From Atlantis to Interzone


Comments on the style of ‘City of God’
July 27, 2009, 12:44 am
Filed under: Film

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If City of God, as director Fernando Meirelles has stated, was made with the intention to showcase the poverty and violence of the titular Brazilian favela, then it can be seen that the most interesting thing about the style of the film is how it differs from films with similar intentions.

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City of God (Meirelles, 2002)
July 24, 2009, 1:18 pm
Filed under: Film

Another one of my old school assignments here: a review of City of God. I hope my writing has improved a bit since then, but this actually hasn’t help up too bad.

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An anthology of tales concerning crime in a Brazilian slum and its effects on the inhabitants may initially seem best suited to a documentary, but what director Fernando Meirelles does, to mostly great effect, with City of God is create an adrenaline-fuelled film in the style of Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas and Casino. The film is clearly inspired by the American gangster oeuvre, and so, despite the favela setting, Meirelles doesn’t necessarily place poverty at the forefront of his story, though it is present. Instead he chooses to show the rise and fall of the various criminals of the titular city, as well as of that of characters that become corrupted by the desire to either break free of the favela or seek revenge upon the gangsters running it.

Like with Goodfellas, a narrator guides us through events but unlike Henry Hill, Rocket, is something of a passive character since, despite being our lead protagonist, he does not instigate many of the events. His character’s successes and failures are entirely dependent on coincidence, and this relates to a running theme of the film. Seemingly insignificant encounters often influence greater events and unless one can truly escape the place they will end up being involved with the crime.

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20 Favourite Actors
July 17, 2009, 11:07 pm
Filed under: Film

Alphabetical order, with my favourite performance of theirs.

7
George Clooney (Out of Sight)

12
Paddy Considine (Dead Man’s Shoes)

6
Billy Crudup (Almost Famous)

8
Daniel Day-Lewis (There Will Be Blood)

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20 Favourite Actresses
July 17, 2009, 6:17 pm
Filed under: Femmes, Film

An idea shamelessly stolen from my good friends MrsEmmaPeel and Justin. In alphabetical order, with my favourite performance from the actress in brackets.

1
Amy Adams (Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day)

5
Bibi Andersson (Persona)

18
Ellen Burstyn (Requiem for a Dream)

6
Maggie Cheung (In the Mood for Love)

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Public Enemies (Mann, 2009)
July 16, 2009, 6:05 pm
Filed under: Film

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Michael Mann’s intention with his use of the same digital approach incorporated in his previous outing, Miami Vice, for this film was, from my understanding, to make it feel like the audience is in the 1930s, rather than simply observing it; to potentially involve them with the characters on a more “close-up” level. There are definitely some notable highs with the film’s technical elements, including a tremendous sounding and thrilling shootout between John Dillinger (Johnny Depp), Baby Face Nelson (Stephen Graham), their gang and a FBI squad led by Melvin Purvis (Christian Bale). The low points are some unfortunately grainy indoor shots and quite a few instances of dropping sound levels, mostly in the first half. Overall though, Mann’s particular digital approach is a fairly unique and interesting approach. The film’s main problem is that the supposed intention for the digital approach, as previously cited, is never achieved. This is actually not the fault of the technology, but of much of what the rest the film has to offer.

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An Analysis of a Ten Minute Sequence from ‘Blade Runner’
July 15, 2009, 9:29 pm
Filed under: Film

Another one of my old high school essays here. This one is concerned with genre elements in a ten minute sequence from very early on in the 1992 ‘director’s cut’ of Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner.

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Film narratives are concerned with the way that connected events in a story are ordered and structured. A narrative is essentially a story told in a particular way. A genre is a classification, or type, of film. It is a way of dividing films with certain recurring elements into groups. Genre films are commercial films that show familiar stories with familiar characteristics. With genre films, audiences usually require familiarity as well as differences within the films they view. The same view can be applied to narrative. The same story can be told in different ways to create different meanings, though for an audience to completely comprehend the meanings intended, the narrative must be structured appropriately. Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner is an interesting film when it comes to genre as it is what is known as a hybrid genre film, meaning that it is a combination of one or more major genres within the same narrative. Blade Runner is both a film noir and a science fiction film. It presents the viewer with familiar aspects of both of these genres, though some of the ideas presented within the film were very much unique at the time of the theatrical cut’s release. This essay will refer to a ten-minute sequence early on in the film where the central protagonist is introduced and is assigned a mission that will be the main focus of the film’s plot.

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Passions and Repressions
July 13, 2009, 7:47 pm
Filed under: Film

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The following essay is one of many that I wrote as part of my two year Film Studies course for ‘A level’. Upon re-reading it, I figured that it may hold some interest for others.

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In a number of films, when passion is repressed, the results of it are brought about by a rise in unfamiliarity within the world that the characters of the piece inhabit. Black Narcissus (Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, 1947) and Shirley Valentine (Lewis Gilbert, 1989) are two examples of films that showcase this. Both involve the central characters inhabiting a new place and questioning their ideals whilst doing so. The Anglican nuns of the former film are forced to travel to a remote location in the Himalayas to set up a school and hospital, whilst the titular character of the latter film purposefully heads for Greece on a holiday with a friend in order to get some time away of the mundane routine that her life back home is.

The nature of passion in these two films is somewhat similar. In Black Narcissus, the nuns begin to yearn for their old lives before they joined the order. In Shirley Valentine, Shirley begins to yearn for the life she had before she got married and got married. She also yearns for physical affection and fulfilment, things she feels that she cannot obtain in the mundane existence that she now inhabits. With both films, the viewer is given an insight into how these characters lived and what they were like prior to their commitments which now repress them. In Black Narcissus, the viewer is shown recurring flashbacks of certain events in the life of Sister Clodagh (Deborah Kerr), the Sister in charge. These are depicted as memories in her mind, rather than her informing another character on what led to her to become a nun. The viewer is shown her involvement with her childhood sweetheart, Con, and how he is planning to move to America. She assumes that he wants her to come with him after hints she receives, but out of nowhere he leaves the country and her behind. The portrayal of Sister Clodagh in these sequences provides an interesting contrast to the portrayal of her throughout the rest of the film. In the Himalaya sequences, she is stern and wooden, whilst in the flashbacks she appears to be significantly happier and light-hearted, until tragedy strikes of course. She is obviously without her nun clothing as well, so a contrast is provided here too. She is shown to have long, flowing red hair and she wears make-up. She is shown wearing a variety of dresses and in two scenes is shown to participate in the relatively enthralling activities of fishing and horse-riding. These seem very much unlike the character the viewer has seen up until this point, as Sister Clodagh seems to find worship more enthralling than anything else. Though not particularly subtle, the contrast between the unrepressed Miss Clodagh and the repressed Sister Clodagh are made remarkably clear.

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