All posts in CiNECiTY

CiNECiTY – A Fistful of Dollars

This week we screen A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS, the classic spaghetti western by Sergio Leone.

A-Fistful-of-Dollars-Poster-antiheroes-21516449-1005-1564Director: Sergio Leone

Cast: Clint Eastwood

Marianne Koch

Gian Maria Volonte

Wolfgang Lukschy

Writers: Victor Andre Catena

Jaime Comas

Sergio Leone

Genre: Spaghetti Western / Action

Duration: 90 min

Colour: Colour

Released: 1964

Countries / Languages: Italy, Spain, West Germany / English, Spanish, Italian

BACKGROUND NOTES:

  • This film was identified as an unlicensed remake of the Akira Kurosawa film Yojimbo which was released 3 years earlier. Leone says Yojimbo was an inspiration, along with other classic Hollywood westerns and Servant of Two Masters, an Italian play by Carlo Goldoni in 1746.
  • Like most Spaghetti Westerns, this film was a lot more violent than American westerns due to Europe’s lack of censorship codes such as were around in Hollywood.
  • Though made on a low budget, Leone ushered in a then-groundbreaking filmmaking style, emphasising long, tense close-ups, widescreen camera compositions, and hauntingly unusual music by his old schoolmate, Ennio Morricone. Leone’s films have been likened to action based operas, and his style was much imitated.

THINGS TO THINK ABOUT:

  • American audiences were shocked by this film on its release in 1967. Why do you think Eastwood’s character caused such a ruckus in the 1960s? Is the Man With No Name truly “amoral,” as many commentators have called him? What are his motives?
  • Can you see the influence of this film’s style on today’s action movies? Think of modern directors like Quentin Tarantino, John Woo and Martin Scorsese…

CiNECiTY – REAR WINDOW

This Wednesday we screen Alfred Hitchcock’s classic voyeuristic thriller, Rear Window. You won’t believe your eyes….

rear_windowDirector: Alfred Hitchcock

Cast: James Stewart

Grace Kelly

Wendell Corey

Raymond Burr

Writer: John Michael Hayes

Genre: Thriller / Mystery

Duration: 112 min

Colour: Colour

Released: 1954

Country / Language: USA / English

BACKGROUND NOTES:

  • The whole film was shot on one huge set, which took months of planning and construction. The apartment-courtyard set consisted of 31 apartments, eight of which were completely furnished and had power and water connected. To fit this enormous set in the studio, a higher ceiling was needed. Hitchcock had the entire floor of the studio torn out, revealing the basement. What you see as the courtyard in the film was originally the basement level of the studio.
  • A critical and commercial success this film influenced many others like Brian DePalma’s Body Double, Richard Franklin’s Road Games and more recently, Disturbia, directed by D.J. Caruso. It has also been parodied many times including by The Simpsons and Saturday Night Live.

THINGS TO THINK ABOUT:

  • Take careful note of the opening scene. How does it set up our expectations of what will happen in the film? How does it introduce the characters? The closing scene is a replica of the opening but with a few changes. Were your expectations met?
  • Consider the use of perspective and point-of-view in this film? Notice that many of the shots are taken from Jefferies’ POV. How does this affect the tension in the film? Consider what Jefferies knows as opposed to what the audience knows…

CiNECiTY – TEN CANOES

This Wednesday 5th August, we’ll be transported to an Australia prior to white settlement and even further still into the Dreamtime when we screen the film Ten Canoes…

ten-canoes-movie-poster-2006-1020409339Directors: Rolf de Heer

Peter Djigirr

Cast: Jamie Gulpilil

Crusoe Kurddal

Richard Birrinbirrin

Peter Minygululu

Narrator: David Gulpilil

Writer: Rolf de Heer

Genre: Drama / Adventure / Comedy

Rating: M

Duration: 92 min

Colour: Black & White / Colour

Released: 2006

Country/Language: Australia / various Yolŋu Matha languages, English

BACKGROUND NOTES:

  • A lot of the shots in this film were inspired by or are recreations of photographs taken in the 1930s by Donald Thomson, an anthropology professor who spent nearly two years with the Arafura Swamp people. He took more than 4,000 photographs during this time, carefully recording every aspect of daily life. One of these photographs—a picture of ten men in bark canoes—became the key image around which the film’s story was developed.
  • This was the first ever major Australian feature film completely filmed in an Indigenous Aboriginal language. Only the voice over of the storyteller is in English.
  • The canoes used in the shooting of the film were made using traditional techniques under instruction from tribal elders.

THINGS TO THINK ABOUT:

  • This film uses layered narrative – there’s a story within the story and multiple objective and subjective viewpoints. What techniques do the filmmakers use to successfully achieve this?
  • The stories in the film are from a long ago time and from very different cultures to our own. What cultural elements do we share with the people in the film? What is different?

CiNECiTY – DOG DAY AFTERNOON

dog_day_afternoon (1)This afternoon we screen the 1975 Oscar winning Dog Day Afternoon.

Directors: Sidney Lumet

Cast: Al Pacino

John Cazale

James Broderick

Chris Sarandon

Written By: Frank Pierson

Genre: Crime / Drama / Comedy

Rating: M

Duration: 120 min

Colour: Colour

Released: 1975

Country/Language: USA / English

BACKGROUND NOTES:

  • The film received positive reviews and was nominated for multiple Golden Globes and Academy Awards. It won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay.
  • It was based on real life events. In August 1972 John Wojtowicz and Sal Naturale attempted to rob a Brooklyn bank and held the staff hostage for 14 hours. Though based on real events and people, John Wojtowicz claims that only about 30% of the events really happened the way the film portrays. He wrote this letter to the New York Times to tell his side of the story. His article was not published in the newspaper.

THINGS TO THINK ABOUT:

  • Do you think the filmmakers succeed in making you believe this really happened? Do you feel as though it’s happening as you watch? What techniques do they use to achieve this?
  • Why do you think the public were supportive of Sonny and Sal and not the police in the movie? Why were they cheering for bank robbers?
  • Do you think Sonny’s motivation for wanting money justified him robbing the bank and holding people hostage? Was it worth it in the end?

CiNECiTY – MODERN TIMES

1308402322This week in CiNECiTY we watch Charlie Chaplin’s last ever silent film and one of his most famous pieces of work, Modern Times.

Director: Charlie Chaplin

Cast: Charlie Chaplin

Paulette Goddard

Henry Bergman

Chester Conklin

Written By: Charlie Chaplin

Genre: Comedy / Drama

Duration: 86 min

Colour: Black & White

Released: 1936

Country/Language: USA / English

BACKGROUND NOTES:

  • This film was made after the introduction of synchronised sound to feature length films (1927’s The Jazz Singer was the first full-length sound film). Chaplin was originally going to use dialogue, he even wrote a script for the words, but after some experimenting he reverted to the silent format and just used the synched sound for effects. It was his last silent film, he eventually joined the status quo and all the films he made after this were “talkies”.

THINGS TO THINK ABOUT:

  • Why do you think the factory worker wanted to go back to jail? Why didn’t the lady want to go to jail? Did Chaplin want you to think that prison was like the factory, or perhaps even better? How can you tell?
  • Modern Times was made and set during the Great Depression. Do you think Chaplin was concerned about the modern, industrial world having a dehumanising effect on people? Why? Do you think these concerns are still relevant today or have we succeeded in using technology positively?

 

CiNECiTY – VISIONS OF LIGHT

This week CiNCiTY screens this inspiring documentary on cinematography. Wednesday 3:30pm in the cinema… 

Directors: Arnold Glassman

Todd McCarthyvisions of light

Stuart Samuels

Cast: Features interviews with renowned Hollywood and international cinematographers.

Written By: Todd McCarthy

Genre: Documentary

Rating: PG

Duration: 92 min

Colour: Colour / B&W

Released: 1992

Country/Language: USA / English

CINEMATOGRAPHY literally translates to “writing in movement”. It is the art of capturing light on a strip of  moving film. It mainly relies on using a camera and the techniques of photography (“writing in light”). However filmmakers can also affect the filmstrip directly, for example by hand-colouring, scratching or drawing onto it. The cinematographer (sometimes called Director of Photography) is largely responsible for creating the distinct ‘look’ of the film and can influence the emotions and understandings of the audience.

They do this by controlling the different elements of cinematography which include the following:

PHOTOGRAPHIC ELEMENTS: this comprises of things like film stock, tonality, colour, speed of motion, focus, lighting,  depth of field, perspective (type of lens) and in-camera effects.

FRAMING: this involves the composition of the shot and includes the aspect ratio, the type of shot such as distance (eg: close up, long shot) height and angle (low, high, canted). It also involves the movement of the camera (dolly, crane, pan) or the movement of the frame (zoom in/out).

DURATION: how long each shot goes for can affect the mood of the audience. Consider the difference between many short, fast takes one after the other as opposed to one long, slow shot.  This can also be controlled in the editing stage but must be considered when shooting the film.

THINGS TO THINK ABOUT:

  • Consider how the changes in society and technology altered the approach of cinematographers and the way films are shot.
  • How do you think cinematography is specifically able to influence you as an audience member to feel or think a certain way? Is this something you notice while watching a film? Think of examples of when you have noticed this influence.

CiNECiTY – NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD

This Wednesday at 3:20pm CiNCiTY will screen this groundbreaking zombie original….

Director: George A. Romeronightofthelivingdead

Cast: Duane Jones

Judith O’Dea

Karl Hardman

Marilyn Eastman

Written By: George A. Romero

John A. Russo

Genre: Horror

Duration: 96 min

Colour: Black and White

Released: 1968

Country/Language: USA / English

BACKGROUND NOTES:

  • Before NOTLD  “zombie” films were centered around “voodoo zombies”. This involved living victims being transformed into slaves by mystical forces. White Zombie (1932) and I Walked With A Zombie (1946) are two examples. NOTLD transformed the “zombie” into a resurrected corpse with cannibalistic intent and initiated many of the tropes of the genre we’re familiar with today – the rest is history.
  • In the USA in 1968 the copyright symbol had to be present on the actual print of a film (e.g. in the credits or title) in order to be covered by copyright law. NOTLD was originally called Night of the Flesh Eaters and this title appeared on the early prints of the film along with the copyright stamp. It was later changed by the distribution company because an earlier film had a similar name, but the copyright information was not put back onto the theatrical release prints leaving the film uncopyrighted and in the public domain. Though unfortunate for the filmmakers this has possibly contributed to the proliferation of the “zombie” genre and allowed others to freely use and build upon the original ideas from the film. Do you think copyright helps or hinders creativity?

THINGS TO THINK ABOUT:

  • Why do you think this film was such a success in the horror genre? Was it because a premise this frightful had never been brought to the screen before or was it skillful filmmaking?
  • The filmmakers insist that they were just trying to make a scary movie. Do you believe (like some critics) that the movie is actually trying to make a point about society? Think about when and where the film was made… consider events like the Cold War and the Civil Rights movement.

CiNECiTY – RUN LOLA RUN

Director: Tom TykwerRun-Lola-Run-1999-movie-poster

Cast: Franka Potente

Moritz Bleibtreu

Herbert Knaup

Nina Petri

Written By: Tom Tykwer

Genre: Action / Crime / Thriller

Rating: M

Duration: 77 min

Released: 1998

Country/Language: Germany / German (English subtitles)

BACKGROUND NOTES:

  • This film was critically very well received, with 41 award nominations when it was released including an Academy Award for Best Foreign Film. It didn’t win the Oscar but did win 26 other accolades including the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival, Best Film at the Seattle International Film Festival, and seven separate wins at the German Film Awards.

THINGS TO THINK ABOUT:

  • Motifs are objects or images that appear throughout a film and have a special meaning to do with the narrative. One of the motifs apparent in ‘Run Lola Run’ is the colour red, which is used frequently. Lola herself has red hair, which signifies that she is a powerful, charismatic character, who stands out from everybody else. What other motifs can you identify and how do they help to bring meaning to the narrative?
  • Run Lola Run uses flashbacks, flash forwards and three alternative narratives to bring to mind themes of fate, chance and free will.  What do you think the film is trying to illustrate to us? Do you think we have a choice over the outcomes of our lives or is it up to fate to decide?