Posts Tagged ‘perception psychology’

“If He is not the word of God, then God never spoke” – THE ROAD

July 19, 2010

The movie uses a post-apocalyptic world as an analogy to discuss contemporary issues. Such as the struggle to find meaning in a capitalist world. In this sense I thought it was reminiscent of Kafka’s The Trial. Struggling to find a reason to go on, Viggo Mortensen looks at his sleeping son, and says “If he is not the word of God, then God never spoke.” A lot of credit goes to author Cormac McCarthy’s poetic words. Even for an agnostic like me, the love I feel for my son is so strong that it feels like it has God-like dimensions.

Brilliantly, The Road sheds light on the struggle of the poor, starving and desperate populations of the present day world. It removes the blindfolds from the prosperous, showing a harsh truth. Steven Spielberg also the same in his underrated allegory War of the Worlds.

However, director John Hillcoat chooses to use tremendously low contrasts in his imagery. At times it’s hard to make out anything at all in the the muddy grey and brown colors. The flashbacks to present time, on the other hand, have over-saturated  colors, creating a dramatic distiction between now and then. A different approach emphasizing the parallels between the two worlds would have been much more interesting in a cinematic sense.

Because that parallel is the real story here.

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Nowhere Boy -the young John Lennon

July 19, 2010

Just saw this on dvd. It is a surprisingly well shot film. It is rare these days that a movie tries to take advantage of cinemas’ intrinsic visual capabilities, but instead relying on dialogue, plot, narrative and character to convey meaning. To a considerable extent, this is also true for Nowhere Boy -which is nonetheless an interesting look at some Freudian trauma of John Lennon’s dramatic childhood and youth.

The camera is always a player in Nowhere Boy.  Nowhere Boy at times uses editing and cinematography to achieve beautiful results. Let me give you one example of how director Sam Taylor-Wood uses cinemas own vocabulary to convey meaning.:

At one point Lennon is given a guitar, and rehearses in his living room. We see him pull out the guitar, sit down, and start playing. He is alone in the room. After a few seconds we realize that the images have been sped up. The other members of the family fly in and out of the living room at exaggerated speeds while John sits still and plays his new instrument. The idea is that he has finally found his calling.; for him time is standing still.  It is understood that John’s life will never be the same again after this moment, brilliantly reinforced by pure visual storytelling.

KICK-ASS

April 24, 2010

Apart from the nihilism that have become all-too common in action films – particularly since Tarantino popularized the justifiable tooth-for-tooth  revenge fantasy in the mid nineties – Kick-Ass is a very likable movie. In that sense it is reminiscent of 1994’s Falling Down, which was a sensationally watchable and engrossing vigilante-drama with a poignant turn by Michael Douglas in top form.   

The editing in Kick-Ass is rapid and competent. It is a rare sight to see action-sequences edited together this well, without cheating. Most action-directors employ a blisteringly-paced and eventually confusing form of jump cutting that leaves the audience to make out the spacial-temporal logic of the scene by themselves. Such directors do not show how the different elements of the scene relate to each other. (Take for instance films like Quantum of Solace,  District 9 or Avatar. )

Kick-Ass director Matthew Vaugh is, however, able to do this to a considerable extent. The action sequences in Kick-Ass are exciting, suspenseful and truely involve the viewer. 

Add to that an unusually vibrant color scheme and a truly charming lead actor in Aaron Johnson and you have the year’s second best action movie to date, only behind the fascinating real politics of The Green Zone.

Communicating Space, Pt. 2

May 15, 2009

Reality is three dimentional. Paintings and photographs are two dimentional.  Part of cinemas mission is to explore space in the three dimentions.  As previoulsy mentioned this can be done with a moving, probing camera and also by editing; by mise-en-scene or montage, some might say. Mise-en-scene is sometimes referred to as what is front of the camera but keep in mind that what’s in front of the camera depends on the cameras constant movement and reframing -therefore the proper definition must be what’s in front of the camera as it relates to the camera itself.  

Camera movement is essentially cinematic. But some director don’t utilize these possibilities. There are tons of directors who hardly ever move the camera or explore focus or editing – in short, the cinematic language. Two of the most critically acclaimed directeors whom I’ve never seen move the camera are Bent Hamer (Factotum, Eggs) and Roy Andersson (You, the living). They are good at what they do, but it’s not my cup of tea.


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