1. AN EVOLVING INDUSTRY
The advent of the Internet is placing a greater emphasis on online streaming as a means to distribute and exhibit movies online. Given that movies are so easy to pirate today with torrenting and downloads, movie studios are more desperate than ever to find legal ways to offer their movies. Today, Netflix offers a large library of movies for instant streaming that customer pay for by the month – often, this can help more independent releases, as it spotlights films that would not be seen by as many people otherwise. Independent films like ‘Ink’ and “Strictly Sexual’ would not have the followings they have today were it not for Netflix and Hulu offering them for free on streaming – both of those movies have cult fanbases and have been seen by many people. (Chapter 1.4, p. 16)
2. NARRATIVE AND STORYTELLING
The difference between plot and story is that, whereas the story is the overall tale told throughout the film, the plot details how that tale unfolds. In Pulp Fiction (1995), Tarantino presents the events of the film in a nonchronological order, bookmarked by Pumpkin and Honey Bunny’s robbery of the diner, and the film being divided into chapters according to each individual story (Mia’s date with Vincent, Butch fixing the fight, etc.) The plot of the film is divided into episodes/chapters in order to show the episodic and random nature of life, as well as conjure the feel of dime-store pulp fiction novels, implied by the title. While the plot of the film revolves around several seemingly interconnected stories, the overall story of the film is of a group of people attempting to survive or escape a world of crime and debauchery that is ruled by Marcellus Wallace. The nonlinear perspective of the movie allows the film to separate each character’s journey into separate stories, even though their scenes can take place at the same time or in staggered order. These vignettes escalate in intensity and thematic importance in the film’s timeline, but not the story’s timeline. (Chapter 2.3, p. 30).
3. TOOLS OF CINEMATOGRAPHY
In the clip I chose, from 28 Days Later, Cillian Murphy’s character is wandering an abandoned London in confusion and perplexity. The cinematographer opted to use very dull, grainy video for this scene and the whole film; it looks like it was filmed on a VHS camera in the early to mid 80s, as a home movie. This helps to hammer home the reality and the gritty domesticity of the horrific scene; it almost looks like a documentary crew filmed this man experiencing the death of humanity, and it grounds the fantastical premise even further. Shots of him in the distance, as the only man walking around normally busy London streets, with trash and litter and the occasional bird, helps to sell the isolation that he feels upon waking up to the apocalypse.
“Vacant London,” from 28 Days Later. (2002). Dir. Danny Boyle, Perf. Cillian Murphy. http://movieclips.com/G3zr-28-days-later-movie-vacant-london/
4. ACTORS AND ACTING
Impersonator – Frank Langella as Richard Nixon in Frost/Nixon is a good example of this, as he disappears into the told of the president with gusto and great mannerisms. Colin Firth in the King’s Speech does a very good, realistic lisp as King George.
Personality – Dane Cook and many other comedians-turned-actors are great examples of this as well; they have a specific style of acting that works well for them, and they often just play characters who are permutations of themselves and their own comedy acts.
Star – Will Smith and Ryan Reynolds are good examples of the some of the few actors who have true star power anymore; they still have definable personalities, but they are the ones whom their respective movies revolve around. They do not seem to play roles; roles are made for them, and their films are vehicles for their star power (I Am Legend, The Pursuit of Happyness, and Green Lantern respectively) (Chapter 3.4, p. 64).
Wild Card – Christopher Walken is a great character actor who seems to take a variety of roles, though he seems to be more of a wild card in this respect, as he has been cited as saying he will take whatever role is offered to him. Colin Farrell has proven to be a bit of a wild card too, going from a sleazy balding cokehead in Horrible Bosses to a cunning, seductive vampire in Fright Night.
Character – the actor Colm Feore is a reliable character actor to portray stately or authoritative figures, often heavies in films. He waxes Shakespearean with many of his roles, from the villains of Chronicles of Riddick and Thor to the statesman Marcus in Titus.
5. FRAME BY FRAME
In the infamous shower scene in Psycho (1960), the editing of the film reflects the intensity and suspense of the scene. The shots start out slow and methodical, with Janet Leigh getting undressed and stepping in the shower. Plenty of middle close-ups are used, pulling back to reveal the obscured figure of Norman Bates opening the door through the shower curtain. In this shot, the camera lingers on Janet Leigh in the foreground and Norman in the background, to increase the suspense – the audience knows what’s going to happen, but Leigh does not.
When the stabbing happens, the film intercuts quickly between the knife stabbing, extreme close-ups of Leigh’s screaming face, and the blood in the shower. This is meant to demonstrate the chaotic and brutal nature of the murder, as we do not get a full picture of what is going on, but the mind can fill in the blanks, making it more effective than a single long shot of stabbing would ever be.
“The Shower” from Psycho (1960). Dir. Alfred Hitchcock, Perf. Janet Liegh, Anthony Perkins. http://movieclips.com/HvkR-psycho-movie-the-shower/