Thursday, September 29, 2011

Rewatching Kung Fu Hustle

Tonight we watched Kung Fu Hustle in class. I'd seen it before maybe five years ago so I didn't remember much about it. I only remember that I didn't like it that much the first time. I found it a bit weird and I didn't like the acting at all.

This time I was able to appreciate all the choreography and camera work more, but I still think some of the fight scenes were a bit over the top at some points. I liked the humour most of the time but at some points it didn't work on me at all. I still found some of the acting a bit weird, but that might be because I'm used to the "Hollywood" way of acting. All in all, I think the film was a great example of how movement can be portrayed in films. The fighting scenes are definitely one of the most skillfully created scenes in martial arts action movies. I prefer more realistic scenes, but combining real martial arts with CGI requires, without a doubt, as much (or even more) skill as shooting "traditional" martial arts scenes.

I walked with a zombie cinematography

I really liked the way that I walked with a Zombie was shot. The whole movie was pretty basic, but with the right camera angles and lighting, the cinematographer could make the dullest scene like inside a bedroom seem like alot more than what it was. The use of shadows and darkness over some of the charachters faces added alot to the feeling of dread when that tall black gaurd came looking for the plantation owners wife.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Cabinet of Dr Caligari 1920

Dr Caligari has really wonderful sets that add to the surreal quality of the film and evoke a sort of eeriness that would not have been as powerful without them. The painted on shadows create a patchiness to the scenes as though, even indoors and during the day, they are foreshadowing some kind of danger for the characters. On another level it also implies that the "reality" of the action is not, in fact, reality, but a dream conjured up by the main character. The windows and doors are not rectangular and are so surreal that watching the movie is similar to a tour through the Dali museum. This surreality makes the viewer think. Is the whole story true, or is the main character actually insane and his whole tale is the delusion he lives in, like Shutter Island? One of the best aspects is that it leaves this question unanswered. We have the choice whether to believe in the Director, or Dr Caligari.


So here's a nice old film that I watched a while ago during a "family movie night" at home. It's kind of interesting to look back at it and notice more behind the scenes type ideas. Like these scene, where I will put a link up, its one of the biggest action actually happens. They are chassing Harry and you see how the producers addeed the music so loud and intese to get the audience on their toes. It's also got a odd ending which I think goes perfect though, with the film.

I Walked With a Zombie

When I first saw I Walked With a Zombie my initial impression was that I really liked all the cinematography and the mood of the film. But when you told us how the sets of the film were all just built on a stage I came to appreciate the film even more. I loved the scene of Jessica and the nurse walking through the cornfields and the makers of the movie did an outstanding job of making it look like a gigantic field being blown by strong winds when really it was all created on a small stage. I found it very impressive that even movies from this long ago are able to amaze and convince its audiences of a false reality.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Calagari's Mise en Scene

Although I had difficulty keeping up with the movie, from the lack of dialogue and information given to the audience, I find that the Mise en Scene for The Cabinet of Dr. Calagari was very appreciable. It was the actual camera and directing that told the story and made us feel a bit on edge. At this time, keep in mind that the director did not move the camera during a cut, therefore the actors and their surroundings had to be perfectly arranged and planned to make each scene disturbing for the audience. The combination of the camera shots, background sets, and positioning of the actors on stage made the film more unsettling than just a black and white silent movie that would put us to sleep. The image above, my favorite shot, is the result of the use of all three Mise en Scene factors. I mean, everyone has to admit that its just plain creepy.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

"I Walked with a Zombie": Scarry?

I found the movie to be incredibly entertaining, and was very different to other horror movies that I have seen, even older ones. When I think of clasic zombie movies, I think of things such as "Night of the Living Dead." The somewhat stereotypical zombies are trying to get us. This was much different though. Though I wouldn't describe it as scary, the whole movie had a very creepy vibe to it. I also though it was interesting on how it explored the culture of voodoo, and how different cultures viewed the existence of zombies. One culture sees Jessica Holland as suffering from a medical condition, while the other sees her to be a zombie.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The way that films have been evolving is so amazing. Sometimes I think that films are loosing some of the fundementals that older films had in the earlier days. Like how to to use angles to really force the message the writer/producer is trying to send. I'm not saying all films are lacking of fundementals, but some do.

"The Cabinet of Dr. Calagari" - 1920

The full-length version of this German Expressionist film is your assigned viewing for next week (streamable on Netflix). "Calagari" is considered by many to be the first great horror film. The score for this clip assembly is a modern composition that captures the fear and madness of the original.

"I Walked With a Zombie" - 1943

Sorry about the cancellation of tonight's class. All audio issues will be settled by tomorrow (Thurs.) night. You may attend then if you missed the Wednesday class. I will also show this again before the term is over so everyone will have a chance to see it. Of the nine horror movies Val Lewton produced for RKO Studios in the 1940s,this is my personal favorite. All of them are good, but this is a fine example of what could be done within the studio system for a very low budget. Of course, great writing and direction don't hurt either.

Interesting facts about Black Narcissus

Here are some interesting facts about the movie from IMDb.

1.The much admired Himalayan scenery was all created in the studio (with glass shots and hanging miniatures).

2.The backdrops were blown-up black and white photographs. The art department then gave them their breathtaking colors by using pastel chalks on top of them.

3.Because of the Technicolor camera and film stock, the sets needed an astounding 800 foot-candles (8,600 lux) of illuminance just to operate at T2.8, which was the widest lens aperture setting.

4.Jack Cardiff said that the lighting and color palette of this film was inspired by the works of 17th-century Dutch painter Vermeer.

5.Jack Cardiff came up with the idea of starting the rainfall end scene by first having a few drops hit the rhubarb leaves before cueing a full-force rainstorm. He personally created the first drops with water from a cup when the scene was shot. Michael Powell was so pleased with the effect that he decided to make the scene, originally the penultimate one, the closing shot. Cardiff, however, was a great fan of the original scene (which had already been shot) that was supposed to follow this one and close the film. To this day Cardiff amusingly calls the opening drops of the rainfall "the worst idea I ever had".

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Black Narcisus....Good or evil

I completely agree. The cinematography is amazing in this film and truly does aid the development of the characters throughout the film. Outside of the cinematography the movie didnt hold my attention too well and the storyline was in my opinion lacking and a bit slow.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Cinematography in "Black Narcissus"

Okay, the first thing that jumped out at me watching Black Narcissus was the cinematography used to portray the character, Sister Ruth. For those who have seen the movie already know what I am about to say. The cinematographers style for portraying Sister Ruth is incredible. You see Sister Ruth transform from the white, pure nun to the dark, haggard, psychopathic killer toward the end, mostly aided by the use of cinematography. For example, the scene where Sister Clodagh and Sister Ruth have a serious conversation about leaving the convent. Sister Clodagh, notably in her white robes, is placed in front of the window with sun shining through so bright, that it occasionally over-exposing the camera. This probably represents her true purity. However, Sister Ruth is placed in front of a smaller window with the light beginning to fade in the dark room, representing her movement away from the convent community. As her metamorphosis goes on, she is repeatedly put in dark places, with dark clothing, decorated with evil, sometimes scary looking makeup, all of which use the skill of cinematography to its fullest manipulation. Not a bad movie for a bunch of nuns....

Film Suggestion.

I went to the movies last night and watched the film ''Drive'' it stars Ryan Gosling and Albert Brooks. I had a few choice of different movies when i went but chose Drive because it has had a very positive critical reception. I still don't know really what to make of it as a movie whether i like it or not it was very unusually directed and shot but the acting from Gosling (although there was not much dialogue at all) i thought was very good. Director Winding Refn won the Best Director Award at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival for Drive.

I have attached a link to the trailer - as i said i am still not sure if i like it, but i would encourage people to see it, just because it is unusual and different to most recent film releases.

I thought Citizen Kane was such a good movie. Personally, I usually get bored with black and white movies but this movie drew me in from the very beginning. You really get to know Kane and all of his flaws. This movie is very different from other movies from its time.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

first time blogging

not really sure what I'm supposed to say, but I thought that citizen cane was an excellent movie. the use of actors that had never been in a major production before, I thought added to how natural the movie felt. The movie also gave a sense, towards the end, of how cane had become so powerful but still could not keep the love of the people he cared about.

Martin Scorsese on "Citizen Kane"

Thought this was pretty cool:

How one of the most famous directors of today received his inspiration to direct movies from the groundbreaking work of the young Orson Welles.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Critical Review of Citizen Kane

Interesting film review of the film I found the theme of isolation within the character of Kane

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Citizen Kane - Trailer.

I found this on youtube claims it is the original trailer for Citizen Kane - interesting thought to see how much film trailers have developed since the 1940's.

Friday, September 9, 2011

$60,000 for Rosebud sled?

Take a look to see who purchased the Rosebud sled.


Here is an older Welles talking about the 1938 radio broadcast that landed him on the cover of Time Magazine and turned Hollywood's attention toward him.


Elements of Film
Fall 2011
Tom Hammond

This course is an introduction to film analysis and criticism. Being able to identify and interpret the various components of a film is vital to understanding the most important and influential art form of the last century and this one as well. We will watch films and clips in class. You will be assigned feature-length films to watch as homework as well as readings from the required text. There will be a class blog for you to participate in and an individual project.

Class Blog: You will be invited to post on this website.

Instructors Contact Information – phone: 813-900-4759, email: or
Face to face meetings can be arranged before or after class.

Required Text:

Louis Giannetti, “Understanding Movies”

Netflix – A monthly subscription is a good idea for the semester. All assigned movies are “streamable” on Netflix. It costs $8 per month and the first month is usually free. You can obtain all the films at the library, but availability might be a problem with 25 students and a limited number of copies on hand. You can rent or buy, but Netflix is easily the most convenient and affordable method. If you subscribe and for an extra $7, you can receive the films by mail as well as streaming. Turnaround is 2-3 days.

Course Requirements and Grading:

• Attendance & Participation 20% of grade
• Contribution to Class Blog 20% of grade
• Midterm & Final Exam 40% of grade
• Final Project 20% of grade
• Extra Credit Project (+10% of grade)

Attendance & Participation – Every class covers a component of film history, theory and criticism vital to your overall understanding of the subject. If you can’t avoid missing a class, let me know in advance. Any pattern of absence or chronic lateness will be noted and will adversely impact your final grade. Speak up in class. If that is difficult for you, bring in something that will inspire discussion.

The Class Blog – You will be invited to author on the blog. You can make comments on existing posts, post photos, videos or your own writing. You can add links and suggested readings and viewings as well. The Blog is a component of participation. Contributing to it will generate interest in the class and good grades for you.

Mid-Term & Final Exams – You are responsible for knowing the content of the assigned readings, and being familiar with class and required outside viewings. The exams will be a combination of objective and short answer questions.

Final Project – Here are the guidelines for the final project:

• You will create a visual essay that will either tell a story or make a point.
• It will consist of twelve (12) photographs taken by you. No more, no less.
• You may use sound, but only music. No dialogue, narration or sound effects.
• No text unless it naturally occurs in the photo (street signs, etc.).
• Project to be submitted on a disc and presented as a projection to the class.
• Submit a short paper (1-2 pages) explaining the project and pertinent details about the photos.
We will be viewing these projects during the last two weeks of class. Try to incorporate as many of the concepts that we learned about during the semester. You will show your project first without comment. A class critique will follow along with a second viewing. Be prepared to discuss the details of your choices and your process in putting the project together.
If you wish to do this assignment as a video rather than still images, talk to me about the possible guidelines.

Extra Credit – You can keep a journal of films you view outside the requirements of class. You should choose from movies that are mentioned or illustrated in the text book. Write a paragraph or more for each entry explaining how this film relates to the subjects we are studying in class along with a personal opinion. Turn in your work before the end of the semester in organized and printed form.

Academic Integrity – If you use an idea from another source, you can quote it or paraphrase it, but please CITE IT. Failure to do so will be a violation of the Honor Code.

The Eckerd College Honor Code: “On my honor, as an Eckerd College student, I pledge not to lie, cheat or steal, nor to tolerate these behaviors in others.”

To affirm this, you will write, “Pledged” followed by your signature on all assignments, papers and exams.

Assignment Schedule:

• All readings are chapters in the required text, “Understanding Movies” by Louis Gannetti.
• Assigned Viewings are films you are required to see outside of class (all “streamable” on Netflix).
• In class we will watch feature films, scenes and clips from various movies and documentary material on filmmaking. Much of this will also be posted on the Blog for your further study.

Week 1: Introduction
Introduction of students and professor
Review of syllabus
In-class viewing: “Citizen Kane”
Assigned reading: Giannetti, Chapter 1

Week 2: Photography
Lecture: Cinematography
In-class viewing: “Visions of Light”
Assigned reading: Giannetti, Chapter 2
Assigned viewing: “Black Narcissus”

Week 3: Mise en Scene
Lecture: Mise en Scene
In-class viewing: “I Walked With a Zombie”
Assigned reading: Giannetti, Chapter 3
Assigned viewing: “The Cabinet of Dr. Calagari” (1920)

Week 4: Movement
Lecture: Cinematic Movement
In-class viewing: “Kung Fu Hustle”
Assigned reading: Giannetti, Chapter 4
Assigned viewing: “13 Assassins”

Week 5: Editing
Lecture: Film Editing
In-class viewing: “The Cutting Edge”
Assigned reading: Giannetti, Chapter 5
Assigned Viewing: “Battleship Potemkin”

Week 6: Sound
Lecture: Film Sound
In-class viewing: “Singin’ in the Rain”
Assigned reading: Giannetti, Chapter 6
Assigned viewing: “The Conversation”

Week 7: Acting – MIDTERM EXAM
Lecture: Film Acting
In-class viewing: “On the Waterfront”
Assigned reading: Giannetti, Chapter 7
Assigned viewing: “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”

Week 8: Drama
Lecture: Drama
In-class viewing: “Twentieth Century”
Assigned reading: Giannetti, Chapter 8
Assigned viewing: “All About Eve”

Week 9: Story
Lecture: Storytelling
In-class viewing: “8 ½”
Assigned reading: Giannetti, Chapter 9
Assigned viewing: “High Noon”

Week 10: Writing
Lecture: Screenwriting
In-class viewing: “Chinatown”
Assigned reading: Giannetti, Chapter 10
Assigned viewing: “The Grapes of Wrath”

Week 11: Ideology
Lecture: Theme
In-class viewing: “V for Vendetta”
Assigned reading: Giannetti, Chapter 11
Assigned viewing: “To Be Or Not To Be” (1942)

Week 12: Theory
Lecture: Film Theory & Criticism
In-class viewing: “The Bicycle Thief”
Assigned reading: Giannetti, Chapter 12
Assigned viewing: “Blue Velvet”

Week 13: Thanksgiving – no class

Week 14: Synthesis – FINAL EXAM
Lecture: Re-viewing “Citizen Kane”
In-class viewing: “Citizen Kane
Individual Project Presentations due


In the event of an emergency or campus shutdown, class work will continue online at:

You will be invited to contribute as a blog correspondent at the beginning of the semester. This is part of the participation segment of your grade and the location for all information if class can’t be held as scheduled. Assignments will be posted there as well as suggested readings. Video lectures will be available if a shutdown continues for more than one week. Under those circumstances, you may also post any written assignments on the blog or send them to my email at: or

You can contact me by phone at: 813-900-4759

Be sure to review the school handout on procedure in the event of a hurricane.

“The Cabinet of Dr. Calagari” – 1920
“Battleship Potemkin” – 1925
“Twentieth Century” – 1934
“The Grapes of Wrath” – 1940
“Citizen Kane” – 1941
“To Be Or Not To Be” – 1942
“I Walked With a Zombie” – 1943
“Black Narcissus” – 1947
“The Bicycle Thief” - 1948
“All About Eve” – 1950
“Singin’ in the Rain” - 1951
“High Noon” – 1952
“On the Waterfront” – 1954
“8 ½” – 1963
“Chinatown” – 1974
“The Conversation” – 1974
“One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” – 1975
“Blue Velvet” – 1986
“Visions of Light” – 1992
“The Cutting Edge” – 2004
“Kung Fu Hustle” – 2004
“V For Vendetta” – 2006
“13 Assassins” - 2010