Tuesday, 23 April 2013

The Room

'The Room' (Wiseau, 2003) is a widely known film within the industry yet for the wrong reasons. It is named one of the worst films for it's narrative, acting, continuity and overall sub-plots. This could be down to the film being an independent with Tommy Wiseau producing, writing, directing and staring in the film.

This film made me realise that the films we watch and enjoy, are the ones we take for granted with us not concentrating on every shot and narrative involved because they are so fluent and natural with the continuity. When actually the film-makers have to plan out each shot and character's back story and characteristics, portraying relatable human reactions and situations. They also carry out the subplots and have a meaning to everything shown on screen. This is something that this film 'The Room' widely lacks.

The Room has many subplots which enter and exit the film narrative within minutes, such as this scene where a gunman is attacking Denny, Johnny's adopted boy, for a drug related reason. The narrative never follows this situation up.

The whole film is written to make Johnny seem like the most caring guy ever, with his daily romance to his 'future wife', taking in a innocent boy, all his friends and work colleagues admiring him, a successful banker and with everyone taking advantage of him to make us feel sorry for him. When Wiseau was writing this film, the subplots involved may have been more suitable for a serial or series for the Television, as Wiseau seemed to want to explore a range of ideas and story lines which can't be portrayed well with conclusions in a hour an a half long film.

Other examples of unplanned subplots include why Johnny has taken on Denny and the mentality of Denny as he is sleeping with girls yet doesn't understand what Johnny and Lisa's intentions are when he joins them in a steamy pillow fight on their bed.

The long sex scenes are very cringe worthy to watch also as they are long cuts consisting of a long scene, always with a rose involved for some reason.

Lastly, when the Johnny's best friend and Lisa have been on the phone to one another, he suddenly pulls out a voice recorder tape which we as an audience never see until this moment, not really following Johnny's story as we are continuously disconnected from his actions and emotions and I felt more attached to the 'future wife' character.

Friday, 19 April 2013

World cinema - dogtooth

In the world cinema screening, we watched Nine Queens which is a film of the 'New Argentine cinema'. When reading the weeks reading on the film, i came across this quote:

''If anything can be said to characterize the heterogeneous corpus of films and aesthetic projects that constitute the so-called ‘new Argentine cinema’  it is that they all stage narratives of disintegration (communitarian, political, social, economic, cultural, familial and personal)'' - Gabriela Copertari, 2006.

This explains that world cinema tries to portray their country's realistic history and the change of the society today, which different audiences from different backgrounds and countries may interrupt in different ways. However, this still gives the countries to express their views and opinions on the country they live in, rather than leaving it to Hollywood to stereotype them.

Dogtooth is a Greek film, produced in 2009 and is also known as Kynodontas in Greek translation. I particular enjoyed this foreign language film as even to the Greek audience, the language is foreign, with the children being brainwashed and taught different meanings to different objects and situations within their world, by their mother and father. Therefore, the foreign film does not reflect Greek society yet allows a very different strange viewpoint to be expressed from Greek cinema, to the world. Yet this film still portrays very different messages to audiences across the world. For example, some audiences believe the film shows a metaphoric message of today's society with children believing and abiding by rules of the elder generation and their parents. This doesn't defeat that fact that this film is within it's own narrative genre, with nothing like it in the cinemas.

The mother and father tell their daughters and son that the bush in the garden is their brother and that cats are the animal to fear from, with the son chasing the cat with garden clippers. The young girls also believe that if they give someone a gift then they should give a gift back. however, this leads to some slight incest with them licking one another's 'Keyboards', which they have been told is the definition of their body parts. Much of this weirdness goes on within the film but although the audience including myself finds this film a hard watch, completely crazy, he film does reflect the what if factor. The what if in the sense that our society brings us up and we learn from others who tell us what is right and wrong and the definitions of elements within our world but we just go with what we are old. To these children in his film world, they know no different and believe everything they are being taught is how everyone lives.

Copertari.G. (2006) Nine Queens: A dark day of simulation and Justice. Routledge, London. 20 August.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Western - Django unchained

Django unchained is properly the most modern form of the western genre yet has a lot of the traits of a classic Western taking elements such as the fast zoom in shots which particularly interest me as watching this 2012 film, these elements of the cinematography stand out as its something that we no longer see within films.

Other features of the film that targets it as a western includes the use of sound, with the gun shots and non-diegetic stereotypical western soundtracks. Along with the symbolic sound representing a western, I also noticed that most westerns are set in a distant past period, with Django Unchained picking up on the cowboy hats and guns, along with the history of black slavery with the movie being set in 1858.

Leonardo Dicaprio plays the bad guy, Calvin Candie, in which in preparing for this role, Jamie Foxx quoted on The Ellen DeGeneres show that Dicaprio would ignore Foxx when on set to get into his nasty racist character.

I think that Quentin Tarantino was the perfect director to bring back the Westerns into modern day cinema, as he thinks through every shot with clarity and metaphoric meanings. For example, he makes blood look beautiful in his cinematography such as when the man in the fields is shot and the white roses get splattered in bring red blood, portraying a clean setting turning bad within a few seconds. He has also done this in Kill Bill with the blood spraying from the chopped off head like a water fountain.

This shows that Tarantino has experience from the blood and clever fight scenes needed for a good western. This picture shows the sized room used for the complex shooting scene which is similar to he highly complex fight scene in Kill Bill.

Monday, 25 March 2013

Quality TV


Quality TV is interpreted in different ways. It can be to do with the high quality of cinematography or defined on the story lines. HBO productions are often seen as quality TV with programmes such as 'Mad Men', 'Games of Thrones' and 'Six Feet Under'. These programmes show off cinematic level cinematography, with the colour, camera quality and budgets spent on them. They all run for many seasons.

'Breaking Bad'

Walt and Jesse - 'Breaking Bad'
'Breaking Bad' is a programme I would class as Quality TV, with the cinematography well thought through including the time-lapse sequences used. Also the show has run for many seasons without 'jumping the shark', with the narrative based on a taboo breaking subject matter, the Meth industry. This is something people rarely ever know off, who makes and deals the drugs. The fact that our main character Walt lives a double life as a family man and science teacher, then becoming a drug producer on the side, while suffering from cancer. Just by me explaining one character of the show, you see how complex and well thought through scenario based the show is. The writer allows us to see the situation from a different view that we would usually jump on, which is another factor of a quality TV show. We find ourselves rooting for Walt and Jesse more than Hank, Walt's brother in-law, a DCA officer who is trying to catch the drug dealers.


However, sometimes series can 'over jump the shark', meaning that they may have gone past their 'quality' time zone which then brigs me on to the quality of narratives. This shows that the story lines may be more important to the quality TV definition than the look and style, with the the audience tuning in every week to see what happens with the characters and plot.

''First of all, it is serialed. It does not simply break down each segment into a standard number of separate story lines, but rather than to juxtapose, interweave and orchestrate the plot threads together in a quasi-musical fashion'' Feuer.J. P.149

My definition of quality TV is LOST as they concentrate on the characters life stories and really get the audience into the situations that occur with us knowing so much about their past, why they are there, what they want ect. We emotionally become attached. Many people believe LOST 'over jumped the shark' after the third season with the further seasons taking the characters into mad situations, with the island changing time zones ect. However, these people who say this usually haven't stuck with the seasons every week. I think the people who see the series as quality have stuck with the show and allowed themselves to get into it.

Feuer.J (2007) HBO and Quality TV. P.149

Sunday, 24 March 2013


Nicole Kidman in 'Birth'
This week we watched 'Birth' which had Nicole Kidman in, playing the main character. We watched this to look into 'stars' within the film industry and how they effect the film's success and audience as well as the interpretation of the characters they are playing. For example, in this weeks reading, 'Nicole Kidman' (2008), Thompson quotes;

Julia Roberts 'Pretty Woman'
'In Pretty Woman in 1990 - Julia Roberts was ravishing. This was accentuated by the overwhelming smile she possessed. She was teased about it, and at times lost her confidence. In certain films that catered for it, it was easy to see a sticken creature. By the time of 'Closer' there was a more naked emotional vulnerability that made her seem significantly older than Kidman in 'Birth'.' P.224

Julia Roberts in 'Closer'
Nicole Kidman - Stardom
Here he describes how Julia Roberts personal insecurities, exposed to the public eye through the media, has made her acting in 'closer' more real and emotionally connecting to the audience than what Nicole Kidman's acting in 'birth' has done, because of what we the audience know about Julia's life. However, from Nicole's stardom, the audience know she has long hair and in the film she has a very short shabby haircut, possibly showing us her character may of lost her way because we know that this haircut has therefore been done intentionally because of what we know of her background as a real person.

'With loss or experience, the face grows towards its own deepest character, and becomes less pretty but more interesting.' P.224

Will Smith

Will & Jaden in 'The Pursuit of Happyness'.
Another example of stardom is Will Smith, with the fans he has built up from his celebrity status also now watching his films and films of those his wife and kids star in. An audience could go to watch a film such as 'The pursuit of Happyness' just to see the connection that Will Smith and his son Jaden Smith have together and this could therefore boost ratings and range of audience. This film allows Will Smith to do some of his best acting, with his onscreen relationship with his son being emotionally real as it was his off-screen son also. This therefore makes the audience more emotionally attached. Will Smith plays 'the good,friendly guy' in all of his films which we as an audience believe in his acting as we know he is a nice guy in reality as well, with presenters such as Lorraine Kelly, has spoke on him being one of the nicest stars she has interviewed. Many other people within the industry have also expressed this. A star will create a bigger audience and great believable characters in his films, by portraying a character that is close to who they portray themselves as in the public eye.

Will and Jaden Smith
Will Smith with Lorraine Kelly

Will Smith's Celebrity family

Thompson.D (2008) Nicole Kidman. P.217, P.224

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Touch of evil and authorship

Orson Welles' 'Touch of evil' is made with his artistic authorship, as well as seeing his history background of radio plays and stage writing, through the long eventful shots and largely narrated storyline through the characters lines.
Authorship is something directors, producers and writers like to define, as a personal mark on their productions. Something an audience member could maybe guess at the director of the film they were watching, if they saw similar techniques occur in previous films they had seen, directed by the same director. Authorship shapes the film.

''they are auteur's who often write their dialogue and some of them themselves invent the stories they direct. '' - Truffaut.F (1954, P.8)

Orson Welles' 'Touch of Evil' puts this quote into practise, putting his authorship within it, such as the black and white film, that he used on most his films and the artistic shots he experimented with. He uses many mirrors in a shot to put his mark on the shots and also creates a deceiving/ unsure atmosphere within the scene and towards the audience. Such as in 'Lady from Shanghai', this shot shows a couple in a mirror maze, when another man approaches and a gun is shot, yet the mirrors create an illusion to who has been shot and the argument is more tense and intriguing to watch as it confuses the audience. Whereas in 'Citizen Kane', the mirror use in this next shot is used metaphorically, portraying the mans power, giving us an overwhelming amount of the man's reflections.
Lady from Shanghai
Citizen Kane
The scene that most critics recognise from 'Touch of Evil' is the very first, as it's over 3 minutes and in just one shot. I think this shows off Welles' experience and skills from his stage writing days as scenes for the stage are potentially all one long shot, just seeing the whole scene from our eyes position of the stage. He is a very experimental and artistic author, always concentrating on each visual shown, with his dark shadows and low camera angles.

first shot from 'Touch of Evil'
 Truffaut,F. (1954) 'A certain tendency of the French cinema' P.8

Wednesday, 27 February 2013


'Aileen: the selling of a serial killer'
Aileen: The selling of a serial Killer was the documentary film we concentrated on within the lecture. The 1993 documentary is directed by Nick Broomfield and takes a very participatory mode of documentary, with Nick being extremely involved in his own documentary, it becomes almost about him and his relationship with Aileen. Other Participatory directors include Michael Moore with 'Bowling for Columbine' and 'Supersize me', where he personally goes out to investigate and the documentary effects his life personally.
''What happens because of the filmmakers presence becomes crucial as anything that happens despite his presence.'' - Bill Nichols (2001, P.101)

'the life and death of a serial killer'
Nick Broomfield asks 'stupid questions' to his interviewees to open up a bigger story and how and why they have/had a relationship with Aileen. In the second follow-up film of Aileen 'The life and death of a serial killer' (2003), we even see Nick being interviewed in court as part of her case. What i find fascinating about the first documentary on Aileen is how the documentary gives the viewer an argument on weather to agree and believe Aileen or not to. we are not told what to think and can change our views on what we've heard about her from the media. Once i watched this, part of me felt sorry for her as we followed her and her self defence stories were believable. Also i felt this sorrow as people were knowing her just for media attention and money. For example, she went on to Nick about the police making deals with movie companies and the media making accusations about her. Worse however, was the couple that adopted her as their daughter after she went into prison and who were making money from media, asking Nick for quite a large sum for an interview.
Nick with Aileen's 'adopted mum'
Nick and Aileen
By the end of the second documentary, we see Nick shouting his apologies at Aileen after she walks off unhappy with Nicks questions. You can see how generally upset he is at thinking he has hurt her feelings, showing just how much of himself he has put into Aileen and her story.
Monster - the film made on Aileen's life
Other modes of Documentary!
Poetic - I find the poetic mode to portray a message more visually and metaphorically. For example, show London as a busy place i might show a time lapse of traffic, quick cuts, tubes racing by, a clock ticking away ect. It's a challenging and creative mode.
Expository - This mode is to educate and inform which we see a lot of on our TV's. Such as BBC2's 'The battle of Malta', which simply gives the audience an insight into the history of Malta and their help within the war, along with interviews of those who were there in this time period.
Observational - This mode usually is a fly on the wall type of documentary, where we simply follow a person or subject around. This is my favourite mode of documentary with examples such as 'The Family' and all David Attenborough programmes such as 'Africa' and 'Life'. I enjoy the insight into other lives and situations we may never experience or even know of without television.
Reflexive - showing the full development process of the film and establishing the crew and cameras such as in 'Catfish' where we begin with a different narrative following the man about and seeing what paintings he is being sent and his love life developing until the crew along with him discover somethings not right and take it up on themselves to go find this family. Another example is at the end of David Attenborough's nature programmes as we see how the crew have managed to film this and what issues they come across ect.
Performative - This mode would count for 'Man on a wire' as we follow his story through his interviews and see archive footage of the events and reenactments.
Nichols,B. (2001) 'Modes of Documentary'. P.101