Ladri di biciclette – FILM REVIEW

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INTRODUCTION

The Bicycle Thieves or in its Italian name, Ladri di bicicilette is a film directed by Vittorio de Sica in 1948. This film is also adapted from a novel of the same title by Luigi Bartolini. The Bicycle Thieves is one of the most prominent Italian Neorealism film that has ever produced.

THEORY APPLICATION

In most countries that is a part of the WW2, used films as part of their propaganda as it is one of the easiest way for the government to ‘brainwashed’ the people. As of Italian Neorealism, it obviously began in Italy. A result of the World War II. In Italian Neorealism, it focused on telling stories that happened on the present days, rather than back-dating to previous years. Besides, the genre concentrated more on the lives of the lower class people rather than the nobilities. (Hayward, 2013) Most filmmakers that did films under Italian Neorealism were those who were opposing their government by wanting to show to a vast audience on the real lives of the people who were affected by the war. That is their main goal in producing an Italian Neorealism film. Besides, in Italian Neorealism film, there were no storyline as the actors that were picked to act in their films were social actors, meaning that they were not professionally-trained actors. This enabled the directors to capture the real hardship of the lives of these people. Since there was no storyline, there was no dialogue being given either. Moreover, on-location shooting was the choice of setting rather than working in a studio. The reason for this was so that the filmmakers could capture a grainy kind of effects that looks more realistic thus, got to enhance the realism of their film.

SYNOPSIS
The story was about the hardship of a man named Antonio who was in a desperate need for a job but because he needed a job that pays better, he needed a bicycle. Thus, his wife gave him all of their bed linens to be pawned off so that he could get himself a bicycle. However, the bicycle was stolen and so, Antonio and his son, Bruno went out and about in search of their bicycle.
THEORY DISCUSSION
Just like how an Italian Neorealism film works, Bicycle Thieves is one of the best example film that represent Italian Neorealism. The setting was done after the war. It could be seen from the place where Antonio and his family lives. There was less to none trees or other plants due to the destruction from the war. We could also see that the city was being rebuilt from the emergence of new buildings.
People were in need of a job to support themselves and their families and most job that were offered paid too little for them to even get anything to bring back home for the day. Besides, in a scene where Antonio wanted to pawn off his bed sheets to get a bicycle, there were a lot of people crowding the place. Pawning off every little thing they have to survive. Not only that, Bruno was seeing working at a very early age so that he could help lessen the burden of his family.
The film reminds me of another film but of different era. Children of Heaven, where the father went to the big city with his son and both of them were in awed to see the housing areas of the rich people. This could be seen when Antonio and Bruno went to the city to find their lost bicycle. The city looked as if it was not affected by the war as there were functional roads and vast buildings as well as transportations and telephone booths.
The ending of the film is quite depressing but then again, not everything that happens in real lives end happily and this was the goal that the filmmakers were hoping to reach. Antonio was getting very desperate in wanting his bicycles back and made a decision to try to steal off another person’s bicycle but his attempt to do so failed miserably when he almost got caught of doing so. The desperation that these people had to go through in order to survive is very heart-breaking.
CONCLUSION
This film depicts well of the effect after war. However, Italian Neorealism did not last long in the film market as people do not need to watch more despair films.

 

 

Reference: 

 

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Ladri di biciclette – FILM REVIEW

THE MALTESE FALCON – FILM REVIEW

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Introduction

The Maltese Falcon, as a Bogart fan, this film did not take a long time for me to be totally immersed with it. The film is based on a novel of the same title, authored by Dashiell Hammett and was adapted into a screenplay in the year of 1941 by director, John Huston.

Theory Discussion

The film Maltese Falcon is one of the many great films produced under the genre ‘Film Noir’. ‘Noir’ in French is ‘black’ or simply ‘dark’ (Ebert, 1995). This type of films mainly focuses on a mystery, thriller and crime related story lines and often have a femme fatale characters, as well as private detectives and criminals. Femme fatale characters developed when the men went to war during the World War II and the women were left to work to ensure the economy of the nation keeps going. Due to their independency, men who returned from war find their masculinity being challenged since now they have seen that women are capable in working in almost anything that only men before the war were put to work at. As a result, film noir was produced to narrate the sexual independency of these women who have intimidated the masculinity of men but in film noir.

Noir films often mislead the audience into thinking that the film they are watching would end up in happy endings as this genre focuses on showing the realistic world of betrayal and doom. Probably due to the fact that this genre arises during the WW2. Influenced by the German Expressionism, Film Noir differs from other films in terms of its protagonists that is knows for being an anti-hero (Dirks, 2016). It can be seen that most protagonists in Film Noir are corrupted and always have their very own motives.

 As it is mainly influenced by German Expressionism, usage of dark visuals and low-key lighting plays a major components in Noir films. As its storyline suggest more on crime and mystery, the settings often features dark visuals to produce that mysterious feeling. As mentioned by Roger Ebert, an American film critic and historian, characters in film noir are always seen with a cigarette in their hand. As men in those days are always seen in what in this modern would say, a formal attire, men back then are always dressed in suits and ties. Be it a police officer, villains and private eyes. While the women are always dressed in elegant clothing with matching hats and very high heels. It has been said in a website called Filmsite that there are mainly two different types of women in film noir, a femme fatale and a women who are simply trustworthy and reliable.

Theory Application

Sam Spade is a character that was popularized by the creator, Dashielle Hammett. A private eye who is not seen as a hero in fact the opposite of it, money driven but tough and clever. His femme fatale in this film is Miss Wonderly, a woman who happens to have her own ulterior motives. This film portrayed the ‘evil’ side of each character and their willingness to do anything in order to achieve their goal.

As have being discussed above on the elements that could be seen in a film noir, The Maltese Falcon possessed all. From the high contrast visuals to having dark shadows over the characters. Another element that has been appointed by our tutor is the cramped space in noir films. For an example, the living room of Miss Wonderly are filled with furnitures.

Conclusion

I am a lover of classic films. Be it black and white or coloured films but this is my first encounter with film noir, mainly because I am not too fond of watching a mystery/thriller kind of films but it is always great to get to see another film portrayed by Humphrey Bogart.

THE MALTESE FALCON – FILM REVIEW

花樣年華 – FILM REVIEW

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Introduction

      The purpose of this blog essay is to analyses the film, In The Mood For Love directed by Wong Kar Wai, (2000).  Besides that, French Impressionism will be discussed and identify the film in relation to the French Impressionism.

Theory Discussion

French Impressionist Cinema was widely used in the world of film making especially in the year of 1918 to 1929. In the French Impressionism, the usage of montage, pictorial visual as well as diffusions are mainly used in (Bordwell, Thomposon, 2010). The psychological narrative of a film would usually be emphasised more by the filmmakers. This being said, the psychological state of a character will be the centre of a film. Moreover, filmmakers of French Impressionists will try to put in the character’s subjective feelings rather than just telling the storyline as what normal narrative films would do. Other than that, other elements in French Impressionists Cinema is the editing of the film and the camera work. As an example, slow motions, distorted visual and superimposition (Bordwell, Thompson, 2010). Furthermore, the visual rhythm in French Impressionists Cinema is a notion that is to emphasise the human narration more, rather than the narrative of the film itself. This rhythmic editing produces visual that will immersed the audience to feel the character’s emotion (Bordwell, Thompson, 2010). Moreover, in French Impressionists Cinema, a lot of close ups are used onto subjective and symbolic objects. Lighting plays an important role as well, just like in German Expressionisms. The usage of lighting is to help in bringing out more feelings there are in the film. To create a feeling of confusions, putting on filters over the lens could enhance more on the feelings of the film. By having all these moods being set up, it automatically helps the actors and actresses to fully feel their characters even more.

Synopsis

         In the Mood for Love revolves on two married couples that moved in to the same building. Both spouses of Mr Chow and Mrs Chan are always on a business trip and later as the story developed, both Mr Chow and Mrs Chan found out that their wife and husband are cheating on each other. They tried to figure out how did their spouses developed the feelings and as they were trying to act things out, they too fell in love for one another but did not move forward with their feelings as they do not want to be like their spouses.

Film Analysis

Since French Impressionists Cinema emphasise on psychological narrative, the film In the Mood for Love tells a story on the mental state that was experienced by Mrs Chan and Mr Show. The feeling of loneliness when they their spouses left them for a business trip that turned out into a feeling of betrayal after they found out that their spouses were cheating on them. In the film, the director uses a lot of slow motion editing when both Mr Chow and Mrs Chan went for their dinner at the street as well as when they are spending their time alone without their partner around. In some ways, the slow motion shows a feeling of time passing by slowly when they are alone. Another scene that uses slow motion is when Mrs Chan watched her land lady and other neighbours playing mahjong and it could be seen from her expression that she was not enjoying her time around them. There are also a lot of close ups on subjective and symbolic objects such as the hollow stone that was mentioned by Mr. Chow where the stone will be filled with mud after a period of time when people whispered their secrets to the stone.

Aside from the facial expressions, it can be seen that the camera movements shown in the film uses a lot of low angles. Even the beginning of the film, the first scene that was shown is the female’s buttock in a tight Cheongsam. The scene was taken from a low angle and slowly being panned up. Another prominent editing that can be seen is the fast cuts used in the film. Fast cuts are used to examine the mental state of the character like an example when Mrs Chan received the phone call from Mr Chow when he mentioned that he wants to meet her in a hotel. The fast cuts are shown when she hesitated to go to the room and was pacing up and down the hotel staircase. This automatically indicated to us audience that she is expressing her conflicts. The conflict mentioned is on her choices of becoming like her husband as a cheater or not.

Besides, I realized there are a lot of shots with a lot of mirror usage. A friend mentioned to me that this means the camera is showing what the character’s self is reflecting, your true self.

Conclusions

Overall, I truly love the elegance of the story as the film takes place in the 60s, where the women of the time had their hair done beautifully and they are dressed mostly in their bodyfit cheongsams. I love the idea of how the director twist the storyline into making the film about the spouses who got cheated instead of the cheating spouses. It is one of a kind.

References

Bordwell, D. & Thompson, K. (2010). Film art an introduction (9th ed.). USA: MCGraw-Hill.

Hayward, S. (2013). Cinema studies: The key concepts (4th ed.). USA: Routledge.

花樣年華 – FILM REVIEW

DARK CITY – FILM REVIEW

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INTRODUCTION

A 1998 film, directed by Alex Proyas who also directs Gods of Egypt, The Crow and Knowing. Dark City is another film that is being studied in the class as a Postmodernism Film due to having more than one genre that includes Action, Mystery, Thriller as well as Fantasy. This film is an example used by our tutor to further discuss the German Expressionism.

THEORY DISCUSSIONS

German Expressionism can be back-dated to the 1920s and is one of the first artistic film-making style that has been introduced in the world of films. One of the most prominent style that can be seen in a German Expressionism film is that it is made to shock the audience. Aside from that, lighting plays an important part to create a German Expressionism film. Such lighting includes the High Contrast or the Low Key Lighting, which is also known as the Chiaroscuro lighting, a lighting technique that has been around since the Renaissance era. The Chiaroscuro lighting provides a dark visual that incorporates dramatic shadows. (Bordwell, Thompson, 2010) Other than that, German Expressionism contains techniques that fabricates distortions in the body shapes and also buildings in the film. To further creating a more distortion shapes, an oblique camera angles are used as well as having the props and settings in the films to be in an abnormal angles like being put in an up and down position.

Moreover, German Expressionism film manifest through primitive elements like talking about revolting and not the more modernised features like advance technology. Sexual savagery is part of the prominent aspects in German Expressionism thus, in the film Dark City, it contains a lot of nudity and sexuality that is not appropriate for younger viewers.

SYNOPSIS

John Murdoch woke up in an alien room with a dead naked woman lying on the floor, not knowing or remembering anything. After trying to figure out what has happened, he discovered a group of unknown beings called The Strangers controlling the city by taking and swap the memories  of the humans reside in it. Murdoch has the ability that The Strangers do, which is called Tune. He got the power when Murdoch was awake during the process of replacing his memories. Due to his ability and his immunity to the Strangers’ powers, he is the only hope for the people of the city to break through from the control of The Strangers.

THEORY APPLICATION

After understanding the characteristics of a German Expressionism film, it is very easy to detect it in the film, Dark City. The most prominent is the visuals of the film where high contrast or Chiaroscuro lightings are used. The setting of the film requires it to be very dark and mysterious not only because it embodies the German Expressionism but also because the storyline for the film takes place only at night since no one in the city ever remembers seeing the sun all thanks to The Strangers for controlling it that way. Automatically, this sort of setting produces a very shady and mystifying mood for the audience.

Another characteristics that have been discussed above is the distortion of shapes especially in bodies and buildings. The Strangers in the film appears to have a bizarre looking body compared to other human beings as their body is longer and seems oddly out of ratio. The distortions for the buildings can be seen when The Strangers are ‘tuning’ their powers to get the memories from their victims. The buildings seem to appear to spin and change in size as well. Besides, because the film takes place in the 1940s, Gothic-styled building can be clearly seen throughout the whole film.

 

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Distortion bodies of The Strangers
Moreover, the revolting element that can be detected in Dark City is through the character, John Murdoch. Murdoch acts like an anarchy when he rebels against the police and obviously The Strangers as both parties control the city. Not only Murdoch that shows his part of revolting against the authorities, but also the doctor who is in charged of the memory transplants that is Dr Schreber. He was the person responsible in telling Murdoch that he has lost his memories in the first place. Dr Schreber helped John Murdoch in fighting The Strangers by using the ability that The Strangers possessed as well. Other than that, madness is another important component in any German Expressionism film and this could be seen when John Murdoch gets confused when his memories are in a mess.
Besides, Dark City also contains a primitive sexual savagery. Prostitutes were killed brutally and their bodies were carved with circles by one of The Strangers, Mr Hand. Aside from that, the murder cases that happened in the film mainly uses knife as their primary weapon. The Strangers are seen with a knife as they prefer to stab and cut the people.
CONCLUSION
Dark City is one of the great modern film that incorporates German Expressionism and the director, Alex Proyas has successfully put in all the great elements of the German Expressionism in the film.
Reference: 

 

 

DARK CITY – FILM REVIEW

FILM REVIEW: PARANORMAN

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ParaNorman, a 3D-stop motion animated film. Stop motion animation is not really what I favour to watch but I do appreciate the hard work of making a stop motion work since it could take a lot of time and energy in creating one.

A story about a boy named Norman who possess the ability to talk to the dead and since he is not doing well in socializing with people in the real life, talking to the dead seems to be the opposite of abnormal to him. He lived in a city where witch used to roam the streets and since he can see the dead, (which seems to be a hereditary ability), he is responsible to read a story to a 300 year old, dead young witch who awakes every year on the same day she was killed. However, conflicts happened and she began her rage to the town who had her killed and it is up to Norman and his friends and family to stop and calm the little witch.

Judging from the film and its storyline, ParaNorman is a mixed genre, just like Zombieland where the two prominent genres are comedy and horror. And again, like Zombieland, there are evidence of postmodernism elements in the film. The first and obvious element is the hybrid between two different genres and the other one is how ParaNorman redirect our views on zombies. We will always see zombies as a walking dead who eats other people but in ParaNorman, the zombies are actually the one who wants to help Norman but because they are zombies, they act like zombies until Norman got to the part where he managed to communicate with their souls and not with their zombie physiques. That is quite a plot twist and I enjoyed that.

 

FILM REVIEW: PARANORMAN