Sunday, December 4, 2011

Color in Thirteen

 “Thirteen,” frankly portrays the downward spiral of a Tracy, a 13 year old, who is introduced to a world of sex and drugs at an extremely young age by Evie, one of her fellow peers. The color scheme in “Thirteen,” directed by Catherine Hardwicke does not represent the sunny, overly saturated colors that are typically shown in films set in California. Instead the movie offers a cool desaturated color palette, mostly full of desaturated hues such as cyan-blue, red, and magenta, creating the feeling of isolation, confusion. The only time the color scheme differs from this is when she’s having extreme emotions, such as extreme angry, or very blissful. Then the color shifts to a more red-yellow and orange hue, becoming more saturated. The color scheme aids the story and allows the reader to fully experience the direness of Tracey’s situation.

 * I am going to contrast the drastic change between the first few scenes and the last scene of the film. *

 The first scene starts off at the height of Tracy’s innocence. She is still the perky, dorky, unnoticed student in middle school, and she has yet to be introduced to the crazy Californian nightlife. Tracy and her life-long friend are walking side my side, dressed in a blue sweatshirt and blue jeans of similar shades. There isn’t much in the background besides brown soil and the green of the trees and leaves but the colors aren’t on the opposite side of the color wheel so it creates a very desaturated setting, which gives the scene an ominous tone to it, as if the worst is yet to come.

                                                                   (her brother Mason, who is already corrupted) 
As she enters middle school, black is introduced to the color scheme, and in just a scene later; the film becomes significantly less bright. The characters that already seem corrupted by society, sex, and drugs are decked out in various black items, whether it is a wristband, a shirt, or a pair of shoes, which makes Tracy’s blue attire seem even more juvenile than the first scene.
When we get into her house, the 1 color hue scheme is a bit overwhelming at first. Her mom is dying a characters hair blue, the walls are blue, Tracey’s notebook is blue, so are other miscellaneous items in the house, further enforcing the cold atmosphere, as if something isn’t right within the household. 

Surprisingly, the color hue shifts to a desaturated orange and yellow, rather than blue when Tracy first starts doing drugs, it’s as if she’s blissful for once in her life, although the false happiness doesn’t last very long. The first time she comes home high, there is an orange light illumining the room, contrasting with the green wall in the background, making everything appear mystical and mysterious. There are even red, yellow, green and blue cards she drops around her and suddenly the film is saturated more than ever before. She also starts wearing more color such as purples, pinks and reds

Finally, when Tracy’s blissful stage ends, and she begins spiraling even more out of control, into a destructive path, the desaturated color’s come back.  She has reached her lowest point during the last few scenes, after it’s reported that her friend Evie, ratted her out for stealing, doing drugs, and cutting, the hue dramatically shifts to a dark cyan, full of gray. The color has an extreme blue tint to it, but the characters inside the house are all wearing black tops, which contribute to the melodramatic setting. The color gradually gets bluer as her mom confronts her and the arguing intensifies. 

 Color plays a large role in evoking emotions out of the audience and setting the tone of the film. The mood of "Thirteen" could not have been created without the drastic color scheme.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Space Quiz!

This test will have multiple sections and it is an hour long. It will be graded based on the students ability to use their imagination ! Good Luck :)

Part I: 40minutes 

This part of the test will be graded on how well you know the terms expressed below. I am not expecting perfect answers and points will be awarded for effort. Try not to leave any spaces blank. 

1. This is a picture from Les Amours Imaginaires,
Directions: A) Write one sentence and describe how this frame is divided.
B) Use your imagination and describe what is the emotional relationship between these two characters and what exactly might happen in the next frame between the two?  (tip: "surface division can be helped to tell a story"

2. Give three specific examples on why surface division is important in telling a story?

3. List 4 ways one can achieve open space.

                                                                    (Up, Pixar)
4. What purpose does the window serve in this image?

5. How does the space in the image above change from the first part of the picture to the second part? (hint: what is the depth cute?)

6. Extra credit: Name all of the directors in the image above!!

                                   (Ken Moody & Robert Sherman by Robert Mapplethorpe)
7. What kind of space is in the picture above and how is it being created?

8. Briefly compare and contrast limited and ambiguous space?

9List 3 ways a director could create limited space and why they would do so?

10. How is depth created in this picture of Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan?

11. A) Describe a scene where aerial diffusion will happen. 
      B) Explain what will happen once aerial diffusion occurs. 

Part II: 20minutes 

This part of the test will not be graded on how good it looks but how elaborately you are able to use your imagination in such a short period of time. Also you should have a clear understanding on what ambiguous space is and how it is achieved. 

Directions: There are three kids in a small classroom, not including yourself. You are in a class room filled with various objects including a window shade, a fog machine, a camera, a tripod, and 4 mirrors! How will you use this equipment to create ambiguous space within the small room?


Thursday, September 29, 2011

Narrative Structure in Kids

Kids by Larry Clark is so realistic that it is like a slap in the face to many of its viewers to wake up and realize what was going on with many teens in the late 1990’s. In fact, some might say that the movie is still relevant to life of many young adults today. Contrary to many believes about the film, Clark does not try to glorify the use of drugs or unprotected sex. Instead he gives his audience an accurate description of the life of these New York City skate kids during the 1990s and the recklessness of it all.

One reason why Kids seems so natural and unsettling is because it is not played out in the classical Hollywood narrative form and there is not always a cause and effect for everything. It’s told in chronological order and we watch the events unfold in a course of just 24 hours. In a way, it resembles a documentary because nothing looks staged and the events are very spontaneous. Even the main conflict in the end is never resolved which is practical because many of us do not solve our problems in just a day’s time.  

The first shot of the film is a close up on a pair of lips kissing and it widens to reveal Telly, a scrawny boy, in bed making out with a young girl who appears to just begun the process of puberty. He tells her how beautiful she is and how much he loves about her just seconds minutes into the film. The next cut is a jump cut and reveals that he is successful in his mission to have sex with her. The jump-cut helps show the quick escalation of him trying to coax her into the act, to them actually doing it (without a condom, might I add). The camera focus is so shallow that all of our attention is on these two people. The first voice-over in the film comes in from Telly as he's having sex with the girl; he reveals that he loves virgins.  He leaves right after but as he's leaving we get a wider shot that allows us to see most of her room, which is full of pink stuffed animals, resembling the room of a pre-teen.  At the end of the scene its safe to assume it was the young girls first time having sex and Telly has gone through the process of sweet-taking girls using the same speech more than once before. 

Right as Telly walks outside of the door, we meet Casper. We see a comic book from his point of view then it cuts to a wider shot, revealing him as he sits on the porch, giggling at a comic book and drinking a 40oz of liquor wrapped in a brown plastic bag, something he does throughout the entire film. In fact, he almost always has a bottle of alcohol throughout every scene in the film. They engage in a quick conversation while walking across the streets of New York City and it's confirmed that having sex with virgins is a typical thing for Telly as he calls himself the "virgin surgeon." You can barley hear their dialogue over the loud sounds of traffic in the busy city as Telly talks about nothing but sex and Casper does nothing but nods his head in excitement and cheer him on. They use a lot of slang while talking and the dialogue in this film is so frank that it is such a huge factor in portraying back-story and giving the audience more information to what kind of lives these teenagers live. 

While Telly is at a friend’s house, immersed in drugs, the phone rings and the guy in the house who answers the phone tells him that Jennie says hi. He asks who she is, and Casper tells him that it’s the “bitch he fucked last summer.” The scene switches to a room with many girls sprinkled across a large bed. One girl hangs up a phone and beside her Is Jennie. This is our first introduction to her. The scene cuts between the groups of boys that Telly is with to the group of girls with Jennie. They both have sexual discussions including opinions on condom use and sexually transmitted disease. We learn that the boys are very ignorant to the spread of HIV; one drunken kid states that it's a myth and he doesn't know anyone who has it. The camera quickly switches to a reaction of Telly who laughs along, agreeing with everyone else. He has no clue he has the disease. We know that Jennie lost her virginity to Telly a little while back without using a condom. She goes to get an HIV test with her friend just to keep her company and discovers that she has HIV whereas her friend does not. The main plot of the film emerges from them getting testing to aids because this causes Jennie to go on a mission to find Telly. 

 We are left on the edges of our seats as the film weaves between events featuring Telly and Casper to Jennie’s wild-goose chase to find Telly, the boy who gave her HIV and to confront him. Information in the film is given through a mixed narration. Jennie tends to find out events after Telly and Casper, since she always seems to just miss them. 

There is only one scene in the whole entire movie with any sort of parental figure and she is only on the screen for a total of one minute during the whole entire film which helps deemphasizes her role in her sons life.  It’s an important scene because we see that she’s too busy with a baby in order to worry about Telly, her oldest.

The film is not very violent until they leave Telly’s house and go to Washington Square Park in order to skate and pick up drugs. This is Casper’s seen and he is right in his element as he mingles with the rest of the skate kids. While skating around high, Casper accidently knocks into some fellow who is not having it. At the first sign of a fight, a majority of Casper’s skateboarding friends come over and began bashing the man in the head with their skateboards. The girls’ circle around the group, screaming "fight, fight.” They beat the man to a pulp and the fight ends with Telly spitting into the eye of the man’s bloody face.  This scene is brutal and it serves as nothing but a purpose for us to realize how ruthless these kids are. 

As the night comes to a close, Telly sits in the same position that he did in the very opening scene while trying to coax yet another 13 year old to have sex with him. The shot is almost completely identical; the only difference is the girl. Nothing has changed.

Jennie is already in a drunken and high daze, unable to think when she finally finds Telly. She just opens a bedroom door and sees Telly in the act of having taking the virginity of a thirteen year old. We have no idea what she is thinking at the time, but all she does is close the door and passes out on a random couch within the house, never having the opportunity to confront Telly. Instead, Casper emerges from the bathroom after having spent his entire time at the party getting drunk in a bathtub. He is so drunk; he proceeds to rape Jennie as she is passed out. He has now contracted aids. 

Casper wakes up saying “Jesus Christ, what happened” and it’s extremely sad and pathetic because we get the painful idea that no one will really learn from their mistakes until it's entirely too late.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Life Lessons: Music in Film

Nick Nolte playing Lionel in Life Lessons (1989) 

Life Lessons was one of Martin Scorsese's earlier films, released in 1989. It's a 40 minute film short film and tells a story of a passionate, wild, and sporadic artist named Lionel Dobie, played by Nick Holte  and his relationship with art, music, and a beautiful young muse named Paulette.

I knew that Scorsese's films tend to be full of rock-n-roll and good music after watching Mean Streets and Goodfella's but the music in Life Lessons helped strengthen my belief that music plays a crucial factor to help enhance emotion a viewer gets from watching a film. This post will focus on only three songs from the soundtrack of the film because these I felt the most emotion from these three songs.

When the film first starts, the song A Whiter Shade of Pale by Procul Harum is blasting in the art studio of Lionel as he's working on a painting.  Lionel is getting ready for an art show, and it's obvious that he is overwhelmed with lyrics that include, "I was feeling king of sea sick" and "the crowd called out for more." It appears that he's stuck with this unfinished canvas and he's very frustrated because he has to open an art show in 3-weeks but is nowhere near finished. The song has a tendency to come up during very passionate and heated moments during the film. Such as when Lionel is having a sexual fantasy about Paulette and the song plays in the background. It makes the story less-sexy and more pathetic. You end up feeling very bad for him because all he wants to do is touch her but he's unable to because he promised her that he wouldn't.

After his muse, Paulette comes back to New York and moves in, there is lots of tension and sexual frustration in the house. After Lionel walks in Paulettes room and imagines kissing her foot, the song that plays is Sex Kick by Transvision Vamp. If the title doesn't explain the tone of the song for you, take a minute to listen to it for yourself. ( clip: below) t. The song is very sensual and also sung by a woman, her voice seems to be have a taunting tone to it and it helps enforce the feeling of sexual frustration.  The song is very sensual and explains Lionel's sexual frustration at not being able to have sleep with Paulette, despite her being constantly half naked in his room. After he leaves the room, he goes out to work on his painting and there are lots of close ups and inserts of photograph clippings containing nudity which is probably all that is on his mind at the moment

Of course, there is a great moment when Paulette comes in to scream at Lionel and he's painting away while blasting Like A Rolling Stone sung by Bob Dylan. I associate this song more with Paulette rather than Lionel. This song explains her infatuation with him so clearly. He's like a Rolling Stone to her and she is so amazed by his talent, which is what draws her to him in the first place. She wants to be just like him. The lyrics "Nobodies taught ya how to live out on the street" remind me all to much of Paulette and the fact that she moved to New York in order to be an artist, but learns a life lesson and realizes that she can't really live "on her own, with no direction at all," the same way that Lionel does.

 I don't think I can ever listen to A Whiter Shade of Pale again without thinking of Nick Holte's character in Life Lessons and it will forever leave me with a feeling of isolation.