In space, no one can hear you scream.

Silence seems to have become a key cue in the science fiction film, from Scott and Cameron's iterations of the Alien franchise (Alien UK/US 1979 and Aliens US 1986), through Nolan's Interstellar (US 2014), and Cuaron's Gravity (US 2014) to the recent outing Arrival (US 2016 dir: Denis Villeneuve). Silence is a of course a feature of a vacuum, but is this why it is also a feature of some science fiction film? There are obvious connotations one could read into ...

A quick glimpses over some of the key ideas revealed in Visual pleasures and narrative cinema

The purpose of this article is to offer a brief explanation to some of key elements of Laura Mulvey's Visual Pleasures and narrative cinema. With particular reference to her points about how modes of cinema spectatorship and the suturing of audiences are inflected with masculine desires and pleasures, within films from the classic Hollywood period. This is a snapshot, and is no substitute for reading the original essay which provides far broader and clearer insights, and will offer a far stronger ...

‘Drones’ (Rosenthal US 2013): the rarest of things in popular cinema. An allegory.

This one is just a relatively quick post. More by way of recommendation than anything else. I was pleasantly surprised this week to discover a film called 'Drones' (Rosenthal US 2013). Essentially I was searching for some kind of guilty pleasure to pass a lonesome evening by, and such a contemporary take on the 'war on terror was potentially diverting. This film promised a fairly conventional low budget fare, the action being confined as it was to a simple functional box of ...

An interesting topic for discussion or research

Recently my group have been exploring the relationship between documentary and propaganda films. One of our key points of reference has been Leni Riefenstahl's Triumph of the will 1934. And our discussions has raised the problematic of the amorality of formalism as a means for constructing or reading movies. It seemed to me that the main evidence against formalism is the distortion of apparent narrative economy and elegance by racist and morally bankrupt ideological perspectives. The films which spring most readily to ...

The most eloquent of cuts

By Wednesday, March 19, 2014 , , , , 0

My students were asked to comment on which of the areas of film language they found most attuned to and which they found most difficult to get to grips with, many remarked on how difficult it seems that lighting is to read, others editing.. The truth is that even your teachers will also have difficulty with some texts. Textual analysis requires closely focused attention, and one has to be in the right frame of mind to do it. While it is difficult to ...

Examination Report 2013 part 3 – The Independent Study

In my blogs entries over the last month or so I've ben reviewing the 2013 examiners' report. I've divided these so that I can explore the observations on each of the three assessment components in detail. In this entry I'll try to interpret observations made on the Independent studies submitted for examination in 2013. As a supplement to this I would recommend a document I wrote for my own students, based on my observations from the scripts I examined during the May ...

Genre evolution/history in the Holywood studio system

Genre offers a enormous range of approaches in critical studies, so much so that once one begins to study this area, one can begin to question whether genre itself is indeed relevant any longer. One thing is clear, audiences believe a films generic location is one of the key determining factors in whether they'll pay the admission price at the cinema or stream the movie to their equipment. Genre as a concept is certainly of historical importance, as film production in ...

Examination Report 2013 part 2 The oral presentation

By Sunday, November 24, 2013 , , , , 0

A colleague of mine when our team were to introduce our grade eleven students' first practice presentation produced a document he called 'How not to suck at the oral presentation', I guess his point in doing this is that it's all too easy for IB film students to suck at this. The point of his guide and this year's examination report for this component is that with some reasonable preparation they needn't. The main issues raised seem to be; The presentation ...

2013 Examiner’s report – production portfolio

This years examiner's report offers the usual recurring complaints of the failure of candidates to meet the formal requirements for each assessment component, which are frankly unforgivable mostly of the teachers in supervising these candidates, as the requirements are clearly stated in the IB film guide. However this report is a mostly positive and well-written document and offers useful guidance for success of IB Film candidates in the future and recommendations for the teaching of this subject to IB. I'd recommend ...

Seeing Whale Rider in an Asian context

After some years since first I first saw Whale Rider (Niki Caro, New Zealand, 2002) I watched it again recently, and apart from the obvious pleasures of such a well-made and moving film, something struck me which might be extrapolated to reveal something of a pattern of film writing from the same broad geographic region.   It doesn’t take a genius to work out that its central themes are challenges to long-standing traditions in the societies represented and the conflicts between traditions ...