Vagrant Journalism

Published pieces from the past, the present and of the potential future.

Posts Tagged ‘class paper’

19 November 2008: Film Notes – Trois Couleurs Bleu

Posted by Christina on March 23, 2009

trois-couleurs-bleuThe ‘Trois Couleurs’ series was one of my favorite parts of this class. Juliette Binoche is absolutely amazing in this film and the whole aspect of the triad of films was so brilliant as well. This is another selection from film notes and again, answers a question concerning the film

Film Notes: What is the function of the score in Three Colors: Blue?

Trois Couleurs: Bleu (Three Colors: Blue), Krzysztof Kieślowski, 1993

While it is evident that Julie is trying to disassociate herself from her former life, liberate herself from an identity of the past and repress memories from a previous existence, it is the with the reoccurrence of the music that Julie is somewhat forced to remember her past. The haunting phrases from the score are what remain in Julie’s life even while she is so desperately trying to rid herself of her past. When she rents the apartment Julie takes on her maiden name, she destroys the music notation associated with her husband and the life-status she had with him and she rids herself of everything material that would be responsible for serving as any memento save the blue jewel-beaded mobile. Regardless of these actions seeming like brash, thoughtless actions of anxiety and depression after the devastating accident, it is with a firm conviction of wanting so desperately to start her life anew that Julie rids herself of all these memories. Yet try as she might, her disposing of objects that might serve as materialistic nostalgia-inducers resurrect during moments she least expects it and in the form of the music that she tries to consider a part of her past life.

Interestingly, when she hears the music, the screen blacks out for several seconds and the orchestral sounds overpower the audience’s senses. This is perhaps done to show what might be going on in Julie’s head. It could be her blacking out because a particularly haunting phrase of music is persistently trying to reinsert itself into her life when she least expects it. While it seems that Julie has effectively rid herself of her past, it is the music that plays an important role in bringing her back in touch with portions of her life she tried to cut herself off from. Like several of the senses that invoke memory-how smelling a particular perfume could bring about thoughts of childhood-music works with the sense of hearing to procure memories one might have long since forgotten or tried to repress. This happens when she hears the flute player on the street as well as in her own psyche as the music that was such an integral part of her very existence seems to literally take her by surprise and knock her off her consciousness for a moment.

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6 November 2008: Under the Guise of a Conforming Visual Aesthetic Exists a Deconstructing of the Cinéma du Look Model

Posted by Christina on March 23, 2009

xp obligations ANGEL-AThis is the midterm paper written for FMS101C on behalf of my beloved French films, New Wave and especially Cinema du Look.

Under the Guise of a Conforming Visual Aesthetic Exists a Deconstructing of the Cinéma du Look Model

As Luc Besson constitutes one-third of the forefather triumvirate for cinéma du look, consumers of this film culture are indebted to him for propagating the cinema scene with all the elements heralded by cinéma du look constructs. Defined with detailed particularity in Sue Harris’s essay “The Cinéma du Look,” elements of this movement in French film are clearly defined in Besson’s Angel-A, especially with the visual aesthetic of the film and how it exemplifies a heightened ocular pleasure over anything else. However, there are moments in which the film delineates from the cinéma du look model by effectively bringing to light some film models that were initially dismissed with the post-1968 filmmakers. Defined in terms of Harris’s stated elements involving characterization, there lies a conflict between a mere visual representation and one of more psychological depth in terms of defining the main protagonists. Further it is in its return to the formal style of location shooting, which has largely been indebted to the French New Wave, that renders Besson’s Angel-A a someone deconstruction of cinéma du look. Interestingly, while the film seems to break away from a style first brought to life by this director, it simultaneously heralds the cinéma du look model, utilizing its modes of construct to create filmic eye candy.

What works particularly well in identifying Angel-A as forming to the cinéma du look model is a sense of choreography seen through the characters’ excessive gesturing and in the final scene where Angel-A fights to fly back to Heaven. It is in the comparative mode of gesturing which exists between André and Angel-A which further characterizes them on screen as dichotomous. André uses the whole of his body to portray a particular language that renders his entire body a form of gesturing. It is here where we see how he is fitful, spastic and fidgety while Angel-A glides her body’s movements, even in heated moments of angry argumentative expressiveness. Also later, when Angel-A and André fight in mid-air, it is the choreography of cuts and shots that renders this sequence similar to Soviet montage. The play of cuts to heighten the anticipation and anxiety of what’s to come is also heavily stylized and choreographed.

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24 October 2008: Film Notes – Persona

Posted by Christina on March 23, 2009

personaOne of the other ways we participated in film notes was by answering a question based on one of the readings assigned to us that week in correspondence with that week’s screenings. Susan Sontag had written an article when Ingmar Bergman’s ‘Persona’ had been released called ‘Sight and Sound’ and we were to use that in reference to the stated question.

Film Notes: Sontag [“Persona, Sight and Sound”] explains that there is a theme of doubling in Persona, how does it operate?

Persona, Ingmar Bergman, 1966

Susan Sontag delivers ideas around the sense of doubling in Persona by finding dualities in the mode in which the film’s narration operates. She furthers her notions of doubling in this sense by exploring ways in which the narrative sheds light on how other thematic elements play on Ingmar Bergman’s prominent ideas on doubling throughout the film. She focuses on this dichotomy between the “traditional narrative” and a “new narration” (188) in terms of giving a duality to narrative in general. These two modes of narration are what separate other films from Bergman’s Persona for Sontag in that the “traditional narrative” showcases a clear explanation for action-reactions. The “new narrative” is a purposeful dismissal of a clear explanation, deliberate in leaving the audience with their own ideas about the overall film. She also goes through an explanation of the doubled notion towards a psychological theme in Persona. Sontag pairs the psychological awareness in the existence and diagnosis of the psychiatrist with Bergman’s overall dismissal of psychological importance as this diagnosis or nearly anything medial-related is never really mentioned again.

Sontag also delves into polarities seen in Persona as well as The Silence, in terms of giving a thematic driving force to Bergman by looking at his contemporary work and still upholding Persona as above to the rest. She describes the “polarities of violence and powerlessness, reason and unreason, language and silence, the intelligible and unintelligible” (186) in what seems like a parenthetical afterthought. However, it’s evident that these found “polarities” are true modes of doubling in terms of one theme since they are the opposite sides of that singular theme’s spectrum. In this, Sontag creates two forms of one. For example, with “language and silence” it is a mode of communication that is represented twice-one is through the verbally audible or readable form of language and the other works as communication by creating an utter void of verbosity. We obviously understand Alma through her incessant speech because we hear her language and understand the words. Similarly, there is a reason why the psychiatrist in Persona has a long monologue of understanding towards Elizabeth even though she has heard nothing from her patient. In this way she provides modes of understanding the way in which doubling operates in Persona.

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3 October 2008: Film Notes – Angel-A

Posted by Christina on March 23, 2009

angel-aFor the last of the three-part film history series, we went through modern filmmaking in a flash of a variety of genres, country-specific filmmaking and form spanning from Andy Warhol to video art. We had to sign up for “film notes” and in groups, write about a certain aspect of a particular film. Whether it be cinematography, editing, acting…whatever. I loved this film so much and was excited to participate in film notes for this Luc Besson masterpiece.

Film Notes: cinematography – camera movement, angles and lighting

Angel-A, Luc Besson, 2005

The use of various cinematographic techniques in Angel-A are very specific to the genre of filmmaking this particular film falls into, Cinéma du look. The camera movement throughout the environment of the Paris setting gets as much out of the city’s architectural beauty as possible. In order to accomplish this, the camera takes extreme long shots of the characters as they make their way throughout the city. Even when both Angel-A and André are static and are having intimate conversations, many of these moments are captured in establishing shot fashion. The camera sits far, far away and centers the two characters as small, arm flailing and gesticulating creatures in the middle of the frame. It is convenient, and probably purposefully done, that many of the events take place on the cobblestone, Parisian streets and amongst a mélange of key areas of French culture. From the train station to Sacré-Cœur to the ever-present Eiffel Tower, the film could pass as a tour video if not intended for greater and better things.

Another key area of cinematography employed by this Cinéma du look film is in the mode of camera angles, which is important because of the height difference between Angel-A and André. It may be somewhat ridiculous that Angel-A is so much taller than André but the camera angles that follow their interaction serve to establish a relationship for the two. In their first meeting and discussion, we have a high angle from Angel-A’s perspective as she’s talking to André and a low angle from André’s perspective when he’s talking to Angel-A. This establishes a hierarchical leveling between the two and is seen in how Angel-A is more capable of taking care of André’s problem than he is capable of taking care of them himself. When Angel-A forces André to admit that he loves himself in the mirror, the camera is dead steady on both of them, showing that she has come down to his level to assess him problem.

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12 June 2008: Animated Actions Speak Louder than Static Words

Posted by Christina on March 20, 2009

tiger-01I was so in love with the film when I first saw it in theaters that I jumped to the first chance I got to work with it in some form through my Film & Media Studies classes. All majors are required to take a writing class and I happened to select the one that focused on writing about the transfer of a text from comic book to film. It was absolutely perfect and I had never had such a great time writing a final until this assignment, especially since I did exceptionally well on the paper.

Animated Actions Speak Louder than Static Words: Media Formats Effect the Presentation of the Plight of an Expatriate Youth

The translation of Persepolis from graphic novel to film is one of the more unique examples of artistic endeavors that have transcended varying forms of media. Many comic book adaptations have made their way through popular culture with the perennial summer blockbuster hit the likes of Spiderman, Batman and X-Men releases, especially with their subsequent sequels. Persepolis, however, has managed a different place for itself within this genre of adaptation. As it has maintained a sense of originality in its presentation, it has procured the belief that comic books and graphic novels can be considered to be high art in graphic novels, filmic and literary forms. The release of Persepolis also amplifies the poignant effect such simplistic visualizations representing a landmark moment in the political history of a nation can have on those who consume the media. Further, Persepolis as a film also comments on the differing cultures of those who consume graphic novels and those who take part in film culture and how the availability and power of each media form, combined with the narrative content in author Marjane Satrapi’s work, effects the reception of the text as a whole.

Coupled with the graphic notions of content are the literary and artistic qualities of Persepolis productions that create an overall oeuvre d’art[1]. Thematically, a story that accounts the development of a youth over their integral periods of their life is considered a bildungsroman. This literary genre follows the processes of an individual’s maturity and the tears and wears along the way. As the very first panel presents a first person introduction of the character at 10-years-old, we can expect the rest to be a qualifiable account of the author’s life throughout the remainder of the text. We follow the author as she experiences the most trying times of her life and end with her leaving this world that has reared her behind. Also, taking into consideration Persepolis is somewhat of a memoir, we know exactly what has become of our protagonist as her media projects are being consumed.

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3 December 2007: The Classroom is a Sonic Playground – Mix CD Liner Notes

Posted by Christina on March 12, 2009

img_1068I took a class called Audio Cultures and we discussed the different ways audio has progress through time as a form of media. For our final project we were to make a mix CD, placing songs with various requirements together on one disc. These are the liner notes from my CD.

The Classroom is a Sonic Playground: Mix CD Liner Notes

Musique Concrète:

1.       The Beatles – “Tomorrow Never Knows” – Revolver

Use of backwards guitar showcases the use of sound technology. Their engineer during Revolver, Geoff Emerick took John Lennon’s voice and put it through Leslie speaker, which is a particular sort of amplifier that can create the Doppler effect with audio put through it. Their engineer went into the circuitry of the speaker’s cabinet and re-recorded the vocals just as they came out as they were emitted by the speaker. This created a vibrato effect which coupled with Lennon’s vocals piercing in and out throughout the song. Also the vein of musique concrete, this particular song includes a backwards guitar solo, the effect also achieved by utilizing the Leslie speaker. This sort of effect was used through a large part of Revolver and features the psychedelic, Dalai Lama following Beatle.

References to Audio Technology:

2.      Sublime – “April 29, 1992 (Miami) – Sublime

This song not only makes a social statement concerning the corrupt nature of those who are meant to serve and protect and the society around them reacting to their supposed self-served injustice, but makes use of a different type of audio technology as well. Sublime utilizes the police radio and transmissions that must have been heard through the time of the riots. They use this technology to bring a deeper meaning and purpose to their song as a whole. They use the technology to further and strengthen the narrative throughout.

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3 December 2007: “Man, That’s What I Call A Colored Man”

Posted by Christina on March 12, 2009

pict0This piece was another critical inquiry assignment for the American Superheroes class. We were to talk about race in terms of The Incredible Hulk TV show and watched a particular episode in class. The title I chose for my paper came from a direct quote in the episode.

“Man, That’s What I Call A Colored Man.”

Initially, we may view David Banner’s character within The Incredible Hulk television program to represent that of the white colonizer, come to a wholly racially identified place. This place is obviously characterized as an example of the American black inner-city as a race and culture of the black population have been pushed aside by the white majority. They have created an area they can call their own where they work, live and breathe the streets they walk on and the town they keep alive and humming. At first glance, it’s the white male figure represented by Banner whom the outsider understands to have put these citizens-only found different from the rest by the color of their skin-in this place within the outskirts of a normalized society. However, the character of Banner is unique in that he is actually The Hulk and as a sort of superhero, has an alternate look on life, doesn’t buy into the racial norms the rest of society has forced upon the greater population and treats humanity as equal, being outcast himself by a mode of difference which makes him unlike the rest.

As Dyer remarks within his essay, we understand the white hero to have the right to colonize because his body is better as his masculinity coupled with the sheer fact that his skin is white showcases a superiority which places him on the humanity hierarchy. With this episode, “Like A Brother” from The Incredible Hulk television show, the black inner-city defines the space in which the white superior male has colonized. An outsider has entered the perimeter with intensions to take over and with Banner, we initially read him as a character who has come to somewhat vindictively enact his seemingly god-given right to colonize. However, as the episode progresses, Banner is an estranged version of the white male superior colonizer, although he does possess traits that showcase him as the outsider who has come to fix the problems by ways of his intellectual and moral superiority inherent to his white skin.

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14 November 2007: The Day I Broke a Nail When I Saved the World

Posted by Christina on March 11, 2009

umaThis was another critical inquiry assignment for the American Superheroes class. We had just watched My Super Ex-Girlfriend and had to comment on its contents. Also – this movie had the cutest end title sequence ever (almost).

The Day I Broke a Nail When I Saved the World

There has always been a sort of “incongruity” within recognizing a female superhero, namely since the identity of a superhero in general is usually given to a male figure. They’re the ones meant to protect the innocent and the fragile from what tragedies might befall them and within these categories women hold top tier. Therein we see that when women are represented as superheroes “narrative tension” is created by way of developing a rift between what we expect generally from their gender and what they’re capable of as extraordinary people-superheroes. These sorts of departures from regular expectations of women are seen in My Super Ex-Girlfriend where seemingly docile women exhibit extraordinary capabilities. Yet they are brought back down to an appropriately societal-deemed size when men are involved in their lives, when the aspect of patriarchy infiltrates their lives figuratively by way of psychology and literally by way of physical proximity.

Patriarchal standards reign within the film My Super Ex-Girlfriend even though on the surface, we primarily see how the male figures are having their masculinity undermined by the women around them. We see Luke Wilson’s character, Matt Saunders, in need of being saved by our superhero, G-Girl-whose name on its own begs the question for what it might really allude to. Similarly, Eddie Izzard’s character, Professor Bedlam, is completely obsessed with her, rendering him incapable of doing anything that doesn’t involve her in some way. While these themes are prevalent at first glance, the female characters are being objectified, being accepted as superheroes only once they have transformed into the accepted image of blonde haired, chesty creatures of sexuality and femininity.

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22 October 2007: Struggle Between Nostalgia and Anti-Nostalgia – Stuck in the Middle With Superman

Posted by Christina on March 9, 2009

superman_dccomics_artThis assignment was for our American Superheroes class and dealt with the ideas of nostalgia and anti-nostalgia with a particular Superman comic.

Struggle Between Nostalgia and Anti-Nostalgia: Stuck in the Middle With Superman

In this comic book cover we see the iconic notion of Superman in accordance to the characters of Lois Lane and Lex Luthor in a battle between nostalgia and anti-nostalgia. Superman’s past is rekindled in the form of the use of modern technology hinting to the potential demise of Superman and the things he fights for, particularly Lois Lane. Nostalgia and anti-nostalgia are connected in this sense where, coupled together, they present an immediate threat. Yet separately they work on their own levels and come together in the end as the conflicting positions of nostalgia and anti-nostalgia.

On the nostalgic level, this ultimately destructive ray is a relic from Superman’s past. Not only is it from his home planet, but it is a piece of memorable hints to the person his father was. The ray gun poses a symbol for the advance technology inherent to Krypton and clues Superman in on what sort of society he came from and would have been reared by had this planet survived. Intimately, it’s a key to the person his father was as Jor-El’s superior knowledge of this sort of technology enabled him to develop this type of machine. This ray gun serves as a memorandum from his planet and the society inhabited by Krypton, one more technologically advanced than the seemingly primitive society of people on Earth. This ray gun represents the person of his father whose death has been thousands of years ago in a somewhat galactic light year. With such a long period of time it is unavoidably impossible to go back to the age of his planet yet with this piece of technology, a sort of unearthed anthropological antique of Krypton, we can guess at the type of place Superman originally comes from.

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10 October 2007: How Plastic Man Adheres to American Myths

Posted by Christina on March 7, 2009

jla89The first quarter I took Film & Media Studies classes was really great because I got to take some awesome electives. One was called American Superheroes and we basically read comic books, watched films based on comic books and wrote papers on how the real human themes within these comic books transfer all sorts of media bounds. Later, I would take the required writing about film class with the same professor and write my final on one particular comic book’s transfer to film.

How Plastic Man Adheres to American Myths

The story of Plastic Man contains all the integral ingredients for properly qualifying a story of a superhero. We have the history of Plastic Man as an orphaned child left uncertain about the world around him, the geriatric mentor who supports him throughout his transformation, the integration of science as a strange vehicle for the transformation and the idea of dual identity, among others. Among these concepts of defining the individual character as a superhero, we find the story as a whole adheres to the American myths of self-transformation and national destiny. Clearly, these two approaches intertwine to seamlessly construct the story of the American superhero by way of the mythology that spawned the genre. Also, the content which maintained the original American myths are displaced, taking us away from a world of blazing horizon sunsets and cowboys to a modern one with scientific advancements and wagons that steer themselves.

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