Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The cut of "Somewhere West"

THE CUT OF SOMEWHERE WEST: AN ORIGINAL FILM BY DAVID MAREK

David Marek creates a unique piece of cinema- similar in style to those filmmakers he looks up to. He creates a deeply transcendental road trip film about one cancer patient's journey coming to terms with death. The film itself really plays around with the use of editing and how much one can do while still maintaining a clear story.

David Marek largely employs a lot of dissociative editing for the picture- loses certain aspects of traditional narrative editing while maintaing at least one of the principles of editing such as sound or picture to keep the story moving forward.

The film is not afraid to jump around in time and spatially. On of the hardest hitting moments of the film for me personally comes from the cut out of the conversation the protagonist is having with his sister to a lock of her hair on her shirt. It is almost as if the subject at hand is such much for this character to handle and he is so disconnected from it at the beginning that the audience themselves is also disconnected with him.

The film also plays with holding onto cuts for a much longer time. Marek believes that the long take has the ability for moods and feelings to slowly wash over the audience. It is with a cut that they become conscious of the fact that they are watching a movie and their tolerance for this long take resets. Marek holds many moments of the film on single long take shots. For example, he plays a 5 minute dolly slowly pushing in for a scene between the protagonist and his friend in their car talking and trying to sleep. An even more emotional example of this would be the final shot of the movie. We, the audience, are left behind in a sense as the friend wheels the protagonist off into the distance over the horizon. Slowly, they just fade out and then come back; however, now, the protagonist is gone. This moment is really beautiful and leaves the audience with the perfect mindset to end the movie.

Marek also uses time lapses as well to help progress the story forward as life around the protagonist moves on and fades in a very spiritual way. Now since his days are limited, every moment is a blessing and truly beautiful. With these time lapses, the landscapes themselves are also able to take on a character as we move from one to the next in this road trip.

Overall, with the use of cutting- or lack thereof, Marek is able to create a truly unique piece of cinema. He almost creates his own niche of filmmaking- one where the audience is able to participate with the film and based on how much the give into the picture, get back a spirituality or sense of peace like the character.

THE WORLD OF THE MUPPETS (extracredit post)

                                           The world of the Muppets

The Muppets inhabit a truly magical world. It is one where it is completely natural for characters to break out in song. They live in a heightened world. This is not to say that everything is exactly hunky dory, though. Granted, the majority of the world is super clean, exaggerated, and bold; however, there is also another side of the world on the opposite side of the spectrum- one that is grimy and almost scary.

The set design of the film really pushes and drives the story. Without it, the story wouldn't be able to hold itself together. The Muppets is a very theatrical show with a heavy emphasis on its sets and the extremes they are able to go to.

For the aesthetic of the production design, the movie is very bold and saturated. Everything is crisp. Smalltown, USA is unrealistically perfect and highly theatrical. For example, the house of the protagonists is a mixture of eye popping primary colors which match to the bright colors of the similiar neighboring houses. However, even with extensive location scouting, this perfect 50's esque "Father Knows Best"/Perfect American Family aesthetic was impossible to find to the dot. The production team needed to supplement what was already there in their chosen location with additional set dressings as well as a completely new paint job. The colors of the set are bright and deep. It seems as if the town is ready to burst into song at any possible moment, which of course, they do.

However, the movie takes a turn for the worse once they leave this idyllic perfect small town. The protagonists come to Los Angeles and experience a completely separate kind of world. It is much grittier and darker; however, it still matches the other world and holds itself in the same movie due to how heightened and theatrical this darker world is. There are more natural sets, yet they still contain some theatricality whether it be in the almost perfect cobwebs or dust lining Kermit's mansion.


Truly, the production design plays a large part in The Muppets. The Muppets requires this theatrical type of aesthetic to work and without it, the movie would simply fall flat, which is slightly apparent by previous less successful Muppets movies that didn't have such an aesthetic with its production design.

With the production design, the Muppets really does have everything.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Film Spaces Assignment

Film is an interesting and unique medium because of its ability to conform and alter space and therefore reality to best fit a story. Countless filmmakers rely upon altering space in film to help convey a mood or tone subtly for their films. The four main types of spaces in film being: Flat, Deep, Ambiguos, and Limited. Knowing these types of space and what they mean, please match the following pictures with their corresponding spaces and explain why you choose so for each. At the bottom of the document, you will be given the correct answers. You have one week to do this assignment:

Picture A

Picture B

Picture C
Picture D


Picture E
Picture F
Picture G
(Shoot your own or select your own photo for this one- but be precise in your response!)



Your responses should be fairly detailed and show you have a good understanding of the concepts. Please email them to the teacher matthew.antonino@interlochen.org. They will be graded each based on how clearly you show you understand which type of space it is or how you argue it is one type over the others.


















Below are some examples of answers (do not look at these, students, for it would be cheating):
Picture A: Deep Space.
We know it is deep space because there is a distinct size difference between all the objects and the wider lens exaggerates the space. Also, the focus is deep and there are perspective and longitudinal planes.

Picture B: Limited Space
The depth cues and frontal planes with the frame within the frame makes the space feel limited. Also, since the walkers are moving what appears to be parallel to the camera, it thus makes the space more limited.

Picture C: Ambiguous Space
This is a confusing picture to look at. The camera angle is disorienting and the sizes of these objects are unknown  This is actually an overhead of a city.

Picture D: Flat Space
The consistency of the size helps flatten the image as well as the softer focus and symmetry of the image. The textural diffusion also creates a flatter image by creating affinity.





Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Life Lessons Revisions

CAMERA:
The camera is a huge part of this film. It is a character in itself, in a sense. It is motivated by what type of movie this is. The film is expressionistic and about Lionel- a creative. The camera is to Scorsese as the paintbrush is to Lionel in a way. Even without this film in mind, many people consider Martin Scorsese to be a an utter visionary with the way he uses camera in his storytelling. Lionel gets these bouts of creativity which he tries to attain through having a muse. The camera taps into this and is expressionistic and majestical in a sense as well. There is a lot of movement as Lionel himself- or at least the way we see him and his world is like this. It is actually when shots are static that they become tense because the precedent for it makes it seem weird. An example of one of the strongest moments of the camera work, in my opinion, is when Lionel is actually in the act of creating or at least about to create- and just as Lionel is hit with a wave of inspiration, the camera surges forward into him like a rush of (expressionistic) creativity. This camera and style continues throughout the film and is almost like a motif in the film.

COLORS:
The colors of the film are a big part of it as well, which makes sense because it is a very colorful film as in it is about painting. The whole world is the artistic world, so through comparing colors of different characters, times, and places, Martin Scorsese impresses various moods and feelings upon the film.  At the beginning of the film, when everything is seemingly alright within Lionel and his muse (or at least not as bad as it gets in the end), the colors are more primary ones. However, as the film progresses, the color palette becomes a darker more mundane one as his relationship with his muse deteriorates. His muse's clothing as well is a big indicator of this as well. At first, she wears more natural and normal colored clothes. However, by the end, she wears a pure black dress. She has become this person completely dark and void of life in a way near the end.

Just like Lionel, Scorsese himself has his own color palette consisting of camera, sound, editing and colors for his work of art, "Life Lessons".

Friday, September 28, 2012

Face/Off

FACE/OFF
Auteur John Woo's "Face/Off" is a very unique beast. It has the zany energy of all of his other films while still maintaining solid characters with distinct motives. As a general rule of thumb, most of the things in the movie are presented directly to us in the plot. However, that is not to say there aren't some things which John Woo leaves us to infer. It is just that the story itself is so straightforward and clear that it never seems like much of a jump. For example, we, the audience, must infer that Castor Troy, Archer's archenemies, kills all of the people that know about Archer's covert mission to swap faces with him, since we don't see it on screen. 



John Woo hops right into the story with "Face/Off". The first scene we are presented shows us not only these two rivals, the terrorist Troy and cop Archer. It also shows one of the most pivotal moment's in Archer's life, which forever after he becomes a changed person: Castor Troy kills Archer's youngest son in an attempt to assassinate Archer. Their whole rivalry is because of this moment. Archer becomes a changed man. He spends the next couple years of his life trying to finally catch Troy. This becomes the crux of the story. Everything falls back upon this. It is only when this is finally resolved at the end once Castor Troy is finally killed for good that the family, along with Archer, can finally move on as they accept a new adopted child to the family.




The story is very straight forward temporally. It is after all a major blockbuster type film, which is conscious of this fact. The film doesn't take itself too seriously and isn't afraid to go into huge crazy spectacle driven fight scenes. However, since the film does follow heavily both Troy and Archer, there is a fair amount of crosscutting and some simultaneous action. For example, we see Archer break out of the prison that he is put in as Troy after he swapped faces with him, but we also see what Troy is doing during this time to stop him from his office in the CIA. The film itself is 
surprisingly clean. All the characters' arcs are complete by the ending of the film. Castor Troy is now finally dead, Archer's family is finally at rest, Archer chooses to let go of the loss of his son by choosing not to get the bullet wound scar reapplied to his chest, and they adopt a new son. It is a traditional and intentional Hollywood  ending.

The story follows Archer first and then Castor Troy second. We are not restricted to one character's knowledge. We actually get a substantial amount of dramatic irony throughout the film, since we know what both of these two unstoppable forces are doing and how they are plotting against each other or walking into each other's traps. It is a live action game of Spy v. Spy in the form of cop v. terrorist. We do get an idea of the characters' mental states but only through performance and some flashbacks.


Do not be confused, this is a Hollywood film. Or it is a Hong Kong/John Woo style Hollywood film
After all, they do swap faces in the movie.



Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Life Lessons

LIFE LESSONS

CAMERA:
The camera is a huge part of this film. It is a character in itself, in a sense. It is motivated by what type of movie this is. The film is expressionistic and about Lionel- a creative. Lionel gets these bouts of creativity which he tries to attain through having a muse. The camera taps into this and is expressionistic and majestical in a sense as well. There is a lot of movement as Lionel himself- or at least the way we see him and his world is like this. It is actually when shots are static that they become tense because the precedent for it makes it seem weird. An example of one of the strongest moments of the camera work, in my opinion, is when Lionel is actually in the act of creating or at least about to create- and just as Lionel is hit with a wave of inspiration, the camera surges forward into him like a rush of (expressionistic) creativity. This camera and style continues throughout the film and is almost like a motif in the film.

CYCLE:
The movie itself almost has a cyclic quality as well. At the beginning, Lionel cannot create because he doesn't have his muse with him. We see that Lionel needs a muse in order to create and as a result tries to do his best to always have one even if it gets in the way of his life and actual relationships with others. The film ties up at the end once his old muse leaves and his work is completed, he finds a new muse at his art gallery- meaning the cycle of Lionel getting a muse, working, and losing one will keep on continuing as Lionel does this to placate his artistic needs, which are, to him, the most important things in his life. This cycle also ties up the film in general throughout. It is cyclic and the characters are almost static. The music itself also is an indication of the cycle and works as a motif and lends in to let the audience know about and how to feel about certain moments.

COLORS:
The colors of the film are a big part of it as well, which makes sense because it is a very colorful film as in it is about painting. At the beginning of the film, when everything is seemingly alright within Lionel and his muse (or at least not as bad as it gets in the end), the colors are more primary ones. However, as the film progresses, the color palette becomes a darker more mundane one as his relationship with his muse deteriorates. His muse's clothing as well is a big indicator of this as well. By the end, she is wears a pure black dress.

Just like Lionel, Scorsese himself has his own color palette consisting of camera, sound, editing and colors for his work of art, "Life Lessons".



Monday, January 9, 2012

Blog Homework 6 1/9/11

Critical Analysis of the Coen Brothers' "Raising Arizona":

A whole relationship is told through taking mugshots and
H.I Dunnough's and Edwina's short interactions during them.
Ethan and Joel Coen both helped pioneer and cement a new form of comedy: the screwball/zany adventure comedy. "Raising Arizona" is a pitch perfect film, due to its use of story, humor, cinematography, music, and even editing. The film starts off on the right foot: it immediately establishes the tone of the piece and the backstory needed for much of the story to make sense. This is all done through a quick pre-rolling-credits sequence that is told through mugshots and the interactions between H.I. McDunnough and Edwina during these mugshots. Through motivated and quite humorous editing, we progressively learn along with H.I about Edwina and her past. We see H.I's progression and how he falls for her- because these events are in such rapid succession and the general humour of the whole scenario, the Coen Brothers even set up the tone much needed at the beginning of the film for the audience to prepare themselves for the crazy antics and characters to come.

In this shot, the wide lens choice highlights H.I's struggle: he is completely
stuck in a seemingly giant and torn apart room as the criminals flee with his baby

The cinematography in this film is phenomenal; not only is it aesthetically pleasing to look at, but it is also motivated above all else. One prominent aspect of the cinematography of the film is the variegated lens choice- most notably the numerous wide shots. These wide shots add to film and even add to tension in some moments, such as the baby stealing sequence near the beginning of the film, by increasing the depth, as in making the distances between things appear greater, and emphasizing character.

The editing and its synthesis with music greatly contributes to the success of the film as well. For example, in the chase scene when H.I Dunnough is running away from the cops, the cuts are done to the music at a point where the chase just becomes comical. Also, it even progressively escalates in accordance to the music, thus making for a very zany and borderline cartoon-like chase sequence, which is what added so much to the scene. Click to view: "Raising Arizona" Chase Sequence

Last, the characters in the film are so defined and beautifully absurd. Each character has their own character voices as well as their own ticks that add so much to the humour of the story. However, all these characters are at least bound in some reality, a facet many modern screwball adventures seem to forget nowadays. By having these characters somewhat bounded in reality, their tribulations are relatable and the audience is able to feel for these characters despite their antics and by the end feel like they have truly watched something not only entertaining, but also with a great story.

Pic 1: http://www.examiner.com/movie-in-atlanta/raising-arizona-film-slides-picture?slide=34863226

Pic 2: http://artdepartmental.com/2011/02/03/production-design-porn-the-coen-brothers/