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Out of Class writing: Inception

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The first time I watched inception, I was so focused on understanding what was supposed to be going on that I missed quite a few things in the film that I noticed the second time around. The camera angles in Inception helped provide depth to the shots as well as pick up on the characters body language. The camera kept focusing on the totems and when the totems were in view, the camera would not show the characters faces. 

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Chicago 10

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Violence plays a huge role in Chicago 10. The hippie movement was all about free love and peace. However, the protests they had often ended up in rioting and bloodshed. In the trial scene, those brought to the stand kept repeating that they were a non violent organization and that we must stop blood from being spilled. This did not translate into reality. 

Chicago 10 managed to portray one side of the debate quite well. The hippie movement was explained and their taglines were repeated over and over again. The nonviolence, collectivistic and anti capitalistic perspective was shown accurately in the film. However, the other side of the debate was not presented.

The animations used in Chicago 10 felt off putting. This is supposed to be a more serious film adn the animations seem to cheapen and reduce the effect the film should have. It is artistic, but artistic for the sake of being artistic. It is difficult to take the animated parts of the film as seriously as one should. 

Final Paper: Casablanca, The Princess Bride and Genre

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The Princess Bride and Casablanca are similar films although they were made decades apart. The films are similar because of their narrative complexities: each film is composed of several different genres, successfully mixing action, romance and even comedy, unlike the stereotypical Hollywood film. The Princess Bride is the story of two lovers and their desperate efforts to be united. However, they are separated time and time again and must fight and conquer their foes in order to be together. It is a comedy, a romance and, most of all an action film . Casablanca is the story of two former lovers who find themselves falling in love again and the choice they will have to make about staying together or saying goodbye forever. Casablanca also combines the same genres of comedy, romance and action as The Princess Bride. Both films discuss the theme of sacrifice. Although they have similarities, in the end, each film has a different message; in Casablanca, the message is that it is more important to sacrifice what you hold dear for the greater good. In The Princess Bride, it is more important to sacrifice everything you can for the person you love.

In Casablanca, the main characters decide that doing what is best for the good of the world is more important than being together. The characters in Casablanca, Rick and Ilsa, rekindle their prewar romance. They almost decide that Ilsa should lead her husband, a leading member of the resistance, so that she can remain with Rick. In the end, they decide to part after Rick helps Ilsa and her husband escape to America. At the beginning of the film, Rick refuses to help a man arrested in his café, claiming not to “stick out [his] neck for nobody.” However, Ilsa makes Rick choose between remaining neutral in the political struggle against the Nazi regime or doing what is right and helping to fight it. Their romance leads to his action. He helps Ilsa and her husband escape to the airport and winds up shooting the local Nazi officer. “According to one commentator, in Humphrey Bogart’s role, that “of the hard-bitten, disillusioned man trying to stay aloof from conflict, but [who] would eventually join in the call for a world in which there’s no place for [Major Strassers] . . . we were being offered the familiar forties theme: we must resist evil–that is, Hitler, [gangsters], etc.–at any cost” (Sennett 68-69)” (Davis, 6). In Casablanca, the main characters realize that they cannot be content with merely being happy together- they must act. Their work takes precedence over their own selfish desires (Bureau of Motion Pictures Report).

The problem of two little people in a time of conflict is also central to the Princess Bride. This movie focuses on one character, Westley, who is willing to sacrifice everything for his love, Buttercup, and his adventures in trying to be with her. Westley battles professional kidnappers, the king’s men, and ROUS (rodents of unusual size) in order to stay with Buttercup. The romance in the film is the motivation on behalf of the characters to act and fight for who and what they love. Although this film has romance as its central plot device, it is also a mashup of several other genres.  The film itself it claims to be more than one genre. The grandfather who is narrating the story exclaims that The Princess Bride is all about “fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles…” (imdb.com).  This film is therefore not just a simple romance, it is also an action movie. The romance within the story motivates Westley to take action for the love of his life.  He learns to fence both right and left- handed and deliberately develops an immunity to deadly poison, all in the name of love. Westley at one point explains to Buttercup that they have true love and what else matters besides that? They each do whatever it takes to achieve their goal of getting married and staying together. Although throughout the movie there are instances of sharp wit and period drama, the film overwhelmingly is about the search for true love and the struggles of keeping it (Berardinelli).

Both Casablanca and The Princess Bride are similar in their willingness to combine genre, but are completely different in their outlook on love. Casablanca focuses on collective responsibility and individual sacrifice on behalf of the masses. In the final and most famous scene in Casablanca, at the airport runway, Rick tells Ilsa to go with her husband. He says to Ilsa,“I’m no good at being noble, but it doesn’t take much to see that the problems of three little people don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world.” Then, Rick goes off to the Brazzaville to join the Free French as part of the resistance to the Nazi regime. In contrast, The Princess Bride presents the idea that love conquers all and that finding the one person you love is worth fighting for. Westley, after being captured by pirates actually rises through the ranks to become the Dread Captain Pirate Roberts. He becomes wealthy and could have lived life comfortably as a pirate, but instead chooses to go back to find Buttercup. He mostly dies for her while she almost commits suicide rather than marry another. There’s nothing that can or will separate them. Westley even goes so far as to say “death cannot stop true love. All it can do is delay it for a while.”Westley would never understand Ilsa’s decision to leave or Rick’s choosing to give her up.

Both classic films Casablanca and The Princess Bride benefit from the combination of genre and theme. In the former, love must be sacrificed for the benefit of mankind; in the latter, one must be ready to sacrifice everything to keep one’s true love. Yet, in the end, both films remain true to their theme that it is only by sacrifice that one can achieve happiness. Even if happiness is not the happily ever after ending of The Princess Bride, it can be achieved by doing the right thing; after all, as Rick tells Ilsa, she would regret staying with him: “maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of your life.” (imdb.com)

Works Cited

Berardinelli, james “The Princess Bride” 2012 http://www.reelviews.net/php_review_template.php?identifier=49

BUREAU OF MOTION PICTURES REPORT, http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/learning_history/casablanca/bmp_report_casablanca.cfm

`Still the same old story’: The refusal of time to go by in Casablanca. By: Davis, John H., Literature Film Quarterly, 00904260, 1990, Vol. 18, Issue 2

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0093779/quotes

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0034583/quotes

Superstar and Avant Garde Film

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Film Analysis: Superstar is an avant garde film which depicts the tragic life of the singer Karen Carpenter, a victim of an eating disorder. Avant garde film is a specialized artistic film which is not focused on becoming a huge blockbuster, but rather on the artistic form of film making. Superstar is an avant garde film as the main characters are not played by people, but rather by barbie dolls. In addition to the dolls, footage from concentration camps and Vietnam protests are used in the film as well as facts about the eating disorder anorexia.

Main Topic: Superstar tries to bring about awareness for what celebrity can do to people and the terrible things that can come from it. Part of what triggered Karen’s anorexia was criticism about her weight that many celebrities have to endure. In addition to that, her parents insisted that she must remain in the same house, or the same area as they were in order to watch her and monitor her behaviors, in terms of both sex and drugs as well as her eating disorder. Karen was never allowed to spoil her image by admitting to the public that she was anything other than the poster child for family ideals and well being.

Critical Analysis: Superstar depicts Karen Carpenter as counter-counter culture because the Carpenters image was clean and wholesome. Counter culture in the 1960’s was very much the opposite of that- everything was gritty and realistic and people demonstrated their new liberation by immersing themselves in sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll. Superstar portrays the damage done to her via her eating disorder; as she had to keep up the wholesome image, her eating disorder got worse because it was something that she could control. Karen appears to be more of a victim of the expectations everyone had of her as opposed to a hypocrite. Her parents and brother controlled every aspect of her life and she was unable to break free. Her mother and father insisted she live at home with them after being sent to the hospital. She was never given freedom to become her own person.

Zero Dark Thirty and Auteur Cinema

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Film Analysis: Zero Dark Thirty is an auteur film about the manhunt for Osama Bin Laden, the leader of the terrorist organization which organized the 9/11 attack on the United States. Auteur film is an artistic type of film in which the director expresses his or her distinct view through film. The director of this film, Katheryn Bigelow, chose to create a film with a woman as the force driving the search for a terrorist. In similar films, like Argo, men are the main characters and manage to save the day. Not so in Zero Dark Thirty. In fact, it is the complete opposite case.

Main Topic: Bigelow created a film that would take down the typical action or thriller film. She bends the stereotyped role for females in a predominantly male world. At the beginning of the film, doubts are cast at Maya’s ability to survive in such a tough environment as the CIA. Not only does Maya rise to the challenge, but she has to be held back from storming the compound she had found herself. Typical action films have females being the supporting roles, often portraying a love interest. In Zero Dark Thirty, the males take on a secondary role and step back to let the lead female take charge.

Critical Analysis: Although Zero Dark Thirty’s protagonist, Maya is not the typical female lead, she is part of a feminist story. Usually women portrayed in films are not as ruthless and as self possessed as Maya is. Much of who Maya is is quite feminine. She uses her feminine intuition to order a military team to take down Osama Bin Laden. Although there was a distinct likelihood that the compound in Pakistan was not Bin Laden’s hideout, her feminine intuition suggested to her that she was indeed right. She is not too much like a man any more than women serving in the military are too manly. Maya walks the delicate balance between feminine and masculine.

Weekend and Social Context

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Film Analysis: Weekend is an avant garde film addressing the ridiculousness of modern society and its constructs. The film follows two well off and obnoxious couple, Roland and Corrine. They set off to Corrine’s parents house in order to secure their inheritance from her father. Their plan was to murder him if he would not give them the money. The director, Jean Godard, uses this road trip as the premise of his satire about current Hollywood films and society.

Main Topic: Godard focuses on Roland and Corrine and their attempts at getting to Corrine’s parents house. Along the way, they meet people of all different backgrounds. Each character has their own grievances about modern society and the way it is constructed. Godard especially likes poking fun at the bourgeoise lifestyle. At one point, Roland and Corrine get into a car accident and their car is set on fire. Corrine starts screaming, but instead of being upset about the loss of the car or the fact that the people in the other car died, she cries about her Hermes handbag which was destroyed by the flames. Godard uses scenes like this to address society’s materialistic tendency’s and misplaced priorities.

Critical Analysis: In Weekend, there are several satirical altercations between people of different classes; however, we are supposed to take them as a commentary on prevailing beliefs in society. Specifically in one scene, a wealthy girl and a farmer argue over who is to blame for a car accident. The girl is screaming at the farmer, telling him that he is an unworthy peasant and communist. After they ask Roland to bear witness to the accident and he refuses, they call him a dirty Jew. As the audience, we should not take these slurs entirely seriously. The slurs are acknowledgements of past social constructs (like the feudal system) and present class conflicts(like the wealth gap between the French upper class and the farmers and laborers). There is not more realism in the film addressing this, because Godard wants to make the point that these labels are ridiculous and should be treated as ridiculous. The wealth gap should not be causing as much tension as it has and does.

Far From Heaven and Ideology

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Film Analysis: Far From Heaven addresses many different ideologies within the film, most notably gender roles, sexual orientation and race. Set in the 1950’s, Frank and his wife Cathy start having marital problems, partly due to Frank’s closeted homosexuality and Cathy’s burgeoning romance with a black gardener. Conformity was a huge part of life and status in 1950’s America. The film grapples with the various set roles of the ’50’s.

Main Topic: Stereotypical social norms clash in Far From Heaven, with some very negative results. For instance, in one scene, Cathy breaks the news to her best friend that her husband is gay. Although she seems understanding and accepting of Cathy’s pain, the moment Cathy tells her that she’s been socializing with a black man regularly does her best friend give her the cold shoulder.  People who break social norms should be censored; anyone breaking a social rule cannot be accepted.

Critical Analysis: Gender and sexual orientation play  huge roles in Far From Heaven. The 1950’s was a time of conformity and rigid social and gender roles. Men were supposed to go to work and the women were supposed to run the household. Young men would marry young women and they would have children- homosexuality was considered unnatural and something shameful. Frank does try and change his sexuality so that he can fully encompass his gender role in society. He could not reconcile his masculinity and his homosexuality after he comes out of the closet to his wife, so he decides to leave his wife. There was no middle ground for defying gender roles and the normative sexual roles, so he feels he has to leave for good.