A 1989 film directed and written by Andrej Zulawski is a story about a man named Lucas (Jacque Dutronc), who is a gifted inventor of a new computer language who is suffering from a terminal degenerative disease in which his mind is slowly dying. As he knows his time will soon be up. He met a woman, at a cafe in Paris named Blanche (Sophie Marceau), who is a psychic medium performer in which both characters establish a fruitful connection to each other because they share a common experience of life. In which they were both traumatized at childhood. After a poetic struggle from internal and external factors, the two finally bide their farewells to the world as they both commit suicide (not directly shown) happily, as one of the characters that helped Lucas voice over saying “they complete the circle like children again.” The film shows artistic usage of poetic dialogues, the showing of symbolic objects as well as incorporating a common cliché with a twist of boy meets girl with a common traumatic past.
Artistic Way of Poetic Dialogue
As I watch the film in French with subtitles(don’t understand French) I did noticed that the dialogue between Lucas and Blanche use a Shakespearean-like dialogue especially in loves scenes such line I recalled “putting…the back to the stone…”. This is one way that Zulawski made each intimate scenes more interesting to hear at the same time to be appreciate more by incorporating a different form of speaking (like speaking Shakespearean dialect) he went outside the standard of mainstream usage of proper dialogues which made each scene as a fruitful fusion of acting and poetry.
The showing of symbolic objects
Another one is that the film shows symbolism. Such symbolism are use not only to connect with certain characters but it also use to connect to the audience such example are the rabbit doll that the child Lucas was carrying symbolizes his traumatic past which it reappear in a giant form during the scene when his disease is getting the best of him this implies to the idea that we can associate a certain sentimental thing in our lives to recall any form of memory we have such as traumas. Another one is that it shows the character of Lucas himself as one big irony in which it shows that he has invented a new computer language that shows a mirror effect on him that he cannot control his own language as evident throughout the film as shown by his impending speech patterns. The character of Blanche, a girl with a gift to see through people’s hearts symbolises her as the Objective Truth, in which in the scene at the casino she demonstrates her ability in which she guessed everything correctly and some of her audience that were hurt or even shock puts them in a symbolic representation of the people who are “hurt” when they see the truth in front of their faces. At the last scene of the film Lucas and Blanche went to the sea for a swim, the sea symbolises “freedom” as it is a free moving body that moves on how the wind tells them in which for the case of Lucas and Blanche to make an escapade towards their happiness they plunge happily in the sea until they “complete the circle..again.”
Common cliché with a twist of boy meets girl
One thing makes this film interesting is that it took the simple concept of boy meets girl and tells it in a way we can understand how two characters are poetically in love at the same time sharing a troubling past. The concept is also retold a way that the bad ending of both character dying in the end appear to be a good and happy ending.
Impressions towards the Film
The film did show artistic usage of poetic dialogues, of symbolic objects as well as incorporating a common cliché with a twist of boy meets girl with a common traumatic past. But overall the film is somewhat a reflection of French artistry in which the it emphasis a strong French nationalism because it shows evidence of French etiquettes of behaviour, as well as French architecture as shown in scenes in the film, even the concept of the story telling is of French style which can be distinguish from other countries. Truly such a fine film to watch if you are looking for an authentic French film.
Daniel Abiera (C)
In the world of film analysis and critic, we tend manifest our favorable responses to certain films and employ such theories to interpret, or even defend the ideals that a film has to offer to society and to one’s self. In Andrew M. Butler’s Film Studies discussed us a particular theory of film known as Marxism in which it is said that a film is centered on the socioeconomic clashes of different eras as it is a reflection of base and superstructures of society, prevailing ideology, and a tool for a means of controlling the modern masses by the sole elite.
Marxism film theory came into being from the brilliant mind of Karl Marx though the influence of Hegel and with the help of his friend, Frederick Engel, argued that “that there was an ongoing dialectical struggle between two different classes, ….Each time the battle would lead to mutual destruction or a revolution in society” (Butler, 47) in which these two clashing social classes like the Capitalist and the Proletariat are always at a constant war in which either side produces ideas that is proposed on either to solved their differences which it is entangled in a cycle in which Hegel would call it dialectic( Thesis-Antithesis-Synthesis) and Marx’s dialectic materialism. Karl Marx didn’t able to apply his theory in film as he died before seeing its potential; however, some of his followers had used his theory to able to explain how film came into being for them.
A central to Karl Marx’s theory are the ideas of a base and superstructure. In which the base is defined as the “way that economics of a given society are organized” (Butler, 48) in which the base determines the superstructure(overall system) in which the Marxist say they consist of laws, politics, religion, education, media and many more. In which according to them that a certain kind of ideology or culture arises within a given economic condition that affects the superstructure. It applies to film because each change in given economic factors can affect its content, and distribution as Butler stated such example in page 48-49 of his book. Nevertheless according to Butler that film is just one of the products of a particular time period as each era is different from others thus its content and distribution compare to today and to the past are also different. Film may be a different in different eras but sometimes they give the same prevailing ideology that the sole elite wants for its audience in order to maintain a state of power.
According to Butler “any economic system seeks to perpetuate itself, and power-holders seek to make us share their ways of thinking—including the idea that it is fitting that they be in charge” (page. 50) in which the sole elite uses ideology which is defined by Butler as a set of (mis)representations of the world that makes us see it in a particular way in which in film the contents we see sometimes is a desire by the sole elite for us to see in order to either avoid any debate with their ideals, enforced their rule and thus maintaining their desired position in society as “rulers” . But according to an Italian name Antonio Gramsci he noted that these ideologies are negotiated and consented from the masses like a filmmaker negotiating with a censorship committee run by the people. Gramsci also stated that education is also a means of consent as well as a force to inculcate or to instil the dominant ideology of the power-holders. Films carry ideology in order to maintain grip with its prevailing rule on the economic system as they utilize it as a tool to suppress any resistances from its subjects.
The Frenchman Louis Althusser discussed Ideological State Apparatuses (ISA) and Repressive State Apparatuses (RSA) in which he defined ISA as “carrots to persuade us to behave in a particular manner… as if of our own free will, although there is not necessarily much freedom in the choices we make.” (Butler , 51) these apparatus include the church, the family, the schools, the legal system, culture and the media(i.e Film); RSA is the opposite in which it is designed to punish to who hadn’t been persuade by the ISA and these can be the government, the police, the law and the courts. But in the case in film it only serves as a ISA to persuade us in a way to make us do things that the sole elite would want us to do and not designed to punish us, however not all films conform to the ruling ideology of an economic system but rather they sometimes clashed with it by becoming overtly political as Jean-Luc and Jean Narboni argued that Film is political as it is a product born out of an ideological system. Ideology driven by an economic system is one of the interesting way that the Marxism offered us in explaining how such film is shown to us.
In Andrew M. Butler’s Film Studies, discussed us the theory of film known as Marxism in which it is said that a film is centered on the socioeconomic clashes of different eras as it is a reflection of base and superstructures of society, prevailing ideology, and a tool for a means of controlling the modern masses by the sole elite. Through Karl Marx with the helped of his colleagues, he sought to make a point on how such dominance of an economic system dictated by “power-holders” would utilize film as tools for persuading us by means of addicting us like heroin on the content we see in which we persistently ask for more and how we tend to disregard such doubt that we have been blinded by such illusion as a means of these elites to maintain their stand in society as well as to rule over it. Understanding Marxism opens one’s mind into becoming a critical person .In an era of a media driven society it is a must to able to discern on the contents we see and get as well as be in control of our ideals, and individuality without such doing we will be just mere subjects to a these sole elites.
Daniel Abiera (C)
When we say movie titles like: The Nightmare Before Christmas, Beetlejuice, Batman Returns, Edward Scissorhands, Sweeney Todd, Corpse Bride, and Alice and Wonderland we all know that these were made by one genius filmmaker we know today as Tim Burton.
Timothy Walter “Tim” Burton is a film writer, film producer and film director of his films in which most of his works reflect an artistic signature in which he has consistency with the use of his theme, style as well as use of actors in his films in which we can consider him as an “Auteur”
Definition and Background of the Auteur film theory
(Cited from Movies And Meaning: An Introduction to Film by Stephen Prince)
In the mid-1950’s, Cahier Du Cinema critics like Truffaut and Goddard proposed that the greatest movies are dominated by the personal vision of the director.
In which the proposed Auteur film theory meant that a filmmaker’s “signature” can be perceived through an examination of his/her total output. Which is characterized by a unity of theme and style.
Looking at Tim Burton on the Auteur’s Watch Glass
Tim Burton is famous for his dark, gothic, horrid-themes. He uses them as an alternative approach to appeal audiences as an unique way of telling a story by incorporating villainous (because they look evil in a way misleading to be villains) looking heroes like Sweeney Todd, Jack Skellington, and Edward Scissorhands as opposed to the traditional way that most film directors would do; in which his themes sometimes clash with the way Disney films tell stories which is purely cheesy (in a way too much happiness) themes. He does not only use dark, gothic, and horrid themes to tell stories but he also use a consistency in composition of his mise-en-scene.
His style also reflects from the mise-en-scene of his films in which most of them are leaning towards Formalism (he tends to widen his audience imagination by showing animated style characters and settings that arise from his artistic mind) which is evident in his films like: The Nightmare Before Christmas, Alice In Wonderland, Frankenweenie, Corpse Bride, and Beetlejuice ; in which most of them were shot in studios particularly through animation( stop-motion) and on Green Screen. Tim Burton not only uses a commonly used style in his mise-en-scene. He cast consistent actors/actresses in his films.
Tim Burton is known in Hollywood who had a long-collaboration with actors/actresses that had worked with him like: Johnny Depp, Christopher Lee, Helena Bonham Carter , and Christopher Walken in which these actors help manifest the creative imagination that Tim Burton had in mind to deliver his themes and style to his audiences in films like: Sweepy Hollow(1999)in which he casted Johnny Depp, Christopher walken as the Headless-Hessian, and Christopher Lee as a cameo role as the judge; Alice in Wonderland(2010) he casted Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter, Helena B. Carter as the Red Queen, Chrisopher Lee as the voice of the Jabberwocky; Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005) he casted Johnny Depp as Willie Wonka, Helena B. Carter as Mrs. Bucket, Christopher Lee as Wilbur Wonka; Corpse Bride (2005) casting Johnny Depp as the voice of Victor, and Helena B. Carter as the voice of Emily, and voice cameo by Christopher Lee as the orthodox priest/bishop; Sweeney Todd (2007) he casted Johnny Depp as Sweeney Todd, Helena B. Carter as Mrs. Lovett. With his consistency in the casting of his characters truly Tim Burton can be seen not just a regular filmmaker but to an extent we can say that he is an Auteur of his master pieces.
Tim Burton is an Auteur to the eyes of many people because he uses consistent themes, styles (in mise-en-scene composition) and casting of consistent actors to deliver his creative genius in the art of storytelling in the mainstream media.
Truly he can be levelled with the great “Auteurs” in films to name a few like Akira Kurosawa, and Alfred Hitchcock in which the way he tells a story from top to button has an inherent signature in which he will be recognize by his viewers right away even if they didn’t see his name on the end credits of his films.
Daniel Abiera (C)
Imagine a stranger out of the blues is pulled over into a deadly scheme race against time to save his daughter; what would you do if you were that man who was force to make such a choice between not doing the task or do it for a person whose life depends on you? In the thrilling movie, Nick of Time, is about a stranger named, Gene Watson (Johnny Depp) who is an accountant who comes to L.A. with his ten-year-old daughter Lynn (Courtney Chase) to attend a funeral. Suddenly on the street, Gene and Lynn are pulled aside by Mr. Smith (Christopher Walken) and Ms. Jones (Roma Maffia), who flash what look like police badges and usher them into a van. Gene soon discovers that he’s been kidnapped, and his captors have an unusual demand that will determine the faith of her daughter unless he does what he is instructed to do.
Themes in the film
The movie focuses on the theme of Betrayal, Blackmail, and fatherly love.
The theme of Betrayal is evident on the film because the background of the assassination attempt of the Governor Eleanor (Marsha Mason) was actually being perpetuated by the husband of the Governor, Brendan Grant (Peter Strauss) in which in the scene when Eleanor’s Assistant, Krista Brooks (Gloria Reuben) along with Gene Watson confronted him in a presidential suit room sudden find themselves in a trap as Mr. Smith sudden shoots Krista Brooks and renders Gene Watson unconscious and having heard almost everything that Brendan Grant, Mr. Smith and the mysterious guy talking on the assassination of the Governor. Eventually Gene Watson persuades the Governor that she was being betrayed but the race against time for her daughter’s life is somewhat of a question of do or die.
The theme blackmail is evident in the film especially on the beginning of the plot when Gene Watson and her daughter were abducted by two unknown people that introduce themselves as cops in which the scene at the van tells us everything the definition of blackmail when Mr. Smith gave Gene Watson a proposal that if he didn’t kill the Governor within an hour and a half her daughter will die in which at first Gene Watson was hesitant but eventually proceeds with what Mr. Smith has instructed him because he now knows that these two strangers mean business in getting what they want and that he must do it for his precious daughter’s life depend on it.
The theme fatherly love is evident in the film because throughout the plot of the story Gene Watson always has his daughter’s safety on his mind as he follows what Mr. Smith wants him to do, he too devise a cunning scheme on his own not only he won’t kill the governor but get her daughter our from the clutches of these two psychopaths. Eventually he succeeded in getting his daughter back and foils the plans of the mysterious men that put him in this dreadful situation of making a cruel choice.
The movie, Nick of Time directed by John Badham, focuses on the themes of Betrayal, Blackmail, and fatherly love which made the movie a must to watch because the way the director channels these themes together made a great plot with a very unique situation that arise from a common problem that some people encounter in our society. The movie made use of the concept of time in which the entire story time of the film takes play from 12:00PM-1:30PM which gave the main character pressure in doing the task instructed to him, as well as incorporating great actors like Christopher Walken as a psychopathic goon named Mr. Smith who stalks every move of Gene Watson throughout this thrilling film. Personally this film should’ve been nominated as one of the best films because of its elusive plot and thrilling scenes.
Daniel Abiera (C)
Sometimes we look up to someone for advice and guidance that we developed sentimentality on that person and even manifest a father or mother figure towards them. In the 1988 movie, Cinema Paradiso directed by Giuseppe Tornatore, is about a boy who grew up in a native Sicilian Village returns home as a famous director after receiving news about the death of an old friend, told in a flashback, Salvatore reminiscences about his childhood and his relationship with Alfredo, a projectionist at Cinema Paradiso. Under the fatherly influence of Alfredo, Salvatore fell in love with film making, with the duo spending many hours discussing about films and Alfredo painstakingly teaching Salvatore the skills that became a stepping stone for the young boy into the world of film making. The film brings the audience through the changes in cinema and the dying trade of traditional film making, editing and screening. It also explores a young boy’s dream of leaving his little town to foray into the world outside.
Themes in the Film
The film discussed the concepts of sentimentality, the concept of coming of age, and the fatherly love.
The theme sentimentality is evident in the film because of the scenes when the entire town of Giancaldo always watch together films at the Cinema Paradiso in which they laugh, socialize and enjoy the movies; which symbolizes their source joy, entertainment as well as a binding force that keeps them as one whole big family or community. As Salvatore Di Vita grows up to be a fine man he will inherit the sole responsibility that his father figure, Alfredo has given to him.
The theme of coming of age is very evident in the movie because throughout the middle of the film when Salvatore Di Vita grows up to be a promising young person (teenager) he eventually developed responsibility such as the instance when he devotes himself by giving happiness to his community by operating the projector, a skill that he had learned from Alfredo. Eventually loving the operation of the movie projector also made him more attach to Alfredo thus developed a strong bond between the two thus manifesting a fatherly figure for “Toto” (Salvatore for short) that will eventually become the very foundation of the source of wisdom and guidance for him to choose a better future for his happiness by Alfred.
The theme fatherly love is evident in the movie because throughout the film Toto always seeks advice and guidance from Alfredo like how to court a lady (the scene when she stalks and want t get to know Elena Mendola), and sometimes ask what to do when operating the projector in the newly built cinema house (Nuevo cinema paradiso), and sometimes there was a scene when Alfredo persuades Toto to leave Giancaldo and to pursue his dreams not just a lowly projectionist but something he wants more than everything(film director). In the end of the movie, after Toto’s (Salvatore) revelation with his past he finally visits his deceased friend to see him one last time symbolizing the strong bond between the son and father figure by saying each other their farewells.
Performance of the Actors and Mise-en-scene
(Daniel Abiera’s thought)
In the film Cinema Paradiso, the actors actually carried out their roles well especially for the roles of Alfredo (Philippe Noiret) and Salvatore( Jacques Perrin(old Toto),Marco Leanardi(teenage Toto), Salvatore Cascio(child Toto)) in which they impress me in terms of manifesting good acting from the seriousness of their dialogues up to the comedies they do. I also love the cinematography of the film in terms of the settings they shot the film like the place and environment which shows authentic Italian/Sicilian culture as well as the music they use during a dramatic scenes or in a comedy or love scenes.
(Joy Magdoza’s thought)
The performance of the actors are great, they are really professional with every scene in the movie. The actor who played as the little Toto was very excellent, the child actor has a nice acting skills. The actor who played as teenage Toto was very professional especially on the scene when he was having an intercourse with a prostitute inside the movie house. The actor who played as Alfredo very natural when he was having the role I mean he was very good. The actress who played as the adult Elena she got it all beautiful, great at all. The actor who played as Salvatore Di Vita he was so that what I mean is he’s the type of actor that really fits in the role.
Overall thoughts on the film
This movie is very EXPECTACULAR the feelings and emotions of the viewers were different while watching this you got excited, happy, sad but still it’s wonderful, warm and satisfying. We all can relate to the feelings of the Salvatore and Elena, every scene gives as excitement because the movie affects our emotions in different levels. The lines used in the movie were great and delivered as it is, every word of love gives the audience a “kilig”(warm fuzzy feeling) factor. And I’m hoping that I can watch another movie as great as PARADISO because nowadays love movies are not that great always have the same set of stories nothing to be excite about unlike this movie a lot of twist in the story.
Overall I love the film and I have no problem with its entirety; I think this movie should have received more than the awards it has and it can also be comparable to the film, Life is Beautiful as number two if not number one in the rankings of one of the best foreign films or one of the great films ever produced.
Daniel Abiera & Joy Magdoza ©
After being impressed with Cruise’s performance in Jack Reacher recently it got me thinking. Is Cruise one of the hardest working actors in Hollywood? He surely must be, given his output. Since his first credited role in Endless Love in 1981, I can only count seven instances in the last 31 years where he’s had more than a one-year break between jobs. Mostly he’s had at least one film out a year, 39 in total to date.
What’s most impressive is the range of films and quality of performances. I assume that’s why, for some people, he’s a divisive figure. A man at the top of his game and loving it. Whether you’re a fan or not, it’s hard to dispute his screen presence and charisma. Here’s my pick of his top ten performances:
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‘El Presidente’ a bio-pic based from the ‘Memoirs of Revolution’ of Aguinaldo, directed and written by Mark Meily is an example of a fine film made for the enrichment of Filipino roots and nationalism.
The film starts off with a memorable dialogue to the young Aguinaldo that “One day you will be a king of a kingdom you don’t rule” which was followed by an introduction credit of the star studded cast to name a few: Jorge Estregan(as Emilio Aguinaldo), Cesar Montano( as Andres Bonifacio), Christopher De Leon(as Antonio Luna), Cristine Reyes( as Hilaria Del Rosario) and Nora Aunor(as Maria Agoncillo); accompanied by an epic scoring by Jessie Lasaten and follows a chronological order of events on how the ‘El Presidente’ led the struggles of the Philippine Revolution against the Spaniards, Americans as well as within themselves following a time lapse on his life as a post revolution citizen until his last dying breath that he realized that he had loved three women in his life : his first wife Hilaria Del Rosario, second wife Maria Agoncillo, and the Inang Bayan, the lady that was with him all the way when he was fighting for the complete independence of the Philippines.
Performance of the Actors
After watching the film my father did raised some problems with the acting of the actors especially the extras and other minor characters and that is they lack “stage business” in which he explains that in real life especially during war times most people especially military officers in the front lines don’t usually sit calmly while discussing military strategies in an open field in which some scenes it shows that it lacks the proper style of acting to persuade that there is a sense of urgency in war that the characters portraying. Another is that during crowd scenes especially when Emilio told his fellow Cavitenos that they have driven off the Spaniards in which they emitted cheers and hurrays in a way that it sounded so artificial and unmotivated… talking about excitement that you have driven off your oppressors making a suggestion to at least for the part of the director to have retook that scene to make it a bit more persuasive enough to have a proper enthusiasm about wanting a free country.
Jorge Estregan’s acting as Emilio Aguinaldo is seem okay in a way that he did display a portrayal of an almost objective heroic leader of the revolution as well as having that Asiong Salonga aura with him makes him a reputable actor until this time.
Jorge Estregan may not be Asiong Salonga anymore but he still carries it with him as he portrays Aguinaldo.
Cesar Montano’s portrayal of Andres Bonifacio is off track in a way that it portrays that founder of the Katipunan as a power hungry individual in which in the historic academe to disagree on such matter.
My impression of the mise-en-scene of the film is some what okay because it did show that it took place during the 1890′s and it did show historical realism especially the initiation rites that the Katipunan do to their new recruits and proper research on the actual people who are involved with the revolution, the people who served on the first first republic.
Some transitions in the film were done well notably the opening scene before the epic introduction credits of the stars with the nicely done scoring to pair with; however, some were a too jumpy in a way you would say ” what just happened?” notably the scene before Emilio’s capture which uses a rapid shift of scenes which puts you into a sense of confusion on what was going on.
El Presidente is no doubt one of the best films to be viewed in this years Metro Manila Film Festival even though its the second best picture next to Brilliante Ma. Mendoza’s Thy Womb it’s still a very good film because it did tell a story of a man’s passion in life to see his country to be free as a bird in the sky and to be able to decide their faith to be. Mark Meily did a really good job in telling a story of another Filipino Hero( finally another hero aside for Rizal) with historical accuracy with a dub of funny moments and seriousness truly is one master piece for him to look back and work on as he directs new films for next years Film festival.
Daniel Abiera (C)