Thursday, November 13, 2014

In-Class Assignment Assignment

Anna Eva Kotyza / Karenna Lief November 13th, 2014
Film Aesthetics  In-Class Assignment

Everyone gets a slip of paper with a type of cue, surface division or space, and a still from a film to represent that. Over the course of two weeks, the student must make a short film demonstrating their cue, surface division or space; the majority of their shots articulating that space type, and the tone of their film replicating the assigned still.
Additionally, the student must write a one-two paragraph reflection describing the motivation of space in the shots and how the tone of the film emulates the tone of the still.

Students will be graded on:

  1. The level of the students understanding of their assigned space.
  2. How the students reflection articulates their use of space.
  3. How well the students shots demonstrated their assigned space.
  4. How closely their film resembled the tone of the given still.

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Queen

The movie The Queen by Steven Frears, about the relationship between Elizabeth II and the prime minister Tony Blair, uses many cinematic tools and aesthetic qualities to help convey the story, characters, and the spine of the film.  One of these is the use of access given to primary characters, specifically the queen.  Elizabeth is very conservative -- hiding her emotions and honest opinions expertly.  We see this no only through dialogue and performance, but from the access of her the director and DP of the film decided to give to the audience through shot design, composition, and range of focus.  The queen rarely has vulnerable moments in the film, but the one time she does break down and cry when she's stuck in the swamp/river with her car and she sees a deer, we have little to no access to her face.  There's a shot of her from behind and a shot of her from the side, in which her face is blurry and the background is in focus.  She also has a scarf around her head, covering her true identity and insecurities.  

These cinematic and costume decisions seep subconsciously into the viewers minds and lead us to feel and think a certain way about the film when we wouldn't otherwise.  The little access we had to Elizabeth throughout the movie helped me come to the conclusion, among other things, that this was Tony's story rather than hers.  We see Tony's vulnerabilities, through more reaction shots and access to his face, and therefore we are with him one hundred percent and see the film through his eyes, where with Elizabeth we only see one side of her completely. 

Sunday, October 5, 2014


In the film Dogville by Lars von Trier, there are quite a few fascinating cinematic and directing choices that were very brave of the creators and makes the movie as memorable as it is.  Most notably, the choice for a minimal stage-like set, because that had never been done before in a film and focussed the viewers on the acting and plot, rather than the visuals.

Something else I noticed throughout the film was that the camera was pretty much always hand held and therefore had varying amounts of shakiness throughout the film.  It was always at least a little shaky -- not counting the dorsal establishing shots -- but more shaky during intense and dramatic moments.  I think the shakiness, not only contributed to the inspiration of nerves in an audience during intense scenes, but helped us feel part of Dogville. The cinematography was casual, almost like a home-movie, so we felt attached -- rather than like audience members.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Life Lessons

     In the short film Life Lessons by Martin Scorsese, the iris effect is used a few times in seemingly arbitrary places.  But from watching the film a second time, after already knowing what it's about, I came to a conclusion that this effect is used to focus on things, places, and people where the protagonist, Lionel Dobie, is sharply attuned in his life.  There is an iris effect when we see his paints, which is clearly a focal point in his life, and when we see him standing alone in his studio; symbolizing his narcissism -- which we see later in the film from his inability to tell Paulette, his assistant and love interest, simply that her work is "good," out of fear of tampering his artistic integrity.
     Other places we see the iris effect is when Lionel see's Paulette for the first time after her trip when he picks her up in the airport.  It centers in on her and becomes slow motion -- the time drawing out longer than it probably actually is.  Paulette is one of Lionel's obsessions, just as his painting and his ego is.  We see the iris effect once again on Paulette's foot, before Lionel says he feels a strong urge to kiss it.  Not only does the iris effect represent his obsessions, but his obsessive impulses; painting being one of them.  He feels an enslaving urge to paint when he feels repressed or convulsing with emotion.  Then at the very end, we see the iris effect when he's at his opening gallery and meets a new women to whom he offers a job as his assistant.  And thus begins the cycle all over again, arising from a brand new obsession.