Race

April 20th, 2010

Hooks discusses what it was like growing up as a black female (or I am assuming because Bell Hooks is an ambiguous name). It is interesting that she discusses that in her segregated town, if you did not work in a white area, you only knew about the white dress, acts, thoughts and ideology from the television screen. However, if we look at how that is being perceived nowadays, we mostly see white males perceived as the bread-winners, and black males perceived as tough gangsters. Even though people do not live in segregated areas, what subliminal messages are we sending to people? In the film Crash, which is all about the issues of race, it finally brings up the fact that in films, we judge people by their race because we are so used to doing so, while it is not normally the case. And society still has a stereotype issue, which I think comes from the media that has the most influence on people, film and television.

One the other hand, Dyer discusses that although whiteness is always perceived as the dominant race, if we take a better look, it is really about emptiness and denial. Take a classic ‘perfect family’ that is often portrayed on films: dad, mom, brother and sister, all white, of course. Dad is the bread-winner, Mom is a stay-at-home-mom and the children act as any child would. However, it looks good from the outside, but there are always problems; children rebel, affairs, bankruptcy… And we see this is almost every film that has a family in it. I am sitting here and I can not think of a film where there is no emptiness involved in the family. Anybody come up with any?

In Diawara’s article, he discusses that the idea of the ‘black spectator’ is equal to that of the ‘resisting spectator’. He says that the black character is there to remind the audience that the white characters are higher and of more importance. In the example he brings with 48HRS, Eddie Murphy is there to make Nick Nolte look more educated and a better character. But what about Pulp Fiction, specifically the story line of Samuel L. Jackson and John Travolta. Jackson and Travolta play partners out on a mission. While they are very similar to a cop partnership, instead they go around killing people. Nevertheless, while in most cases when partners of different races are paired together on a scene, the white person is the dominant. But in Pulp Fiction, Samuel L. Jackson is the one with his head on his shoulders and quoting the Bible, seemingly being the more educated and dominant one. Travolta even  follows what Jackson tells him to do.

While reading Fanon’s excerpt from Black Skin, White Masks, I did not understand why we were reading this in a Film Theory class. He states that in every film he watches, he sees himself. He connects himself to the black man on the screen. But I dont get what this has to do with Film Theory.

Any answers?

Psychoanalysis/Spectatorship/Sexual Difference

April 13th, 2010

In Metz’s ‘From The imaginary Signifier’ he discusses how cinema differs from other forms of art. As opposed to pictures and sculptures and literature, they only have use one sense, visual. However, cinema uses two senses, visual and auditory. Since these two senses make the audience believe that this is real, like looking in a clear glass mirror. the audience has a passion while watching the film because of our desire to see and desire to hear. I see this being true when I watch films. Yesterday, I watched Stanley Kubrick’s Lolita. In this film, Humbart, our protagonist, is in love with Lolita, and in the beginning of the film, he stands from a safe distance and watches her. Watching this scene I thought to myself how uncomfortable he made me feel since he was watching/stalking from afar. Then I thought to myself that how can I think Humbart is weird when I am doing the same, watching Humbart from afar. Watching films is very voyeuristic.

Mulvey discusses visual pleasures and how people love to watch others just as much as they love to be watched. Aside from the male gaze, which comes up in many films, she also discusses three other looks that go into film. The gaze of the camera as it is being filmed, the look at the audience as they are watching it and the look of the characters towards one another within the scene. As the audience, we are aware of the gazes that go between characters, but we forget our gaze of watching the film.

Doane discusses female spectatorship. Usually it is the male that gaze towards the female. However, Doane is suggesting a reverse idea; that the female gaze towards the male to receive enjoyment. She discusses things like male strip-tease but I cant take it to maybe a more realistic approach. Maybe women dont need men stripping in front of their faces, but women are much more romantic creatures. I know when I am with my girlfriends and we are watching a film, we gaze at the men when they are romantic and sweep the female character off her feet. Everyone wants their knight in shining armor. I think that is what women gaze over more than male stripping.

Ideology

April 2nd, 2010

In Jean-Louis Baudry’s ‘The Apparatus”, he goes back to the story of the men in the cave. He brings in Plato and how he made the apparatus like a sound cinema. However, there is no sound with these shadows on the wall in the cave. Without sound, there is a sense of ambiguity, which closely relates it to reality. I agree that without sound there is a sense of ambiguity because everyone watching the silent cinema can interpret it a different way since there is nothing being stated as fact. However, I don’t know if ambiguity makes seem like reality, since there is sound in the real world. Additionally, when a film ends on a note when it is ambiguous and the audience must figure out what happens in the end, I do not think that is real life. Life goes on and things are resolved and figured out.

Mary Ann Doane makes a bold statement in her first paragraph saying, ‘The silent film is certainly understood, at least retrospectively and even in its time, as incomplete, as lacking speech.” Although I agree to this statement, it is a powerful statement. I agree that sound adds a lot to a film. Dialougue and music can alter the audiences views on a specific character, and bring out emotions that just movement cannot. There is a scene in the film Moulin Rouge by Baz Luhrmann where a song is playing in the background of what would seem like an ordinary scene. However, when listening to the lyrics, the audience is able to understand a deeper meaning to the scene, making it more emotional for the viewer.

In Robin Wood article, he brings all the theories together in stating that while there are many theories with different outlooks on cinema, an audience member can not choose just one theory to be correct, but can take a little from each one. Although this statement may cause controversy since many of the theories contradict each other. He then brings in different components for the audience to be aware of while understand cinema. Some components are capitalism, marriage and family and success and wealth. These are some ideologies that many cinemas use. However, I was wondering if there are any films that don’t use these ideologies, but find a new idea to show to audiences. Would that film do well, since it is the only one of its kind, or will it be a flop since it is not like the other films out and people like to see what they know they will like.

In ‘Cinema/Ideology/Criticism’, it states that a film for the most part will give off a certain ideology that belonged to the makers of the film, without even knowing it. I agree to this statement because the creators of the film, director, producer…, these people are the ones creating the film so it is their ideology and choices that make the film what it is. Even if the filmmakers try to make the film completely unbiased, the film is a product of them so there will be a little of their ideology in the film. Yes, I’m sure there are examples of films that do not give off any ideology, but that is in the minority.

New idea

March 24th, 2010

Hey guys,

So after today’s class I decided to change my topic and idea for the final paper. We discussed the idea that the film we choose should stimulate us and get us thinking, and I thought of the perfect film. I recently saw for the first time Clockwork Orange by Stanley Kubrick. That film is insane. Clockwork Orange is one of Kubrick’s films that follow his bizzare, themed films, making him a pefect example of an auteur.  Also, Alex, the main character, is seriously ‘messed up in the head’. I want to psychoanalyze him using the relevant theories we discussed in class.

Your thoughts?

Proposal

March 22nd, 2010

After much deliberation, I think I am going to write my final paper on Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. I can watch that film a million times and still try to understand it’s brilliance. There is a lot to discuss about aesthetics, even though the film is in black and white. On a deeper level, there are many gender issues brought up because of the clear position of women in this film as opposed to men. Even more so, Bates has serious psychotic problems that can be further understood using psychoanalysis, which is what the officer at the end of the film attempts to use. With this is mind, I am going to use the theories of Christian Metz, Laura Mulvey and Mary Ann Doane, since they all discuss the topics of psychoanalysis, spectatorship and gender/sexual differences.

Film and Reality

March 2nd, 2010

Hello. I really enjoyed something that Balasz said regarding to the silent soliloquy. Back in the day, Shakespeare would have his main characters speak for long periods of time, soliloquies. Maybe back in the day that would of been accepted and seemed interesting and realistic, but nowadays, we enjoy reality on the screen. Along with loving reality, viewers prefer to watch someone speaking a silent soliloquy than a regular soliloquy, an unnatural way for the character to tell the viewers his thoughts and ideas. Soliloquies seem long, boring and not realistic. With silent soliloquies, the viewers still get what the character is trying to say, but it seems more natural and real.

What would you say is a silent soliloquy nowadays? I tried to think of a film that had one but nothing came to mind.

Kracauer says something a bit different. He says that a film, like an embryo, it is something made up of many separate components. A film combines sound, editing, light… so many important factors of a film. Also, he discusses the two tendencies of film. The first is realistic tendency; with movement of camera and the actors, and the stage, mise-en-scene. The stage and area where the film is being shot must look realistic or the viewer will not find it believable. The second tendency is formative tendency, which represents movement toward order, complexity and interrelatedness of a film.

Benjamin discusses film art and how technology is used to replicate it. He says that technology makes the art lose something because it is lacking authenticity. I can, on one hand, agree that with technology, something is worth less because we are able to make copies, have easier access… But on the other hand, technology can also enhance art. Take for example Disney films. When the Disney films first came out around the 1950s, the quality was not that great. But nowadays, Disney films are being redone so the picture is sharper, sound is clearer and the film is overall better quality. What would Benjamin say about that? Yes Disney is reproducing their classic cartoon films, but the quality is so much better!

According to Bazin, the Myth of Total Cinema is the reproduction of the world, reality, according to the artists interpretation. What would Bazin think about reality television and mocumentary films, films that are scripted documentaries (usually really funny). For example, what would he think about the film Selig, staring Woody Allen. It seemed like reality, yet slightly impossible and the reality being portrayed was that of the director/writer.

Just some ideas I was thinking about when reading these theories.

French Film Theory in the 1920s

February 26th, 2010

I know I’m going a bit out of order but I really wanted to post on the French film theory. To start off, Jean Epstein makes it clear that he loves close-ups. “The close-up is the soul of the cinema”. It is interesting he says that the close-up is the soul. The soul is the spiritual being of a person. I would think that editing, putting the film together and creating a masterpiece, can be argued as the soul of cinema. Maybe the actual filming of a film can be seen as the soul, having the actors on screen conveying a story or message. I never saw the close-up as the soul. I agree that close-ups are very important and extremely needed in film to guide the audience to look at important details in a scene. But i think calling it the soul of cinema is a bit over the top.

Another point that Epstein states is that unless it can be imitated and enhanced by film reproduction, it is not worthy in the cinema art. This goes along with his idea of the importance of close-ups; anything that is significant must be enhanced thorugh film reproduction. This includes even the tiniest of details. If there were no close-ups, only large items would be important to cinema art. With close-ups, even a smile or a twitch of the hand can be important.

Breton was the founder of surrealism. He attempts to express the subconscious. That is why he discusses Freud and his dreams theory. To be honest though, reading this, I did not understand majority of it. So if anyone has an idea, please let me know.

Artaud discusses the relationship between cinema and reality. he says that cinema needs that shock value to keep the audience enthralled in the movie. This reminds me of the film I recently saw, Shutter Island. I sat in the audience watching this film and I was unable to lose interest because I was completely enthralled in the film, with it’s mental twists and scary scenes. I wonder what Artaud would of thought about horror films. Horror films are filled with shocking moments.

Dulac asks the question if cinema is an art. I automatically answered yes, of course cinema is an art. There are so many different components that are involved in creating a film. the director, producer, editor, all the mise en scene, camera angles, edit transitions… All those components take skill and artistic decisions. Everyone can take the same script and come up with million different films. It is all artistic decisions.

Any thoughts?

Editing/Montage/Soviet Film Theory

February 21st, 2010

In this weeks reading, it discusses the concept of montage. Montage is the editing of many different images or videos complied to create a whole piece of art. I love montages because there is so much to learn from why each image or video is part of the montage. Here is a montage of my personal favorite Saturday Night Live skit, Celebrity Jeopardy:

Montage

Back to the reading, I found it interesting what Pudovkin said about editing. He states that character development takes place during the editing of a film, rather than what the actors perform in front of the camera. This got me thinking that the way life is now, fans of films fall in love with celebrities because of their work. But who directed them? Who put it all together? It is the people behind the scenes, the editor, director, producer… that make a film a masterpiece. But when I think of it, the only time an editor, who according to Pudovkin, creates a character, is recognized for his work is at award shows and most people don’t even pay attention to them.

He also says that the foundation for film art is editing. Clearly he has a strong view on the editing of a film. I agree with him. Now that I’ve taken many film classes, I see films in a new light, not just watching the actors, but watching the cinematography of a film. He sees film as a real “thing”, that is built, not shot. It takes a real genius to edit something to perfection and the audience takes it for granted.

Vertov says that in order to understand the effect a film has on a viewer, we must look at the viewer and what kind effect we are discussing. That makes sense because when people discuss a film, they discuss the effect in general, when really each person is effected differently. I enjoyed this because I never thought of it like that.

According to Eisenstein, art is always a conflict because of its social mission, its nature, and its methodology. I know this is supposed to sound really deep and I feel like I would love this saying but I don’t really understand it.

Any thoughts??

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