Documentary Critique

The documentary I watched was “The Hunting Ground,” directed by Kirby Dick. This film was an exposé on sexual assault on college campuses in the United States. It covered issues from the initial incident, how authorities handle it, and the repercussions the incident has on the victim. The film brought awareness of sexual assault through statistics, personal stories, and how advocates are trying to bring justice on repeated offenders.

The film brought in people from all aspects of sexual assaults to hear their different points of view. The majority of the dialogue was the victims sharing their story in detail about the night they were assaulted and the disappointment with administration they faced when trying to report the rape. The stories were so personal; you could feel the pain in the characters voices as they repeated them to the interviewer. The stories were told linearly and the storyline developed alongside the events of the actual assault. As more characters were introduced to the story, the documentary interviewed the situation from their point of view.

The documentary interviewed deans, professors, and presidents of universities to hear their take on that particular case and sexual assault in general on campuses. Many professors were advocates for students but discussed how universities are run like a business and try to cover up their flaws. Through the first hand experiences shared and statistics provided the audience can grasp that there is a problem, and universities are only inflicting more harm on the victim instead of helping. It made me as an audience member and college student frustrated to see these occurrences happening across the country.

As the story continued more characters were brought to the table: psychologists, police officers, lawyers and parents. The latter was the most heart wrenching to watch. Seeing how this situation affected the victim’s relationship to themselves as well as with their parents.   You could hear interviewer prompt the victim about their experience telling their parents. Some victims responded saying they still haven’t told them.

On a more legal side of the story, the documentary brought in the lawyers and police officers that played a role in sexual assault cases. They talked about the loopholes often found in rape cases and how universities have been proven to go behind a judicial court hearing and allow the rapist back onto campus. Seeing the legal system blatantly corrupted was disheartening. This showed the audience the aftermath of sexual assault from the perspective of the law. Evidence of the government and adults who are supposed to prosecute felons, instead are dismissing them.

To change the point of view again the filmmakers managed to get a rapist, who was incarcerated for 6.5 years, to talk about their perspective. This is another informative piece of information to support the rape stories, because all of his knowledge of how a rapist acts matches with all of the victim’s stories of assault. They also interviewed a fraternity brother to make the case that “sexual conquests” are something that is praised upon in fraternities.

The story had a beginning, middle, and end that was true to the way these sexual assaults played out in real life. Each part of the story had interviews from various points of views to support the main idea. The film finished with a positive outlook on the activism that is taking place across colleges to stop sexual assault on campuses. I think the film was extremely moving and should be strongly encouraged, if not mandatory, for every incoming student, and college administration to watch.

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“Some Like It Hot” Film Critique

 

For my third film critique I watched “Some Like it Hot” directed by Billy Wilder. This film was made in 1959, but based in 1929 in America during the prohibition era. Because there was a thirty-year difference between the filming of the movie and the setting, the set design, costumes and props all head to reflect the original artifacts of the time. In the 1950s film were shot in color, but this film was shot in black and white. I read online that the movie chose to shoot in black and white because the makeup that the men had to wear gave them a green tinge in colored film. I wonder though if they were also thinking about the 1929 era and how most films were shot in black and white.

 

Black and white film brings a whole new approach to costume and set design. If the director wants the attention to be on one person by how they dress, they wouldn’t dress them in red because that would show up as grey onscreen. Instead white draws the attention of the audience in black and white.

 

“Some Like it Hot” was filmed in California, though the story did not take place there. The movie starts off in Chicago with snow and cold weather. The costuming reflected the weather and the characters were dressed in down coats that would be worn during the 20s and the allusion of snow along with the sound of strong wind, made it believable that the scene was taking place in a cold area. The rest of the movie takes place in Florida, which was actually filmed at an old-timey hotel in San Diego, CA. The director chose this location because the hotel matched the era they were shooting in and therefore less adjustments would have had to been made.

 

The costuming in the movie was entertaining. The girls were dressed in 20’s flapper like costumes and had the elegant furs and diamonds. There was a jazzy feel to the movie with the girl band and the use of diegetic and non-diegetic music. Costuming played an important role, since the men were dressed as females for the majority of the movie. The men had to look convincingly like women, shaved legs, stockings, dresses, wigs, makeup, and jewelry. It was humorous because the clearly still had the build of men and their voices were not natural for the voice of a woman.

 

The camera work in the movie was pretty basic from what I noticed. When the characters are talking the camera stays relatively still and when the characters move the camera tracks along with them. There are your pans and tilts, but compared to the kind of camera work cinema has available to them today it is nothing groundbreaking. There were a lot of two shots because the main characters were a pair. I noticed the over the shoulder shots when two characters were conversing the director wanted both bodies in the shot.

 

I thought the movie was enjoyable to watch. I’ve only seen a clip of the movie “White Girls” but I imagine they got some of their inspiration from this movie. I liked how in the movie, when the boys were dressed like girls they realized how much harassment girls receive from men constantly. This is an iconic movie and I would recommend it.

 

 

 

Experimental Film Critique

Within Reach

The initial shot is of two strangers passing by on the street and then it cuts to a close up of their heads to show the man looking intently at the female as they pass by. The close up helps the audience notice this pivotal moment right of the bat. The scene then changes to a room where the male and female live out this daydream of strangers falling in love through a dance.

Something I did not like about this video was the way they transitioned cinematically into this daydream. The girl walked out of the frame to the left and then the man walked out of the frame to the right. Immediately after they cut to the scene in the other room. They had the girl walking the same direction, however, because she walked out of the frame to the left and then was walking in the frame to the right the continuity seemed a little off to me. I know it had her walking in the same direction technically but it was accompanied by the way the man entered the new scene that threw me off even more. The man exited the last scene to the right but entered this scene in a whole new directional pattern, coming straightforward from the back of the room. If they were trying to continue from the scene on the street, they should have had the man chasing after the woman or something that matched the first scene.

The first shot of the daydream dance scene is filmed slightly above the dancers. This gives the audiences the perspective of looking over what is happening. In this moment we are not apart of the action, just observing from above. The camera switches to a straight on angle where the composition is strong. The two dancers are standing back to back in the center of the frame and there are features in the wall behind them that match their verticality.

The camera plays with a lot of different ideas in this film. It is constantly switching from medium shots to close ups to extreme close ups, high to low angles, and moving or still camera work. The extreme close ups were used effectively for parts where the director was trying to draw the attention to touch. The camera would focus on the hand touching the face to evoke feelings of intimacy. A lot of the camera work would actually move with the dancers. It made the audience feel as if they were moving with them, trying to watch the dance from a 360-degree perspective as opposed to just straight on.

As for the positioning of the dancers in the space, there were parts where the dancers would move in front of the window and the lighting would darken the image of the dancers. They should have kept their movement along the windowless wall to keep continuity in lighting.

I think they were filming in a tight space because there were moments that were medium shots, but still cut off some of the movements. These didn’t seem intentional because most of the body was in the shot, except for parts of the limbs and it cut off the lines and movements of the dancers.

Stop Motion – Project 1

Stop Motion Video

For this project I wanted the sound design to be the same aesthetic as the stop motion film I watched for assignment 1.  I found these wooden cars and immediately I knew I wanted the cars to be the characters, like in the movie Cars.  So I put sticker eyes on the cars and had them be the main characters.  However, like in the animated stop motion film I watched, I did not want the characters to talk.  I wanted the challenge of creating this story that people could understand without having any dialogue between the characters.  The story happened within the movement accompanied by a sound effect.  There is one section where I needed a car to mimic the sound of a voice.  I thought how I could accomplish this without using actual words and immediately I thought of Charlie Brown, when the parents are mumbling and the audience can never hear what they are saying.  So I found on Pro Sound Effects a mumbling sound to mimic the sound of a voice.  Other sound effects were rather easy to find.  I used a lot of car sounds such as car passing by, screeching tires, car crash, and honking of horns. I was conscious about what sound of car on Pro Sound effects I was matching with the car in the video. For instance the smaller cars would have a higher pitched horn and the truck would have a deep semi horn. I also added stop motion in the words in my PSA. Originally I did not intend for those to have accompanying sounds but the video seemed dull without. So I added bubbles to each frame when a letter was added onto the word. I also had some crumbling of the letters and taking away of the letters and chose different sounds to accompany those different actions. I used crumpling of paper and a typewriter to add auditory effects. I also made sure every time there was a scene with cars that I had an complementary ambient noise so that it would give off a real life feeling. Matching the tire breaks on the stop motion with the audio was a challenge because at times my stop motion was jerky and it was hard to see when the car actually braked, and when the other car should honk at it. My biggest problem in this project was not saving my audio to my hard drive. So, when I went back to edit my project all the audio was undiscoverable and I had to download each little sound effect and track which was very tedious

Animated Film Critique

The Itching, a short film by Dianne Bellino and Adam Davies, is a 14-minute stop motion film. The film uses clay to portray the characters and set. The characters are animals so they don’t speak in the film and therefore there is no dialogue or voice over. The characters in the film communicate through their actions and the added sound effects & music suggest the tone of the interaction, actions and environment. Because this film was created using only sound effects and music, they did so in extreme detail and made sure every movement had an accompanying sound.

The film began with the main character walking through the woods and with ambient forest sounds. When the scene cut to inside the party and the characters turning on music, diegetic club music then entered the soundtrack. I was intrigued by some of the sound choices they made, where I myself may not have thought to put a sound effect there. Some of these noises include shuffling inside a purse, wind chimes in the background noise of a house, and fingers tapping paper. The sound effects were also true to the actions of the characters. The main character scratches his leg throughout the movie, but there is a change when he scratches with mittens on. This is a distinctively different sound then the first and was recorded as such.

I noticed two types of sound within the film: sounds accompanying actions on screen and sounds not in frame that implied a certain occurrence. The visible sounds are obvious such as walking and seeing feet, clinking and seeing the cheers, and phone ringing while the phone vibrates. Other sounds that imply actions off screen include someone walking out of frame getting audibly further away, shuffling through items, and waking back into frame with the item they just picked up. Because of the noise, the audience knows that the character retrieved the object in the room, it didn’t just magically appear. The sound mixer also took into account the point of view of the audience. Sounds were correctly aligned with the footage to match how far or close the character was from the camera. To keep unity within the film the sound for the most part always had the ambient forest noise in the background. Specifically in the party scene they kept some of the outside ambient noises in the background along with the club music and other club noises like walking and clinking drinks.

The music that overlaid the video enhanced the actions and emotions that the director wanted to relay to the audience. There was diegetic and non-diegetic music throughout the film. The non-diegetic music was so meticulously placed that I didn’t even notice when it would change. I was so caught up in the story that I had to go back to just listen to the music choice and transition. The music was all instrumental and complimented the scene. I also noticed the transitions were smooth because they used L and J cuts between scenes to make it less choppy.

In conclusion I thought the film used sound effects, music, actions and framing to connect with the audience effectively with the challenge of not having dialogue. I would recommend this film to someone because it was a short film and entertained me the entire time. The lack of dialogue allows the audience members to decipher for themselves what the meaning behind the story is and leaves you reflecting on the message.