Posted in Uncategorized on May 12th, 2010 by Ryan

Kristen Whissel talks about how special effects make certain genre films fascinating and exciting. It is an important factor that plays in helping the actors get into their characters. When the actors walk onto sets it will help zone them into the performance. Special effects help build whatever world that needs to be created, it allows the viewers imagination to take a journey into worlds of imagination. CGI technologies has improved so much that there are more movies adapting from comic books and fantasy novels. The reason most movies like X-Men and Harry Potter movies are being turned into films is mostly due to the cult following each have from their own field and what the wide range of effects the movie industry can work with. The special effects literally range from creating mythical creatures to adding scenery or backdrop designs to make the audience feel they are experiencing the same thing the actors are. Special effects help replicate what we see in reality or they can create a world that no longer exists. Most of the times when people have discussions about there favorite sequences it usually has to do with a scene that deals or involved “CGI”. Whether it was about a car chase sequence or in the scene of Dr. Strangelove (1964) where the airplane opens to let the atomic bomb drop. Not only did it drop but it had slim pickens on top of it with a cowboy hat descending on it.

Posted in Uncategorized on May 12th, 2010 by Ryan

Lev Manovich talks about how technology has been improving and advancing over the years in cinema. The chapter explains how at times technology can trick people into believing that certain affects appear to come off as realism when it’s actually not. The detail is extraordinary that the makeup artists make on their creations. If the makeup is done well and to the extreme moviegoers may actually feel that what they are seeing actually exists. For example in Jurassic Park Stan Winston was the special effects makeup artist behind this classic. The expression on the dinosaurs faces, the color, the texture, the roughness of the skin, every single individual dinosaur looked and appeared to be “Real”. These were not just made on a computer screen but actually built from being sculptured and modeled where the cast and crew can see it coming to life right in front of them. This movie was able to “fake” visual reality. This movie combined both old school special effects(Building the sculptures, building the models) and new ground breaking effects such as “CGI” which brought the creatures to life. When George Melies talks about “photorealism” he breaks it down that although the new special effects were astonishing and very impressive when it boils down to it moviegoers can still tell what is real and what is absolutely fake.

Michael Allen

Posted in Uncategorized on May 11th, 2010 by Ryan

“The Impact Of Digital Technologies On Film Aesthetics”
Michael Allen is a teacher in media studies who has a background in software development. He has designed programs for use in editing film clips. He writes about blockbuster movies and how technology has advanced, in addition to how they help shape the movies and make them as spectacular as they are. He focuses more on film history and the technological developments. The chapter informs how CGI has taken an image and replicated it in unique digital art form such as computer graphics, or sculpturing and making a replicating model of it. For example in the early 90’s when Jurassic Park was made and released into theaters it was a huge success because of not only how great the film was, but because of the ground breaking effects. For example Phil Tippet comments about his role as the stop-motion supervisor on Jurassic Park: “they wanted Artistic Realism to blend into the animation of the dinosaurs“. Phil Tippet goes on to discuss how important it was that the dinosaurs come across to the audiences as being as realistic as possible. It all depended on how good the quality of the effects were to make the dinosaurs look realistic. Tippet couldn’t stress enough that the important factors that help make the movie so groundbreaking was the animation which allowed him and his team to make the creatures look like “real animals” and not like “movie monsters”. Michael Allen gives insight on how people can be fooled by special effects. Why is it that audiences at times can’t tell if they are looking at something realistic such as a living creature or mythical monster, and what is the trick to keeping people from spotting the special effects illusion? The reason moviegoers do not see the image as computer generated is because the image appears so authentic, allowing the viewer to perceive that he/she could stand right in front of it. The reason for this is that movie directors usually shoot a scene that utilizes CGI special effects creatures for a very short period (seconds) and give the monster or creature as little time on the screen as possible. By granting the audience only a glimpse, the viewers are in awe of what they’ve seen, and are left wanting more.
According to Allen, as CGI techniques were perfected and improved, filmmakers have become more confident in allowing CGI sequences last longer on the screen. Despite these technological advances, camera movement and framing did not have to adapt, instead, old school devices and digital technologies have followed “the accepted rules of film form and scene construction”. (833)

Anne Friedberg “The End of Cinema: Multimedia and Technological Change”

Posted in Uncategorized on May 4th, 2010 by Ryan
 The End Of Cinema chapter is about how technology has evolved in cinema and how it first made an effective impact on it and how it is shaping films today. Anne Friedberg explains how emerging digital technologies changed cinema for the better and for the worse. There has been such a huge breakthrough that digital technology nowadays has made cinema films available to watch in just about anything that projects a screen such as television, computers, phones etc. The chapter explains that although technology has improved and made films more accessible for people to be able to watch and enjoy, although audiences are watching the films they enjoy on there computer, television,  the movie theater screen  they are not experiencing the film the way it was meant to be seen and experienced. The images are different and the style and format change on each screen an individual watches a video on. The film loses its “medium-based specificity.” The way films are distributed on DVD, VHS, Computer disks, are presented to the audience in completely different arranging formats. If a person was to download a movie from a DVD to a computer disk it completely rearranges the whole film and how its presented in camera angles, color, lighting etc. When the VCR was created, it was a huge success. It was the first device that would allow people to record there favorite shows, movies etc and if there was a time where there is nothing on television viewers could just pop in their tapes and watch old reruns or  personal favorite movies. VCR allowed the viewer to fast-forward or rewind through their recorded programming so if there was a particular scene in a movie or show they enjoy watching over and over they could just get right to it without sitting through the entire ordeal until their favorite part came up. This let the viewer become in control and take action and allow how much the individual wanted to sit through the entire film or what he/she wanted to zip through.  As one individual said Paul Virilio described the VCR to allow people to organize a time which can be somewhere else and be able to capture it, the VCR creates a “ reserved day which can replace the ordinary day, the lived day”. The VCR is a viewers internal clock to allow the viewer to go back in time from a “chosen moment from the past” and view it as the audience or individual once did.

Posted in Uncategorized on May 4th, 2010 by Ryan

D.N. Rodowick The Virtual Life of Film

Rodowick’s article discusses how technological advances are actually creating a less spectacular, rather than a more spectacular visual spectacle for the audience. He uses Godard’s 2003 film Eloge de l’amour as a metaphor for the lost object, one that has already been done away with, or is on its way out. Rodowick states that Godard’s film praises 35mm movies, he goes on to say that while video may be the “future of cinema”, viewers will lose the aesthetic brilliance of color, and the depth of black and white as it had been presented through 35mm projection.
Aside from aesthetics, Rodowick discusses that the term “new media” is confusing because it is an umbrella term used to describe everything from video games, to CD-ROMs, desktop publishing, etc. Rodowick states that the term “digital cinema” is just as ambiguous, because while most, if not all of the movies made at the present time may incorporate some aspects of digital cinema, the traditional photographic methods may be combined with some digital elements. If a classic film is digitally premastered does that make that particular film either “new media” or “digital cinema”?
Phil Rosen said that attention needs to be given to the “hybrid historicity of the digital arts, both with respect to the past processes from which they emerge and which they in fact prolong, and with respect to senses of time and history to which they may give rise”. In essence the article is stating that films are mutating from what they started out as, and that further examination of “digital cinema” is warranted to evaluate whether or not it “can produce art” and “how it has changed the creative process in cinema”.

Christian Metz “The Imaginary Signifier”

Posted in Uncategorized on April 14th, 2010 by Ryan

Christian Metz Pg. 694-710

This chapter gives an overview on what cinema is, and what cinema is capable of presenting to us. Cinema is known as the “synthesis of all the arts” it carries and presents other quantities of other arts. Cinema can present pictures to the audiences, allow people to hear music, making photographs etc. The chapter teaches the reader about what an audience member’s purpose is when sitting in a movie theater and watching the actors perform on the screen. They question why do “we” as audience members find images fascinating? Why do we watch actors or examine there bodies with amazement as if they were works of art? Our purpose of watching films are not to become a part of the film, but to perceive the film for what it is. The audience’s job is to observe the film but it’s not the audience’s responsibility or duty to take part in the film. The purpose of films are to bring entertainment to the masses, if audience members walk out of a movie theater engaging in conversation about which was there favorite scene or scenes from the movie it’s a good sign for that film because it reflects well on the director, the actors, and the people behind the scenes who are the ones responsible for getting the project rolling. The chapter explains what makes a great movie, as well as how a movie sells itself to audience members. Was there an actor or a scene from the movie in particular that a person in the theater enjoyed? Audience members will go into detail on why the movie was worth watching for instance they would describe in great lengths on what exactly impressed them or blew them away. (Pg.709) What makes a picture a great film? Everyone is a critic, but how do you get the same reactions from the moviegoers? Is it possible to get everyone to agree on the same page for certain movies or at least a certain scene from a movie?
Metz goes on to explain why the socially acceptable arts are those “based on senses at a distance”. As voyeur or spectator we are able to maintain space between the eye or the body and the “object” on the screen, although that object is, or most often is, a person that the audience perceives as an object.

Psychoanalysis/Spectatorship/Sexual Difference

Posted in Uncategorized on April 12th, 2010 by Ryan

Laura Mulvey (711-722)

Laura Mulvey gives the reader a psychological explanation as to why people are fascinated with cinema. The chapter describes the hidden messages found in the cinema. Why does cinema present the images that we see on screen? Are they trying to trigger pleasures within each audience member? Why is it that audiences find it more stimulating when watching something sexual than any other image being displayed? One of the ways in which pleasure is derived is through what Freud called “Scopophilia” Scopophilia is the act of looking at a person as an “object” and turning them into a canvas that allows an audience to stare with a “curious gaze” at the person on screen. This chapter allows us to look at the cinema in a different light, on what Freud believes he feels that the “Cinema” is similar to a “Peep-Show”. Cinemas like peep shows take place in a dark room where although you’re surrounded by people once the light dims, your separated from each other from the darkness, it makes you feel like you’re kept hidden from each other where others are not watching you and you are not watching fellow audience members.
Freud’s idea is very clever, because when you think about it, the peep show and cinema are similar because its as if we are all peeping toms that are spying on these characters when we watch the films, I believe that we are the “fly on the wall”. Especially in any movie containing sexual interactions, the movie screen is our peep hole, and the darkness is what hides us, not only from fellow audience members, but also from the characters on screen. It’s as if they dim the lights so audiences can see what the characters in the movie are doing, but they can’t see us or even know that we are here. The theater turns us into spies.
Mulvey also discusses the “patriarchal order” of the majority of films, wherein the male lead is the pursuer, and the female is passive. An example of a movie that defies this theory of Patriarchal Order” would be “Fatal Attraction”. Glenn Close’s character dominates both the film and Michael Douglas’s character. In this film the female emasculates him, reducing him to the frantic victim of her psychotic, erratic behavior.

Final Paper Proposal

Posted in Uncategorized on April 5th, 2010 by Ryan

The Invisible Man (1933) directed by James Whale, Universal Studios.

The purpose of this paper is to examine the horror genre and how the “character and social setting” are determined to fit the horror genre (571), including how the problem and resolution relate to social order within the film and how the character as invisible dictator foreshadowed the eventual rise of Hitler. (I need to do more research on this to see whether I will find the way to tie the ideas together).
The ideological contradictions/conflicts Dr. Jack Griffin (Claude Rains as The Invisible Man) is experiencing as he transforms (Ideology, Genre, Auteur”) James Whale the director incorporates the same style, setting, isolation of main character in all of his “horror” films, including “The Old Dark House”, “Frankenstein”, “Bride of Frankenstein”, and “The Invisible Man”. Additionally, Whale typically cast the same actors (character actors) in supporting roles (auteur). The use of narrative since the strong performance by Claude Rains exists mostly in the use of his voice since he is “invisible”.

“Gangster as Tragic Hero”

Posted in Uncategorized on April 5th, 2010 by Ryan

The Gangster As Tragic Hero

This chapter explains what the meaning of being a gangster is all about. Gangsters are truly the outcasts that break away from society and become individuals that create and live by their own rules. What is accepted by society is scorned by the gangster. They are the city and run the City. Gangsters are like puppeteers controlling the people of the city, including corrupt officials, just as the puppeteer controls his dummy. Gangsters are what many people want to be, but are too afraid to be because the average person knows that it’s completely wrong to cross the line and break the law.
People hate the gangsters not because of the reputation they have, rather for the freedom they have. The gangster is almost always glamorized at least initially, he/she lives for the day unlike the ordinary citizen who works for a living and has (the burden) of responsibilities. From The Roaring Twenties to The Godfather, Goodfellas and beyond, the gangster parties, takes what he wants, drinks, barks out orders, kills, and is respected, at least on the surface, all without the inherent fear that “normal” people would have about the consequences of such a lifestyle. Successful people, no matter the means to that end, causes the majority of ordinary people to be filled with envy and anger.
Gangsters usually need to be aware of their surroundings, because they are often betrayed by a member of their own gang. It is as important for the “gangster as tragic hero” to be skeptical of the people around him, as it is to be on the lookout for the law. The reasons can vary from envy and wanting to move up to take the boss’s place, to a rat who will save himself by cutting a deal with the cops and D.A., to the girlfriend/wife who wants to be rid of her husband.
In the end, the gangster is either caught or killed, and he is usually alone. While the money is there to throw around, everyone is at the gangster’s beck and call, but no one, except perhaps his mother, really loves or cares about the gangster which is the reason they are the “tragic heroes” who live fast and die alone.

Posted in Uncategorized on April 5th, 2010 by Ryan


The great thing about the world of cinema is the variety of genres it has to offer filmgoers. People are unique and have different taste when it comes to what type(s) of movies they prefer. Over the years as cinema has evolved so has its genres. Usually when people engage in a conversation about movies it eventually leads to the what type of movie person you are . In other words what genres do you enjoy watching? Genres are explained as being different worlds of movie making. For example, westerns where the story is set in the open range or up in the mountains, or gangster films that take place in the “underground world” of different cities, this genre usually deals with crooked men who break rules, and ultimately pay the consequences. Sometimes, but not always, this genre sets the stage for the “tragic hero”. Horror film suggests a visual picture in our minds involving ghosts, haunted houses, black cats, isolated areas, and monsters. This chapter examines why these genres are commercialized the way they are? How is it that audience can tell one apart from each other? What gives a movie its own genre? How is placed in a genre? What is the difference between the story and characters that are being unfolded in a western compared to characters being presented in a horror feature?

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