This class has been a long journey through a very startlingly new land for me. In my final project I found some way to relate my already existing passion, baking, into this class.
The exact details of what I had hoped to accomplish with my project can be found at the link below on the official class site run by our professor.
The food blog I created, http://foodistarising.tumblr.com, is a very basic beginning and though it was linked to the film Julie and Julia at first, I will continue it especially as summer approaches and I have more time for leisure activities. I hope to come up with a challenge for myself much as Julie did and pursue it to the end. I came to this decision regarding the continuation of this project (though it will be altered) after much thought about what this class taught me about the visions of the film culture.
I spent a fair amount of time during this class to understand one very simple question: what is the reason for films to exist beyond mindless entertainment? This question can be rendered moot for films that are specifically created as comments or dialogue on active topics in society in the form of memoirs or documentaries. But for the majority of today’s films, the entertainers, the ones who create the biggest box office revenues: why? And as I applied the final project for this class, I personally came to believe that films function to show viewers challenges that seem impossible that are overcome in these films. Though it often is set aside as “well that only happens in movies”, movies are largely based on our realities, and I think that if we as viewers watched movies and rather than thought of them as “larger than life”, thought of them as displaying potential that we can apply in our lives too, we would be willing to take on and conquer bigger challenges than we currently believe we can handle.
My life can be accurately summed up as a collection of food experiences, especially of the sugary, high-calorie variety. For this, we can turn to the most glutenous of all confectioners: ze French. For my final project, I want to embody a film that is entirely based around French cuisine: Julie and Julia. I will literally steal the plot and apply it to my life. I certainly don’t plan on cooking every single recipe in Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking (1961) within the next month. My personal preferences in food are all baked delights and I will begin with three recipes from that categories that are highlighted in the film: Apple Tarte-Tatin, Chocolate Soufflé, and Raspberry Bavarian Cream Cake, and then move on to whichever recipes throughout the cookbook I personally find appealing. A large part of the film’s baking scenes are the context of the situation in which Julie is baking, the revelations and realizations she has, as well as the sometimes hilarious and sometimes upsetting accidents and difficulties she faces. For the personal entertainment of all people who will be informed of my experiences as I go about this project, I will be sure to include those types of instances that I personally encounter.
A second layer of the film is Julie’s use of a blog to chronicle her experiences, both in her life and in her cooking journey. Following this layout from the film as a tool for my presentation, I will be creating a tumblr blog comprising of both personal text posts as well as the recipes I will be making. The recipe posts will include images that I will take of my own creations (and as screenshots if the recipe was shown in the film as well) followed by the recipe itself, and at the end it will have the blurb about my personal experiences specific to creating the individual recipe of the post. In the film, there is a parallel to Julie’s story as Julia’s journey to the culmination of her cookbook is also shown, as well as the difficulties she faces on her path. I would personally like to draw parallels between my life and my mother’s for this project. My mother is an amazing cook now but I am sure she has faced many interesting difficulties on her path that I could write about and compare to the experiences I will be having in the next month as well. The personal posts will consist of comparisons of experiences between myself, my mother, Julia, and Julie, while other posts will be simply about my life outside of this project, much as Julie’s blog was like.
At the end of the project, I hope to have been able to complete 2-3 recipes a week as well as numerous text posts spanning the period of the next month.
Which side of me is the “real” side of me? Even if a particular emotion such as anger only comes in short outbursts, is that a departure from my character, another part of my character, or my true character which is normally submerged by societal expectations? Throughout the film, as Nina struggles with finding her own character, having been shaped entirely by her mother and her demanding dance career, the viewer sees many potential faucets of who she may be. However as we watch her go through phases in the film, slipping in and out of different personalities, it begs the question: who is Nina?
As I walked away from the film, despite my strong grasp on my own person, I began to think as well, what defines who I am. What limits who I am. Can the person I am readily change. I know that as we move through our daily lives, we activate schemas, or roles and scripts, particular to the context of a given situation. This is to say that I am not the same character when I am being a student vs a daughter vs a friend. Yet those are all combined. This led to believe that all the characters Nina portrayed were not departures from her self, but rather just parts of herself that she has not yet explored or accepted and therefore does not know how to deal with.
Outside of the many musings I was left with after the film, it was stupendously put together in terms of cinematography. The use of classical music consistently through the film was a terrific decision as classical music can be both soothing and calming but also has the potential to build dramatically into crescendo. There was frequent use of high contrast, both in terms of literal colors in the film and lighting, both working well to highlight the differences in the multiples sides of Nina that were presented on screen. The final part of the film I’d noticed were the transitions. The use of quickly clipped together frames lasting just seconds each and also the spinning and frequent changing of angles in a singular scene added to the heightened excitement, anxiety, and exhilaration that was portrayed in the character and was in turn felt by the audience.
There is much more to be said, but I will end on the final note that I personally believe that no matter what other sides of herself Nina discovers, she will remain largely true to a white swan.
She realizes his presence behind her.
The few seconds contextualizing this shot were the brightest moments of the short film, literally speaking in terms of brightness in the composition of the shot. The lighting here clearly reflects her elated mood at realizing that He is near and shows her excitement at being reunited soon. Between all the frames in those few seconds of brightness, I chose this one because her entire face is shown and is framed by the myriad of paper airplanes, including the one with her lipstick stain on it. Also, though the whole film is shot in black and white, her lips and her lipstick stain are the only two colored constants throughout the movie, both red, and both are present in this shot here. Despite this color existing, and thus drawing some focus to those points in this shot, the coloring is not extremely bright and does not overpower the shot.
This frame perfectly describes her character. Full of hope, yet accepting of the turns of life not going as she would wish, but grateful when her hopes are realized. Girly innocence shines in her big eyes despite her professional attire outlining a womanly figure, complimented by her deep red lips and despite her figure being curvy, she is a petite and delicate bodied woman. You cannot see her body in this frame but just by looking at her face and slender, tall neck, you can imagine the rest of her body to match the description I gave.
Lastly, she just looks absolutely beautiful here.
While most people do not pay attention to the brief 3 seconds that the name of the film is on the screen, instead waiting anxiously for the film to begin right after, a lot can be judged regarding the style and content of the film if the architecture of that title frame is analyzed. Scrolling through the Intertitles blog, my eye caught the image from Matilda. It is a favorite movie of mine from my youth and though I payed no heed to it then, I see now that the children’s handwriting font in all capitals written haphazardly without the bases of the letters matching a singular line and the bright red background give me a brief insight into who Matilda is: a bright, energetic, lovely young child, eager to read and write and learn, which is confirmed as one continues on to watch the film.
This blog is a creative tool for drawing attention to a largely ignored portion of cinema that is present in all films. There is no scholarly material presented, simply an image of each film’s title, allowing the viewer to interpret what the image could indicate about the film on their own. I believe this is the best way to present creative observations on film, even if one were to insert their commentary and thoughts, allow the reader to have sufficient room for their own views to be formed. When it comes to film titles, there is plenty to be analyzed from the font, size of the font, color of font and background, whether background is a solid color, a still image, a moving image, what the image itself could mean, what the image juxtaposed with the writing of the title could mean, and more. All these details to be noted from something that can appear so simple such as the image of MATILDA above!
This blog has definitely provoked me into thinking more about singular components present in films that largely go unnoticed. For example, another frame that can be analyzed is the “intermission” point. Both in the artistic terms as described above but in this case also regarding the placement of the moment during the film and the pace of the film before vs. after the intermission point, and more!
1: Wolf on Wall Street: slightly too lengthy. exciting moments ALSO ending on provoking concept of “one day you’re in, next day you’re out.”
2: Inception: LD gives only his best, Calm and thrilling moments well blended, fast action paired with time for audience reactions. must watch.
3: HP 2: Killer special effects, good for kids/ adults. Highly entertaining with action and humor, also good “moral messaging” for little ones
4: Rashomon: incredible exploration of perspective and truth and reality. lighting, shot cuts, impeccably made. thought provoking.
5: Mr. Smith Goes to Washington: Classic. kids learn about govt., adults to learn morality. One of greatest moral films of past generation.
Voice over. One of those terribly overdone, overused, often ineffective, irritating, and distracting tools that somehow still exists in cinema. Ironically, voice over is discussed within the film in a negative view, occasionally even within the voice over itself. However, the concept of a voice over lends itself well to the attempt to make this film as abstract as possible. The writer of the film has written this film about a writer trying to adapt the very book within the film that the film in actuality is an adaptation of and within the film the writer while being the main character is also the consistent narrator through voice overs. It’s simply another fold in the exploration of ones own process of thoughts.
While appreciating the intricacies of the film’s message about how we think and using voice over to expand upon that, I was able to use the class reading assignment by Denby to evaluate not only the individual components of the film, but also the type of film that it was. As Denby is terribly concerned with “thoughtful films” being a dying breed, I feel that he would have appreciated this film as a foray away from flashy effects and grand scenarios filled with action and graphics more towards creating a space for conversation much more relateable to the individual and applicable to their lives.
To take a look at the cinematography of the film and the visuals it uses, one must comment on the consistent use of dimmed color tones throughout the film. Notably being always such when the main character is in the shot. The few times I recall the film having a vivid tone to it were moments in which the author of The Orchid Thief was present in a good mood. Thus I extrapolate the lack of vividness around Charlie’s character to be attributed to be a comment on his perpetual depression, severe to the point that even when another character such as his brother is present, the mood of the character does not great change the mood set for the scene. Lighting and color are huge components to the overall mood of the film. While I understood what was being achieved, I often wished for more bright scenes because after a while the film itself became dull to watch, with nothing eye catching to grab on to. I’m sure that Denby would have a fit over me demanding pizazz and glamour, but a film needs to be able to continuously hold attention and when the story is interesting but not necessarily a cliff hanger or a bone chilling intense ride (which Denby would also consider not useful cinema), it is difficult to want to keep watching.
Overall, I felt this movie was not entirely captivating, I walked away not left thinking about it and it certainly won’t remain in my memory as a great film for generations to come. Because it did not meet either extreme of being intensely thought provoking nor thrilling, it is not a film that made much of an impact on myself as a viewer, not during watching the film nor in ruminating over it afterwards.