Author Archives: abbiemanuelle

ACTING (A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE)

When I started acting training, the first film my teacher showed me was A Streetcar Named Desire. She showed me this movie in particular because it’s a good example of the difference between Strasberg style and the Meisner technique. Both are derived from Stanislavsky, but each one centers around two very different styles of acting. Strasberg is more about emotion and feelings, and Meisner is more about being present and in the moment. My preferred acting technique is Meisner. It teaches you how to be truthful under imaginary circumstances. Strasberg just teaches you how to take your own life experiences and raise the stakes based on your character’s given circumstances. In A Streetcar Named Desire, Marlon Brando, who playes Stanley Kowalski, comes from a Meisner background and Vivien Leigh, who plays Blanche DuBois comes from a Strasberg background.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DGttPdMEBOo

In this scene, Blanche is talking to Mitch about her first love. As her monologue goes on, and Mitch chimes in. It’s easy to tell that Viven Leigh is not reacting to what Mitch is saying. Leigh is internalizing everything, and she’s not trying to effect Mitch at all. You can’t really tell what her intentions are and she’s being extremely passive. You can believe her acting and that she is feeling everything Blanche is feeling, but it’s all about her. I know Blanche’s character is supposed to be self-centered, but Viven Leigh should not be. Give a little something for Mitch to work with, why dontcha? 

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S1A0p0F_iH8

This is probably one of the most historic scenes in film and one of Marlon Brando’s most memorable moments on the big screen. It’s also a perfect example of how the Meisner technique teaches actors to change their tactics to get what they want from other characters. In this scene, Stanley Kowalski is calling for his wife, Stella (Kim Hunter), who is extremely cross with him. He calls and calls and eventually cries loudly to her, and she gives in to him. As she’s walking down the stairs to come to him, he looks at her and he starts sobbing because he knows he almost lost his beloved wife. He changes his tactics to get what he wants, and he reacts to her slow moving presence. You can tell that he’s really in love with her and can’t live without her.

 

this movie is a 10/10 on the acting scale. When people ask me for film recommendations when it comes to raw acting, I tell them to watch Streetcar.

 

-Abbi Newfeld

EDITING (REQUIEM FOR A DREAM)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JlwXVx3nL-Y

I chose to talk about Requiem For A Dream for this blog post because when I think of movies with a lot of different editing styles put into one film, it’s this one. The editor plays with speed, sidebyside framing, overlapping sound, and special effects. This movie has it all when it comes to editing.
Requiem for a Dream is a movie about addiction, failed dreams, and there is no such thing as “easy street”. During the scenes when the characters shoot heroin or when they are selling drugs, there are quick close up shots of the steps they take until they get high and when they make drug transactions. These scenes are very fast with extreme close up shots and the sounds effects are really crisp and clear and sometimes exaggerated. It spares the viewer some of the gory details of shooting up and snorting heroin, and over all, getting really stoned, but it’s equally disturbing yet captivating to watch. The sounds are crisp and exaggerated to give the viewer a taste of what it feels and sounds like to be high. Everything is crisp and clear when you’re high.
Another scene with incredible, disturbing editing is the scene when Sara Goldfarb, Harry’s mother, is so hopped up on diet pills that she thinks her refrigerator is trying to eat her and that she is also on television. The scene has very low lighting, and the sound effects are really eerie and it’s made to look as though she is in a fishbowl. Sara is obviously disoriented and the viewer is forced to feel the same way through the camera work and editing.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s_3BXG3texY

-Abbi Newfeld

CINEMATOGRAPHY (Moonrise Kingdom)

I chose to talk about Moonrise Kingdom for this weeks chapter on cinematography, because it has to be one of my FAVORITE films and that’s mostly because of the cinematography. Robert Yeoman, the DP, has collaborated with Wes Anderson on all of his major films, and he’s pretty much my favorite cinematographer.

For Moonrise Kingdom, Robert Yeoman shot the entire film using a super 16 mm. This makes for a very wide picture. There are very few close ups in Wes Anderson’s films, so whenever you see a close up you KNOW that that subject is extremely important. But anyway, Wes Anderson likes to keep his shots simple, slick, and dead on.
One thing I notice in all of Wes Anderson’s movies, is that Yeoman always centers the characters in the screen. Whether it be with Mid shots :

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or wide shots:

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and this created a very organized minimalistic look. There isn’t too much happening on screen, and the camera is steady.

Wes Anderson movies are also well known for tight pans and tilts. In the beginning scene for Moonrise kingdom, the whole scene only consists of four different cuts. The first thing we see is a small record player, then the camera slowly pans to a little boy walking up the stairs, then a slow pan into a small room and the little boy walks into the room. As soon as he starts playing the music on the record player, the pans start becoming faster, and the scene is no longer one continuous shot.

I love this movie for many reasons, but the cinematography definitely makes this film unique.

-Abbi

NARRATIVE (MELANCHOLIA)

NARRATIVE (MELANCHOLIA)

This chapter made it difficult for me to find a movie I could write about. The book pretty much stole all of my ideas on which film to write about. First I wanted to pick Memento, then the mentioned it, then I wanted to try explaining the narrative of Pulp Fiction, but then they did that as well. I’d rather not watch movies that the book refers to in the chapters, so I picked Melancholia, a film written and directed by Lars von Trier.

(I’ve seen Melancholia before, but I thought that I could talk about the narrative.)

The book talks about many films consisting of three acts, but Melancholia is a little different. Melancholia consists of two parts, each part shot in the perspective of two sisters. Part One is Justine’s perspective and Part Two is Claire’s perspective.

Although the movie has two parts, the film has a short prologue that introduces the characters, setting, themes, and tells the audience exactly what will happen in the end. The introduction is shot in slow-motion and is paired nicely with Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde.

Melancholia is a dramatic apocalyptic film that revolves around two sisters, Justine and Claire.

melancholia930a

Part One: Justine (Justine is played by Kirsten Dunst), begins with Justine’s wedding day. Justine and her newly wed husband, Michael (played by Alexander Skarsgård) arrive at their wedding reception two hours late after struggling to pull up their driveway in a limo seine (so the beginning of this movie does a good job with establishing “the normal world”). Throughout the evening, things get worse and worse for Justine and her family. Justine’s mother makes a very nasty speech about how she thinks Justine is making a terrible mistake, Justine’s father runs off and hooks up with two different women, Justine’s boss tries relentlessly to make her work during her reception, and Justine dives into a very dark place. We soon find out that Justine has a mental illness and as this shows more and more, we feel sorry for Justine. Her husband knows of this condition, but it seems like more than he can handle and runs off after the reception.

Having the first part of this movie being conveyed through the perspective of Justine’s life, makes the audience feel sorry for her. She’s ill and nothing seems to be going right in her life. Even at her own wedding, which should be one of her happiest memories, just fell to pieces.

charlotte_gainsbourg-melancholia

On the other hand, Part Two: Claire, makes one feel as though Justine is just a burden. Claire does everything for Justine. She cooks for her, bathes her, puts her to bed, etc. And Justine just doesn’t get any better, and Claire’s life doesn’t get any easier. Claire is a very anxious paranoid person, and we see that first hand through her character. She is always worried that something terrible will happen, and everything seems like the end of the world to her.

As I’m writing this, I’ve left out a large detail. Throughout the movie a rogue planet, Melancholia, is hurdling towards earth, in the end colliding with it, and destroying earth completely.  You would think that this event would change the characters drastically, but no. Justine starts out as a depressed person, and stays that way until the end of the movie, yet she is calm once her world comes to an end. Claire, is extremely uptight and anxious, and remains that way until the end as well. So I think it’s safe to say that Justine and Claire are somewhat flat characters in this film.

This is a great movie for those people who really enjoy symbolism.

MELANCHOLIA

Abbi Newfeld

GENRE (AKIRA)

The movie I chose to talk about for genre is one of my favorite scifi movies, and it’s also one of my favorite animated movies. It has the perfect mixture of scifi and Japanese culture. The animation is spectacular for it’s time (1988), the soundtrack is phenomenal, the voice acting is superb, it’s just an all around fantastic film. 
I chose to talk about it because it’s a scifi film. The special thing about this movie though is that it’s a scifi that’s set in dystopian Neo-Tokyo, post world war III. This movie has psychics, biker gangs, anti-government protesters, religious protesters, and a giant melting baby. 
The plot focuses on a young teenager, Tetsuo Shima, who develops psychic abilities after an encounter with another psychic, a child named Takashi who is a military test subject. Takashi, and two other psychic children are part of a government study to force evolution in human beings. Humans are born with a certain amount of energy, and they succeeded in making that energy more potent, thus resulting in psychic powers. 
Tetsuo goes a little crazy though. His brain is invaded by another test subject that was so powerful, he had to be locked away. That test subject was Akira. Akira was believed to be the main cause of world war III. His powers were too strong and he almost wiped out all of Japan. Tetsuo’s powers almost grew to the same level as Akira’s. 
As Tetsuo’s power grew, his sanity diminished. Tetsuo’s only goal was to be looked upon as a god and to destroy Akira.

I highly recommend this film. If you like scifi movies, animated movies, or just REALLY GOOD movies, you should definitely watch it. If you don’t like subtitles, don’t worry because the dubbed version is also really fantastic. 

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Abbi Newfeld                                                                                                              

BRICK (Chapter 2 Expectations)

This week I chose to watch the movie Brick, written and directed by Rian Johnson, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Brick is a noir film taking place in the suburbs of California in the early 2000s. The main characters consist of high school students who’s lives are way too dramatic for their own good. The plot is super heavy and the dialogue is very mature and reminiscent of classic noir films, even though the characters are probably 18 or younger.
From what I’ve read in chapter 2, what stood out the most for me that relates heavily with this film is expectation. What I expected from this movie was completely different from the way it turned out. (SPOILER ALERT)
In the beginning of the movie, we see Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character, Brandon, looking at the dead body of a young girl in front of a large tunnel. By that association, you can assume two things: A.) He killed her or B.) He found her that way.
What is one thing that most noir films have? Murder. So it’s safe to assume “A.” instead of “B.”.
Although as the story goes on, we find out that the dead girl was Brandon’s estranged ex girlfriend, Emily. We also find out that she is very scared of something and comes to Brandon for help. Apparently, she got mixed in with the wrong crowd, did some nasty drugs, and someone that’s not Brandon killed her.
Like all good noir films, we find everything out at the end and until that point this movie takes you on an intense thrill ride. There were some point when I thought I knew who the killer was, but this movie really had me second guessing. Although it definitely lived up to it’s expectations of a noir film, and stuck to it’s conventions.

My first post (Upstream Color)

For my first blog post I chose to watch the movie, Upstream Color. The movie was directed by Shane Carruth and stars Shane Carruth as Jeff and Amy Seimetz as Kris. It’s a movie about whether or not we control our own identities.
This was possibly one of the most confusing movies I have ever seen, but rightfully so. It’s meant to be confusing because the characters in the movie are confused. Their lives have been changed drastically and they have no idea why or how it happened. Let me try to explain to the best of my ability.
The main characters, Kris and Jeff, are both being controlled by this parasite, completely unbeknownst to them. The parasite has three life cycles which passes through humans, then to pigs, then to orchids. Each character has no clue how the parasite entered his or her body. Once the parasite passes through them, they live their lives not really remembering much about their past, but are still deeply connected with the parasite even though it no longer lives within them.

In one scene Kris and Jeff are trying to recall their memories together, but they can’t seem to remember whose memories were whose. The scene is shot in several different locations, along with different types of lighting which helps the viewer feel lost along with the characters. We are not quite sure how they ended up in these locations, and neither are the characters. Their pasts are blurry to them, so the camera focuses in and out as the characters become more and more confused. Soon, they are talking about the same memory over and over again, but in completely different locations. This is an argument the characters have had before, and it seems to escalate the same way every time. This suggests that there is no progression in their relationship and at the end of the scene they hear a whistle, and just stop. The locations of the scene stop switching as well. Kris and Jeff are stuck in this cycle of confusion.

The movie itself is incredibly remarkable in terms of camera work, realistic acting, sound design, and lighting. Although it is a psychological movie and I had to watch it a few times to fully understand it. But once you understand the plot, everything else comes together nicely and every shot makes perfect sense.

art and history of film 11:30 tuesday class
Abbi Newfeld