More than submitting this assignment late I regret missing the last day of class. I really wanted to come in and talk in person about the collective projects of the class. Despite technical difficulties with the screen capture software I downloaded (no one ever use camtasia software) I was able to find a way to transfer the hours of clips I screen caped to my adobe editing software with some technical advice from the nice people in the office right next to our classroom yesterday. Late notwithstanding I was able to finish my project of a short movie on the gangster genre composed entirely of edited clips from classic gangster movies. I must admit it is on the long side so I doubt it will go viral (unless I market it to niche audience like cinema buffs).
When I started to think about what I wanted for my project I wasn’t sure about much but I was sure that I wanted to explore a genre. I wanted to explore the history of a genre by through video form. Originally I wanted to make a video on the genre of monster films but I decided that I would shift to the Gangster genre. Though many contemporary Gangster films are well known there is a long and rich history of gangster films to draw from for this project. To start off my project I plan on capturing clips from famous and critically acclaimed films throughout the genres history. I would then take these moments from the films throughout the history of the gangster genre and use them to create a series of montages. These montages would then be used edited together for the theme and direction of the final product of my video. The end result will be a video that covers the history of gangster films through the use of clips from different era’s and also telling the story arc of the gangster genre by creating it using the clips. I am going to be using these moments from gangster movies throughout history to create the basic story acts from the gangster genre. The video will use clips from the various films through the history of gangster films and use them to play out the basic story arc of the genre
Gangster films if examined can be largely summed up by looking at the basic premise it has held from the start. The first act consists of a down out of luck anti-hero from a bad neighborhood finds himself unable to live or succeed in American society in a way usually sympathetic to the audience. In the second Act the anti-hero embraces a life of criminal activity and exploitation of others to make it in America. In the third Act the anti-hero usually achieves success from his exploitation and the success is fetishized and glamorized for the audience. In the fourth act the anti-hero through his own actions usually immoral to the audience begins a swift downfall from prestige, success or power. In the fifth act the anti-hero pays for his actions with his life and serves as a lesson in either social conditions or morality. Not all gangster films strictly adhere to this format. Some films empathize with their characters like Menace II Society and others revile them like Goodfellas. Different movies play around with the format of the gangster genre but they all start from this premise. It is this premise that I am going to create using clips from Gangster films throughout the genre’s history.
Gangster films often strike up images of recent films or maybe even movies from the 70s like the Godfather but they have been around from nearly the beginning of cinema. The first ever gangster film The Black Hand is from 1906 while the first major gangster film The Musketeers of Pig Alley dates to 1912 and was directed by W.D. Griffith. Gangster films have been around for a while and this long history offers a rich field of films to choose from. I plan on using scenes from The Public Enemy (1931), Public Enemies (2009), White Heat (1949), Juice (1992), Scarface (1983), Scarface (1932), Menace II Society (1993), The Petrified Forrest (1936), Goodfellas (1990), Casino (1995), Layer Cake (2004), Once Upon a Time in America (1984), The Godfather (1972) The Godfather II (1974) and The Godfather II (1990). I may use scenes from more films or maybe this list may be too many, I’ll find out when I start to put the video project together. As it is now I plan on using films that are primarily gangster films so noir films or thrillers won’t be used. If some films may be several stories like the Godfather which is also an immigrant story among others as well as a gangster film it might be used. I am not sure about films that are both gangster and cop films. Films like the French Connection, New Jack City, King of New York and so on. They do have great characters who are gangsters and they follow the gangster character arc that I described above but they aren’t just gangster Genre films so I am not sure if I should use them. I also have been sticking to mostly American films; do you think I should include from other cinemas like Hong Kong, China or Japan or would that not work. I may or may not include films or mixed genre or films from other cinemas yet but I plan on exploring them and seeking other points of view on films that I should use.
During class when everyone began writing down what it was that they wanted I didn’t have a clue what I wanted my project to be. I still am not sure of what I will do but I am beginning to focus my ambitions around creating a video or short movie. The Video will be about the history of a genre, monster movies. The history will be explored by using clips from various monster films from the first monster movies to now. I wasn’t originally thinking about exploring monster films. I was originally thinking about doing a video about exploring the themes of True Detective but I wasn’t sure what I would explore from the show and I didn’t feel like spoiling anything for people who haven’t seen it yet. I hate people who do that for HBO shows.
As a genre monster movies on their surface might seem to some as a genre lacking in meaning but if you actually take a look at them they actually deal with some of the deepest fears in society. Monster movies usually capture cultural fears of threats to society as a whole. These fears then manifest themselves as a psychological horror in the form of monsters out to destroy society that are often started or instigated by humanity itself. In different cinema these fears come from either fear or trauma from nuclear bombings and disasters, threats from climate change, and terrorism. These horrors manifested in monster form can then only be defeated my society as whole if they are defeated at all.
For my purpose I am going to create a video from clips of various films that build up a simple story. Humans screws up, humans screwing up brings monsters, Monsters start to destroy everything, humans team up to fight monsters, Monsters defeated. Through this video of clips edited together that may or may not be comedic the monsters symbolizing nuclear war, nuclear disasters, 9/11, urban terrorism and climate change will be awesomely defeated. (Awesomely because how else would you defeat giant monsters)
Everybody’s seen The Dark Knight rises so when you see Bane come up in the video you aren’t expecting him to say “What did you have for breakfast?”. This video plays with our expectations of what we’ve seen in movies to make parody. People who’ve seen the movie have a perception of Bane as a menacing villain and this video keeps the serious ominous tone from the film but changes the audio dialogue of a few characters for a hilarious contrast between them. The video does the same thing with Batman not by dialogue but by adding in music that sounds like it’s in the world of video. The serious Batman we know is changed into some guy blasting Mortal Combat in his ride through the city. Audio in movies is often overlooked but as shown here it can sometimes be the difference between a serous film of The Batman vs. Bane to douche bag who plays obnoxious music vs. Rapper fitness fanatic gym rat.
Darren Aronofsky with Black Swan has produced a masterpiece. Prior to watching the film I had heard general praise for the film put did not know what to expect. Before watching the film I had thought I knew what I was about to watch, a simple horror film about girl who becomes possessed by demons. Despite what I thought going in the horror in the film is much greater not because of literal demons in the world of the film but because the monsters haunting Nina are coming from her psyche. Nina’s place in the world before getting the role seems a relatively steady one. She goes to practice where she perfects her form then goes home to her mother’s place where her mother watches and supervises everything she does then goes to sleep then repeats. When she gets the role and finds that she can’t practice her way to perfection to be the black swan it seems that she might lose her place in the production as a ballerina. It is then that the walls that she put around her mind to reconcile her mother’s overbearing dominance, her stunted emotional development and her sexual repression that her sanity begins to break. As the cracks in her sanity begin to grow so do visions of an alternate personality as well that manifests everything she can’t embody in the black swan. Her mind then uses this alternate personality opposite of her to achieve perfection in the final performance. In another Filmmakers hands Nina would have been just some crazy chick who killed herself over a play but Aronofsky managed to generate real sympathy for her in the film. You feel real sympathy and anguish as the life she had is broken and instead of trying to go on with her life in a new direction her attempts she continues trying to give the perfect performance that has been expected of her by her mother and by everyone else and it costs Nina her life.
Normally an image of a guy throwing a paper airplane out the window wouldn’t be that meaningful but in the Paperman it means everything. When the Paperman starts off it instantly immerses the viewer into all too familiar feelings of alienation, loneliness and depression in the modern world. These feelings of alienation are shattered in the film when our protagonist finds a genuine connection with the girl at the train station. Just as he connects he loses her just as quickly. He then goes to work and proceeds with the usual monotony of his life. That said life apparently consists of processing stacks of paper handed to him from an overbearing man who looks he like he’s either in the FBI or an agent from the Matrix. In that moment when he seemingly resigns himself to his life he sees the girl from the train station in the building across the street. It is in that moment that he decides to act. He makes the decision to break with the constraints and alienation that modern society have placed upon him and try to reach out to her. His small little personal act of freedom manifests itself into a paper airplane. Our protagonist then literally tries through his paper airplane of defiance over the gulf society has put between them. It’s this effort to bridge alienation between people encapsulated in the image above that made me want to highlight it.
Art of the Title is a site that puts together the beginning title clips of a given film in video form. By showing just the title clips you can explore how the given filmmaker immerses the audience into the world of the film. I liked Art of the Title because I like this way exploring films. Some of the films on their site like the intro to Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid are a few minutes long providing an interesting jump into the film while some like Once upon a Time in the West are 10 minutes long allowing for a long slow immersion into the world of the film. Art of the Title had many good videos on their site but it was their David Fincher: A Film Title Retrospective that captured my attention. The video was a collection of title clips from each David Fincher film proceeding in chronological order of his earliest film to his most recent to have been released. If someone was a huge David Fincher fan this video offers a great series of flashbacks to his films. I personally love Zodiac, Seven and the Facebook movie (and used to be a diehard Fightclub fan) but I’m not really a fan of David Fincher. His direction is good and he can fetishize things but the choice of films in this video isn’t what necessarily caught my attention. The procession of title clips from first film to most recent interest my more than the movies they come from. This video could show the entire evolution of a filmmaker’s career. This type of video could display through each movie the creative evolution of a filmmaker as his style and sense of story and artistic expression change through the years. This video is wasted on Fincher who only consistently wishes to fetishize things in his films. Imagine if this had been done with Spielberg, Tarantino, Scorsese, Fritz Land or Goddard. The entire artistic evolution of some the greatest filmmakers of all time could have been explored. The video as it is centered around Fincher is highly creative but if tailored to other filmmakers could become a true scholarly piece of work.
Tree of Life delivers a breathtaking drive through the life of one man and through him the wonder of life itself.
David Lynch dives deep into the desires of the main characters for a pychological thrillers that Sigmund Frued would have been proud of.
The social themes and meanings in this classic epic are still as meaningful now as they were then.