May 3rd, 2010

CHAPTER  21

Upon reading this chapter what really caught my eye was cultural imperialism yet not in an abusive way but in an artistic way. It was refreshing to read the new found respect that countries were starting to develop with film making. The sole idea that it is an art and art has many forms of expression. That is what makes it art and this seems to be the motto with “free cinema”. The development of “free cinema” seemed to start a trend. It seemed to become popular Britain and spread to Canada and France. In France, a new wave of film making was being produced where their would be images of photo’s or paintings done by famous artists and these images would be manipulated to the director’s preference. It was to get his own point across. This trend also moved to the United states and director, Jean Rouch was the first to use it in Africa. However in Africa the images were not photo’s or paintings, they were real life people displaying their real life traditions and rituals. These types of documentaries were then shipped to the U.S. for citizens to see and become more aware of that culture. It was a form of globalization and peace at the same time. Since massive amounts of imports of foreign movies were provided to the U.S, the U.S. was one of the few countries which accepted different cultures. To this day, no where in the world do you see so many different ethnicity’s living in on suburban town in the U.S. I think this is why the U.S is so accepting of many different cultures.

Cuban Cinema: Tomas Guiterrez Alea

When reading this article I found that Alea’s films were unique and did not compare to any director that I can recall. Yet I found myself constantly thinking about the movie Amores Perros by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu which is framed under three main stories. The story of a brother who falls in love with his brother’s wife. The story of a model whose boyfriend leaves his family and wife to start a new family with her and lastly the story of a man who falls homeless because he has abandoned his daughter. All these stories are very tragic and are done in a frame narrative just like Alea’s film, Memories of  underdevelopment. The main character, Sergio is a liberal who seems to pass his time by writing and observing individuals through a telescope and at the same time he has fantasies of having affairs with varies women.

Alea style is unique and creative. For instance, the representation of women shows that in his fantasies they are innocent, weak creatures and in reality the only woman that the audience gets to see as a reality is strong. He seems to truly believe it and not even realize that he is in a fantasy. The only true relationship he actually has with a woman is through a working girl named Eleni. She is a realist and tries to shake him into reality. He tries to mold her by introducing new cultures and arts. She refuses it. It’s interesting how here Eleni is a strong willed woman who has the strength to say no to a man whereas in Hitchcock’s Vertigo, Judy accepts the role of Madeline through the eyes of Scottie. Alea does not only do this with gender yet does it with political issues as well. For example in one of his movie’s he corresponds funerals and deaths to bureaucy which is quite interesting since many politicians, artists and citizens were protesting the government standings of Castro.

Ousmane Sembene- Interview

I found this interview to be very interesting. It is interesting how he created the cultural imperialism of Africa within other countries. He truly believed in his work because when the French government did not release his work, he sought releases elsewhere. This being the U.S and other countries. He went to these countries not only to gain releases but also to educate people of the African culture and not the imperialistic French culture. He gave discussions in varies universities and did this with knowing the language sparsely. However he got his point across.

It seems like many of the films made in Africa were under the strict French rule. They seem to represent a neocolonialist approach yet instead of it helping the African People it actually did not. They were still illerate, jobless and in rural areas. Ousmane did not approve of this. He made these movies for the people because this way they could see their social life and know what was taking place. He was a novelist yet really got through to people through his films. Since these people could not read, the next best thing is to show. Ousmene mentioned in the interview something to the effect that, yes, maybe they can not read but they can see and this can not be taken away from them. I found this to be very powerful because I then wondered if they can not read then how did he create dialogue within a script. Well it turns out that he didn’t and instead explained and displayed what these actors and actresses had to do. This is very interesting to me because in other countries such as Italy, directors hire amateur actors all the time in the time of neorealism yet these actors have some sort of educational background just like the character of Gino did in Obsessione.  He was an engineering student before he got discovered.

Overall I really like reading this interview and excited about seeing a screening of his work.

April 13th, 2010

FEMINITY BY DESIGN: VERTIGO

One thing that caught my eye in this article is the use of symbolism. The article explains that in the movie Vertigo. their is one scene where Scottie is discussing about the discomfort of corsets to his fiance, Midge. Immediately this perplexed the audiences because men did not wear corsets and why would a man be wearing a corset? As the audience we know right off the bat that Scottie is not the typical masculine male because he wears a corset.

Another symbolic importance that the article mentions is Carolotta’s necklace. Madeline/Judy put this necklace on just before Scottie takes her to the bridge. The jewelry seems to indicate a loss of masculinity to Scottie and a gain in woman power to Carlotta, Madeline and Judy. The reason being is, according to the reading, Scottie tries to gain his freedom and power as a man throughout the whole movie and believes he could only do so by saving Madeline from her hallucination and depression. He is competing with Carolotta who is a ghostly image for Madeline possession. Carolotta wins when Madeline commits suicide. Scottie gets put into an asylum to recover and one day while walking around in town comes across Judy who he molds into creating a mock image of Madeline. He believes that he is successful and that he is a true man in power. Yet this is taken away from him as soon as he sees the necklace of Carolotta where he is reminded again of his defeat to her. I think the reason why Scottie had such a hard time with being a true masculine male is because he would be classified in this double desire category as the article mentions.

The article describes Freud’s theory of the phallic phase where the female wants to constantly be around the mother yet grows less attached to her mother as she gets older and draws her attention to the father. However she always keeps this materal instinct with her. Therefore a woman can have both a macho and a feminie characteristic. This is exactly the type of personality that Scottie displays in this movie. He is passive when he is with his fiance discussing the corsets and is manly when he tries to obtain his masculine characteristics of “freedom” and “power” by gaining posseion of Madeline. One can also see his feminie side when he seems to copy the actions of Madeline when she was alive where she would go up to individuals on the street and asked them is they were Carlota. He would go about and see if they were Madeline after her death. Scottie was also manipulated by his friend Gavin Elster which he realized. Women were mostly manipulated by men as Judy was by both Scottie (who molded her to become Madeline) and Gavin Elster ( who scammed her into making a plan with him to con Scottie to murder Madeline.)

I was especially fond of the ending of this article where one can see that Hitchcock was on the side of woman and gave the woman the control in his works. He seem to correlate his work to a bedtime story where a mother would tell her son (Hitchcock) a story and at her pause the son would ask what will happen next in the story. It is the mother’s decision to either make up an ending or to follow the plot. It is in the power of the woman just like the woman seemed to be in power in Vertigo.

Hitchcock interview with Francois Truffaut

I found this interview interesting because as sad as it may sound I have never seen a Hitchcock movie. I have heard of his works but never have seen them so I am excited about this Friday’s class because of this. It was very interesting to hear about Hitchcock’s life and how he was a quiet child who had many fears. Which is a little ironic because he celebrates the idea of fear in his films by imputing suspense in them. In fact most of Hitchcock’s films are recognizable because of this suspense as the article describes. He is known for his suspense and the way that he gives importance to eye contact and gesture to create a non speaking dialogue. He does things out of the ordinary. It seems to be hard to create a dialogue without words and he so masterly does this in his films.

Another ironic fact I found out about Hitchcock in this article is his dislike for Kim Novak. She is one of the main characters in the movie and yet he has a dislike for her because she was demanding things which he could not provide for her because he has a specific vision in his mind and needed Kim to follow it and create problem or question it. I could understand his frustration because instead of making things go smoothly within the production it just makes delays it.

The last thing I would like to point out in this article is the idea of how Hitchcock decided to show the audience that Madeline and Judy were the same person from the very beginning of the movie. He had many disputes about this but was standing strong by this scene. He wanted it to be in the beginning because it would not be an ordinary ending where we get the answer to who is Madeline and who is Judy. Instead he plays with our brains where we then ask how will Scottie react to the idea of Madeline and Judy being the same person. This question is far greater than knowing who Madeline and Judy are. His uniqueness is what makes his movies so memorable and I can not wait to see the movie.

Let me know what you guys think of this post.

Thanks 🙂


Douglas Sirk and Chapter readings.

April 6th, 2010

The Invasion of the Body Snatchers meets Douglas Sirk.

I am not big on science fiction movies yet I must admit that I did enjoy watching this movie. After viewing the movie about a week and a half ago I can see many correlations between the movie and the article on Douglas Sirk’s biography. One thing the article discusses is the different techniques that he uses in his films. How he based importance on mise en scenes and the importance of social mores. The article states that Sirk’s importance to mise en scene is more valuable to the film than the characters themselves. The object and issues seem to take over the character rather than the character controlling the object or issue and this is exactly what takes place in The Invasions Of The Body Snatchers.

In this movie the main characters become obsessed with the pods that are basically used to clone the real person. They are obsessed over the pods because it is taking over the world and their lives are no longer “normal”. We see Dr.Bennell going crazy from deprived sleep because if he slept than that would mean that he would be one of them. He would be a clone and not a human. This pod is following him wherever he goes from his office, his house and his trunck which is basically imitating Sirks idea of the object taking over the character.

Chapter readings will be up shortly.

The social mores also seem to take over Dr. Bennell as well. The articles uses references to the movie All That Heaven Allows which Tom Ryan explains is about a woman who is widowed and falls in love with her gardner. This was forbidden according to her community and therefore the community tries to set her up with a suitor. This correlates with the The Invasions Of The Body Snatcher where the entire community is against Dr. Bennell and his girlfriend staying human. It seems like everyone in the community knows about their identity and they all work together to get the doctor and his girlfriend to be a part of them by getting law enforcement involved. The doctor is not abiding by the clone culture of the society. He refused to sleep. Just like the woman in All That Heaven Allows went against society and fell in love with her gardner.

Douglas Sirk Interview

I found this interview to be interesting. One thing that really set in my mind during reading this is his statement about religion. He says religion is “the unknown things of man” which is a very different definition from that of the one in the dictionary. The dictionary defines religion as a set of beliefs made for a group of people. Religion can also help to understand the purpose of the universe. The dictionaries validates  religion being a set of theories made by man but no man knows for sure if those theories are right and this is where Sirk comes in. In many of his works he uses a lot of the “Gods and Gods and religious ideas reflect social activities of the worshipper.” which kind of seems to mean that he to is a follower of believing. Is this right? I someone found the his definition of religion to be confusing because it seems to be an open ended statement. It seems to be almost a philosophical one as well.

I also admired the importance that Sirk puts into the camera reminds me of the importance that Toland put into his camera work as well. Sirk seemed to be very interested in technological innovations and he even tested the newest one which was 3D. Yet the work he tested it was canned before it got to the movie theaters. Executives did not like the idea of 3D in his films.

Overall his irony that he uses in his films seems to be very interesting and some other directors used his irony in their works as well such as in The Invasion of the Body Snacthers as described above. douglas

Chapter reading

Their is alot of interesting material in this chapter but I would like the dwell on the idea of movie tickets decreasing and the reasoning for this. The major production companies along with the minors made many movies and black booked. This black booking seemed to keep independent production companies out yet not for long. After the supreme court forbid black booking, Independent companies had more freedom to work with whomever and wherever they chose. This made the production in the major and minor companies slower. Therefore companies like Paramount made fewer movies yet the movies that they did make they made with a huge budget. So in all independent companies contributed to the decrease in ticket sales for the major and minor companies. Even though it may seem as though the independent companies would have more production sales, they did not because they mostly displayed their works in major studios at paramount. People were just not coming to the movies because it seemed after the war many soldier were trying to repair for lost time with their families and start new beginnings with new careers.

The invention of the TV also did not make things easier either. Many individuals preferred to stay home rather than going to the theaters. The only way studios were able to repair themselves is through technology. They used advanced color schemes like monopack which was more advanced than technicolor. They also used better lenses that made the image seem wider and more crisp. These new innovations all brought about many genres that were age appropriate. It seemed as though the film industry was becoming a neorealism in of itself. They needed to reinvent themselves so that films are not abolished. It is a positive thing that the studios because if they did not then we would not have movies today and that would be a tragedy. Can you image a world with just television and no movies?

ch 12 and ch 16

March 11th, 2010

Alot of the material in the chapters are extremely dense and are difficult for me to cover everything. I have decided to just focus on realism in the various countries in europe in Chapter 12. In Chapter 16, I have concentrated on neorealism and how its modernism has been celebrated through Germi’s work. Please let me know what you guys think.

Chapter 12

The idea of realism has attracted many audiences worldwide. The U.S.  And Russia have been one of the few countries that embraced so much realism in their films that their film industries were booming. This is not to say of course that they also did not have comedy in their films because they did.They had a good mixture of comedy and realism in their movies. However Germany did not.

German films were mostly based on entertainment. They had many comical movies and this is a little awkward to have at a time where their dictatorship under Hitler was not comical at all. If I am not mistaken, Germany had one good documentary made by Leni Riefenstahl whose documentary displayed all the positive points of Nazism. The film was funded by Hitler. Yet it was not a good documentary because it encouraged racism and prejudice but was good in the aspect that it was the first step to realism movies. Later in the reading I found it very surprising that Riefenstahl was not charged with any form of abuse from the government when Hitler’s reign fell. This is surprising because another film by a completely different director showed Jewish individuals in a negative light and because of this, the director got executed. However someone like Leni was let free because she gave the lame excuse that Hitler forced her to make this documentary.

Another country which was curious about the popularity of realism was Italy. According to the reading, Italy wanted movies based on real life. They wanted movies on the “real” Italy. What better movie to show this than Osessione by Luchino Visconti. Visconti really does show this real life in this film. I have seen it a number of times myself and it basically is about a woman who marries a man for his money yet then finds a man she is attracted to and lures him into her life where she makes a plan with him to kill her husband so that they could live happily together. The plot may not be real but the theme certainly is. It accents the idea of gender inequality of women.She comes from a proverished backround and is a slave to her husband as most women were since their place was in the domesticated household in this time. This idea of Italy and realism brings me to chapter 16.

Chapter 16

Many of the films in Italy were based on specific norms. Directors and producers were restricted to show movies that had sex in it because the catholic church banned it. Yet the neorealism age took all the norms of the church and negated it. Movies such as Seduced and Abandoned by Germi was coming at a time when neorealism was becoming popular in italy. During neorealism, Italy was trying to repair itself and therefore movies of poverty would be viewed. Germi, was a modernist and believed in neorealism and that is why he poked fun of many italian norms such as the divorce law in Divorce Italian Style. Directors like Germi were looking ahead and not dwelling on silly divorce laws or honor laws as is seen Seduced and Abandoned. Due to this modernism in Italy many American film makers were attracted to this and in fact took their entire crew and shot in italy not only because of the atmosphere but in the light of modernism as well.

An Aesthtic of reality:Neorealism

When I first started to do this reading I was not as surprised to find out that movies in Italy were funded by the facist government only if they had alot of melodrama and steered away from pointing at the political issues of facism. This just confirms many individuals belief that facism was a negative party to be a part of. Why would the leader of the party not want to spread the ideology of facism if he himself believed it was a great ideology. I think internally he knew the negativity of facism.

One concept which I found to be very interesting is the idea that realism was considered to be aesthetic. This is very true. The realism that Visconti input in the movie Osessione was very real. It showed individuals who live in poverty and shows a wife domesticated while the husband would spend most of his days outdoors at work. The beauty of this is that it is making a statement to many individuals displaying that they are not alone. That many individuals live this life. I found it very ironic as well that a director like Visconti who came from a very wealthy family would make a movie about poverty. The funnier fact about Visconti is that he is actually a communist.

citizen kane and film noir articles

March 5th, 2010

Citizen Kane and Women In Film Noir

I enjoyed watching this movie. I loved the way Toland took the simplest objects of everyday life like a glass cup and manipulated it with loud music that brought the mere glass object to a deeper meaning. There is one distinct scene where we see the nurse of Susana first through a glass. She looks very small and far away yet when the camera moves the glass out of the camera then we see life like characters. At many times I felt as if I was looking at a 3D screen and an example of this is when Toland zoomed in on a glass breaking. It gave such an impact to me that I sensed I was actually there. It gave this impact on me because of the closeness the action was occuring in and the volume in sound it made. It was a very loud sound. The sound was clear and crisp throughout the movie.

Another thing I noticed about the movie are how the two women characters of Susanna Alexander and Emily Norton seemed to parallel Janey Place’s article on Women in Film Noir. Place says that there are two myths about women. The first being the seductress and sexual woman and the second being the innocent, domesticated woman.From what I could understand she says that these myths hold a larger meaning in film Noir movies. These seductress woman are now powerful through their sexuality and opinons then the innocent woman who is naïve. Film Noir takes this myths and mixes them with one another.

Place describes the idea of “women are so weak and incapable that they need men’s protection to survive.” This statement holds true for the character of Susanna Alexander who upon her first confrontation with Charles Kane told her what she liked to do which was sing but that she was not doing this as her profession. We do not know the reasoning but what we do know is Charles takes her by his wing and makes her singing her profession. He protects her and looks over her going to most of her performances, walking in on her vocal classes and giving her advice. She mostly agrees with him yet only disagrees with him at one point in the movie when she gets her first review of her performance. It was a negative review. After he ignores her she leaves the issue alone.

Susanna voice really comes out after she leaves the Opera profession. She is at home constantly and complaining about her situation. She wants to see the world and slowly realizes Charles’s control over her. Place says that the men need to control a woman’s sexuality before she destroys him by it and towards the end she did destroy him. She left him and he went nuts. He went nuts because he could no longer control her. Her sexuality was now liberated and she is now a powerful woman for leaving him.

Yet Emily Norton’s sexuality always seemed to be liberated in this movie. We can see hints of this very early in their marriage where Kane speaks in a negative tone about the president who is her uncle and she requests that he take it back. There are numerous times where he brings an idea to the dinner table and she admittedly denies his idea. In fact it gets up to the point where they just no longer speak with one another at the dinner table. For this reason this marriage did not have much of a strong impact to Kane when it ended than when it ended with Susanna.With Susanna he was able to control her thoughts from the beginning but Emily did not allow him to do that at all.

NOTES OF FILM NOIR

At first I found the concept of film noir rather confusing because of the beginning of this article. The article goes on to discuss how film noir is derived from a movement where cynicism was celebrated. Paul Schrader says that most of the Film Noir movies were viewed as movies of crime and corruption yet that all film noir movies are not about crime and corruption and Citizen Kane is a witnessed to that idea. The whole movie the reporters seek citizens that knew Kane and are really looking forward to finding out what the term “Rosebud” meant which was his last word before he died. For some reason as an audience I expected the reporter to find out that someone had killed him towards the beginning of the movie because of the intensity of the light in the film. The darkness put upon the faces of the reporter and the lightness put on the person being interviewed almost seemed as if the reporter was interogating the person being interviewed. This is just taken from the impression of the light in the movie. Yet the movie was not about a crime. Rosebud did not have a specific meaning as we learn in the end. It could have meant anything. It did not necessarily have to mean something criminal.

Overall I enjoyed watching this movie and reading these articles. Like I mentioned earlier, I felt the concept of film noir to be a little confusing since it did not have one sole definition. Instead it really represented a movement in terms of film making. One could determine that a film was a film noir film by the influence of the Germans through German Expressionism, the darkness put into the film, the blackened image of the main actor and how the rest of the actors and images are lightened at the same intensity of light. These are just some of the examples of a film noir movie. By these techniques I can now have a clear sense of what a film noir movie contains. If anyone can elaborate on the concept of film noir I would appreciate it because I am still a little unsure about it.

ch 14, Sturges article and Lady Eve

February 23rd, 2010

Sturges meets Chapter 14 and Lady Eve

Leftism seemed to need more followers. Leftist leaders did obtain this through film making. At first small leftist groups would developed films celebrating leftism and display the consequences such as poverty would have upon those that were not leftist. Leftism like communism accented the Unitarianism between individuals. As more and more people were watching these movies, the movies started to become famous internationally. Many other countries such as Great Britain, The Netherlands and even the US were creating their own leftist film companies and developing films of leftist ideas. It is in this time that Leftism was becoming a popular idea until the beak of World War II.

During and after WWII, leftism was beginning to fade in the eyes of many individuals because film makers were concentrating more upon the war than leftist ideas. A great example this text uses is when American declared war on Germany. Americans used films to manipulate the societies to thinking that going to war was a positive thing. American directors were making documentaries showing what Germany has done to many Americans. Their were no leftist films being made at this time.

In some way I do think that the popularity of leftist film making does relate to Preston Sturges career yet in an opposite way. At the beginning of Preston Sturges career, many production companies were turning his script down. Not many individuals agreed with his ideas because they thought they were not modern enough. Yet with determination and compassion he was able to get his scripts brought and was able to direct his own films. He did this with the help of his friend, William LeBaron ( who was the head of paramount at the time) who gave him the ability to direct his own movies as he pleased. The only catch was Sturges had to provide them with the script for a minimal price. Things were going Sturges way now. However things got sour as soon as the studio head changes at Paramount and did not let Sturges work freely as LeBaron did. He fought him tooth and nail to get The Great Moment released on film yet was restricted to do so and he also refused to change The Miracle of Morgan Street. Apparently their was too much sex in The Miracle of Morgan Street for them to be able to release. It was against the norm. Sturges had to rearrange the movie and script. Sturges could not take being under someone else’s rule and the idea that he had to change his perspectives for other that he left the company. He wanted to do his own work with not any disturbances of change or else it would not be his work anymore. Sturges did however go to other huge corporations such as MGM and Twentieth Century Fox where he was also producer and writer. So when looking back at Sturges career he went from a starving artists to a wealthy one where as the leftist groups went from popular and wealthiest films to diluting leftist films as well as leftism ideas in general.

Lady Eve

I am happy in a way that Sturges fought for what he believed in and had extreme confidence in his works because this movie was great. The dialogue was impeccable and the storyline was intriguing.

I like how Barbara Stanwyck is portrayed as a strong character. She played both the character of Eugenia, the gambler and Eve, the aristocrat and yet both characters were played by the same person.  She first acted acted as Eugenia the gambler which she was through the way she lured Charles into her arms. Many women were trying to approach him and throw themselves upon him but Eugenia did not take this route. She caused a commotion to get his attention. She made it seem like she did not see him or like him and this he was attracted to. Yet even when Charles found out her true identity of a gambler and broke up with her, she still was strong enough to manipulate him. She manipulated him mentally.

This story gives truth to the expression: “mind over matter” where Charles ignores the physically mirroring of both characters of Eugenia, a gambler and Eve, as an aristocratic women. He sees that both woman look alike but does not pay much attention to it. Instead he lets Eve get into his mind and mold his psychology into thinking that she is a completely different person.

Charles was a very gullible and naive character. He would believe the innocence of everybody until they themselves revealed the truth just like he first did not believe that Eugenia was a gambler until he saw evidence and confronted her about it. His character almost reminded me of a child where adults can trick children into doing the right thing and showing them what was wrong in order to teach. In this situation Eve/ Eugenia was the parent who loved him very much and would lead while he followed. She led him to the gambling tables to gambling and also led him into her room. The only part of this movie that both characters were on the same page is about love. Both seemed to be hypothesized by love for one another.

Overall as mentioned earlier this was a great movie. Both characters had one thing that stuck out in the movie like Eve being a strong character and Charles a weaker character. I am actually happy that Sturges the method of two different characters to attract to one another. One character complimented the other character and vice versa. I think this is why this movie was and is so popular then and even today.

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