Latest Entries »

Chicago 10

Throughout Chicago 10, multiple themes can be determined as the most prevalent. However, the constant conflict between non-violence and violent militancy runs rampant and plays a major role in the events that occurred and the premise of the film. The constant struggle between the non-violent Yippies and the government officials seems to continuously fan the flames of protest. While the police continuously attempt to repress the Yippie movement, the Yippies always power through without employing the same violent means that are being used against them. The Yippies embodied the idea of peaceful protest and never allowed themselves to be pushed around while at the same time did not push back.

Director Brett Morgan employed various techniques in order to create his documentary unique to others. By constantly focusing the story around the peaceful protest of the Yippies, Morgan allowed for an accurate portrayal of the brutality and force that they faced. By intertwining the film with animated portions of the trial, Morgan created a documentary that not only portrayed the severe brutality against the Yippies and their movement, but also allowed for the viewers to witness how silly the Yippies found their situation. The animated portions displayed the thoughts of the Yippies on their trial and the opposition that they were facing.

The animation used by Brett Morgan in Chicago 10 was appropriate because it engaged the audience to see the Yippies’ point of view and their opinions on the situation that they faced. The Yippies viewed their entire situation as silly because of how much opposition they were met with. Although they faced so much opposition from the government, they felt as though because they were utilizing peaceful protest and were not causing trouble that everyone opposing them simply didn’t understand. The Yippies embraced individuality and the fact that everyone has a right to their own opinion which is why they found the situation they faced ridiculous, because they were not doing any harm to anyone else but they were still being treated as criminals.

Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story focused on the star’s downfall while she struggled with anorexia. Her initial encounter with this condition is spurred by a critic calling her “chubby.” The effect that the critic had on her was so influential that she was faced with the impossible feminine physical ideals, one of the main themes of the movie. Karen’s struggle with this disease is a product of her newfound fame and the criticism that she received which collided into an exuberant amount of stress as she tries to appease what she believes to be the public’s idea of beauty. The film itself attacks these ideals set out by American Society by using Barbie dolls throughout the film to symbolize the physical ideals that are taught at such a young age through consumerism. Consumerism works in tandem with the impossible ideals set up by the public to create a society where women struggle to meet impossible standards of beauty.

Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story is considered an avant garde film because of the unconventional means used to convey its message. By using Barbie Dolls to act out the entire movie, director Todd Haynes openly combats the ideals of traditional film making and doesn’t allow the audience to create a genuine connection to the characters. The use of Barbie dolls gives off a sense of falsity throughout the entire film, making it impossible for the audience to truly connect to the characters or take it seriously in some parts. Todd Haynes took a substantial risk in developing the film this way because the film is meant to outline the obstructed life of Karen Carpenter, but many people don’t connect to the film because of how the dolls are used to reenact each scene.

The Barbie Dolls used in the film are utilized by director Todd Haynes in order to signify the unhealthy and impossible standards of beauty set for women as well as allow the audience to not get enveloped in the story and maintain an outside point of view of the incidents. Society has always promoted an unhealthy standard of beauty for women by means of pushing Barbie Dolls and other beauty products on younger and younger audiences. These efforts have yet to subside even in today’s society as we continually see the influence of this new-found definition of beauty among the next generation. The Barbie Dolls are also meant, in part, to distance the audience from the film. By not allowing the audience to become absorbed into the story, the audience maintains a constant 3rd person perspective which allows them to see the entire story. Todd Haynes took a risk with developing the film this way, but did it in order to strongly convey his messages by completely obscuring the lines of traditional film-making.

Zero Dark Thirty

Zero Dark Thirty is seen as controversial because of its use of torture throughout the film in order to obtain information. Many people believed that the film depicted the idea that torture was successful in retrieving vital information from high-risk targets. The ideas behind the film were not meant to depict torture as being the primary tool of the U.S. government to obtain this vital information, but rather it was meant to show the grim reality of war and the struggles faced by the enlisted every day. People mistook the film for being solely about the elimination of Osama Bin Laden, but it really was made to exhibit the side of the war that people didn’t like talking about and that a majority of the U.S. population didn’t get to see. 

Kathryn Bigelow, director of Zero Dark Thirty, is known as an auteur because of how she accurately portrayed the story of the film.  By focusing the film around the protagonist, Maya, Bigelow allowed for the audience to relate to her character and create a bond between the characters within the film and the audience. As the film progresses and the story continues to follow Maya, the audience becomes entwined in the story and cares for Maya’s character. By using the format of storytelling to portray the events in Afghanistan, Bigelow made it much easier for the audience to relate to the characters and become immersed in the story. If the film had been portrayed by means of a documentary, the audience would see it more as an informative film rather than a story driven film. The fact that Zero Dark Thirty was story driven made it possible for American audiences to be more open to the events that occurred in the Middle East rather than just displaying the information for the audience.

Zero Dark Thirty was made to tell the story behind what happened in the Middle East. The torture scenes, although controversial, were necessary in order to provide a realistic depiction of events which led to the elimination of Osama Bin Laden. The scenes where torture is used were not meant to show how horrible it is, they were made to simply portray the necessity of retrieving the vital information that was being withheld. The scenes themselves were meant to be graphic, but this was used to portray the grim reality of war and the state of affairs in the Middle East. Each scene shown in the film was used to display the necessity for torture, and each character shown was not enjoying what they were doing. If the film was meant to show the horrors of torture, it would have shown each character actively enjoying what they were doing. The fact that each character within the scene hated what they were doing and were not showing any enjoyment showed just how horrid the torture was.

Weekend

The film Weekend is very strange in how it depicts the messages that it sets out to transmit to the audience. One of the strangest instances of this is how the director chose to exhibit death within the film. By using unrealistic violence and death among humans, Godard wanted to show how humanity has evolved to a state of desensitization to violence among humans. Godard decided to contrast this desensitization by including a scene where animals are killed on camera. This scene was made to affect the audience and have them question why they would do this and how they got away with killing animals on screen. Godard wanted to show the audience that humanity is more sympathetic towards animals than to each other. By doing this, Godard exhibited the individualism and separation so highly valued in today’s society and how a common atrocity can bring together a group of people against a common threat. Godard supplied the audience with the perfect scene to create a sense of fraternity among them in order to show just how far humanity has gone in order to have nothing to do with each other.

Godard worked to break the traditional norms of film-making with Weekend. The way at which he goes about portraying the scenes and working with the characters is the complete opposite of what traditional movies are made to be like. The constant, humorous and over the top portrayal of human death throughout the film produces a shadow and sense of sarcasm throughout the film. The irregular and dysfunctional audio throughout the movie almost repels the viewer from becoming immersed in the film. Each element of traditional film-making is completely eradicated in an attempt to produce a film that goes against the status quo.

Godard used the fake violence throughout the film in order to deter the audience from attempting to make a connection with the characters and contrasted this with the actual violence in order to publicize humanity’s desensitization to violence. By using this technique, Godard was able to completely desensitize the audience and make it impossible for them to immerse themselves in a movie that was so obviously fake. Later on in the film, Godard uses actual violence against animals to spark the audience’s attention and create both an emotional response to the film and an even greater rift between the audience and the film-makers. By using this contrast, Godard shook the audience’s ideals and practically obliterated the line at which film-makers are not allowed to cross. By doing this, Godard not only showed how society has little care for one another, but also how society is able to overcome it’s boundaries in order to combat a common threat or complete a common goal.

Far From Heaven

Far From Heaven is a film that encompasses many topics that were viewed as controversial during the 1950’s. The film makes use of a classic, American family to portray the issues that were more readily avoided rather than faced. The plot of the film focuses mostly on the role or idea of heterosexual supremacy within the modern world. Frank Whitaker, the husband of protagonist Cathy, is constantly struggling with his own sexuality. Society in those days was not particularly accepting or understanding of homosexuality, so Frank is faced to suffer in silence as he tries to hide who he really is so as not to affect his position at work or within the community. Cathy also faces a form of love that is not accepted within society, love with a black-man. Although she never cheated on her husband, Cathy found solace in confiding within her friend, Raymond. Rumors begin to run rampant throughout the community as she is scrutinized by everyone else for her friendship with Raymond. An interesting development arises when Frank argues with Cathy because he believes that she is jeopardizing everything that he’s worked for. This argument is ironic in the sense that although Cathy never cheated on Frank, and he has on her, she is still seen as being in the wrong because of who she is associating with. This introduces the theme of male supremacy within the household and community and exemplifies the struggles faced by women in those days.

The different ideologies shown throughout the movie propel the entire dynamic of the film. The setting of the movie allows for modern audiences to compare how these ideologies have changed through time and what might have happened nowadays in a similar situation. The contrast between the setting of the film and modern times is what makes the film interesting. Each different ideology can be directly contrasted to how it exists now which gives the audience the means to analyze each conflict within the film and compare it to what happens nowadays.

Todd Haynes made this film in 2002 to allow for modern audiences to compare and contrast the ideologies between the 1950’s and the modern age. These ideologies never disappeared, they simply changed and evolved over time, which is what Haynes wanted the audience to see. By emphasizing how these ideologies were viewed in the 1950’s, Haynes gave modern audiences a window to the past to compare controversial social issues and understand how these ideologies have changed with the coming times. The comparison put forth by the movie is what made it interesting because of how Haynes pushed the audience to think and analyze the current social ideologies in comparison to what they used to be.

Casablanca

Casablanca deals with both external and internal conflicts among the myriad of characters that are present. The protagonist, Rick Blaine, faces the difficult task of deciding what and what not to get involved in at this high tension time of war and conflict within Casablanca. Rick starts out the film believing in the importance of watching one’s own back rather than helping others, mostly because of the stress and duress placed on him and the other residents of Casablanca by the Gestapo forces. As the film progresses, Rick realizes the importance of helping others because he sees that they are all united and bound by a common purpose and a common enemy. No matter how he handles each situation, the Gestapo are not going to favor him over the other residents simply because of how they operated during WWII. Once Rick realizes where his allegiances lie, mostly with his love interest, Ilsa Lund, he understands the importance of protecting one another against the impending force that awaits them and the devastation that WWII will soon bring.

Casablanca  is unique in the sense that it makes use of multiple genres throughout the film in order to create a dynamic story and cast. Genres are widely used to characterize the type of movie, however, multiple movies can be said to fall under multiple genres. Casablanca can fall into multiple genres because of how the director has put each scene to work for him. Particularly near the beginning of the film, multiple scenes add a new element to the film and modifies the film’s overall genre for the time being. This style of film is not usually scene because of how the audience can see it.  Many times, the audience watches a genre-based movie in order to experience what they would expect from the genre, i.e. people watch comedies because they want to laugh. It’s very difficult to create a film with a dynamic genre because it can confuse the audience and leave some people unsatisfied.

Genre is put in place so that the viewers can determine what to watch based on their personal preferences. People have certain preferences when it comes to movies. Not everyone enjoys the same thing, which is why most films nowadays have set genres and are not hybrids like Casablanca. The film industry is a business more than anything, meaning that it is a consumer driven economy. People pay to see movies that they want to see, so there needs to be a system  in which the viewers can decide on what they want to watch based on their interests and preferences. Genres make this possible by allowing the viewer to gauge how entertaining they will find a movie before paying to see it or buy it.

Apocalypse Now

Apocalypse Now uses multiple aspects of film-making to draw in the audience and allow them to experience the grim reality that was the Vietnam War. The film itself emphasized the the cruelties of war and the true horror that could be found in what each side was doing to the other. Through the eyes of the protagonist, the audience was able to see the multiple types of people that could be found in a major conflict. The film was not made to glorify the actions of the United States government, it was made to convey the atrocities that occurred during that war to the audience and allow them to make up their own mind about the subject. One of the most functional and widely used aspects of the film to put across this message was the sound design. 

The sound design of Apocalypse Now is unique in the fact that the sound design plays a pivotal role throughout the film. From the song being played by the choppers to the screams of the people in the background, Apocalypse Now makes full use of the sound to accurately portray the Vietnam War. The multiple sounds used in the film all serve a special purpose to further the story and the immersion of the audience with the events that occurred in the war. The heavy emphasis on the sound design in the film pushes for a more immersing experience for the audience and allows for a highly detailed accounting of events solely based on what can be heard in the background.

So many post war stress disorders exist because war has the power to change people, to permanently afflict them with a mark that many people have a hard time getting rid of. According to Apocalypse Now, war has the power to fracture the human condition in to two distinguishable pieces, the “vicious animal” and the “rational angel.” The idea is that war is such an extreme and can affect people so strongly that it has the ability to bring out the best and worst of people. There are times of lightheartedness within the movie in which the “angel” can be seen in Captain Willard and then, nearer to the end of the film, the “animal” can be seen receding from the depths of Willard’s fractured mind. The movie itself is saying that humans can achieve a form of harmony between the two sides of nature, but war is such a powerful event that it has the ability to sever that connection and fracture the mind into separate pieces. This can be seen in both Kurtz and Willard as each of their characters slowly deteriorate and the “beast” begins to come out and show itself. 

Psycho

Norman Bates in Psycho was one of the first opportunities for society to view a psychopath, and in this case, a killer. Norman’s state of mind was developed throughout his childhood which created deep, scarring issues that led Norman’s state of mind to deteriorate and essentially fracture over time. The use of the word “fracture” can be applied specifically to Norman’s case as his own mind was essentially split in two parts, one of his own and the other fulfilling the role of his mother. Norman was a product of immense psychological and emotional abuse and distress which led him to such an extreme as recreating his mother and allowing her to live through him. Nowadays, the word “psychopath” is not taken in the same light as it used to be. Many horror movies nowadays contain a singular “psychotic” killer who rampages through a group of teenagers with no sense of purpose or morality. Norman Bates is different in the sense that he suffered immense trauma which led him to commit his actions whereas many movie killers nowadays just pick up a weapon and go to work without any sense of direction or cause. The horror films now rely more on the scares and the effects and leave out the essential parts of what made the killer a killer in the firs place. Without this sense of reason or cause, many killers nowadays lack the depth and haunting imagery that Norman Bates had. The final shot where Norman is looking into the camera has become very iconic unlike how many “psychos” can be interchangeable due to their lack of character and humanity.

Throughout the film, editing plays a major factor in creating and upholding the tone of the movie. In certain scenes, the editing allows the viewer to experience the rising tension and the darkening of the scene. The film uses multiple aspects of editing in order to efficiently set the mood and tone for the audience. An example of this is the famous shower scene in which the quick cuts allow for the viewer to experience the true ferocity of Norman Bates. The editors used many different camera shots in order to successfully add substance to certain scenes. The parlor scene allows for the viewer to experience the slowing of the tempo as the mood intensifies and becomes darker and more sinister.

Although Psycho is considered one of the original slasher movies, it is not as scary as some other movies, such as The Shining. Slasher films are not made to intrigue the viewer or provide the viewer with an in depth story, but rather just entertain the viewer. The Shining allowed the viewer to examine every detail and draw their own conclusions while still displaying the effects that isolation can have on people. Although a good movie, Psycho is not meant to make the viewer consider the possibility of the situation actually transpiring. It’s very hard to relate to a movie like Psycho because not many people have actually encountered a life or death situation, perhaps that would make the film and situation a little more personal that it was. The Shining intrigues and scares the viewer because everyone has felt that tinge of fear whenever they’re alone, it’s impossible to avoid. The Shining provided a situation that more people could relate to, the madness induced by severe loneliness and isolation, whereas Psycho was not as easy to relate to and was therefore not as scary.

Citizen Kane

Citizen Kane is a film that contains many controversial themes and plot points. One of the foremost of these themes is the absolute power of the media and how sometimes certain mediums misuse this power. This theme is highly relevant and seen throughout the film itself where Kane uses his newspaper companies to influence the public to following his more personal, rather than professional, beliefs. Although a severe case of the misuse of power, Kane allows his personal life and ideas to interfere with his professional duty to bring the truth to the public. The time period that the movie takes place in allows for this sort of occurrence because of the fact that there aren’t any other major sources of news available. Nowadays the public can receive news from multiple sources and distinguish what really happened by exploring the multiple viewpoints that are provided to them. However, back in the days where Citizen Kane takes place, the public had no other resources for the news except for the local papers. The issue being that Kane bought out all other papers in the area so that he could transmit news to the public as he saw fit, even if it wasn’t actual news or the truth. Kane abused his influence and his power to swing the American people and provide them with false viewpoints and ideas. Although this film presents a radical situation, the theme still stands that it displays the power that the media can hold over the public and how easy it is to provide the people with ideas that may not be entirely true.

Cinematography is one of the key elements that makes Citizen Kane such a fascinating and well made film. Throughout the entire movie, the viewer is immersed through the use of the different camera shots and angles that allow the audience to sit within the room as Thompson is interviewing one of Kane’s peers. The lighting within the shots also creates the dramatic tension that can be seen in various scenes such as when Kane is attending his second wife’s play; the lighting allows for Kane to become the focus of the shot and for his facial features and expression to become more defined and clear. The lighting provided the audience with an easy way to immerse themselves in the place of Thompson, slowly working to find the truth, while the focus was on the people being interviewed. The cinematography itself is phenomenal in the sense that it creates such a vivid scene where it uses the light almost as a substitute for the missing color within the film. The camerawork is utilized in such a way to make full use of the setting and every single detail within that setting.

Citizen Kane brings to light the darker side of the American dream because in reality, Kane did not initially work for the money he received and therefore never fully comprehended its importance or value. Kane was given a very fruitful childhood after he was adopted. Kane never needed to work to get his money, and he only actually worked at the Inquirer because he enjoyed it and wanted to use it as a medium to convey his own ideas and practices. In a sense, Kane did not actually experience the American Dream because he did not work to get to where he was and to the vast wealth that he had acquired. Even in the beginning, Kane says that the newspaper is going to keep losing money, and at a rate of 1 million dollars a year, he would need to go out of business in 60 years. When Kane says this, the viewer can understand that Kane is not interested in working for the money, but rather just to accomplish his own personal goals through the Inquirer. Kane’s American Dream became the use of a public medium to display his own ideas and help him rise to fame. In the general understanding of the American Dream that equates hard work and dedication to a fruitful future, Kane never did either of those and therefor obscured the American Dream and in turn created the dark side of this dream seen throughout the film.

The Shining

The supernatural is comprehended by many people differently. Society consists of skeptics, believers, and witnesses and each act and react differently to stimuli and each would have their own take on The Shining. The supernatural plays a pivotal role in the film as it can be seen as a cast of characters in itself. The multiple cameos of different apparitions and past visitors allows for the viewer to see the experiences someone can have when severe isolation catalyzes their imagination. Although, the film itself leaves many questions unanswered and allows for the viewers to debate whether or not what was happening was a result of the supernatural or simply the effects of the family’s extended isolation. As hinted at throughout the film, Jack had been there before, or perhaps he never left? It’s difficult to say whether or not the things he experienced, which eventually drove him mad, were apparitions or his own memories adding to his continuous delusions in his descent into madness. However, the role of the supernatural becomes cloaked in mystery when Danny and his, perhaps not so, imaginary friend, Tony, begin to work their way into the storyline through a string of events that would horrify and terrorize an adult, let alone a child. Tony’s role in the film is to provide foreshadowing and mystery to the plot. When Tony originally tells Danny and Wendy that he does not want to go to the hotel, this can be seen as foreshadowing of the events to come as well as a possible link between Danny and the supernatural powers he could potentially possess. Many people can provide an infinite amount of explanations and analyses to this movie, but that is why this movie is seen as such an interesting film, because it allows the audience to question the movie and their own beliefs in the supernatural.

The Shining uses its setting almost as though it were a character itself. The hotel that houses the family has a different effect on each person. The mise-en-scene used in the production of this movie was done in such a way that every aspect of the film played a part in the story itself. The dynamic lighting used throughout certain scenes allowed for the setting to seem different room-to-room and allowed the audience to easily get a sense of the tone of the film at certain parts. The camera was also a major part in the movie where the shots produced made it seem as though the audience themselves were experiencing what the characters were within the Overlook Hotel. The different aspects of mise-en-scene utilized in the movie allowed for an ever-changing sense of realism while also providing the audience with a constant sense of isolation and fear of what was going to happen next.

The Shining was not made to simply scare the viewer, but rather allow the viewer to immerse themselves in the situation through the use of the dynamic camera work and mise-en-scene. Throughout the entire movie, the camera and its position in the scene are essential to what is going on. The viewer becomes immersed in the setting by means of viewing the camera as it follows Danny through the hallways, or behind Wendy as she is backing away from Jack. The camera is the medium through which the audience can experience the isolation and the supernatural occurrences within the Overlook Hotel. The lighting also poses a very important role throughout the film. In different scenes the light plays with the setting and draws the viewers eye to certain areas of the setting or characters. Each detail found within The Shining, each tiny prop plays a part in understanding the true concept behind the film. Although many people interpret the film differently and have found various possible meanings hidden within the film, it’s impossible to differentiate the real meanings from the true. This film has withstood the test of time because of the dynamic elements it puts to use and the various interpretations allowed by the audience.