Sunday, December 6, 2009

Christmas Films and Not-So Christmas Films

In the past week I've watched parts or the whole of a few different Christmas movies as I've decorated my Christmas tree, opened Advent Presents and baked Christmas Cookies with friends. White Christmas, Christmas in Connecticut, and The Twelve Men of Christmas (a lifetime movie with Kristin Chenoweth) to name a few.

Tonight, however, I caught the tale end of Guess Who's Coming to Dinner? and I thought, "huh. weird not watching a Christmas movie"

But then, during Spencer Tracy's final speech, I decided that in a way, it's a very appropriate film for Christmas. What is more in the spirit of Christmas more than a family coming together, settling differences and accepting that love is stronger than, and can overcome, oppression?

The last few years, since my parents moved to Maine, Advent has been a bit difficult. I've felt a bit sorry for myself because I have been surrounded by a bit of apathy regarding Christmas. But this year I have a few new friends and these are the some of things they've taught me:

1. making Christmas enjoyable for someone else is what makes this the most wonderful time of the year.
2. true friends will celebrate the season with you even when it's not their scene.
3. new traditions can be more rewarding than old traditions.

At church we often talk about The Christmas Story, but the truth is that there are millions of Christmas stories, specific to each person who's been moved by the Old Old Story.

Film is one of the ways that those stories are shared....

and I would say more, but this got long and I have more cookies to bake!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

New Month, New Job!

As part of the filmmaking program I am in, we are required to get an internship in our 4th semester. I got lucky and found one already, and they want me to start this week!

I am sort of nervous, but I am also confident I know what I need to know to get started on the work they'll have me doing.

The internship is with a company called Werc Werk Works, and is based in the warehouse district downtown (um, yeah, I have always wanted to work there - or at least since 7th grade when I had rehearsals with the MN Opera Company there and fell in love!) The company is fairly new, but they have already been working on some awesome projects, including Todd Solondz new film Life in Wartime, which is kind of like a sequel to Happiness, though apparently not as, er, graphic. The project it looks like I'll be working with is Howl which is just coming to a close in post-production, though it won't come out till some time next year. I will be working with organizing behind the scenes footage for things like press releases, and possibley DVD bonus materials down the line. Not sure yet If I'll actually be editing any of it yet, but will probably get to play around with it at least, since this is partly about me learning.

I am so excited to work with these people! They all seem very nice and obviously super professional. I will only be working two mornings a week to start with since my semester is so full, but next semester I will only have two classes and can change my (church)work schedule around to make it work - then I'll be there 15-20 hours a week. yikes!

Any way, I of course have lots of other fun film stuff going on, as well as watching as many films as I have time for, so I have lots to talk about. But, hopefully that'
s what will keep me blogging the rest of November! Remember to check back here tomorrow (or, check my other blog, Are You There God? It's me elinor) for another post!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Julie & Julia

I went and saw Julie & Julia tonight.

First, a little b**ching. I have this magical card that Karasotes theaters offer called the 5 Buck Club card. After a movie has been out for two weeks (or more if it's like, Harry P) you can see it, any time of day, for only 5 bucks. Great, right?

On;y problem is, they send you the email about which movies are going on the $5 list on like Wednesday, but the price isn't actually valid till that FRIDAY. Basically, I think I'm too smart for them, and instead of reading what the email says (where it clearly states that the beginning date is the 21st and not the 20th), I base my assumption of when these prices begin on the nationwide truth that movie theaters change movies, and movie times and all that, on, you guessed it, THURSDAYS.

So, imagine my chagrin when, for the second time, tried to only pay $5 for a ticket that was still full price*. And to the same cashier. Mortifying.

*I actually never pay more than $7 for any movie, because they have student discounts. I'm actually a pretty bg fan of Karasotes.


I'm guessing you've heard of Julie & Julia, and I will say - 1. Yes, it is fairly long. 2. Yes, it is like two movies in one.

Why do people have a problem with this? You just got two movie for the price of one. What is your problem?

The pacing was good. The editing was... what you would expect - not to gaudy, not too many match action cuts between stories, but just enough to satisfy, and kept it from feeling slow (I knew I had been there for a while, but I was still very interested in both stories)

And the acting. Well. What is there to say about a Meryl Streep film? She's amazing. And this time she had Stanley Tucci playing opposite - amazing - not to mention one of the greatest comediennes of our time, Jane Lynch, playing Julia Child's sister.

And this brings me to my main point. This is ho you know good acting (or, one of the ways at least) = the characters personalities are very dissimilar to you. Opposite, even. And yet... you see yourself in them.

When Julia finally spots her sister Dorothy at the Train station, they run towards each other screeching. My sister and I have never once done this. Not after months of not seeing each other or anything. Usually it's more like, "Hey. What up? Where do you wanna have dinner?"

But in that scene and the following scenes of Julia and her sister,I was transported to thinking of my sister and I. The way that childhood jokes and mannerisms come flooding back as though you've never been apart. The way you can finish each others sentences because you're thinking the same thing. Streep and Lynch captured this connection so fully that, honestly, it was almost distracting because I couldn't help thinking about how similar we were - which we totally aren't.

So, yeah. Amy Adams, totally one of my recent favorites for actresses, and Meryl Streep one of my "old" favorites. So, if you like acting; if character driven stories are more your thing; and if you're prepared to either just get up and go or hold it, then you should probably see this film.

And I suggest on the big screen so you can have the full enjoyment of the food shots!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Sydney Pollack: Tootsie, The Way We Were and Absence of Malice

For my final in Cinema History II I wrote a paper on the directorial themes of Sydney Pollack.  I chose to focus on the theme of honor, as this was something we had specifically focused on in our in-class discussion of The Yakuza, Pollack's film about an American WWII veteran and his return to Japan and the world of Japanese honor codes.

The assignment was to choose 3 films from a director and write on one theme.  Although I could have used Yakuza as one of the films, I decided to choose three of Pollack's other films, feeling this would give my claim a little more credibility.  I won't go into what the paper's said here; basically, all three films I watched had strong themes of honor running through them.

OK, The Way We Were was a bit of a stretch.

Here instead are a few brief reviews of the three films.

Tootsie:  I was happy to see that I still really enjoyed this film.  It was one of my favorites to watch at my aunt's house when I was little (she had a VCR and would tape things off the TV - we didn't even have a color TV for a long time).  If you've never seen it, well, firstly, do.  Secondly, it's a story about an out of work actor, played by Dustin Hoffman, who decides to dress as a woman and attempt to get a job on a popular soap opera.  Of course it works, and both hijinks and a hero's journey ensue.

Recently I was in an adult ed at church with two transgender people and we were talking about the difference in acceptance between generations.  I cited Tootsie as an influence for me of acceptance, even though Hoffman's character is definitely not trans, or even gay.  After watching the film again with fresh eyes, I still think it has a lot to say about acceptance.  It wouldn't be a good story if there wasn't growth, and one of the ways he grows is by accepting the more feminine aspects of his personality and thereby identifying with the women he previously objectified.

Anyway, that's what I was thinking about when I saw this, but it's really not a heavy movie.  It has a lot of humor and a little romance, but it's definitely not a rom-com.  It's very early eighties in the best way possible and done really well.  I especially liked the editing of the farm montage when Hoffman is really falling into his character (interesting look at how he is most honest when he is lying about a pretty bug thing!) 

Absence of Malice:  This film stars Paul Newman and Sally Fields.  Fields plays a journalist who s tipped a bad story framing Newman as a murder suspect (which he's not).  This is a pretty dark film for having Sally Fields.  I mean, I'm sure she's done plenty of dramas, but that's just not how I think of her ("You like me!  You really like me!").  There's a lot here about honor and integrity and truth versus accuracy, and those concepts aren't buried very deep.  Some would say this makes for a shallow film, but I kind of feel like... well, as whoever it was who said it says, "If you want the audience to see the gun in the drawer, SHOW them the gun in the drawer."  If you think an idea or moral is important enough to be in your film, shouldn't you do everything in your power to make sure every viewer gets it, versus hoping they'll take the time to hunt for it?   

The Way We Were:  I admit, one reason I chose this film was because of it's standing in pop culture.  I like to get as many references as I can as fully as I can as often as I can, so I knew I was long overdue to see this.  And boy was I glad I did!  A few nights after my semester was over, I decided to watch an old favorite of mine, Boys on the Side.  Low and behold, what movie should be viewed  but The Way We Were!  And, like most references to other works of art in films, this was a very apt film for the characters to watch - a tale of two star crossed lovers whose love can never really win - basically the same theme that runs through Boys on the Side!

Anyway, I really liked The Way We Were, especially because it seemed like it would be really shallow dramatic love story, but it had some depth to it with political matters entering in to it and what not.  Also, beautifully shot and I really noticed the sound since one of the classes I just finished was Sound for Image.

And that brings me to the end of the semester - Three A's (Sound for Image, Acting for the Camera, and Cinema History II) and one B (Cinema Production II)!  Amazingly, that brought my GPA up a little to 3.51, so I think I'm close to being back on the Dean's List.  We'll see how this summer goes!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Punk, meet Love - Cinema Production II Final

I'm going to post my final project here.  I tried posting it to facebook (first and last time doing that most likely) and they took it off within 24 hours.  

As I did for the Lucinda Williams piece, I will highly encourage you to go out and purchase some Ramones music if you haven't already.  Their music shaped a lot of my childhood and helped me tell this story (I hope).

So without further ado:


Tuesday, May 5, 2009

A Blast from the Past

Not sure if I ever put this one up, but some of you may have seen my "Popcorn Ellipsis" project from last spring. Well, I always felt it was a little unfinished, and I figured out why when I looked at it as a possible sound effects project. This short was SCREAMING for sound!

So, without further ado, the reworked, retitled -

Pop Goes the Sound

and in case you were wondering - I got 9 out of 10 on this one and a big "Really Good!" from my teacher!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Two Projects in One Day!

Contained within this blog entry you will find my "final" version of my Atmosphere project.  Now, I haven't completely decided that this will be my final final, since I didn't do any color correction which was part of what the project was about (but I think a lot of my classmates skipped that part, and the prof didn't seem to mind), but I am pretty satisfied overall.

This assignment was to shoot and edit something with no actors which could convey the atmosphere of a specific time/space/what have you.

I finished two (!) projects today (one of which is for sound for image which I forgot to make into a quicktime before leaving school - doh!) so that's definitely something to cheer about, since there are only two weeks left of school.  yikes!

Anyway, I hope you like this.  It was a lot of fun to shoot and pretty fun to edit, too, if you like that sort of thing, which I do!  The song is not all-ages/spaces appropriate, so you may want to play it discreetly, but the images contain nothing lewd. 

Let me know what you think!  I still have time to fix things!

p.s. I really hope no one tells Lucinda Williams on me - she doesn't seem like the kind of woman you want to be on the bad side of.  But in case she or her lawyers see this - I'm not making an money off this and never will.  The music inspired me to make this film, which in turn helped me in my education.  I have four of her albums and I encourage everyone to go out and buy her music ASAP!!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Walls Come Tumbling Down.

People talk a lot about being 'overwhelmed'.  I feel like this word is frequently misused by the general public.  I'm not talking about you, per se, because I may not know you.  But I think some people use this term when they really mean overcome, or frustrated or just busy.

I personally know a lot about feeling overwhelmed.  Overwhelmed is when you feel as though walls are constantly crashing in around you and all you can do is curl into the fetal position and try to block out the noise... but even then, at least if there were crashing walls you would be the victim of some horrible accident, your peers wouldn't hold you accountable for your inability to get that project done, your teachers would give you extensions with a look of sympathy on their faces.  

Instead, I have the kind of overwhelmed feeling that happens only on the inside where no one can see the crashing walls of my own mistakes.  I am fully responsible for my crashing walls and have to take more then just responsibility.  I have to take actions.  Push back against those walls till they stand strong, sweep away the debris, take a deep breath and take it one step at a time.

A little over a week ago our final film project was assigned.  I ordered my film.  It didn't come and it didn't come.  I called the appropriate numbers, and low and behold, it had been 'delivered' but had never shown up.  So.  It's (last) Saturday. I have one role of indoor film that the school provided.  We shoot the last scene of my film.  This works out alright since I have yet to find my second actress anyway.

I am sent two new roles of film by Kodak.  They arrive Friday.  Still no second actress.  As we say in the biz - I'm screwed.

Meanwhile... let's back up a bit.  Tuesday, I go out to shoot some stuff.  Goes fine.  Wednesday I try to capture the footage... not so fine.  My electromagnetic field strikes again and the machines don't want to co-operate.  I can't turn in my project.

For those keeping score: I am now 1 paper, 1 video, 1 sound project, 1 take home quiz behind... something for every class.  Not to mention running behind on the Film project and a second paper (both of which I have plenty of time to complete if I act fast).

Bringing us to today.  I am at school finally capturing the footage for my video project as well as the documentary for the stewardship campaign (oh, had I forgotten to mention that one?  being shown next Sunday, the 26th).  Next I'll try and get a sound room so I can take care of that pesky sound project and get the sound for one of my interviews.  Then I'm going to a little bit of shopping (necessities and a present for someone who may have a holiday in their honor coming up).

So, I have been feeling very overwhelmed, but I think I am finally pressuring those walls into standing themselves back up again.  It helps to have some stress relief too, so I am going out to karaoke tonight to sing and burn off a little steam.  Should be fun - what's that like again?

Friday, March 27, 2009

My Latest Masterpiece!

Ok, Masterpiece is a little strong.  This was for our class's sync shoot project, which means we were recording the sound at the same time as the video.  The whole class worked on it together, and it was a lot of fun (and not much work for me, as you will see!).  The real work began when we each had to edit our own version, and it was really fun to see how different they all were!  This is actually a slightly improved version from what I showed in class... and remember, I wasn't on the production side of things, so any shadows or other odd camera work are not my fault!  Not that I'm complaining - another class did theirs a bit differently and didn't even get to finish, not to mention that apparently their lighting sucked too, all of which I've heard from students in that class, I myself have yet to see their footage.

Anyway, on to my video!!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Bergman Part II or Passion: Lying Truthfully

The second film I watched for my Bergman paper was The Passion of Anna, or just Passion in Swedish.  This is a film about a man, Andreas (Max Von Sydow), who lives a semi-secluded farm life on a small island.  His wife has left him, though we don't learn that right away.  He meets a woman, Anna (Liv Ullmann), and her two friends, Eva and Elis (Bibi Andersson and Erland Josephson) who are very wealthy and live on the island in more of a staying at the cabin sort of way.  Anna is handicapped after surviving a car crash which killed her son and her husband, whose name was also Andreas.  After an interesting start, Andreas and Anna begin living together, until they both completely fall into the insanity that has haunted them from the start.

I think Passion stands out from some of Bergman's other films because of two opposing themes; its chaos and its mainstream plot.  First, the chaos.  Bergman tried something he had never done before, and that was improvisation.  Many of his films contain the feeling of chaos because the character's lives are spinning out of control, as we see in Persona.  However, that chaos is precisely scripted by Bergman, and strictly adhered to by his "collaborator's" (Bergman's own word for the actors and crew who moved from project to project with him).

However, in Passion he decided to try some improv, having the four main actor's sit around a table as though at a dinner party.  They then talked about various things, supposedly in the voices of their characters,.  However, in an interview done many years later (included on my DVDs extras) Ullmann says that she was trying to make a point during her speech about the importance of truth... not just for her character (who, coincidentally is lying through her teeth through much of the film), but for herself the actress.  You see, Passion was being filmed during Bergman and Ullmann's somewhat messy and painful break-up.  

An aside here...  With a lot of director's and actors, it may not pay to look at what was happening in their lives at that precise moment when the film is being produced.  However, when you're talking about Bergman, or any number of other directors for whom I cannot spare the time at the moment, their lives and their work are closely intertwined, reflections of work showing up in their lives, and, in the case of Passion, vise verse.  So, don't worry, I'm not a Hollywood hound, looking for the dirtiest gossip.  I promise, Ullman and Bergman's relationship played a large role in the way that passion played out.

Back to the chaos...

So, Ullmann and Bergman are breaking up.  Ullmann decides to use that in her improve...but the way the story unfolds, we know Anna is lying right away.  Andreas has already seen a letter written by her late husband, discussing how they shouldn't be together because of the ways they hurt each other, and then we see Anna expounding on how truthful and peaceful their marriage was.  At first this is taken in a sort of don't speak ill of the dead kind of way, but it becomes clear that Anna is lying to herself, and more effectively since everyone she tries to lie to already knows the truth.

Bergman also decided to break the fourth wall in Passion.  Early on we cut from a seen with Andreas to a slate and the title, Max von Sydow, the Actor, and we see von Sydow discuss his interpretation of Andreas the character.  One thing I found really interesting was how he had a very different interpretation of who this man was then I did at this point... but then, he knew the whole script and I had only seen the first 20 min.

So, we come to another lie of sorts.  Andreas has been lying to the audience about who he is, and we, most likely, have bought it.  When von Sydow tells us the truth about Andreas's actions, it's somewhat hard to believe.  

Hmmm...I'm gonna leave it there for now, because I still want to get into the Vietnam stuff, and that would make this even longer then it already is.... so stay tuned for more!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Bergman, Part 1 -- or Persona: Portrait of a Women

I have been watching my new Ingmar Bergman films, preparing to write a 6page paper for midterms. The films I am watching are Persona, Passion of Anna (just Passion in Sweden), and Saraband, which is the one I have yet to view.

Persona is one of my favorite films of all time, I'd say it's about second. It's also totally messed up. I am not entirely sure what I think it's all about, but I have some ideas, so let me share them with you:

The story follows an actress, Liv Ullman who is choosing, after some sort of nervous breakdown, to be mute. The subtitles have the doctor saying she is also "immobile," but it isn't meant in the paralyzed, physical sense. Instead, she chooses not to care for her son, see her husband...she just doesn't want to do much of anything. The story is also about her nurse, Bibi Andersson, who accompanies her to a seaside cottage for rest and relaxation. The nurse is younger and talks a lot, seemingly at the behest of Ullman.

Some of the core themes are lying and identity, specifically female identity. Bergman paints a well rounded portrait of these women, zeroing in on three characteristics of femininity - the mother, the sister, the lover.

Throughout the film the characters interchange who plays the role of caregiver. Although Andresson is younger, she is the nurse, there to do the job of meeting Ullman's needs. However, Ullman is older, possibly wiser, and often treats Andersson as though she is someone who needs looking after.

The two form a close bond, spending there days together, comforting each other, and for the most part in a very sisterly manner. Here Bergman does something that astounds me; he is able to capture the way in which feelings of sisterhood between women are carried out through mutual maternal actions. I'm not sure if I can explain that right now, I just feel it to be true. I'll keep working on it.

The part of Bergman's films that it seems people wish to shy away from, but which he absolutely refuses to let you do, is the aspect of "women as lover" -- and not just the lover of men, but also other women. If Persona were made today, by some hack in Hollywood, it would probably be called Obsession. The two women develop a relationship in which they blend into one another (figuratively and literally, by way of an awesome shot of halves of the two women's faces taking up the entire screen), but with very strong sexual undertones. Bergman does this again in Cries and Whispers, to a much greater extent...but this is about Persona, not C&W.

So often, in new and old films, we see female characters portrayed as one, possibly two, dimensional - the stupid-girly-flirt, the mean-old-boss, the smart-yet-slightly-unattractive-sidekick, the overbearing-mother, the seductress, the list goes on - but never are the stereotypes combined the way they are in real life. To be sure, Bergman's women are kind of f***ed up, but that's how movies are. We don't see films because they reflect our lives exactly as they are every day. Instead we zoom in on the dramatic, crazy times and multiply it by ten...

and that's entertainment.

And with Bergman, it's a kind of introspection for the whole of humanity as well...

I'll leave it there for now, and get into the Vietnam thing next time.

Wednesday Funnies - Full Screen for best affect)

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Saturday, March 7, 2009

Coming Soon to a Blog Near You!

I think I should try to blog more often then twice a month, what do you say?  This one's gotta be a quickie, but just wanted to put you on lookout.  I have a paper due for film history II this week on Ingmar Bergman.

I'm not much for the auteur theory (that looks at a directors body of work as the main way to critique and analyze) because I like to look at filmmaking in a more rounded fashion.  However, in the case of Bergman, he wrote many of the screenplays, he worked alongside stock actors and many of the same technical artists throughout his career, and so in his case I think it safe to compare his works as pieces of a whole.

So, stay tuned for more on what I think are some very compelling subjects!  

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Dirty Confessions

I just saw Confessions of a Shopaholic, the latest chick-lit turned chick-flick box office pleaser featuring Isla Fisher, along with two gaggles of girls and two boyfriends (who seemed to enjoy themselves).

I read a couple reviews online, and one talked about how tasteless the movie is because it, "masqurades as a moral tale about living within one's means after devoting most of its running time to fetishizing the labels that landed the heroine in the red in the first place." (Melissa Anderson)  I, however, beg to differ.  Here's a couple reasons I think that was a fairly un-thought out statement:

1) Obviously this is a film trying to bank off the success of The Devil Wears Prada (and btw, this one's actually a bit better, but I could just be saying that because I really dislike Anne Hathaway), and so we expect to see prada, and gucci and Ives Sant Laurant (did I spell that right?  I don't care enough to hit search) etc.

2) There are people like this. I am not one of them, you are most likely not one of them, but they do exist, and you do find them in NYC.  If the movie had focused on her big spending excursions to Target and JCPenney... well, we wouldn't really care would we?  At least not unless it was a documentary... or an episode of MTV's True Life.  For us to believe it, she has to be buying all the big name crap.  

3) And besides, they really only talk about the designers; it isn't like every scene begins with a run down on who she's wearing. 

So I guess what I'm saying is that it was a pleasant way for me to unwind after a full day, and if you like slightly (OK, super) embarrassing rom-coms, then this may be a good one to see.  Also, the sound was pretty fantastic.  They use Amy Winehouse's Rehab song three times, once straight on, once as elevator music (! I almost screamed I was so excited) and lastly re-mixed with an upbeat tempo when our heroine is on her way to getting her life back on track- in essence when she is in the process of her rehab.  Rule of three and clever use of sound, who could ask for more?

Oh, and one more thing - the reason for the title of the post - I have to admit to a soft spot for the film because I myself have been afflicted by the lure of shops and credit.  I have it under control now, but I wonder if it has something to do with my liking the film because I completely believed her when she was talking about how shopping made her feel because I have been there.  Comedy's aren't funny unless without underlying truth of pain.

p.s. check out my side bar... I added a rating system to the movies I've seen column - it's out of a possible 5 !'s 

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Screenwriting, Directing, Editing

I thought I'd try and jot a quick note in response to AuntieKnickers comment on my last post, and what a thoughtful comment it was! I am glad you liked The Visitor, and yes, it made me angry as well, and I think that was the point for people like you and me.

But I digress.

Here's AK's comment:

We watched THE VISITOR last night and it was every bit as good as you said, although it made me very angry (which may have been the idea). I do not yet understand editing, so I don't know if it was the editor or the director whose idea it was to have the (imaginary? perhaps) scene where Richard Jenkins would ask Tarek and Zenab back to the apartment be left out, and you just see the next day. Maybe that's why I should watch deleted scenes? Anyway, thanks to you I've probably seen more nominees than in many recent years so will be watching with some interest. I may try to see The Wrestler before Sunday night.

I'm gonna state some (probably) obvious things here, just to have them out there, and then explain how that fits in with what AuntieKnickers was wondering about.

Screenwriter: This person writes the script (duh) and with an original films, it all starts with them (that's not necessarily true, but for this lesson, let's say it is). A lot more in a film should be attributed to the screenwriter then usually is. A good screenwriter has the ability to write shots into a script in a way that makes the director think it was there idea. I suspect that the scene discussed in AK's comment was written in to the script, but it may not have been.

Director: I think it helps to think of the Director as the Artistic Director, whereas the Producer is a Managing Director (as well as a of of other things, but that's a discussion for another day). So, our director does pre-production and production. They are the person who sits down with the director of photography (cinematographer) and decides how they want to bring the script to life on the screen. Then during the production they work with the actors and look at dailies (the film shot on any given day) with the other bigwigs of the production, making sure they got what they needed how they needed it.

It is perfectly possible that the scene in question was in the script, but that at some point the director decided he/she did not want it to be shown, and so did not film it, or just told the editor to leave it out.

Side note that sometimes the director does do a lot of work in post-production, but usually it's more of a, "Yup, that was nice" or "Oh, not what I had been thinking of, but I like it!" Obviously the director and editor do need to communicate, and they do more then the screenwriter and director, but it isn't a day to day thing.

Editor: The editor takes the script and the film and cuts the film together to tell the story without all the extra nonsense. That's a super abbreviated version of events. In a lot of ways the editor has the most control, and in others the least. In my acting for the camera class, our professor told us to make friends with the cinematographer, camera operator and the editor because those three people have the most control over what you will actually look like in the finished film. Even if you are mostly filmed with perfect lighting and angles and what not, there will always be some shots that suck, and if the editor likes you they're a lot more likely to leave those shots on the cutting room floor.

With the scene we are discussing here, it is entirely possible that the editor felt that the rhythm of the film would work better without that scene, and cut it. Especially since the scene comes in at the beginning of the film, and a lot of the scenes themselves are on the slow side, in a positive way. This was done on purpose to create for the audience the feeling Jenkins has with his life - going nowhere, lonely etc., and editing out needless scenes can be a way of speeding the pace without killing the mood.

So, I would say that if this is an experienced screenwriter, or just a good one, they probably wrote it like that. But if not, then it would most likely have been a decision made in the editing room.

Again, kudos to AuntieKnickers for paying such close attention to little details! And I encourage everyone who hasn't to see The Visitor ASAP!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Slumdog and the Oscars

Who hasn't done it?  Imagining yourself giving the acceptance speech for the highest award in your field.  It just so happens that my career path is one that, if your lucky, will lead to the mother of ll award shows - THE OSCARS.

But let's be serious, it's not just about luck, is it?  No, politics have a lot more to do with it I'm afraid.

Bardem and Swinton winning for supporting actor and actress, both foreign actors, winning in the same year... coincidence?  I think not.  It was a strategic move just to have Bardem nominated for supporting and not lead, since No Country for Old Men is a very evenly played piece, but he would have been up against a slew of very popular American Actors (and one Danish-American actor, but who noticed him anyway?).

And long as we're on the subject, do you know how the Oscar nominees and winners are chosen?  A lot of people don't really get it.  They think the Academy is just some random group of people.  Basically, you have to be invited to join the Academy to be nominated or to nominate.  Then only people within a given field get to nominate their peers, i.e. editors vote for editors, actors vote for actors and so on and so forth (there are only 15 fields), except for Best Picture which everybody gets a say in from the beginning.  But when it comes time to vote the winner, EVERYONE in the academy gets to vote! 

OK, so anyway, I have seen three of the five films nominated for Best Picture... and I'm going to try and see The Reader before Sunday but we'll see how that goes!  I'm not as interested in Frost/Nixon, because I heard it sucked from people whose opinions I respect.  

I just saw Slumdog Millionaire yesterday with a friend and it was awesome!  The editing was awesome (side note: I have seen 4 of the 5 editing nominees, and Slumdog is one of them as it should be, but the others I saw were good as well... but I still hope Slumdog wins).

Here's what I liked the most about the editing, along with the camera work: they weren't afraid to take some risks.  Now, maybe it's because I recently saw one of the worst rom-coms ever twice (don't ask), but I am so bored with Hollywood editing!  It's like, over the shoulder, over the other shoulder, long shot, medium shot, close up, cut on even beats never break 180!  I'm so bored with it!  

A lot of the grammar of cinema is such because it helps to make a film appear seamless and lets the audience forget they are watching a movie.  But sometimes filmmakers seem so concerned with this that they ignore the film calling out to them to be different.  Slumdog definitely had the whole forget-your-watching-a-movie thing in the bag, but they broke rules while they did it.  
I want to be Chris Dickens when I grow up... who also edited Shaun of the Dead, btw.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Soundtack for the Movie of My Life

Hmm, it's been a while since I posted here, huh? Well, next week I should have a new video to post for you ( and just to catch up, you could go here and see my end of the year project from last spring...hopefully you will see some improvements with this next project!).

In the meantime, I thought I would do this crazy/fun little exercise. It entertained me and I hope it entertains you, too!

So, here's how it works:

1. Open your library (iTunes, Winamp, Media Player, iPod, etc).

2. Put it on shuffle.

3. Press play.

4. For every question, type the song that's playing.

5. When you go to a new question, press the next button.

6. Don't lie and try to pretend you're cool...OK, I didn't lie to look cool, but the first time I tried this almost every song was a Christmas one or a story, so I had to go back through and un-check those because if they're all about Christmas, it's not very cool!

Opening Credits:

One Fine Day – Ann Reed performed by Calliope Women’s Chorus

Waking Up:

3am – Death Ray Scientific

First Day of School:

Goofyfoot - Phranc

Falling in Love:

Come Fly With Me – Michael Buble (creep. city.)

Fight Song:

Preparations for the Last TV Fake - The Goodbye Lenin Soundtrack, composed by Yann Tiersen

Breaking Up:

How the Day Sounds – Greg Laswell


Garden Party – Ricky Nelson

Life's Just OK:

Whatever (I Had a Dream) – Butthole Surfers …don’t judge me.

Mental Breakdown:

Be and Be Not Afraid – Tracy Chapman


Dry the Rain – The Beta Band


Hanging On Too Long – Duffy

Getting Back Together:

Someday – M.L.T.R. …OK, I have no idea who these guys are, this song is on a sampler of music in English

by Danish artists, but it’s pretty creepy since the chorus is, “Someday, someway, together we will be baby.”

Birth of Child:

Genetic Engineering – X-Ray Specs


Ma Ya Hi – O-Zone …hmmm, this would be fun at a wedding!

Final Battle:

I Feel It All - Feist

Death Scene:

Hurt – Johnny Cash

Funeral Song:

Always See Your Face – Love (from the High Fidelity Soundtrack)

End Credits:

Lo Boob Oscillator – Stereolab

Let me know if you try this and where I can see it!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Oh and by the way...

Whether or not you thought the papers below were worthy of it...


That's right, I got an A in Documentary History, Topics in Cinema: Coen Brothers and Tarention, AND Screen-Writing 2! (Because I'm paranoid, I won''t be posting my screenplay on the website, though I may do a little synopsis sometime. And anyway, we aren't really graded on how good the screenplay is, but on how much we improve)

Anyway, that's my happy FilmAching news!