5/12 – New Digital Media: Cinema & Reality Redefined

Posted in Uncategorized on May 12th, 2010 by susan

Micahel Allen’s The Impact of Digital Technologies on Film Aesthetics discusses how technology such as computer-generated imagining (CGI) has had a large impact over film-making over many of the last years. I was very drawn to Live and Virtual, how CGI and live film action are combined to produce a remarkable scene in which one stays glued to the screen and can’t tell much of a difference between what is real and what is fake. He notes that “it is rare that several CGI shots are run together in a sequence at any one time.” Though many times we can mistake CGI for live action (except, of course, really dramatic explosions and other scenes similar), for the most part what we see on the screen we perceive as reality. But he makes a good point, having many CGI shots together would be easily noticed. One can be wrapped up in watching a film but many are able to spot what’s fake. In having these scenes back to back, ones eye would be drawn to these shots. “You have to use the stuff [model effects and animatronics] judiciously and keep referencing it with the real actors so that you never get the impression that you are looking at a puppet.” This has become a large film technique used today. Shoot the live action scenes and the ‘big scenes’ leave to be computed so that the audience can’t be broken from their trance. In any good film, the director never wants the audience to see the strings holding up his actor.’ They want their audience to get lost in the film and be drawn into the film through this film technique.

5/5 – The Death of Cinema/New Media &Film History

Posted in Uncategorized on May 12th, 2010 by susan

Technology today is rapidly developing becoming more advanced everyday. It seems so long ago that the VCR was around and for others, film stock. In Anne Friedberg’s The End of Cinema: Multimedia and the Technological Change, she talks about this technological changes and how its shifted throughout the past decade being “dramatically transformed.” The line that separated all these technologies is becoming thinner and thinner as the years pass by slowly crossing and combining. She lists the VCR as one that started it all preparing us for computer screens. “The VCR demolished the aura of live television and the broadcast event.” She notes how it provided sort of a ‘time-shift’ we are in control of. This I feel to be very much true. It was similar to a mini time-machine. “For Virilio, the VCR produces a time that is shifted, borrowed, made asynchronous.“ We were finally able to record and re-watch whatever we wanted. We had the option to skip commercials, forward, rewind, and replay. ‘Going back in time’ was something new for many people. Sadly we weren’t able to physically travel back in time but we were able to experience the past and have control over what part of the ‘past’ we wanted to re-live. This was an impact on how information was given and received too. There was no longer a need of live broadcasts because it could just be recorded and played back to conviently be watched at another time. Though at one time the theatre industry thought that it would take their consumers away, but instead it was able to help them gain more business with advertisement. Soon there was basic cable and with that, what we now know to be basic cable such as MTV, CNN, USA, TBS, and Nickelodeon. This is another way the line of separation thins because it this is where pop culture and what’s ‘hot’ comes into play – MEDIA AND ITS INFLUENCE!!!

Though I very much appreciate this technology, I also feel that this was the start of human separation, the gain of control, and a distraction of our everyday life. As humans we try to manipulate and control everything around us and pass it off as developing technology with everything becoming easier to access with our fingertips. Jobs people once filled are now being replaced with machines. Many people, especially children and young adults are forgetting the value of work and ‘earning’ a living. Yes, technology is meant to simplify work and make harder things easier for us to do, but we are losing the sense of working overall… almost becoming lazy. Such as the development of the remote control for, as Friedberg likes to call, “the couch-bound viewer.” Developing technology is also slowly spacing human contact apart. Nowadays, more people text each other than see each other in person or even on the phone. We have Skype, video-chat, email, and messaging to communicate with each other moving away from physical contact. Most children in families today would much rather be distracted with a Gameboy, Playstation, X-Box, or Wii than hang out or talk with their family member. Its coming to a point where we are alienating ourselves from our own kind and relating more to technology than the person next to us. I can see technology advancing so much that there will be no need for human contact or human contact becoming difficult to establish with a growing reliance on technology.

4/28 – Corporeality, Sensation, History, and Spectatorship

Posted in Uncategorized on May 12th, 2010 by susan

Body genres known as pornography, horror, and weepies all produce bodily functions. Porn causes one to feel excited to a point where there is orgasm/ejaculation. Horror makes our heart race/jolt/scream/panic/gasp and weepies make us, well, weep. Porn and weepies providing an actual release of bodily fluids. As Linda Williams describes in Film Bodies: Gender, Genre, and Excess, they are all provided through film. Which first I want to say that I always knew, but never acknowledged. Its kind of crazy how physical emotions that people have can be manipulated and provided by things we visually see on screen although they are not real and all made up. Emotions are something other people stir in us, but us as humans are so sensitive and for the most part have no control over what we feel that our bodies can be turned against us. Not everyone wants to be turned on, shocked, or cry while watching something. For the most part, its our emotions getting the best of us, our body being sort of a vessel to relate ourselves to what we’re watching.

Starting with porn, Williams notes that it is mostly watched by and aimed to men because women are the ones most seen in porn. Its noted that since the 18thcentury the bodies of woman have functioned as something to be idolized and fantasized about. For most porn cinema, the women are victimized. With this said, it is sadistic in that men are usually displayed in the film as taking advantage or having control over the woman. This type of porn enforces the long old age idea that men are dominant over women. This is mostly due to the castration complex, if women have control then their power would be taken away from them and they are left weak. Williams also touches upon the subgenre of porn, sadomasochism. Here, she describes the woman having to be ‘devious in her pursuit of pleasure.” She has to become passive to obtain pleasure which leads to the double standard of good girl/bad girl role-playing. According to her, this dichotomy of the passive ’good girl’ and the sexual active ’bad girl’ can be solved by masochistic role-playing by combing the two. “The passive ’good girl’ can prove to her witnesses (the superego who is her torturer) that she does not will the pleasure she receives. Yet the sexually active ’bad’ girl enjoys this pleasure and has knowingly arranged to endure the pain that earns it.” Porn offers a way to explore these fantasies and provides a ’release’ for many (mostly men) through the visual art of film. But to repeat her question, “Are the orgasmic woman of pornography and the tortured woman of horror merely in the service of the sadistic male gaze?”

The body genre of horror is something new to me. Though one of my absolute favorite genre’s I have gotten a lesson that I won’t soon forget. As she also relates to porn, horror is a genre in which is closely related to the human body – the display of it. Horror is all about the violence, terror, gore, and fright. But who is usually the victim? A female. And who is usually the killer? A male. Why? Because apparently women ‘make the best victims.” She describes this genre as another form of ecstasy closely related to porn in that there is a pleasure of sadism. Studying genre, I was originally aware that the ’bad girl’ or the non-virgin usually dies because she is morally corrupt and sexually active. With that, she has to die to re-enforce the audience that if you are bad, you will die… or just have to face punishment. While the ’good girl’/virgin goes on to live because she is pure at heart. Another reinforcement of morality and delivering a message to the audience that they too should be pure. What was new to me was the idea of sexuality in these films of women castrating men. According to Williams, the slasher is “sexual disturbed but entirely human monsters.” Williams references the film Halloween in that the female victim “turns the tables” on the killer by grabbing a phallic shaped object to kill him. “A gender-confused monster if foiled, often symbolically castrated by an “androgynous” “final girl.”” Being a big fan of horror films, this has never clicked, but after reading this I went through many films in my head and realized how true it really was.

Weepies are mostly aimed towards women because they are seen as the most emotional and ‘delicate.’ In society, men have to be the ‘tough‘ one, seldom having or seen having emotions. She describes as masochistic because women sit through these ‘tear-jerker‘ films already knowing there is a high chance they will cause themselves a physical pain in relation to feeling a closeness to a character. They suckered into getting themselves attached to the person they see on screen through camera techniques. Then when something happens to said character, they too feel they’re pain and cry. And they enjoy it which is why Williams describes it as masochism. An example she uses is Steel Magnolias. “the woman viewer… does not simply identify with the suffering and the dying heroines of each. She may equally identify with the powerful matriarchs, the surviving mothers who preside over the deaths of their daughters, experience in the exhilaration and triumph of survival.”

What’s most interesting is how each have to do with the female and the female body. Pornography – more than naked men are naked women, women being taking advantage of, and women playing into the ‘good girl’/’bad girl’ roles. Horror, in that the victim is usually the female and the way to defeat her killer (usually a male) is by using a phallic shaped object (gun/knife/bat/etc) to overpower and defeat her killer. And lastly, weepies that are completely aimed to women, because they are seen as the most emotional and unbalanced to which they would always have to feel the need to cry – because men, of course, aren’t ’allowed’ to.

She also points out that there are other genre’s that affect the body such as comedy. But she makes a point in not characterizing it as a body genre because we feel differently than the character. When we laugh at something ’funny’ we laugh at the pain or poor choices of others. An example she uses is a clown. “…the reaction of the audience does not mimic the sensations experienced by the central clown. Indeed, it is almost a rule that the audience’s physical reaction of laughter does not coincide with the often dead-pan reactions of the clown.” When he slips on a banana peel he’s unhappy, but most of the audience is laughing… at him.

4/14 – Psychoanalysis/Spectatorship/Sexual Difference

Posted in Uncategorized on May 12th, 2010 by susan

In Laura Mulvey’s Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema, she opens up with an introduction of first the ’political’ use of psychoanalysis with the castration complex, or the ‘paradox of phallocentrism breaking down the ‘castrated woman.’ and continues with the ’destruction of pleasure.’ which she claims is her intention – to basically ruin the joy of film for us. She has a point with, “analyzing pleasure, or beauty, destroys it.” This I find to be to true to a certain extent. It depends on the person. When one takes a closer look at something, sometimes they appreciate it more because they have broken it down and can value it that much more. But for others it can become less attractive. The ‘beauty’ that she claims is seen, is gone. Almost as if it can only be admired at a distance. When given a closer look, that beauty disappears because that mystery that one finds to be appealing is no longer there. We appreciate the wonder of things, things we don’t know. When it’s explained to us, its figured out and we no longer wonder, we know. Its almost like Santa Clause to a kid. There’s a lack of knowledge, a gap. Every Christmas morning their eyes gleam with astonishment as they rush to the Christmas tree to discover what gifts were left for them last night my a man they’ve never seen only to grow up and realize he’s not real. Once a child discovered that Santa Clause is really their parents, the beauty is taken away with their knowledge.

What I thought was most interesting is how she begins to break our beauty down with scopophilia – our visual pleasure from voyeurism. “At this point the associated scopophilia with taking other people as objects, subjecting them to a controlling and curious gaze.” We do this every day. To look and be aware of things and people around us, is instinctual. Men looking at women, women looking at men. People do this without even realizing most of the time. We not only get a visual pleasure from looking at people on the screen, but people in reality – our everyday lives. As described in the reading, we look at others as objects. This is most true when we don’t even know the person. For men its usually ‘look at those legs/breasts/lips/eyes/etc. Instantly that woman has become an object of visual pleasure for the man looking a her without even realizing it. As humans we have a curiosity that can’t easily be satisfied, instead it grows. Film is just a way people can be less obvious about it – hey, the actors will never know! The reading also brings up how it can easily become a perversion such as for Peeping Toms who only get pleasure from watching. They like to remain in the shadows, unseen as one gets undressed. The fact that they secretly watching then excites them that much more. The way she describes “the shifting patterns of light and shade on the screen helps to promote the illusion of voyeuristic separation” makes us all a bit of a ‘Peeping Tom.’

The way the shot is set up in the film can make us feel different ways. An example she uses is the contrast of light and dark. While watching a film, it can give us the illusion that we are the ones truly watching in the shade, into a “private world.” Just the fact that we won’t/can’t get caught adds to this excitement. Almost how people get excited when they’re being ‘bad.’ It’s that risk of getting caught which takes it a step further and adds to the thrill. Everywhere one looks there is ‘visual pleasure’ film allows us to express this in a way with is just as exciting, but less risky.

Third Cinema

Posted in Uncategorized on March 17th, 2010 by susan

I found Julio Garcia Espinosa’s, For an Imperfect Cinema to be the most interesting. First off, in the beginning, he mentions that the ‘temptation’ for Cuba is turning their cinema into a ‘perfect one.’ But then he takes a step into film more generally, stating that filmmakers today are a minority because there are limited resources. He questions technology and the time people have, realizing that these factors contribute to why more people aren’t filmmakers, such as if people didn’t have to work as many hours or if the technology was available to many more. According to him, we’d reach a social justice- “the possibility for everyone to make films.” It is clear to see how passionate Espinosa is about cinema and how people get there inspiration. In stating that ’art is not work’ he states that its more of a second nature. Everyone has the potential to create something and it should be created through their want to do it, not a force. Furthermore, there inspiration of creating something, he notes, is always influenced by something. No matter what type of art one creates, they had to have been influenced or motivated by someone, something, or someplace because, according to Espinosa, “art does not develop freely.” Which I find to be very true. Nowadays, no idea is truly original or unique. It can be unique in that there is a combination of past ideas put into one, but the point it, you got the idea from something else. Whoever, can’t admit they have been inspired, are pretty much liars. This also reminds me that no idea in film is unique, everything has been done new films are either re-made films, or films inspired by others. “It is possible that art gives us a vision of society or of human nature and that, at the same time, it can not be defined as a vision of society or of human nature.” Was another statement in the reading that caught my attention. Art has been around for thousands of years. At the time it may gives that vision of society and human nature. But the question is, from who’s perspective? Which is why it also cannot be defined. As is all art, it is only that one person’s perception. He also see’s art as a stimulus to change a person, similar to how certain colors, scents, images changes the way a person feels and thinks. He captures how important it is for one to express themselves whether or not a person may understand them. And how important art is at influencing someone as it is to be influenced by a third substance. Glauber Rocha’s ‘An Esthetic of Hunger,’ talks about the colonization of Latin America.  According to Rocha, a European does not understand their misery, as Latin America does not communicate their misery to them.  its somewhat negative in that he feels that the only reason artistic development in underdeveloped Latin American countries is of interest to the Europeans is becuae the want to study their ‘primitve’ art forms. ‘Primitive’ in that it is ‘uncivilized’ in comparison to colonial conditioning. Though, Latin America’s ‘hunger,’ he states, is what gives it it’s essence. But also comments that this hunger is also a shame and that the hunger turns to violence. According to Rocha, Cinema Novo is a cinema of reality, dipicting this normal behavior in Latin America or starvation and violence arguing that this there is a just reason for violence and therefore, is not primitive. Though, only through this violence is a Eurpoean to understand their ‘hunger.’ From this, I took that Cinema Novo is limited to developing as it’s country counrtry continues to be bound by its eonomy. I was most compelled to the end of the text where Rocha expresses his passion in Cinema Novo ending his writing with almost a speech in favor of it as well as how it sets itself apart from other forms of cinema. ”Cinema Novo sets itself apart from the commercial industry because the commitment of Industrial Cinema is to untruth and exploitation.”

Auteur Theory

Posted in Uncategorized on March 10th, 2010 by susan

I thought I understood the readings… then I come to this weeks… auteur theory? Circles and squares? I pick up different meanings from each meaning as to what ‘auteur theory.’ So a bit confused I looked it up and got a definition on wikipedia, “In film criticism, the 1950s-era auteur theory holds that a director’s films reflect that director’s personal creative vision, as if he were the primary “auteur” (the French word for “author”). In spite of – and sometimes even because of – the films in question being made as part of an industrial process, the author’s creative voice is distinctive enough to shine through all kinds of studio interference. In some cases, film producers are considered to have a similar “auteur” role for films that they have produced.”

In Sarris’ ‘Auteur Theory,’ he states how he will begin writing for the Film Quarterly BUT refuses to follow their ‘rules’ in writing like and agreeing with everyone else. He feels strongly about limiting what the ’best’ films are as he continues to criticize the Film Quarterly.’ He even expresses disappointment in these texts that fail to include filmographies or even research articles. Sarris strongly feels that there is much more to these films than is what merely put in these ‘top best.’ There is more to look at. He even goes as far as calling it an ‘occult ritual’ because all these critics conform to agree on the same thing and he refuses to be a part of the large group that thinks one way.

The ‘Circles and Squares’ reading by Pauline Kael is where I really got lost. I understood that she feels that a critic should reflect on their own opinions and thoughts without the influence on others. She states ,”Criticism is an art, not a science, and a critic who follows rules will fail in one of his most important functions: perceiving what is original and important in new work and helping others to see.” how would you be able to call yourself a ‘critic’ if you don’t criticize a piece of work but just agree with the rest? She continues with the ‘outer,’ ‘middle,’ and ‘inner’ circles. I wasn’t too sure what she was trying to get at with the shape titles

French Film Theory in the 1920’s

Posted in Uncategorized on March 3rd, 2010 by susan

         When first reading Jean Epstein’s “Magnification” I thought it was a poem. The way he was expressing himself on close-up shots was with so much passion I had to re-read the first paragraph over because I almost forgot what he was talking about. But reading on, he has such a care to how close ups should be used. How they shouldn’t be overused, too long, over done, or improperly used because it would basically ruin the film. He states, “If it is too long, I don’t find continuous pleasure from it.” This is understandable. Close-ups are mostly used for times of extreme intensity, to show expression and emotion in the characters face. But used too often, we lose that sense of intensity and we see this shot as any other shot because it no longer has meaning and we feel that there is no longer a purpose for this shot. Earlier in his work, he mentions how the close up “seems to address [him] personally.” When we see a close, especially one that is looking at us but addressing the character, it is as if we are the other character that character is talking to. Close-ups like these allow us to be pulled into the film because we then feel as if we are a part of it. I feel like when we watch a film we get so caught up in it, and its because of meaningful shots like the close-ups that we do. It is easy to feel or to get sent back to reality all because of one a bad shot and for Epstein, it would be unacceptable.

         I also found it comedic how Epstein refers to cinemas as a “hermaphrodite, with art rather than science proving to be its sex.” To one that studies film, this sentence makes clear sense. But for one that might be casually reading this, I think would have to re-read the sentence. At first, cinema was in fact a science in developing it technologically. It was another machine that was developed for our use. But once mastered, it was a form of art. A way for people to express themselves and create their own interpretations of the world around them. Film creation because a persons lump of clay, to mold and shape it as they like, taking care of every detail before done. A fact that I always knew but never really acknowledged is that “perspectives are merely optical illusions.” Film is something we can control because it “can be looked at from all directions.” When as story is told it doesn’t have to be told just one way in one order with the same theme, or actors, or even plot. It can be looked at in hundreds of different ways. Nothing is set is stone. This is what film is all about, showing us a different perspective.

         Breton’s take on dreams in the ‘First Surrealist Manifesto.’ It is true that when we sleep, we are at the “mercy” of our memory. We can have the craziest dreams of this we didn’t think possible. Sometimes we reveal ourselves our dream as well without even realizing it. The weird thing though, is that we reveal ourselves to ourselves. Perhaps we should take our dreams more seriously. He questions, “why should I not expect more of the dream sign than I do of a daily increasing degree of consciousness? Could not the dreams as well be applied to the solution of life’s fundamental problems?” Why must we only think of and take the logical route to our problems. I don’t think many people have considered their dreams to be a solution to any problem, but its food for thought. Why not? Even though it is not happening to us it could be a message to guide us. I wouldn’t let my dream have the last word in my decisions, but it would be an interesting thought.

         At the end, Breton defines Surrealism as “pure psychic automatism by which it is intended to express either verbally or in writing, the true function of thought. Thought is dictated in the absence of all control exerted by reason and outside all aesthetic or moral preoccupations. “ True function of thought-as in memories, dreams, unconscious. He defines surrealism as our thoughts that are without influence of reason or logic. But since we are influenced by everything around us today, is are we able to have such thoughts? We are controlled by time and demands. In the world today, we live by those. Even in a moment of relaxation, can be interrupted by some errand we have to run. So what can we consider as a pure surrealist thought?

         In the Artaud readings, I found more interest in “Sorcery and the Cinema.” I first found it a surprising how he guess the advancements in film technology such as a stable and mobile camera, color, and 3-D cinema. Which we have today… well all except the 3-D cinema, but we have 3-D cameras that take 3-D shots. With this said, I disagree with his statement, “these are accessories which cannot add much to the substratum of the cinema itself which is a language in its own right.” Color alone adds so much to a film and how we perceive it. Sometimes film will follow a certain color scheme of dark or light colors, or sometimes they might dress a character in a certain color scheme to represent the person they are through the contrast of the colors of the character and the environment around her. Colors are even used to focus attention on certain things we might have missed that’s important to the film. It also brings the film alive. We do not see the world around us in black and white, we see it in color. By seeing the screen in color as well, it helps us take that step into the film and become a part of it. Colors are also very eye catching. As for the mobility and stability in a camera, I feel that unless it’s a documentary or a film that wants to give a certain perspective from a characters view, a stable camera is best. Without one, there is so much movement and shaking that sometimes, the audience can bring themselves out of the film and notice the technical things in the film, which is something the audience shouldn’t notice. Perhaps if he were around long enough to see this technology advance and how it adds to cinema he would think differently.

         In Dulac’s, “The Essence of Cinema,” he discusses the different forms of art and adds in that film is now one of them with the need of breaking off its chains to be allowed to grow and develop. With cinema, he states, “there are no more barriers between us and things!” because now these art forms can work together. What I found most interesting in this reading is how Dulac stated that “neither literature nor theatre…have influenced cinema, but on the contrary they have been influenced by it.” I always thought it was the other way around since many films today come from literature. Also because literature has turned into so many plays. Before that, he mentions how cinematic methods used could be found in literature and theatre in the ‘rapidity of movement.’ I’m not sure what he means by this means. Maybe how fast the story goes? He also claimed that both literature and theatre ‘dilute impressions and inspirations’ which is why it couldn’t of and didn’t influence cinema because it was cinema that used these methods that concentrated on impressions. So when cinema developed, it was literature and theatre that were ‘impressed’ and ‘inspired’ by cinema.

Spam prevention powered by Akismet

Skip to toolbar