Monday, February 13, 2012


Logline: 18 year old is an excellent student, but he is homeless and has to overcome several hardships in order to continue his success in school.

A store seems empty, and there is a tip jar with a few dollars. A young man sneaks in there and slyly steals the money. Walking out, he sees a little boy begging a grocery store for an apple. He gets denied, and the little boy sobs while trying to suppress his stomach. The young man heads to him, and gives him the money. The little boy becomes ecstatic, and jubilantly devours the apple. The young man smiles briefly, and walks down the street. His stomach vigorously groans.

The young man wakes up, and he is drenched with sweat. He looks around, and no one is there. He is all alone lying on the cold lawn of an isolated park. His stomach growls, and the young man tries to recollect himself. He falls back asleep; his head is on a beat down back pack.

The bell rings. The young man scurries to his class, but he is scolded by his teacher. At the same time, his teacher tries to understand the student and tries to sympathize with him. The young man is reluctant, and the teacher gives up on the conversation and hands him his last test. The young man’s peers eagerly await to see his score, but become extremely astonished when they see his A. They show envy, and wonder. The young man secludes himself from them, and tries to listen to his teacher.

The young man receives free lunch, and he exuberantly eats by himself.

The young man logs onto his email account, and receives a peculiar email from Berkeley. He has been admitted, and he leaves the school with an exultant smile.

The young man reaches a laundromat, and sneaks in his dirty clothes as soon as the other customers leave. He waits patiently to retrieve them, and then he rapidly leaves with his half wet clothes.

The park is empty again, and the young man finds a comfortable spot next to a tree. He does his homework for the next few hours. He falls asleep.

It’s been several months, and the boy has awoken in his Berkeley dorm. Someone bangs at his door, and the young man opens. A woman stands speechlessly. She attempts to find forgiveness from the young man -- her son. What she said would be a weekend turned out to be several months. Her absence caused the boy’s eviction from his small home. The boy denies her forgiveness because she does not deserve it, but he shows her appreciation for what she made him go through.

The boy proclaims that the suffering his mother brought on to him encouraged him to succeed and find a better life. He strove and persevered for his own sake.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Genre Study Chart

Genre: Romantic Comedy

Typical plots: 2 characters begin to interact with one another very frequently. They develop a sense of intimacy, but their own personal faults deter them from forming a traditional relationship. However, typically, the characters learn to love each other's faults and do partake in a relationship.
Typical characters: The female character is usually the dominant figure. She controls when and how the relationship forms, and usually she is characterized as being both beautiful and quirky. She is the ideal woman in American culture. The male is characterized as being more awkward, and more vulnerable as well. He must earn the woman's respect and love, and if he doesn't, then the two's relationship will crumble.
Typical dialogue: The dialoge is very witty and in more contemporary films carries several sexual innuendos. The dialogue exemplifies how the characters are both awkward and intimate with one another. Eventually, the intimacy takes over which allows the audience to empathize with the characters more. Also, the dialogue is original and cliches are avoided at all costs. In this genre of films cliches would heavily deter the audience from the central meaning.
Typical setting: Urban cities filled with glamour and a busy life
Typical look or style: The color palette is vibrant and bright. The camera is intimate whenever both characters are on screen.

Genre: Drug Addiction Dramas

Typical plots: Young characters begin to experiment which drugs give them the best "high". As these characters become more dependent on their drugs, their personalities begin to change. They lose focus of their goals in life and remains fixated on achieving their high daily. The characters around them begin to perceive these protagonists in different light. The protagonist becomes isolated and eventually their downfall becomes eminent.
Typical situations: At the start of their addiction the addict appears to have control of their life. However, their fixation on their drug eventually begins to overwhelm them which causes the protagonist to experiment with new and more potent drugs. These drugs become lethal and highly addicted. They ultimately lead to the downfall of the addict.
Typical characters: The characters are usually young adults who first started their journey with cannabis. However, their curiosity typically leads them to use more potent drugs. An addiction develops. That addiction becomes malignant because either the character loses a sense of reality, or the character has to change their entire moral compass if they can no longer afford their drugs [ie the character would steal or kill for their drugs]
Typical setting (place): The setting is not confined whatsoever. The purpose of this is to demonstrate that no one is invulnerable to the malignant effects of drugs.
Typical look or style (lighting or camera): At the start of the film vibrant colors parallel the intoxicating feeling that the protagonists feel. However, as their addiction worsens the colors become more gritty. The lighting also becomes dark, and the camera usually begins to distance itself to illustrate how isolated the character has become. In some films, the camera will actually become more intimate in order to show how vile the addicts have become.

Genre: Gangster

Typical plots: Typically and underling, or a soldier, performs various acts that gets them promoted in the "family". They climb the ranks by continuously performing certain nefarious acts that earn them an increased reputation. Their power elevates dramatically and continuously. Usually, that power consumes the protagonist's life which can lead to their downfall.
Typical situations: A young man looks into the gang/mafia lifestyle with amazement. The power and respect that comes along with it becomes highly alluring which causes the protagonist to chase after it.
Typical characters: Typically the protagonists are young, Italian males. They are competent and ready to do whatever it takes in order to please their superior.
Typical dress: Suits with tie. Their attire is very formal and usually becomes more elegant as the protagonist becomes more and more powerful. Also, they usually smoke cigars which also conveys a sense of power and respect.
Typical historical setting: Usually the film takes place during the second half of the 20th century. The location is typically in New York or Florida. Areas that are well known for housing several mafia families.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Ideology In Film

What is ideology and how can it be implicit vs. explicit?
Ideology is a set of beliefs. It can be implicit when it is an underlying theme that must be analyzed in order to be extracted. An explicit ideology requires no analysis as it is blatantly expressed by either the film's plot, the characters, or even the director himself.

Ideology and Expectations:
Actors like Christian Bale embody a strong male who is fully capable of dominating any critical situation that is thrown at them. His persona reoccurs in films like Batman, Reign of Fire, and Public Enemies. In all, he is an intelligent and highly respected man who's rough character is a desirable trait for all men. His appeal causes several men to watch his action films because they want to become the man that Christian Bale represents. Additionally, women expect to see that rugged and strong male which is what attracts them to his films. In The Dark Knight Rises Christian Bale will be a both mentally and physically powerful protagonist. He will face several obstacles that will push his character to its limits; however, he will triumph because he is such a strong male. The studio directing the movie will encourage several action sequences that demonstrate how intense and godlike Christian Bale's character is. This will attract more male audience members because they expect to see a strong and powerful male figure who they wish they could become.

Personal Ideologies and the Enjoyment of Film:
Jack Skellington from "Nightmare Before Christmas" is a character that I heavily adore. He is a skeleton which would usually instill fear into children, but by making him animated he carries a more friendly complexion. His characterization portrays him as being a lonely man who seeks love. I, like many others, have related to this feeling which causes me to further empathize with the character. In a sense, I became the character and wanted him to triumph and find love at the end of the film. All of the prior experiences that he faced I shared as well. As a result, I felt a sense of resolution and jubilance when he did find love. That was only because I was able to sympathize with him when he articulated his feelings in his monologues. The film maker manipulated his character in order to attract me to him, and it worked.

Changing Ideologies:
As time passes societies develop new beliefs in what is moral and what is normal. As this occurs films have to adjust in order to be accepted by movie goers. Otherwise, a film that is too radical may cause its audience to feel a sense of discomfort and awkwardness when viewing the film. For example, romance films have heavily shifted over the last decade. In Titanic the romance between the actors was by no means solely sexual or promiscuous. It was more intimate and the audience could truly connect with the characters. In more recent romance films such as Friends with Benefits the overall story remains the same. However, the performance between the actors is not as intimate. Instead, the actors are more provocative and freely sexual. Their sexual intimacy correlates with contemporary society's growing acceptance of sex as being normal and typical. Additionally, their romance is more comedic and carries a more realistic approach. Contrastingly, the actors in Titanic appeared to be more romantic and less realistic. This illustrates society's shift from enjoying fairy tale like films to enjoying more realistic films.

Ideology and Realism:
Suspension of disbelief is when an audience ignores a sense of realism in film. Instead, they openly accept what is going on screen despite how unrealistic it may be. Avatar is an example of a film that uses this tactic. The characters live on an outer world planet which we know does not exist. However, our disbelief is suspended so that we can enjoy the stories and the characters. We do not care about how unrealistic the film is, we simply want to enjoy what is presented in front of us. Even if we are forced to acknowledge the unrealism in the film like in Avatar, we do not demean the film. Instead, we become at awe with it and appreciate it even more. After all, films are our forms of escaping reality in order to enjoy something that we can never experience.
Define Suspension of disbelief and give an example from a recent film you have watched.

Ideology & ownership:
The financial support does play a role because money is what finances the directors and his/her cast. If the financial institution is displeased then the director will lose their funds, thus they must meet the institution's demands or risk abandoning the film.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Writing About Film

A formal analysis is a form of film writing in which the film is analyzed part by part. For example, one may look at sound, then editing, and lastly acting. However, all of the analyses will be woven together to create one final analysis which is the student's overall analysis. This analysis details the purpose of the aforementioned sections, and relates them to one another. A film analysis based on film history can look at the film's socio-cultural context. That is, how the film reflects the society or culture that it is based upon. Additionally, the film may reflect its own production history. Most likely, this analysis looks at how the film's budget or studio company affected the final overall product that the audience is presented with. Ideological papers capture another form of film writing. They focus on the human themes that a film presents either consciously or subconsciously. A film may bluntly condemn a nation's beliefs, or it may extol them by creating characters that uphold a certain moral custom. The American film "Never Back Down" illustrates the belief that men must never back down from a dilemma or problem.
This creed reflects American culture although it is not explicitly stated in the film. An ideological paper would look at this aspect of the film. Film papers can also look at the auteur, or the people who have created the film. This includes the director, producer, script writer and so forth. Their roles in the film would be analyzed and even research into their previous works may be looked at in an attempt to find patterns. These patterns would be deemed as style and they would be analyzed in that film paper.

When viewing a film the article implores film students to annotate a film sequence. This consists of breaking apart an individual scene to every single shot that makes that scene a scene. The purpose of this is to develop an enhanced understanding of the scene itself which would be done by understanding how every shot creates meaning. Additionally, by looking at every shot individually one can notice special details that would otherwise escape our attention. These details may be critical to the film or may further illustrate a stylistic device that the director has used. All of these details will be annotated by the students. Afterwards, the student will have a comprehensive list of every shot in the scene with annotations that will allow for an easier analysis.

The final point that the article makes is that film students must "think beyond the frame". This includes looking at all of the previously mentioned comments. However, the article also recommends students to look at published reviews and critics' own interpretations of the film. This can enhance our own analysis, and it can also provide us with new insight that we may have otherwise not noticed.

Monday, December 19, 2011

5 Most Valuable Minutes- Research Practice

The first 5 minutes of Taxi Driver are the most important because they explicitly present the story and characters which is required in order to understand the rest of the film.

The film revolves around Travis Bickle, and his first scene introduces him as being an insomniac ex-marine. Additionally, there are slight subtleties that illustrate how lonely and separated from society he is. For one, he prefers to work long night hours as opposed to day hours. Thus, he isn't a very social person because he would most likely spends his day sleeping. Secondly, it appears that he isn't very appealing as a person because he isn't articulate. For example, he makes a joke to his interviewer about his conscience, but the interviewer gets frustrated. Travis replies "sorry sir didn't mean to uh --" Bickle can't finish his sentence, & he appears to be frustrated at himself because of that.
The rest of the interview continues with Bickle carrying the same facial expression:
Bickle doesn't understand how to deal with this social situation. So, he feels very awkward and begins to talk with a monotone and morose voice which contrasts the previously jubilant and playful voice that he spoke with. This sense of awkwardness is further intensified by a close-up pan of Bickle while he said "sorry sir didn't meant to uh --". Of course, this was an emotional reveal of the character which emphasizes his characterization.

Much of Bickle's characterization has been revealed by the tone of his voice. However, his characterization is also portrayed by the content of the dialogue itself. From it, the audience learns that he was an ex-marine who most likely served in the recent Vietnam war. Additionally, Bickle's dialogue reveals that he isn't in tune with his social culture. The interviewer asks him if he's moonlighting which is slang for finding a second job, and Bickle is clueless to what that means.

Bickle's loneliness is further depicted when the audience is taken into his apartment. A long pan reveals how disorderly his home is.
The pan also reveals Bickle's diet which is composed of a soda, and take-out.
This isn't the ideal meal that a man would be eating. These props in Bickle's room allow the audience to truly get a sense of how lonely and disorganized Bickle is. Also, how he doesn't really take care of himself.

The first 5 minutes of the film depict Travis Bickle very thoroughly in order to establish the film's focus. The focus is clearly of this inarticulate, disorganized, and lonely man who is not a real member of modern society. This character focus recurs throughout screenwriter Paul Schrader's films because he studied existentialism while he was in school. The film also explores how war may have affected a soldier's life after it ended. This pertains to the film's socio-cultural aspect because the film takes place and was filmed soon after the Vietnam War ended.

The importance of this extract is that it addresses Scorsese's theme that his modern society was a complete wreck after the Vietnam War. He did this by portraying a former soldier as a lonely, unintelligent, and socially awkward man who simply didn't not understand the world around him anymore. This was conveyed through Bickle's inarticulateness, his disorderly apartment room, and his dialogue with his interviewer. Additionally, this extract exemplifies the Film Noir Genre because the scenes are very gritty and utilize dark lighting in order to create a solemn tone that emphasizes the character's characterization.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The American Anti-Hero

What historical factors influenced the rise of the American Anti-Hero in cinema and how does this hero contradict the Classic Hollywood Ideology.

After WWII America experienced a social paradigm shift. Americans were very rebellious and were very aware of the horrors in the world. Likewise, Americans were aware that every person had their own faults, and that no one acted in a perfectly moral manner. This increased a yearning for an anti hero because "they were true representations of life, who were faulty and vulnerable, like America's real life heroes". These real life heroes were the soldiers who fought in WWI, and who returned to America with deteriorated mentalities. Most likely, their new perception of the world mirrored the anti hero's perception. The anti hero, after all, was meant to present a new yet old perception of what the average human is like. The average human is likely to commit moral and good acts, but they are also fully capable of committing immoral acts. These immoral acts are done by the antiheroes frequently and they demonstrate how complex and imperfect people truly are. With relation to the time period, the American antihero most likely rose after WWII because Americans began to realize how horrible their and other's actions were during the course of the war. The war truly opened up society's eyes to a dark side of human nature, and people became interested in exploring why people behave in these ways. That also shows why Americans began to watch Film Noir as sort of "guilty pleasure".

The antihero also portrayed the duality in human nature which was very prominent during the Cold War. In the Cold War Americans were very paranoid because they did not know what to believe in anymore. They wanted to avoid war with Russia, but they did not know how to act because they no longer could differentiate between right and wrong. That caused a blurred line to form surrounding morality. Americans were puzzled at how people could appear to be moral, yet at the same time commit immoral crimes. The antihero allowed the American to explore why people had this dual character. In fact, Americans pondered over this "long after the projected has been turned off".

Again, the rise of the antihero stemmed from a social paradigm shift in America. This occurred once more during the 1960's when the Civil Rights Movement reached its peak. Leaders like MLK, Malcolm X, and other revolutionary leaders rose against society to illustrate why society's practices were wrong. In reality, they were real anti heroes. They all illustrated that anyone who went against society was going to be deemed as rebellious and a bit psychotic. This is what captivated the American audience the most because they yearned to be exposed to new perspectives of the world. After all, they were unsure of their own perspective because they had trouble understanding what truly was right and wrong. This ambiguity was caused by, again, the Cold War and the Civil Rights Movements which all presented problems in American society.

The anti hero constricts the classical hero because their actions are based upon very convoluted and complex motives. They are not so clear cut as the classical hero because the classical hero is simple. They always do the right thing and end the film with a joyous life. The anti hero usually ends life bitterly, and this is supposed to mirror the typical life of a person.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Intensified Continuity

According to David Bordell, explain how and why continuity has intensified in Hollywood cinema. Also consider whether anything has been lost with this change.

Continuity has intensified because of 4 different tactics.
For one, the average shot length or ASL has largely decreased as time has progressed. Before the 1960's the ASL was around "eight to eleven seconds", but nowadays it averages between "three to six seconds". This refers to all genres, but it is mainly faster for action movies. Still, what this has done is show the audience multiple views of one scene. In other words, the coverage of a scene has greatly expanded in order to reveal more details, and in order to add a cinematic style to each film. However, I believe that in some movies this has caused confusion to occur more frequently because the audience is forced to follow each shot very quickly; thus, our actual appreciation and absorption of each shot has minimized. This also shows how films have strayed away from a typical realistic genre since the shots are not being held for a long and more natural amount of time.

The second factor is that technology has allowed scenes to be shot in new angles. This is possible because of the creation and advancement in wide and narrow lens. "During the 1930's, cinematographers increasingly relied on wide-angle lenses" because they didn't distort reality to much of an extent. They were a simple way to show the audience what was in the shot, and how they all related to one another. However, the improvements in narrow lenses has allowed filmmakers to shoot their scenes from afar, and to distort reality by emphasizing certain details over others. Additionally, these new lenses allowed for multiple camera shoots because long lenses were "required to keep cameras out of range from each other". Thus, multiple shots of the same event could be taken, and this most likely contributed to the decrease in ASL. Still, the most salient aspect of the narrow lens is that it can focus on only one detail at a time which allows the director to manipulate reality easily. Because of the long lenses a sense of simplicity has been lost in film. No longer are sets simple locations meant to add a tone to a scene, but now long lenses reveal the details within these sets which forces us to view the set as an actual character.

The third factor is closer framing in dialogue scenes. In classical films, the camera distanced itself from the actor in order to give the actor some privacy. Also, this created the illusion that the camera wasn't being too intrusive which added to a sense of realism. However, as new lenses developed the camera was able to frame the subject tighter. This allowed directors to reveal and focus on their actor's emotions more. Thus, film began to revolve around characters more so than the story itself. Additionally, faster cutting was able to take place because new shots of the actor could be taken in one sequence. I believe that this change has actually improved films a lot because we are more likely to share the actor's emotions if we can clearly see all of their facial expressions which of course connotes an emotion.

The final factor that has contributed to intensified continuity is a free roaming camera. Cameras, thanks to technology, is able to freely roam around a set in swift and fluid movements. I agree that this builds a "continuous tension" because as we watch a long shot take place we begin to yearn to know where the camera will end up. We become aware that the camera is going to take us to a new place that will either add characterization to a character, or it will present us with a new conflict within the film. Our yearning to know this increases tension which in turn causes us to engage ourselves into the film more. All in all, this factor, along with the rest, has caused film to decrease our attention span, but to also become more engaged and interested in the film itself. Thus, we are able to appreciate film even more than before.