An extract from the introduction of my Film Studies Dissertation (King’s College London)…

This dissertation is situates within the growing research around the stylistic use of digital technology and new media in contemporary cinema. My main area of investigation will be the virtual camera in narrative computer-animated films, with a precise interest in musical cinematography. The term ‘musical’ refers to the narrative premise of analysing song or dance sequences, while the term ‘cinematography’ refers to the stylistic and aesthetic form of the camerawork. The musical context provides a point of consistency across the films and sequences chosen for formal analysis, thereby providing a lineage between different production methods and styles. Prince argues that that digital technology builds “on stylistic traditions established by filmmakers in earlier generations … while providing new and more powerful tools to accomplish these ends.”[1] Likewise this dissertation will explore the stylistic developments in computer-animated films in relation to past cinematic traditions.

This investigation is structured around the aim of outlining and testing the term ‘digital cine-mobility,’ as a cinematic style, through comparisons with established stylistic traditions. Chapter One will explore the visual effects of cel-animation and computer-animation in relation to the Walt Disney Animation Studio. Chapter Two will study the moving camera of the American film musical. And finally, Chapter Three will scrutinize the term ‘digital cine-mobility,’ which we will initially define as, the selection of fantastical, playful, and impossible camera movements in computer-animated films. The concept of digital cine-mobility is framed around a lively camera that presents spatially dynamic, effortlessly integrated, and kinetically expressive movements. The aim of this investigation is to progressively examine, and attempt to define, the descriptive terms above.

[1]  Stephen Prince, Digital Visual Effects in Cinema: The Seduction of Reality (New Brunswick, New Jersey, and London: Rutgers University Press, 2012), 4-5.

When was the last time you paid attention to the cinematography of an ANIMATED film?

When was the last time you paid attention to the cinematography of an ANIMATED film?

My Neighbour Totoro (Hayao Miyazaki, 1988)

Can we please take a moment to honour the framing, colour, lighting, and design of shots in Miyazaki animation? His animated films are visually beautiful and a nice stylistic difference from the traditional western aesthetics.

Note to Self: the cinema of Asia is artistically exceptional and I should watch international films more often.

Suburban Life in America as Depicted in Cinema is quite Dystopian.

Some Films to Watch: 

All that Heaven Allows (Douglas Sirk, 1955)

American Beauty (Sam Mendes, 1999)

Back To The Future (Robert Zemeckis, 1985)

The ‘Burbs (Joe Dante, 1989)

Far From Heaven (Todd Haynes, 2002)

The Incredibles (Brad Bird, 2004)

The Graduate (Mike Nichols, 1967)

Happiness (Todd Solndz, 1998)

It’s a Wonderful Life (Frank Capra, 1946)

The Oranges (Julian Farino, 2011)

Pleasantville (Gary Ross, 1998)

The Stepford Wives (Bryan Forbes, 1975)

The Stepford Wives (Frank Oz, 2004)

The Truman Show (Peter Weir, 1998)

Some Academic Writing to Explain: 

“Hollywood’s anachronistic vision in this regard stands as testament to the profound cultural influence of the suburban landscape in the postwar years: for the development and subsequent massive expansion – particularly in the years and decades following the end of World War II – of ‘suburbia’ entailed the construction of not only a new kind of physical landscape, but new psychic and emotional landscapes as well.”

– Robert Beuka, “’Cue the Sun’: Soundings from Millennial Suburbia,” Iowa Journal of Culture Studies 3 (Fall 2003). Accessed Online. 

“Americans are obsessed with houses – their own and everyone else’s. We judge our selves and our neighbours by where and how we live.” 

– Dell Upton, Architecture in the United States (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1998), 14. 

“The city started out as the culprit. But by the postwar era, the suburbs had elbowed their way into that maligned position – the site of social dysfunction and pathology. Hell, it seemed, moved from the city to the suburbs – like everyone else.” 

– Becky Nicolaides, ‘ How Hell Moved from the City to the Suburbs’ in The New Suburban History, eds. Kevin Kruse and Thomas Sugrue, (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006), 80. 

 

How do you feel about your white picket fence now? 

Chanel No. 5 Films and the question of Stardom.

These are a couple of the Chanel No. 5 Films which have come out in recent years. This merging of entertainment and advertising is called ‘Branded Content’ – which as the name suggests is working towards marketing a certain Brand Name. In this case, it’s the classic Chanel Number 5 perfume, which has had female endorsements from Marilyn Monroe to Catherine Deneuve. It’s interesting to note – through the main choice of female actress – the way stardom works.

1. Both films reference each actresses’ most known and popular film – Amelie for Audrey Tautou and Moulin Rouge for Nicole Kidman

2. Both films were directed by the same director as the films listed above – Baz Lurhmann for Kidman’s Chanel No. 5 and Jean-Pierre Jeunet for Amelie.

3. Look at the way nationality is rendered in each film – the subtle differences between European Femininity and White American Femininity (despite Kidman’s Australian roots).

4. Both films have a marked different visual aesthetic despite the fact that they are selling the same product. Look at the pinkish tones paired with Kidman’s blonde hair as opposed to the yellow tones paired with Tautou.

Each star has a different persona that is built over a career of appearing in films, advertisements, magazines, talk shows, and inter-textual materials. A star’s on-screen and off-screen persona as well as their public and private life begin to merge. If you’re interested in stardom as a formal discourse, I would suggest Richard Dyer’s book Stars (London: BFI Publishing, 1979) – in which Dyer sets out to distinguish between stars as a social phenomenon, stars as images, and stars as signs. Furthermore, he analyses the tensions between ‘character’, star, and performance.

I leave you with a question from Dyer to ponder over stardom and performance…

Are stars a phenomenon of production (arising from what the makers of films provide) or of consumption (arising from what the audience for films demands)? (Stars, Pg. 9)

Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse in Central Park … bringing back graceful dance.

This is an extract from the film The Band Wagon (1953). Notice how the music starts way before the couple begins dancing, and even then, they don’t make contact until over a minute and a half into the song. The anticipation and gracefulness is absolutely stunning and reminds me, yet again, why I love Classical Hollywood Musicals.

P.S. If you want to get into film studies and this topic in particular… you MUST check out Rick Altman’s book The American Film Musical.

“Filmed dance is doubly difficult to evoke in words, for Hollywood’s directors have become unusually adept at making the camera dance along with the actors.” (Altman, 40)

Just think MURDER and you can become an actress or a queen. Your choice.

When Charlize Theron was asked ‘how to walk like a queen’ on The Ellen Show: 

1  23  4

Stardom and Performance Quotes: 

“Movie actors therefore learn to control and modulate behaviour to fit a variety of situations, suiting their actions to a medium that might view them at any distance, height, or angle and that sometimes changes the vantage point within a single shot.”

– James Naremore, Acting in the Cinema (Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1988), 21.

“Performance is what the performer does in addition to the actions/functions s/he performs in the plot and the lines s/he is given to say. Performance is how the action/function is done, how the lines are said.”

– Richard Dyer, Stars (London: BFI Publishing, 1979), 134. 

 

 

Job Search… hire me?

Here are ten fun facts about me.

One, I drink way too much green tea.

Two and three, I compete in Ballroom and Latin Dance.

Four, I’ve never been to the South of France.

Five, at least 100 people have asked for my autograph

And Buster Keaton can always make me laugh.

Seven, I ran a marathon when I was thirteen.

Senior year, I was crowned the prom queen.

Nine, I use to be extremely shy

Ten, last year I went tanning in Dubai.

One of these is not really true,

I’ll tell which at the interview. 

“What do you wear to bed?”

1. A new commercial from Chanel no. 5 discussing Marilyn Monroe’s famous quote and the media  that follows the sex symbol, movie actress, and international star. My gosh, I am always impressed by her carefree persona.

2. This video is very visually pleasing and well edited – from the font choices to the classy white-and-black backgrounds. This ad displays archived footage, new images, text, recordings, and a voice-over. Almost imitating a documentary film style – an investigation into Marilyn’s legacy in the 50s. However, the fascination with Marilyn continues to elicit excitement and allure as this Channel ad demonstrates perfectly. Plus, for the high class image that Chanel No. 5 wants to promote, I believe this video serves its goal of glamour and appeal very well.

Oh la la, Marilyn’s star persona never get old: “I’ve never fooled anyone. I’ve let people fool themselves. They didn’t bother to find out who and what I was. Instead they would invent a character for me. I wouldn’t argue with them. They were obviously loving somebody I wasn’t.”

Les Coulisses des Numéros Musicales Bollywoodiennes

Les Coulisses des numéros musicales Bollywoodiennes

1. Lien avec théâtre : Avant le cinéma, il y avait la tradition du théâtre – et c’est particulièrement vrai avec le genre comédie musicale. On peut voir une interaction entre les pièces sur scène et le même récit sur l’écran. Il y a quelque tendance qui sont le même : un concentration sur le personnage principale grâce à la mise-en-scène (la composition, l’éclairage, costume, couleurs, etc.), la notion du spectacle qui est inscrire dans les numéros musicales, et la possibilité de prendre des libertés artistique avec la narration et esthétique pendant la séquence musicale. Par exemple, on peut prendre comme un exemple le cliché d’une séquence musicale où au milieu de la narration, une chanson commence et voilà, c’est une séquence musicale. Par suite, Un personnage secondaire apparaît avec costumes assortis et forme une composition triangulaire autour de l’acteur principal en faisant une chorégraphie fabriquée. C’est le modèle classique avec la comédie musicale à Broadway et Hollywood a pris ce mode pour le sens de ces films. En général, c’est un esthétique influent, même visible en Bollywood. Avec théâtre et cinéma le personnage du fond sont là pour créer une ambiance et spectacle tout en soulignant l’acteur principal qui joue un rôle important dans la narration entier et les numéros musicaux. Par contre, le personnage à l’arrière-plan forme une partie du décor, une partie de la mise en scène et la direction qui travaille dans le tableau d’ensemble – en cinéma ou en théâtre.

2. Sens et Mis-en-scène des personnages d’arrière plan au cinéma : Le cinéma a la possibilité de traiter le même scénario d’une différente manière que le théâtre –on prend l’exemple des danseurs dernière le personnage principale. Avec le théâtre, le personnage sur la scène sont des vraies personnes avec certaines contraintes physiques. Il existe un espace corporel que le personnage faut traverse d’arriver d’une certaine position sur la scène. Par contre, le cinéma utilise le montage et la découpage de créer l’espace filmique ; par conséquent, le personnage à l’écran n’a pas le même contraint corporel. Grâce à un coupé, c’est possible pour un personnage sur l’écran de passer à une position d’une autre position dans l’espace filmique. Donc la question qui se pose est : Est-ce qu’un nombre de musicale cinématographique prend la possibilité de défier la continuité spatiale et temporelle tant il a le choix? C’est encore possible de chercher un réalisme dans cinéma comme une entrée naturelle pour les danseurs. Mais, c’est aussi possible d’imposer un montage où les danseurs apparaissent avec une qualité esthétique de chaque plan individuel et pas dans l’ensemble pour créer la continuité spatiale. Ici, je cite la théorie de un « MTV esthétique » légèrement pour évoquer l’influence des music vidéos sur le découpage des séquences dans la comédie musicale. Comme un spectateur, comment pouvons-nous accepter le fait qu’il n’y a pas les mêmes règles d’espace corporel dans le découpage des séquences musicales sur l’écran qu’en théâtre? Et en consultant les personnages à l’arrière plan, est-ce qu’il y a une différence de traitement cinématographique de la mise-en-scène et la sens entre les comédie musicales hollywoodiennes et bollywoodiennes ?