Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Film Noir

I thought this unit was very interesting since I had previously studied it in French cinema. It was fun to see more film noir's because in myFrench cinema class we compared the classic film noir's to Realism Poetique, that included Pepe le Moko and more Jean Gabin films. I enjoy film noir movie's a lot more not becuase they are american and i'm trying to be all patriotic or anything but because they seem to have more essence and body to the themes, characteres, and plot. I enjoyed watching Chinatown because it was interesting to see a film noir in color since traditionally the film noir "genre" was not typically in color. I liked all the detectives especially Jeff Bridges because they seemed to be very smooth talking and carried with them a boyish charm with the ladies. I also think it's hilarious to see the femme fetale's and how they just costantly seem to be screwing things up for everyone while still maintaining to be the most flirtacious beings to ever walk to earth. It makes me a little sympathetic for the women playing the "marrying girl" roles that are just generally confused and don't end up getting love and basically are suckers because the girl who's the screw up (femme fetale) seems to get the hunky detective. My favorite detective was Jeff Bridges (Out of the Past) because I thought it was hilarious and all around amazing that with one punch he was able to take out the guy talking on the phone. I think the most interesting part of film noir that changes in each film is the crime. I mean take Chinatown, I know we wern't all expecting such a twist at the end, and if you were...well then you're a filthy liar and I don't like you one bit. I used to think that just because these films were in black and white that they lacked some "umfph" to them but now that I've seen a good showing and preview of what the whole period was like I have a better understanding as to why it's layed out the way it is. It adds to the dark somber tone to the film and the society that was talking place at the time. I mean if we look at the three periods that film noir took place they wern't exactly America's happiest hours, but these films helped to take the current issues and put it into an entertaining form that would help relieve stress from reality. Take Kiss Me Deadly, the radioactive bomb at the end is plausible to the second world war that was going on while this movie was made. I think it makes this period of film making that much better to include real events and adding twists to them.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Screwball Vs Romanticism

As you all know we just finished the unit on romantic comedies and screwball comedies. We watched one example of each and saw clear differences between the two of them. For one, as we watched His Girl Friday, we saw how the emphasis was more on the comedy of the movie rather than the romantic plot. With Hildy Johnson and Walter Burns (Cary Grant) we saw how the director Howard Hawks spoofed the romantic process because the male character suffers from humiliation. I think the aspects of screwball comedy can be more comedic than those of a romantic comedy, say that of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. In the movie His Girl Friday, the plot starts to speed up towards the end when the case is solved and Hildy decides and it is shown that Hildy's character is not ready to leave the business of journalism because it gives her such a thrill to do so. For example, when her fiance Bruce comes to visit her at the press room, after he gets out of jail she barely pays attention to him and is completely focused on the task that Walter asked her to do.
In the romantic comedy, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, the main characters Clementine (Kate Winslet) and Joel(Jim Carrey) use reality as a way to show comedy through their relationship. Both of these characters as well as Mary, Patrick, and even the Doctor that creates all these terrible emotions are at threat for pain. I think Mark Ruffalo's character is definitly a great example as a romantic comedy characters because he defitly more funny than flaky in the way he was when he was performing the erasing of Joel's memory. I think I like romantic comedies a lot more because even though they have the same predictable ending it still gets me every time. I'm a sap for girly movies that have the cute guy to gaze at for two hours while they dish out cheesy lines.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


Clint Eastwood the director and star of the classic Western "Unforgiven" does a great job as showing the true underlying aspects of the heroic cowboy. Clint Eastwood, as William Munny is a older widow and father of two kids who is trying to live a respectable life as a hog farmer until the Scofield Kid comes alont asking for help on murdering two guy who cut up a women. At first hesistant, William declines but then realizes he needs the money and chases the Kid with his partner Ned Logad (Morgan Freeman) to go ahead with the task at hand. I think one scene that really stuck out to me was right after William shot the first cowboy because you could see the sadness and fear in his eyes. William had left his past behind him many years ago because of his wife.
In class we talked about how he only did this for money and how it wasn't a big deal to him, but thinking about this scene and how it affected him so greatly shows that he really did not want to return to his past and that after the shot that killed the first cowboy he returned back to his old habits. I think this relates to the current world becuase many people try to escape their past but it seems to catch up with them no mattar what the reason is. Take alcoholism for example, someone can be an alcoholic and no have a drink for years but the moment they take the first sip, well they are back to their old habits as William Munny did. And in both cases the person is not necessarily proud of what they have done or returned to.
This movie to me was great because it reminded me of "Walk the Line". The great Johnny Cash tries to escape drugs and alcoholism after become a legend of a rock star but just can't seem to do it. He falls for June Carter and tells himself that he is going to give up drugs for her and she even tries to help him but it's not until a violent push that he actually follows through. Although these two movies aren't exactly parallels of one another they seem to be somewhat related to one another.Another movie that comes to mind when talking about bad habits returning is "Good Will Hunting", when Will Hunting just starts to make progress about his life that hit rock bottom he takes a turn for the worst. Will pushes away anyone and everyone who is close to him by using a sarcastic and violent tone to his words. I think Will Hunting relates to William Munny because they are both characters that want to seem independant but as the viewer we know they desperatly need help.
"Unforgiven" has inspired me to watch other westerns esepcailly those directed or staring Clint Eastwood to see what sort of similarities and differences I can find. Is he a shy family man in all of them? Does he kill for money or to relive his youth? I hope to find these answers in films such as "The good, The bad, And The Ugly" or "Pale Rider". Clint Eastwood has a very unique way of directing and acting that I would love to continue to observe.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

GoodFellas (1990)

This great mob movie takes a close look at music and incredible award winning acting. This is the story of Henry Hill (Ray Liotta) who grows up to become a well known gangster under the direction of Jimmy Conway (Robert DeNiro). It started when Henry was just a long boy and his thrill for the job contunued on until he was arrested and later underwent the witness protection program.There partner Tommy DeVito (Joe Pesci) is a regular comedian with the crew and is a all around hard worker until he tries to become part of this Italien gang and get's "wacked". Getting wacked seems to be the biggest problem these boys have to worry about, as well as keeping their families in good health. One aspect that really stuck out in this film was sound. To me it was really intersting to have a narrator (Ray Liotta) throughout the entire movie and to also have a soundtrack playing. I thought allthe sounds did a really great job at fitting in with the plot and the time period in which this movie took place. It has songs with artists such as Cream, The Rolling Stones, Aretha Franklin and The Who. As you can see there is a wide variety of what was being played througout the entire 145 minutes. I think the composer or person who picked the music for this film tried to fit songs of fear or intimidation during the "wacking" scenes or scenes with the gangsters together but the songs that were used for the less violent scenes that included family or other leisure activities using calmer melodies. Next the acting is noteworthy. First I would like to recognize the performance by Robert DeNiro who plays the main leader Jimmy Conway who gives a very cold performance to those he is looking to steal from or whack. When it comes to his family though he is a just as nice as can be and very generous with compensation. Robert DeNiro has been an other similar movies such as Casino and 15 minutes where he plays a simliar role. He isn't the sterotypical funnyman or hearthrob but more the tough older brother type that you can rely on. I think he was picked for this role because of his repution with this type of acting and for his looks. He gave us the perfect mob vibe with this charcoal suit and slicked back hair. Another actor worth taking note of is Joe Pesci who got the oscar for best supporting actor as Tommy DeVito. He where very comical to all the characters in this film and carried himself very well until he got whacked trying to get accpeted into a new italien only group. This film did a great job at showing the true story come to big screen. Both the music and acting did justice to what really took place.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Psycho (1960) Alfred Hitchcock

Strange Hobby? Dressing as his mother to kill?

This heart pounding thriller is a classic horror movie. This is the story of Marion and what went wrong after she took $40,000. She goes to the Bates Motel, where she meets Norman, a kind awkward young man...until the unthinkable happens. She goes missing and her sister, lover, and Sheriff go off in search of her. This is where the story deepens. The well-structured yet mostly unbelievable plot kept me on my toes throughout the entire two hours. The dialogue had a really realistic feel to it, even though moments tended to be a little to poetic. I thought that when Norman was getting questioned by all the people that questioned him it was very realistic to both the situation and his personality that he started to stutter and even sweat a little. It was just really believable. I thought Norman Bates was even a little amusing with his hobby of stuffing animals and WAY over talking. It helped make the plot beliveable. Eventhough the all around story was unbelievable certain aspects of this film were plausible. I thought Anthony Perkins, did a great job as portraying the character of Norman Bates, and at time he had me fooled that he was really him. The ever popular and celebrity scene of the stabbing in the bathroom made Janet Leigh's character as Marion shine. It really did justice to what was happening to her. The expressions she showed on her face made me feel her pain...not litterally though. I like the dark somber lighting that was used whenever we saw the house. It helped to emphasize the fact that the house was haunted and filled with horror. It was also interesting to me that the only real source of light during any scenes at the Bates Motel was the sign that lit up to welcome people. I liked how most of the sets were simplistic and it was really the acting and ambiance that did most of the work. As far as cinematography, this was done so well that it in my opinion was Oscar worthy. I liked how there was a close up on Marion's hand right after the infamous shower scene. Although at first at may appear to have no really significant importance it does. It shows that the "conflict" or what we thought was the only conflict was resolved because it "died" off. But once this scene takes place it's like another reason to wake up and see what happens next. I also like how the camera flashed between the knife stabbing and the facial reactions during this scene. Another scene I really enjoyed from a cinematic eye was the one where Marion recieves the $40,000 and the rich man who gives it to her is flirting with her. It then zooms in on her face and how she thinks he is just rediculous flashing around all this money. I think the whole reason why this movie is still considered one of the most famous horror movies of all times is because of the cinematic aspects. Another cinematic aspect is that almost all of the shots were very long. It's not like today's movies where you just cut from one shot to another after 30 seconds or so. These shots were all very long and strung out so that you could feel the suspense running through yours bones. I learned that the music of Marion getting stabbed origonated from this film and is now a popular horror theme soudtrack. I enjoyed this film as a whole due to the acting, cinematic aspects, and great story line.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Art of Film

Okay well you told us to write something random for about a pragraph or two so that is exactly what i am doing. I really enjoy movies. This weekend I rented Saving Private Ryan but I didn't actually get a chance to watch it because of Pops rehearsals. They are taking over my life. Alright well i hope this post is long enough for my first one. Next post I will have the Critique the Critic one up.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

"Charlie Wilson War"

Just another movie on politics and war?
Saving Private Ryan, Born on the 4th of July, Pearl Harbor, they are all great war movies and continue to impress an audiance time and time again. This movie however is different according to the critic of Time who enjoyed this movie because it talked about the Iraq-Afghanistan catastrophe. This review inspires me to want to watch it because I know it won't be just politics or just war scenes but that it's contents go into much more depth than other war movies.
"The result, Charlie Wilson's War, is that seemingly impossible object these days: a picture about war and politics that has manages to be both rational and inspirational."
Don't get me wrong I love the "dumb" comedies such as Blades of Glory or the ever popular Rushmore but it's nice to have a change of pace in movies such as Charlie Wilson's War where you get the witty comedy as well as the pull my finger jokes. It seems that you get a new point of view from someone other than the sterotypical hero in this film. Charlie Wilson is not your average politician as he is a democrat from Texas who makes deals in his hot tub with naked prostitues.

"Good-time Charlie Wilson makes deals in hot tubs surrounded by naked
prostitutes. The age, pulchritude and dress code of the all-girl staff in his
Washington office show that he believes more in cleavage than in cloture. "

The vivid characters described in the critic makes me want to join the political issue from the 1960's so I can be a part of this great history. I like how it seems to show the side of Charlie Wilson that the audiance probobly wouldn't expect. It's nice to see the truth of politics. So often, we see the sugar coated version of a politicians life until we scavage to deep where we find out the things we didn't really want or care to know. It's nice to have Academy Award Nominated actors and actresses in it this film as well. This way you know the acting will be up to par and it won't be dumbed down or too overdone. This movie really seems to be something I would take interest in seeing. I typically don't love war movies only because they are so repetitive in nature but this one seems to differ. I am eager to see it and excited to see if the critic's critique is one that I agree with.