Blast from the Past

Thirty Years Ago In December I thought I’d dig a little into some IBDP visual arts memories and look at the course as it was 30 years ago, when I was a young and eager art teacher (not so young now but still eager!). I confess I have a slight tendency to hoard, and up in the loft there are many boxes of ‘old stuff’. Some of it dates from the 1980s – a period when computers were primitive by today’s standards ...

Two german films, different histories

Last week I attended a film presentation at the London Reviews of Books bookshop by the novelist Ali Smith (her novel ‘How to be both’ is extraordinary, try to read this). The film was Mädchen in uniform (Germany 1931 dir: Leontine Sagan). I mention this as the film was an interesting descendant of the expressionist film making from the previous decade, in many of the same ways that ‘M’ (Germany 1931 dir: Fritz Lang) was. Both films were popular in their ...

A guide I use for students to prepare their oral presentations

In my teaching universe we are currently going through the second practice for our students at the oral presentation. Our process introduced them to it in December, where they prepare a series of slides on a sequence addressing the full pressie assessment criteria (well, all except the socio-cultural context). This is a weighted assessment task for semester one and helps determine semester performance grades. At the beginning of semester two our students, acting on detailed feedback from their slide 'presentation', ...

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 ...

Exercise exploring film making techniques – Shot selections

The following is one in a series of simple exercises to encourage film students thinking about the mechanics of film making, and reflecting on creative choices made by film makers as conscious and intentional. My intention is that these exercises slot into the first semester of IB Film. Hopefully they will be a useful resource towards discussions leading to production portfolios, oral presentation and introducing the basic idea of supporting analytical ideas with actual examples of film language, the lingua franca ...

Django Unchained, representations and ‘positioning the audience’

The following is an exchange between one of my students and I, broadly made on the topic of psychoanalytical approaches to film analysis. Her contribution attempts to describe and explore the nature of representations in Django unchained (Tarantino US 2012), which my response attempts to take these ideas in to the realm of how audiences engage with these representation and what I believe to be the true intended meanings of the film makers, based on the experience of their oeuvre. Quentin ...

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 ...

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 ...