Friday, 22 June 2012

Why is The Artist a film worth watching?

1 It took guts to release a silent film in our Blu screen, 3D age of special effects and digitally enhanced sound. The filmmaker showed that you don’t need special effects and huge budgets to make a film worth seeing. Also in an age of great TV series, threatening to take over from film, the film’s director, Michel Hazanavicius, showed how film can still stand on its own as a powerful medium for entertainment.

2 It is arresting and emotive: audiences forget it is a silent movie.

3 It deals with the theme of change in so many ways.

4 It has a simple story but it is not always predictable: “BANG” ( if you have watched the film you will know what "BANG" means.)

5 Like the best post modern films it cleverly references other texts.

6 It has Uggie the dog – the skate-boarding dog who has become a star in his own right; animals were often used in silent movies; for instance, Chaplin had dogs, mules, monkees, elephants, lions, tigers, cats, in his films, e.g. The Circus, City Lights.

7 The film has great music which fits in skilfully with the action, situations and facial expressions/gestures; this music, too, is often derivative: you can hear the influences of Debussy, Satie, as well as  other early 20th century composers.

8 Michel Hazanavicius and Ludovic Bource pay homage to Bernard Herrman’s music from Hitchcock’s Vertigo, which by the way, Bource uses brilliantly in the climatic scene.

9 It has what many great silent movies aimed for: comedy, pathos, drama and to be entertaining: I was reminded of City Lights, made in 1929, two years after the advent of “The Talkies”.

10 The film “speaks” about how the changes wrought by technology affect people who cannot nor will not change. The irony of the opening scene is more evident on a second viewing.

11 The film is consciously post modern where scenes and sometimes music are pastiched and referenced from other films; for instance, George Valentine and his wife at different ends of the breakfast table reference Orson Wells’s “Citizen Kane.

12 The film deals with stardom and how ordinary people are changed and affected by it; contextually, the film deals with the rise of stardom and how some stars had even more power than producers/studio bosses. It also deals with our context of celebrity culture where ordinary people can suddenly become well-known and then forgotten and how this can  affect them psychologically. Our technology of You Tube, the Internet and “Reality TV” and “Docu-drama” resonates in The Artist with many "temporary stars" being damaged by being left behind.

13 You can stop the film and any point and see frames with great mise-en-scene. The images in the frames could stand on their own, as they were obviously well thought out. For instance, after George Valentine leaves the Auction Rooms and nearly gets run over by a car (another sign of new technology) the cinema behind him is ironically showing “Lonely Star.”

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Joseph Macbride: an academic on film and an authority on several key film directors

Joseph Macbride's work is certainly worth looking into. His updated autobiography on Steven Spielberg, released earlier this year, is possibly the key text for understanding the contexts against which Spielberg created his films.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

The Wicked Flee - The Score from the new version of "True Grit'

I have not posted here for some time as I am not teaching Film Studies at present. However,  I intend to do so in future and produce teaching and student resources next year. My intention is to produce a wide ranging website for English Media and Film and place decent resources on it for several exam boards.

In the meantime, here's Carter Burwell's memorable score from "True Grit", something all teachers need these days. The tune is a rendition of the old gospel hymn, "Leaning On The Everlasting Arms." The following video is also an interesting example of exchange, what ordinary folks do with films using WEB 2.0 once they have been released.

The Score from True Grit
Iris DeMent sings "Leaning On The Everlasting Arms". The Song is played at the end of the film.

Carter Burwell writes on his own website about why his music was not eligible for the Oscars because of his inclusion of adapted gospel hymns from the nineteenth century.

Here is Carter Burwell discussing his use of music in the new film in both an interview and  in the film below.

Saturday, 29 May 2010

Practice questions for "Spectatorship: Popular Film and Emotional Response

Robert , Shaun and Doug and anyone else who might find this post helpful.
These are questions are from Dave's Paper. It is worth 35 marks. ( The Single Film: Close Critical Study ( Fight Club ) is worth 30 marks. )

In the old exam this paper was known as "Shocking Cinema". But YOU need to be aware that THE RANGE of spectator's emotional responses will be WIDER than that.

1.  Explore possible reasons to explain why a second or third viewing of a film can actually increase the emotional response rather than lessen it.

2.  How far is the emotional response to mainstream films triggered by specific techniques used by filmmakers?

To answer either of these questions you will need to have:
  • an understanding of how cinema produces a range of emotional responses in the spectator, using both macro and micro features.
  • an appreciation (knowledge) of how spectators seek a range of different experiences when watching films, including experiences that may challenge and disturb.
  • an appreciation ( knowledge) of cinematic contexts - including the significance of audience viewing situations, fandom and 'cultism' - in contributing to spectator response.
Remember to analyse each questions' key words and phrases first and make a brief plan.
(As we did in class, perhaps even using a dividing line with several arguments on each side.)

Use words and phrases from the question in your essay's introduction to show how you intend to shape your argument.

Write clear, introductory sentences for each point or argument in your essay.  (Topic Sentences). 
The rest of your paragraph(s) should then fill out your point with examples and argumentative comment on your examples.

Refer to those words regularly in your essay to show the relevance of your points and argument(s).

Come into College if you need to discuss your practice essays or need to marked.

Good luck for each of the three Papers: Patty's Dave's and mine.

Friday, 2 April 2010

"Fight Club' and the Ikea information consumerism scene

The scene is self-referential as well as critical of consumerism. David Fincher draws attention to the fake reality of the film as well as the Ikea catalogue that seems to fill Jack's room, and rooms in ours lives, too.
Fight Club's Ikea Catalogue scene

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

David Fincher as an auteur

Director as auteur
Watch David Fincher’s earlier, more mainstream film, "The Game" (1997); you can begin by reading about it on Wikipedia or fan-sites devoted to David Fincher.

David Fincher's "The Game" (1997) on Wikipedia
What similarities in themes and style can you identify with Fight Club?

Here's a trailer from the film
The trailer for "The Game"
What similarities in themes and style can you identify with "Fight Club"?

Producer as auteur
Art linson was the producer of Fight Club; look up his filmography on IMDB.

To get a clearer sense of the work of a Hollywood producer read Linson’s book “What Just Happened?” which includes material on Fight Club.

Here are a few interesting reviews from Amazon USA

Amazon US Reviews of Linson's book