So here it is! The final Lumiére project. It’s not exactly how I scripted it, but I really like the way it turned out.

 

 

Here is also a link to the outtakes of the Lumiére film. I’ve been having a lot of fun with iMovie 🙂

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Film & Realism

September 24, 2008

 

 

Are Parents People? (1925)

Are Parents People? (1925) Courtesy of SilentFilmStillArchive.com

 

 

TASK ONE

The characters within the film still of Are Parents People? (1925) look as if they are having a serious discussion between parents and child. However, it appears that the child is actually scolding the parents. The older man and woman are dressed up as if they are in the process of leaving the house, and a younger girl looks at both of them with a finger pointed, as if to deter the parents from something that they may or may not do. There are three points of view (POV) within the film still including: the POV of the younger girl, the POV of the older woman, and the POV of older man. Considering the stern look on the younger girls face and the absorbed expressions on the parents, it is possible that there was some sort of conflict involving the younger girl and the actions of her parents. There is an apparent role reversal, where the child is acting like an adult and talking to her parents as if they were the children. It is possible that the parents are acting like children, which therefore affects the well-being of the young girl who in turn makes it known to the parents how she feels about their actions. The parents might be feeling angry at their child’s insubordination, but it seems as if the child has assumed more control of the situation than her parents. 

 

Are Parents People?  A short take by Me.

Scene starts off in a parlor, as seen in the film still, with Mother and Father dressed up and preparing to go out on the town. Main POV is the daughter, who walks in as her parents are preparing to leave. She is visibly upset that her parents are leaving and stomps to them as they are almost out the door.  

Daughter: Where do you two think you’re going?

Father: (Fumbles a bit with his daughter’s comment) I’m sorry?

Daughter: (More agitated) Where do you two think you’re going??

Mother: We’re going out for some drinks with the Smith’s honey–

Daughter: Some drinks with the Smiths?? I can’t believe you two! You’ve been out getting plastered every night this week!

Father: Now listen here young lady —

Daughter: No, YOU listen! (Points finger at parents) If I have to sit up all night worrying about the two of you until some ungodly hour of the night again there are going to be some SERIOUS consequences.

Mother: Listen dear, I think you’re being far too serious about this. We’re just going out for a couple of drinks!

Daughter: It’s always a “couple of drinks”! You said the same thing last weekend and you came in here stumbling and belligerent at four o’clock in the morning. Mom passed out cradling the toilet!

Father: So you’re mother had a few too many that doesn’t mean —

Daughter: You’re no better mister! How about last Tuesday when you came in here with all your buddies from the lodge and broke all the fine china playing Ultimate Frisbee in the front yard?? 

(Father looks as if he is about to object, Mother starts to giggle under breath)

Daughter: That’s IT! I can’t take this anymore! You two go upstairs RIGHT NOW! You’re not going anywhere!

Father: Awww, come on! We’re only going out for a little while!

Mother: We already told Dean and Sheila that we’d meet them at the Loonies Pub in half an hour!

Daughter: (Crosses arms) Well you should have thought about that before you started giving me all that lip.

Mother and Father are flabbergasted, beginning huffing and puffing at their daughter, move to go back upstairs, move back towards daughter, get increasingly frustrated.

Father: But — 

Mother: Can we please? Pleeeaaase?

Daughter: Nope. Upstairs. (Pointing Upstairs)

Parents huff and puff some more, finally give up the fight and begin moving towards backstage. They drag their feet and continue to look back at the daughter. Father turns around again.

Father: We would only be gone for a little — 

Daughter: NOPE. UPSTAIRS.

Father turns back around defeated. Both Mother and Father continue to huff and puff upstairs. Daughter continues to stand sternly and watches parents walk upstairs. Mother stops and looks at daughter, fists clench.

Mother: You’re ruining my LIFE! (Runs upstairs)

Father sticks out tongue, runs upstairs after Mother. Medium close-up of Daughter, still with arms crossed.

Daughter: Goodness gracious… (Sighs and walks off screen)

End Scene. 

TASK TWO

The sequence of “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite” in Across the Universe lacks any sort of realist concepts. The scene is set to this particular Beatle’s song and is sung by a character assumed to be the ring leader in a circus. The scene is supposed to emulate a trip on LSD for the group of young people. From the eyes of someone who has taken LSD, this representation could very well be realistic. Colors, shapes, and movements are seriously exaggerated within the scene. However, from the camera’s point of view, hardly any of this scene represents an actual event and it is definitely not filmed in a realist fashion. In real life, this group of people might be followed into a circus. Their excitement for the circus could be interpreted as perverted from someone who is not hallucinating, but generally everything would appear as a normal circus. In a realist film, the entire circus performance would be watched so as not to manipulate the timing. Within the scene, the director uses the recognition of certain characters to reacquaint the audience with a particular character. The audience therefore has to answer for themselves where the character was and what kind of experiences the character had. This sequence also uses a number of different kinds of visual effects, including the manipulation of tone, color, lighting, shape, movement, and digital compositing. 

 

 

TASK THREE

The film, Becoming Jane directed by Julian Jerrold is a film that deals with a historical period as well as the portrayal of the life of an actual person. The film focuses on class conflict between Jane Austen, a famous nineteenth century writer, and her love interest Thomas Lefroy. This affair, which inevitably ends because of family ties and money, inspires Jane to write, “First Impressions”, which later was renamed “Pride and Prejudice”. The period of time is seemingly accurately represented through the types of dress, class distinctions, gender roles, and ideas on marriage and work. Obviously the eighteenth to nineteenth centuries provided a distinct way of life for men and women that is very different from today. The main character, Jane, was represented in a way that helps the audience understand how she developed into a distinguished writer and her major inspirations. However, it is difficult to say whether Thomas Lefroy or any other love interests of Jane’s were actual people and influences to her work or just a creation of the writer of the script. There is evidence of Lefroy’s actual involvement with Jane, but there is certainly no historical record depicting their rendezvous. Even Jane’s outspokenness and obvious disobedience could be misrepresented considering the nature and roles of men and women at the time. The director could have made Jane out to be ahead of her time, which to a point is accurate, however some of her blunt behavior within the film could have been very embarrassing to her family. This aspect of her behavior could have been manipulated slightly by the director in order to have the audience understand the significance of Austen’s work and how important her work was in understanding women’s dependence on marriage and their socio-economics. The purpose of these types of Hollywood films is to entertain an audience and to make money doing so. Jane’s disobedience and the development of her character could therefore have been misrepresented in order to keep the attention of the audience. 

Films which depict historical people and events like Becoming Jane are not often useful to historians. The films can follow a certain timeline of major events, like the progression of World War II or the growth of an individual, but they are generally manipulated in some way to become more entertaining for an audience. Historians would be able to get a general understanding of the way of life during this particular time period, i.e. how the dressed, what they ate, class systems; however, the roles of certain characters might have been exaggerated or completely neglected to make the story more coherent. The structure and order of events could also have been adjusted in order to make the story more interesting and the movie timely. Historians would have a difficult time distinguishing history from the motives of a script writer or director, and should therefore avoid Hollywood films. 

Blue at The Textile Museum

September 23, 2008

 

 

Hiroyuki Shindos Shindigo Space

Hiroyuki Shindo's "Shindigo Space" Courtesy of TextileMuseum.org

 

 

The Blue exhibit featured at The Textile Museum was unlike any other kind of exhibit I’ve been to. I previously considered textiles to be an industry more than an art-form, however the way pieces were showcased at the museum gave me a new appreciation for the creation of color and design. The entire museum was interesting, but I found Hiroyuki Shindo’s work entitled Shindigo Space to be particularly thought provoking. Not only were the shades of indigo vibrant and arresting, but an assortment of textures were apparent within the work. Almost all elements of design were incorporated into the work to make the final presentation dramatic and effective.

Shindigo Space is displayed within a large, open room with high ceilings and white walls. Six long, complimentary sheets hang from the ceiling on wires and drape close to the floor, where there are dozens of hemp balls of differing sizes. Both the sheets and the hemp balls have one thing in common: they are died in bold shades of indigo, and emphasize the texture of the materials in which they are made. Parallel lines are used consistently within the sheets that hang from the ceiling and emphasize the separation of color and the harmony between the whiteness and tones/values of blue. All these lines follow the same vertical direction towards the floor and also give interest to the contrast in shape of the sheets with the hemp balls below them. The size was vast enough to span nearly from the ceiling to the ground and across the room. The element of size is also apparent in the variation of size in the hemp balls and there is a strong emphasizes on the texture of the dyed hemp. 

I not only appreciated Shindigo Space, but also the entire exhibit, mostly for it’s cultural aspect. I had never even thought about textiles being considered an art-form until I experienced this exhibit. The use and manipulation of textiles is such a pivotal part in any culture’s everyday life that it is understandable how it can sometimes be overlooked  and neglected as an individual’s artistic expression. The clothes that we wear or fabrics that we use tell a significant amount about certain values and trends in any given society. This museum brought that individual’s artistic expression to light.

Lumiére Film

September 17, 2008

An individual is sitting to his/her far right side of a bench. Shot is practicing the rule-of-thirds by placing the individual in the first vertical column of the frame, and exposes the rest of the bench and background. The individual waits on a bench during mid-afternoon at a bus stop. The individual is doing what people do on the bench when they are waiting for a bus i.e. people-watching, checking his/her cellphone for the time, plain-old looking around. A person walks up and sits on the bench, but far too close to the individual. The individual attempts to continue with his/her normal waiting-for-the-bus activities, but is too distracted by the close-sitting stranger. At one point, they make eye-contact, the person smiles, but the individual becomes so flabbergasted that he/she finds it necessary to get up from the bench. The person also stands up to continue waiting, but once again stands too close to the individual. The individual looks at the person, who in-turn looks at the individual and smiles again, and shakes his/her head. The individual walks away stage left, the person pauses and exits stage right. If timing permits, a bus will drive by. 

The Cinema Effect: Realism

September 1, 2008

The Cinema Effect exhibit at the Hirshhorn presented an array of short films and video presentations based on the artist’s definition of “Realism”. From my understanding of realism and from what I can deduce from the films exhibited, these artists were attempting to depict present day scenarios while disillusioning the audience from the glam and hype of typical western films. Some of them I found to be quite politically controversial, like Michèle Megema’s Oyè Oyè, while others, like Paul Chan’s 1st Light were more avant-garde representations of this realist philosophy. Two pieces in particular struck a chord with me for their realist themes and presentation, including Lonely Planet by Julian Rosefeldt and Mother + Father by Candice Breitz.

Julian Rosefeldt’s Lonely Planet (2006) is an example of realism that was filmed with a very Hollywood-style appearance any audience familiar with western movies would be able to understand. However, the film undermined the verisimilar credibility of American film-making by hinting at the unseen aspects of films. For example, some scenes intend filming equipment like cranes and dollies to be seen by the audience, while other scenes go as far as making another audience watching this film visible to the viewer. Equipment is used frequently within the filming of the movie to give it the feel of a western film through staging techniques, framing, and dramatic angles. In one scene, the antagonist is seen traveling through a crowded Indian market and then a crane up entrance reveals that the seemingly authentic street was simply a set. It is therefore hard to distinguish if the antagonist of this movie, a very Western looking man in shades and a bandana, realizes he is a character or believes himself to be an actual person. The character himself is another example of realist thought, considering his shades and bandana are also accompanied by an attempt to assimilate into the culture with a yoga mat and Shiva t-shirt. He is obviously an outsider, an American trying to fit into everyday of India, who cannot ever fully conceptualize the reality of the nation or its people. Rosefeldt also clearly makes it a realist piece of work by mocking the dramatic scene changes of western films. For example, as the “film crew” prepares for the next scene, instead of shooting it in the market, the film crew breaks out into an Indian dance complete with choreographed movements, lip syncing and lighting. This further distorts the line between reality and illusion so that the audience has a difficult time distinguishing the man’s self image. After the dance, he continues on his journey through the film set as if nothing is strange or bizarre about the situation. Lonely Planet was my favorite example of realism within the exhibit, mostly because of the ambiguous relationship between the film crew, the actors and the audience as well as the underlying attack on commercial cinema. 

Mother + Father (2005) by Candice Breitz was a very interesting film collage of famous western actors depicting parents. The “mothers room” and “fathers room” both seemed to follow a pattern of emotion, where dialogue would be from random movies but all actors would be depicting the same types of emotions. Breitz uses cuts between segments of these movies and often reruns the same images and dialogue several times on the same or different screens. I liked that the artist incorporated actual Hollywood cinema to define realism and that she isolated the actors and dialogue from the movie scene to simplify the images. This simplicity is consistent with the concept of realism. The artist did nothing to distort these images to make them more realistic but instead isolated them to allow the audience to reevaluate the absurdity of their emotions. However, the presentation and overdramatized emotions of the actors, although intended to be exploited by the artist, didn’t sit right with me. All the mothers were crying uncontrollably and all the fathers were yelling angrily throughout the film. I can imagine parenting to be a roller coaster of emotion and it therefore does not do parenting justice to simply neglect all but two aspects of feeling. This could have been the point Breitz was trying to make: that Hollywood filmmakers do not capture all aspects of emotion, but the artist was not as effective at distinguishing this aspect as she could have been. It felt more like an overgeneralization on the maternal nature of women and aggressive nature of men than anything else. 

Despite my hesitations about Mothers + Fathers by Candice Breitz and my fondness of Lonely Planet by Julian Rosefeldt, I felt all the films exhibited within The Cinema Effect were accurate depictions of realism. All had a way of recognizing the illusion behind popular cinema and reiterating the importance of keeping reality filmmaking a depiction of the real.