Wednesday, February 15, 2012


Logline: A boy lives in a corrupted society and is disgusted by the people he sees around him as he is isolated and has nothing to do and nothing to live for, but acts no differently when he comes across a women in need.

Boy stares at himself in the mirror, examining himself with curiosity, trying to figure out who he is and why he’s here. The boy is in a public bathroom. It’s beaten up and wore down as society has taken its toll on the place, reflecting its true nature on its walls.The boy doesn’t look that great either. His eyes are dark and swollen. He is worn out. His clothes are old. The boy looks at the writing on the wall, there are many words, but only chooses to look at one. “Home”. He leaves the bathroom with a limp.

He enters the street, walking under an overpass. Its daytime, yet its dark under the overpass, the boy likes the shade. As he transitions from the dark overpass to the bright day, he squints with his hand blocking the sun from his eyes. He’s not used to the light, he despises it and puts on his hood. He continues walking. He’s walking through the streets of the city. Analyzing every person he passes. Looking at them with piercing eyes. Looking at them with disgust. Looking at everyone with disgust.

He walks to the park and sits on the bench. A dog with a leash around its neck approaches him. The boy is excited and pets the dog with childish fun and friendliness. The owner rushes in their direction, apologizing to the boy and treating the dog with disrespect. Ferociously grabbing it by the collar yelling at it. Even before the dog is yanked away from him, he mugs the owner. We see that the owner has this awkward look on his face as if he did something wrong. The owner walks away, awkwardly saying goodbye with a sense of confusion. A few seconds pass, the boy gets up abruptly and walks away. He is annoyed.  

He walks on the street again. The city buildings are dirty. The people around him are corrupted and filthy. Many homeless and many who seem like criminals. He passes by an alley. He looks into it as he is walking, but doesn’t intend to go in. Yet something catches his attention. He sees two men hiding something behind a dumpster. They run off. The boy stops walking and looks with confusion and concern. He walks to where the men were hiding the object. He walks in fear. He reaches his destination and slowly looks over behind the dumpster. It’s a foot. He moves the dumpster to reveal a body of a women lying on the dirty ground, badly beaten up. The boy drops to his knees and picks the women up to find out that she is still alive. She mutters help. She becomes unconscious. The boy gets up and takes a few steps back and turns away.

The men return. They are behind the boy. The boy turns towards them. He looks at the two men. Their faces are rough and their clothes are worn out. Then he looks back at the women. He starts to run, but doesn’t even move two feet before the men grab him. They beat him up. They leave the boy on the ground. They walk away. The boy continues to lie on the ground. A few seconds pass before the boy gets up. He sits for a few more seconds coughing. He stands up and limps away to exit the alley. He leaves the women.

It’s night. The boy is limping under the under pass. The same under pass that he walked through earlier that day. He walks to the bathroom and enters. It is the same public bathroom he was in before. He stumbles to the floor, his face to the wall and his chin on the floor.

The boy gathers up the strength to raise his hand. His hand is raised up against the wall. He’s moving his hand profoundly. He seems to be writing something. He writes the word “Home”. He stares at it for a few seconds and then passes out. He wakes up. Its daytime. He washes his hands and face. Uses his shirt to dry them off. Boy stares at himself in the mirror, examining himself with curiosity, trying to figure out who he is and why he’s here. The boy looks at the writing on the wall “Home”. (It is the same exact scene as the beginning). He leaves the bathroom with a limp. Its a bright day outside. He walks.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Genre Study Chart

Ideology in Film

1. Ideology refers to the values/viewpoints and meanings/messages that a media text might be able to communicate to the viewer. Explicit is what a character in a film or a director/producer/writer themselves declare to be the subject of the film. Implicit is what the film implies through the movie and is not declared by the director/producer/writer and require analysis and a reasoned argument.

2. Sam Worthington seems to produce characters that are strong willed and determined to fulfill his objectives. His most successful movies are Avatar, Terminator Salvation, and Clash of the Titans. The characters that he usually plays are those that have training in combat and seem to be more unique than those around him. Five adjectives that best capture their typical role are brave, strong, rebellious, determined, and unique. I think his next role will have to be someone who has to use his combat skills in order to save certain people or take down a villainous leader.

3. I film that I enjoy is The Dark knight and my favorite character is Bruce Wayne as Batman. What I like about this character is the way he tries to help others even if the people are against him. He needs to be whatever Gotham needs him to be and I respect that. The filmmaker has portrayed him in a way that makes him feel like an outsider yet he seems to be the most uncorrupted. The values that I share with this character is self sacrifice in order to help those in need.

4. Ideologies of a given era or time period change the way a narrative is presented to its audience because cultural ideologies are developed through a set of beliefs embodied within political, religious, media and educational institutions within society and are open to change. A film narrative that I see has changed over time is Batman. There have been multiple batman movies created, each tell a different story even though some have the same characters. Though they are different stories, the message still remains the same in that good conquers evil.

5. I feel that films can affect me and my behavior without me being conscious of it. For example, when I watched horror movies as a kid, I was implemented with the idea that evil things can take place anywhere and can happen at anytime. Though I never realized this, I began subconsciously to pay attention to my surroundings and not trust strangers.

6. Suspension of disbelief is when we accept something as real in film even though we have no personal experience of it. For example in the filmThe Prestige in order for one of the magicians to do the transported man magic trick, he needs a double that looks exactly like him. They end up finding a man who looks exactly like him, but I thought it was highly unlikely for this to happen especially since the found him in the same city and the setting took place near the end of the 19th century. Yet the movie still flowed and people believed that this was possible.

7. Financial support of a film and the ownership of a production company does influence the ideology represented in a film. For example Marvel Studios only seems to be associated with movies that are based on marvel comics. The ideology that is always portrayed is superheroes conquering over evil. We wouldn't see Marvel Studios associated with anything other than marvel comics.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Writing About Film

     5 kinds of film writing include Formal Analysis, Film History, Ideological Papers, Cultural Studies, and Discussion of the Auteur. Formal analysis is taking parts of a film and describing how each part is significant to the film as a whole and why it is significant and also trying to find the purpose of each one. Film history is that all films involve history and reflect the culture's history and it's values and ideas. There is production history (how, why, when the film was made), they have distribution and release histories, and might reflect historical trends. Ideological papers are about the film's beliefs and ideas that it promotes and may be manipulating our feelings about a certain set of values. Cultural studies shows how films reflect the cultures and nations they are produced in and since other nations have different values, they produce different sorts of films. Differences in films may reflect trends in national cinema. Discussion of the Auteur is the understanding of a film based on the director or single person and that one person retains control.    
     This helps us understand the common themes in films by the same director.
Annotating shot sequences involves labeling each shot in the scene. This will help us see a pattern in camera movement and editing decisions that helps us understand how the director made the film and why the film has a certain effect on the audience.
     When the author says "think beyond the frame", she implies that there is more meaning within the film, by thinking about the outside factors that one considers like who made the film and what can we learn from the films genre.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

5 Most Valuable Minutes from "Taxi Driver"

The 5 minutes I thought was most valuable was from 8:40-13:40 of this video. This scene was selected because it seemed to best represent the recurring motifs that are scene throughout the movie. The scene starts out with Travis pointing the gun and posing in the mirror then saying "You're dead". The next scene shows the city with the smog in the background to represent the filth and the water also represents cleaning up the city. This relates to the rest of the movie because Travis goes through internal suffering because he lives in a world full of crime, hate, and "scum". The juxtaposition with these shots shows how Travis wants to clean up the city through violence as he points the gun practicing then cuts to the water. I think this is what the director intends when he puts these to shots together.

The next scene starts out with Travis walking in the store and in a short time, he ends up killing a black person who was just trying to rob the store. This shows how Travis sort of looks down on blacks as he thinks they are causing to many problems and are the ones who make the city the bad place that it is. This is the first time Travis kills someone in the movie so the audience sees how he has grown in character becoming the anti-hero that he is.

Then later on, after the scene where he kicks the TV over, Travis is waiting outside the Palantine campaign as Palantine is giving a speech where the audience hears him say "We the people have suffered". This is also important to the film because it adds to Travis' anger and motive to want to kill Palantine as he is eyeing him with bad intentions. Since Palantine represents the people, Travis believes he may be causing the city to be so bad and is encouraging the "scum" to thrive and support him.

After this, there is an interior monologue of Travis writing a letter to his parents. He is sending a card, but he lies about his life and how he has a girlfriend and is in the secret service. He seems to be a little irrational as he is writing to his parents, but does not know there birthdays and says that July is the month of their anniversary, father's day, and mother's birthday. This shows how Travis is starting to mentally deteriorate which the audience can see that Travis is becoming more darker and becoming the anti-hero.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Intensified Continuity

According to David Bordell continuity has intensified in Hollywood cinema because there has been new advancements in style and techniques in filming that have evolved over the years. Advancements such as more rapid editing, bipolar extremes of lens lengths, more close framings in dialogue scenes, and free-ranging camera.

More rapid editing:
Between 1930-1960 hollywood films contained between 300 and 700 shots and the average shot length (ASL) was around 8-11 seconds. In the 1960s, American and British filmmakers were experimenting with faster cutting rates: ASL around 6-8 seconds. 1970s, most films had an ASL between 5-8 seconds and around a thousand shots. In the 1980s, ASL averaged around 4-5 seconds and 3- 4 for those movies influenced by music videos and in action pictures. Most films were around 1500 shots and near the end of the 90s, movies contained 3000-4000 shots and an ASL between 3-6 seconds. "Some action sequences are cut so fast (and staged so gracelessly) as to be incomprehensible". Most scenes include conversations and shot/reverse-shot exchanges are applied and the eyeline match of the characters can serve as an establishing shot so longer shots are not needed.  

Bipolar extremes of lens lengths:
1910s-1940s, the normal lens had a focal length of 50mm, longer lenses (100-500mm) were used for close ups and swift action at a distance. The 1930s relied on shorter lenses (25-35mm) for good focus in several planes or full shots, which became the normal lens. 1970s, wide-angle lenses provided establishing shots, medium shots, and close-ups. "Even more filmmakers turned to the long lens. Thanks to influential European films like A Man and a Women (1966), the development of reflex viewing and telephoto and zoom lenses, an influx of new directors from television and documentary, and other factors, directors began to use a great many more long-lens shots". Long lenses could save time and multiple-camera shooting. The long lens can frame close-ups, medium shots, over the shoulder shots, and establishing shots.

More close framings in dialogue scenes:
1930s-1960s, directors played out scenes that cut off actors at the knee or mid-thigh level, which called for lengthy two-shots. Two-shots were replaced by singles only showing one person. The filmmaker must find ways to emphasize certain lines or facial reactions in scenes that rely on rapidly cut singles. "in many films the baseline framing for a dialogue became a roomy over the shoulder medium shot. So the filmmaker began to work along a narrower scale, from medium two-shot to extreme close-up single". A reestablishing shot may not be needed when actors change positions. Tighter framings permit faster cutting.

A free-ranging camera:
1920s, prolonged following shots were developed and became prominent at the start of sound cinema. "thanks to lighter cameras and stabilizers like Steadicam, the shot pursuing one or two characters down corridors, through room after room, indoors and outdoors and back again, has become ubiquitous". Crane shots now serve as casual embellishment and now less marks a film's dramatic high point. Push-ins build tension and are used at a point of realization. Circling shots were a very common way to present people gathered around a dinner table and arching cameras showed lovers embracing. Sometimes the camera movement may serve as a point of view shot. A long shot is unlikely to be a static one.

Continuity has intensified because movies were increasing in durations and number of shots, so techniques were developed to save time, convey the meaning of the shots more clearly, and keep the attention of the audience.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The American Anti-Hero

Between 1945 and 1980 emerged the golden age of the American anti-hero. This is more of a human hero popularized by the male movie star. There are four reasons why heroes changed in American film after WWII. Americans wanted: 1. new kinds of heroes since it was a new country after the war; 2. their heroes to rebel against the status quo; 3. human heroes who were like real American heroes who were true representations of life; 4. its heroes to reflect the true american spirit. The american cinema is a reflection of the culture. America had lost its innocence and needed new kinds of heroes to lead the way.

New Kinds of Heroes:
"The anti-hero gained popularity in the 1940s and 1950s, probably due to the cynicism during and following World War II. People were relating to the hip non-hero who was not involved in world problems but devoting his time to overcoming his own personal problems" (Epstein and Morella 5). People were relating to the non-hero who was not involved in world problems but devoting his time to overcoming his own personal problems. John Garfield made a name for himself in the 1940s. His characters were visceral and palpable individuals who were only concerned about what they could gain or lose. This was also true to human nature and much more realistic than the traditional hero who always did the right thing. The anti-hero was daring the audience to relate to doing wrong or being wrong even for the wrong reasons. The anti-hero would come to represent America's growing uneasiness and skepticism about true courage and heroism. The 1950s would see the paranoia of the Cold War take hold of the country and create a sense of fear and hate in the people. Characters started to embrace the duality in the nature of man.


"The anti-hero is rarely happy in situations that please other men. He prefers conflict and struggle rather than comfort and certainty. His sense of self-actualization or righteousness is achieved through war or strife. In Homer's story of Odysseus, as in so many contemporary films, the goal of the warrior/hero is not long life, but glorious life followed by glorious death" (Fitch ingredient of the anti-hero is the need to rebel and in the early 1950s America was concerned with fighting and conquering Communism. This gave rise to a revolution of father figures who represented  America's citizens whose lives were being shattered by overbearing authority figures. Rebels are anti-heroes who fight authority figures no matter what the cost. America would fight battles from Korea to Vietnam; while nothing much was gained almost everything was lost. The rebel anti-hero was just as stubborn and just as tragic. The 1960s would be the most profound period in the golden age of the anti-hero. As much as the rebel anti-hero was rebelling against the American standard, America itself was born through rebellion and revolution. Rebelling was and still is an American characteristic. What would separate the 60s anti-heroes from all others was their uncanny ability to inspire and move their audience even through failure. Their humanity would be their most powerful weapon.

Human Heroes:
"In America, 1968 was merely the most apocalyptic year of a momentous decade. During that period the myths underlying the foreign policy of containment, the belief that domestic affluence ensured social peace, and the basic optimism that dominated American life and spirit since the Second World War were buried forever. For many Americans their image of themselves, their society, and their place in the world underwent a painful transformation. Despite the fact that it ultimately ushered in a period of intense social and political conservatism (whose force and grip on power has still clearly not abated) it left hope that this was no permanent state of things-that some form of social and cultural rebellion could rise again" (Auster and Quart 67-8). Heroes seemed to be all too human during the 60s.They all had rebel hearts, but few  ever reached their goal or were successful. They would continue to fight worthwhile battles, but in the end nothing would be gained. Anti-heroes became these characters that were supposed to be representations of real people or real Americans.These human heroes bore little resemblance to their successful forefathers, who seemed to all live happily ever after. Anti-heroes still convinced the audience they could be the heroes of old and win out or at least survive.

The True American Spirit:
Towards the end of the 60s and into the 70s filmmakers began to tweak the anti-hero, giving the role a darker or even non-heroic quality. America during this period was just as morally ambiguous. Whether it was sexual liberation or drug use or politics, audiences yearned to see the true American spirit. The anti-hero became a darker, edgier character, who was just as confused as the average American. People began to wonder if heroes, in general, were real or even needed. Anti-heroes of the late 60s and 70s embodied the idea of the American spirit. They explored what life in America was and what it meant to be an American.

The American anti-hero contradicts the classic hollywood ideology because of how it represents a sense of reality in everyday life. The classic hollywood ideology involves characters who are more heroic and accomplish good things that seem unselfish and more superman like. However the anti-hero tends to focus on individuality and accomplishing the problems that seem more realistic to the people of America and is something that the audience can relate too.