Sunday, December 2, 2012

A Colour Box (1935)

A Colour Box Poster
A Colour Box (1937) is in the experimental category. It is a film without narrative form. Without a narrative, the images become the important part of the work. It is more apparent in our minds that this is animation because viewers are not distracted by a narrative and the audience is unable to put the images into a realistic context. In place of dialogue is music, one of the attributes of experimental animation. If any sort of reality is shown by this avant-garde piece of cinema, it is a reality based in the emotion and psychological state of the viewer.
A Colour Box is an abstraction with no visual figure for an audience to relate to, at least none noticeable at first glance. The concern of experimental animation is to redefine the body or resists using it as an illustrative image. The shapes that are seen in A Colour Box certainly exist in our reality, but their movement is something we do not see in our own reality, not without the hand of the artist being involved. That being said, the presence of the artist, another characteristic of experimental animation, is something that takes A Colour Box out of the realm of reality. Knowing of Len Lye and his creation of this work, we put it in the context of a painting. It is now something outside of us and viewers have no reason to immerse themselves within that world.
 “Cinematography is currently the only instrument that records an event according to a system from four reference points.” Our human minds perceive reality as one stream of events. We have a single pair of eyes to take in the world around us. The world of cinema is able to present reality in a fashion that makes it almost more real than what the viewer would see on his average day.
With that, the discussion goes from understanding films relationship to reality to trying to understand our own through cinematography. Psychological time is something that cinematography has change through the use of multiple cameras and editing. Now we as spectators begin to realize that reality is near impossible to reproduce and that the goal of Hollywood film is all for naught.  

What I learned in video production

I've learned new techniques in shooting. I feel like I've really grown as a camera operator. Pans used to make me nervous. I don't always have a steady hand. I've realized that I should relax. Part of creating for me is having a relaxed environment. I've also learned to think outside of the box and that I really want to show people life in a way they have never seen. This class really energized me creatively. Director of Photography is now a career I am considering pursuing. 

I've begun drawing storyboards before each shoot so we can have an established visual beforehand rather than simply finding out what looks good on the spot.

I've learned that it is really all about team work. Film is definitely a collaborative art and if all participants are not giving 100% then the project is less likely to succeed. I was very lucky to have a team that I was familiar with.

Jessica and I had work on class projects before and had a shared sensibility

Christina wrote a wonderful script. Her background studying english was a great asset.

I look at film in a completely different way that I ever did before. I am much more critical of and inspired by films now that I have this knowledge.

Love's Labour's Lost

This summer I was presented with many new challenges as an actor. The first was grappling with Elizabethan English and Shakespearean dialogue. While doing this I also worked to increase my comfort level onstage. Lastly, dividing my time between acting, hanging lights, other classes and managing the AMT box office became a task in itself, and left me with a large workload for the summer semester.
The challenges, as always, started with the audition. I remember hearing John Martin say he wanted people to have fun with the auditions. I took that as an opportunity to be silly, running around onstage and spontaneously jumping into the prop fountain. One of the things I have learned through becoming more familiar with the audition process is to never do anything that you would consider “safe” in regards to acting. I've learned to make bold and definite choices.
I remember reading the script thoroughly as soon as I got the role of “Boyet”. Shakespeare's language was always difficult at first. I remember my role in “As You Like It” being very exciting. Though it was Shakespeare, I only had about ten lines. I also had the No Fear Shakespeare version of the script at my disposal. My only other experience with Shakespeare before this production was in my Acting II course. I had a very hard time with memorization. If I missed a single syllable I would become flustered and forget my place. Making sure I was prepared was a key factor. I always made sure I was at the theatre early with pencil and script in hand. Knowing my part and that I was saying the correct things helped me to relax and focus on what needed to be done.
The first approach I made to Boyet was figuring out his goals. The party of France goes to Navarre on political business and Boyet's only interest in the romance of the couples was to resolve the money matters of the royals and a possible jealousy of the King and his lords. Knowing the motives and needs of a character is vital to learning what should be stressed in a speech. I also looked to my director and fellow actors for memorization techniques, as well as offering some of my own to the others having difficulty. Sariah explained to me how scansion worked and I have to say it worked wonders. I also wrote out my all of my lines repeatedly.
I have terrible troubles with anxiety. Performing is my way to deal with that. I always thought that if I challenged myself I could defeat the problem all together. I've reached a milestone in that effort. After a few rehearsals I got control of myself. I came to the truth that the audience as well as my cast mates and crew are on my side. There was no reason to be afraid of making a fool of myself. To be honest, I realized that making a fool of myself was the entire point of my role. Every character in “Love's Labour's Lost” is made into the object of jokes at one time or another.
I've always thought that costumes had a dramatic effect on my performance. After getting into costume I feel like I am immersed in the world my character lives within. Belief is what it is really about for me. While I'm on stage I have to imagine the world beyond the set. For some reason I've been able to do that with this show more than any other.
Working with Karl on lights was quite enjoyable. I wanted to do more with lights after taking the lighting design course. It was very nice that Karl was patient with me, because even with the course I am not as experienced as Karl. I've found a new appreciation for the technical side of theatre. I feel like I've become well rounded in my knowledge of theatre.
I recently had to step up to the role of box office manager. While I was very pleased that I could do this, it was frighten to be the only person able to manage front of house and be in the show. Complementary tickets and making sure posters were displayed were a couple of my responsibilities. I also had to learn how to create a program. It was a decent product for my first attempt. Of course there were some errors that I had to fix in the reprint. Overall, I think this has been my best experience on stage. I was more confident and I felt like I was more in control of my surroundings.  

Doctor Who: Asylum of the Daleks

"Where do you get the milk?" That line haunted me after I watched this episode of Doctor Who. In this episode the Doctor is picked up by his arch nemesis the daleks. The daleks ask the doctor to save them from an annoying transmission coming from the dalek asylum. One dalek self destructs with a massive explosion special effect.

A nice circle pan that revealed the damsel in distress to really be a dalek that had gone insane after a traumatic experience.

The daleks are very scary enemies. They are full of hate and cry exterminate. They kill anything that isn't dalek. Stephen Moffat knows how to write scary.

Written on the Wind (1956)

Written on the Wind Poster
In “Written on the Wind” Rock Hudson portrays the middle class everyman Mitch. He had a look about him that just spoke the average American. This role added to his representation of an average American man, as Mitch was middle class, on his way to being an entrepreneur, and a man that was protecting of truly in love with his woman. However, Hollywood does tend to skew our views of the real person. Rock Hudson was a homosexual Hollywood star makings large sums of money. That's not exactly the image I would think an average American would use to identify themselves. 

Marylee of “Written on the Wind" is another female character who's sexuality is used as punishment. She is the talk of the town, whoring around with almost every man she can. She is the bratty rich girl that always gets her way. She wears vibrant and exposing clothing and drives a very flashy and expensive car. Her punishment is that she really doesn't get everything she wants. She believes that Mitch is her one true love. When she gives herself to him, she is sadly disappointed.

She also takes on masculine traits as she begins to take action. Her manipulation of Kyle to remove Lucy from the picture backfires. She eventually loses everything. In the trial the colors of her clothing are toned down from vibrant reds and pink to navy blue and black. When she can no longer blame Mitch for Kyles death she is forgiven of her former sexual activities in an unspoken manner. Becoming the head of her father's oil company is the crowning event that confirms her transition to masculinity.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

True Romance

I just watched True Romance last night and it was not what I expected from writer Quenton Tarantino. A quick Hollywood romance, the " I've only known you for a day, but..." sort of thing. I enjoy the scene in which our heroes meet. Alabama(Patricia Arquette) spills popcorn on Clarence(Christian Slater.

This is Gary Oldman at his finest. I've never seen him take on a role like this and I am very pleased.

This film is the perfect love story. I don’t know why, but I fell in love with the two leads immediately. Slater is amazing and sort of crazy, which the same can be said about Arquette. I do find it funny that many of the actors in this movie are in later Tarantino movies. 

Jane Eyre (2011)

Jane Eyre is the story of a girl that goes through many trials, such as being an outcast, finding a friend, losing that friend, finding what she thinks is true love and being lied to by this love. She does what she thinks is best for her, regardless of losing a home, a job and a romance. She was a very brave character for this time period as jobs were lacking, especially for women.

Jane’s search for a stable relationship is a long and tedious process which always seems to fail. Orphaned as a child, she was sent to live with an aunt and cousins that despised her. Her relatives were very jealous of her which made this a failing relationship. Going on to a boarding school, sent with a bad reputation, she was outcast by the faculty and many of her peers. She developed a relationship with one girl that was also abused by the school staff. While lies fueled Jane’s reputation, her friends came from the false idea that she was vein. Leaving her long, beautiful hair down caused the faculty to become angry and accuse her falsely of vanity. Jane and Helen Burns share a burden of false accusation and mistreatment. Helen dies of lung disease in Jane’s arms, yet another failed relationship.

Jane moves from being an orphan in boarding school to a governess. Not only does she raise her social standing, but she develops a relationship with a child, with an older woman, as well as a romantic relationship with Edward Rochester, the master of Thornfield. Mr. Rochester invites his socialite friends to Thornfield where Jane compares her social class to theirs. Jane’s physical and social traits in etiquette and academics were just as high in standard at these socialites; however she did not have the background to be considered to their level. Even though Rochester proclaims his love for her, she believes herself to be beneath him. She leaves Rochester, but continuing with social standing, she goes back to him after inheriting money from an uncle and in fact they live happily.

This film was well shot and the costumes were excellent. I definitely enjoyed this film.

The Blood of Jesus (1941)

The Blood of Jesus Poster

The film The Blood of Jesus depicts a certain type of reality. Spencer Williams was a Hollywood outsider attempting to depict African Americans on the screen. African American viewers are finally able to see an image is more like what they see in their own community. Black characters are no longer celluloid characters or the object of a joke or stereotype. The characters are defined by their own world and are central to that world. As Diawara explains, “Hollywood blacks exist primarily for white spectators whose comfort and understanding the films must seek.”(Diawara, 596)
The low budget production techniques lend to the relationship between reality and The Blood of Jesus. There is little to no camera angles that would distort the actual image. The amateur skill level of actors helps the film approach reality. Not necessarily the film itself, but the message that the film attempts to send to the audience. It is not only the message of black morality and faith, but also a message of black progress. Simply the creation of this film shows new mediums and opportunities opening up to African Americans. The Blood of Jesus, in this respect is truly art because of the comment it makes on the reality of the current state of Black culture and what it has done to shape that reality.
Fanon explains that there is a double standard in how films represent race. Stereotype in film creates the concept that the average man and a black man do not act in the same manner. The Blood of Jesus is able to accomplish showing African American that are defined by their own actions and abilities, rather than “being for others

Toy Story 3

Toy Story 3 (2010) connects to reality more than other animation because of how it is created. Computer animation attempts to come closer to reality than any other form of animation. The movement of the characters within the world is based on motion capture, a technique grounded in the movements of a real person. The human characters are all allowed to move as real humans. Each individual toy moves the way that they each seem to be designed to move. The advances in technology create more expressive facial expressions on the animated character.

Toy Story 3 Poster

Computer generated images in film are a manipulation of reality itself. 

Why use animation? Well generally the answer would be to put things on the screen that don't exist in reality. Viewers know that there is no possible way that toys could come to life. Our knowledge of the impossible is exactly why the filmmaker would attempt to recreate reality. If animators cared little about putting their characters and world into a realistic context, the narrative and character development would be lost due to a focus on unrealistic setting. The need for realism in animation coincides with the need for viewer acceptance of the animated world.


I just saw Skyfall and I loved it. All of the action was shot beautifully. Judi Dench is a fantastic actress.  I love her in the role of M. The special effects were outrageous. The opening sequence with the song Skyfall by Adele is beautiful
Spoiler ALERT! 

Bond is killed! Well, in the first ten minutes. Of course he comes back. When Bond gets back to MI6 he must take the examinations. M passes 007, though he actually failed all of the tests.

Bond questions his loyalty to M when her past comes back to haunt her. As MI6 comes under attack, he decides to track down and destroy the threat. 

I'm blown away by Daniel Craig's performance.

The Cheat(1915)

The Cheat” shows a complete change in tone when switching between the home of Richard and Edith and Arakau. The first is western and what we would see as a norm, while the latter is decorated in an eastern style. It gives a feeling that Arakau still identifies as Asian and not as an American. The Asian men in the service of Arakau speak broken English, which must have been done with a purpose. The language could have been easily fixed, as the only language to come across does so in subtitles. The film even goes far enough to make the statement “East is east and West is west and never the twain shall meet”. (The Cheat, 1915)

In “The Cheat”, Edith is a glamorous woman that floats in high society, throws luxurious parties, and in is no trouble for her husband to write her a check for ten thousand dollars. Again, we are able to see under the surface. We see a woman resort to what could termed prostitution to keep her status with the community. 

The character of Edith uses her sexuality in order to gain a favor. Not only this, but she is also a woman that is seen spending time with men besides her husband. Then she begins to realize the immorality of her decision and goes back on the agreement. Her role has now become one of the swindler and the tease. Her sexuality has put her into a position to be denigrated. Arakau brands Edith, his way of changing her into property.

Just in looking at the shots of “The Cheat” it seems as if DeMille is in sympathy with the upper class white characters. The fact that Edith and Richard are protagonists should make this obvious, but in looking at the final shot of “The Cheat” when the couple walk out of the court room arm in arm just forces that idea in even more:that the white characters are the good guys. We completely forget that the main conflict was caused by an irresponsible Edith, but she walks guilt free and happy.