepfather takes Antoine and his mother out for a night at the movies. Despite the fact that Antoine's mother is always so uptight and his father is so bitterly sarcastic because of it, the family is able to come together for a night to be fun-loving with another and just purely enjoy one another's company. Eventually, Antoine is forced to go to a camp that is some sort of juvenile delinquency reform program. He feels out of place with the other troublemakers, for their acts seem so much more extreme than his own. He had previously admitted to never having stepped foot in the ocean, so to end the movie he escapes the camp and runs until he finds the ocean. The audience is left with Antoine putting his feet into the ocean and then looking into the camera before it fades out.
The film was at the forefront of the French New Wave because it was free form and flowed to its own melody. There was no great problem presented and there was not a climax for the audience to hinge its viewing experience on. However, the film was filled with enjoyable anecdotes and gave everyone in its audience something to grasp as a part of their own respective life.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Memento is incredibly powerful because of its sequences of flashbacks. The movie has scenes in color that slowly go back farther into the sequence of events that led up to Leonard's killing of Jimmy, but at the same time has scenes in black and white that depict Leonard telling a parallel character analysis of Sammy Jenkins over the phone to an unknown listener. The scenes ultimately intertwine together to create a "present" time encasement. The black and white flashbacks master the art of lighting and shadows and set the tone for a dreary plot. Nolan creatively develops a new method of filming and storytelling in this masterpiece.
Perhaps the most confusing twist in the entire movie, though, is when Leonard nearly consciously decides to choose Teddy as his next victim in his series of murders to avenge the "murder" of his wife. It is the only point in the movie that the audience shifts from pitying Leonard and accepting his amnesiac handicap to wondering if Leonard controls his own twisted fate. It is ironic because every character in the movie takes advantage of Leonard's memory loss to carry out their lowlife needs, but Leonard himself takes advantage of his own condition because he leaves clues for himself that point to avenging his wife's death over and over again. In effect, Leonard uses himself, too. He is never content with killing his wife's murderer, for he is not able to remember the emotion of having even completed this task. It is a twisted movie that is left open for interpretation to this day. Its unique film style transcended the films of its time and went on to inspire films like The Sixth Sense or Vantage Point.
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
In my opinion, the most interesting thing about "Hollywood and the World" is its discussion of Hollywood no longer being geographically constrained. Yes, Hollywood, California exists as a concrete representation of the film industry, but film has expanded far beyond the limits of California. American films, therefore, also takes on a broader meaning. As discussed before, 90-95% of films are produced or controlled by just six or seven main production companies. Since such a limited number of companies control such a large industry, "American" film has begun to encompass films that do not have to be entirely American. For example, a film may be trademarked and produced by MGM, but it might have been written in France, directed by a German, and might have included Spanish born actors. In fact, most modern day Hollywood film production is done by smaller, independent production companies that use the major producers to facilitate, market, and distribute films around the world.
It will be interesting to see what the future has in store for American film. As of now, the American Film Industry is concerned with American film losing its culture due to concerns of broadcasting to a larger international audience. Only time will tell what truly happens with Hollywood and its Americanized identity.
Thursday, September 3, 2009
Reading "Hollywood as industry" by Douglas Gomery has given me a new insight on the structure and the history of Hollywood. To be honest, I had never even learned about the history of the motion picture industry, besides knowing about the slow progression from silent movies to more fluid ones with vocals and soundtracks, to the eventual color films of the last forty to fifty years. The most surprising thing, I would have to say, was the early formation of the enormous, fully integrated production studios that, in the early days, went as far as controlling and/or owning theatres.
Furthermore, watching the video in class about how the seven main movie studios own about 90 or 95% of the entire motion picture industry was astounding–it’s not that I didn’t realize that few of these companies existed, but that every time I go see a movie, it’ll really hit my head, that just a few monster corporations produce almost, if not every movie you can see at the theatre.