Friday, December 12, 2014

Film History - You Name The Era

We've looked at several "Eras" in American cinema:

The Silent Era (thus dubbed because of films being with synchronized sound)
The Hollywood Studio Years - 1930-1965
The Hollywood Renaissance - 1965-1975
Hollywood's Return to Myth - 1975-1990

Some argue that the 90s brought a new era with the rise of Independent filmmaking and festivals such as Sundance. Some argue that we've never really gotten out of the Hollywood's Era of the Blockbuster and Return to Myth (and point to the most recent blockbusters and franchises as proof).

But where are we today in American Cinema?

According to the authors, Mast and Kawin, of A Short History Of the Movies “three criteria have traditionally marked the transition from one…film era to another, although the three may not operate with equal force or absolute congruence in every period of film history.”  These three are:

1)    Structure of the film business – some kind of shift in the business of making (and distributing) movies
2)    Film technology – a major advance (or advances) in the way movies are made, which has effect on the majority of films made (becomes a norm)
3)    Content reflects cultural values – a shift in the dominant cultural value of the country which is then mirrored in the films being made

After completing our final readings and considering our film screening - you decide: what new era is American cinema in today? Feel free to come up with your own name, and also please explain what defines this era. How is it different from previous eras (or perhaps how is it the same?)? What are those changes in criteria (biz, technology, culture) and how have they affected the art form? Are we in the middle of a transition, and if so what might be in store for the future?

Please post up your thoughts in no less than 300 words, and be ready to discuss on Friday, Dec 19th.

"I STEAL FROM EVERY SINGLE MOVIE EVER MADE. I love it - if my work has anything it's that I'm taking this from this and that from that and mixing them together. If people don't like that, then tough titty, don't go and see it, alright? I steal from everything. Great artists steal; they don't do homages.”          -Quentin Tarantino 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Film History - French New Wave in Breathless - Extra Credit

Write a blog post exploring how Breathless exemplifies the stylistic aspects of the French New Wave. If you need a reminder about the formal elements seen in French New Wave check out the prezi here or read this resource or this one.

Make sure that you are specific with your points and fully explain any examples from the film. You are not required to do any further research but certainly can - if you do, again be sure to cite accordingly and list your sources at the bottom of your post. You may also want to include a brief synopsis to the film as part of your introduction. Visual images or any kind of extra media that will help to illustrate your points and make your blog post more visually interesting are welcome but not required, though you certainly should be sure to make your blog visually easy to read and understand.

This is an extra credit blog post.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Film History - Italian Neorealism in Bicycle Thieves - Extra Credit

Write a blog post exploring how The Bicycle Thief (aka Bicycle Thieves) exemplifies Italian Neorealism in its content and aesthetic (cinematic style). If you need a reminder about the principles of Neorealism you can find the Prezi Here, or check out this resource.

Make sure that you are specific with your points and fully explain any examples from the film. You are not required to do any further research but certainly can - if you do, again be sure to cite accordingly and list your sources at the bottom of your post. You may also want to include a brief synopsis to the film as part of your introduction. Visual images or any kind of extra media that will help to illustrate your points and make your blog post more visually interesting are welcome but not required, though you certainly should be sure to make your blog visually easy to read and understand.

This is an extra credit blog post.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Film History: Hollywood Studio Years - Domination and Transition

After reading the two handouts about this period in Hollywood reflect on these two questions in your own blog post:

1) Why did the American movie audience change so much over this era,
and what effects did that have on the artform?  The business?

2) How was America’s cultural identity reflected or affected by Hollywood?

Blog post is DUE BEFORE CLASSTIME on Tuesday, October 28th!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Film Aesthetics - Mise-En-Scene in The Queen

Please read the linked pieces first, this one on costume designer Consolata Boyle, and this one from the visual effects house Framestore which worked on the film.

After you have read both pick at least one element of mise-en-scene (setting, costume and make-up, lighting or staging/acting) and write a brief post exploring how that element is functioning in relation to story, character and/or theme. Please be sure to have some specific examples from the film, and as always it's helpful to have a specific thesis to prove. You can also use these two resources to help your argument - be sure to cite appropriately. Your post is due Wed, Oct 22 - no responses on others posts required.

The real Tony Blair vs Michael Sheen
The Queen vs Hellen Mirren
The Queen giving the real address about Princess Diana

Friday, October 3, 2014

Film History - Inspired by Silent Film!

Here are some examples of modern creative works that showcase inspiration from silent film:

This is Smashing Pumpkins Video - do you see some influence from the Birth of Cinema?


What about her in this clip from Futurama? (click on the link to open) Here's a still shot:

Here's a scene inspired by Odessa Steps sequence from The Untouchables:

(and here's a parody of that scene, just for fun, from Naked Gun 2 1/2):

Look, the Odessa Steps shows up again in the film Brazil by Terry Gilliam (but the baby carriage is now a floor cleaner):

And finally, here is an short film by Guy Maddin, which is inspired by and uses techniques from silent film:

For your Research Assignment - don't forget to do your research and watch your film FIRST. Let the cinematic techniques or storyline and the information you find out about the film/filmmaker/film movement then lead into your inspiration. Remember you need to post up your Creative Project and a written explanation onto your blog, and then be ready to present them in class. You can also do a live performance of your piece in class, just talk to me first so that we can record it and you can put it on your blog afterwards. Or you can do a live performance and post the piece on your blog separately. Be creative! Have fun! Make sure you don't just recreate something, though - be inspired and doing something new with your inspiration!

One more, here's Madonna's take on German Expressionism and Metropolis:

Monday, September 29, 2014

Film Aesthetics - Mise-en-scene in Dogville

Write a post exploring one specific aspect of mise-en-scene in the film, specifically looking at how that aspect functions in relation to the whole film. You could consider how it relates to and reflects the theme, story, and/or characters. Your choices are setting/props, costumes/make-up, lighting, and staging/acting.

It will be helpful to you to come up with a a very specific thesis, for example: "The way that the sets are designed and shot helps to reflect the idea that Grace is trapped in this town, and makes the viewer feel trapped as well." You then want to give several specific examples of this (fully explained) from the film. DO NOT try to give every single detail about your chosen aspect - I'd rather you be more in depth with your explanation of one idea than try to broadly explain everything.

Feel free to use still images to help illustrate your points. Length does not need to be long - it can be a few hundred words. I'm more concerned with quality rather than quantity.

Posts due Monday, Oct 6th. No comments are required for this particular post.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Film History - Birth of Cinema Blog Post - EXTRA CREDIT

There are two parts to your first blog post:

Part 1 - Pretend you are a person living in the late 1800s to early 1900s and write an article or letter in their voice about one of the films we have screened from our Birth of Cinema Unit. Try to imagine what someone seeing it for the first time (and at that time) would notice or want to say about it.  Don't worry so much about using language that sounds like it's from the time period (though you certainly could do some research by reading some things written in that time).  The list of films is below.  Keep in mind that the music we heard during our screening was not necessarily what someone at the time would have heard (though there would have been some kind of music played along with many of those films).

Part 2 - Now from your own 21st century mind write briefly about why you wrote what you wrote - why do think someone from that time period would have that type of reaction or experience? Why did you choose that film to write about?

Your post is due by Tues, Sept 30.  You need to make sure that you have emailed me the link to your blog BEFORE THEN.  I will put the DVDs in the library so if you'd like to give it another watch you can do so (you cannot check them out, you have to sign them out to watch in the library).  You might be able to find some of them posted on-line, too. You could also respond to one of the shorts on the collections that WE DID NOT watch in class (if you watch it on your own).

Edison's Shorts
Lumiere's Actualities
Pathe Films (instructional - Russia, Dogs)
Mutoscope "Blue" Films
Melies: A Trip to the Moon, The Infernal Boiling Pot, Four Troublesome Heads
RW Paul/Walter R Booth : Extraordinary Cab Accident, The (?) Motorist
GA Smith: Grandma's Reading Glass, As Seen Through a Telescope
Edwin S. Porter: The Great Train Robbery, Dreams of a Rarebit Fiend

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Film Aesthetics - Life Lessons

For your first blog post, choose one (or more if you want) cinematic tool that is utilized in the film Life Lessons and trace how it functions throughout the whole film.  How does it relate to story, character or theme? Make sure to think about the questions we outlined in class to help you write in-depth analysis, and keep in mind that really we're talking about your interpretation (which may not be the filmmaker's intent). I'd also suggest that you keep your element to one and really exploit every possible aspect rather than try to skim over a bunch.  For example, if you are interested in sound I'd focus on JUST MUSIC or JUST EFFECTS, and not try to tackle both unless you want to write a much longer blog.

You can, if you want, also include your opinion on whether or not you think this use works.  If you do so you will want to clearly explain why you think it is or isn't successful (I didn't like it doesn't work) and back that up with why it is not functioning within the film.  You might also want to explain an example that is successful (maybe another film uses the iris effect more successfully, in your mind). 

Don't forget - it still might be helpful to put a brief synopsis, and make sure you clearly describe any examples you put in.  Also make sure if you cite any reference materials you put that into your blog post somehow!

For those of you who are making new blogs, be sure that I have your blog address so I can link it here and we can all find it. You can email me the link or put it in a comment here to this posting. Your blog should be live and your post should be up by beginning of MPA block on Thurs, 9/25.

You should post up some feedback on at least two other blog posts (for Life Lessons) by start of MPA block on 9/29.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Film History - Blog Homework - Find Critical Analysis

Welcome to the MPA Blog!

Please be sure to post up the film critical analysis example you found as a comment to this blog post. This is due by class time Friday, Sept 19. You should have create your blog by Tues, Sept 23 and EMAIL ME the link so that I can add it to this blog over on the right.

And now, just for fun...

Tuesday, May 13, 2014


You can find the blog post assignment on....Paul's Blog. This blog post is due by Tuesday, May 20th.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Guerilla Filmmaking

You can find your blog post assignment for this group on Margo's Blog. This is due Tuesday, May 13th. 

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Mumblecore Furnished for You

What are your thoughts on the Mumblecore genre and our two example films,  The Puffy Chair and Tiny Furniture, within that proposed genre. Reflect specifically on content and aesthetic, and you can also bring in anything you learn regarding the filmmakers and audience (be sure to cite and include sources if you use them). You could write about each film separately, or consider them together (compare/contrast). Might be interesting to note that The Puffy Chair was a seminal film that helped to coin the phrase "Mumblecore" while Tiny Furniture was made several years later (and so then was associated with the genre by critics). I'm looking for an ample posting here with some specific points and backed up examples for those points.

Review of The Puffy Chair

Interview with Mark Duplass about the movie

Review of Tiny Furniture

More on Lena Dunham

and this...

Thursday, February 27, 2014

WIRED TV Reading

After reading the two chapters shared with you from this book please post up some of your thoughts. No formal question for you to address, but please make sure that you thoroughly write about aspects that you found interesting from BOTH chapters. Bonus points for any other examples that you find that fit into the same ideas the two chapters are writing about.

This is due by Thursday, March 6th.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Film Genres - Copyright Criminals

In your reflection on the film we screened please address at least two of the questions below. You can also add any additional thoughts you want to share.

1) Considering the four factors of Fair Use, do you think any of the artists/works that were presented in the film should have cause for claiming Fair Use? Please explain.

2) In the current remix culture, when anyone can create something using digital technology, how is authorship being redefined? Is the composer who writes an original piece of music any more of an author than the person who takes that original composition and combines it with other pieces of music to create a new composition? Consider the ideas of the "instrument" (piano vs turntable or computer, paintbrush vs camera) as well as the "process"- both of which were talked about from different perspectives in the documentary.

3) In your estimation, what type of copyright/permissions arrangement would be fair to both owners of copyright and creators of derivative works? What changes are needed in our copyright laws to accommodate recent changes in technology and current popular music and video culture?

Blog post is due Monday, Feb 3.