Film Center

December 12th, 2011

Blog Post on “Bonnie and Clyde” by Steven Rengifo

Posted by Steven Rengifo in Uncategorized

We ended our last lecture with a bang. Unlike the majority of the movies we have watched during this semester, Bonnie and Clyde would have to be the most craziest and loudest feature length film I believe I’ve seen all semester. This was also our second film that we watched that was done in color. Our first, Written on the Wind was filmed in Technicolor, while this one was filmed in Eastmancolor. Technicolor was a very expensive process of filming because you needed actual Technicolor technicians to make the film “colorized”. Written on the Wind was film “bathed in lurid Technicolor (Criterion Collection)” and filled with many exaggerated scenes and shots.

    

Penn’s film was a breakthrough because of the amount of violence the film had. Sometimes I think there was an exaggerated amount of violence. When I mean violence, I also mean just the act of taking out a gun and the killings as well. This action is the start what most likely will be a violent event. Like the scene when Clyde teaches Bonnie how to shoot a gun. Out of no where, we see a big, middle aged man approaching the lethal couple. Where did this person come from? I found that scene to be the random and just one the many awkward moments that are shown on film. I never felt like the film was ever still for a moment and instead filled with constant motion. There were hardly any long takes and filled with short takes. This is the start of what is to become the majority of the films created in Hollywood, filled with many short takes.

But I remember how the film was strongly influenced with the French New Wave and its techniques. Lets take “Breathless” for example. I remember the jump cuts and the choppy editing that the film had. There were many tiny mistakes throughout the film, it came to a point where all those mistakes were a part of what the film was. It was meant to be choppy, to  fight and rebel against the traditional French established film industry. That applies to “Bonnie and Clyde” here as well. I remember one thing, everything that the director films is done on purpose. The way the director shoots the scenes are not just meant for us to look at them, but they shoot the scenes in certain ways, to convey a message. Penn chose to film “Bonnie and Clyde” in this way to rebel against the typical big-budget, Hollywood style of filmmaking.

The 1960’s was a decade filled with changes in film. France was flourishing with their New Wave Cinema and the U.S. was slowly moving away from big-budget productions to independent filmmaking. I was shocked to see the main character in the film, Clyde to impotent whenever Bonnie made flirtatious moves onto Clyde. This was radically different than many of the gangsters we see in most movies these days. The majority have three things in mind, violence, money, and sex. An example would be James Cagney’s character in “A Public Enemy”.

   

December 8th, 2011

Analysis #2: Materiality of Film on “La Jetee”

Posted by Steven Rengifo in Uncategorized

Steven Rengifo

December 6th, 2011

Media Studies 144-01

Analysis #2: Materiality of Film for La Jetee

            The screening in class was the first time I have ever watched the movie. I remember your reaction after it was over, and couldn’t agree with you more about how powerful a 28-minute film can be. I will be analyzing this film in its entirety because it is a short film, also because the film has a unique quality. There are 24 frames in each shot of a film and that is what film is, a combination of thousands of separate images. These images are projected at a certain rate to create a moving image. The specific technique that makes La Jetee unique is that film is almost completely filled with still shots and photography that is held for several seconds. This is clearly different from what most films are, which are actual moving pictures to create many images flashed before you on screen.

Throughout the short, the audience is focused on just looking at single shots or images for several seconds. This urges the audience to stop, look, and analyze what is shown on screen. La Jetee is about survivors of a nuclear explosion that caused World War III, and then tapping into the mind of a man who has a mind filled with rich memories of the past. Apparently a couple of people have survived in France and what are left are some citizens and scientists. The scientists have more control and use the other survivors as objects of experimentation. Then comes on individual who has a clear vision of what the past once was.

The film was ahead of its time because how it just used still shots of photography to convey its message. I liked how it was different, but I was left confused at the end. A scene I was confused with was the one shot of the man sleeping and opening his eyes, the whispering, and the heart pounding. The stuff that the scientist’s had on their eyes was confusing as well. I’m not sure what was the point of all of that, but it did create a lot of suspense for me. I would consider this film to be avant-garde instead of just being a regular short film. There is narrative, but a lot of it is hard to follow.

This was the film that gained Chris Marker him international recognition. What does the film try to convey by just using just photographs? I believe it forces us stop and look at hat might possibly be our future. When the movie was released in 1963, France was already gaining international respect and popularity with their French New Wave Movement. This was time when French filmmakers and critics were frustrated with traditional French cinema. The filmmakers challenged the establishment of how films were created, by making their own films at a very cheap level. Just from watching the types of movies, you can see how cheap and quickly it was done.

In this case, Marker wanted to do the film just in still photo shots. To create the effect of an eerie future, there were a lot of qualities from film noir that was used. The images were purposely shot in dark or closed settings. Most importantly the museum shots had a lot of a dark tone to it. It goes to show how simple a film can be created. Marker just took pictures with the actors in them in certain areas around Paris. The rest was just edited and revised in the editing process of the film. The use of overlapping images of Paris being destroyed made the experience more realistic for the audience. The film sows the audience how the future will be if something is not done. The filmmaker is crying for action in the film, but in a very subtle way.

This movie and the others that were released before the student protests that happened in France. Students in France were highly influenced by these films and their messages. The audience should pay attention to how Marker is influenced by film noir. The French New Wave is a movement that was influenced by film noir and it especially shown in La Jetee. Lastly, I believe Marker achieved his goal affecting the audience. The film certainly affected me because I was left in confusion and amazed at how the photography can say a lot in 28 minutes.

October 12th, 2011

Analysis Project #1: “Shot-by-Shot Breakdown” of Double Indemnity by Steven Rengifo

Posted by Steven Rengifo in Uncategorized
 

(The Youtube video is a just the end of my favorite shots from “Double Indemnity”. Anyways, watch it. Murder\’s Never Perfect Scene – Double Indemnity Movie (1944) – HD)

  • MS, normal height. Claims Manager Barton Keyes is lying down on a small sofa in his office while smoking a cigar. Salesman Walter Neff is standing right in front of him. There is no music in these following shots.

Keyes office is a bit dark because Neff is blocking the sunlight from hitting Keyes relaxed position. He sits up and says a “blunt statement” about himself. “Walter, I’m a very great man” and Neff responds “Yeah?” The back of Neff’s sport coat is covered with the vertical ways of sunlight. The sunlight is being obscured by Neff’s back, but light still hits the wall, exactly where Neff’s shadow is shown. It creatively shot and possibly signifies Neff’s future. It is as if the light go through Neff like if he is a ghost. The rays of sun create a prison-like atmosphere in Keyes office.  Neff certainly knows that Keyes is not a dumb man, especially a person who has been in the insurance business for 26 years. Suddenly Keyes yells that the Dietrichson case is “murder…”

 

  • Cut, CS, Reverse Shot, Slightly looking up towards Walter Neff’s face, as if we are in the point-of-view of Barton Keyes.

Neff’s face expression begins to turn slowly within a couple of seconds. Keyes is clearly a smart man who has probably seen these “accidents” occur every once a while. Every object in this close-up is covered with venetian blind sunrays hitting the cigar filled room.

 

  • Cut, CS. Barton Keyes speaks to Walter Neff and tells him that this “accident” was “smart, tricky, almost perfect, but I think Papa has it all figured out. Figured out and wrapped up in tissue paper with pink ribbons on it.”

Looking carefully at this shot, Keyes isn’t a tall person, but is not afraid to be frank with people. He is short and stalky but this man is not measured by feet or inches, but by character. Sunrays are lighting his face, but his shadow is strong. No light is being pass through his small body unlike Neff’s.

 

  • Cut, CS, Reverse Shot of Walter Neff. His sense of security begins to diminish even further when Barton Keyes says that Mr. Dietrichson wasn’t even on the train when the “accident” occurred.

Neff makes a clear and visible change of expression and by the movement of his hands, it seems he buried his murderous hands even deeper into pleated dress pants.

Keyes shares his assumptions on the "accident" of Mr. Dietrichson

  • Cut. MS, Reverse Shot of Neff and Keyes. Keyes stands up and begins to explain the two possibilities to his murder assumption. Keyes firmly believes that Phyllis Dietrichson and someone else killed Mr. Dietrichson before going onto the train. Walter replies by as if he doesn’t know what Keyes is talking about.

His hands need a firmer grip and took his left hand out and started to grab the wooden chair firmly.

 

  • Cut, CS on Keyes and shirt is strikingly brighter in the room. It is as if Keyes is the only ray of light in this dark story.

He is fascinated about discovering who killed Mr. Dietrichson, and has no clue that the murderer is right in front of his face. Keyes white dress shirt is beaming like a neon sign. There are no venetian blind sunrays hitting Keyes because his character destroys the dark energy that is surrounding him.

 

  • Cut, CS of both Neff and Keyes staring at each other.

Noticeably, the light is still projected onto Neff’s body.

Eye Witness: Mr. Jackson

  • Cut, MS, Reverse Shot. Neff looks rather impressed at Keyes because he eventually analyzed his “murder assumption” so close to the truth, but it was missing one thing, which was that “somebody else”? Keyes actually brought the only witness who saw Mr. Dietrichson for the very last time. Mr. Jackson from Oregon comes in and Neff turns his back towards Mr. Jackson.
  • Cut, Long Take, MS of Keyes on the right, and Neff in the center and Jackson on the left. Two innocent people are speaking to each other while the murderer; Neff is right in the middle of the frame, observing the other two men in the room. Neff face expression turns dramatically. Mr. Jackson sits down and Neff continues to avoid eye contact with the eyewitness. Jackson claims that Mr. Dietrichson was never on the train, it was an imposter, posing as him. Neff becomes increasingly worried with Mr. Jackson statement and knows he is pretty sure of what he said. Jackson then sits down in front of Neff, while Neff staring at the back of Jackson’s head. He doesn’t know what to do but play with his match. He’s afraid to join the other two who are smoking their cigars.
  • Cut, MS of Keyes learns more about what Jackson saw and will gladly come back to Los Angeles if a trial needs to take place.  Jackson does a small glance towards Neff, and quickly moves to the other side of the room to avoid eye contact. Eventually Jackson grabs Neff by the arm and ponders whether he has ever seen him before. Neff plays it cool and doesn’t freak out, but understands that he is in deep trouble. Mr. Jackson is then escorted out of Keyes office.

Barton Keyes and Walter Neff

  • Cut, MS of Keyes talking to Neff. He ends the scene with “They are stuck with each other and they’ve got to ride all the way to the end of the line. And it’s a one-way trip and the last stop is the cemetery”. The camera cut to a CS of Neff lighting the match he was playing with the whole time when Mr. Jackson was in Keyes office.

A word that is repeated a lot is “line” and “straight down the line” throughout the movie. Barbara Stanwyck’s character repeatedly says it also but quite frankly it’s hard to decipher the significance of the word in the film. If anybody can comment, that will help. Hope you enjoy.

September 20th, 2011

Journal Posting #1: “Citizen Kane” Challenge

Posted by Steven Rengifo in Uncategorized

WATCH THE YOUTUBE CLIP FIRST…THEN READ THE BLOG ENTRY!!! THANK YOU.

Citizen Kane (1941): Breakfast Montage Scene

To start off, first and foremost… this movie was way ahead of its time and extremely innovative. Though the course is looking back at movies during an important time period in film history, Citizen Kane is like Inception for us in the present. Clearly Inception is a more complicated story of falling into numerous dreams and sort of needs to be watched 2 or 3 times to completely understand, but Citizen Kane gives us so much info and advances in technology, that it is hard to grasp the entire essence of the film.  It wasn’t just “a hollywood movie”, it is a well crafted piece of film that was constructed with having a deliberate message and technique.

Right from the get go, a noticeable technique and achievement is the incredible cinematography and lighting. Compared to “Lady Eve”, a picture that was released the same year, this film used so much low shots and creative lighting techniques. This was extremely unconventional, but so new. Then comes Toland use of deep-focus in the scene where Kane is a young boy playing in the snow. After discussing about the image frame for 10 minutes in the lecture, I now realize what 1 single frame can say or mean.

After the news reel of Kanes life ended in the small screening room, the next shot of the journalists in the room was extraordinarily crafted. Once again lighting is used very well and it created a murky, cigarette filled environment that has become synonymous with film noir. What mostly got my attention was the “Breakfast Montage” scene where Kane and Emily discuss the various events that happen either in the Inquirer or anything related to that fact. They dramatically grow apart as time goes by because of their differences.

The first shot has Emily wondering why Kane spends so much time over night at the Inquirer. Kane smiles and ignores her question by directing her to read the Inquirer instead of asking so many questions. Next shot shows Kane in a serious and cocky attitude about his articles on “Uncle John”, the President of the United States, Emily’s actual uncle. The articles seem to attack the President and Kane promises change very soon, and then smirks to Emily. He shows a sadistic attitude when he smirks to Emily.

Kane’s work life starts to him home when Mr. Bernstein arrives at “the nursery” with a “credible atrocity” and Emily wonders if that is ever going to happen again. We see Kane sitting down, cutting something with a knife, but noticeably, he is sitting in stiff posture. All Kane can do is look at Emily and wonder ever why he ever married a women who will not accept who he is. The flowers are now gone from the table and we can now see the actors hands. The next shot is crucial and a turning point in the relationship. Time has passed once again and Emily gets her question cut off after 3 words. He yells “I TELL WHAT THE PEOPLE SHOULD THINK”. Kane is visibly angry and places his tea cup on the plate with a dramatic effect.

Kane has had enough that when the next shot showcases is not literally a slap in the face, but the equivalent of that. EMILY IS READING THE CHRONICLE!!! Kane doesn’t even dare to look at her straight into her eyes, likewise herself. He silently reads the Inquirer while Emily reads the competition, “The Chronicle”. The music is low key and everything around feels awkward, including the lighting around the breakfast table. This and other scenes are by far my favorite.

This montage is so crucial because it shows the fall of a promising relationship but ends terrible with a public scandal. Montage is important to film. As film theorists Sergei Eisenstein says “montage as a collision“, it combines various pieces of film and creates a scene, at the end it is supposed to represent probably days, weeks, or months into several seconds or minutes. The montage is well crafted because it changes the environment around them and what they wear. Kane usually dressed in a robe for breakfast, but his clothes began to change conservatively into a stiff character. By now he has already experienced long, tough days in the office and quite frankly, will not stand Emily questions every morning at the breakfast table. The flowers are gone from the table. Kane probably hated seeing that every morning as he was becoming more old and grumpy.

Ultimately, I don’t understand why the flowers were there in the first place, and then suddenly, as Kane was wearing the striped suit, the flowers were gone. Plus… Kane had a knife in his hand and seemed like he was having a problem cutting some food. Was the knife a symbol, implying weapons. I feel this relationship was brilliantly capture in these scenes of montage because the breakfast table conversation, is something most married couples do every morning. I believe this scene can be social commentary on how Americans deal with their newlyweds or how we generally live in relationships and how they can be quickly destroyed in a matter of a few weeks, months, or years.

August 27th, 2011

Introducing…. ME!!!!

Posted by Steven Rengifo in Uncategorized

Hi, my name is Steven. I was born and raised in Astoria, Queens for over 16 years and currently live in Fresh Meadows. I am a proud Colombian American. I occasionally serve the community at different events. I hope to get to know a couple of you better and enjoy the rest of my college years at QC. I recently have gained a passion of film. After acquiring a Netflix Account about 4 years ago, my taste in film has grown. I happy that I am taking a class that I am actually looking forward to every Friday morning at 10:15. M would have to be the oldest film I have ever watched. Honestly speaking, it was a good movie, not great… just good (in my opinion). Most of the movies I watch are from the 60’s-90’s. But it was an interesting experience to view M. I believe this course will be an exciting insight into film.

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