Filed under: Movie Viewing — emodjsteph at 10:13 pm on Saturday, December 3, 2011

I’d never seen Psycho or any Hitchcock movie for that matter, before watching it in class. I didn’t know anything about it other than there was an infamous death scene in the shower where a woman gets stabbed to death, and even that I’d never actually seen before. It was a truly unique experience watching it for the first time and I’m really glad we watched it in class because I can’t say I would have ever watched it otherwise. I think not knowing anything about the movie or what to expect made it that much more interesting because I really was taken on a ride while Hitchcock played with my mind. Psychological thrillers are my favorite so this was right up my alley.

Initially, it seems like the movie is about Marion stealing the $40,000 and I would consider this a red herring beautifully created by the writing and supported with Hitchcock’s techniques. The attention paid on the money, including close ups and longer shots, helps support this red herring that we’re watching a movie about Marion and her theft. I find a lot of times in psychological thrillers you can predict the twist correctly long before it happens but that didn’t really happen to me with this film. I predicted that Norman would end up being the killer but I certainly didn’t expect the split personality and decaying corpse.

 

Breathless [À bout de souffle]

Filed under: Movie Viewing — emodjsteph at 4:03 pm on Saturday, November 26, 2011

This movie has to be my favorite out of all the ones we’ve watched so far this semester. I have a few modern French movies that I’ve seen and enjoyed and I was really surprised with how modern Breathless seemed considering it was released half a century ago. The costuming, styling and set all seemed relatively modern French. I was utterly enamored by Jean Seberg’s performance and her character which did take up a lot of my attention while watching but I think that allure was a crucial part of Patricia’s character. The same way Michel was entranced by her, I felt I was as well and I think the documentary-esque feel of the film helps with this. With the natural lighting, handheld camera and on location shooting, the line between film and observing real life becomes blurred and it is easy to feel Patricia’s, as well as Michel’s charm.

Cinematographer Raoul Coutard’s use of a wheelchair for the tracking shot.

I absolutely loved the hotel scene between Patricia and Michel because I loved the entire interactions between the two characters. It could be my romantic fascination with lovers in Paris, especially from earlier on in the century, but I really felt like the scene was a good look into the relationship between these characters. It was also nice because at first it seemed like the movie was going to be focused more on Michel running from the police, but it ended up focusing more on their relationship which I was far more interested in.

I also really liked this line from the movie because I think the idea of someone’s greatest ambition being to become immortal and then die is fascinating. Since immortality is impossible, it alone as an ambition would be big but to die while being immortal is even more impossible. The amount of ambition that one person could have to want to do the impossible of the impossible is a really interesting thought to me.

The biggest take away for me from this movie I think has to be my discovery of Jean Seberg and as much as I enjoyed this movie, I think this was the best part in the end.

Double Indemnity

Filed under: Movie Viewing — emodjsteph at 6:21 pm on Thursday, October 6, 2011

I was pleasantly surprised that I enjoyed this movie (as seems to be the pattern in this class). I knew very little about film noir as a genre other than the intense amount of shadows but like other black and white films, I just assumed I wouldn’t enjoy it. In regards to the plot, the pacing and the dialogue, I found the movie easy enough to follow and comprehend which made it enjoyable and I really liked Barbara Stanwyck’s performance.

I found it more difficult to take as many notes as usual because I was mostly caught in in following the plot while watching it, but the few notes I made were on different uses of symbolism. After Walter tells Phyllis he’ll help her with her husband, the rug is messed up and Walter fixes it with his foot. This could symbolize his wanting to fix her problems and the subtly they need to kill her husband with. If someone tripped over a messed up rug, it would be obvious and messy – how she would kill her husband. Walter knows better and knows that they would have to be a lot more discrete.

Throughout the movie, Walter always has a match ready and lights it for other people and himself, which I felt showed his confidence in always having the solution to any problem. Even towards the end when things are starting to crumble in his plan, he still lights matches for people, trying to keep his control.

Lastly, in a scene where the two of them are discussing Phyllis’ husband and they acknowledge him as ‘the wall between them’, the open door is between them as a physical symbol of this as it separates them like they claim her husband is.

The Lady Eve

Filed under: Movie Viewing — emodjsteph at 8:52 pm on Thursday, September 15, 2011

I was surprised that I actually enjoyed this movie. It’s probably because I like romantic comedies and not gangster movies, but I liked this much more than I did The Public Enemy. I also had fun trying to spot biblical references while watching, though the snakes and the apple in the title sequence were fairly obvious.

The woman from the opening scene was the perfect juxtaposition to the female lead – the first woman was silent and submissive to the man whereas the lead is confident and in control of her sexuality. The overt female sexuality throughout the film was surprising but interesting. Whereas we’re used to plenty of objectification of women today, there was objectification of men that was certainly pretty entertaining. I felt like as compared to the bible, the powerful female sexuality represents Eve’s seduction and temptation of Adam and the amazon was a reference to the Garden of Eden. Also when Eve changes her voice and accent, it reminded me that in the bible, it’s mentioned that the devil speaks in many different tongues, which would further support the idea that she represents wicked temptation.

I had some difficult following Eve’s motives, initially I thought her plan was for revenge but then when she ends up with him anyway I was lost. All in all, I was pleasantly surprised how how much I liked the movie.

The Public Enemy

Filed under: Movie Viewing — emodjsteph at 10:21 pm on Saturday, September 3, 2011

I’d like to start this off by saying I am not a fan of old movies. As a general rule, I don’t enjoy watching movies that were made before the 90’s. I also don’t really like anything that has to do with gangsters and have never seen a gangster movie. So, with that said, I didn’t anticipate liking this movie very much but I tried to keep as open of a mind as possible.

For a majority of the film, I was very distracted by noting all the differences between the actors, acting styles, speech and costuming. As someone that tends to look at things from a sociological or psychological point of view, I got very caught up in noting the differences of beauty standards between then and now. It was a bit difficult to try and bring my mind back to focus on the movie itself because the plot didn’t do much to hold my attention. I did enjoy the characterizations and got the impression that the film might have been a little ahead of its time in regards to how they took the time to develop the characters rather than just the plot, but that’s a pretty ignorant assumption seeing as I’ve never watched a movie this old before.

It took some time but I was eventually able to watch the movie without focusing on how drastically different it is from movies made today, and it was then that I was able to almost begin enjoying it. There were certainly funny moments and Tom was a considerably interesting character to follow. I did notice that while we were told before the viewing that there was quite a bit of violence, I was surprised to notice that almost all of the violence was off screen or implied. In the spanking scene towards the beginning, you don’t see the spanking itself – just the set up and a tight shot on the boy’s face reacting to the hits. In almost every scene where someone was shot by a gun, you saw the person shooting, heard the gunshot and then it’d cut to the person falling. As far as I could recall, there was only one time that you actually see someone getting shot on camera and I believe that was when Matt and Tom get shot at and Matt dies. To an extent, that made that death scene stand out quite a bit more to me and I’m unsure if that was an artistic or stylistic choice or not.

All in all, I was surprised I didn’t really dislike the movie. The sexuality, violence and conflicts were similar enough to movies today, though executed differently due to the time period and available technology back then. This helped keep my interest somewhat but my complete lack of interest in the gangster genre probably didn’t help matters too much.

There was a point I wanted to make in class but didn’t get to though so I guess I’ll put it here. We were discussing the public’s fascination and interest with gangster movies and the point that people like to root for the main character even if they’re a criminal because we can partly identify with the desire to lash out and do whatever we want regardless of the consequences, but then cheer when the criminal gets locked up or killed because we feel like justice is served. It’s a conflict between wanting to be a good citizen and wanting the freedom of doing whatever you want, even if it’s against the law. This very strongly reminded me of the Showtime show, Dexter, which I love and watch.

I know it’s not an old film, but it’s a good modern example of this same sort of fascination. In case you don’t know anything about Dexter, a very brief explanation of the show is it centers around Dexter Morgan, a serial killer that only murders murderers, rapists, etc. He works for Miami Metro as a blood splatter analyst and hides his secret from everyone around him. He is very careful and selective about the people he murders and does extensive research to ensure that they deserve to be killed in order to avenge their victims and protect others.

 

What is most interesting about the show is the constant sort of tug of war the viewer feels towards Dexter. Clearly he is a murderer and that should make him a bad guy but he only kills people that hurt and kill other people, so is he really a bad guy or just a vigilante? You root for Dexter in his kills and fear for him when his safety is in jeopardy and he might get caught. It is similar to how I feel most people feel when watching gangster movies, that part of you that roots for the character that you know you probably shouldn’t be rooting for.

 

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