Monday, December 10, 2012

Kung Fu Hustle

The special effects in this movie lighten the mood and make it cartoonish and funny. It was a refreshing change from the Kung Fu films i've seen in the past.

Raging Bull

I was really impressed by Robert De Niros acting in this film, he embodied the character so well! As the movie starts to pick up so does his jealousy which ends up plaguing his life and tearing apart he and the woman he was so fearful of loosing. It's hard to watch him get physically pummeled by boxers in the ring while he mentally pummels himself but if you can handle some bloody scenes I would recommend this movie.

Dark Knight Rises

Is it the final Batman film or are there still more to come? I really want there to be a continuation involving Robin, because that ending was the best part of the movie. I enjoyed that Bruce overcame his old age to save the day once again. Some of my peers did not appreciate that Bruce was vulnerable in this movie, but I think that that was the whole point. The producers needed a segway into the new age of Batman. As always, the film score was amazing. Hans Zimmer always comes through with good music. Sometimes I think the music is what makes a film, although I know most people would disagree with me.


For anyone who appreciates Bond, you will not leave this movie disappointed. Some of my peers said that they didn't like it because it wasn't "modern" enough, but I think this is where they are mistaken. The whole point was to bring back the classic elements of the old Bond films. Armed with just a radio and a handgun, Daniel Craig does a fantastic job. There are also no steamy erotic scenes, but I think that this keeps things classy.

V for Vendetta

V for Vendetta is one of my favorite movies, so I'm glad we got to watch it again. Last year I was actually in London for Guy Fawkes day, so watching this again was a reminder of that fun holiday. I'm glad I didn't get blown up on my tube ride home after the fireworks! Natalie Portman gives one of her most convincing performances in this film, and her struggle to cope with a madman is so believable. There are many themes in this film, and they include fear, love, anger, and contempt. London is also a wonderful place to film, and I think that the setting tied this movie together. Especially for us Americans, watching films set in different places is eye opening as well as entertaining.


This was another film we watched in which there was a central element that I have not previously come into contact with. In "Blow Out", the element of film making was sound, in this one it was screenwriting. Honestly, I went through the whole movie kind of thinking that there was going to be some dumb twist where one of the twins actually didn't exist, and in fact it was some sort of multiple personality disorder thing. I'm glad that that didn't happen. I also appreciated Meryl Streep's acting. She's a great actress and this was a new kind of role for her. She really can mold herself into almost anything and she's what made this movie interesting for me.

Raging Bull

Raging Bull was very depressing, in my opinion. I don't usually choose to watch films that I know will make me sad. This one combined drama with boxing, which is a sport I really know nothing about, and am not really invested in either. I think it's an important point to note that if a movie combines elements you don't like, regardless of how well it is made, you may find yourself still not able to enjoy it.

Blow Out

At first, I knew I was going to be skeptical of this movie because I am definitely not a fan of John Travolta. However, as it went on, I realized that it was somewhat exciting. The chase scenes were done well, and I think that's important with a film such as this. It was interesting to watch something that involved elements of film, in this case the main element was sound. I don't think I've ever watched something about the type of situation that this film detailed. Or rather, I don't think I've watched something before about a movie technician like this one.


Adaptation is the perfect example of a seemingly "offbeat comedy." That fact that so much turmoil and conflict revolves around Orchids - a rare plant, yet trivial in comparison to most other factors in life, is comical /ironic by itself. However, the tragic demise of characters over the course of the story brings a sense of crude reality to the surface.  Also, the concept of illusion versus reality pertains to Susan Orlean's novel. Unlike how her novel plays out, Orchids had a negative impact on her life in the long run.

Sunday, December 9, 2012


Alien was a first of a kind. The first to blend graphic horror and science fiction, as well as the first to feature a female action hero. This coupled with that gradually intensifying atmosphere makes the movie a classic. My favorite part about the film was how restricted our view of the alien was, it left room for the viewer to get their imaginative juices flowing. 


Adaptation has to be the most meta-influenced film I have ever seen. The entire film is centered around a nonfiction book that needs to be adapted into a screenplay. Kaufman takes this idea of adaptation to the extreme and creates a film that embodies the idea of turning text into film. The film is constantly writing and rewriting itself as Kaufamn encounters and discovers the "true" Susan Orlean. After a while, the "real" world and the fictive one become so entangled with one another that it seems to mirror the absurdity of trying to justly translate one medium into another. The mixture of the literal idea of biological adaptation to that of screenplay adaptation was very interesting, even if not fully fleshed out. Then again, having a clear meaning would ruin the point of the film. Still, Adaptation was funny, surprising, and always a bit confusing (but in a good way).

The Bicycle Theif

I liked this movie but I only realized how much after it was over. Really powerful message (although very sad) about a very tough time in history. His relationship with his son shows just how hard things were. The little boy was forced to grow up so fast

Duck Soup

Duck Soup was a great movie. It must have been revolutionary for a movie of its time, considering it was produced in 1933! It is funny how the jokes they used back then are still funny today. This movie reminded me a lot of the three stooges sort of humor. This movie was written during the events leading to World War 2, so it was interesting that they included a war at the end of the movie. It is interesting to see how much movies have changed over time, but yet in some ways have stayed the same. If this movie was made in color, I would have a hard time telling it apart from some of today's movies. My favorite character in this movie was the main character Firefly. I wish that this movie lasted more than  an hour, but i guess that was probably an average running time for a movie back in the 1930's!


As many people have been saying, Chinatown isn't the type of film I would usually find myself watching. Nonetheless, I'm glad to have done so since I've been planning on doing so for years since it is kind of a classic. The plot and acting was great and pretty engaging, but the ending really upset me. I guess films don't have to end on a happy note per se, but this one is tied with Blow Out as "feel-bad film" of the semester. Poor Evelyn.

V For Vendetta

Years back when V For Vendetta first came out, I really wasn't able to engage with the film. It seemed too "super-hero" driven. Obviously I was missing the bigger picture of the film and the political and moral implications it is steeped in. Now, on my second viewing, it has become clear that this is a film both very important for its aesthetic qualities as well as moral. Yes, it is an action film in the classic sense, but the allegorical message it carries is just as thrilling. The visuals and film-making in general are breathtaking, which can sort of mask the deeper meanings of the film, but once you do dig those up, the film as a whole becomes something both unnerving and awe-inspiring. The final scene where hundreds of people pile in dressed up as V gave me chills that lasted for hours after the film ended. Perhaps it was the way it visually looked, or perhaps knowing the context of a society under oppression finally reclaiming its homeland, but either way it has left a lasting impression on me.


Flight is the story of an alcohol and drug-addicted pilot named William "Whip" Whitaker, who manages to land a crashing plane under the influence of numerous substances. He is hailed a hero, but once the word of his possible intoxication leaks out, his true nature and motives behind his life-choices becomes revealed in a surprisingly disturbing manner. Once out of the hospital from the crash, he meets a heroin addict named Nicole. They both sort of team up and tackle their addictions together. I was honestly expecting Flight to be more of an action-driven film as the trailer suggested. Instead, Flight turned into a character study, where we are forced to see Whip deteriorate both physically and mentally. It becomes a bit much too handle after a while, because nothing seems to happen but him destroy himself in front of the camera with booze and drugs. It would have been nice to see more of a double-plot with both Whip and Nicole, which was employed in the beginning of the film. That might have taken away the relationship between the two and show how one can recover and one can slip further into self-destruction, but it would have been more artsy and more entertaining. Nonetheless, this was a very harrowing film that definitely will make the awards season go crazy over it. It just wasn't what I was suspecting. My friend who I saw it with summed it up perfectly: "God that was depressing. Now I need a drink."

Silent Hill: Revelation 3D

“Come to Silent Hill” is sprawled in blood on the wall of Heather Mason’s house. Any sane person would run as far away as possible, but Heather makes the conscious choice to venture into the world of “Silent Hill: Revelation 3D”. Unfortunately for the viewer, it’s too late to go back.
             Teenager Heather Mason (Adelaide Clemens) and her father Harry (Sean Bean) have been on the run for years from malevolent forces. Now on the day of her eighteenth birthday, these forces have kidnapped Harry and beckoned Heather back to Silent Hill, an alternate world populated by perverse monsters and a cultist group that is hell-bent on Heather being their “savior”. With the help of a classmate named Vincent (Kit Harrington), Heather travels to Silent Hill to save her father. What she discovers about her past and true identity is something she could’ve never imagined.
“Silent Hill: Revelation 3D” is adapted from the Silent Hill videogame series (primarily Silent Hill 3) and an indirect sequel to the original “Silent Hill” film. It’s likely that only viewers who have previously immersed themselves in the games and first film will fare a chance of keeping up with the confusing plot. It’s also the fans of the series that will be severely disappointed by the way “Revelation” is portrayed. There’s nothing wrong with Hollywood-izing an adaptation, but “Revelation” is stripped of the psychological horror and mystery that made the games so popular.
As much as “Silent Hill” tries to explain itself, it ends up only adding more outlandish layers. The screenplay (penned by the film’s director Michael J. Bassett) relies too heavily on exposition, which interrupts action sequences that could potentially be intense. The dialogue ends up being more frightening than the scenes. It seems like director Michael J. Bassett doesn’t understand how to balance these aspects to be both engaging and coherent. Bassett’s previous film “Solomon Kane” succeeded in this regard, so it’s baffling how he fell flat on his face this time around.
If “Revelation” has anything going for it, it’s the cinematography and set design. Silent Hill is once again in its industrial rust-caked glory, but not even this hellish atmosphere can save it from the mess that takes up residency. The monsters (particularly a mannequin spider that does some ungodly things to its prey) are for the most part creepy-looking, but their screen time is far too brief. Akira Yamaoka, the composer for the Silent Hill games, adds his gritty touch to the soundtrack. Unfortunately, after a while it’s nothing more than white noise.
            The 3D aspect of this film was obviously implemented to draw in more viewers. Nowhere in recent memory has any film (especially horror) successfully employed 3D to engage the audience in a film. “Revelation” is no exception. There’s the cliché “pointy objects coming right at you” and a few severed limbs flying out of the screen, but nothing that will summon more than a groan from the viewer. The 3D glasses suddenly feel clunky and not worth the additional $6 added to the ticket price.
            The actors really do try their best to work with the material given to them. Newcomer Adelaide Clemens is believable as a terrified teenager and Kit Harrington is sympathetic as her counterpart. Acting veterans such as Carrie Anne Moss (The Matrix Trilogy) and Malcolm McDowell (A Clockwork Orange) are captivating as always, but their screen time is too brief for it to be memorable. There’s only so much the actors can do and unfortunately it’s not enough to save “Revelation”.
At the climax of the film Heather is trapped on a flame-engulfed carousel, confronting a ghoulish incarnation of herself. “Go to Hell!” Heather screams. ‘We’re already here,” her double growls. By the end of “Silent Hill: Revelation 3D”, the viewer truly does feel like they’ve been put through hell, and they’re not in any hurry to go back either.

13 Assassins

I am HUGE Takashi Miike fan. I got first turned on to him through the film Audition (which I wasn’t a huge fan of), but then was blown away Ichi the Killer. Ichi was unbelievably violent, but so aesthetically pleasing it was hard to look away. I never imagined Miike creating a period piece, especially because of knowing his track record. Since this is my second time watching 13 Assassins, I tried to pay particular attention to the camera movement and usage this time around, particularly in the epic battle scene. Miike makes sure that you never miss a beat of what is happening. If someone is going to die, you’re going to see explicitly how. The camera follows these assassins through EVERY single death in the entire battle scene, making it seem like you are a part of the action. I almost felt unsafe being so up-close to it. That’s what sets this apart from any other action film I have seen: even thought he POV is not of the assassins themselves (usually), you feel like you are fighting along with them. It’s hard to explain, but an amazing feeling once you get it.

What I noticed during my second viewing also was that Miike really relies on character development just as much as action. Since the first hour or so of the film is just a lead up to the battle, we are thrown into the lives of these assassins. By doing so, they don’t become just mere killing machines, but instead real people who you can sympathize with and want to survive. Even if the mass slaying does not seem very just as a whole, you come to realize that these men are truly fighting for a greater good out of their OWN goodness. The enemies may not be bad and are just doing their jobs as well, but we are indebted to the assassins. When the enemies die by the handful, it doesn’t leave much compassion. But when one of the assassins dies, it is very heart wrenching, because you almost get the feeling that they are immortal.

Miike is a genius. Watch Ichi The Killer or Audition. They'll totally mess with your head.

Cabinet of Dr. Caligari

When I first sat down to watch this film, I really was expecting a strong horror aspect to it. Of course, my horror aspect is based off of countless viewings of SAW and Halloween, so this film made me think of horror in a more artistic way. Since I was not able to hear anything besides the music, I had to become more engaged in the visuals themselves. What I noticed was that the sets and scenery were very sharp (literally, like triangles) and dream-like. In context of this being all a hallucination, it definitely helps create an unreal quality to the film. The sets are also imperfectly painted, which makes the eeriness of the actions seem even more peculiar. Everything seems extremely unrealistic, but if it were made to look very realistic, it wouldn’t create that sense of unease that is necessary for an audience that can focus only on the images right in front of them without assisting dialogue and sound. Once knowing the twist ending, the unnatural visuals themselves seemed to serve a larger purpose. This film was not frightening in the least, but definitely created tons of eeriness through its visuals alone.

I Walked With a Zombie

The most impressive part about I Walked With a Zombie was the way both the house and its inhabitants and native lands worked off each other. Here we have a world of supposed civility and morals, while right outside there is the primal land of the natives. Having this really showed how the “civilized” house was really far from it: a woman has been put into a comatose state on purpose, a man wishes to commit infidelity on his zoned-out wife, and a man has become a major drunk after committing infidelity with said zombie-sister-in-law. The dichotomy between both of these worlds made me think about the true nature of humans. This being that how on the surface, people and civilizations may seem classy and without fault, but when stripped away of their facades are shown to be no different than those whom they shun for being “inhuman.” I would have liked to have been left with less ambiguity at the end of the film though. We are given much to take in and analyze, but are given no clear answer. Perhaps the point of the film was less about answers as it was about questions, such as I was talking about prior with being civilized.

Black Narcissus

Black Narcissus is a film that grew on me after the first viewing. Initially, as others have posted, the pacing was a bit offsetting. This slower pacing, though, really made the climax of the film much more intense, even though an ultimate letdown. We are slowly given glimpses into the deterioration of these Sisters’ minds and morale. The most important I believe is that of Sister Clodagh’s past love and its similarities to Sister Ruth’s actions. Our book talks a lot about how films have a certain ABAB structure (or something similar) to them, and how this helps drive a story along. We are given numerous flashbacks that reveal Sister Clodagh’s desires of love prior to joining the convant, which further amplifies this sexual desire being brought back to the surface by Mr. Dean. It shouldn’t be much of a surprise, then, that Sister Ruth unleashes this pent-up passion at the end of the film. Although the structure plays towards more of Sister Clodagh’s desires of love, it becomes embodied radically in Sister Ruth. This mode of revealing sexuality through Sister Ruth is what ircked me about the film. It seems that nothing was learned from her passionate outburst. Sister Clodagh could have had some sort of revelation from seeing Sister Ruth’s extreme desire for male companionship and utilized it to have a nice relationship with Mr. Dean that was like the one she desired prior to the convent. Instead she leaves without any self-reflection. Perhaps this has some deeper signifigance than I can see, but it would have been a nice way to round off the structure of the film to have Sister Clodagh be a chaste form of love, one that Sister Ruth let get out of control.

Blow Out

I am on the fence with this film. On one hand, it was unique and unnerving, but on the other hand it was quite frustrating. I really liked the mystery of this film through the idea of sound, which is something I’ve never seen utilized in film so heavily as in this one. I had to focus on both the visuals AND the sound at the same time, because they both equally important in the way the film unfolded. The way the film is structured reminded me of classic thrillers, but with far more engagement for the audience. You’re relentlessly being dragged through the scenes (in a positive way) and with the twists and turns. It definitely kept me on the edge of my seat. But the ending! Oh my god, the ending infuriated me. It’s not that a film needs to have a happy ending per se, but Blow Out set you up to really believe that Sally would survive. At the beginning of the film, Jack is searching for that perfect scream. Well, he found it, and that final scene where you hear Sally’s scream left me feeling extremely uncomfortable. If that was De Palma’s goal, then he certainly succeeded.   

Black Hawk Down

I’ve been meaning to see Black Hawk Down for quite some time. I like war films and mini-series (such as Letters from Iwo Jima and Band of Brothers), but I haven’t watched many that focus on modern-day wars. I tried to focus on the editing aspect of this film, because it is very prevalent throughout. I found the film’s manic editing to be kind of confusing and distracting. Half of the time I couldn’t tell who was on screen and who had just been killed. This may have been done on purpose to show the chaos and confusion that ensues when you’re actually in a war battle, but as a viewer I would’ve liked some more clarity. This really is a good film though, and it keeps you entertained because the action is relentless. 

Kung Fu Hustle

Kung Fu Hustle

I remember seeing Kung Fu Hustle years ago and not being very entertained by it. I was more into mind-numbing horror films, and reading subtitles seemed too tedious. Thankfully, this viewing I absolutely loved it. I never realized the amount of effort put into the choreography, even though it is very over-the-top.  On the subject of mise en scene, I found it very interesting that nearly everything in the set during fighting sequences was utilized in some way or another. It’s pretty evident that the creators were intent on utilizing everything. I have a feeling that had to do with budget constraints (it was a $20-million film), but either way it was something I haven’t seen too often before. I also have yet to see many action-comedies that are actually funny while being engaging and intense. Kung Fu Hustle succeeded in drawing out laughs during fighting without becoming slapstick. I wonder if Shaolin Soccer is as good as Kung Fu Hustle. Might have to check it out.  

Becoming Santa

The other day I was bored and feeling christmasy.  So i decided to watch a movie from the christmas section of Netflix.  I turned on Becoming Santa, a documentary on a man who is training to be a mall santa.  I was surprised to find that I liked the movie.  Not only did you see how people train to take on the role of santa but it was filled with the history behind the man in the red jacket.

Saturday, December 8, 2012


This movie is very under rated. Christopher Nolan directed it before he became very fameous for The Dark Knight. The plot is very interesting, the main character is a man who can not make new memories and has to tattoo information allover his body. The man is looking for the person who killed his wife. The movie is unique in the fact that it is backwards. When a scene ends the following scene will end upon the begining of the previous scene. I had to watch this movie a few times to comprehend what was happening.

Pulp Fiction

 I saw this movie over the weekend, I have seen it close to 10 times and it never gets old. I still cant seem to figure out the plot as it is allover the place. The cast is amazing with Bruce Willis, Uma Thurman, John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson. It is bloody, violent and packed with action. The characters are somewhat weird. It has somewhat of twisted humor throughout the whole movie. This is one of my favorite movies and one that I will see again and again.

La Strada

I was almost uncomfortable watching La Strada. Gelsomina was clearly mentally unstable and needed a more structured life. She seemed to be in love with the man who took her from her family, (forgot his name). It reminded me of Stockholm syndrome, when someone falls in love with the person who kidnapped them. It is awful and made me very uncomfortable. She also seemed like she had bipolar disorder; she would be crying and upset one minute and then happy and laughing the next. I really did not like nor had respect for this movie.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Study List for the Final Exam

Here is a list of terms to know for the final in addition to what we discussed in our last class.  These are items we covered earlier in the semester.  There may be questions on some of them

Frames Per Second (sound – 24, silent – 18)
Persistence of Vision
Academy Aspect Ratio – (1:1.33)
Widescreen – (1:1.85, 16x9)
Scope – (1:2.35)
Angle – (High, Low, Bird’s Eye)
Distance – (ExLS, LS, MS, CU, ExCU)
Depth of Field – (Shallow, Deep Focus)
Camera Movement – (Pan, Tilt, Dolly/Tracking, Crane)
POV (Point of View)
High Key Lighting
Low Key Lighting
Key Light
Fill Light
Back Light
Mis en Scene
Continuity Editing
Jump Cut

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

La Strada

This was kind of a weird film mostly because of Gelsomina(?).  She was a very hard character to follow and I couldn't really figure out why she was always making faces and what she really wanted.  I was kind of shocked that she decided to to stay with Zampano.  The end of the movie was kind of heart breaking, though because Zampano only really knows then how much she meant to him.  It was heart breaking to see him just break down like that.  So, it was a kind of a sad movie in my opinion.

Monday, December 3, 2012

V for Vendetta

Prior to class, I had never viewed this film before. I was excited to see it because I was told it was intense. I found this movie to be better than expected. I think Natalie Portman did a wonderful job in the lead role. She played a great character and even shaved her head for the film. I find this to be true dedication for a actor or actress to do. What I found most interesting about this movie was the character V. His mysterious attitude throughout the whole film was fascinating to watch.

The Bicycle Thief

Instead of complaining about all the qualities I thought were slow and drawn out in this movie, I will say it was pretty good for a movie of its time.  I of course would have preferred to watch it in English that way i could focus more of my attention on watching rather than reading. I found the relationship between the father and son very interesting. I was surprised at how he treated him. He acted as if he was far more mature than a person of his age is capable of. I did find the movie somewhat depressing because of all the unfortunate events that happen to the main character. He loses so much all because of a bicycle thief.

True Grit

I didn't really like this movie all that much.  I don't generally like these kinds of movies all that much anyway.  The main character girl(can't remember her name) was a really annoying character.  Just the way she acted all high and mighty and how she always expected people to listen to her was a very irritating trait of hers.  But yeah, I didn't like this movie.


I thought this movie was pretty good.  It definitely wasn't bad, but it wasn't the type of movie I would generally watch. The ending was pretty depressing since he couldn't do anything.  But geez, did the police really have to shoot her in the head?? I'm guessing they were supposed to be aiming for the wheels, but still.

V for Vendetta

I thought that this movie was pretty awesome.  It's one of those movies that really make you think about things after you watch it.  I really liked the character of V, he was pretty cool.  I thought it was kind of cruel that he was the one who tortured the girl(I can't remember her name), but I guess it had to be done and she even seemed fine with it after she calmed down and thought about it.  There sure was a lot of symbolism in this movie.

Duck Soup

This movie made absolutely no sense to me.  It was kind of funny at first, but the jokes kind of wore off.  I don't really understand why Firefly was made the leader of the country.  He's a complete idiot when it comes to running the country.  He even put them into a war because he didn't want to apologize for being a jerk.  And the two spies were just puzzling. I mean, are they even real spies?  I don't know.  This movie was just weird.

The Bicycle Thief

This movie was kind of slow for me, but I thought that it was alright.  I felt really sorry for the main character because he finally got this nice job in the city and then he loses it because some jerk stole his bike.  And then he never gets it back either! It was kind of a sad movie.

The Bicycle Thief

This movie first captured my attention because it is Leonardo DiCaprio's favorite movie, and he is my favorite actor.  I have always wanted to see it even though, this is not usually a genre of film I would watch.  The plot was interesting, and made me want to know what happened to the man's bike.  However, I thought it was a little slow and drug out.  The main character had a very interesting relationship with his son (calling him a man, drinking wine with him, despite his extremely young age.) Overall, this movie was pretty good.

Shakespeare in Love

A comical story about Shakespeare and how he came to write Romeo and Juliet, Williams inspiration budding from his own relationship with the wealthy Gwyneth Paltrow. It was a sweetly romantic crowd pleaser, but not exactly worthy of being named Best Picture of 1998.

The Cabinet of Dr.Caligari

Very strange. Must have been even stranger to the audiences in the 1920's. All the make-up, skewed doorways and crooked windows add to the strong expressionist style.