Archive for Essays

Greatest Thing Ever

I just wanted to let you all know. This video featuring THE MAN HIMSELF is absolutely brilliant. This is the exact thing I am talking about in my Citizen Kane essay on Meta-textuality. Absolutely brilliant.

Spoilers
My favorite media theory (One I slightly self-developed) is meta-intertexuality. Its basically about how a movie is affecting you based on the medium it is conveying based on the medium the characters operate under base on how the director manipulates that medium. And how you know you’re watching a movie about a movie (or reading a book about a book) about a film maker making a movie or a news paper writer writing a newspaper being demonstrated in news reels. Furthermore, it is about how it effects you specifically because of the medium in which its conveyed via its levels of didactic truth or angles of emotional involvement.

In this case, its Kojima doing a kitcshy video about Kojima’s home-made kitchsy stuff (the ridiculous looking MGS universe, which I love but has become a tad overdone), where the coolest thing is just running around ridiculously pretending your stealthy when in reality, the AI is just too dumb to notice you or doesn’t care, knowing that he’ll probably get away with it because, in all honesty, most people just don’t care, and that its funny because we do it just because we feel cool doing it. That’s the whole reason. He just…he knows.

Especially because, up until that point, the video really sucks. No offense guys at Mega64. I’m sure that was your intention. The trigger-happy-TV video game approach is, as always, beautiful, but I know you’re just being self-referential to your own previous material, hence the disappointment in your characters’ eyes when they meet their Maker. They know they’ve been caught in a running gag, just as the series of MGS has, itself, become.

More posts will be coming later, but are coming in slowly, seeing as I have become a Stunt Pirate somewhere I can’t say, and that I have a lot going on this summer, including Kung Fu training. No joke.

Essays Section Now Up!

We have another special surprise for everyone out there on the net, STRIKE A POSE FILMS now introduces it’s Essays Page, a place where you can read and gain cinematic terminology and knowledge from the writings of Dylan Hintz and others.

So two things are happening with this page: One, its a portfolio of my years of paper writing at Salisbury University under the great tutelage of Dr.’s Walker, Johnson, Moeder and others, as well as some private essays I’ve written in my free time. They can be cited if you are ever faced with writing an essay of your own on films like Oldboy, Cache, Aliens, The Talented Mr. Ripley, Rashomon, Gattaca and Life is Beautiful. There is a creative commons notification at the bottom of each essay, so please keep that in mind.

Secondly:
If you wish to get your essay published on a fully-functional and well-read website, please by all means submit it via email to my gmail account, which is just “strikeaposefilm” @ gmail.com.

Here is a sample of my essay on the film The Battleship Potemkin:

Dylan Hintz
English 402, Film History
Professor Johnson

The Warfare of Montage

“Revolution is war,” begins a famous quote from Soviet Revolutionary Vladimir Lenin in the opening slate to Sergei Eisenstein’s 1925 masterpiece of Soviet Montage, The Battleship Potemkin. This statement links clashing close up images of water crashing upon rocks- a natural violence of warlike proportions displayed to give the viewer a feeling of great chaos- to the entirety of the film in a message and theme of collision and amassed disturbance. This quote, delivered through a black and white slate of words and expressing the emotions of the time towards warfare, explains in Lenin’s own words how something of great change, a Revolution, can only come through the great destruction of War. Two juxtaposed ideas, change and destruction, give a concise and explosive example of Eisenstein’s film theory of Montage, most prominently displayed in The Battleship Potemkin. When put together in a subconscious mindset, the words can create an idea of revolution and war- the fulfillment of the formula he created. Eisenstein carries over this equation of words to the medium of film and the images it can convey in the succession of editing- the ultimate storytelling power of a film. He carves out the themes of this film through the use of conflict to convey images within the montages, giving deeper meaning to scenes as well as providing an artistic angle to almost documentary-like situations.

There is one key scene in the Potemkin story that depicts its primary revolution through the use of a heavily edited montage. During the second act of The Battleship Potemkin, the captain has called all sailors and soldiers to the deck to demand information on possible treason. The treason in question is based around a paranoid request: Did the sailors enjoy their meal? In the oppressor’s, the pristinely clothed and thick mustached captain, view had they not, they are obviously denying the consumption of the provided food in an act of rebellion against their suppliers and should be duly punished for such treason. Thus starts the most dramatic montage of this act as the soldiers prepare to fire on the dissenters in following their captain’s orders. In a slow build of solid images, the marines raise their guns in preparation to fire upon the dissenting sailors. Displaying a solemn acceptance of the doom draped upon them, the sailors lower their heads in shame and despair as the rifles are pointed upon their brothers. It is in a slow and breathe-like take that Vakulinchuk, in a dramatic medium shot, is the only man to raise his head upward and take in the image of the oppressive act. The angles then conflict, as victory appears on the side of the oppressors, with their shots being taken from a low angle, putting their guns in the top of the frame, with the cloaked men kneeling towards the bottom of their frame from a high angle, accepting their doom.

You can read the rest of this essay here, and check out the rest at http://www.strikeaposefilms.com/essays

Feel free to comment and let me know your thoughts. These papers are primarily for analysis, not argument, but if you agree or disagree a discussion is more than welcome- it is encouraged.

As I start adding more essays I will be posting them to the main page as well, so more content to look forward to for the next couple of months.

Thanks for paying attention and enjoy the literature!

Recently I heard through my favorite film-news website Dark Horizons that, in an interview with AMCTV (full story there), not a single person who actually worked on the upcoming sci-fi action thriller BABYLON A.D. is pleased with the end result. The director himself is practically disowning the film in its current format. It is currently nearly 15 minutes shorter and a heck of a lot dumber than what the cast and crew had been hoping for. How did this happen and what does it mean? Let’s explore a bit, as I believe this to be a great example of the flaws of our current studio system, and an even better example of a director trying to show some integrity within his constraints.

Based on the novel Babylon Babies. The story is about “a mercenary (Diesel) in the year 2019 who is hired to transport a woman and her guardian from Eastern Europe to New York” and critics are already drawing comparisons to recent critical success Children of Men. Unfortunately they are all negative, such as the review of one Jordan Mintzer of Variety, who calls the film “A noisier, costlier version of Children of Men, [that lakcs] that film’s social-political significance and jaw-dropping direction.”

Babylon AD was set to be a strong come back piece for critically maligned action star Vin Diesel. Featuring imaginative special effects and a reliable sci-fi backstory to flex his muscles to, I was hoping that he’d really have a chance with this film to star in something intelligent and meaningful (while at the same time punching bad guys in the face). So did he.

Diesel emphasizes the movie’s theme of smuggling people across national borders. “This whole thing that’s happening in Georgia right now is so fresh that no one has even asked about it yet,” he says. “We’re coming into an age where borders are closing, and I think that our society will be numb to it because of our freedom in the virtual world, our freedom in the Internet.”

Diesel has been known to take a more intellectual and involved approach to his film making, helping to craft the fantasy universe of Chronicles of Riddick along with director David Twohy, and taking a turn as a dramatic actor in the critically successful (anywhere other than RT anyways) courtroom drama biopic, Find Me Guilty. If the action star isn’t happy with the result of the movie, and furthermore is upset at the brainlessness of it all, then the final product probably has some major flaws. Diesel sympathizes with Kassovitz.

A director is always in the difficult position of being held accountable for a film’s success or failure. “It’s hard,” he says. “Filmmaking is such a collaborative effort you can’t look to one person.

He couldn’t be more right. But it seems that 20th Century Fox might be the bad guy again, in a case similar to their butchering of the already-pretty-dumb-concept Hitman movie earlier this year. It serves as an odd coincidence that Vin Diesel was one of the key producers on that film as well. What does 20th Century Fox have against the baritone-voiced behemoth? Well, Kassovitz and Diesel have some opinions on that.

The film’s production was reportedly riddled with problems, from vast delays to budgetary concerns to weather setbacks. Kassovitz points to the studio, “Fox was sending lawyers who were only looking at all the commas and the dots,” he says. “They made everything difficult from A to Z.” The last stroke, Kassovitz says, was when Fox interfered with the editing of the film, paring it down to a confusing 93 minutes (original reports were that 70 minutes were cut from the film; Kassovitz says the number is closer to 15). Diesel too was astounded at the film’s length. Having just completed production of the fourth installment of The Fast and the Furious, he had not seen a cut of the film in six months. “Am I even in the movie any more, or am I on the cutting room floor?” the actor joked. Fox could not be reached for comment on this story.

The director, Matieu Kassovitz (Gothika), has even gone so far as to warn people about how bad the film is. “Ready to go to war” with Fox, Kassovitz lashes out, saying:

“It’s pure violence and stupidity,” he admits. “The movie is supposed to teach us that the education of our children will mean the future of our planet. All the action scenes had a goal: They were supposed to be driven by either a metaphysical point of view or experience for the characters… instead parts of the movie are like a bad episode of 24.”

The forewarning is strong indeed. The forewarning that big-budget studios would rather use their money on big dumb action flicks, especially if that means lobotomizing legitimate intentions of intellect. Reminds me of the case of 20th Century Fox v. Ridley Scott over the changes made in Blade Runner. While I doubt any version of Bablyon AD would have been as challenging and as intelligent as that film, I always enjoy seeing younger directors trying to step up to the plate. Shame on Fox though, as we will be treated to watching yet another movie where Vin Diesel punches a bad guy in the face and has little context to put it in. At this time, your dedicated reporter is unsure whether to put his 10 dollars into the film. Kassovitz isn’t helping.

To be fair, Kassovitz doesn’t entirely hate the film. “I like the energy of it and I got some scenes I’m happy with,” he says. “But I know what I had — I had something much better in my hands but I just wasn’t allowed to work.”

In the end I’m glad to see someone up there in the big leagues that has the integrity to admit when he’s being bought out by companies like Fox; admitting to making garbage under the hopes of creating intelligent pieces of work. “I should have chosen a studio that has guts,” he says. “Fox was just trying to get a PG-13 movie. I’m ready to go to war against them, but I can’t because they don’t give a s–t.”

Oh well. Maybe next time. Babylon AD opens in theaters everywhere this Friday.

Sources from Darkhorizons.com and AMCTV.com

This is STRIKE A POSE!!! Films first Guest Review by our good friend Thomas England, also known in the forums as Tom. Tom loves watching classic, indie, and cult films, and today we’ve got a big treat for our readers- an introduction to one film maker’s amazing selection of work.

Here’s his review for Ingmar Bergman’s PERSONA:

Lately I have been renting and watching a lot of classics, in sort of a “quest” to find more inspiration for my own creative ingenuity, as well as for substance to contribute to a college film club I help manage. I have been trying to watch genres ranging from old cult classics to French new wave flicks as well as various indie titles. Many of these have been downers for me- I either found them to be somewhat boring or pretentious; trash that only succeeded in making me angry. I don’t like watching movies that blatantly try and go out of their way to prove how better they are than you. I am mainly talking about Jean Luc Godard’s French New Wave films, which if you haven’t heard of him, then good- leave it that way, and stay clear from anything by him.

Biased and arrogant opinions about French film making aside, the “classics” that I saw were interesting but didn’t do anything for me at the time, many of which seemed like movies I would have to re-watch later on. There were a couple exceptions. One I have run into is Swedish filmmaker Ingmar Bergman. Just last week I finished watching his 1966 psychological thriller Persona, and I must say I definitely found what I was looking for with this movie. It was beautifully shot and the story was well told.

The movie was about a nurse named Alma (Bibi Anderson), who was put in charge of helping to rehabilitate a well known actress named Elisabeth (Liv Ullman) who, although seeming physically fine, will not talk to anyone. I was left constantly guessing why she is acting this way. The opening sequence is a montage of serial imagery, where the clues for answering this question begin. What was shown in the opening sequence were things ranging from a film projector to a child trapped in an all white room with a large human face watching him from behind one of the transparent walls.

One of the more powerful scenes was when the Elisabeth was watching the news in her hospital room, and sees the broadcast of the forever infamous Saigon monk burning himself alive in Vietnam. Most important was the reaction and facial responses expressed by the actress to that sort of stimuli. This sort of thing helps to give clues about what is actually going on, but by the end it will be made clear to you that you’re just as clueless as the nurse trying to help the young actress, and understand why the film is called what it is. It is important to pay close attention to the imagery throughout the movie, because the story is primarily told through its imagery, with dialog coming in second (though it’s still important). For those who are fans of David Lynch you would be well accustomed to it- a very dark and dreary experience that at times has a very surreal feel to it.

In the end this was just the inspiration I needed! I have seen two other films by Ingmar Bergman: The Seventh Seal and The Wild Strawberries, both of which were great and completely different experiences. I recommend anyone reading this to pick this one up if they can find it- it’s not very long, but if you watch this and find it to be your type of movie as I did, then definitely pick up the other Bergman movies I just listed. Even so, out of all of the three Bergman Movies that I have seen so far, this one takes the gold.

Tom’s an active member of the Future Film Makers Club, leading the way for the newer members as Vice President, and you might even remember his amazing performance in the comedic masterpiece, Man of Action.

Tom\'s Logo

THIS is another essay I did for my Literature in Film class at Salisbury University, this time comparing the book, The Talented Mr. Ripley written by Patricia Highsmith to the movie directed by Anthony Minghella. I got a pretty good grade on it, as it details some drastic changes in the two narrative styles. If you have seen the film or read the book, give it a read, and if you haven’t done either, you should probably watch or read both. This is a great story about a dark character and real human drama.
ripley book
A Brief Summary:
Tom Ripley (depending on the medium) is a young man who lives in New York, tricks people out of money, and then does whatever he likes, getting his fix by being mischievous. With an almost Holden-Caulfield like view on society, he only ever enjoys a few people. The thriller was written in the 1950’s, and focuses on themes that might not have been…popular at the time, such as identity theft, European vacationing, and of course, homosexuality. Tom goes to Europe to bring back the son of a wealthy aristocrat, only to become psychotically attracted to his way of life. So…he steals it. See (or read) the drama for yourself, the suspense is also QUITE a rush!

Dylan Hintz
12/4/06
Film Lit
Dr. Johnson

The Alleged Mr. Ripley

“‘Pardon me, are you Tom Ripley?’” Herbert Greenleaf asks the protagonist Tom this initial question on page four of Patricia Highsmith’s thriller novel, The Talented Mr. Ripley. In the first of many two-faced conversations and hidden agendas Tom comes across, the novel starts out with a question he answers with complete honesty. This prompted encounter, in which Herbert Greenleaf was looking for Tom by name, differs from the alternative reality presented in the film version written and directed by Anthony Minghella: a chance encounter brought on by Tom borrowing a Princeton University jacket. The start of the first major part of both stories- Tom’s life in New York prior to embarking to Europe is radically different depending on the creative outlet. Thus, while his lifestyle is similar, the characteristics of Tom Ripley from the opening of the novel and the opening of the movie are both diverse enough to lend an audience two complete interpretations of the character through his interactions with other characters and his own isolated scenes of exposition.

The film starts out with Tom playing the piano to a lovely operatic tune, in which a close up slowly reveals that he is sitting in a bedroom with eyes full of pensive regrets. Matt Damon puts great effort into giving a very unreadable look to Tom Ripley- the character constantly appears as if he’s thinking about what the audience will expect him to, but then when he speaks, his lies begin to snowball, such as in the first scene with the Princeton Jacket and the Greenleafs. Tom is asked about Princeton and their son, Dickie Greenleaf. He appears completely oblivious to what they are talking about, however his words of response are “How is Dickie?” He is completely prompted by the parents to have already known Dickie in a case of somewhat mistaken identity.

Tom Ripley

In the novel, however, Mr. Greenleaf has been looking for him, and Tom actually remembers Dickie from a personal encounter. At this point the reader has a greater opportunity to get inside Tom’s head. In one self-monologue Tom describes how he may have been recommended by a man he worked for as an accountant- a job that was never mentioned in the film. Tom says “Charley could have told Mr. Greenleaf that he was intelligent, level-headed, scrupulously honest, and very willing to do a favor” (6). Tom quips to himself how the compliments were erroneous, however he holds this back from Mr. Greenleaf in favor of asking questions, rather than turning him down immediately. This one introspective thought already sets a ball in motion different from that of the film, in that Tom is a scheming and poor man with intelligence and cunning that helps him to survive a desperate lifestyle. This can also be seen when he describes his current occupation of conning people into paying extra taxes as an activity that causes him much joy, to the point where after conning a complete stranger out of over 200 dollars, “Tom sat there for a moment, giggling, with his thin hands pressed together between his knees” (16) as if he were a conniving school-boy.

In the film, making the acquaintance of both Mr. and Mrs. Greenleaf on the rooftop party is a grand deviation from the seedy bar Mr. Greenleaf chases Tom into in the beginning of the novel. He is at the top of the world in Manhattan, shown playing a piano, a talent not really expressed within the first forty pages of the novel that detail his lifestyle in New York City. His musical empathy is a trait highly referenced in the first major act of the film. The writing and direction of the film, especially in the opening scenes, accompanied by Matt Damon’s portrayal, lend Tom to be a sympathetic character- someone for the audience to care about and hope for. One scene that provides a dimming wink of hope for the character is when Tom is sitting in the theater he works for, playing the piano after hours, only to be interrupted by one of the janitors and shooed out of his one seemingly sanctuary. It is obvious that this version of Tom has hopes and dreams, which are expressed in the novel, however only later out of anger, in which Tom had “wanted to be an actor…” and how he “thought he had the necessary talent…” (38). These failed dreams of his in the novel are always focally placed on a very specific character omitted from the film: his Aunt Dottie.

talented cast
The character of Aunt Dottie in the novel causes the greatest deviation in what the audience gets out of Tom Ripley from a two hour movie and a 300 page novel. For a film that ends up displaying a savagely alone character committing murder out of desperation and fear, the motivation for such heinous acts seems to be missing: His motivation to do anything dastardly from Matt Damon’s portrayal doesn’t even seem to exist until he’s backed into a corner by Jude Law’s loathing Dickie Greenleaf character. Of the characters adapted to the film, in the opening sequence Tom only meets or mentions a few from the original novel. The Greenleafs, and perhaps some of his noisy neighbors are the only ones physically presented. Tom in the novel, however, references at least a dozen other characters, including his parents, the people he’s stayed with, a woman named Cleo Dobelle, and his dreaded Aunt Dottie. Tom’s feelings towards Aunt Dottie boil down to his memory of the only goal he had in life as a child: “to run away from Aunt Dottie, the violent screams he had imagined- Aunt Dottie trying to hold him in the house, and he hitting her with his fists, flinging her to the ground and throttling her, and finally tearing the big brooch off her dress and stabbing her a million times in the throat with it” (39). Throughout chapter six of the novel, Tom goes on about how it had been Aunt Dottie who held him back and caused him to be such an unsuccessful person. He has true hatred in his heart for this woman, and a long-lived lifestyle of deserving vindication for never knowing life outside of her rule. Tom’s motivation and ability to live life without a conscience in the novel can be solely attributed, even quite possibly admitted by the character himself, to his childhood being raised by Aunt Dottie.

talented mr ripley
The different person presented in the film then is Matt Damon’s portrayal, even when confronted by the janitor in the theater, crashing down upon his one, singular attempt to feel as though he can strive higher, is an apologetic young man who has a tendency for feeling bad for the trouble he could cause others. He has guilt and a conscience, clearly from these few moments. His lie then is most likely motivated by seeing a slim chance at a better life.

By the end of the opening credits, which oddly enough last the entirety of the opening ten minutes, the audience of the film sees Tom as a kind hearted person who’s only taking advantage of what seems to be the best offer he’s had in years. He’s still strange and peculiar in his need to please others, but he certainly doesn’t seem like a bad person. Forty pages into the novel, however, the reader can conclude Tom gets a thrill out of being devious, has a penchant for being underhanded, and even could lean towards being a completely psychopath after his life growing up with a woman who only motivated him to escape with a murderous finale to their relationship. Thus, the difference in the film and the novel is what kind of transformation the respected Tom Ripley will go through by the end- will he be a kindhearted man who was driven away by people who he thought loved him, or will he end up only unleashing his murderous potential upon those who lower his own perceived self worth? Either way, his story ends with murder, but the beginning of it shows that in the film’s reality, Tom had a chance to be healthier. The novel’s reality creates a killer from the outset.
talented death