Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Jazz Is Dead. Jazz Is Not Dead

1) What do you think of the picture it paints, with music as an expression of political consciousness? Is it a convincing case? Do you think the argument about the development and the "death" of jazz proved accurate?

Jazz is a musical expression of an underclass, African American's. It is a political expression of consciousness. I feel this statement to be true especially for its initial conception. An expression of strife, conflict, sorrow, joy, rebellion against suppression segregation and a change in society. Thus I feel it is a convincing case that jazz is a political expression of consciousness
I don't feel the case of the death of jazz is linked to the 'negro' death in an American culture. I feel like jazz turned into an enveloping expression for all downtrodden, excited, peripheral folk. white, black, all races. I feel that jazz is still happening. I feel like jazz has morphed over the years, but it will never die.

2) What parts of the film do you find effective? What parts do you find ineffective?

I really enjoyed the street scene in the initial explanation of jazz. the beats, the music the people congregating. it felt alive and intimately connected to a 'human beat' that yes, was sorrowful because of racist segregation, but had potential energetically in the music that seemed hopeful. And to a certain degree was.

3) Do you think this film is still relevant today? Or is it mainly a snapshot of a remote historical moment?
I think aspects of the film are relevant today, maybe substitute a different race, gender, political stance. you may even substitute the music genre for what jazz started in the music community to express more than just a harmony or background music. It started a sense of expression that was not apologetic toward offending or exciting people.

Alejandro Jodorowsky: The Holy Mountain

Assignment: Required Viewing/Writing:

The Holy Mountain is a film in the surrealist tradition. Two earlier examples of independent surrealist short films are the films linked below -- "Meshes of the Afternoon" and "Un Chien Andalu." Pick one of them to watch (they both run a little over 15 mins), and then pick two images and sequences from the film you chose. I'd like you to give your interpretation of what those images/scenes "mean" -- try to unlock the symbolism being used. Feel free to look up details on the films to help unpack their meaning, but I'm chiefly interested in how the non-realist images strike you, and how you yourself decode and make sense of them. Post your response to the blog.

Maya Deren's "Meshes of the Afternoon":

Salvador Dali and Louis Bunuel's "Un Chien Andalu":

Recommended Reading/Viewing:

Alejandro Jodorowsky on contemporary cinema (the filmmaker he mentions is Takashi Miike):

Jodorowsky's Dune (an unrealized project that would have featured Salvador dali, Pink Floyd, and Moebius):

Cry of Jazz Response


I believe the picture this movie os painting, try’s to further the gap between black and white. Although that is my perspective from this modern day. Back then there was a a separation between black and white, and as we all know the African Americans were treated unfairly. I think Alex’s case that Jazz was and is “black” is correct. I’m glad this film maker stood up and “took” (displayed and discussed through film) what was “his” (African Americans).

Alex’s case that Jazz is “black” was convincing enough, although I believe he should have had more facts and history behind it. I particularily like the part where he describes New Orleans Jazz and the differences it has verses other types of Jazz. He made it sound as if the “white” man didn’t know. (As a “white” man, I did not know).

I am not to sure his case for Jazz being dead was accurate. I understand the analogy he was trying to get across, but it didn’t really make since to me. I believe Alex was upset about the white man trying to take / claim Jazz as their own. In that perspective as a black man I would claim Jazz to be dead.


My favorite part of the film was when the girl was talking about how she didn’t understand, and the other African American male said “Then you must be dumb”. I got a kick out of that, ha. This part lead into the most effective part of the movie when Alex was explaining the outside (of America) view on blacks and whites. He said they think black people are “warm” while the white man can not be trusted. As for the most ineffective part of the film must have been when Alex tried to explain you can not change the rythm of Jazz. He touched on why, but I just did not understand. This was part of the death of jazz / ending of the movie. This made no sense to me.


I feel as if this movie is a snapshot in time. It was good to see a “black” man’s perspective on the “white” man in the 1950s. I personally hate the “white” man and believe Alex had every right to say what he did, and agreed with it. Now days as I stated earlier, I think there should not be a line drawn between black and white. We are past that!

Cry of Jazz

1. What do you think of the picture it paints, with music as an expression of political consciousness? Is it a convincing case? Do you think the argument about the development and the "death" of jazz proved accurate?

I guess it works pretty well, in the film Alex i think said something about the white people are taking jazz as their own music. I'm not sure about this, but they didn't create the music but they want to take it for themselves. showing that the whites can't let something be only for the African Americans. As for jazz being dead that is not accurate. Jazz is still made and played to this day and many different forms of music have evolved from jazz.

2. What parts of the film do you find effective? What parts do you find ineffective?

Well the parts that i found effective where when they cut out the band playing and would talk about the different sounds and the meaning. I also found this for me ineffective, because of the music i don't really like jazz, so it was hard to sit thru. Another parts that kind of took away from the video was the cuts when they would only film their head and the audio quality would change to.

3. Do you think this film is still relevant today? Or is it mainly a snapshot of a remote historical moment?

I'm sure that it is still relevant in some parts of the US. but for a majority i think it's just a snapshot of history.

Cry of Jazz.

1. Using music as an expression of political consciousness is a very effective characteristic of The Cry of Jazz. It uses music not just as entertainment but as a stepping stone to the civil rights movement. The argument of who is allowed to play jazz music is purely racial which puts an interesting spin on this film. It paints such a very biased and tension inducing picture. I think for the most part it’s an interesting and convincing case, but I tend to usually switch off my brain for racial issues in movies. I think the argument about the development and the “death” of jazz proves to be accurate in the eyes of some and not in the eyes of others. If all music is changing forever then they all could be considered "dead" so yes that classical jazz from the 50's is gone, because it can't possibly be the same as it is today. 

2. I think the most effective parts of the film are moments like this "the jazz body is dead but the spirit of jazz is alive, the spirit of jazz will remake serious music but the sounds of jazz won't be used..." because i think this is a great leeway into different parts of music made later in time. It's like a prediction and a promise which is probably only interesting because it becomes true. 
I think the most ineffective parts of the film are the documentary style, it's just too boring for me because it doesn't happen to be a documentary that interests me. I think it is effective for that particular style it just didn't capture my attention.

3. I think you can almost always find relevance from older films here today, drawing on parallels of racial issues, composition of music, ownership, and biased opinions. I do not think this is a film that transcends all time, but it will historically always matter as a battle of our country that has not disappeared for some. I believe that it works better as a snapshot of a historical moment that will not have any influence on music or politics today.

Kasey Hartsock

The Cry of Jazz

1. What do you think of the picture it paints, with music as an expression of political consciousness? Is it a convincing case? Do you think the argument about the development and the "death" of jazz proved accurate?

I don’t think the argument about the death of jazz held true. Music is always changing and building off of what came before it. I think the problem was that the film was trying to define jazz as something static, or something that could only be true to itself when performed at a certain time by certain people under certain circumstances. If that’s the case, then all forms of music are “dead” in a sense.

2. What parts of the film do you find effective? What parts do you find ineffective?

The narrated documentary scenes were much more effective than the conversational scenes. The conversational scenes were stiff, overdone, and drove the point into the ground, where the narrated scenes seemed more relaxed and willing to let the imagery make the point and tell the story.

3. Do you think this film is still relevant today? Or is it mainly a snapshot of a remote historical moment?

The point it makes about music being an expression of current experiences and attitudes is still relevant. The particular social attitudes it was referring to have changed.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Michael Roemer: Nothing But a Man

Assignment: Required Viewing/Writing

Here are some clips I'll show in class:

Blaxsploitation trailers:

Abbey and Max:

For your assignment for next Wednesday, watch the below film, The Cry of Jazz (1958), which is in four parts on youtube (total runtime is about 35 minutes). The Cry of Jazz was just entered into the National Film Registry. It's one of the first documentaries directed by a black American -- and is one of the earliest instances in which an independent film was used to explicitly critique the dominant white culture. This was a film that was very much made "outside the system," both in terms of its production and in terms of its politics. After watching the film, write a blog post in response to the film. I want you to address three questions specifically (spend a paragraph on each):

1. What do you think of the picture it paints, with music as an expression of political consciousness? Is it a convincing case? Do you think the argument about the development and the "death" of jazz proved accurate?

2. What parts of the film do you find effective? What parts do you find ineffective?

3. Do you think this film is still relevant today? Or is it mainly a snapshot of a remote historical moment?

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

Part 4:

Recommended Reading/Viewing

An article on Night Catches Us, a recent fiction film about the aftermath of the Black Panther movement:

Black Independent Cinema and The Influence of Neo-realism: Futility, Struggle, and Hope in the Face of Reality
by Chris Norton

Trailer for The Spook Who Sat by the Door, Ivan Dixon's only film as a director:

Interview with Ivan Dixon:

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Joel and Ethan Coen

Joel and Ethan Coen are known in the movie world as ‘The Coen Brothers’ due to their ability to successfully seamlessly direct and write screenplays together (as well as being actual biological brothers). Raised in St. Louis Park, Minnesota, a suburb of Minneapolis, Joel and Ethan Coen started early with their passion for cinema. After saving enough pocket money, Joel bought a super 8 camera and proceeded to direct both his brothers, and their childhood neighboring friends in short films full of action and adventure.

Flash forward a decade or two, and both Joel and Ethan are graduates of Bard College, MA. Joel earned a bachelors degree in Film studies from New York University, and Ethan earned a degree in philosophy from Princeton University. Both brothers live in New York; Joel is married to the actress Francis McDormand, where they met on the set of one of his earliest films, she has been cast in the majority of his films to date.

The brothers became widely known in the 1980’s with their movie ‘Blood Simple’. ‘Blood Simple’, an Independent film, set the stage thematically for the rest of the movies made by the Coen brothers. Awkward relationships, complex plots, nasty and interesting personalities that build upon character stereotypes, combined with twists that involve botched heists or cons, are combined to tell original stories that make for dark comedy interspersed with drama.

While the Coen brother’s films do not overtly involve computer-generated effects, the scenes in their films are meticulously chosen to set the characters in their banal natural habitat. The attention that the Coen brothers give to finding the right setting for the plot of their films adds dimension to sometimes sparsely written dialogue between the characters. (Below are the two primary sets chosen for each movie. Top: Burn after reading, Home of Osbourne and Kate in Washington D.C, Below that is the LA Bowling alley, the local hangout for Dude, Walter and co.)

The Narrative intent of particular scenes I explored is in: ‘The Big Lebowski’ (1998) ‘Burn After Reading’ (2008). Through these films I will explore the Coen brothers directing style and how they achieve certain effects.

Perhaps the cult following that ‘The Big Lebowski’ created is in part due to the comedic relationship, between the Dude (Jeff Bridges) and his Vietnam veteran friend Walter (John Goodman) continuously involved in plans that seem destined to fail from the start.

DUDE Walter, I'm sure there's a reason
You brought your dirty undies—

WALTER Thaaaat's right, Dude. The weight. The ringer can't look empty.

DUDE Walter--what the fuck are you thinking?

WALTER Well you're right, Dude, I got to thinking. I got to thinking why should we settle for a measly fucking twenty grand—

DUDE We? What the fuck we? You said you
Just wanted to come along—

WALTER My point, Dude, is why should we settle for twenty grand when we can keep the entire million. Am I wrong?

DUDE Yes you're wrong. This isn't a fucking game, Walter—

WALTER It is a fucking game. You said so yourself, Dude--she kidnapped herself--

Walter and The Dude are shown in the above scene, in a ¾ close up driving in Dude’s brown 1974 Ford Torino. The car, chosen for it’s crappy mediocrity
Adds dimension to the humorously dismal scene. The Dude is financially insecure; he leads a super simple slacker bachelor existence that cannot afford him a nice car. But, to his defense it’s also a statement on his pacifistic alternative Californian approach to life.

Walter is both metaphorically and physically in charge in this scene as he is driving the car. He has a plan that the Dude is unaware of until they are well on their way to the ‘pick up’ that ultimately fails. The Dude is aware historically of these failed plans on Walter’s part. He unsuccessfully tries to convince him not to go ahead with the phony money exchange for Mr. Lebowski’s ‘ransomed’ wife Bunny. Walter’s attempt ends in him flinging himself out of the car, an Uzi accidentally spraying shots and the kidnappers getting away as the Dude crashes his car off the road.

The dialogue in this scene holds tension that is both humorous and unpredictable. This combination is fascinating to watch and keeps the viewer on the edge of their seat. In addition to these variables, the Dude cannot communicate effectively with Walter on any sort of rational level. The conversation goes around and around, where the Dude does not take back control of the situation from Walter and his crazy scheme.

The complex plot of the big Lebowski unfolds with the Dude being mistaken for a millionaire by the same last name, a rug that has been peed on, a faked kidnapping, plots hatched with two of the Dude’s bowling buddies, German nihilists and a terrifying killer weasel. And to top it off a disgruntled estranged daughter of the millionaire who is secretly trying to use the Dude’s sperm to get pregnant.

The Coen brothers tend to have the protagonist in their movies sort of get roped into the plot, they are innocent bystanders that somehow through coercion and absurd circumstances, become involved in bad situations.

This is further reinforced by the opening shots of ‘The Big Lebowski’ the Dude is shopping for half and half to make a white Russian, in his bathrobe. His small L.A apartment and the local bowling alley are both great locations. The lighting of the nostalgic 1960’s bowling alley has bright tube lighting and neon light decorations on the inside and outside walls. These light ‘starbursts’ are also used throughout the film in scenes when the Dude gets knocked unconscious or has taken drugs.

The decorating at the Dude’s apartment is also woven into the movie well. The Persian rug that was the catalyst for finding the real Mr. Lebowski strangely unfolds as the returning point that manipulates the Dude into a complex series of interactions with other people; the rug is used in three ways through the story line. Firstly, the rug is the initial reason for the dude being introduced to the Mr. Liebowski, as he seeks retribution for the rug. Second, the Dude takes a replacement rug. Thirdly, the estranged daughter is introduced into the plot as she takes back the replacement rug for sentimental reasons and meets the Dude.

Other elements the Brothers create are by using effective camera placements during the scene when the Nihilists break into the Dude’s house while he is in the bath. There is a ¾ shot of him smoking a roach soaking in the tub, a pan to the candles in the bathroom, then a pan around to the tape player and a tape that says ‘Whale sounds’. The Germans break in and the camera shot is from the Dude’s perspective in the bath looking into the living room. The choices in cinematography involve the camera as a spectator and as a character in the movie.

Similarly, the narrative in ‘Burn After Reading’, is set with a similarly complex plot and humorous characters. This scene I’d like to write about deals with who is trying to take control of the situation. This is achieved through body language, choice of clothing for the characters, and close ups of characters with the phone to their ear. In addition the camera shots are interspersed between the three people in the scene jolting between each person speaking.
Chad (Brad Pitt) and Linda (Frances McDormond) are co-workers trying to blackmail Osbourne with a disk that was found by a janitor at the gym where they work. The plan that has been hatched by Chad and Linda is a bleakly thin plot assuming that the information they found on the disk is of highly secret character. In fact nothing on the disk is from the secret service. It is a disk of memoirs and tax forms stolen by Osbourne’s wife Katie to secretly start a divorce process with Osbourne. Katie gave the disk to her lawyers’ assistant, who then lost it while at the gym. Complex, humorous, disastrous dialogue is incorporated in this movie and in particularly this scene to create a thematically absurd plot.

The following script is set in Linda’s super modest, outdated and quite pitiful condo in Washington D.C. The place is verging on sterile, with furnishings from the late 80’s early 90’s that lack any saturated color. Linda is sitting in her pink sack-like pajamas and Chad in his uber athletic cycling gear with frosted blonde hair. Osbourne has had his sleep interrupted by the two; the shot of him is in his unhappy matrimonial bed, with Katie asking who is on the phone.

Chad and Linda have not rehearsed what they will say to Osbourne, nor have they communicated about a plan B if the ransoming effort for the disk of Osbourne’s goes south. Chad has already repeated himself on the phone, trying to sound like a character from a mystery movie. Osbourne becomes irate having to communicate with two imbeciles who have captured him in circular conversation.

Don’t blow a gasket, Osbourne. I

How did you get a hold of that!

It’s not important where I——

You’re in way over your fucking head!
Who the fuck are you? You have no
idea what you’re doing!

Oh! Why so uptight, Osbourne Cox?
I’m just a Good Samaritan, like, a
traveler on the road who has happened

We’re going to return it, we just

Linda, I’ll do it!

Who’s this?!

Ozzie, what is going on?

Like a Good Samaritan tax——

Who the fuck——

Well, yeah, uh... why not? I mean,
this is not——am I out of line here?

All right, you two clowns listen to me
very very carefully. I don’t know who
you are, but I warn you most

You warn us? You warn us? You know
what, Mr., Mr. Intelligence? We warn
you! We’ll call you back with our demands!

The different personalities of the characters are presented in this scene, although it is only about half of the characters that are actually involved in the web of narrative in the film. We have a sullen, uptight monetarily successful soon to be ex-wife lying in bed next to a newly unemployed unaware Osbourne who drinks too much and verges mostly on angry emotions yelling on the phone from their ritzy brownstone D.C apartment. Then on the other end of the phone line, there are two lower to middle class working folk sitting in Linda’s very modest apartment with two drastically different outfits, conveying very different personalities but an affiliation with the school of hard knocks and with being co-workers.

In a way, the Coen brothers use their Jewish heritage and American nationality as a building block to explore western centric stereotypes / archetypes. For example, the Dude is a stereotypical baby boomer from the hippy era that is still happily or possibly unconsciously stuck in his developmental stage of free love and pacifism. Walter is a cliché of a Vietnam Vet. Living with P.S.D. The millionaire Mr. Liebowski is a grumpy Jewish businessman a paraplegic with an immature troublesome trophy wife.

In ‘Burn after Reading’, the stereotypes explored are an angry former secret service employee Osbourne who is a nerd, and his uptight upper class, no-nonsense British wife. A ditsy gym rat Chad who exists on a base human level. Linda who is a sheltered simpleton stuck in an aging body. As well as all the supporting characters, that is involved in various degrees of deceit with each other.

The Coen brothers make Independent films that rest upon black humor. The eccentricities of humans and their complex and varying interactions with each other are magnified and parodied through chance, misinterpretation and miscommunication. The Coen Brothers build upon character stereotyping in a humorous universal way. A huge portion of their material thematically explores; power struggles, through dialogue and botched cons and heists. Through these various ways, the brothers delve deeper into the characters psyche and use these dysfunctions of personality types to create interconnecting plots. Succeeding in very unique and fascinating movies.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Wes Anderson: Cinematic Genius

Wes Anderson: Cinematic Genius

Everyone has style, this style can be seen in everything we do.

It can be seen in the way we walk, talk, dress, and act. We all have it and love to use when we are creating things for others to view; it acts like an invisible signature. This is abundantly true for Wes Anderson: he has a unique style that is easy to pick up on in his movies. The tw

o movies I decided to watch and review are The Royal Tenenbaums and Rushmore. These movies have several commonalities between them and easily stand on their own as great movies. This usually is not the case but I can honestly say now after watching them each twice, that I love these movies! I can also honestly state that many other people love these movies as well; both of them won several awards ranging

from Independent Film Awards to AFI awards.

As a digital artist interested in videography I love everything about movies, whether it is the technology behind it, the way in which the shot it, the people involved, or the cinematic style. Style is something I have not really paid close attention to in the past. Looking back I have seen it but never really paid attention to who created the movie and thus have not truly studied a directors style. I have always had a few favorite directors such as Michael Bay, Frank Tarantino, and James Cameron. These are all famous directors of large budget films; which gained recognition and status through their large budgets. The movies they created had some of the best special effects ever created, which is something almost everyone loves. I would like to state that this is not truly the directors style, although there are certain aspects of their movies that hint on their style. Nothing as apparent as Wes Anderson’s style.

Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums plot can be attributed to Wes Andersons personal history. Wes Anderson was born in Harris County, TX on May 1st, 1969 and raised by his mother and father in Houston TX. His mom was a archeologist and his father was an advertising executive, he had two brothers named Eric and Mel. By the age of ten his parents had a divorced; at this point in time he started to focus his attention towards writing school plays. Wes started attending St. Johns High School, a prep school that ended up being the inspiration for Rushmore. During Wes’s high school years he started to shoot movies on an 8mm film camera. After high school Wes attended the University of Texas in Austin, where he met Owen Wilson in a play writing class. They became good friends and started writing and producing movies together.

This is the case for the two movies under my scope, Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums were both written and produced by Wes Anderson and Owen Wilson. Owen and his younger brother Luke would end up becoming the stars in Wes Anderson’s movies. Starting with Bottle Rocket 1996, although Owen Wilson did not act in Rushmore Luke did; they were featured in The Royal Tenenbaums together. I think Owen and Luke Wilson are both very talented actors; although I enjoy watching Owen Wilson a little more since he has more leading roles and usually stars in Comedies. Where as Luke falls into dramas. Which is what I would classify Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums as; dramatic comedies.

Digging into these movies I would like to talk about the characters and how they relate to each other in both movie. Rushmore is centered around two main character, Max Fisher (Jason Schwartzman), Harem Blume (Bill Murray); these characters evolve with the movie. Max is part of a broken family, he attends a prep school named Rushmore in the begging of the movie. As I stated earlier, Wes attended St. Johns High School which was in fact a private prep school just like the one in Rushmore. I believe Max Fisher is a personification of Wes Anderson as a young adult. Although I could not imagine Wes or anyone being as unique and extraordinary as Max Fisher. If I were to have to sum up Max in one word it would probably be the word I have been using through out this discussion; extraordinary. Max is much more than that though, he is also a sociopathic, manipulative, witty, hard working, creative individual. As the story develops you start to get to know Max as a real person, rather than just an extraordinary individual. I believe this differs from many movies; most movies are about normal people becoming a hero or you have extraordinary character who stays that way and just kicks ass through out the flick, and then finally you have normal characters staying normal and doing ordinary things. At first Max comes of as being a rich kid with book smarts, but rather that is what he portrays at his prep school, Rushmore. While attending Rushmore, Max falls in love with a third grade teacher, Ms. Cross. Also during this time he becomes business partners and a close friend to Harem Blume. After Max gets kicked out of school for building an aquarium on the baseball field for Ms. Cross; without permission from the school. He has to attend a public school were he still personifies Rushmore kid to his classmates.

As the movie continues you as a viewer get to see Max reveal his true identity to his close friends, Harem Blume, Dirk Calloway and Ms. Cross. Max is not wealthy and does not have the book smarts he day dreams about in the very beginning of the movie. He is actually filled with street smarts and understands the way people think. Thus Max evolves into a sociopathic, manipulative juvenile when he finds out about Ms. Cross and Herman Blume. This is the climax of the movie where Max tries to destroy Herman Blume. After getting released from jail Max max really starts to change; he ends up becoming a caring individual in the end. He starts to realize who he really is and concentrates about what he really cares about; play writing. This clarity in his mind brings the movie to an end. This transformation of character is the main focus in Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums. The Royal Tenenbaums is about a dis-functional family of unique once extraordinary individuals. This movie has several characters and an impressive cast: The father Royal Tenenbaum (Gene Hackman), the mother Etheline Tenenbaum, Chas Tenenbaum (Ben Stiller) as one son, Richie (Luke Wilson) as the other son, Margot Tenenbaum (Gwyneth Palthrow) as the daughter, and finally Eli Cash (Owen Wilson) as the wanna-be Tenenbaum. Each one of these characters is extraordinary and unique individuals with their own back stories.

In my eyes Royal Tenenbaum is the true main character in The Royal Tenenbaums. Although to be clear, I should fill you in on some of the background information first. The movie starts out much like Rushmore, where Wes Anderson introduces the main characters, including Royal Tenenbaum. Royal is introduced as a farther that has to explain why he and his wife are splitting up. They split up but don’t actually file for divorce. Thus Royal’s wife gets the children and the house and Royal is left out of the family. He visits here and there and spends some time with his some Richie; doing daring things such as gambling and riding dump trucks. He does not hang out with Chas or Margot for some reason I have yet to understand. He was a true “dick” towards them; Royal would introduce Margot as his adopted daughter. At the end of this opening scene he attends her play; he ends up critiquing the play in a rude way and finally exiled from the his family. The movie then skips forward 22 years, and has another introductory scene of the actors as the older Tenenbaums. After being exiled for two decades, Royal finds out his wife has been proposed to by another man; Royal also finds out that his children have all moved into his wife’s house. Around this time he meets with his doctor and he tells him his health is declining and Royal might be seeing the light sooner than later: Royal has always wanted to be a “Tenenbaum” again so he contacts to his ex-wife.

This scene is hilarious, Royal tells Etheline he is gonna die in a short time and needs to see his children again. Etheline ends up crying historically which makes Royal feel bad and thus tells her the truth that he isn’t truly dying that quick; she freaks out on him and then he takes back his truth and says he really is dying quickly; which as a viewer one knows this really is not the case but rather a lie still. I believe this is the true Royal Tenenbaum; a manipulative lier filled with heart. Royal is aloud back into the family, although he is not living with them yet. He is still living in his hotel suite. Which he ends up getting kicked out of for not having sufficient funds. So Royal talks Richie into getting Etheline to let him back into the house because he is getting really sick. Chas reveals he truly hates his father and does not want him in the house. After some diliberation Etheline decides to let Royal back into the house and family. Once in the house Royal acts like he is on his death bed and has his children visit him on it. Everything seems to be coming together but then Royal confronts Ethiline’s lover Henry and he reveals the truth to Royal’s family; thus he gets kicked out again. This reality turns Royal into a loving un-selfish father. He ends up serving Etheline with divorce papers thus letting her marry Henry. The marriage ceremony ends up being the most climatic scene in the movie. Eli is high on mescaline and crashes his porsche into the Tenenbaums house, while Royal saves Chas’s children, although he did not have enough time to save their dog Buckley. Everyone comes together to analyze the accident and Royal ends up getting the fire dog to replace his son Chas’s dog. This journey Royal and his family go on through the movie really defines Royal as a character. In the end of the movie Royal ends up dying and everyone attends this once lonely mans funeral.

Character development is definitely part of Wes Anderson and Owen Wilson’s writing style. The other aspect I can easily recognize in Wes Anderson’s movies is his directing style; the way in which the movie was actually shot and framed. This could also be attributed to the director of photography in both movies: Robert Yeoman, who was the director of photography in both movies. I am going to refer to Wes Anderson, although Robert Yeoman might be responsible for the following. Usually the director and director of photography act as the same part, but the director has the final word. Going forward I would like to point out my favorite film technique Wes used in both his movies; he ends his movies in slow motion. Slow motion is not often used and if it is, it usually is in action movies. The way in which Wes uses it close his movies really hones in on his characters and dramatizes the ending. I think it is more more dramatic in The Royal Tenenbaums. The last scene in The Royal Tenenbaums is Royal Tenenbaums funeral. The whole family attends it, when the funeral concludes they all exit, and this is where the speed of the film changes into slow motion. They all leave the frame of the shot, which reminds me of the end of a play. When the actors and actresses come out to take a bow. The last thing you see in this movie is the Tenenbaum gate for his family’s resting place. The use of slow motion and final image really dramatize and brings a closer to the film.

Now stepping back from the ending of each movie I would like to discuss how the movie is actually shot and the color used for each character. Both movies did not uses a steady cam, which gave some of the shots a documentary and real time feeling to them. Although this was for some of the more complex and animated shots. The rest of the movie had to have been shot on a dolly or a crane. Most of the shots of the characters were straight on. I noticed that the shots usually started static, and then dollied or paned with the character. Most of the shots were long in nature, but there are certainly shots that do not last more than a second. These shots tend to be part of the characters background or montage. I noticed the way in which Wes Anderson and Robert Yeoman used color and framing. This is easy to see in The Royal Tenenbaums, each character in the movie has a “warm” color. For instance the scenes with Margret often have a washed out pink color associated with it, while Chas has red, and Richie has yellow. Although when Richie tries to kill himself the color if the scene is cold and filled with blues and purples. The change in color really hones in the viewer to understand it is not a happy scene. This is true for the other colors I mentioned; for instance I mentioned Margret has a washed out pink color associated with it. I believe this color personifies her as a character; a slightly depressed, confused, mellow individual. The use of color and framing is very important and easily recognizable in Wes’s movies.

Wes Anderson’s movies really emphasize character development. One of my favorite parts of both movies is the introduction. Both movies start in a way unlike any other movie. They start out by introducing the main character; it gives the viewer a background history and a peak into their life. In Rushmore you are introduced to Max, through montage. You see all the clubs and activities he actively participates in. The shots are all static with text. After watching the intro I understood Max truly loved Rushmore. This is also true for The Royal Tenenbaums, Wes introduces the family members in a similar way; although Alec Baldwin, the narrator, tells the story of each child prodigy. For example he narrates Chas Tenenbaums bringing up. The shots are static for the most part and have the same exact text as Rushmore.

I really enjoy watching the introduction to Wes Anderson’s films; it is unlike any other movie viewing experience. This is also true for the entire film. There are plenty of niches one can pick up on through out the movie. For instance there is one similarity between the two movies I have not yet mentioned and really enjoy. It is slightly different for each movie, so it would follow the movies plot. In Rushmore, you see Max evolve over a school year and since Max is interested in play writing. When the scenes change you see a curtain with a title stating what month it is. The Royal Tenenbaums resembles a book, so when the scenes change you see the chapter of the book. This is just another thing I adore from Wes’s films. I am sure there are many other things one could pick up on in all of Wes’s films. In conclusion I highly suggest picking up any of Wes’s films; especially Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums.

George A. Romero

With the release of Night of the Living Dead (1968), George A. Romero solidified himself as the godfather of not just the zombie-horror genre but of an entirely new wave of horror films. Since then Romero has continued to produce a legacy of “…of the Dead” films which now stands at a total 6, with Dawn of the Dead (1978), Day of the Dead (1985), Land of the Dead (2005), Diary of the Dead (2008), and most recently Survival of the Dead (2009). I chose to look at Romero’s first zombie flick, Night of the Living Dead and his more recent Land of the Dead, and compare them for commonality in Romero’s style as a director. With almost 40 years between their productions and budgets differing by over 100 times, I couldn’t help but wonder just how much similarities would show.

Night of the Living Dead begins with a young woman, Barbra, and her brother who are attacked by a zombie while visiting their father’s grave. Barbra is able to flee to a farmhouse where she meets up with Ben and a small group of others who try to survive as more of the undead appear. Despite their efforts each character meets their end, even the resourceful Ben who was able to survive the zombies but in the end is shot and killed when he is mistaken for a zombie himself by a group of hunters.

Land of the Dead takes place long after the initial rise of the undead, when they have overrun the world. In a city a large settlement of the living holds onto its stake, centered around a large tower of exclusive luxury residences, all under the control of one man. As the zombies outside become smarter, a rebellion threatens the corrupt leadership and soon the haven falls into chaos.

One clear trademark of Romero is his unashamed use of gore and violence, limited only by budget. Romero loves to play with his audience by shocking them and make them cringe with disgust at gruesome scenes. While Night of the Living Dead seems incredibly tame by the amounts of gore in today’s horror films, it was quite the opposite when it first premiered to American audiences. Night of the Living Dead broke through the established horror genre of the time and created a new one with copious amounts of blood splattering across the screen. With Land of the Dead Romero clearly doesn’t hold back and is eager to show the audience every gory detail, but even so it is hard to compete with the bloodbaths of modern horror films. Gory violence is so important in Romero’s films that he will often orchestrate very long scenes showcasing the worst he can do, which lend very little to the actual story. I found this in Night of the Living Dead with a long scene showing all the zombies outside the farmhouse eating the fresh bloody remains of two would-be-survivors after a failed escape attempt. Such a long sequence of zombies gnawing the flesh off bones slick with blood seems unnecessary but not for Romero: he wants the audience to spend every aching second contemplating such a fate. I believe it is Romero’s same objective in a scene in Land of the Dead where the zombie horde breaks into the luxury tower and begins to ravage its posh inhabitants. Five minutes and 20 people the story wasn’t developed much further, but Romero has presented his audience with a variety of creatively gut-wrenching deaths at the hands of the undead. One part particularly stands out to me in which a zombie bites and rips out a woman’s belly-button piercing; I can imagine the reaction of anyone with a piercing who watches.

I believe most of the conflict in Romero’s films is created by his characters, not the zombies. Night of the Living Dead and Land of the Dead are not just about the dead rising and eating the living, but about the conflicts that arise between humans in surviving. The survivors in Night of the Living Dead are torn between Ben and Harry. Ben believes they should stay out of the basement to secure all the doors and windows of the house and defend it from the undead. Harry wants to stay locked in the basement, which the others believe is a death trap. This conflict comes to a peak when Harry steals the only gun from Ben and retreats to the basement just as zombies are breaking into the house. I’m sure the irony is not lost on Romero that Ben, the last of the group left alive, survives the zombies but fall victim to other men. Not to mention the other men are an organized group of armed vigilante white men, and the heroic Ben is a black man. Romero takes it even further by showing still frames, during the end credits, of the now deceased Ben being dragged out by the hunters by meat hooks and thrown onto a pile of zombies. The hunters then proceed to burn the pile of corpses. For a movie in 1968 it is not hard to see the political connection.

The events in Land of the Dead center on the three characters Riley, Cholo, and Kaufman. Riley works with Cholo as supply gatherers for Kaufman who is the power-hungry overlord of the city of survivors. Kaufman maintains his lavish lifestyle and satisfies his god complex at the expense of the people excluded from his tower, who are forced to live in slums. Riley simply wishes to escape the city to a simpler life on his own, and Cholo wants to buy his way into the tower after doing all of Kaufman’s dirty work. Both their plans fall apart, and Riley is sent to stop Cholo from using the stolen “Dead Reckoning”, a huge moving battle-fortress like tank, to destroy the tower. In this struggle Kaufman’s empire crumbles once the zombies find a way into the city. To me Land of the Dead is largely a commentary on the disparity of social class in our world. There essentially exist only three categories of people: the extremely rich, the extremely poor, and the undead. The wealthy class is able to use their money and power to isolate themselves from the horrible reality of the world they live in; they hide away in their own fantasy world. Meanwhile, the poor are forced to face the horrors of the world in the slums, trapped between the rich and the zombies. For the rich the poor serve as insulation from the zombies, almost literally as a human shield. I also find myself asking if this scenario is related to the conflict between Ben and Harry in Night of the Living Dead. Could Harry’s decision to lock himself down in the basement, with Ben and the others between him and the zombies, be connected to the rich being locked in their tower? I do admit this notion is dubious, but I can’t help but feel a relation in that the group of survivors is split, with one side wanting to hide away from the zombies outside. One significant difference between the two films in this idea is the play of power. In Night of the Living Dead Ben actually holds the power as long as he holds the only gun.

It is strange to think of a zombie film as an outlet for political discussion, but Romero’s films very much reflect his thoughts as they play out in a kind of pessimistic satire of the world. As I mentioned before there is the racially charged ending of Night of the Living Dead, and the socio-economic division and corruption played out in Land of the Dead, but on this subject I want to also mention another of Romero’s films. In Day of the Dead (1985) the conflict arises between the side of science, with its potential to create a better world, and the destructive force of the military. It is very apparent that Romero intends to address current issues of the times with his movies, which would also explain why his movies always take place roughly around the year they are made. For Romero to tackle issues of 2005 in the setting of 1968 would be rather inappropriate.

Today George A. Romero’s first zombie film, Night of the Living Dead, exists in the public domain, and the Library of Congress chose it for preservation in the National Film Registry. Not to mention it has grossed over one hundred times its own budget just in the United States, but as a film it has a much greater legacy than just its profit. Romero’s 1968 classic created the archetype of the modern zombie without even using the word “zombie” itself. Not only that, but the film gave rise to a new style of horror that uses violence, blood, and gore to unleash mortal fears of the audience. I would even argue that the horror genre has not seen such a revolutionary change since then. Land of the Dead certainly doesn’t have the importance of Night of the Living Dead, but nonetheless it is interesting to see Romero continue to produce his “… of the Dead” series of films and look at consistent characteristics of his directing. It is also interesting to see how he has changed. In Night of the Living Dead the lead female character Barbra is mostly hysterical, helpless, and/or catatonic throughout the whole movie. For this Romero was often criticized by some feminist writers. A dramatic change is seen not only in Land of the Dead but also Day of the Dead and Dawn of the Dead (1978), with much stronger female characters that even survive to the end of the movie.

David O Russell

David Russell is an American director who was born August 20, 1958 in New York. He grew up with a father named Bernard who was a sales executive, and a mother named Maria who was a local political activist. Born in New York, Russell and his family moved to the west coast only to find themselves back in New York three years later. Throughout Russell’s early years he was very into literature, which eventually brought him to Amherst College in Massachusetts. While attending Amherst College Russell got to study English and Religion with some very important people, Robert Stone and Robert Thurman, the father of the famous actress Uma Thurman. In my opinion I believe this may have given Russell some inspiration to do what he does today, direct movies.

After graduating college Russell found himself teaching English in Nicaragua for four months. Not long after being there, he got a real sense of how third-world countries operate which would inspire one of his future films. Throughout the next few years David O Russell moved several places and got into politics like his mother. While he enjoyed the topic of politics he felt that something was missing; he needed a change.
That change occurred when he started working as a production assistant for the movie “Smithsonian World” in 1984. As he worked there he began to get inspired to create his own films. He started small, making several short films that progressively

gained popularity until his third short titled “Hairway to the Stairs” won an award at the Sundance film festival. After his third short film, he started to realize that maybe it was
time for a feature length film. He went on to direct his first feature length film “Spanking the Monkey” which launched the rest of his career.
One of my favorite David O Russell movies is called “The Fighter” (2010). As soon as I saw the preview for this movie I knew it was one I would enjoy. The movie is about two brothers who live for boxing. Brothers Mickey ward and Dickey Eklund were real boxers who grew up together sharing the same dream, to become the best boxers possible. The film had a very real feel to it; it was created in a way that didn’t feel like a movie. It didn’t feel scripted or predictable which allowed me to get emotionally invested into the whole story. One of the reason I believed the story was because there were many hardships throughout the movie, just like in real life. While most movies have problems for the characters to overcome, most of the time they don’t feel real. “The Fighter” felt real because the issues that go on in the movie happen in everyday life. Everyday issues like fighting with your girlfriend, drug abuse, getting consumed by the media, and a few other issues. For example, getting consumed by the media can have a great effect on who you are as a person. It can change your perspective on certain things because you feel that you need to look or act a certain way.

The characters in the film are far from perfect. In fact they have many problems that really take a toll on them but without them, they wouldn’t be who they are today. With many different flaws in their characters it makes the victory at the end even sweeter because they’ve faced these hardships.

One scene in the movie that was very “real” to me took place in a jail. The scene starts when Mickey goes in to talk to his brother Dickey about his next fight. His brother who is in jail is trying to convince him to fight with a certain technique. The camera cuts back and forth between the brothers, which adds to the intensity about the scene. Mickey ends up leaving the room while his brother is telling him what he needs to do differently. They end up getting into a small argument, which I can relate to.

Another movie I really thought was interesting was Three Kings. When I first heard that it was a war movie I immediately thought about a serious emotional movie. After watching the movie I had a completely different feeling. It had some serious
Aspects to it but a majority of it was comedy. Though, not the usual comedy you would see in a movie. What made it work for me was the fact that the underlying story was serious, but with the characters they had, it changed the whole mood of the story. What makes the story interesting and funny at the same time is the fact that they are in a serious setting risking their lives. There are many gruesome moments that constantly remind you that just because parts are funny, they are still in a war. While war is not a joking matter, I believe Russell was trying to convey the fact that you have to make the most of every situation you encounter. Although they are risking their lives, there are moments in the money where they crack jokes and try to keep the mood light, which makes it different from other war films in my opinion.

A good scene from the movie is where Mark Wahlberg spots someone off in the distance. A few seconds later he asks his friends if he they are shooting or not. The respond with the question, and replies back with “That’s what I’m asking you. Then they reply with “what’s the answer?” Mark Wahlberg then spots that the man has a gun, and shoots him. The scene has light, comedic feeling to it until he runs to the guy he shot. A dying man with blood all over lies there, which makes you realize it is also a serious scene. I found this scene funny because while he is asking the other soldiers they are totally preoccupied talking about gum and sand in there teeth. It’s the little things in this movie that make it funny and serious at the same time.
Overall I really enjoy David o Russell’s films. To me, I don’t get the same feeling in all of his movies, which is a good thing. I get very consumed into his films, feeling like I am right next to the action rather than watching it on a TV screen. This feeling leaves me thinking about the film rather than just forgetting about it 20 minutes later.