Vagrant Journalism

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

Posts Tagged ‘fms101c’

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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