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Even More Cinema16!

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Doodle bug (1997) was directed by Christopher Nolan.

My very first reaction to this movie was total excitement because Christopher Nolan is hands down one of my favourite directors.  I’ve seen the majority of his films so it came no surprise to me that he directed a short film, and he did it successfully.

The beginning of the film confused me just because I wasn’t sure what I was looking at and why the man was just running around. I really liked the black and white, it added to the trippy effect and helped the viewer feel more of what the man was feelings as he was just trying to catch this bug. I caught on that he may have had some issues, possibly with drugs or alcohol.  I wasn’t expecting the smaller bug to be him but after that, it made some more sense.  I guess it’s meant to give that idea that people are never really happy with themselves, or there’s that one small (bug) thing that is interfering with any kind of normal life or normal day and it’s so hard to get rid of at first but when you do..it relieving but only for a small amount of time before something bigger makes you feel even more inferior.  It’s almost like how humans treat smaller animals, like the reality of seeing someone kick an anthill for no reason.  That’s how it led to talking about Horton Hears a Who in class because it’s all about different perspectives and the notion of something much smaller than you still living and breathing and leading their own life.  There’s a more broad idea of this, as well.  Possibly the powers between certain countries in our world, and between certain authorities.  This film also reminded me of A Bug’s Life in that way because the story is about these ants who live on their hill and are completely controlled by grasshoppers who originally have nothing to do with their food chain.  Disney was pretty clever with that story because it brought upon the concept of different perspectives and how no small creature should go unnoticed just because of their size or their incompetence compared to someone else, whether they’re bigger or more of an authority.

Nolan did well with this particular notion.  I was impressed with this film and the writing behind it because even if the length of it was just 3 minutes, it still touches upon a subject that is worth discussing.

Before Dawn (2005) was directed by Balint Kenyeres.

“Before Dawn, people will rise and other people will take away their hope.”

I think the tagline for this film is very fitting and interesting in comparison to the visual.  I also think that in this particular film itself, the sounds were more important than the visual and already took place of any dialogue that could’ve been present.  The sounds are almost like the issue at hand, loud and aggressive.  Disruptive.  This movie obviously touches on immigration and what people have to do just to cross a border illegally and how far people go to get there and the risk people put themselves through.  I liked the film.  It was simple with a very complex and important topic and it was just enough for the viewer to understand what is going on and that this really happens all over the world within whatever situation people have to deal with.  The sounds also made the topic “louder” for the viewer and highlighted the seriousness of these people’s lives and struggles.

Boy and Bicycle (1965) was directed by Ridley Scott.  This was Scott’s first short film but later became extremely well-known for directing films such as Alien (1979), Thelma & Louis (1991) and Robin Hood (2010).

My initial observation about this film was that it had a lot of interesting shots and angles.  In the beginning, I made more of a note of the images that were juxtaposed together but it changed after we stopped the film. The story was something that was more of a personal journey for someone who is young and has the ability to wander and also is at the age to appreciate it a lot more than normal.  I thought it was a really good representation of a boy’s wonderment and how he thinks about things he finds or does, while using his favourite toy or tool that helps him discover these places and things (his bicycle).  It was a good story about a boy or a young man who isn’t quite ready for adulthood…or that step in between, it reminded me of how I used to love wandering around as a child and how much I was wish I could still do it as freely as he was doing it in the film.  I think a lot of people that even older than me need an adventure from the mundane, like this boy took it upon himself to just take a mini vacation to remember the simple and interesting things that are around us all of the time.  This film brought me back to that kind of freedom because it doesn’t necessarily always mean having the accessibility and option to ride around on a bicycle and go wherever, it really is the feeling that it’s okay to go that far and to take a break from your own life.  This particular film really helped me remember a lot of things that I forgot that I enjoyed growing up and how important that once was to just enjoy something because it’s something outside of my body and world.  The movie itself didn’t impress me very much but the meaning behind stood out much more for me and stuck.

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Written by madieshortfilm

May 5, 2011 at 11:05 pm

More Cinema16

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Forklift Driver Klaus (2000) was directed and written by Stefan Prehn and Jorg Wagner in Germany.  The film was made to parody work safety films from the 1980s.

I loved this film.  It confused me at first but I thought it was really funny and remind me of the same kind of humor as Monty Python.  Once again, like many short films that I’ve seen, the music really helped enhance the sarcasm.  I feel like this movie is something I’d enjoy watching with my Dad because it matches his type of humor and I feel like it’s right up his alley in terms of the European humor DVDs that he has.  I think the idea behind this film was really funny and creative – possibly something that no one would really think.  Or it could easily be the first of it’s kind considering there are a lot of these types of movies/videos on Youtube.  After doing some research, I found out that while it isn’t the type of instructional video that would be shown to beginning forklift drivers, some instructors show it just to lighten up the mood after the serious ones.  I think it’s funny to know that the people who do this for a living can laugh about their jobs being mocked while actually learning some tips that would be extremely helpful, even if it’s a joke.

Borom Serret (1969) was directed by Ousmane Sembene.  This film is often referred to as the first film ever made in Africa by a black African.

This film has a lot to do with poverty and social classes.  While there are a lot of films that touch upon this issue, this one stands out considering it’s director and it’s setting.  I thought it was a very interesting documentation of another culture through the eyes of a lower class male who tries to make ends meat as best as he can.  When the unfortunate reality of having to show up at home without as much as expected and not delivering which then causes the wife to do the worst kind of work to make up for it sets in at the end, it really brings up the idea of social critique.  That scene and the one where the man gets his cart taken away for crossing towns is a reality that the viewer is reminded of.  Even though this film is older, it’s still important to learn about these values and how another culture has to live and make up for what they don’t have.  In a lot of cases, it’s something that we have more of.  I liked the idea of the man driving the cart making his own observations throughout the day and just being available to help whoever needs it in town.  It’s bittersweet that he has barely anything but still finds it appropriate to help others, even if he’s not getting fully compensated for it.  I think this film has a lot to do with work ethic, as well.  Just because of what was said about the fact that he still worked his ass off all day and didn’t get back nearly as much as he should have.  Especially when he does the same tasks everyday for the same people, like a routine.

Written by madieshortfilm

May 5, 2011 at 1:23 am

Theater of Blood

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Theater of Blood (1989) is unfortunately unlisted throughout the internet.  The director is no where to be found and while we watched it during the same time as the Student Academy Awards, it was hard to find any credit for it in the long list of winners.  I guess it was possibly nominated in the late 80’s.

Either way, this film is super special to me (and the class) because the majority of it takes place on Arcadia’s (which was then known as Beaver College) campus! And more importantly, Murphy Hall, which is where our class takes place and where I personally spend a lot of my time.  Murphy Hall has definitely become my favourite building on campus too so I really enjoyed that part of campus being the main setting for this film.  I wasn’t completely impressed by this film, I thought it was a little difficult to follow.  But, I will say it was pretty unique in it’s entirety and I really liked the whole story of the relationship between the actor and director/writer and how the actor eventually turns on the script and attacks the director.  I thought the music was a really good choice and helpful with the film’s plot.  It was definitely creepy.  I also liked the fact that it was a thriller and kept me on my toes for most of it, I really was wondering what would happen next as the director went through this constant struggle within his story.

Written by madieshortfilm

May 5, 2011 at 1:10 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Student Academy Awards

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The Red Jacket (2002) directed by Florian Baxmeyer won the 2003 Narrative Foreign Film Student Academy Award.  This is the first student Academy Award that we’ve watched in class and set the standards pretty high.

This film was very interesting to watch because it was a complete shift from what we had been watching before.  The intimidation factor set in as soon as I learned that these were Student films, let alone an Academy Award winning Student film.  This movie was very touching and was pretty unpredictable for me.  Not that I enjoy predicting films but sometimes my mind just takes over and does it on it’s own and I forget to release that and just keep my mind completely open.  I wasn’t disappointed when I was wrong, though.  I was almost pleasantly surprised.  The first thing taken in my notes was that the jacket was the most vibrant thing throughout the film.  I think this is completely important because the jacket is the most important thing in the film, almost like the character that it had belonged to before, even if he wasn’t present at all.

I think this film is more expected to be the typical contents of a feature length film.  Possibly with the man’s son involved, and their interaction together as father and son, and maybe a mother’s involvement and how or why the father was on his own.  And possibly the back story of the boy who eventually finds the jacket and steals it and keeps it for himself.  There were plenty of routes that a director could go with this particular story but this story remained just as impressive and entertaining as a short as it would’ve expected to have been if it were a feature film.  I don’t think the film needed any more details than what the viewer is provided with.  Needless to say, I really enjoyed this film.  It came full circle at the end and reminded me that irony is such a predominant factor that goes into a short film because there’s such a tiny time frame.

Another major note that I took was that the production value of this particular film was unbelievably high and extremely impressive coming from a student.  It’s hard to not wonder how students have these types of resources to produce such amazing films with great quality and scripts and lighting and sounds and settings.  The list can go on and on and while I may be able to have these resources available to me on my campus, I am completely unaware of it.  Unless, these students have a lot of their own equipment which would make sense considering it probably took them much more than a semester to make these films.  There also wasn’t much dialogue in this film but it wasn’t necessary.  There really wasn’t anything that I noticed that was lacking about this film, I think as a student film it was impeccable and as a regular short film, it is still recognizable as a great one.  As a student, I truly am admirable for these types of films because of the amount of effort and talent that goes into them from someone who is around the same age as me is truly extraordinary.

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A Day’s Work
(2008) directed by Rajeev Dassani is the winner of the 2008 Gold Medal Narrative Student Academy Award.  It is also the winner of many other awards including the winner of the Best Film & the Best Directing at the First Look Film Festival at USC and the winner of the Best International Film Short Shorts Film Festival in Japan.  These three awards are only a few among the large selection of awards that this film is recognized and well-deserving of.

This film is really good visual evidence of social class issues and how a lot of our culture perceives different races based upon their career choice or their lack of having a choice on how they can make money.  But it is also a great visual representation of how those “different” worlds intertwine and end up contrasting one another.  This film touched upon those ideas extremely well and while these types of problems are mainly complex, this film shrunk it, only because of the time frame.. not because of the problems themselves.

My favourite thing about this film was the interaction between the son and the worker and how that became pretty crucial towards the end and played a much bigger part than what you think when they first interact.  Again, something like this was extremely impressive in terms of touching on a subject that is so widely discussed and broken down and put into a visual concept to convey the truth.  It also touches on the idea of stereotypes and how that is the start of how people construct this idea about social issues and so on.  The main concepts from this that I gathered were unemployment, like the husband and the workers having to make end’s meat as best as they can, even if it’s bargaining their original asking price for their help.  The idea of trust and assumption amongst different races come into question too, just in the sense that the husband lost his wallet and the workers assumed that he “lost” it so he wouldn’t have to pay him when it really was the case of just losing something.  That part of the film also plays into suspicion across cultures and how that truly affects the environment, instantly and sometimes for the worst.

Not only was this film impressive from a social issue standpoint, it deserves extreme recognition for it’s production value, especially coming a student.  I think Dassani successfully opened the viewer’s eyes (once again) to something that is important and even more in need for discuss if someone as young as early 20’s brings it on the table again.  I’m not sure if it was the setting but this film also reminded me a little bit of the feature film Crash which was made in 2004 and directed by Paul Haggis.  The movie won 3 Oscars and was nominated 44 times.  I think the reason why both of these movies seem similar to me is because they are filmed in the same location and they’re both about colliding with one another in a way that can be extremely dramatic and we may not realize it until after awhile.  Crash deals a lot with different races in a very broad story, too whereas A Day’s Work points out the differences in races pretty predominantly in one short story that has a lot of underlying importance.  I enjoyed this film a lot and would like to see more like it, from students or anyone in short or feature film length.

for more info on this film you can go to http://www.daysworkfilm.com/

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Kavi (2009) directed by  Gregg Helvey was the winner of the 2009 Gold Medal Narrative Student Academy Award.

This film is another one that has social significance in consideration, considering social classes.  The difference, however, is the country it’s filmed and based in.  I think the most impressive thing (for me, at least) about this film is the resources the student had to create it, and the actors.  Even just writing about this, I’m more amazed at the idea of how time constraining this all had to have been for a student.  And how the final product is something so extraordinary, it’s almost inspiring to know that this can be a product of someone’s work who is as young as me.  But also extremely intimidating at the same time.

Anyway, Kavi is a great film.  I thought it was a good representation of another culture and the problems they go through with slavery and separation of family along with class, for example, the rich kids go to school and the poor kids work.  That is also an expansion on the importance of education and how unfortunate it is that kids all around the world don’t have that kind of privilege and it’s even more sad to know that something like working long hour jobs is what replaces getting an education. But the movie was tied together extremely well and all of the little components, from the plant that he grew, his relationship with his parents, the moment when he returned the ball to the children coming from school, the agreement he had with the head guy, etc.  It was all extremely thought through and significant to the message of the story.

I really thought it was interesting that I wrote this in my notes, too: This seems completely advanced and amazing for a student film.  As a student,  how is this possible?  To travel places and hire actors and to have these detailed stories with so many shots and the access to so much editing.

I hate repeating myself but its hard not to when watching and talking about these films.  I am truly amazed by the general outcome and think all of these awards were well-deserved.

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Rundown (2007) by Patrick Alexander won the 2007 Gold Medal Narrative Student Academy Award.  This film was the fourth film from Florida State University’s Film School to move onto the Student Academy Awards.

I thought this film epitomized the idea that short films really have a small amount of time to have a story that is worth watching.  This movie succeeded in the first 2 minutes.  It was easy to get emotionally involved in this film and try hard to relate to this woman’s life in the beginning as she struggled through what her career choice was.  I thought the girl in the bathroom was a great addition to the woman’s stress and exhaustion.  I liked the story a lot and I really appreciated the acting.  The film made me really appreciate actors and their roles in short films and while we mostly discuss the production value and the story, the actors still deserve just as much recognition.  Especially in this particular film.  The lead actress in this film had a lot to show and take on and I think she did it perfectly.

Overall, the film was extremely well written and put together well.  I thought the soundtrack enhanced every bit of emotion that was evoked in the film and helped the character of the woman anchor express what was going through her mind.  I think as the viewer, it was very easy for me to put myself in her place and feel terrified for her and really on the edge of my seat, like if it was like I was watching the news that she was reporting about the hit and run.  I felt that the film was a little predictable, but more satisfactory than anything, the ending was also extremely bittersweet.  I loved this film.  I remember later explaining it to someone and they seemed really interested in it and it made me wonder how Alexander could’ve possibly come up with something that easily can keep a viewer’s attention for just 15 minutes.  I know that goes without saying for the majority of the films I’ve seen so far but I think this movie pertained more to my taste and kept my full attention throughout the entire thing, without any means of distraction.  Thankfully, this film is available on vimeo (above link) and accessible to anyone with the internet.

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The Lady in Waiting (1992) by Christian Taylor won the Dramatic Gold Medal Academy Award and was later nominated in the Live Action Short Film category in the Academy Awards in the next year. While doing research for my final project I came to find that Taylor has also written for popular shows that are well known today such as Six Feet Under, Lost and New Amsterdam.  This was also Taylor’s thesis film at New York University

I initially didn’t like the saturation of this film.  I thought it seemed kind of dark and dry and didn’t help the film but i made much more sense once there was the blackout of the city.  I thought it started off like a feature film with telling a story before credits rolled with the title but I ended up liking that introduction more than just jumping right into the story.  This film was a lot different that what we’re used to, I think because it was slow-paced but still remained a short film.  It had a lot of contents but wasn’t hard to understand or take as a viewer.  The coloring of the film also made more sense once both of the main characters were in the elevator together, too.  I really enjoyed the montage of neon colours going out as the blackout took effect throughout the entire city.

My general take on the film was that it was about two different generations crossing paths and each interacting with one another.  The movie was shot in the 90’s and takes place in New York City which has always been known as a fast-paced kind of city with lots of different people and characters that make it up.  The first character we see, the older woman, is a proper woman who seems very old-fashioned but not necessarily close-minded to the world around which is evidently, very different from what she’s used to.  This is clear when she makes the transport between her very large Victorian-esque home to the city.  The second character is a drag queen.  I think this is a very crucial choice of character because during the late 80’s-early 90’s, there was a lot of controversy (at least a lot more noted controversy) about gays and their specific community and the issue of AIDs.  I think having these two different worlds coincide with one another was something that was almost untouchable at the time.  I liked the fact that the older woman wasn’t too quick to judge but eventually did because her generation was brought up completely different compared to what the gay man went through while growing up.  It’s also extremely sad because the older woman had a lot of issues with her self confidence, probably because her husband had an affair and because she was so closed off in that big house by herself.

I think the interaction and dialogue between both characters progressed really well.  I think it was all about self discovery and the idea that these two different people struggle with the same kind of problems and at the end, they boy inevitably brought out the feeling of being comfortable in your own skin in each other.  It was a beautiful story about confidence and differences.

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Christmas in New York (1997) directed by Mark Millhone won the Dramatic Gold Medal Student Academy Award in 1997.

This wasn’t the best film that we’ve watched in class.  It was humorous and lighthearted but not too impressive considering the standards I’ve already set after watching the last few student films that we’ve had the privilege to see.  There weren’t a lot of notes I could write on it except for the fact that it was simple, and it was more of a look at someone’s day on Christmas and how his past became involved somehow and how he dealt with certain situations that he fell under.  It was a cute story, it wasn’t special.  I enjoyed it for it’s simplicity and familiarization but not for it’s story or production value.  As a student film, though, it’s still a lot more impressive than something I’d be capable to produce.

Ten Minutes

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(Spoiler Alert)

Ten Minutes (2002) by Ahmed Imamovic was awarded “Best Short Film” in Europe in 2002.  I’m not exactly sure where the award was distributed from but it was well deserved.

The movie is about a Japanese man touring in Rome and a Bosnian boy and his family in a town just an hour away in Sarajevo during the Bosnian War.  Both of the characters have completely different stories but the point of the film is to show their lives and how they contrast within 10 minutes.  The Japanese man is a tourist in Rome and takes photos and immediately gets them a developed at a camera shop that claims it can develop film in just 10 minutes.  After the man drops off the film, you have the shot of him walking outside of the store and he stands under a clock which says it’s 11:50.  This sets the character in the time frame of what the film is meant to evoke.  This is only 2 minutes and 26 seconds into the film.  Once the shot of the clock in Rome is shown, another clock appears but in a completely different environment.  Suddenly the viewer is thrown into an entirely different setting and you’re forced to adjust after only wondering whether or not the Japanese guy’s film is going to be developed in such a short amount of time.  The clock is really different too.  It’s clearly a house clock and then we’re emerged into the Bosnian family’s house and their lifestyle is already apparent to the viewer.  The Bosnian family’s story is about their oldest son (who appears to be between the ages of 7-10) who goes outside of their house to grab fresh water which only seems to come every now and then on the back of a truck.  The boy walks through the little community and appears to know everyone and is loved and cared for.  Once the boy grabs water, there is an attack and he struggles to run to his house and dodges anyone who tries to help him.  Finally, he makes it into his house and as he does, someone tries to stop him before he finds his family (his mother, father, and baby sibling) dead in their home.  After this happens (about 8 minutes and 27 seconds in), the clock appears again and it’s been 10 minutes.  Then, the viewer is sprung back to Rome and surprised when the man’s film is finished after that frame of time.  This movie is moving, to say the least and portrays the idea of how 10 minutes somehow could be something completely simple, and 10 minutes somewhere else could be completely life changing for the worst.

This film was incredible.  The comparison of two different worlds really plays into effect.  I thought the director picked two different sides of the spectrum.  As a viewer, it was easy to familiarize myself with the man in Italy and taking photos and being a tourist and trying to understand the locals as they try to understand him.  The way the rest of the movie went after the first few minutes was completely unpredictable.  I was really unsure of where it was going.  It was very sad because this is what happens.  We’re all living such different lives in the world, we don’t know what else is going on in someone else’s that can be significant and sad.  This movie really touched me.  I also really liked how both stories had different contrast in it’s environment.  The man in Italy was walking around on a sunny, beautiful day in Italy.  And the boy’s day was dreary and grey, very lonely and poor.  I also liked how I felt like a 3rd character because this was what I was doing in this particular time frame, watching a film.  It’s so easy to misconstrue and forget that there is so much out in the world going on, despite what’s going on in my own world.  I believe this film truly deserved an award because the story was impressive and eye-opening.  I’d recommend seeing it to anyone.

Written by madieshortfilm

April 25, 2011 at 1:27 am

The Grandmother

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The Grandmother (1970) is a film by David Lynch.  Lynch first collaborated with sound editor, Alan Splet, who later became his main source of sound editing for the majority of his collection.  When this film was initially shown, it was unfinished and was given such a great response, Lynch was offered more money to finish it and the final product was what he ended up watching in class.

David Lynch strikes again with something a little off-putting and somewhat uncomfortable to watch.  I think this film has a lot of personal issues possibly relating to Lynch, himself.  The saturation of the film was the main focus for me while watching it.  It certainly enhanced the film’s story and it really made up for the lack of detail just in the sense that it set the tone as this dark family story that can be incredibly familiar to a lot of people.  It’s disappointing, especially in a case like this with abusive parents, that this is something relatable for some people, but grandmothers do have this comfort that can help as an escape from parents.  This film just accentuated that idea very darkly and in a different light – oddly enough.  I’m not really a fan of David Lynch and his work but I really appreciate the originality of this film and the mix of animation and really interesting effects, like the process of growing a grandmother and the boy and his parents growing out of the ground.  I think I’d be interested in possibly seeing something new and enjoyable for me to watch out of Lynch’s collection.

Written by madieshortfilm

April 21, 2011 at 9:38 pm

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Precautions Against Fanatics

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Precautions Against Fanatics (1969) is a film by Werner Herzog.  It was filmed at a Harness Racing Track in Munich, Germany.

This was hilarious almost in a mockumentary kind of way.  It’s similar to him eating his shoe because it’s got to do with mocking reality and these people who really are strange because they just are.  They just exist because they just are, and they’re perfectly normal to themselves.  This film was very down-to-earth and much more simpler than I initially took it.  It was comical because it was almost unbelievable for this old man to keep cutting into frame after frame and trying to block any other person of getting an interview but I notice, once it was his turn for an interview, he spoke right up and was into it.  It just points out those types of people that anyone can come across, anywhere and make their own judgments towards them for being so, for a lack of a better word, abnormal.  I honestly felt as if I was there and he was cutting off my shot as the filmmaker and it made me want the shot of the men with the horses, or the guy in front of the stable to just be as it was, without another guy coming in and ruining it.  I feel like Herzog purposely made this guy out to seem like a fanatic while his intention (in the film) was to stop the fanatics.

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April 21, 2011 at 9:28 pm

Posted in Auteur

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