May 11

Well all the authors are talking about 3D and other new technologies that have emerged recently. I wonder what we would have had to read if this book was published after Avatar was released. I probably would have been reading all day. I think that all the authors made some really good points about how film has evolved, and how 3D and CGI have helped action films. I did notice that the writers brought up examples of what people would consider “good films.” There was no mention of films like “Bad Boys” or ‘Live Free or Die Hard” where the entire film relies on heavy special effects, and the movie overall sucks. What I am saying is that when the film relies so much on its graphics, images, and special effect, sometimes they forget about the basic important things like acting and screenwriting. Like the films I mentioned before, there are countless action films that have a ton of special effects but terrible plots. While some people go to the theaters to see tons of shit get blown up on a large screen, some of us care for some plot, dialogue, and acting. If you look at last years Oscars, The Hurt Locker beat out Avatar, because people seem to care about acting and plot more then effects and action. 3D, CGI, and special effects are a great thing to add to a film, but they should be a side thing in the background to add to the entire film, I don’t think it should be the main aspect of the film.

Apr 21

So much talk about African Americans in film. I find it funny because on my Friday class is devoted towards African Americans in TV and film. I found the comparison in FTC of The Birth of a Nation to The Color Purple very interesting, and the long article about racism and antisemitism in film very interesting as well. Bell Hooks article on the female gaze was hard for me to follow, and I had read Dryers article a number of times before. I have sort of a little background in African American cinema, I have seen both Within Our Gates and BOAN more then once, I have seen a bunch of Spike Lee, and I have an understanding of the the 70s and 80s exploitation films. I find these films most interesting; There is a fine between art and commerce, and I can totally see why Hollywood would pounce on an open market of African American viewers with their shitty films. On the other hand there is the delicate issue of race that effects the community that Hollywood doesn’t seem to mind, making African Americans look like pimps and drug dealers. I liked the article about racism and antisemitism, and he uses this quote where he says the Jewish people sort of have to fight their stereotypes, and the same idea could be applied to the African America community. Despite the number of exploitation films there were still a number of good films such as Imitation of Life. Today there are still some movies that I would consider exploitation films, such as Soul Plane, and I think that the rap culture aids it, but there are definitely people who set a different example, such as Tyler Perry, Denzel Washington, and Spike Lee.

Apr 14

I found the reading about the feminist gaze very interesting. I really enjoyed when the writer discussed how when a women is wearing glasses, she is therefore considered unattractive. From the movies that I’ve seen, I’d have to agree with that as very often the nerdy or losers are wearing those black thick rimmed glasses. An interesting thing that I thought is that when a girl is wearing sun glasses I sort of think that she is sexy, almost the complete opposite. A good example for this could be from the film She’s all that, where the character goes through a transformation and when her glasses come off and then she becomes sexy. Another example could be when Clark Kent takes off his glasses he becomes a whole new person.
The talk of the close up and the gaze made me think about another style of film; film noir. The close up of the females faces and bodies in these films insinuate ideas of the gaze. I think that is what makes the whole noir thing with the whole hyper sexual thing that it’s got going on.
All the authors kept talking about the penis. Every time they brought it up I thought would pop into my head from The Big Lebowski where Maude Lebowski goes to The Dude “Does the female form make you uncomfortable, Mr. Lebowski”? I don’t know why I kept thinking that, but that was all that I could think of.

Mar 23

For my final paper I will focus on auteur theory, and how the theory could be seen through Martin Scorsese’s work. I will focus on the different opinions of what the theory is, and how Scorsese’s work exemplifies it. There are many motifs in Scorsese’s work that I can focus on such as Italian Americans, religious guilt, and violence. By comparing Scorsese’s work from early in his career to the work he has done in this century, I will show how Scorsese is one of the greatest auteurs ever. The films I will focus on will be Taxi Driver (70s), Raging Bull (80’s), Gangs of New York, and The Departed (2000’s).

Mar 07

This weeks readings discuss the “Auteur theory”. I like the idea that a director can have a trademark in their films, as it can distinguish them from any other director, and perhaps help them build a fan base. I noticed the writers all loved listing their favorite directors, and some of them even went on to make lists of them. I also noticed all of these lists were outdated there was no mention of today’s great auteurs such as Scorsese, the Coen brothers, or Tarantino. Well that being said I would like to make an argument for another one of modern days film directors; Michael Bay. When I bring up Michael Bay I want to make it clear that I personally despise his work, but if you look at all of Bay’s work you will see what seems to be “trademarks” of his work. From Bad Boys, to Pearl Harbor, to this years god awful Transformers, there is clearly a trend in Bay’s work; tons of terrible action, shitty dialogue, terrible effects… Film critic Peter Wollen writes about another mediocre filmmakers work, saying “all of these films…exhibit the same thematic preoccupations, the same recurring motifs and incidents, the same visual style and tempo” (FTC, Peter Wollen pg 457) How can we not say the same thing about Michael Bay? His films are all quite similar in that sense, as I mentioned before his trademark is pretty much being able to make terrible commercial movies on a constant basis. So is Michael Bay not an auteur?

Mar 02

On the film that we watched in class- it made absolutely no sense. I was thinking about maybe watching it stoned off my face and analyzing all the mis-en-scene, and trying to make something of it, but watching it in class, I was just completely baffled. I think that film art should serve a purpose, and it think the best way of that is to tell some sort of story, with at least a minimal plot, so I can’t say that I was a fan of the film.

In the reading “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” (FTC, 665-685) Walter Benjamin writes about how film art as opposed to other forms can be manipulated by the camera. He starts off by talking about “the politics of art” and can be used as a tool. Then he goes on a 18 page rant about how film and photography can be manipulated from shot to shot. A good example he brings up is the difference between a stage actor and a film actor. A stage actor cannot be manipulated, he is on the stage and that is all. With a film actor, a filmmaker can use editing and photography to manipulate the situation. I thought he brought up some good points, but those good points were very rare, and he could have said them in 5 pages, not 20. I’m trying to bring up a good example of a film and a stage play that I can compare, but I have not seen both a play and film of the same piece.

Andre Bazin talks about the evolution of film, how much he loves deep focus, and Citizen Kane. He also loves mis-en-scene. Apparently he started some magazines and influenced a number of quality filmmakers, but didn’t have the balls to make his own films. I didn’t understand most of what he said, other then what I mentioned, but I didn’t think he got at anything really important. All of these points are brought up in basic film history classes, so I don’t get the importance of his writing.

Feb 22

“the complete film” well what is the complete film? If you talk about art, I think that there has to be more then just one aspect of the picture that has to be looked at. Arnheim makes three categories for films: silent, black and white with sound, and color and sound. He then says that sound destroys the film. I think that he has completely missed the boat on what art in film is. In class I brought up three examples, one from each era, and how they all can be considered art. The Birth of a Nation made cinema what it is today. The use of the close up, iris and other key tools revolutionized storytelling. My next example would be Citizen Kane, where the deep shot was invented. Here another brand new tool was used to help further the art of cinema. This year we have Avatar, which again has made new achievements in film, with the 3D spectacle. Raging Bull, one of my favorite films, has unique forms of art in it, I would argue, with its camera shots and acting. Citizen Kane, Raging Bull, and Avatar all have sound yet they are all extremely artistic as well.
Arnheim says “The introduction of sound film must be considered as the imposition of a technical novelty that did not lie on the path the best film artists were pursing” I think the message that he is sending is a little over the top. His argument that sound will distract you from viewing the entire mis-en-scene may be valid, but I think sound adds so much to the film. With sound you can learn more about the characters, and the plot of the story. Sound effects make a horror film scarier. Love songs help set the mood in romantic films. I think Arnheim completely misunderstood how sound could be used in an artistic way.

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