BSA206: Drugstore Cowboy

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Directed by Gus Van Sant ❖ Released 1989

Drugstore Cowboy (1989) follows Bob, Dianne, Rick and Nadine as they pop pills and evade the law.

I don’t think I enjoyed this film, I was certainly interested in the story, but I didn’t find it enjoyable. Perhaps I would have been a little more engaged with it if I hadn’t missed the first 15 minutes. Even so, the story seemed to make sense so I can’t have missed too much.

There was one particular technique that I did enjoy in this film; when the main character, Bob, was high, there would be extreme close up shots of random things, such as the trigger of his gun or Gentry’s tie, but as he started to get clean, the ECUs turned into close ups. I thought that was a clever way to show his state of mind and how he was beginning to see things clearer.

In some ways this film seemed to glamorise the drug culture and promote it by making it look like an exciting, fun kind of lifestyle, but there were also some moments that it did the opposite.
Nadine, the “innocent victim” of the story, suddenly commits suicide and this causes the main character to examine his life and make some changes.
It was almost as if the filmmakers wanted the audience to want the fun and exciting lifestyle these characters have had, but when this change of events happens, to be ashamed that they thought this seemed to be a good life.

BSA206: Sequels

Oz the Great and Powerful (2013), directed by Sam Raimi, was basically a prequel to The Wizard of Oz (1939), directed by Victor Fleming. The Wizard of Oz has been one of my favourite films since my mum showed it to me as a young child, so I was naturally a little excited, but also a little skeptical, when Oz the Great and Powerful came out in 2013. Admittedly though, I didn’t watch it until a few weeks ago and to say I was disappointed doesn’t even begin to describe how I felt about it.
The promise of returning to that fantastical world that I loved as a child, but as a revamped version, made me a little giddy with excitement and I felt like a child again. The beginning of the film I enjoyed. I liked the way it seemed to pay tribute to the 1939 film in the way it started in black and white with a smaller ratio picture then transitioned to “glorious technicolor” like The Wizard of Oz did. After that it was just a complete let down, it really just felt like a grab for money by the film makers, and, honesty, I really wish I hadn’t watched it.

On the other hand, a sequel I enjoyed more than the original was The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement (2004). I realise both of these examples make me seem like I watch a lot of movies meant for young people. I swear I don’t, these are just the ones that really stick out to me in the “sequel category”.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved The Princess Diaries (2001), it brings me much happiness, but I just enjoyed the second one more. Part of that reason is the characters were a little older and slightly more mature so that was nice to see. More than that though, The Princess Diaries 2 was just a funnier film. I think the fact that the viewer gets to know and love the characters in the first film contributes to this as you know what to expect.
Something else I discovered about these films, which I think have also contributed to the success of the sequel, is that they are both directed by the same person and written by the same people too: Garry Marshall (director), and Meg Cabot and Gina Wendkos (writers).
Also, Julie Andrews makes anything good.

 

BSA231: Inspiraish.

I was inspired by Brave (2012) and the trail of “wisps” that the character Merida follows. I really loved the way this added a fantastical, mysterious and magical aspect to the story. This element didn’t need to be explained as it was so fantastical that the viewer just accepted it. I wanted to recreate that feeling with the trail of photos that Lily follows in my film. The idea was that this in between world that the story is set in is a fantasy kind of world where things don’t make sense, but if you understand that you are in a world where normal rules don’t apply, you can almost control it. The boy in The In Between understands that he isn’t in the real world so he manages to almost conjure these photos out of nowhere.

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I wanted to show Lily’s confusion and panic when she first changes location and at the same time immerse the viewer in her experience. I liked the way this kind of effect was executed in The Forest (2015). As far as I remember, the 180˚ rule was completely scraped in the scene I am thinking of, but for the reason that it creates confusion and disorientates the viewer just as the character is feeling in that situation. I made the point when filming the first scene that Lily changes location to film it from different angles so that I would have options for cutting between various angles when it came to editing.

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BSA206: Funny Things

When I was little, my Nana had a video tape of Dad’s Army (1968-1977) which my brother and I used to watch when we stayed at Nana’s. Sometimes we would take it back to our house and watch it with mum and dad. I remember finding parts of it quite boring, but other parts were really funny. The problem was, half the time I didn’t know what was funny, I just knew that everyone else was laughing so that meant something was funny. My brother’s favourite episode was Asleep in the Deep so that was the one we watched most often and the one I actually found the most enjoyable. I probably found it enjoyable because I understood how ridiculous it was for these men to be stuck in a room that gets flooded. I watch this episode again recently after watching Dad’s Army (2016) the movie (which I really enjoyed), and I noticed little parts that I remember laughing at when I was young, but this time I understood why they were funny.
I still found that my favourite part is the “terrible way to die” line.

One of the other videos that my Nana had that my brother and I watched repeatedly was The Animals of Farthing Wood (1993-1995) which I always referred to as “Farthing Wood and Friends”. Apparently that isn’t the correct name.
The funniest part of this series for me was when Weasel gets drunk. It’s in the first season, in episode 13, when Badger and Weasel get stuck in a cellar. Weasel lies down on the floor under the tap of a barrel filled with wine which drips into her mouth. Again, I didn’t fully understand what was happening, but it was funny because Weasel just keeps blabbering on to Badger and repeating “‘ere we go, ‘ere we go!”. As a child, this was the funniest thing so my brother and I would rewind to the start of this scene and rewatch it countless times and always end up in fits of giggles. Once I realised Weasel was drunk, I found it funnier and it’s still pretty funny today just because of how ridiculous it is.

 

Obviously my humour has changed now that I’m older, but that doesn’t mean that everything I watch has “inappropriate” humour. One of my favourite films is Boy (2010) and even though it has very serious undertones, it’s still a really funny movie. A lot of the jokes in this film are good old Kiwi humour and they aren’t dirty or inappropriate, they are just funny.

 

Another film I love for it’s funnies, is Bridesmaids (2011). Sure, this film has far more adult jokes than Boy, but there’s also a lot of moments that are quite human and I think we laugh at them because we see ourselves. One of my personal favourites from this film is where the main character makes a fool out of herself by trying to better her best friend’s new friend by proving she is the better friend during the speeches at an engagement party. I really didn’t explain that very well right there, so here is the clip:

 

I also find absolute ridiculousness really funny, so I’ve included a few of my favourite videos:

[Warning: Inappropriateness follows]

 

 

BSA206: I so sad.

I remember watching Titanic (1997) when I was about 6 or 7 and just bawling from the moment the ship started sinking until the end. I think that little me knew that everyone was going to die and that just made me really sad. I also thought that the ship was really beautiful and it made me sad that it was going to sink and never be seen again.
Of course I also cried more when Jack dies, but that’s kind of a given. Most people find that part pretty sad.

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Another part of Titanic that made me really sad as a child was when Rose runs along the deck to the back of the ship, planning to jump. It wasn’t the part where she is hanging off the ship, just the short scene where she is crying and running along the deck. I didn’t really understand why this was happening when I was young,  but the fact that I could see this lady running and crying as if she was being chased made me really sad and concerned.

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Another thing that made me very sad when I was little was a scene from the TV Series The Animals of Farthing Wood where the hedgehogs die. We had this series on video so I watched it hundreds of times and I swear I cried every time without fail, and I would still cry if i watched it now.
I do remember the first time I watched it. Mole was my favourite character because he was small and shy and liked to snuggle on Badger’s back – I think he reminded me of myself to be honest – but Mole, as my favourite, was followed very closely by the hedgehogs. I think I liked them for the same reasons as Mole except, instead of snuggling into Badger, they would always stick close to each other and I found that very endearing. So, as you can imagine, I was very upset when they died. The clip below is the scene where they die (they get run over crossing the road), and when I was little, I had such hope that they would make it out the other side and part of me didn’t quite understand when they didn’t get back up again. I think I didn’t quite understand that the people that made The Animals of Farthing Wood had no idea that the hedgehogs were my favourites and shouldn’t die.

Now, I don’t find it so sad. I find it more frustrating than anything because they literally just curl up and die. The hedgehogs get themselves in a difficult and dangerous situation which terrifies them, decide they can’t make it through, curl up into a ball and let death – or a speeding car – take them. Oh, but at least they have each other.

 

 

 

When I am asked what movies I find tragic nowadays, my mind immediately springs to Clint Eastwood’s Changeling (2008) starring Angelina Jolie. It is based on the true story of Christine Collins who’s son disappeared and was never found. What I find particularly sad or tragic about this film is the part where the police bring a boy to Christine and tell her it’s her son when it isn’t. Even though they know this is not her child, they won’t admit this to her and force her to take this boy and take care of him as if he were her son. This makes me sad because through the action of carelessly handing off a strange child to a grieving mother, it becomes clear to the audience and the character, even at this early stage in the story, that no one is going to help her find her son.

We do receive a kind of resolution at the end of the film, but it is not a happy one. We discover that Christine’s son was kidnapped along with several other young boys. Some of the boys managed to escape, but Christine’s son never did. Although Christine gains some peace from knowing what happened to her son, but it’s a tragic ending because, not only does she find out that her son was murdered, but she has to watch another mother be reunited with her son who did survived.

 

BSA206: Scary Stuff.

When asked to think of a scene in a movie that really scared me as a child I immediately picture on particular moment from The Wizard of Oz involving The Wicked Witch of the West. It isn’t when she melts like most people think it might be, it’s when her face fills the screen as she laughs. The Wizard of Oz was my favourite movie as a child and I would watch it as often as I was allowed, but I couldn’t watch that one scene alone. As a child, it felt as if she was bursting out of the screen and was directly in front of my face, laughing at me. In fact, that scene and that feeling made me think the triangular shape of the moths that would sit on my window were the tip of the witch’s nose. It took me a while to get to sleep sometimes. If I watch this scene now I no longer find it quite so scary, but the little Johanna within me still cringes. Although, I do notice that the witch’s face doesn’t seem as big as it did when I was small.

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Trying to think of a scene in a movie that scares me now like this scene used to doesn’t result in much. I find that I’m more likely to be disturbed by something and have that stick in my mind rather than something scary. I’ve certainly been scared plenty of times during films – The Conjuring (2013) had me on the edge of my seat and hiding under a blanket the whole time (like just about any of James Wan’s films), The Haunting in Connecticut (2009) gave me the shivers, and I stupidly watched Case 39 (2009) alone and I think that speaks for itself – but there isn’t anything in particular from these films that really scared me or made me look twice in the dark. The things that really stick with me now are the things that I can relate to my life, the things that could actually be possible.
I remember watching Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning (2006) and seeing Leatherface hook a girl in the shoulder and collarbone with the kind of hook we would use in the woodshed to move bales. That gave me the shivers and really stuck with me. I think that is because I have often been around those tools being used and know how easy it would be to get in the way and have one of those hooks land in your arm. I also just really hate the idea of sharp things landing in people and I don’t really trust people with knives or other sharp things, so that may have something to do with it too.

There’s another scene from a movie that disturbs me far more than the hooks in Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Again, it’s something that could plausibly happen, although I’ve never actually been around anyone in this particular situation.
In Lars von Trier’s Nymphomaniac: Vol. II (2013) there is a particularly horrific scene where the lead character, Joe, terminates her pregnancy alone on her kitchen floor. It’s brutal. I won’t go into detail. Before watching this film I had known that abortion was an horrific ordeal, but this scene made me realise that on a new level.
Nymphomaniac certainly focuses on a delicate and controversial topic and is quite graphic, but I did enjoy both volumes. I found it quite refreshing that it focuses on such a sensitive topic and doesn’t shy away from being really honest about it.


References

  1. https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth32537/m1/1/med_res/
  2. https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/236x/60/29/45/6029452d4879136b1a5ec8782b6a1dfb.jpg

BSA206: Cinèma Vèritè and Direct Cinema

Cinèma Vèritè and Direct Cinema are styles of documentary filmmaking, each having a different take on the presence of the filmmaker. They were developed in the early 1960s when film cameras were being made a lighter weight making it possible for filmmakers to do away with a large crew, studio set, tripod-mounted equipment and lighting. [1]

Cinèma Vèritè was invented by Jean Rouch and Edgar Morin who was inspired by Dziga Vertov’s theory about Kino-Pravda, but the term was coined by Georges Sadoul.

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These styles of filmmaking are quite similar as they both strive to give the truth, but each take a slightly different approach. Cinèma Vèritè allows the filmmaker to be involved in the film and even speak or appear in the film – their presence is meant to be felt in this style of documentary filmmaking. Direct Cinema on the other hand is an objective style of documentary filmmaking, opposite to Cinèma Vèritè, where the filmmaker is invisible – almost like a fly on the wall.
Examples of films in these styles are Chronique d’un été (1961) (Cinèma Vèritè), On The Bowery (1956) (Direct Cinema), and Sofia’s Last Ambulance (2012) (Direct Cinema).

 


References

  1. https://ideasfilm.org/cinema-verite-direct-cinema/

BSA231: The In Between Pt II

I’ve been working really hard on my screenplay over the past few days. It seems to have taken a long time to actually get to the point of writing it, but I think the time that I spent planning out the bones of the story has really been worth it. The screenplay isn’t quite finished because I don’t yet have an ending – I’m finding that part really difficult because I don’t want to give it a cliche ending or have it be a let down. It really needs to do the story justice.
To start with, I thought this story would be a drama, but through the process of writing it, I think it’s turned into more of a thriller.
There’s minimal dialogue which isn’t what I originally intended, but it serves the story far better this way. I think it’s quite an emotionally driven story so it doesn’t need dialogue to convey how the character is feeling. I imagine this being shot so it almost feels as though the audience is seeing the events unfold through the character’s eyes, so they experience it themselves, like POV.

Just because I don’t want to spoil the story, I’m only going to include a short snippet of the screenplay as it stands.

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In other news, I have hit a little bit of a speed bump. I am meant to shoot this weekend (7th, 8th, 9th October), but the weather looks really wet for those days and since my shoot is all outdoors, I can’t do it. Instead, I have postponed my shoot and it is now happening on the afternoon/evening of the 18th October and 23rd October. These days aren’t consecutive because I have to work around everyone else’s days since they had already booked.
I’m hoping and praying that the weather on these new dates will be dry!

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On Thursday this last week I went to Parks and Reserves to get location release forms signed. Before hand, I went with Josh for a drive to Sandy Point to see if we could find any alternate locations to Thompson’s Bush. I was a little reluctant about using Sandy Point as a location because, even though it’s a beautiful location, I feel it is almost becoming her used in student films. The reason I am going to need to use it is because it is quite, unlike Thompson’s bush where there is a lot of traffic and industrial sound since it is right in the middle of town.
I do have permission to use both Thompson’s Bush and Sandy Point, but I have permission for my original dates. In the next day or so I will need to go back to Parks and Reserves and ask for permission for the new dates.


My cast and crew are confirmed! Lily will be played by Chanelle Hammond, who I met during this year’s 48 Hour film challenge, and the boy will be played by Taylor Clive, Josh’s younger brother. I’m really stoked with this cast (small as it is), because I had Taylor in mind while writing the story, and Chanelle perfectly fits the physical image I had of Lily and I know she will do a great job.
I have a great crew on board for this project. It’s a relatively small team, but I know they are all really hard workers and will work well together.


In some ways I’m quite happy I have an extra two weeks to organise for this project. I had been feeling very stressed about getting everything sorted (including finishing the script!), but now that I have this extra time I think I will be able to run a much smoother set.

One of the things on my to do list is organising a small photo shoot for the photos Lily finds in the film. I am currently organising a day and time with Chanelle to do this as she will need to “model” in the photos. Thankfully I have the extra time for this as Chanelle is away at the moment and wouldn’t have been back in time if I had been shooting this weekend.


In the next few days I will be working on Josh’s shoot, but once that is finished, or when I’m not needed, I will be finishing up this script and then starting on shooting scripts and shot lists.

And in between that time I will be organising short photo shoots for a photography project that I will be entering into the Southsure Emerging Artist Awards along with this film.