The Book of Life: Good Family Fare

by Zulma Orta

The_Book_of_Life_(2014_film)_posterThe animated feature, The Book of Life is a magnificent film directed by Jorge R. Gutiérrez and written by Jorge R. Gutiérrez and Douglas Langdale.  This movie is one of my all-time favorites, revolving around romance, friendship, tradition, death, and life.  Its powerful messages will not only reach the hearts of viewer’s but the film introduces kids to a vibrant world of color.

The friendship that Maria, Manolo, and Joaquin (the protagonists) share is truly a bond that cannot be broken, although it’s obvious that both Joaquin (voiced by Channing Tatum) and Manolo (voiced by Diego Luna) are interested in Maria (voiced by Zoe Saldana) as a woman and not just as a friend.  The mantra of the trio is, “No retreat, no surrender”.   The fact that this film shows children how pure and innocent love is is incredible.  Particularly since love is something that is often confused for lust.  The internal and external struggles that each character face here are some that adults are faced with on a daily basis.  Maria is stuck in between doing what is right for her Pueblo of San Angel or doing what her heart desires the most, which is to love Manolo endlessly.  Manolo is stuck between Bull fighting and honoring his family name or fulfilling his passion of singing, while Joaquin is stuck between being a strong male figure and becoming who he truly is.  These are everyday struggles that people face; the decision between what is “right” and what we emotionally feel.  We often sacrifice our own well being for the good of others.  This movie gives the audience a chance to identify themselves with characters who do the same.

the-book-of-life-official-trailer-2Maria is a strong lead female role.  Although this is a kid’s movie it shows how empowering and strong women can be.  Maria is sassy and defeats the odds facing a Latina woman.  She wants to have power over her own life and do something more with her life than attend to a family household.  Additionally, I felt that it was very smart of the writers to show a more sensitive side on the male stand point as well.  Both Joaquin and Manolo are sensitive and want to be comprehended.  They act like “tough guys”, but at the end they let the viewer know that it is okay to be weak in some sense.  I believe this is more than realistic and it happens every day.  Society has made us believe that women should be women and men should be men.  Yet, this movie defies that message by letting the younger generation know that it’s okay to be different; it’s okay to be yourself.  Again tradition is very much present in this film.  From the vibrant colors that scream Mexico, to the traditional clothes, music, food, and holidays.  This movie is able to personify Mexico in such a beautiful and successful way.  I could tell that they studied the geographical regions in Mexico and that is something that I truly appreciate, as well as the music that they use throughout the film.  It is not fully Mexican but it does have that Mexican flare. 

book_of_lifeIt’s important to note that one of the central themes of the film is death.  Death is a topic that is usually seen as something tragic.  Children are usually introduced to death in films like “The Fox and the Hound” or even in “The Lion King”, but I feel that this film incorporates the portrayal of death in such a subtle and beautiful way.  They made sure that it is seen as a passage on to a better life where there is celebration and you can be reunited with the loved ones that have already passed.  I think that is such an important concept that children should not be immune too.  This film, of course doesn’t leave out the truths about death.  Yes, it hurts and of course you will miss your loved one.  But, you must enjoy your life to the fullest because you never know when your last day will be.

150625-book-of-life-01-1920Saying that, life is also a major part of this film.  The concept of life is probably by far my favorite topic in this movie.  They portray Manolo as someone who was writing his own story, showing kids that they have control over their future and their own goals.  It is just a beautiful message of encouragement and it proves that not everything is set in stone.  Drawing back to the internal struggles that each character had, Manolo is scared of killing a bull.  But, the truth is he isn’t scared of defeating the bull.  He is scared of letting his family down.  Yet, he is a courageous character who refuses to let his family’s pressure get in the way of what he believes to be right.  The beautiful message is that sometimes we have to let go of our own fears in order to be able to create our own path.  Joaquin is a character that is ambiguous.  In the language of a kid he is a meathead.  He only cares about his own achievements and his looks.  But, really he’s afraid of admitting that he isn’t like his father and he will never be a “Grand General.”  I identified myself very much with him in this sense.  We’re always looking to fill someone else’s shoes, and we forget that we have to fill our own shoes.  I feel like this is telling children that they can be whomever they wish to be.

manolo-and-joaqiun-brotherhood1This movie isn’t all about beauty and inspiration.  The writers are able to incorporate some of the downfalls we deal with in life, such as the people who don’t want us to succeed.  In this movie it is Chacal, a villain who terrorizes villages.  Chacal wants all or nothing and he honestly doesn’t care about who he hurts in the process.  I feel like we all deal with someone like this in our everyday life.  As much as we try to avoid them they are never content.  They try to distract us in any way they can.  This is where the characters unite as a unit and defeat the negativity,  showing kids how to be comrades.  More than anything it teaches them values and reinforces kindness.  Sometimes we have to fight for ourselves even if that means deferring to greater forces.  I don’t think violence is the answer, but I do believe that we have the right to fight for what we believe.  This movie is a great example of people who want the same thing fighting for it together.  Not only do the characters put aside their own differences, but they realize the truths they’ve been trying to avoid.  Sometimes you cannot do everything on your own.  Sometimes you need to turn to the people who love and care for you.  I believe that this movie emphasizes friendship, love, triumph, but most importantly that it is completely okay to be yourself.  You should never acquiesce to others.  It is okay to put yourself first.  

maxresdefaultI believe the film also speaks to parents.  It lets them learn that they cannot push their children to be someone who they might not want to be.  They have to let them explore and come to be who they want to be.  Maria’s dad doesn’t realize this at the beginning.  He wants to mold his daughter into a modest young lady because he is afraid of what people would say about him.  Later he comes to realize that “she is the son he never had.”  He realizes that he loves her regardless of who she is or what she is.  Maria likewise is going to love him in return the same way.  He just needed to learn to accept her.  I feel like a lot of us need to learn to accept things instead of forcing them.  Sometimes we truly only make it much worse than it really is.

book-of-life-movie-images_zpsdf83a781In conclusion, I believe this is a magical film for families all around the world.  It celebrates customs and empowers family.  The filmmakers did a good job in mixing up the stereotypical roles that we put upon women and men.  They managed to embody the true definition of friendship, and they were able to depict something so beautiful, which is acceptance.  Here we see families learning to accept and love those around them as well as themselves.  Becoming accepting of the hardships we are faced with and learning to embrace the life we are given is an important lesson.  I give this movie a ten out of ten.  There are many other messages that speak volumes about multiple issues as well.  I also believe the film embodies my Mexican traditions in a beautiful and subtle way.  And lastly it taught me “No retreat, No surrender.”  Life is beautiful and we should always keep fighting. 

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Captain America: Civil War

by Justin Guiao

Captain America: Civil War by the Russo brothers is the 13th film in Disney’s Marvel’s new cinematic universe.  It’s strange to think that Marvel has been able to put out so many frankly similar films at extremely high budgets in this relatively short amount of time since the first Iron Man hit theaters.  They continue to make money however, meaning many more of them are to come.


I had fairly high expectations for Civil War.  I saw Fox’s Deadpool in theaters a month or two before which was my first visit to a theater in over two years.  I was thoroughly impressed with Deadpool, and the raving critical reviews of the Civil War screeners led me to go to the theater once again.  However, these heightened expectations may have damped my enjoyment somewhat.  Even though I did enjoy it, I am probably going to continue holding out on going to the theater for any more blockbusters for a while and will just start waiting for Blu-rays.  Regardless of all this, I did think Civil War was a good film, and I probably will see it again after it comes out on disk.  It features a few firsts for a Marvel franchise 13 movies into its story, with Downey as Tony Stark showing up in a non-Iron Man or Avengers film for the first time, as well as the introduction of new characters to the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe), Black Panther and Spiderman, both of which are unsurprisingly up for solo movies in the near future.  It also features a large battle between many of the heroes, as well as some notable smaller bouts, in contrast to previous MCU team-up films where the heroes fight off endless hordes of weaker minions.

captain-america-civil-war-image-46-1200x499Unfortunately, I think Marvel is coming up to a point where they have too many heroes in their MCU.  It has gotten to the point where there are so many that it seems silly to have a big crisis that only one hero deals with when we are aware that many other exist and operate relatively nearby.  On the other hand, the big team up film that is Civil War almost feels like a bunch of promotional material for movies about the new heroes, as even after everything that happens in the film, at the end there are not any sizable rifts created between the heroes and everyone starts carrying on as normal, resulting in that feeling that little or no progress was made.  Also, Marvel has been adherent to the thought of letting any of their heroes die.  The fact that the audience knows this by now takes some of the intrigue and tension out of the film. We know how it’s going to end, just not how it’s going to get there.  In spite of this, the Russo Brothers were able to create a film that stands out among the seemingly exponentially increasing amount of Marvel superhero films that have been coming out.  While it doesn’t have the strongest plot that would make it stand out as a classic in the future, it does fulfill its purpose as an action blockbuster well.  The special effects were top notch as always through these films along with excellent fight choreography (although Captain America definitely killed a majority of the people he fought.  There is no way that would just knock them unconscious like the film made it seem, they’re dead).

screen-shot-2016-03-10-at-12-12-20-pm-173561I can’t say much for the sound of the film.  This may be because I have been spoiled by Marvel’s production quality in the last near-decade, but it was just really more of the same.  Loud explosions, extremely over exaggerated punches and hits, the same mechanical sounds from Iron Man, and fantasy-like mystical sounds from the Vision and the Scarlet Witch.  While the sound was definitely high quality, you could tell that actors were the real stars and sound was just there to make them look better.  The editing of the film was also impressive.  I can only imagine how many cuts and scenes were filmed individually in the film.  Even with such heavy amounts of CGI, there was plenty of practical effects used to make it seem more real, including most of the explosions.  While the big fights were all CGI, the editing on the scene where two super humans are running down Bucky on a motorcycle really makes it seem like they’re outrunning all of the cars.  The hand to hand combat, even between CGI’d head to toe Downey Jr. and Chris Evans, seemed fluid and believable.  I don’t know too much about video editing, but I could tell that the people who worked on this film took pride in it and managed to do an excellent job.

For how many people have played Spiderman recently, I really liked this iteration. They portrayed him closer to his comic roots, a teenager with a quick wit and a loud mouth. The incessant chatter from him during the big fight scenes really brought forth what I think the original writers intended for the character. I didn’t really know what to think of the casting choice for Black Panther and really I still don’t, as I did not know much about the character.

2818A5BD00000578-3069258-image-a-2_1430857574138With all the strong acting and effects, I really feel that the overall plot is the weakest thing in the movie.  It seems like they were trying to cram too much into one movie, and the suspension of belief for the plot started to fade away in the process.  The civil war comic story was extremely popular and very receptive to a movie version, but perhaps it could have used two movies.  However, this didn’t matter too much during the film itself, as the actors, choreography, and special effects led the way once more for Marvel.  With Civil War, Marvel has created another enjoyable and action-packed blockbuster to whet the appetites of long time comic fans for the introduction of more characters into the MCU.

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A Single Man: A Beautifully Realized Translation of Word to Image

by Juan Espinosa

MV5BMzU5MTk4MjQ2M15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNDU0MzEwMw@@._V1_UX182_CR0,0,182,268_AL_Through the use of attention-grabbing visual techniques, Tom Ford creates a masterpiece in his directing debut in cinema.  Creating such a vivid interpretation of the novel on which the film is based, Ford’s main challenge in making A Single Man was to transform a story that was all about a man talking to himself into a world where we can see exactly what the novel’s author, Christopher Isherwood intended for us to imagine.  With the novel having to focus all on words to get the story across, the film transforms those words into visual form exceptionally well.

In 1964, Christopher Isherwood, an iconic English novelist, published A Single Man, a story about a middle-aged English professor named George who is living out his last day.  George spends his last mortal day paying close attention to every detail of his surroundings as he gives himself a penetrating last look at life.  The novel was adapted into an award winning major motion picture in 2009 that was the directing debut of world renown fashion designer, Tom Ford.  Both film and book have a core relation to each other, but the dissimilar ways in which the book and the film tell the story directly reflects the personal lives of the author and filmmaker: through background, character and personal love lives.


Immediately the visual design of the film grabs the viewer, providing a strong guiding hand to the overall mood and atmosphere of George’s world.  There is a notable transition from very dull and sad colors as he (our “hero”) goes through his daily life, to images that are vivid, warm and strong.  The undeniable message is that this character is taking a close, careful, and youthful look at life.  The angles of the camera and where it is focused during these times of vividness shows the detailed orientation of the main character’s concentration.  This careful and rigorous look gives the feeling that the camera is absorbing all which it observes.  Add in the music of composer, Abel Korzeniowski and the tone and mood of George’s character is complete.

articleLarge-v2Author, Isherwood and filmmaker, Ford tell two very different personal stories through A Single Man.  Isherwood wrote the novel out of fear of losing his lover, Don Bachardy after Don had left him for many months to live on the other side of the country with another man.  Imaging as if Don died, Isherwood wrote A Single Man as if he was a widower.  The story directly reflects all of what was going on inside Christopher’s head.  When transforming the novel into a film, Ford tells the story through his personal perspective while using his intricate techniques as a fashion designer to give the audience a film they will never forget.  His obsession for perfection allows him to adjust the plot exactly the way he wants and drives him to construct a cinematic experience so vivid and flawless.  With every detail being attended to, the film is completely his own creation.


Although both author and filmmaker are gay icons, they did not emphasize the main character, George as being a homosexual man.  He was just a man.  As in most of his stories, Isherwood writes in a biographical manner.  He expresses his life experiences, which is the reason for most of the main characters being gay.  Yet, the most interesting part of his style of writing is that he does not write as if the character is straight or gay, he writes as if they are just ordinary human beings.  This is the same view on life with which Ford focuses within his fashion ads.  These two men live in different eras, yet they share many similar experiences and view points.

single-man_george-carlosGeorge (played by Colin Firth), is coping with the loss of his partner, Jim, whom he loved deeply.  Jim died in a car crash on his way to visit his family, and unfortunately, George was asked by Jim’s brother to not attend the funeral because of the family’s homophobia.  Since that day, George’s life is cold and melancholy.  He no longer has any enjoyment or interest since the accident.  He lost his lover, whom he had for quite some years.  With the intergenerational homosexual relationship being the dynamic of the association of the two, both Ford and Isherwood could directly relate.  Tom Ford and his partner, Richard Buckley have a thirteen year age gap between them.  And Christopher Isherwood and Don Bachardy have a thirty year gap.  The difference though is that Ford is the younger partner in the relationship as Isherwood was the older.  Yet, the unique vibrancy of their relationships is correspondingly understood by both. 

Ford was able to relate very well to Isherwood’s love life and personal issues, which inspired him to transform the book into a film.  A fascinating coincidence about the three most important people from the story: Isherwood (the author), Ford (the director) and Colin Firth (who plays George), is that of their personalities.  In an interview, Ford distinctively points out, “This might sound silly to some of you – I don’t know – but Christopher Isherwood was a Virgo.  Virgos are precise, almost uptight.  It’s all about precision and order and I’m a Virgo.  Colin Firth is a Virgo.  This was the Virgo, Virgo, Virgo film”.  He explained how the harmonic of the three worked very well in knowing how the story should be portrayed and delivered to the audience and to satisfy themselves.  Another interesting strategy Ford used in the film is, besides the main character, he had all the American actors speak in British accents and all the British actors speak in American accents: Julianne Moore, Nicholas Hoult, Matthew Goode, etc.  All-in-all, the direction Tom Ford took on the film was outstanding.


In both the work of literature and that of the cinematic, the personal lives of Christopher Isherwood and Tom Ford are individually reflected by the same core story through their own works.  One of the most amazing things that is indeed an exceptional occurrence is that even though the novel and film have many differences and personal intents, they both work out perfectly to tell the same story with the same meaning.  A Single Man brings to light a delicate insight of the true internal emotions of two separate men.  Whether in a book or on the screen, that is a work of art.  


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Breaking Bad: A Series to Admire

by Aaron Navarro 

thBreaking bad is about methamphetamine and a high school chemistry teacher named Walter White.  His life is close to miserable and it only gets worse.  Walter’s salary barely makes ends meet, so Walter has another job working at a car wash.  His wife is about to pop out their second child and their teenage son is battling cerebral palsy.  Everything hits the fan when Walter learns he has terminal cancer, so Walter flips out hence the name Breaking Bad.  With the realization that his illness probably will ruin his family in the long run, Walter races to earn as much money as he can in the time he has left.  Breaking Bad is an American drama series that was aired on AMC for five seasons, and five was all it needed.

Breaking bad is a story about man versus time.  While the basic plot grabbed my attention, what really interested me was the series’ ability to tackle a current issue.  The series really showed how meth has exploded into a huge drug in the black-market.  Not only does the series shows how easy it is to make the meth, but shows how addictive and cheap the drug can be.  Breaking Bad did an excellent job of taking people out of the norm and into this underground world.  Although, as much as I love the story hook of meth and Walter’s ambition to make the most money possible, I am mostly interested in the characters’ social and internal conflicts.  

th-3Starting with the main character, Walter White is conflicted by his personal life and his meth life.  Walter is stuck between two lifestyles and finds himself trying to make sense of it all. As the series goes on Walter slowly learns to accept the immoral things by creating an alter ego. Walter’s alter ego is known as Heisenberg and he uses this identity to mask his morals, therefore committing violent crimes. In addition to his violent acts, Walter finds his inner Heisenberg slipping out of him like Dr. Henry Jekyll. Throughout the series, Walter is conflicted with family ties and loses his cool, but I believe that it Heisenberg who is taking action and not Walter. 

th-1Secondly, Jesse Pinkman is Walter’s partner in crime and is my favorite character throughout the series.  Jesse evolves throughout the series and matures.  At first, he starts off as a small time drug dealer and an occasional drug user at the beginning of the series. Throughout the series, Walter impacts Jesse in both a positive and negative way and it seemed like he guided Jesse.  While Walter did everything out of personal interest, this exposed the underlying problem Jesse had within.  Jesse struggled to seek affirmation from others since his family neglected him.  Furthermore, everyone in the series abused Jesse, thus making the audience feel sympathetic towards him.  This heightened sympathy that I felt could have been the result of me relating to his character. As a young adult, I can relate to Jesse the most because he endured social expectations and searched for affirmation from others.  Jesse’s personality gives the series a lot of color and his social endeavor grabs my attention even more.  At the end, Jesse is able to walk away with experience and maturity.

th-2Finally, the last character that I thought played a major role in Breaking Bad was Hank Schrader.  Hank, the antagonist was Walter’s brother in law.  He was constantly on Walter’s tail and ambitiously did so throughout the whole series.  Not only was it a constant cat and mouse game, but this conflict also played on the audience’s morals. Indeed, the audience becomes attached to both Walter and Jesse even though they are criminals.  The audience is forced to pick a side between justice and personal morals.  Our minds side with Hank because his actions are justified, but our hearts side with Walter and Jesse because we sympathize for them.  Besides Hank’s impact on the plot, his internal problems create another dimension to which the audience can relate.  Hank is human no matter what he does or says in the series.  He is the typical tough guy who talks big and is the big shot in the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).  Despite his image and reputation, Hank deals with psychological problems.  For example, Hank struggles with anxiety in the series and when he is promoted to a higher position in the DEA this anxiety is exposed to the viewer.  Shortly after his promotion, Hank strolls into an elevator by himself.  He then starts to panic in the elevator and when the doors open he walks out acting like nothing happened.  Since Hank was isolated in the elevator, this shows how he deals with this anxiety by himself because there is no one around to take notice.  This leads me to believe that his macho man attitude is affecting him psychologically.  Again, interpersonal and personal conflicts bring life to Breaking Bad.

 th-4Breaking Bad’s characters all influence the series in their own way.  Vince Gilligan, the director, does one more thing to represent all the characters’ influence on the storyline. He uses color to affect our visual perception and sensation, and to explain what is happening in the plot.  Throughout the film Vince plays with different shades of specific colors to show and explain what is going on in a certain situation; for example, green usually symbolizes money, greed, and envy while yellow is usually associated with meth. This color scheme continues throughout Breaking Bad and to understand it fully one would have to watch the series.  Overall, Breaking Bad is a wonderful series to watch because it is filled with non-stop action, mystery, and romance. Meth is exposed and explored to the point where not only are our morals tested, but so is our visual field.


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The Grand Budapest Hotel: Signature Wes Anderson

by Robin Garcia

The_Grand_Budapest_Hotel_PosterWe are all fascinated by pretty colors that match and compliment each other, beautiful costuming, and scenic backgrounds, and so is Wes Anderson.  The Grand Budapest Hotel is Wes Anderson’s eighth feature length film.  It is filled with dry comedy, curious dialogue, and lovable characters, as well as set in picturesque areas and background drops that are sure to delight and please the eye.  Just like in previous films Wes Anderson directed, he amazes us with the colors of the set design and costuming.  But is that the only valuable part of the movie; it’s exterior?  Absolutely not. 

To begin with the film was shot in 35mm, as Wes Anderson requested to his cinematographer, Robert Yeoman.  The film is not exactly widescreen; it has a boxy shape to it.  Everything is focused in the middle of the screen.  The cinematographer was nervous about making the film this way, but it ended up working out very well because it suited the mood, and character of the film.  Everything on set including the characters are perfectly placed.  All characters were placed evenly in the center of the frame during lengthy shots.  Wes Anderson’s crew worked especially hard for it since they had to manually assess with a yellow tape measure that the character was in fact centered in the middle.  On top of that several of the places Wes Anderson envisioned, simply didn’t exist.  So an incredibly detailed mock up of the Grand Budapest Hotel was made, along with several beautifully hand painted backdrops.  All that hard precious work paid off, and gave the film a memorable quirkiness.


The editing that takes place in this film is minimal.  The film keeps it simple by doing basic cuts from shot to shot.  I love this aspect of the film because I believe that if the editing were any more complex than it is, it would take away from the film.  It would distract from all the little things occurring on screen.  Often repeated throughout the film are long tracking shots.  These shots work wonders for the film because they really grab the audience and show off all the beautiful work they’ve put into the set.  They also make things flow smoothly throughout the film, and make people wonder just how did they do that?  Another type of shot that is commonly repeated through the film is the whip pan.  This shot also helps the film achieve its wonderful curiosity and quirkiness  (whip pan is when the camera quickly moves to face another character, or area and lands perfectly still on the subject).

grand-budapest_2813768bNow, onto the color wheel – yes, every single little thing on screen at any given shot corresponds with everything else when it comes to color.  Wes Anderson is known for choosing a certain color pallet and sticking to that for his films.  In Moonrise Kingdom, the color pallet that he used was filled with vibrant oranges, yellows, greens, and the occasional use of soft pink.  He must have loved the look of pink on film because The Grand Budapest Hotel is covered in it.  The color pallet he sticks to includes, soft pinks, vibrant pinks, soft reds, light blues, rich purples, and the occasional use of a soft yellow, all together all the time!  The brilliance it takes to make all the colors work on set is amazing.  The use of colors makes you fall in love with the film, and makes the film memorable and unique.  It made my eyes want to just engulf the screen; it made my spine shiver, and it made me wish I had a great eye for interior design.

The-Grand-Budapest-Hotel-5Of course, as much as the art design is a signature element to a Wes Anderson film you can’t forget his unique use of dialogue.  The dialogue in this movie stands out virtually as character unto itself.  Although. each character has a distinct pattern and delivery in their dialogue, which makes them stand out from one another, it’s surprising how it all remains distinctively Anderson.  Some characters speak in quick patterns and muddle words together, and say curious phrases, while others are slower and have a darker outlook that comes out in their dialogue.  Over all I love and adore all the little bits and fragments of dialogue that are shared throughout the script.

Screen Shot 2014-03-13 at 8.45.29 PMAnother unifying factor is the music.  The music used in the film ties everything together.  The orchestral music lets the audience know what time period they are in, along with what level of social class the hotel is associated with.  It is light, airy and moving.  At times there is a choir that creates suspense in moments where needed.  At other times there is the beat from a simple drum kit that keeps things going.   Undoubtedly, the music in a Wes Anderson film breathes life into each and every scene.  Slow music makes us feel what the characters are feeling in a sad scene, while adventurous and upbeat music makes us feel that moment of adventure that is taking place on the screen.

Now to move onto the most crucial part of a film, which isn’t set design, casting, characters, or even dialogue but the story.  Every one of those aspects listed can be perfect and beautiful, but if the story drowns within all this and gets lost then the film in its entirety falls apart.  The story illustrated in this film is interesting, and attention grabbing.  There isn’t a moment where the story is lost.  The audience is always reminded of what is at stake, and where the protagonist wants to get.  The film has a strong sense of story.  I enjoyed this film very much; because the screenplay itself is brilliant, and it’s evident that time was spent working hard on it because it shows on screen.

grand-budapest-hotel-willem-dafoe-adrien-brodyI will never forget when I first watched this film at the movie theater, I was excited and I had shivers going down my spine.  Over all I completely enjoyed this film and all of the aspects that it has to offer.  All the different bits and pieces that make the film are ones to enjoy and simply appreciate.  I recommend seeing The Grand Budapest Hotel, because it truly does have something for everyone to enjoy.




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Some Thoughts on RoboCop

by A. A. Matin

MV5BMTk1MDUzMTQ3OV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMDAwNTk0NA@@._V1_SX640_SY720_I was never a big fan of the movie Robocop. That is sacrilege to some.  I saw the movie when I was sixteen.  For a long time I think my distaste was because I expected a straight-ahead action film.  But instead I got “social commentary.” But that never rested well with me.  I usually love films that have a subtext, like how Dawn of the Dead is an allegory for Mass Consumerism.  Or Star Wars is a parallel for the Vietnam War.  But a closer inspection of the film as an adult and I realized why I felt the way I did.  The social commentary isn’t very good.  The car is named the SUX 6000.  I get it!  It sucks!  Is that really funny?  Also the film is outdated.

The original RoboCop was clearly written by adults who were not part of youth culture.  For example,  the first parody commercial we see is for the “Family Heart Center” where a doctor says, “We feature the complete Jarvik line.”  The movie was released in 1987.  Dr. Jarvik and his artificial heart was last news in 1983.  Four years is nothing to an adult.  But to a youngster like I was at the time – that was a quarter of my life!  These relatively recent references would never stand the test of time.

maxresdefaultAnd there’s a later ad for a game called Nukem!  It’s a board game about nuclear war.  But once again it was not new.  In fact it was backwards.  Nukem was a board game version of the video game Missile Command.  A game that was first released back in 1980 (obviously the writers did not spend time in arcades)!  Ironically, one of the film’s taglines is “The Future of Law Enforcement.”  But I guess the filmmakers didn’t know that board games were becoming the past and that video was the future of gaming.  And there was no particularly clever twist on any of the “breaking news” inserts to show the absurdist nature of it: the STI misfires and burns Santa Barbara, a power failure causes the President to experience weightlessness aboard a space station.  Big fucking deal!  

The very first news story says the ruling white military government of South African reveals that they have a French Neutron Bomb and will use it as their last line of defense.  Since the popular idea of a “French Neutron Bomb” is that it kills people and leaves the infrastructure in tact… and this story is set in a technologically advanced future… how about a new Neutron Bomb that only kills black people.  And the South African government detonated it – only to have it not work properly and it obliterated the entire nation.  Now that would be outrageous.

maxresdefault-1When I saw the remake, I liked that they did away with these commercials and attempts at satire.  It was a straight-ahead Science Fiction and action film like I expected back in the eighties.  However the attempted satire, no matter how bad, was one of the things most people remembered about the original.  Removing part of the essential nature of the original turned fans against the remake.  Additionally, the remake suffered from another elemental problem.  It told essentially the same story as the original.  Robocop overcomes his programming, takes his revenge on the people who “killed” him the first time and reaffirms his identity as Alex Murphy and ergo regains his humanity.  The studio wanted a franchise.  But where do you go from there?  

In the original film RoboCop asks his partner, “Murphy had a wife and son.  What happened to them?”  Lewis tells him that she thought he was dead and moved away and started over.  RoboCop replies, “I can feel them.  But I can’t remember them.” So what do they do in the sequel?  RoboCop drives by his former wife’s house and spies on them.  She sues OCP.  One of their lawyers says to RoboCop, “Do you think you could ever be a husband to her?  I mean, what can you offer her?  Companionship?  Love?  A man’s love?”  Murphy realizes the futility of his emotions the lawyer gets him to admit that he is no longer Alex Murphy and not human.  RoboCop then sees his former wife and says to her, “They made this to honor him.  Your husband is dead.  I don’t know you.”  How can you care about him as a character and want to follow his story when he treats his wife that way?  They had to undo the point of the first film in order to have RoboCop keep being a cop and have further adventures.


In the remake, they made the wife and child a part of the story.  She okays his transformation into RoboCop in order to keep him alive.  She is still married to him.  However OCP keeps her and their son from seeing Alex.  In the climax, Murphy overcomes his programming to protect his wife and child and the movie ends with them finally meeting him for the first time as a cybernetic organism.  And therein lies the rub.  The problem is that the story of RoboCop is essentially a tragedy.  He can regain his identity, but not his life.  He can’t share a bed with his wife.  A mostly robotic father playing catch with his son is more pathetic and sad than heart warming.  Once you tell the story of his regaining his free will and humanity and hunting down the people who originally took his life away – there is no more story to tell.  The logical evolution is Alex getting his life back.  But that can never be.

MV5BMjAyOTUzMTcxN15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMjkyOTc1MDE@._V1_UY1200_CR90,0,630,1200_AL_So how do you keep the franchise going?  Well RoboCop was created to fight street crime by the Omni Corporation.  Like most corporations, they don’t care about right and wrong or doing a public service.  All they care about is profits.  As Dick Jones said in the original film, “I had a guaranteed military sale with Ed-209; renovation program, spare parts for 25 years.  Who cares if it worked or not?”  Not too dissimilar the attitude from GM and their faulty ignition switches.  Malcolm Gladwell gave a great talk once where he talks about how all great entrepreneurs and capitalists have a sense of amorality about them.  All they care about is their business.  They will exploit workers or get into bed with horrible governments if that is what it takes for the business to thrive.  

The next evolution of that is from amoral to immoral.  Dick Jones kills a co-worker who disrespected him.  Why?  Because he could.  To that end, OCP put in a directive that RoboCop cannot arrest an officer of the company.  In the original he never overcomes this immoral piece of programming.  In the remake, he just barely is able to – just barely.  So RoboCop regains his identity, but does he really regain his morality?  His ethics?  The moral compass he had as a human?  And ergo does he regain his humanity without them?  Once again, how can you root for him as a hero?  In an age of income inequality, it is clear that the evil is not the mugger on the street.  It is the corporations that create the economic environment for poverty to thrive.

Joel Kinnaman, left, and Gary Oldman star in Columbia Pictures' "Robocop."

Joel Kinnaman, left, and Gary Oldman star in Columbia Pictures’ “Robocop.”

So here’s an idea… Robocop needs to become like Robin Hood.  Alex Murphy’s organic brain is powerful enough to overcome the computer programming and he regains his free will and human sense of morality.  He breaks free from the control of OCP and as a result is forced into the position of a fugitive on the run.  Just like Dr. Richard Kimble in the original TV series of The Fugitive.  He is on the run from the cops, the FBI, and OCP.  But his moral compass forces him to help people in need when and where he can.  All the while he knows that his wife and son are in potential danger while he is out there.  RoboCop re-writes his own program and becomes a Corporate Cop.  CEOs and wealthy people commit crimes and get away.  So RoboCop acts as their judge, jury and executioner where the government won’t.  He hunts down douchebag CEO’s, corporate raiders, and the like.  This is a great way to add back the satire and “social commentary” of the first movie.  For example, lets say RoboCop finds out about a young guy like Martin Shrkeli who buys a drug company and raises the price of a life saving drug by 5000%.  He finds out that this guy is a playboy who likes to sleep with lots of women.  So does RoboCop shoot him in the face?  No.  

3656377-robocop_110616RoboCop corners him and snips off the head of his penis – only the head.  He leaves the testicles alone so his body still produces testosterone and he has normal male sexual desires.  And he leaves the shaft so he can still have coitus.  But without the head of his penis, it will be nearly impossible for him to ever have an orgasm and he is forced to live the rest of his life with Blue Balls.  That is his punishment for being a douchebag.  Lower the price back to a reasonable rate or the next time you see me, you will die.  That’s outrageous!  CEO’s become afraid of getting punished or killed by RoboCop such that many start insourcing jobs, stop trying to break unions, treat customers with more respect.  As a result all these companies see increases in productivity and ultimately gains in profits.  But they don’t care.  It’s not about money.  It’s about being in control.  So they still want RoboCop destroyed.  They buy political will to keep the police and FBI and even hired assassins on his tail and track him down before he makes another One-per center pay in some crazy and tortuous way.  

Call me crazy, but that sounds like something I would want to see.  That sounds like something that could be played out for a few movies before getting stale.  The Fugitive milked this premise for 120 hours of Television.  The tale of Robin Hood stealing from the rich and giving to the poor is over 350 years old.  And isn’t that what we really want the future of law enforcement to be?

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The Hateful 8: A Must See With A Pretty Gimmick

by Erik Harty

hateful-eight-750x410The Hateful Eight is Quentin Tarantino’s eighth film.  With his announcement that he will only be making ten films, each new project has become even more enticing.  This film carries with it a lot of anticipation, and for the most part, it does not disappoint.  Shot on 65mm film stock and, where possible, projected in “glorious 70mm Ultra Panavision,” it is truly a beautiful piece of filmmaking.  But is this film a game changer, or is it just a pretty gimmick?

I was fortunate enough to see an early screening of The Hateful Eight at the Director’s Guild of America (DGA), which was followed by a Q&A session between Quentin Tarantino and Christopher Nolan.  Leading up to the screening, there was some debate about whether or not the film would be shown in its “true” 70mm version.  Fortunately, I got to see it in its full, 70mm Ultra Panavision Roadshow glory.


Before we even get started, it is important to understand the difference between 35mm and 65mm film.  While there are all sorts of lens differences, depth of field issues, and more that could be discussed, the fundamental difference is the size of the frame. 65mm is almost twice as big as 35mm.  That means that each frame contains more information, literally (as in how much is physically present in the image), but also in terms of the overall resolution of the image.  The detail present in 65mm film could only be matched digitally with a camera capable of capturing 8K images.  That’s huge.  What do you do with that much detail and that massive of a frame?  Well for one, you can begin rethinking your editing process.


Beyond the magnificence of 70mm Ultra Panavision, the thing that really stuck out to me about The Hateful Eight was its editing.  Now, editing is one of the those things that is usually done best if it’s not noticed at all, and I think that is true with this film.  However, the analytical portion of my brain got the better of me this time, so I was specifically looking for cuts during some parts of the movie, meaning the average Joe may not have noticed what I’m going to talk about at all.

The maKurtRussellSamuelLJacksonHatefulEightin thing that stuck out to me about the editing was the pacing.  I’ve only seen two other Tarantino films, but based on my experience with those and the input of people who have seen all of his films, The Hateful Eight has a different pacing style altogether.  Believe it or not, the first half of the film actually moved kind of slow, which is something I’ve never heard said about a Tarantino film.  I think the main reason for the change of pace was actually the larger frame size.  The amount of detail in each shot requires more time to fully absorb, therefore the shot remains on screen for a longer period of time.  You could argue that the pacing is too slow as a result, but I actually enjoyed it.

Another interesting thing to take a look at is the pacing in the second half of the film because it’s much faster, but there’s no swapping between different frame sizes.  Unlike say, Christopher Nolan’s Batman movies, if you’re watching part of the movie in 70mm, you’re watching all of it in 70mm.  A good chunk of the first half of the movie is dominated by carriage travel, so there’s not a whole lot else going on.  The second half of the film, which takes place in a relatively small cabin, is where the action ramps up.  However, the increase in pace and activity doesn’t entirely correlate with an increase in the speed and total number of cuts.  One of the advantages of having such a massive frame is that you can see more with it.  Tarantino used this advantage to full effect by using fewer cuts to show the same amount of information.  Since the plot of this film is essentially “one of these things is not like the other,” it’s up to the audience to figure out who’s telling the truth and who’s lying.  The only way the audience can do that is by observing each of the characters and how they behave.

cdn.indiewire.psdopsThe problem is, making a good film with that kind of premise isn’t so simple.  It can be very easy to give away too much information, making the answer extremely obvious, or to give away too little information, making the “big reveal” either unbelievable or uninteresting because the audience didn’t have enough information to work with.  In my experience, stories like this tend to lean on the “too obvious” side because they want to make sure that everyone gets it.  However, The Hateful Eight does a great job of staying right in the middle, primarily because of, you guessed it, the frame size.  The big clues in this kind of a story generally happen somewhere away from the main action of the scene, which often necessitates cutting away from the action to a shot of that big clue.  Unfortunately, it’s really difficult to maintain any kind of subtlety in revealing clues this way.  It’s essentially saying to the audience, “Look over here! Look at this clue that we’re giving you!”  That’s where 65mm swoops in to save the day.  Many of the key clues in this film are revealed in the background, behind the main action of a scene, but are still visible because of the massive frame size.  This creates a subtle bread crumb trail for the audience to follow, but only if they’re paying attention.  For the most part, these details are not pointed out explicitly, which I found very refreshing.


I thoroughly enjoyed The Hateful Eight.  It’s definitely not just a pretty gimmick.  I highly recommend seeing this film in its true 70mm form, but it’s a great watch even if that’s not an option.  The overall pacing is a bit slower than other Tarantino films, but I don’t see that as a bad thing in this case.  If the gorgeous shots aren’t enough to entice you, then hopefully the mystery element will pique your curiosity.  This is not a film to miss.


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The Barkley Marathons: A Doc Not Just for Trail Runners, but Extremists Who Must Succeed


The Barkley Marathons; I bet you’ve never heard of the long distance trail run competition. Neither had I before I saw the poster for this new documentary with its intriguing tag line: The race that eats its young.  Sounds more like a horror film than a sports doc.  And the poster’s artwork is reminiscent of a Wes Anderson film.  With all that going for it, I just had to check it out.  And surprisingly, I was kind of right on both my initial impressions, which is a good thing in the most interesting ways.

Having had no idea about the Barkley, or the sport of Trail Running I didn’t know what to expect from a film on the subject.  After all, how interesting can it possibly be to anyone outside the realm of athletes dedicated to that specific niche sport?  But it seems the directors; Annika Iltis and Timothy James Kane (two long time professional camera assistants working in TV) didn’t know anything about this intriguing little world either before they decided to make the film.  According to Kane (Iltis was unfortunately unavailable for my interview) the two started out wanting to make a movie that would allow them to branch out and showcase their own abilities as filmmakers.  And they accomplish that quite well with a documentary that really draws the viewer in through the most basic human trait: curiosity.

barkley1-videoLarge-v2Inspired by a magazine article on the subject the two decided to find out more about something they knew absolutely nothing about, beyond the realms of Hollywood and the Los Angeles lifestyle in general.  Because of their own perspective their approach to the topic does not assume any knowledge on the audience’s part (a pitfall for the average documentary).  Instead the film is a logical presentation of the who, what, where, why and how of the subject, complete with on site coverage of the annual event.  This refreshing and mindful approach serves its subject well, and keeps the viewer in tandem with the camera, as if everything is presented from the audience’s point of view rather than that of being along for the ride with an insider.  There is a distinct difference in those two approaches, and one that really makes The Barkley Marathons a fun and compelling experience regardless if one has any interest in the sport or not.


I’m not one for spoilers, so I won’t be going into much detail.  What I can tell you is that you’ll find yourself being drawn in deeper and deeper as the story builds, virtually hanging on the edge of your seat as the surprisingly dramatic tale takes it’s twists and turns.  There’s plenty of humor and lighter moments with the colorful inhabitants of the base camp where runners check in after every completed circuit, but you’ll be particularly impressed with the bodily damage the participants inflict upon their selves in the pursuit of a personal best against the elements.  You’ll route for odd ball characters who range from first time “virgins”, to repeat competitors who enter knowing they will never complete the run but migrate annually to a remote part of Tennessee for the camaraderie that comes with the physical and mental challenge unique to the Barkley.  Front-runners will fail; defeated by the elements, and an unknown up and comer will emerge to challenge the existing champion.  The final moments are exciting as we wait to see if a new record will be made in a twenty five year old competition that has seen only ten finalists.


Winning all sorts of accolades at festivals that feature “Trail” films (who knew?), The Barkley Marathons may just be spearheading widespread acceptance with a cult genre, much like that of the surf films of the 1960s and 70s.  Like co-director Kane noted, with the abundant beauty inherent in shots featuring such rich topography these films inspire rabid fans.  Although The Barkley Marathons is far short of what is known as “trail porn” due to its inclusion of the gritty reality of the competition.  And as Kane went on to say, if the film were glossier it would come off as false, lacking the reality of the harsh extremes of the race.  That is an observation to which I couldn’t agree with more.


A particularly notable aspect of the movie is the abundant number of cameras utilized through out the filming process.  Fortunately, the two camera savvy directors recognized ahead of time the need for coverage and employed as many independent camera operators as they could entice to the remote hills of Tennessee.  Although the most sophisticated camera is a 5D and the others down grade from there, there is no image within the film that is less than professional – a true testament to the skills of the operators.  And one of the race participants graciously allowed the use of the footage he shot from his own chest mounted GoPro.  Remarkable footage indeed, considering each shooter was out in the field for twelve or more hours at a time across a sixty hour time period, while keeping out of site of the competitors.  One wannabe crew member actually showed up only to quake at the reality of the situation in which he would be shooting and quickly left (quitter).

Wade-Payne-AP-USA-TodayWith this remarkable first film under their belts it will be exciting to see what these two young filmmakers will come up with next.  So-called sophomore films can be disappointing, but I do not fore see such a problem in the case of Annika Iltis and Timothy James Kane.  Whether it is a narrative feature or another documentary film I’m sure the two directors will have plenty of offers to assist them and guide them through that awkward stage.  Perhaps then we will have the satisfaction of seeing them justifiably in contention for an Oscar.  Sadly it won’t happen with The Barkley Marathons.  Iltis and Kane were unaware of the appeal the film would ultimately have and lacked the finances to open the film where necessary in order to qualify the film.  In fact, you’re only going to able to see this film via VOD, which I think is particularly fitting since you’re going to want to be as comfortable as you can be while watching such an exhausting race.


I encourage you to see it now, perhaps as a break from all the holiday, Oscar vying films that are out there now.  See it, and tell your friends about it.  Then you’ll see and they’ll see that The Barkley Marathons is about people who won’t give up even when facing insurmountable odds made by people of the same ilk, made to inspire others who live the same way.  Who knows, maybe The Barkley Marathons will be the next inspirational film shown to sales people, executives and small business owners alike.  After all, it’s about those with the will to succeed no matter the cost.  That’s just about as entrepreneurial as it gets, and speaks to the core of American values.  That’s a lot for a little documentary.  But then again, that’s exactly what documentaries are supposed to do – inspire greatness.  The Barkley Marathons achieves this goal beautifully.




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Pokémon: The First Movie: Mewtwo Strikes Back

by Jeffery Bui  

imagesAround twenty years ago, almost every child’s dream was to become a Pokémon Master. The fantasy created by the Pokémon franchise acted as a safe haven for children—allowing them to both catch a break from the hectic life of long division as well as catch Pokémon while they were at it. When the franchise finally announced the 1998 release of their first feature-film Pokémon: The First Movie: Mewtwo Strikes Back, the Y2K scare was put on hold as Pokémon fanatics could not contain their excitement to see a ten-year old boy and his furry yellow mouse at their local movie theater.

Although marketing to the hearts of eight-year olds, the movie did not disappoint. The plot begins with the backstory of a laboratory experiment gone wrong, Mewtwo. What Mewtwo does is exactly what you would expect in a children’s movie that explicitly includes “Mewtwo Strikes Back” in its title: it strikes back—getting revenge on the dastardly group of scientists at the expense of the entire Pokémon world. As a result, the stars somehow align and the naïve yet courageous protagonist, Ash Ketchum, is put in the position to save the Pokémon world from devastation and prevent Mewtwo from obliterating everything the Pokémon world knows and loves.

MV5BMjE3OTcxNDA1M15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwNDI2MDE3._V1_SX640_SY720_Of course, being a children’s movie, it is suited for the resolution to be nothing less than rainbows and butterflies. However, the beauty of Pokémon: The First Movie is not found in the “what happens,” but the “how it happens.” The idea of how Ash is able to be the underdog and halt what seems to be the most powerful being exposed to the Pokémon world seems almost impossible; Yet, it happens—and in quite tear-jerking fashion. Pokémon: The First Movie takes the juvenile concept of Pokémon and alters it into something a little more tenderhearted. Shinji Miyazaki’s choice in music paired with the cinematography of Hisao Shirai caused for elicited emotions that one would expect watching something along the lines of Titanic or Marley & Me, not Pokémon.  

Pokemon.The.First.Movie.1998.DVDR.NTSC.R4.LATiNO-18-20130128-18211911The most notable aspect to the movie that sets it apart from being an ordinary animation is Takeshi Shudo’s creation of multiple layers within the characters. In just 96 minutes, Shudo is able to develop the character of Mewtwo as a hostile psychopath while still causing the audience to sympathize for it and almost justify its actions. Intended to simply empower and glorify the scientists who made it, Mewtwo is tasked with issues everyone faces, whether it be during confusing teenage years or a mid-life crisis: self-worth and self-identity. As a result, Mewtwo, just like many of us, channels the confusion into frustration towards those around it.  

There are only two plausible reasons that come to mind as to why I would not recommend this movie to anyone: I either strongly dislike them or they saw it right before I could recommend it to them. It may be the nostalgic toddler in me speaking, but the movie was a masterpiece. The fact that I have such firm support in Pokémon: The First Movie 17 years after its release means that the Pokémon franchise did its job. Even at a box office standpoint, the Pokémon franchise’s ability to net a revenue of $130 million in a 1998-valued economy speaks for itself.  

pokemon1sub_4The positive message entailed in Pokémon: The First Movie is both universal and eternal as it contributes to the progressive world we live in today. Regardless of the Pokémon’s origin, purebred or artificial, they come to an understanding that we can use in our daily lives: “Maybe if we start looking at what’s the same instead of always looking at what’s different, well, who knows?”

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Birdman: Or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance is Phenomenal

by Erik Harty

Birdman-1Birdman: Or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) is a phenomenal film.  Written and directed by the lesser-known Alejandro González Iñárittu, it finds its life very much in the technical magic behind the scenes.  It is made to look like it is one continuous shot until the end of the movie, where some obvious hard cuts take place. But was it actually one continuous shot?  Absolutely not.  There are dramatic shifts in setting and time, not to mention the insanity of trying to choreograph every single moving part for nearly two straight hours.  So no, the film is not one single shot. Rather, it is a magical tapestry, woven together by the magic of clever cinematography, solid editing, and polished visual effects.

As an aspiring editor, I thoroughly enjoy learning about the inner-workings of the post-production process.  I love hearing editors, colorists, sound mixers, and visual effects artists discuss their work and the very specific decisions they made during their time with a particular film.  In the case of Birdman, the editors have actually kept a lot of their “secrets” to themselves, but that doesn’t mean their work can’t be dissected from the outside.  


When examining the film to find its edits, one of the things that immediately struck me were the interior/exterior transitions.  At many places throughout the film, a character will be moving from indoors to outdoors, or from one room to another through a doorway.  Often times, the camera pushes in to fill the frame with the character’s back or the area around the doorway is so dark that the frame is briefly entirely dark.  Assuming that lighting and color are consistent, a cut can be placed unnoticeably at the point where the frame is completely dark.  This particular method is very reminiscent of Alfred Hitchcock’s Rope (1948), where he attempted to make a continuously shot film, but was limited by the amount of film that a camera could hold.  To hide the cuts, he had the camera push in to fill the frame with someone’s back.  Fortunately for Iñárittu, technology has progressed enormously since Hitchcock’s time.  The other two methods of hiding Birdman’s cuts require a little more post-production magic.

birdman_movie_stillThe first of these two methods is dramatically simpler than the second.  Known as “whip” or “swish” pans, these cuts find their strength in movement.  They work by cutting on the action, where the action is blurred because of fast camera movement.  The effect is further improved by using a frame rate near the cinematic standard of 24 frames per second.  Often times, a well-executed whip pan can even provide an unnoticeable transition between two completely different settings, so a discreet transition between two shots in the same setting is very feasible.  Birdman utilizes this technique all over the place, which actually helps add some energy to the film, in addition to its function as a transition.

birdman-emma-stone-changing-room-xlargeThe final technique used to mask transitions in Birdman is really more of a category than it is a specific technique.  “Visual effects” is a broad term than can mean a whole lot of things, but in the context of the cuts in this film, it refers to a method of smoothing transitions.  In some cases, such as the small number of exterior shots that showcase the transition from night to day, the effects are more akin to a very complex dissolve.  In other cases, they may add some extra blur to a whip pan to make it more believable.  Depending on the situation, they may even be a reanimation of some aspect of a cut that makes it almost unnoticeable.  Some might consider this category cheating, since it wasn’t how the film was originally shot, but it certainly rounds out the continuous feel of the movie.

Birdman-5Ultimately, I love Birdman because the unique way that it was shot and edited contributes significantly to the film.  It isn’t made to look like a continuous shot just for the sake of being different.  Rather, the continuous, almost dreamlike flow of the framing assists in characterizing this chapter of Riggan Thomson’s life as confused, dazed, and lost.  Birdman is a film worth viewing for its success in accomplishing a technical feat, but more importantly, for how its technical feat contributes to the overall character of the movie.


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