Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Miklos Jancso's The Red and the White

The framing and movement complement each other to create a seamless visual blanket out of choppy action and weak characters. These weak characters help further the message of the film by not allowing the audience to identify with them as individuals and while suggesting the futility of their actions. One may feel passionate about the ideals of one of the two sides fighting the war in the film, but the two sides are seen in repetitive circles of violence that glorifies neither side, only confuses them with each other. A deep pattern of violence is presented in the film's imagery.
The Reds (communists) are separated from the Whites (anti-Revolution czarists) by their levels of brutality but that is the only polarization this film endorses.
Due to the excessive long shots and predominant lack of close-ups, indistinguishable uniforms, and the lack of psychological presentation and/or development of the characters, the importance of the identity of the two sides is non-existent.
The focus of the film presents a profound anti-war message. It's movement accentuates rigid structures of warfare and their effects on culture by plotting points of warfare on a time line.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Jan Kadar's The Shop on Main Street

The film's structure suggests personal responsibility for individual decisions that led to the holocaust by connecting Tony, the main character, to the viewers. The film's action foretells and funnels to the undeniable, predictable (yet still horrifically affecting) conclusion. The caustic assault on Tony throughout the film mounts on his laxidasical self-perpetuating stupidity that stems from his personal choices and his indulgence in his shotcommings and points to his backseat role(percieved by him) and lack of individual pride in his role (and involvment) in the workings of his society as a whole. His responsibilities as a social being are ignored [i.e. husband, buisnessman, and polititian(potential engagement w/ his brother-in-law)]. As the film progresses, his social dependence becomes clear as he seams himself into the fabric of the tainted society that he refuses to acnowledge in his ironicly desperate attempt to do the right thing. He downplays his own truest feelings [disgust, distaste, abporment, astonishment (all of which are objectively valid)] leading him into a downward spiral. In essence, by denying his feelings, he kills himself. He identifies with his feelings (True Self), denies this self, and grieves it's death. He acts out the five stages of grieving. (Kubler-Ross, 1969) His neurosis comes to a head near the end of the film after a night of heavy drinking.

The film's most powerfull sequence brings Tony face to face with his False Self and the grotesque ramifications of his actions as such. He becomes aware of the audience (conscience) and projects his drunken broken previosly false identity (now actual) on to the camera, actualised by the audience, as his True Self when it finds and follows him (as he foolishly escapes it) in a series of three or four hand-held shots that show him at odds with the audience, afraid. He soon after hangs himself from the rafters of his newly aquired shop.

Bringing the audience into the film in a role of realative omnipotence drastically complicates the film, evoking a sense of immediacy and responsibility in the audience. This reinforces the reality of the implications of our (humans) actions (and inactions), and offers hope in the form of responsibility while it drives the horror of the fiction home by reminding the audience that the terror of the holocaust is still real.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Andrej Wajda's Ashes and Diamonds

The pacing of the film supports the action in addition to serving as a metaphor through which the film communicates. Poland was plauged with war and subsequent offsets durring most of the twentieth century holding it's people fast to its fate.

The film opens with a brief introduction of the main characters, Maciek And Andrzej. The shots are long (duration)a and slow. They recline on grassy hillside outside of a cemetery lying in wait for their approaching military target. The duration of the shots shorten as the action intensifies when their "target"(a false target with interesting implications) arives on the scene and is gunned down. In the next scene, Maciek and Andrzej adjust to the hotel as they check in. The shots are, again, long; matching with the action in the shot. In a later scene, more action and faster pacing.

Juri Menzel's Closely Watched Trains

In order to understand the film, viewers must pay close attention to details contained therein. Details in the framing beautifully accentuate characterizations, themes, and actions. Shot juxtapositions create deeper levels of meaning. Closely Watched Trains is a well crafted film.

In a shot out on the train tracks, for instance, the frame contains the wall of a shed, square with the plane of the camera lens. the camera is placed above the train tracks which run alongside the shed and disappear into the distance. Soldiers enter frame left, their attention is grasped by a train car full of nurses (off screen), and they exit frame left. Next is a cutaway shot of the soldiers entering the train. The next shot has the same framing as the first shot. The main character stands (long duration), leaning against the shed that the soldiers crossed in front of before he exits frame right.

This combination of shots is very telling of the main character's plight. He stands on the brink of sexual liberation and is curios about sexual endeavors although he has no prior experience to draw from. It is not a stretch to infer all of these things about the main character from the short sequence of shots.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Knife in the Water

Thoughts on Knife in the Water

The action is showcased as convulsive, bringing together two or more characters into a vague conflict where both characters are detached from one another. Frustration builds as he characters dig themselves deeper into their own desires thus limiting the connectedness.

The film’s simple script is the solid cornerstone on which the lush character sketches that progress the film’s action are built. The characters are static, and stale lacking conviction. They seem empty to me.

The relationships between the old man, young man, and woman are similar to the relationships between a father, son, and mother, respectively. In the scene in which the woman explains her view of the old and young man to the young man she acts as a teacher or translator. The spirit of the old man’s offer to the boy to join him and his wife exists throughout the film and is father-like. He attempts to teach the "youth" about sailing, symbolic to the old man of life, throughout the film. As the narrative progresses, the characters repeatedly corner themselves into situations that are dead ends and return to their static states. There are no resolutions in the film.

Polanski’s makes a claim through the film's open ended closing that surreal urges like competition, deceit, and lust are intrinsic in the human condition and that an action on an urge must be understood as a choice if one is to progress in life.

Love of a Blonde

Milos Forman’s Loves of a Blonde

This film is like a piece of cake to me. It is endearing yet fleeting; comforting yet honest. I enjoy it still. The films soft feel lent well to adoption. It’s believable story and characters fit well into my day, a sort of respite from the loves of my own life. It was a dream that I did not mind entertaining or waking up from.

The camera work is excellent. The film is visually supple yet sweet, giving the audience bald wide shots contrasted with gently prying medium shots that revealed intimate action with candor. With the help of soft filters, Andula, the main character, invites the viewer into a world poised to strip veils off of the viewer’s eyes tempting them with visions of heaven.

The editing pulls no punches either. Not one shot lingers too long. There is a moderate pace that keeps the film’s rouse afloat throughout although at no point does the viewer feel dragged or rushed by its power.

There is a realness implicit in the film’s plot. It unfolds steadily as the characters move through their conflicts with wholeheartedness. Due to the perceived humility and sincerity of the main character, the dialogue in the last "act" at the house belonging to the family of Milda (Andula’s lover) feels real regardless of the thick (foreign) cultural context in which it appears. The arguing of Milda’s family is gut wrenching yet unbearably humorous. This dichotomy resonates throughout the scene and is instantly choked off with the jump cut from Milda’s house to the woman’s dormitory.


Thoughts on Vera Chytilova’s Daisies

The Maries (1 and 2) embark on a journey of death at the beginning of the film when they decide to pursue a social ideal to the extreme point at which their means of pursuit turns in on itself. They play an active role in spoiling themselves (each other), imagining themselves in isolated positions of innocence that fuel their escapade while at the same time beefs up their threshold for ignorance. This exercise in self ignorance and rigid social independence sets them apart from each other, aiming their assaults at themselves as they deteriorate their identities. Their game lacks the depth of feeling that is necessary for personal growth due to the dishonest nature contained therein. It is only through their demise that they are set free from their looping thought/behavior continuum.

They are being "bad" for the sake of being "bad" thus their greedy acquisition of quantifiable items holds no sway on their resolve. The power of communication via mass media is made clear throughout the film. The label of "bad" that they long for can only be attained through their emulation of publicly reported action perceived through the filter of the media. Can the world be "bad" without self awareness? How does the portrayal of the Maries justify military action? There are sides in war, and two versions of different parts of the truth.

Bad Luck

Thoughts on Andrzej Munk’s Bad Luck

The main character makes terrible choices throughout the film. He lacks a sense of self. How can one make good decisions if they are confused about their identity? Simply by convincing himself that such a thing as bad luck actually exists. It’s almost as if he is wearing a pair of blinders that enable him to see only the nearest object of his desire thus dissociating himself with the seer. He becomes lost in a sea of possibilities.

The film illustrates the absurdity of the notion that an individual is not to be held responsible for jumping on the bandwagon of slothful abandon. During the course of the film the main character becomes accustomed to the false freedom that irresponsibility creates. He would be a great communist if he were to relinquish his creative spontaneous self. This would not be natural: it is depicted as repressive. If communism is to be successful, it must allow for the promotion of individuals through personal expression in addition to allowing an authentic culture to manifest.