Thursday, December 19, 2013

Dark and Gritty - The Current Era of Film

Ever since a little film called The Dark Knight was released in 2008, everyone in Hollywood has been trying to copy the style, tone and ideas of Christopher Nolan and co. Considering the fact that The Dark Knight had a very dark and gritty tone, Hollywood has adapted this concept to essentially a whole new style which is being adapted to every big budget film in recent memory. This is ludicrous and shows just how desperate Hollywood is for cash.

After completing our final readings and considering our film screening - you decide: what new era is American cinema in today? Feel free to come up with your own name, and also please explain what defines this era. How is it different from previous eras (or perhaps how is it the same?)? What are those changes in criteria (biz, technology, culture) and how have they affected the art form? Are we in the middle of a transition, and if so what might be in store for the future?

Ever since the change from the over-exaggerated, cheesy action films of the 90's, such as Speed, Point Break and Top Gun, there was an interesting transitional period during the early to mid 2000's. This was full of more serious actions films as well as the death of the original Blockbuster, which was replaced with remakes, adaptations, reboots, re-imaginings, sequels, prequels, threquels to a much greater extent than in the past. This all ramped up to one of the most influential films of the 21st Century, The Dark Knight.

Nolan's comic book/superhero masterpiece changed the game by having one of the greatest performances of all time, The Joker by Heath Ledger, as well as establishing a dark, gritty version of Batman that no one had ever seen before, especially in comparison to the Joel Shumaccer versions. After its massive success, studios changed their styles and tones to match that of The Dark Knight.

Films that are considered "darker versions," "gritty reboots," "realistic takes on old ideas," etc. include but are not limited to, Dredd, Sin City, The Road, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, The Wolverine, MAN OF STEEEEEEEEEELLLLLLLLL, X-Men: First Class, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Star Trek: Into Darkness, THE AMAZING SPIDERMANNNNNNNNNNN, SKYFALLLLLLLL, the later Harry Potter films, Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, Snow White and the Huntsman, etc.

All of these films had a darker, more grounded, more dark side, implying how much of an impact TDK had.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The 400 Blogs (Revised)

The films The 400 Blows and The Bicycle Thief are great examples of the French New Wave and Italian Realism movements. Both movements were prominent during the mid-1900's and were huge in the foreign film market. I've chosen to focus on The 400 Blows due to the fact that I found the cinematography, the style, the acting and the story very interesting.
         
The French New Wave was popular during the late 50’s - early 60’s and was driven by popular directors such as Jean-Luc Godard, Claude Chabrol, Jacques Rivette, and Eric Rohmer. Some films that were part of the New Wave were Elevator to the Gallows, Mon Amour, Paris Belongs to Us, Shoot the Piano Player, etc.


These films were all characterized by a series of things. They were all going for a more natural, realistic vibe to them. This was shown through editing styles, locations, protagonists, stories, handheld cameras and improvisation. This is also shown through the technical, aesthetic, and story-telling aspects of The 400 Blows.


The story centers around a boy, Antoine, in the middle of a tough family dynamic where his mother cheating on his father. This and his threatening schoolteacher eventually lead to him skipping school frequently. Antoine continues getting in more trouble until he is caught when he steals a typewriter from the business that employs his father. He is then sent off to an observation center for troubled youth and eventually escapes and makes it to the ocean. This was his goal from the beginning, to see the north shore.


The story doesn't follow a typical narrative in that there isn't clear escalation over the course of the film, it ends a bit abruptly, and theres not necessarily a major goal that Antoine is trying to achieve or overcome. This relates heavily to many other tropes of French New Wave films including the “anti-authoritarian protagonist.”


Typical protagonists were heroic, good-looking men with no issues. In French New Wave, the protagonists were younger men who had many flaws. These protagonists were also anti-heroes and alienated loners. They behaved spontaneously and acted immorally. This is very similar to Antoine in the film as he is a young boy who faces many challenges and is stuck in his boring life.


The New Wave films did this to connect to a different audience than they had been targeting before. Instead of making movies for richer, upper-class, good-looking men and women, they made films that could appeal to the middle and lower classes. Films that showed the struggles of the poor man and contained plots involving breaking the law, family struggles, etc.

Apart from the story, The 400 Blows also emulated the New Wave style by using certain camera techniques, editing processes, location scouting, and audio recording.


For example, in the editing process for these films, the editors would try to not include many quick cuts and keep a smooth simple progression. This helped achieve the real, raw feel of these films. In The 400 Blows, editor Marie-Josephe Yoyotte emulates this editing style to great effect. She manages to achieve a real-life quality in the editing and carries us through a somewhat stagnant story perfectly.


Also, shooting with handheld cameras on cheap, “real” locations and recording natural sound helped achieve this real feel as well. The handhelds gave a “homemade” quality that influenced cheaper films in the future such as found-footage, indies, etc. The real locations as opposed to sound stages and built sets show the effort to achieve realness. The natural sound also did this by not having to use foley and other techniques as much to create ambient sounds. The recorded ambient sounds from the locations helped greatly in the editing process.


All of these things are clearly evident in The 400 Blows. From the simple camera work and shot progression from Director of Photography Henri Decae, to the numerous French landmarks, streets, and locations used throughout the film. Even the sound is well done in that it really feels as if you are stuck in these poor conditions with Antione. These techniques all go back to the point of the film which is to make the audience feel for Antione and to see the world through his shoes. By implementing all of these techniques, they manage to achieve it.


Overall, The 400 Blows is a great symbol of the French New Wave and showcases how ever-changing the styles of foreign film, well, film in general, can be. It is done through the well developed story, the smooth editing, the simple camera work, the genuine locations and the authentic sound. These all form a package that is well worth viewing by anyone interested in film and why it is important to mid-century French culture.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The 400 Blogs

The films The 400 Blows and The Bicycle Thief are great examples of the French New Wave and Italian Realism movements. Both movements were prominent during the mid-1900's and were huge in the foreign film market. I've chosen to focus on The 400 Blows due to the fact that I found the cinematography, the style, the acting and the story very interesting.
The French New Wave was popular during the late 50’s - early 60’s and was driven by popular directors such as Jean-Luc Godard, Claude Chabrol, Jacques Rivette, and Eric Rohmer. Some films that were part of the New Wave were Elevator to the Gallows, Mon Amour, Paris Belongs to Us, Shoot the Piano Player, Jules and Jim, Breathless, A Woman Is a Woman, Last Year at Marienbad, Contempt, Cleo from 5 to 7, The Bakery Girl of Monceau, etc.
These films were all characterized by a series of things. They were all going for a more natural, realistic vibe to them. This was shown through editing styles, locations, protagonists, stories, handheld cameras and improvisation.
For example, in the editing process for these films, the editors would add many things like jump cuts and wouldn’t pay attention to continuity in certain places to keep the audiences aware that they were watching a movie that wasn’t “perfectly cut” like other Hollywood-type films of the time. This helped achieve the real, raw feel of these films.
Also, shooting with handheld cameras on cheap, “real” locations and recording natural sound helped achieve this feel as well. The handhelds gave a “homemade” feel that influenced cheaper films in the future such as found-footage, indies, etc. The real locations as opposed to sound stages and built sets show the effort to achieve realness. The natural sound also did this by not having to use foley and other techniques to create ambient sounds. The recorded ambient sounds recorded on locations helped greatly in the editing process.
There were also many story elements that were different in these stories. One of these being anti-authoritarian protagonists. Typical protagonists were heroic, good-looking men with no issues. In French New Wave, the protagonists were younger men who had many flaws. These protagonists were also anti-heroes and alienated loners. They behaved spontaneously and acted immorally.
All of these things add up in Francois Truffaut’s The 400 Blows. The story centers around a boy, Antoine, in the middle of an awkward family dynamic with his mother cheating on his father. He is also threatened by his schoolteacher enough to cause him to skip school frequently. Antoine continues getting in more trouble until he is caught when he steals a typewriter from the business that employs his father. He is then sent off to an observation center for troubled youth and eventually escapes and makes it to the ocean. This was his goal from the beginning, to see the north shore.
This film employs many of the characteristics of French New Wave. The editing is very slow and feels smooth and real. The score ties in well with this smooth, slow-moving, realistic feel. The shots are also simple for the most part, basically setting up a simple look at a troubled boy, a thing we as human beings can connect to. The real locations are also extremely evident. They never look fake and always look authentic and true to the story.
Overall, The 400 Blows is a great symbol of the French New Wave and showcases how everchanging the styles of foreign film, well, film in general, can be.




Broland. "The 400 Blows: Antoine Doinel's Place in the French New Wave." HubPages. HubPages, n.d. Web. 14 Nov. 2013.



"Make A Wave-French New Wave." : Characteristics of French New Wave Films. Blogger, 13 Aug. 2012. Web. 14 Nov. 2013.
http://makeawave-frenchnewwave.blogspot.com/2012/08/characteristics-of-french-new-wave-films.html

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Chaplin script

http://chaplin.bfi.org.uk/resources/bfi/filmog/film_large.php?fid=59405&enlargement=city_cutcont2-1.jpg

Bibliography for Silent Film Research

Bibliography

BFI Contributors. "Charlie Chaplin." BFI. BFI, 14 Nov. 2006. Web. 08 Oct. 2013.
http://chaplin.bfi.org.uk/

The Biography Channel. "Charlie Chaplin Biography." Bio.com. A&E Networks Television, 2013. Web. 08 Oct. 2013.
http://www.biography.com/people/charlie-chaplin-9244327?page=1

Silver, Charles. "Charles Chaplin's City Lights." InsideOut. MoMA, 31 Aug. 2010. Web. 08 Oct. 2013.
http://www.moma.org/explore/inside_out/2010/08/31/charles-chaplins-city-lights

Silent Film Research

        Charlie Chaplin is arguably America's most popular silent film star. And with good reason. He not only stared in films, he also directed, produced, wrote, edited and composed them. This wide variety of talent stemmed from many things, starting with his mother, a vaudevillian and music hall singer that inspired Chaplin to pursue a career in show business.
        As he aged, he took jobs like news-vendor, printer and doctor's assistant, while continuing to periodically call and audition for talent agencies. Eventually, he earned a spot in the Fred Karno pantomime troupe. This paid him good money and allowed him to focus more heavily on his craft.
        In 1914, Chaplin's career began to take off with the creation of "The Tramp," a character that would not only come to define his overall career, but early American cinema as well. He began to appear in more and more films such as The Tramp, The Rink and Easy Street.
        As he produced more and more work, he became more and more of a perfectionist. This lead to issues such as reshooting countless scenes, rebuilding entire sets and recasting lead actors that didn't fit Chaplin's vision. Some say it made him hard to work wit but it still produced strong results.
        The Kid, The Gold Rush and The Circus, which all came out in the 1920's, were some of Chaplin's best films. His perfectionist method helping to get them to be exactly the way he wanted.
        He was very popular during the silent film era and influenced many forms of physical comedy and social commentary that he showcased in his work. His popularity surged until he hit a speed bump with the talkies.
        Audiences wanted to hear the dialogue, not read it off of title cards. However, the power of the Tramp powered over America's desires and Chaplin got away with many more silent films even after talkies became the hollywood staple in the early thirties.
     
        One of these films was City Lights (1931), the film I chose to focus on for my creative assignment. The film covers the relationships between the Tramp, a blind florist and a suicidal millionaire. Chaplin directed, wrote, produced, composed, edited and starred in the silent film.
        I chose to focus on his writing of the film. The format of the screenplay is essentially a detailed shot sheet. He did this to maintain continuity in the film. Chaplin did this so he could easily change things while on set.

        For my creative piece, I wrote a short screenplay in the format Chaplin used. A detailed shot sheet. I told a short story that could easily fit in with the rest of Chaplin's work.
        My story is about the Tramp visiting a 1920's movie theater. He gets into several shenanigans and hijinks in his attempt to see the movie "The Boy who Cried Wolf."



"Trouble at the Movies" A Chaplin inspired short by Connor Odom

CUTTING CONTINUITY
“TROUBLE AT THE MOVIES”
A - VERSION
REEL ONE


A. Part One.


  1. Start and Framed Leader.
  2. Fade in - Title - Trouble at the Movies - Fade out
  3. Dissolve in - Wide shot - exterior - Outside of Large Theater.
  4. Long shot - People walking on sidewalk outside of theater. Full body Tramp appears from back of crowd and walks towards the theater ticket booth.
  5. Wide shot - Tramp asks cashier for ticket. Tramp points towards sign above the cashier. 
  6. Medium - Sign says "The Boy who Cried Wolf."
  7. Wide shot - Cashier responding to Tramp.
  8. Title - “25 cents please.”
  9. Wide shot - Tramp reaches in pocket for money. He does this for several seconds. A man in line behind Tramp gets frustrated. He talks to Tramp.
  10. Title - “The movie’s going to start any minute. Hurry up!”
  11. Wide shot - Tramp goes faster. The cashier leans forward to collect the money. Tramp pulls a quarter out of his pocket quickly. It flys out of Tramp’s hand.
  12. Medium close up - The quarter hits the cashier in the head. The cashier falls over.
  13. Wide shot - Tramp apologizes to cashier and the man behind him in line. The cashier gets up and hands Tramp a movie ticket.
  14. Long shot - Tramp walks towards the entrance quickly. Camera follows as he gets closer to the doors. Tramp knocks over man talking to his wife. The man falls down. Tramp turns to apologize to the couple but runs into a family posing for a picture. The family yells at Tramp. Tramp turns to apologize again but stumbles into a revolving door. Angry people chase Tramp.
  15. Medium shot - interior - Tramp inside revolving door. He spins around several times.
  16. Wide shot - exterior - Angry people trying to get into the revolving door that spins too fast for them to get in.
  17. Medium shot - interior - Tramp jumps out of the doors.
  18. Wide shot - Tramp lands on the floor of the theater lobby. He rolls in front of a theater employee.
  19. Medium close up - Tramp looking up at theater employee.
  20. Medium long shot - Employee looking down at Tramp.
  21. Wide shot - Tramp stands up and apologizes to employee. He brushes his shoulders off and walks past the employee.
  22. Medium shot - Tramp approaches the door to the theater. He opens it.
  23. Wide shot - Tramp enters the dark theater.
  24. Medium long shot - Tramp looks around for a seat.
  25. Half body Tramp from behind - looks for a seat.
  26. Close up - Tramp spots a seat.
  27. Long shot - An empty theater seat right off the aisle.
  28. Medium shot from behind - Tramp walks to seat and sits down.
  29. Close up - Three quarters. Tramp is bouncing in his seat. He looks down.
  30. Medium shot - Tramp is sitting on midget.
  31. Long shot - Tramp stands and apologizes to midget.
  32. Wide shot from back of theater - Theater attendees yell at Tramp.
  33. Title - "Sit down! We can't see the movie!"
  34. Wide shot from back of theater - Tramp walks across the row in the opposite direction he came from. More attendees shout at him.
  35. Medium shot - Tramp exits the row from the opposite side.
  36. Wide shot from back of theater - Attendees settle down and watch the movie.
  37. Medium shot - Tramp turns to watch the movie. An attendee walks towards his seat. Tramp is in the way. Each time the attendee tries to get around Tramp, he moves to a new spot that is in his way, trying to get a better view of the movie. The two mirror each other.
  38. Long shot from head on of Tramp - Tramp finally lets attendee through.
  39. Medium shot - Tramp watches movie. Tramp starts overreacting to what's happening in the movie. A woman in a large hat walks behind him. Tramp and the rest of the audience flail their hands into the hair as they react to the movie. Tramp's right hand knocks the woman's hat off.
  40. Close up - The hat lands in a male attendee's lap.
  41. Long shot from head on of Tramp- Woman yells at Tramp. She is on the camera left side of him.
  42. Medium shot - A male attendee throws the hat to Tramp and the woman.
  43. Long shot from head on of Tramp - The hat flys in from camera left and hits the woman in the back of her head. She leans forward and kisses Tramp.
  44. Medium shot - Tramp keeps kissing the woman. She refuses. She finally pulls away. She screams to the whole theater
  45. Title - "Help! I'm being attacked!"
  46. Long shot - Two theater employees run into the dark theater. They see Tramp and run towards him.
  47. Medium shot - Tramp picks up the woman's hat and throws it at the employees.
  48. Long shot - The employees are hit by the hat and fall over.
  49. Medium shot - Tramp apologizes once more and runs away.
  50. Long shot - Tramp jumps over the employees and exits the dark theater.
  51. Wide shot - Tramp runs through the theater lobby towards the revolving door.
  52. Medium shot - The two employees come out of the theater and into the lobby.
  53. Wide shot - The employees run towards the revolving door.
  54. Medium close up - Tramp hides behind a pillar in the lobby.
  55. Wide shot - Employees can’t find Tramp.
  56. Half figure Tramp - steps out from behind the pillar and looks around.
  57. Wide shot - The employees stand ten feet from the revolving door.
  58. Half figure Tramp - runs away from the pillar.
  59. Wide - Tramp runs past the employees and into the revolving door. The employees notice and chase him.
  60. Long shot - Tramp and the employees run after each other inside of the revolving door.
  61. Wide - exterior - Tramp jumps out and rolls onto the pavement.
  62. Half body Tramp - stands and looks at revolving door.
  63. Long shot - Employees still run around inside the door.
  64. Half body Tramp - shrugs and walks back onto the sidewalk outside of the theater.
  65. Wide shot - Tramp walks further away from the camera.
  66. Fade in - Title - The End - Fade out

Friday, September 20, 2013

Reflection to Birth of Cinema Blog Post

I wrote in this style because I think that any man from that time period would be very impressed by the story, effects and length of the film. He probably would've seen other short movies through kinetoscopes that he could compare The (?) Motorist to. I chose The (?) Motorist because I thought the effects were very cool and well done for its time. I also thought that it told a fun and interesting story that left several questions for the viewer to ask themselves. How can the car fly? How can the driver survive in open space? How does it change into a carriage and then back into a car? And of course, is it a motorist?

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Birth of Cinema Blog Post

The (?) Motorist was an incredible movie! The movie was much more elaborate than the short ones I see at the kinetoscope parlor. At first, I thought that the car would simply drive on the road the entire time, like most motor vehicles do. But to my amazement, the car suddenly began driving up the side of a building! Incredible! Then, if the car couldn't be any more magical, it suddenly begins to fly over the rooftops of the city below. And then, it rides the rings of Saturn in outer space! Of course, as an educated gentleman, I know that an actual motor vehicle isn't capable of these feats. But the film just made it look so real! After walking out of the screening, I was stunned at the great effects and the dramatic yet comedic story. I can definitely say that after seeing this film, I am certainly forced to question the tile, just as the question mark suggests.