Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Musicals - The Act of Breaking Out Into Song

Musicals - Oh how I adore thee. Well...Actually, I don't. I happen to dislike them a great deal. However, I do have an appreciation for musicals (moreso, the ones from the glory days.) The work that went into them, how many of the difficult scenes were one entire take, so if one person messes up, you restart it all...So much effort, talent and work went into them, its astonishing. However...For a while, they almost dissapeared. Then they came back....In the form of a bunch of pubescent teens prancing around a scene, who are totally lacking in the Talent Department.

How did the musical dissapear? They almost always had the same plot (and as we heard in This Is Entertainment), boy meets girl, boy gets girl, boy loses girl, boy get girl again, and happily ever after (and back then, the divorce rate wasn't all that high, so 'happily ever after' meant forever). Eventually, after decades of the same plot line, people must have naturally gotten bored. New films came out, new ideas, new everything, and they lay on the ground forgotten.

Now what brought around the rise of popularity? ....I have no idea. I really don't. I don't like musicals, so I kjnow next to nothing about them. I have no idea when they started to pick up again, why they started to pick up again. ...They're most likely like a fashion....They were popular once, then they weren't. Now they're popular again, like plaid. However, the current popularity is being sustained by more in depth plots (one with more substance, more character developpment). The 'Movie Machine' is also cranking out plots featuring aspects that people find attractive (such as a musical to the music of The Beatles)....And, naturally, they young fashion-whore, teenaged heart-throbes, such as Zach Effron and such.

So...Like many in things in life (including life itself), musicals come and go. ...That's about all I have to say about that.

Monday, November 30, 2009


Argh, I'm an angry teen! My friends are backstabbing me! My friend Jolene said that I was stupid, and she said this to Sophie and Chantelle when I wasn't there! I'm so angry! My life is so full of angst! I'm going to text this super secret image of Jolene to everyone I know! RAHAHAHAHARGH! BLARGH! RARGH!

So, that pretty much sums up the average life of a teenaged female. In American Teen, the 'drama queen/popular chick', and I don't remember her name, has a very similar outlook on life. However, her problems run a bit deeper (but with absoultely no way to express herself, seeing as her vocabulary consists of 'bitch', 'slut', 'like', 'um', 'I know', and 'the'). She has the pressure of getting into Notre Dame (the rest of her family had gotten their schooling done there)...That's about it.

I'd like to say that I've got similar problems....But I really don't. Of course I'm worried about my future, what I'll do as a career...All that good stuff. But the 'problems' she has are the least of my concerns.

And I may aswell give my opinion of the film...Ugh.

...That's about all I have to say about that.

I has a dog

I've always loved animals. Infact, at one point in my life, I considered being a veterinarian. Though I've always loved animals, I've never been big on zoos. Anywhere where an animal is placed in captivity against their will isn't a 'plus' in my books. Which leads me to dog shows... After the show is done, the dog feels no change in its life, no change in its treatment from its owner, the show is all for the glory of the master.

Best in Show, a mockumentary, follows several owners and their dogs, as they compete in the 'Mayflower Kennel Club Championship', a prestigious dog show competition. It has every characteristic of a documentary, the interviews, the 'over-the-shoulder' camera technique, the lack of canted angels and pans (et cetera). However, the one aspect that sets it apart, the one thing that makes it a mockumentary, is the fact that the characters are entirely fictional, and that all events taking place are fictional.

In general, Best in Show was a pretty decent movie. It was full of larfs, full of amusing characters.

...That's about all I have to say about that.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Ballroom Mad Dancing

I suppose I should just go ahead and answer the question...Did I like the movie? No, not really.
I’m not a dancer, I didn’t like seeing last year’s dancing champion exploit her students, I didn’t like listening about girls bashing boys and boys bashing girls. The way the movie progressed, it failed to keep my attention and capture my interest. Generally, that’s what happens when a person doesn’t like a movie. Now, there are also two kinds of bad movies in my eyes. We’ve got stupid movies that are only good for three laughs, but they’re just lousy movies, such as: Observe & Report; Blades of Glory; Balls of Fury, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, et cetera. Then there are movies that I just didn’t like, such as: Mad Ballroom Dancing; and many others.

There isn’t much to say on the subject. There are only so many ways that I can say that I didn’t enjoy the movie.

...That's about all I have to say about that.

Reality and false perceptions of reality.

*Disclaimer: The following blog entry is overflowing with cynicism and pessimism*

Every night, the people of this great continent sit down after a long day at work, shut their brains off, and become of a slave to prime time television.
For the vast majority (and I’m talking 99%) of the viewers of reality television are your ‘average Joes’ (meaning, people who aren’t living off of a six figure income). You have all of these shows like the Bachelor(ette), American (Canadian) Idol, America’s Got Talent, et cetera. They paint a false picture of reality, and are dumbing down our population one brain cell at a time.
The Bachelor for example: We’ve got twelve girls competing for one guy, every date is a date of a lifetime (horseback riding in Montana, a sail boat ride in the Dominican Republic, spending an entire season in an over the top luxurious home, living on an island fit for only the richest of the rich. Of course, that is going to make a human overwhelmed with ‘feel good’ sensations, combined with competitiveness, a bit of wine, and you’ve got twelve girls thinking that they’re in love, when really, they aren’t in love (but of course, there are two cases which would prove me wrong, but they’re what...Two seasons out of twenty?). You get to escape from your day to day job, just to watch a bunch of spoiled girls with nothing to offer try and win this man’s heart...Now THAT’S something I want to escape to. Then again, I enjoy escaping through music, books, art, all that good stuff. Maybe that’s why I’m so one sided. Who knows?

Now we’ve got documentaries, which (often) paint a very real picture of reality...Probably because it IS real. For example, the Man Dancing Ballroom movie, or whatever it was called, we’ve got elementary kids competing in a tournament, and it shows their journey through it all. Even though I dislike the movie, I very much liked that fact that the program was able to offer something to the poorer Dominican students. Over 80% of their students are living in poverty, with no chance of any out of school programs. The program gave them something constructive and healthy to apply themselves to, and it paid off. It really, really paid off. Now that’s reality I’d enjoy watching.
So in a simplified nutshell...Reality television = False reality
Documentaries = reality
...That's about all I have to say about that.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Batman - A batboy's journey through adolescence, and into the Major League

‘Batman Begins’: how it all began; from little Brucie, all the way to billionaire Bruce Wayne and his alter-ego Batman. This movie is a gem for symbolism searchers, or in other words, students in a film studies class. Jam packed with symbolism, there are a few symbols I would like to explore in this blog entry.
The first symbol, and also the most evident, are the bats. Naturally, a Batman movie cannot be without bats (then again…If a Batman movie can include ‘Shark Spray’…I guess it could exclude bats all together). Little Brucies first encounter with bats are when he falls into an old abandoned well, which is connected to a large underground cavern…Conveniently enough, a home for thousands of bats. This event is what causes Bruce Wayne’s crippling fear of bats. As the movie progresses, Bruce Wayne teaches himself to use this fear to inspire fear into his enemies. As we progress in the film, Bruce Wayne’s fear is reduced to a cool confidence, as displayed when he stands in the midst of a bat swarm.
Masks, masks, and more masks! Well...Only two that have a significant role. Their purpose is to disguise their owner, allowing them to reveal their true beings. Bruce Wayne, the spoiled, rich, bachelor is able to reveal his ambitions and passion for fighting crime. Whereas we have Dr. Crane (and no, not the brother of Niles), who is an intelligent, yet weak, psychiatrist at the Arkham Asylum, is able to reveal his psychotic personality. They’re both otherwise incapable of fighting crime or intimidating people, but with their masks, they’re at the top of class.
The tramway...Oh the tramway. The tramway was built by Bruce’s father, a symbol of productivity and growth. It links the town together, and ideally, brings people together. It was the kind of transportation you could be proud of, seeing as Wayne Sr. himself took it quite often. However, with the death of Bruce’s father, the tramway rusted away. Now, it is as scummy as any other tramway, graphitized, and a haven for the sketchy folks of Gotham city. Bruce himself (that we know of) never stepped into the tramway since before his father died. However, by the end of the film, the ‘big fight’ between him and the League of Shadows takes place on the tramway. The tramway was a symbol of Gotham’s fall from grace.
The arrowhead...You don’t remember it that well? Well, that’s because it’s a subtle piece of symbology. At the beginning of the film, Rachel Dawes has in her hand an arrowhead that she found on the grounds. Well, being a young child, who most likely ‘likes’ Rachel, decides to steal it (yes...Another strange courting/mating ritual of the male species). After stealing the arrowhead, he plunges into the abandoned well. There is a nice slice of irony here, seeing as Bruce, who will eventually become the crime-fighting hero, is stealing himself. Because of this arrowhead, Bruce encounters the bats for the first time, instilling within him that crippling fear.
Batman Begins is a film ripe with symbology. So ripe, that if it were a banana, the banana would be half brown, half yellow. Though some of the symbology in the film is subtle, some of it is blatantly obvious.

...That's about all I have to say about that.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Misery - A dual-meaning title?

When someone is taking care of you, you naturally expect them to be caring, sweet and loving, right? You'd expect nothing less if this person were a nurse, but that isn't the case with Paul Sheldon (James Caan). After a nearly dying in a blizzard, he is brought to safety and placed under the care of Annie Wilkes (Kathy Bates), a former nurse. It is there where Paul Sheldon's miserable experience begins. The camera angles used in Misery are arguably the most effective techniques used in the film. The low and high angle shots were the two most commonly used angles in the entire film.
Used almost constantly on Kathy Bates, the low angle shot gave her an almost constant superior, controlling, and intimidating air to her character. Combined with lighting and music, Kathy Bates, who has a very kind face, is transformed into a character straight from our midnight terrors. When she is hunched over Paul Sheldon's bed, slamming it up and down, furious and distraught over Misery's fictional death, a low angle is all we need to create the desired effect.
Seeing as Annie Wilkes is he dominating antagonist, it seems only fitting that Paul Sheldon, her ‘patient’, gets all of the high angel shots. High angel shots make you look small, powerless, weak, and insignificant. All of which describe Paul Sheldon and his situation. There are only a handful of low angel shots used on Paul Sheldon, but the vast majority are high angel shots.
Now we move on to framing, and as I’ve previously mentioned, it is one of my most favourite shots. In Misery, we have a rather evident frame shot, and this is when Paul Sheldon is exploring the house for the first time (Annie is at the general store picking up Paul Sheldon’s precious paper). As he enters the living room, we are seeing him from outside, through a window. The window on its own would give a feeling of imprisonment, but Annie Wilkes even has bars on her widows, making that feeling of imprisonment all the more potent. What does this signify? Well, most obviously that it is like a prison, that he is trapped there, and there is very little chance of escape.
Point of view: Ever wonder what it’s like to be a crazed, obsessed; portly, controlling nurse taking care of her favourite author? Well, if you’re like me, you can now find out!! There are only a handful of point of view shots, and they’re mainly used to create suspense (of course). As Annie Wilkes is approaching the front steps, with Paul out of his bedroom, we see the approach through Annie Wilkes eyes. The reason being is that it would be much more effective and suspenseful as opposed to not showing her at all, or even just a simple pan, or various cuts.
The, of course, is the ever popular canted angel. My favourite of which was used in Paul Sheldon’s first venture outside of the bedroom. As Paul Sheldon is crawling in the kitchen, the camera is tilted ever so slightly, and just enough to give an added sense of difficulty to his crawl. As he is crawling, it looks as if he is crawling up-hill.
...That about sums it up.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Om nom nom nom!!!

Arr!!! There once was a time when all that there was to fear in the water were swashbuckling pirates and Neptune’s wrath. However, Steven Spielberg’s movie masterpiece, Jaws, added Sharks right next to Redbeard on the list of oceanic fears. But what made Jaws such an effective work of art? Why the camera work of Mr. Spielberg, of course! Canted angles, close ups, zooms, zollys, pans, frames, and all the cuts you can imagine; they all made Jaws an effective piece of technical art.
Imagine you’re sitting on a park bench, and something horrible is going on about 20 meters in front of you (a fire, a car crash, et cetera). What would be more frustrating and suspenseful? A clear view, or people walking in front of you, making it difficult to clearly view the situation? I’d image that you’d pick the option with the people walking about. Now how would one transfer this to a film? Well, you’d just have legs, people, and black figures creating wipes across the screen. You, along with the character in the film, want to see more, want the people to just get out of the way. It’ll get you on the edge of your seat, which is exactly what the type of shot is meant to do.
Now one thing that I enjoyed about Jaws, was the lack of canted angles, or at least, canted angles so subtle, that you’d only realise them if you were analysing the film as close as possible. The purpose of the canted angle, of course, is to imply that something isn’t quite right, that something is about to go wrong. It’s like looking at a painting tilted to one side: it’s just isn’t right. This gives the viewer that sense of uneasiness, which is fitting, as we saw these canted angles usually when a shark attack was about to commence.
Framing, perhaps one of my most favourite angles; it always bears some significance in relation to the situation the said framed character is in, or will be in. In Jaws, as Chief Brody, Quint, and Hooper disembark on their voyage, we see them from behind a window, and they are framed inside the jaws of a shark and windowpanes. The meaning behind this frame is that they are trapped (as the window frame resembles prison bars), and that they will indeed have an encounter with the shark, and one of them might not make it back to shore alive.
Ah, the zolly. This movie features, without question, the most famous zolly in film history. We see Chief Brody tensely lounging on the beach, observing the swimmers, watching for any danger of a shark. In this scene, we see numerous wipes (as I mentioned previously), a quick jump cut, featuring children splashing about in the water (which created that suspenseful, tense feeling), and the zolly. Up from the deep, a dorsal fin appears, and is headed straight for the portly woman on the raft. Right at that moment, we have our famous zolly; such a strange film technique, which creates the same kind of effect as a canted angle, but more in your face and noticeable.
There we have it, the effect of angles in Jaws.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

This is but a test

I am testing out this ingenious bit of technology called a blog. There is no serious intent here, I am merely testing.

As I have stated, it is merely a test. I will continue stressing the situation until I am completely satisfied. Because you see, this is a test, and I am testing my blog which I have named Negative Space. Don't you get it? I am Brandon Atyeo, and I am dry and sarcastic, and much of what I write has a negative attitude to it, and this is a film studies class, and it is my own private space? Get it? Negative Space? Negativity...Film terms...My own area....Haha. Get it? You see...Because...Yeah, you get it.

Now again, I feel that I must , once again, state that this is a test. This is not supposed to be a serious post. I just want to test out my blog, see how it's set up, especially see how long paragraphs look.

Alright folks, I am coming to an end of this test. Perhaps you didn't know that this was a test, but I must tell you that it was indeed a test, and that there was no serious intent here. I do believe that the next post I make will be about Film Studies. Or...It might be about something completely different. Or maybe not. I might just make another test paragraph. Who knows. I might throw a curve ball, and make a post about liquorice or music or something.

Perhaps you're wondering why I said 'perhaps make another test paragraph'. That bit of information implies that there would have had to have been more than one test paragraph for me to be able to include 'another' in there. Well, yes. There was another test paragraph, and that test paragraph is this test paragraph. Perhaps you hadn't known already. Though...This is turning out to be more than a test paragraph. It's quite a few paragraphs long. I haven't the foggiest idea why. I mean...Wouldn't a blog test only need to be about three sentences long? Hmm...I don't know why.