Entries Tagged 'For Class' ↓

Movie View: Citizen Kane (1941)

(Let me take note that this post is meant to account for Herzhog’s blog challenge that if I succeed in, I will be granted $55 and a coupon for 25% off at any FYI retailer)

 

Oh yeah. You better believe it. It’s about to be 1941 all up in here.

Citizen Kane. Deemed as one of the greatest movies in Cinema. Nominated for 16 Academy Awards. Instituted a revolution in film history with its unique cinematography for that era. That Citizen Kane. Not Bold enough for ya?

CITIZEN KANE.

Got it? Good.

It’s clearly had an influence on modern cinema. I happened to of noticed strong similarities between this and the new Star Wars films. Remember Anakin Skywalker?

This guy. If you don’t remember, here’s a quick synopsis. He was taken away from his home as a child to be raised to be a Jedi. Anakin went on to be a noble warrior among them, but once he recognized his power, he became corrupted and went bat-shit evil (aka, becoming Darth Vader).

Very similar to the story of Charles Foster Kane. Except, ya know, less CGI and not nearly as many spaceships or aliens. Also, feel free to replace “Jedi” with entrepreneur.

SPOILER ALERT: Kane Dies.

Oh wait, nevermind. That’s not really a spoiler. It’s the first scene in the movie.

Before I go on, did you notice how well that was done? The framing of the castle in the background seems to just naturally get bigger with each transition. The placement of the surroundings just magically works with the transition before it.

This is 1941, ladies and gentlemen. The most advanced shot you’ll get from your average movie is the reverse-reverse over the shoulder conversation shot.

Now, the world gets word of his death, and the only thing they have to go for him is two things. One, a short film summing up his life in a few minutes based on what the media has known of him. After watching the film, it almost seems like a parody. Two, his last dying words. “Rosebud.”

So a mystery is triggered. Who or what is Rosebud? A small group of journalists try to find out by asking Kane’s personal friends and even his second ex-wife. This group tries searching through his whole personal life just to find out, and as they do, they learn of his rise and fall as an imperial newspaper owner.

You see most of his life, yet you still wonder what made him so power hungry. Take a look at this scene from his younger adulthood.

This is the scene I wish to account for the challenge with.

Again, fantastic cinematography, mainly in the lighting. I’m not sure if this is right, but I think the dark shadow over Kane represents his fierce dedication to what he is saying. Perhaps it merely to draw attention to him, since he’s in the most darkness. But I feel it parallels what he is saying. How exactly, I wanna know. Maybe there isn’t supposed to be a specific meaning. Part of the reason why this movie is boss is because of the shots themselves. What the shots mean could be interpreted.

It would seem contradictory though, wouldn’t it? Dark shadows are usually for shady figures or omninous thoughts. But Mr.Kane here is speaking like a Ron Paul of the newspaper business. And that guy’s pretty goddamn honest.

I'm no Republican, but I'd vote for this guy

He is the only dark figure in the room. Any CK veteran would know how much of an asshole he’s gonna be. Is it a foreshadow? Maybe he be speaking truly, but the shadow is saying “Ha! Yeah Right!”

I would think he’s just being drawn attention to frame-wise. But looking at that, notice how he’s surrounded by people looking at him. Kane is a guy who thrives off of attention. Could the shadow foreshadow his downfall due to his need to be loved by others?

Those are my guesses. Feel free to educate me on the matter.

The whole film is built on these many paradigmatic connotations (proudly learned those words yesterday). Kane is a hard guy to read from beginning to end. All you can really see is a sad old man who just wanted to be happy. *SPOILER* And all it would of took was a sled named Rosebud.

Fantastically acted, especially by director Orsen Wells, and a damn good piece of work. Kicking the crap out of most modern films, it certainly earns the #1 spot of many lists for Greatest Movies of All Time.

4/4 Stars

 

Movie View: The Public Enemy (1931)

(Response to The Public Enemy screening)

I learned two things from this movie.

One, people who own gunshops in the 1920’s…were goddamn idiots.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D4u7c_ZI8eQ

Two, crime doesn’t pay.

Let’s be honest. That’s more of a “reminder” rather than something I learned. People these days have already learned their Crime 101 through other, more modern gangster films such as Goodfellas and The Godfather. Does that make The Public Enemy some bad ripoff? Certainly not. After all, it did come before them.

For it’s time period, The Public Enemy  ain’t half bad. There’s no doubt it did to the 30’s what Goodfellas did to the 80’s. Among the movie’s unique factors were it’s violence and sexual implication. It’s not easy to get away with films involving gun fights, seduction, and bitch slapping women with a grape fruit.

You will eat your daily fruits AND LIKE IT!! OR ELSE!!

Actually, the film didn’t get away with some scenes…sort of. Scenes were removed from re-releases, though mainly scenes of implied sex, and one involving a rather hilariously homosexual tailor (thus goes to show that back in the 1900’s, gays were much scarier than death itself).

Pretty much all releases after 1954, with and without censorship, had “cards” added to the beginning and end. Basically, it says despite being based on true events, the story of the film is not to be condoned. Rather, it’s a story that should teach what you shouldn’t do. It was obviously necessary, ’cause without those cards, people will be running around and shooting guns at baby kittens.

Now, let’s go on with the story. An awesomely named Tom Powers (played by the very talented James Cagney) and his less awesomely named friend Matt Doyle (Edward Woods) start a life of petty crimes such as stealing watches and junk. As they grow up, they climb to the top of the gangster food chain, mainly through bootlegging. Conflict brews between Tom’s “good” brother, Mike Powers (Donald Cook) and a rival gang he messes around with.

Also, his mother is oblivious to all of what Tom does. That annoyed me. A LOT. Mainly because Tom and Mike would argue about the crimes Tom did, and she’d only have a problem with the fact they are arguing. Tom could drag a naked dead body on the floor and she would still daydream about her “Wonderful boys!” It’s almost like she has Alzheimer’s. I’d bet people with real Alzheimer’s would find her lack of perception of reality laughable…for the time they remember it, of course.

The face of a charming guy

Tom Powers makes for an interesting character. He’s got a classic case of Dunnowhatitscalled, but the bare bones of his character is being edgy, having trouble with women (hence forcing a grapefruit in his girlfriend’s face and what not), and having even more trouble expressing himself. He does that old’ “knock on the chin” to show his sympathy and regards. He does this to his friends and even his own delusional mother. It shows that he’s not comfortable coming out of his shell, and if he can’t even express himself with his family, he’ll have trouble expressing himself to anyone. Asking for help or love is beneath him. It causes frustration and stress, and that combined with the arrogance he gains with his power makes him a troubled adult. It’s a character you feel is a victim of his own insecurities.

There’s a strong emphasis on the effects of the prohibition era. Remember, this movie was made in 1931, just TWO YEARS before the ban on alcohol was lifted. If there’s another note to take other than “crime doesn’t pay,” it’d be that life finds a way to things it wants. Even back in those “black and white times,” people thought banning alcohol would only encourage crime since it was so desired, but how can it be allowed without people abusing it? The answer is obvious: we learn to control our lives and make the right decisions…okay, since when did this become philosophy blog? Enough morality crap, what was I talking about?

Right! The film! Umm….let’s talk about the filmography.

For 1931, there were shots like these and ones that followed people down hallways in a style that reminded me of some more modern film shots.It’s hard to find a clip of ’em, but there’s definitely some neat shots done through the film. The beginning shot has a very nice choreography involving the framing, all while making a long shot. Reminded me of that one movie by Albert Hitchcock (which I never saw yet) which was edited to seem like it was made using one long shot. If ANYONE can tell me the name of it in the comment, you will be rewarded a cookie.

I'll just leave it riiiiiiight here

The biggest problem I had with the movie was the fact that I’ve seen it before. Indeed, I give it mad props for setting an example for other gangster movies, but it’s hard to capture the modern audience with gangster films outside of the top guns of the genre. Look at all of the gangster films you saw: don’t you notice a formula?

A troubled/poor/trouble-making kid since youth grows up to be a top dog gangster, yet loses it all in the end (possibly by death or betrayal). That’s a lot like a decent amount of films involving gangsters. They follow this formula, only to be separated by some plot details, setting, and of course, the audience it was meant for.

People who enjoy modern films more than the “Black and White ones” may or may not enjoy this movie as much as the guy who tolerates a fair share of monochrome. However, I think people should at least try it. The Public Enemy may be familiar and sticking to the formula of most gangster films, but it’s not a bad formula, is it? Not to mention it may have a decent amount of influence on those modern gangster flicks you happen to enjoy.

Check it out: 2.5/4 (add another point if you like gangster films/old movies in general)

 

 

 

Movie View: Triumph of the Will (1935)

(Response to “M” Screening)

You ever hear of that Hitler fellow? He seems like a really cool guy.

A friendly face

Oh, what’s that? What about Poland? Final Solution? Killed six million…Oooohh…

Well, he SEEMED like a cool guy. At least after watching Triumph of the Will, that is. Certainly, you’ve heard of  this German propaganda classic, haven’t you? If not, you’re certainly familiar with it’s cinematography. What it lacks in mentioning Hitler’s sociopath ideals, it makes up for incredible shots even for the modern cinema era. It’s more known in the States for it’s influential shots rather than it’s purpose as a film. Even Star Wars has taken influence from it.



About that “purpose as the film:” This movie is the brain child of Leni Riefenstahl. Technically, it was Hitler’s idea, since he personally asked her to make footage of his rallies AND was an uncredited executive producer. Regardless, her goal was to basically make Hitler look as awesome as possible. She did a damn good job. Her movie makes Hitler look SO AWESOME that it’s claimed to be edit-proof. No one could edit the film to make Hitler look like the psychopath he’s known to be, especially since the film didn’t even mention that whole genocide thing. It is a propaganda film, after all. It’s whole premise is that Germany’s former glory can be restored 124% better than before, and all they need is this guy…

LIKE A BOSS

Take a look at the video right HERE. Skip right into 4 minutes of the video (unless you wanna see some fancy shots from a plane…they are very nice).

Notice how happy everybody is. They look at this guy like a celebrity. Kids are shaking his hand, women are blessing his name, people want to touch his mustache. It’s like when Lindsay Lohan was still popular.

And this is basically the whole movie. People having fun, looking up to Hitler who looks stylish and makes promising speeches, all while making funny poses.

Pew Pew, I'm a cowboy

 

Sha na na, What's my name?

 

Hee hee, I can make up stuff all day, but let’s wrap this up.

Triumph of the Will is a damn good propaganda film. Not just for the fact that it does a good job at making an evil guy look boss, but it also has some cool shots that movies today can take a tip from. It credited Leni Riefenstahl as among the best female movie makers of the 20th century. Although, it was kinda hard to make movies after WWII when the world knows Hitler was your BFF, so her career was destroyed not long after his fall.

A historical artifact for propaganda films and films in general. Not a “popcorn-munching” flick, obviously, but for what it is, it gets the job well done.

3/4

 

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