Thursday, 6 February 2014

'Peaky Blinders' uses a variety of components in order to attract an audience and as a result has had a mostly positive response. The era in which the narrative is set is a key reason for the show's popularity, the uses & gratifications model noting that it attracts an audience for the reasons of learning about a time different to our own, and inputting us with knowledge that we use to educate ourselves on relevant issues. It's also easy to form an argument for the time in which the narrative is set being a key factor in the BBC Two drama series positive reputation, as people are able to gain intrinsic cultural enjoyment from examining something so different to our own situations. During the scene where the Shelby brothers get into an altercation with the Irish gypsies, its made clear that the acts these men witnessed during the first world war have effected the way they see society, one character uses a blade to attack one of the gypsies and walks away soon after, as if nothing had happened.

The texts also showcases some postmodern tendencies, through it's use of diegetic and non-diegetic sound throughout the piece. The text has always been highly praised for its high level cinematography and blends traditional, of the time music pieces subtly with more contemporary pieces. It can often be hard to notice these changes in non-digetic sound as the text tends to use multiple pieces in order to better convey characters attitudes and feelings, during the scene where Cillian Murphy's character, Tommy Shelby, is drinking and a few scenes prior to this, the non-digetic sound changes 3 times, in an attempt to reinforce the characters mood. The diegetic sound constantly reinforces the time in which the narrative is set, the drama takes place sometime in the 1920's, times relevant in the industrial revolution...

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Fish Tank - Everyone's favourite social realist film

The first convention that is typical of the social realism genre are the character roles we're exposed to in Andrea Arnold's 'Fish Tank' Mia, much like most working class protagonists, is working towards the goal of an improved life. She's been stuck with difficult circumstances through the situation she was born in to, their dysfunctional family constantly at conflict. The final scene where they're all dancing is one of the rare moments in the text they're all at peace with each other. Another factor is the area she's grown up in. In our scene in particular, she drives off into the sunset with the hope of bettering herself, and changing her life for the better.

The technological conventions may be the most typical of the genre in this text. The Point of view camera shots add to the realism of the text and the handheld camera's and the editing used is designed to make the audience feel as if they are part of the film. They use a POV shot in the final scene when Mia drives off, and looks back to see her sister chasing the car. As the text focuses so heavily on Mia, the shot turns to a POV when she looks back to see her sister. Also the common use of natural lighting that is anything from direct sunlight to the glow of the TV exaggerates the realism aspects of the text.

Typical mise-en-scene and other iconography appear frequently throughout the ending sequence of the film also. The unvarnished locations continue the theme of typical conventions, as the director tries their best not to glamourise any of the locations. For example, the inside of Mia's family's flat is incredibly bare, except for a TV and a couch. The characters also wear very normal clothing for a social realism film, showing their slightly poorer backgrounds, in the final scene this is verified through Mia's mother in her dressing gown, and Mia in a plain black hoodie, tracksuit bottoms and hoop earrings. They also use only diegetic sound throughout, to stress the normality...

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Noir Conventions in 'Drive'

The protagonist shows some key noir protagonist stereotypes throughout the 20 minutes of text we were exposed to. It's easy to see that our main character, portrayed by Ryan Gosling, is a very selfless individual, putting the needs of others over his own, this is supported by the fact he takes a job as a getaway driver in order to help the family of his love interest played by Carey Mulligan. Her character however, shows conventions un-similair of a femme fatale. At no point does she use her body to gain a males trust, and at no point does she use 'The Driver' to benefit her needs, instead Gosling is doing these favours for her out of the kindness of his heart.

The film stressed key Noir technical conventions. They often use close ups of Ryan Gosling's dull emotionless face, especially in the getaway scene, almost adding to his selfless character, as if everything violent and destructive going on around him doesn't phase him. Although this is most probably due to the fact that his key reason for doing this job, died from a gunshot wound outside of a convenience store. It's stressed again later when he dismisses the large amounts of money he's amassed, as he's too pre-occupied with Carey Mulligan's character. For the majority of the time, the text uses only diegetic sounds, especially in the scene where the robbery goes horribly wrong.

The text also uses key narrative trends used in Film Noir texts, The driver is constantly doubting people around him, after the failed robbery, and mistrust and paranoia are common themes in Noir, for example, Hartigan in Sin City is also doubting the people around him due to his unfortunate experience with Bob before he was wrongfully imprisoned. Corruption too is a key theme in both texts, the driver's character had been...

Monday, 14 October 2013

A1. To What Extent Are Your Chosen Texts Typical Of Their Genre?

'Sin City' shows signs of typicality towards multiple genres, which is also the reason the text becomes less in keeping with usual genre conventions. By attempting to work under show aspects of both film noir and comic book style genres, Sin City carries conventions of both. What we get instead is a hybrid of the two styles. From the outset of the film we're exposed to some very typical genre conventions of Film Noir. A common theme of a film noir text is the use of lighting. Characters emerging from the shadows are a common theme and can often relate to the characters shady background. This is presented well in the opening scene, where Josh Hartnett's un-named character who is given the pseudonym of 'The Man', who we see at the beginning and end of the film, appears from the darkness before murdering another un-named character. Even throughout the 2 minute scene his face is shown half in shadow and half in light, almost hinting towards the two different sides to his character. It's shown again when we are introduced to Kevin before he murders Goldie, his face falls completely in shadow, almost alarming the audience of his dark ways. The only part in light are Kevin's glasses and the accenting on his sweater, which is done as it makes his character individualistic and easy to recognise from others later in the film.

The mise-en-scene used throughout the film is very characteristic of film noir, our 3 protagonists Marv, Hartigan and Dwight, are almost always seen wearing trench coats which is very common. From the vehicles they drive to the background characters around them, the text attempts to stay typical to film noir. Even the character roles are usual of film noir, You have your male protagonist, or in this case 3, corrupt police officers like Bob and villains like Kevin, Roark Jr. or Jack Rafferty. Another key convention I noticed is the way females pay a very passive role, they tend to slow down the narrative, some are made to seem very weak. The camera techniques when Dwight and shelly talk after Jack leaves show Dwight from Shelly's perspective and vice-versa. We look up towards Dwight as he's powerful. He looks down on Shelly as she's seen as fragile.
Some of the female characters are simply their for visual pleasure such as the girls from 'Old Town'.
They play a vital role in the storyline, but their style of dress is overly sexual. This could have been done as Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller want their audience to feel socophilia or 'the love of watching.' It also touches on the idea of Laura Mulvey's male gaze theory.

For the most part, women act as an inspiration for men to act which is rather usual of film noir texts. Even though our 3 main characters may be very different they're all very selfless individuals, that sometimes have to overcome themselves and their deep psychological issues which have come as a result of a war which the characters often reference. It's as if everything has been thrown out of equilibrium for all the characters involved since the war they speak of. Even aspects such as heavy rain and fog can often be seen in film noir texts, probably because they help to achieve a very eerie mood.

Sin City happens to take certain characteristics from the comic book genre too though. The protagonists trench coats often act as the equivalent of capes and can be seen fluttering behind them in the wind when they're running. Director Frank Miller wrote the original comic book so it was evident that this cross breed of genres would occur. The use of excessive and eccentric violence takes from the realism of the film, which in my own opinion makes the film easier to enjoy as it takes the edge off. I'd say the use of colour and visual effects such as the silhouettes on the balcony in the opening scene, is the major difference from a normal film noir text. Items of interest are often shown in colour such as Goldie's hair and dress, Junior's blood and Manute's false eye. This is to show they have some form of importance to them, In cases like Goldie's it's helpful later in differing between her and Wendy, especially when Marv mistakes Wendy for he deceased sister. There's no doubting the text tends to be typical of its genres, but by having two they can take away from the other genre.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Analysing Todorov's Narrative Theory - American Psycho

[1] Begins with a state of equilibrium.

We're introduced initially to around 4-5 well dressed men, who are obviously in a position of power. This is highlighted by the reaction of the men when their bill arrives, Bryce (One of the supporting cast) is quoted saying 'Speaking of reasonable, only $570". The men are all in obvious positions of wealth, as they all throw down their platinum AmEx cards in order to pay for the bill. We're then first alerted to the main character Patrick's psychopathic tendencies. As he pays for his drink in a nightclub, he waits until the bar tender is out of ear shot and states "You're a f***ing ugly bitch. I want to stab you to death, then play around with your blood." He then carries on as if nothing's happened.

[2] Disruption of that order.

Disruption occurs when detective Kimball joins Patrick in his office, after the disappearance of businessman Paul Allen, who a few scenes prior Patrick murdered with an axe and then drove to Paul's apartment before staging the scene so it looked as if Paul had left on a business trip. Kimball has many questions for Bateman, and over numerous meetings Patrick's alibi begins to crumble as Kimball finds holes in his story, although Kimball is still none the wiser and doesn't expect anything. It's evident though that the pressure is getting to Patrick. Their final meeting ends with Kimball saying "
I'm pretty sure he'll turn up sooner or later. I mean, to think that one of his friends killed him for no reason whatsoever would be too ridiculous. Isn't that right Patrick?" Patrick is unnerved and doesn't react for a few seconds.

[3] Recognition that order has been disrupted.

Patrick finally cracks when his mental problems get the better of him and a quaint old woman catches him trying to feed a kitten to an ATM. He then shoots her and goes on a murderous rampage. He escapes from police for the time being and begins to cry as the elevator carries him up to the top of the building he works in. He then crouches in the corner of his office, and quivers in terror of what he's done. Searchlights shine against the blinds and his voice begins to crack as he picks up the phone and starts confessing his crimes to his attorney Harold.

[4] Attempt to repair the damage

Bateman attempts to repair the damage by confessing to around 20-40 murders all at once, and he begins to sob as he goes into the grizzly details of the horrors he's committed and leaves them in a message on his attorney, Harold's, answering machine. He then see's Harold the next day and tries to talk to him to one side, hoping Harold can help him out of this one. He mistakes Bateman for Davis and plays the hole thing off as a joke. Meanwhile Bateman pleads with Harold, that he really needs help. 
"I did it, Carnes! I killed him! I'm Patrick Bateman! I chopped Allen's fucking head off," he whispers with tears in his eyes, it appears the attorney realises this isn't a joke and leaves after a few attempts, stating that 'Davis' couldn't have killed Paul as he had dinner with Paul just 10 days ago in London. Patrick begins to question himself on whether he actually committed the crimes or not.

[5] A state of new equilibrium

The state of new equilibrium we reach is a peculiar one. Patrick's problem hasn't actually been resolved but it would seem people are able to sweep his wrongdoings under the mat. Everyone else is so self centred, they're incredibly superficial individuals who really don't care about much away from there own status and the business world. The movie ends with Bateman dismissing himself after realising that Harold doesn't care for his situation. He stands alone as the narration plays over the image of him. "
My pain is constant and sharp, and I do not hope for a better world for anyone. In fact, I want my pain to be inflicted on others, and no one to escape. My punishment continues to elude me. My confession has meant nothing." Bateman has reached an equilibrium where no problems have really been resolved but the cracks have been painted over. Some could argue it's the opposite and if anything we're thrown into dis-equilibrium by the fact Bateman may never have committed any of the crimes and the his mental condition worsens.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

The film 'The Good, The Bad and The Ugly' is typical of it's genre by the following conventions

I) Iconographies - Being a western, there are many visual symbols we can decode. The setting is important, in this case the cactus filled desert is the most common setting for a western film, the duel we actually see in the 5 minute clip takes place in a graveyard in a very baron wasteland for example. The second major code in your generic western film is the clothing and accessories in general to the characters. You'll find your generic western cowboys wearing boots, ponchos and stetsons and a holstered six shooter, most likely accompanied by a horse. These are very common symbols although in modern film, people class the western as something else the typical narrative of a western has changed.

II) Narrative - People now argue that western films do not need to take place in western america, like previously thought and the time isn't necessarily the same. Most westerns follow the conventions of a character from the East, or someone from 'out of town' travelling west in search of something or aiming for redemption. The goo, The Bad and The Ugly really supports that idea, but some could argue films like 'The Book Of Eli' or 'Die Hard'

III) Representations

IV) Ideologies

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Laura Mulvey's Male Gaze Theory

The James Bond franchise is a clear  example of film objectifying females and forcing the audience to view females via the male gaze. The scene within, "Die Another Day" when James Bond meets the character Jinx demonstrates my previous statement by first of all, using editing techniques and camera angles / movement, to showcase the character of Jinx. We first see her through Bond's perspective as she emerges from the sea. The vignette on the camera makes it seem as if we're looking through the binocular's with Bond. The scene where she emerges is edited so that we watch it in slow motion, this really exaggerates the fact she's there to stimulate a male audience. She's portrayed as a piece of eye candy for the male audience in the way she presents herself too. The representation she gives is a constructed one, this is noticeable as early as when she walks up the beach towards the bar and over-emphasises the sexually suggestive way that she walks and the fact that by the time she get's close to Bond she's wearing a full face of make-up and she's already dry. The director obviously wants her to seem as sexually attractive as possible, as they'd want to appeal to the male audience more, like suggested in Laura Mulvey's male gaze theory, so the construction is formed like that suggested in Post-Modernist views of society and media and are seeing an interpretation of reality, a hyper-reality. Bond is shown as a dominant character throughout the scene, he keeps his famous calm and cool character, whilst talking to Jinx. The camera angles always seem to be looking up at Bond a little whereas they look down at Jinx, it could be because they want Bond to seem more powerful, and Jinx more of a innocent character, if this is the case it's a very hegemonic perspective, and supports the idea that men dominate women in film and society.