Madeline Meyer's Blog

An Oberlin course blog

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The Social Network

April 29th, 2011 by Madeline Meyer · Uncategorized

New York Times’ “Capturing the Facebook Obsession”

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The Harder They Come

April 22nd, 2011 by Madeline Meyer · Uncategorized

One of the elements of The Harder They Come I enjoyed most was its ability to convince you that you’re watching one movie and then completely shifting gears.  The first half seemed like the familiar story of “talented artist struggles to be recognized” and the second half was somewhat akin to Bonnie and Clyde.  Like Bonnie and Clyde, it becomes readily apparent to the viewer that Ivan will ultimately be caught as his crimes haven’t been smart enough or self-preserving enough to outwit authorities.  However, similar to the notorious bank robbers, Ivan’s inevitable fate does not stop the viewer from enjoying the fun he has before his downfall.  Despite the horrors that either Ivan instigates or is the victim of, there is such warmth in the purity of his happiness when he drives the car around the golf course.  As he throws his head back and laughs, the chorus of “You Can Get if it You Really Want” permeates the background, illustrating the sad realization that Ivan’s dreams are so far from what they used to be.  Yet– this scene is not sad.  It further conveys the Bonnie and Clyde-esque sentiment that you can’t always get it if you really want, but that shouldn’t stop you from going out with a bang.  At the end of the film, Ivan’s image has not been tainted by his corruption, rather it is his smile that stays instilled in the audience’s mind.

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The Thin Blue Line

April 7th, 2011 by Madeline Meyer · Uncategorized

The more documentaries I watch the more I feel I am absolutely terrible at analyzing the artistry of them. This is not, of course, to say that there isn’t any– just that the genre is still somewhat new to me and I find myself getting completely awe-stricken by the reality of it and sort of stop noticing the aesthetics. After watching The Thin Blue Line I was describing it to someone and I realized I was just talking about how shocking the story was, which is giving little to no credit towards the more cinematic aspects.  It frustrated me that the majority of the images from the film that stuck with me were the re-enactments not the real-time, presumably unscripted, moments.  I can only hope that I will continue to watch more documentaries and that this process will become easier for me as I feel I am currently doing a sincere injustice to the film’s craftsmanship.

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M

March 17th, 2011 by Madeline Meyer · Uncategorized

In Fritz Lang’s M sound is prioritized.  The audience recognizes Beckert as the murderer far before they ever see his face due to his whistling of Edvard Grieg’s now iconic and horrifying tune, “In the Hall of the Mountain King,” from Peer Gynt.  Because of which, it seems only fitting that this same whistling would ultimately lead to his downfall (by someone who cannot see but can only hear, no less).   In many ways, his whistling tells us what he cannot verbalize.  Through his usage of disembodied sound, Lang shows that sound should be feared equally if not more so than images.  The whistling becomes almost expressionistic; through it the audience learns more about Beckert’s psychological condition.  Moreover, Beckert is characterized and defined by sound.  The audience learns to fear his murderous whistling and he himself fears sounds that he does not recognize. Lang’s use of sound (likewise, the absence of) makes the audience paranoid and contributes to the overwhelming sense of fear, both of Beckert and in contrast, what is silent.

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Assayas’ Interview

March 13th, 2011 by Madeline Meyer · Uncategorized

At some point in the Olivier Assayas interview we read for class, Assayas brings up his ideas about music in films. To paraphrase, he says that most film scores are boring and the whole process is impersonal, and to him, he would much rather use individual tracks. This seemed particularly noteworthy to me because of how significant I found his use of Sonic Youth in Irma Vep.  This song choice gives a punk rock sensibility to a project supposedly characterized by its past.  This is one of the many instances where Assayas is choosing to rebel from the traditional methods of filmmaking his father and the character Rene so clearly represent.  Assayas (the younger) is not only modern in execution but in theory; he is aware of the changes to the film industry he epitomizes and celebrates it.

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Irma Vep

March 8th, 2011 by Madeline Meyer · Uncategorized

What truly amazed me about Irma Vep was the duality of all the work involved.  By this I mean, for every stylistic and cinematic choice made for Olivier Assayas’ film Irma Vep, an entirely new set of artistic decisions had to be chosen for Rene Vidal’s vision of his Les Vampires remake.  The two films needed to have enough in common visually and conceptually to bleed together somewhat, but still be able to maintain their own distinct styles.  In the case of Les Vampires this is manifested in an understated, almost muted schematic, where the camera work practically disappears.  This is contrasted with the handheld and jumpy style of the film outside the film which favors the complex, meta-textual narrative over clear visuals.  For example, when the Les Vampires remake is in the process of filming, often the backs and bodies of the people involved in the making are highlighted over the scene transpiring in front of them. It is also exhibited when scenes from Les Vampires are shown but still include sound that hasn’t been edited out in post-production or when a double stands in for Maggie Cheung.  By drawing attention to its intricacies, Irma Vep both showcases the complexity and undercuts it with a reality that the viewer can relate to.

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Shadows

March 1st, 2011 by Madeline Meyer · Uncategorized

Lelia Close-Up

In John Cassavetes’ directorial debut Shadows, there is little regard to alleviating the often jarring nature of its cinematic decisions.  Rather, it is in its confrontation of the real that Shadows finds its success.  For instance, the frequent close-up shots are disconcerting and unforgiving but they capture minute moments of humanity that are so easily lost.  Several times dialogue is disembodied from its source as the camera turns to the listening character as the comments wash over them, prioritizing their reaction over the words themselves.  It is not surprising then that perhaps the most intimate of scenes are shot in extreme close-up, such as Lelia and Tony’s discussion after Lelia loses her virginity. The camera angles are not always flattering, but they are honest and allow Lelia’s vulnerability to be seen.

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In the Mood for Love

February 28th, 2011 by Madeline Meyer · Uncategorized

One of the elements of Wong Kar Wai’s “In the Mood for Love” that really struck me was the fact that neither Mr. Chan or Mrs. Chow are ever seen. This really helps bolster the idea that their story is only relevant in its connection to and prompting of Mrs. Chan and Mr. Chow’s own relationship. This idea of the unseen is taken one step further by the frequent obstruction of view when Mrs. Chan and Mr. Chow are in the frame. This blocking comes in the form of bars or panes and aids the conveyance of the forbidden. The two protagonists cannot always be fully viewable or are disjointed by these lines because what they’re doing implies a level of guilt and behind-closed-doors-yness. Yet, they are not the ones who are participating in any wrong-doing. However, this helps facilitate Mrs. Chan and Mr. Chow in acting as their spouses, a constant game of pretending.

The two protagonists are separated by the bars between them

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Sweaters and Shopping Penguins

February 21st, 2011 by Madeline Meyer · Uncategorized

Google image results for “sweaters”:

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