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 ...

Readying year two students for their Independent study

[video width="720" height="540" m4v="http://blogs.osc-ib.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/Planning-the-Independent-Study.m4v"] This post is a transcript of a presentation (above) which I made to my own students following feedback on their first attempts in identifying topics and tackling a rationale for their Independent studies. The Independent Study The rationale – maximum 100 words The screenplay -  8 to 10 pages (no gaps or unnaturally large margins – examiners have seen this all before) The annotated list of sources What is the IS? A research paper A highly engaging potential documentary film ...

Spectre’s Touch of Evil

The opening shot of Sam Mendes second James Bond movie, the 24th iteration 'Spectre', appears to be an unbroken take of about seven or eight minutes. This is a fluid master shot which at first that appears to have made using a Steadicam, although later in the take it may have fairly seamlessly cut to a drone shot (as there are elements to this shot which would have been impossible with a crane). Anyhow this particular opening piqued my curiosity, because unlike ...

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 ...

Tarkovsky’s Solaris and the Frailty of Perceptual Certainty

My interest in this was piqued while watching Adam Curtis's excellent documentary Bitter lake (available to watch here or here). He used the main narrative motif of Tarkovski's film as a metaphor to explain the impact of the Afghanistan campaign on Soviet Russia in the 1980's. Curtis's thesis was that like the living planet Solaris, the Afghanistan campaign led many Russians to question the certainties of their perceptions of the world as they had understood it for 70 years. What had ...

Evolution of the American Gangster Movie – Part one

The 'Godfather' movies are a significant step in the evolution of the American gangster film, in that many of the repertoires of elements conform to the classic conventions but present them in interesting and innovative ways. As films they  (well at least GF 1 &2) stand above the genre, and seemed to revivify it and set an new agenda for all gangster films to follow that is at least until Martin Scorsese's Goodfellas of 1990. Unlike their antecedents from the 1930's the ...

Exploring gender representations in the independent study

This post is an attempt to explain how one can approach the subject of representations in reading movie narratives, and to be taken seriously in the independent study. My primary intention is to offer some weight to those of you who might have students interested in exploring gender representations. Far too many independent study about gender representations confine themselves to the unfairness or narrowness of stereotypes as perceived through plot device. When what they should do is to use the ...

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 ...

More scaffolding learning for the independent study

Documentary B-roll project B-rolls, according to Wikipedia, are the supplemental or alternative footage intercut with the main shot in an interview or documentary. More often the b-roll is the sole source of visual material and some of the audio material, all held together within the dialectic of a documentary by a voice-over narration an example of clever use of the b-roll is in The power of nightmares (Adam Curtis 2004 UK) In this research project you will be expected to construct a B-roll for a ...