BSA306: Life is Beautiful

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Directed by Roberto Benigni | Released 1997 | La vita e bella

I love this film. I didn’t fully understand it when I first watched it because I was a child and I don’t think children are meant to understand this film completely. Watching Life is Beautiful now as an adult, I do understand it. It is about innocence, and keeping it alive, it is about sacrifice and how love means you will do anything to make life better and more beautiful for those you love.

Even though I now realise the horrors depicted in this film, I am still glad that I watched it as a child, because I have been able to see this story from both sides. When i was younger I couldn’t comprehend what was going on, I didn’t realise the seriousness of the situation. I saw this film through the eyes of little Giosué and giggled along with him at the silly jokes his father made. Now my heart breaks a little at these moments, because I understand Guido.

Although this film received heavy criticism for “trivializing the holocaust”, I don’t think that should put anyone off watching it. It is difficult to know whether it is insensitive, but I definitely do not think that was Roberto Benigni’s intentions. I will always love this movie and would definitely recommend it, but would also suggest to bring a box of tissues… You’ll need them!

 


 

Won the following awards (and more):

  • Oscar for Best Actor in a Leading Role – Roberto Benigni
  • Oscar for Best Music, Original Dramatic Score – Nicola Piovani
  • Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film
  • BAFTA for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role – Roberto Benigni
  • Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role – Roberto Benigni
  • AFI Fest Audience Award for Best Feature Film – Roberto Benigni

And was nominated for the following awards (and more):

  • Oscar for Best Picture – Elda Ferri and Gianluigi Braschi
  • Oscar for Best Director – Roberto Benigni
  • Oscar for Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen – Vincenzo Cerami and Roberto Benigni
  • Oscar for Best Film Editing – Simona Paggi

 

 

 

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BSA306: Reservoir Dogs

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Directed by Quentin Tarantino | Released 1992

Reservoir Dogs is the story of a group of thieves who come together to pull of the perfect diamond heist. It turns into a bloody ambush when it is revealed that one of the men is an undercover police officer. This is Quentin Tarantino’s first feature film and quickly became a cult classic after its release in 1992.

The opening scene in the coffee shop really grabbed my attention and drew me in with the way the camera constantly circled the characters and the witty dialogue they shared. What I particularly enjoyed about this film, besides the fact that it’s a Tarantino film and everything he does is brilliant, was the names the characters gave to each other in order to keep their identities hidden. They are all named after colours (Mr. Brown, Mr. White, Mr. Pink), which added a hint of humour to every scene which was an otherwise serious situation.

Sally Menke was the editor on Reservoir Dogs. She worked with Quentin Tarantino on eight of his films before her death in 2010 (Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown, Kill Bill:Vol. 1, Kill Bill: Vol. 2, Grindhouse, Deathproof, Inglorious Bastards).

 

BSA331: The Journal

This post contains all the work I have currently done in my journal for this class. I realised that handing this in in its physical form probably wouldn’t be the best idea as I may not be around to be able to collect it. Instead I decided to post pictures of it. I haven’t photographed all of the scripts that are in the journal because I didn’t feel comfortable posting them. However, I have written a little something about each piece that was written.

 

Enjoy.

 

BSA306: A Scanner Darkly

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Directed by Richard Linklater | Released 2006 | Rotoscope

 

A Scanner Darkly (2006) is based on Phillip K. Dick’s novel of the same name. The film tells the story of identity and deception in a near-future dystopia constantly under intrusive high-tech police surveillance in the midst of a drug addiction epidemic. The film was shot digitally and then animated using interpolated rotoscope, an animation technique in which animators trace over the original footage frame by frame, for use in live-action and animated films, giving the finished result a distinctive animated look [1].

While I found the rotoscoping impressive, I found it quite distracting. For me, it took my attention away from a story that I might have otherwise been quite engaged with. However, I don’t particularly enjoy Keanu Reeves, Robert Downey Jr. or Winona Ryder so I guess that put me off from the start.

I wanted to like this film, because of the trippy yet impressive rotoscoping, but the reality was that I just didn’t. Even though, as I have said, I don’t very much like the cast of the film, I don’t think this was the reason. It turns out that films about drugs aren’t really my thing. This being the focus of A Scanner Darkly, it didn’t draw me in. Nevertheless, this doesn’t mean it isn’t a good film that deserves recognition for it’s unique approach and thought-provoking story.

Los Cronocrímenes

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Directed by Nacho Vigalondo | Released 2007 | Timecrimes (English release title)

 

The title is a bit of a giveaway for what this film is about. The audience knows from the start that there is going to be time travel and some sort of crime involved and, because of that, you’re anticipating it and it’s not a surprise when it does happen.

As soon as the ‘Pink Mummy’ appeared, I guessed it might have been the main character. I was right. I guessed just about every plot twist long before it happened and I found that really frustrating. I think the reason each and every plot twist was so easy to predict was because the main character was written to be a bit of fool, meaning that every decision he made was sure to be foolish. This is lazy writing. It creates an easy-to-predict plot line and, in turn, a boring movie.

The whole plot of this film feels very similar to the time travel sequence in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban where Harry, Ron and Hermione are present in several places at once and must not bump into themselves in order to not damage the present/future, but eventually manage to make things right with each leap back in time. Similarly, everything Hector does effects past present or future Hectors and he must not communicate with any of the other Hectors. Although Hector causes all of the problems he faces, he also manages to right his world, even though he doesn’t do this in the best of ways.

BSA306: My Body of Work

I aimed to create three kinds of trailers for this project; the theatrical trailer, the non-dialogue trailer and the sneak peek trailer. Unfortunately, time was against me and i was only able to complete two – the theatrical and non-dialogue. I still plan to continue editing and put together the sneak peek, in fact, I filmed enough to make two of these.

I would love to be able to share both of these trailers with the world, but at this stage that is not possible. The reason being that I do not have the rights to use the music I have edited my trailers to. Yes, I know, this is extremely unprofessional of me. However, I have not, and will not, be posting these videos for the public to see, I am only using them for assessment purposes. Sometime in the near future I would like to reedit my trailer using music that I do have rights to whether this be through commissioning someone to write music for me or purchasing the rights to a piece already in existence.

Now that this project is at it’s end, I can say that I am quite happy with what I achieved. I do think that the theatrical trailer was the better of the two. For a student work I feel it looks very professional and reads well as a trailer. I do wish I had had more time (and more skill) to work on the audio, but that is something else I can tackle in the future. The non-dialogue trailer I think had potential, but I think it became a little boring when edited to the same music as the theatrical trailer. In order to make it more engaging I believe a song with lyrics may be beneficial, or perhaps a different instrumental piece and some titles. I also believe it would benefit from being shorter, perhaps closer to the 1 min to 1 min 30 mark.

All in all, this has been an enjoyable project as I have been able to have complete freedom with how I presented my trailer and discover different and interesting ways to present it.

BSA306: The Most Popular Trailers

 

I was thinking recently about how popular trailers are. They seem to be some of the most watch videos on YouTube (besides pointless funny stuff and epic music videos… Gangnam Style is most definitely included) so it made me wonder what the most watched trailers of all time were and why were they so popular? And did they become popular after release or in the build up to the release of the full feature?

I wasn’t able to find the most watched trailer of all time, full stop, but I was able to find a list of the most watched trailers within 24 hours of initial release. To be honest, I was quite impressed with the numbers. It should also be mentioned that Wikipedia is the only “up to date” list (it is also where I found this information).

This list of trailers ranks the top 20 most watched trailers for film and television series within the first 24 hours of initial release on all viewing platforms. What linked all these trailers was the fact that they were all either part of a franchise, part of a series, a remake, or a book to film adaptation. This meant that they all had preexisting fan bases so, compared to a stand alone film, there were already people anticipating their release.

So, what are these trailers? Let’s look at the top 5:

 

 

5. Star Wars: The Last Jedi – 120.1 million views

 

4. Beauty and the Beast (2017) – 127.6 million views

 

3. Thor: Ragnarok (Official Teaser) – 136.0 million views

 

2. The Fate of the Furious  – 139.0 million views

 

1. It (2017) – 197.0 million views

BSA306: The Blair Witch Project

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The first time I saw The Blair Witch Project I was alone and it was night and yes, it had me on edge. I thought it was cleverly done and you can see how, when the film was first released, people believed it was real. Comparing this, the original, to the latest reboot where everyone knows the story and the tactics the filmmakers used during filming, it’s far more successful in my eyes. I think a lot of that relates to the realism in the performances. In The Blair Witch Project, the actors were sent into the forest, given a few directions on where to go and the base of the story, but they weren’t aware that the film crew would be sneaking up on them and scaring them lifeless in the middle of the night. I think this created really authentic reactions. There are some moments where some silly kinds of things are said that make the viewer think “really? you wouldn’t really think that… you’d do this instead”, but I think those moments make the story feel more real (like the filmmakers wanted) because that’s probably what you’d do in that situation when you’re going slightly crazy. Blair Witch (2016), on the other hand, doesn’t feel as authentic because everyone knows the story, they know it’s not real, and the filmmakers know this. We, the audience, now have the “behind the scenes” knowledge of the first film so we aren’t going in blind and so there’s no use for the filmmakers to attempt what was done with the original and try to fool the audience.

The promotion of The Blair Witch Project was done very cleverly. The filmmakers maintained the pretence that the film was in fact a documentary by releasing promotional poster that read “missing’ with the faces of the actors. At the premiere of the film, the actors were not allowed to attend to, again, make the audience think it was real.  These strategies contributed hugely to the success of the film which had a budget of $35,000 and made over $248 million at the box office.

 

Blair Witch Project

 

BSA306: Run Lola Run

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Directed by Tom Tykwer | Released 1998 | Germany

Run Lola Run received 18 awards, including the German Film Award for Best Feature Film, two for cinematography and two for editing.

This is a very fast paced film with little to no lulls. It holds your attention throughout with its interesting use of integrating live action and animation, time lapses and the idea that the smallest action can effect someone’s entire life.

I enjoyed the use the split screen in moments when key actions were happening on the left side, and Lola was running on the other. It wasn’t distracting as the audience understands the action on the right and is able to concentrate on the left, but will still be aware of major changes on the right.

The main themes in this film are the race against time and the idea that we cannot control our lives. The race against time is shown quite obviously in Run Lola Run through the story as Lola is desperately trying to deliver money to someone before 20 minutes is up. This theme is reinforced through the constant visuals of ticking clocks.
The idea that we cannot control out lives is also quite clear throughout the film. In fact, the whole idea of the story runs off this concept; something goes wrong, so Lola has to try and fix it.
There is perhaps another, even more obvious theme; life is a circle. Lola’s day does, in fact, become a loop where her day restarts so she has another chance. There is a great visual during the animation sequence which show this theme brilliantly. Lola runs through a spiral tunnel and then, a little further on, down a spiral staircase. These spirals suggest the loop, or circle, that she is about to experience during her day. I think this ultimately pertains to the idea that events in life seem to repeat themselves, yet each time there are slightly different circumstances that come into play that allow things to work out slightly differently in the end.

All in all, I really enjoyed this film. It was more engaging than I initially expected and I would most definitely recommend it.

BSA306: Don Hertzfeldt

Don Hertzfeldt is an American animator who has received over 250 awards for his films. His best known work includes World of Tomorrow (2015), Billy’s Balloon (1998), and Rejected (2000). His work is often characterised by hand-drawn stick figures, black humour, and surrealism. He animates in a traditional style, choosing to use pen and paper over the more common digital methods. Hertzfeldt will then photograph the drawing with antique 16mm or 35mm cameras. It is not unusual for Hertzfeldt to complete all of the work on one of his films by himself, meaning he is the writer, director, producer, animator, photographer, editor, voice artist and more.

My personal favourite of his works is Rejected. The film is a collection of shorts which are said to have been rejected after Hertzfeldt was commissioned to create them for commercials and television networks. However this is fictional as Hertzfeldt has never done any commercial work. Rejected was inspired by the fact that, after Billy’s Balloon, he received many requests to do commercial work, but declined. Instead, he eventually decided to create a collection of the worst possible commercials he could think of.
Rejected was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film at the 73rd Academy Awards.