Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Dogville



In the film Dogville directed by Lars von Trier in 2003 Grace (Nicole Kidman), a young woman, finds refuge in the small town of Dogville only to find that it was not necessarily the safe haven it seemed to be. As the film progresses we learn of not only her past, but of the dark reality beyond the tropes of a normal american town. 

I feel that the setting of Dogville is a visual articulation of the ignorance and transparency experienced within a small town. 

Set completely on a soundstage the set of the town is marked with a white paint of sorts that define the walls, doors, and certain pathways within the town. This white marking makes the whole town almost completely two dimensional and from a birds eye view looks like a blueprint rather than an actual town. Within the white markings there are indicators of certain streets such as "Elm St." and each building is titled accordingly to what it is used for such as "Ben's Garage". 

Although most of the towns components are pantomimed there are a few components that are an actual three dimensional presence within the space. This includes the bench where Tom, a writer from the town, spends much of his time pondering his existence within and beyond Dogville. Other physical elements include the small statuettes that Grace collects from one of the stores and the bell that rung each hour to mark the passing of time within the town. 

Without many walls between the buildings within Dogville are completely transparent, at least to the audience. The townspeople on the other hand act as if they are there are solid pieces of material blocking them away from the world, a wall that they can hide behind. This minimalist stage also forces the audience to pay acute attention the the performance of the characters and their emotional journeys rather than distracting them with pretty scenery. My question is do they actually believe that there are walls or are they just choosing to act as if they are there so they don't have to deal with the consequences of seeing what they don't want to see? In my opinion, the themes of the movie point to the later. In line with Von Triers usual critical view on American society, the towns people further become a symbol of how Americans deal with their problems, simply by refusing to acknowledge it. Without complete walls, one would think this town would be incredibly communicative and a community of good natured people. This is actually what we are introduced to, the idea of a perfect town, a town that Grace thinks is perfect, of close knit people working together to make their city a functioning, welcoming community. This notion is completely shattered as Grace is able to look beyond the invisible walls they have each built as she is overworked, underpaid, and treated cruelly by the citizens. The artificiality of the stage also is a direct connection the artificiality of the town. 











Thursday, November 13, 2014

SPACE REEL: SPACE ASSIGNMENT

By Anna Tubbs and Gintare Zukauskaite

SPACE REEL

Imagine:

A prime time producer just called you up and wants to work with you on the next big Blockbuster coming out next year! This is an opportunity of a lifetime and you only can get the job by sending in a Space Reel. There are around 10 other filmmakers that are being considered for this job so if you really want to succeed you have to be the best. You get one week. GO!

A Space Reel is composed of different clips with the qualifications accurately presented below.

  • Deep Space- Urban setting, exterior.
  • Flat Space- Textured landscape, exterior, no horizon line usage.
  • Closed Space- Exterior, Rural
  • Open Space- Cluttered interior
  • Ambiguous Space- Must use a person
  • Surface Division- Interior, **Bonus points if it’s square on rectangle**
  • Limited Space- Exterior, nature must be present

GUIDELINES

  • Every single shot must be in line with the given circumstances.
  • MOS.
  • Must include at least one person.
  • If extra details are indicated above for a certain space then follow them.
  • Include your name and title of the reel at the beginning.
  • Make it exciting! No one wants to watch something boring.
  • Each clip must be at least 20 seconds long.

Examples Of Reels


What Will Get You The Job

  • 30% Originality
  • 50% Understanding and correct usage of shot
  • 10% Aesthetic Value
  • 10% Guidelines are followed correctly.


GOOD LUCK!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Born To Be Queen


  When I was about 5 years old my biggest aspiration in life was to become a princess. It wasn't a rare occasion where I would run around my house for hours with my favorite Cinderella dress on and order around the "peasants" (my stuffed animals) with my sparkly scepter demanding them to clean my room. For me being royalty was wearing pretty dresses, going to balls, and having everyone love you unconditionally.
     It would not occur to me much later in my life that maybe that's not what being royal is like at all. In all reality the image of the monarchy versus the actuality of it is nothing but an illusion that is shattered by The Queen.
    Released in 2006 The Queen, directed by Stephen Frears, is a look beyond the gates that have forever separated the public from the monarchy in England. Thrown into the chaotic happenings that surrounded Princess Diana's death on August 31 1997, we as the audience fluctuate between Tony Blair (Michael Sheen) and HM Queen Elizabeth II (Helen Mirren)  as they both struggle to find a balance between the new world and the traditional.
   HM Queen Elizabeth II is presented to us as many would expect the Queen to be presented. She is tightlipped, professional, and gray. With an air of strict elegance Helen Mirren conducts herself in such a manner that within the first few seconds of meeting her that she is, in fact, The Queen. Of course the beautiful costume, designed by Consolata Boyle, is a major hint that Helen Mirren is of some importance but the very straight-backed attitude and traditional english dialect that she uses is what gives way that this is the very image of the Queen.
   As we progress through the film it is obvious that this image of royalty incredibly two dimensional, as is the traditional system of dealing with public affairs such as the death of a major figure like Diana and it becomes apparent that the Royal Family would like to keep it that way. At the moment that the tragic news is delivered to the family we have no time to gauge their reaction as we are swept to the mourning of the crowds, we have no access to the people who actually knew Diana just the people who pretended to. Much like the barriers that have surrounded the Royal Family for all of time, the Queen feels as if she must maintain this historic silence and separate herself from actually feeling to carry out her duties.
   Helen Mirren, a dame born in West London, transformed herself flawlessly into the image of HM Queen Elizabeth II through the dedication of watching past footage of her speeches and taking extensive voice coaching to reproduce The Queen's speech that she delivers at the end of the film to immaculacy. During an interview Mirren even said that becoming "the Queen came almost naturally after the wig and glasses" and since she shared the slightly downturned mouth of HM Queen Elizabeth II it was not difficult to see the innate monarch inside.
      It is evident in Helen Mirren's performance that what must be done, will be done and instead of retaliating to the cold shoulder that she attempts to put forth as an audience we begin to understand the reality of coming from a line of tradition and being terrified to step away from that. The miracle that Mirren can create a mask of this classic public figure but also give way to the hesitant vulnerability of the human being behind the title is what makes her performance truly remarkable. We start to feel for her even before she lets herself cry because we are aware of the hurt that is underneath the pearls, the crown, and the tightlippedness of the upbringing she never wanted.
  The notion of traditional supremacy and the modern realization that not everything is how it seems behind the gates of Buckingham Palace is what this film hinges on. By playing off of the established image of the monarchy one by one, through the performance of Helen Mirren we are able to break down these walls and truly understand what it is to be Queen.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Life Lessons- Blue

     In the film Life Lessons directed by Martin Scorsese as a part of New York Stories (1989), middle aged New York painter Lionel Dobie (Nick Nolte) must combat with his lack of inspiration resulting from his assistant, Paulette (Rosanna Arquette ) no longer wanting to be his lover and the fact that his next big show is in only three weeks.Throughout the short film we come face to face with the reality of a man who is so incredibly dependent on other people for his inspiration and how he suffers throughout his artistic process due to not being self sufficient. 
      Many of this film's most intriguing elements deals with the visual representation of Dobie's interaction with his own passion and lack of inspiration. This section of his creative process is highlighted by the color blue. 
      The first time that we, as viewers, see the color blue in Life Lessons is during the first 30 seconds of the film when Lionel steps on tube of paint and it splats! against the white supporting bar of his studio. This image is repeated and reflected again on the beginning credits as it is the first color that is splattered on the title. The color of blue is also incredibly connected to Paulette- or rather the idea of her. While blue shows up on Paulette's door to her room, in her earrings and choices of clothing, it is ultimately her eyes that are the most notable piercing shade. These pops of blue that are associated with the things that Lionel loves is what connects us to the idea that passion is just as much a part of his creative process as the actual act of painting is. The most notable use of blue within lighting design is during Lionel's short dream sequence with Paulette. The two of them are basked in this soft blue light in moments of passion that are completely in Dobie's mind after he sees her bare foot and has the impulse to kiss it. Directly after this Lionel can paint and keep moving in the process of completing his artwork before his deadline. 
    While other colors are present in the Life Lessons the color blue is a direct reflection of the passion that Dobie needs from his "assistants" so he can keep being a successful, respected artist in New York City. 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Bugsy Malone





"You give a little love and it all comes back to you, you know you're gonna be remembered for the things you say and do." is the message we are left with while finishing the film Bugsy Malone. Directed in 1976 by Alan Parker, Bugsy Malone is a film that encompasses two very prominent genres; musical and gangster, and mixes it into one. In the film the classic gangster story is not only told through the use of song and dance but also using child actors.
      Bugsy Malone, the sly boxing promoter is the man to be in this film. Although he ends up getting involved with the gang-life, it is pretty obvious that Bugsy knows whats-what. Always a step ahead of the audience, Bugsy is a classic character in the gangster genre and could be compared to Millers Crossings Tom Reagen. The only problem is; Bugsy is well... completely broke. From that he finds himself getting in business with Fat Sam, gang leader and speakeasy owner, who hires Bugsy to accompany him to a meeting with rival gang leader, Dandy Dan. After that Bugsy is now almost completely immersed in gang life.
 Bugsy Malone includes many classic parts of the depression-era gangsterfilm such as a separation of class and the struggle for money. It is obvious through many circumstances where we see characters, such as Fat Sam and Dandy Dan who strut around in their tailored outfits while other kids are starving at soup kitchens. Bugsy is also a part of this, seeing how he is frequently out of money, like most were in those days.
   I think this film, although still considered part of the gangster genre really fits with the idea of the American Dream. Some could say it was based on ethnic struggles but the fact is that this film seems just so much lighter than that for many reasons. First the choice of child actors is a major one. Although using children in many films could make it considerably darker I think that the choice did not work this way in this film. The children we see are impersonating the harsher side of gangster reality in those days but its easy to not take it that seriously. The dialog that the children use is almost laughable due to the fact that it sounds exactly like what an adult would say in their situation, which I assume was the intent. Another fact that the musical genre is added in is what makes it more of a comedy than a serious piece. Another part of it is that instead of actual guns and bullets the "killing" weapon is a toy gun filled with whip cream contributes to the comedic rather than serious part of this film. Bugsy seems to embody a lot of what the American Dream philosophy entails. Bugsy never gives up, even when things look bleak and always works hard, never letting people hand him the things he wants. Bugsy is a worker.

     

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

It's a Hard-Knock Life

John Hustons Annie tells the story of the young orphan Annie and her adventures in the Big Apple, New York City. During the musical Annie is rescued from her horrible orphanage run by the evil Ms. Hannigan and is brought to live in the Warbucks mansion for a week. Through many musical song and dance numbers Annie lives her dream and finds a place in Mr.Warbucks heart then eventually gets adopted by him. Being a part of Annie: The Musical last year at my old high school (I played the part of Cecile the maid) I have come to love and understand the characters, songs, and the plot.
   From the beginning we are presented Annie, this super lovable, red haired, little girl. We immediately sympathize with her and the other orphans in the orphanage due to the way Ms.Hannigan acts towards them. It is obvious through the way she comforts little Molly that she has a big heart, a strong sense of leadership, and she dreams of a better life for everyone in the orphanage. One of Annies most admirable attributes is the way she refuses to give up, even when it looks like everything is down in the pits. Annie is almost always a positive source of energy. Her attitude towards the world is similar to the idea of the American Dream, a set of ideals where freedom in America includes the opportunities for prosperity and success through hard work and determination. Annie is basically the characterization of this idea and it is due to that fact that Annie is taken and adopted by the Warbucks in the end.
     Poverty and the Great Depression are main features of the film. We are brought to the two extremes of success in this film. From Miss Hannigans orphanage, where everything is basically nasty and rotten to the Warbucks Mansion, where there is everything from a tennis court to a swimming pool. In the song "It's a Hard-Knock Life" we are brought into the world of the lower class quite quickly and we are given a sense of the hard ships that those in that social class face. In the song "I Think I'm Gonna Like It Here" which is preformed when Annie first arrives at the Mansion  Annie sings "Used to room in a tomb where I'd sit and freeze" and it gives us the drastic difference between the two environments. Annie is not used to people being there, loving her, and doing things for her so at first she is confused on why she doesn't have to clean. This also goes along with the idea of the American Dream that if you work hard you will get what you deserve.
     Annie is a wonderful musical film that brings us into the world of the Great Depression and the life of a determined dreamer. It is a wonderful film that shows us that as long as you keep your head up and work hard, things will get better.


Friday, May 3, 2013

Shaun Of The Dead

In the film Shaun Of The Dead a young man with a seemingly normal life must turn into a zombie killing machine in order to save not only his relationship with his girlfriend but also their very own lives. Directed by Edgar Wright in 2004 Shaun Of The Dead is considered a film that mixes the genres, screwball comedy and zombie to form one ultimate Zomedy.
       In Shaun Of The Dead zombies are presented similarly to how they are in other zombie films. They are a threat, something other worldly, and seemingly unintelligent. In this film, like in most zombie films, the zombies are flesh eating monsters that have sprung up seemingly out of nowhere and they are killing innocent people, turning them into zombies too. The protagonist, Shaun is the leader of the group and much like in Night Of The Living Dead his leadership is challenged and he must step up to the plate and become the type of man who is able to keep him and his loved ones safe during the zombie apocalypse. Also in this film the zombies can only be killed by being hit or shot in the head which is what the case is in most zombie movies. The choices that the characters make in Shaun Of The Dead and Night Of The Living Dead are also similar. The situation that is proposed to two different sets of people in the films is handled by each of them in different ways. In Night Of The Living Dead a child is turned into a zombie and her mother has to make the decision to either kill her daughter and save herself or be killed by her. Shaun also has to make this same decision. His mother is bitten and turned into a zombie and he struggles with what to do. In the end Shaun makes the right decision in shooting his mother but it changes his leadership tactics and eventually helps his survival.
      The comedy aspects of this film is what makes the film what it is. In many screwball comedies there is the presence of the on and off relationships or "mariage and remarriage". In Shaun Of The Dead Shauns relationship with Liz, his girlfriend is one that ping pongs back and forth frequently and lines up with the notion of that screwball convention. In the end they are back together again and we are left with the feeling that this time three will be no "on and offs" about it. Also in many screwball comedies the female character plays a supporting role but ultimately is the one who pushes the story forward. In Shaun Of The Dead it is because Shauns need to protect Liz that he even leaves the house in the first place. This role is also shared with Shauns mother, who he is also worried about and must protect until he must shoot her in the end.
    Shaun Of The Dead is a interesting zomedy and it changed my view on the genre forever.