All posts by Nathan Arronson


After viewing Inside Job we had a nice discussion about accountability. I really enjoyed how Ferguson showed that no one took responsibility but instead played it off as if they had no idea what had happened. It is really interesting because the “Securitization Food Chain” as the movie labeled had many people from all different sectors involved. It was almost as if everyone from Investment banks, to mortgagers, to lenders, to insurance agencies all had incentive to continue selling as they were all making money. It was more of a time of extreme greed. Because of all the moving parts, it is hard to place accountability on just a few people but it is also clear that the people interviewed had a much bigger role and knowledge as to the corruption they were involved in. It is a shame they acted so innocent. After thinking about it though, put yourself in their shoes. Obviously what they did was wrong, but I cannot imagine it being easy to take responsibility for causing a global recession that resulted in millions of lost jobs while you sat back and earned millions and millions of dollars. Obviously, taking accountability for your actions is something you learn growing up to be a gentleman or a lady. The corruption of these men was not very gentleman-like at all and therefore I believe them stepping up and taking responsibility and accountability for their actions is much easier said than done.

The House I Live In

The House I Live In (Jarecki, 2012) explores the Jailing system in the United States. Jarecki uses interviews, real storiesm,  history to create this fascinating story. The most important message I received from this story is that no one, including people in power positions, are particularly okay with the situation of the jail system and the drug laws that are in place. When the media portrays a drug bust, they sensationalize the story and portray the drug dealer as the primary bad guy and the judge and officers as good guys. The fact is, no one in this scenario is the good guy. Jarecki does an incredible thing by documenting this. You never hear of a cop or judge resigning because of the harsh laws or feeling bad. Because they receive incredible payment, drug busts have been incentivized. The officers and Judge being interviewed tell the story unheard. The Judge has no choice, the law is in place, hence why so many judges have resigned, they feel terrible and feel like the sentence the give is unjust for the crime. The officers discussed the dangers of incentivizing officers to bust people for drugs. Officers receive more money for drug busts and can find and close cases much quicker than a murder or rape. They also have families to feed and bills to pay. This puts rape and murder on the back burner.  Jarecki’s stories he exposes are what is not shown to the media. He gains sympathy when exposing a talented inmate playing the guitar with his mother to really sway the audience. His interview techniques give the viewer sympathy to the people involved and also make you feel like the prison system is corrupt in America. If it is corrupt or is not corrupt does not matter, but Jarecki’s decision to frame the film like this gives a sympathetic feeling to the audience member in an effort to skew the viewer’s previous view points about this situation.

Hollywood and Vine: Experimentalism and Realism

“Everyone looks at us like these pioneers, like we know exactly what we’re doing. We have no idea what we’re doing” (Marcus Johns, Vine star). Johns mentions this when they began to film an idea for a vine. He has no idea really what they are doing but they know what they are doing gains popularity and goes viral within a couple hours. Most famous viners just experiment with everyday life situations. They use society as  their experiment. They portray societies flaws, such as racism, in a funny way and hope other people think it is funny, and people do. It is their realistic elements that attract people to their silly 6 second clips. For instance, people being themselves because they can be. Without the Hollywood star like titles, their credibility increases. If they promote Michael Jordan sneakers, people immediately believe they are great shoes. They subconsciously believe “He doesn’t have to promote those shoes for money, he really likes them”. Due to this promotion however, Bach met with the Jordan brand for advertising and more promotional videos. The use of experimenting with popular trends in society and the aspect of increased credibility catapults these vine stars into stars. Although these videos are shot on Iphones, they also use elements of film such as blocking and editing and pre/post production to make a 6 second clip complex and well made.

Marjane Coming of Age

In Persepolis (Satrapi & Paronnaud, 2007), the main character Marjane faces many challenges in this coming of age story. In a time of revolution and many societal rules, Marjane spends her time hiding her love for heavy metal music and challenging the dress code. When she moves to Austria, she befriends a group of people that she believes she can be friends with. After a while, she feels lonelier than ever. She leaves school and becomes homeless. Finally, she moves back to Iran. Miserable as ever, she becomes depressed and tries to commit suicide. Her life has become a series of unfortunate events as a teenager rises to adulthood. This realistic character development is something that many teenagers can relate to. The inability to fit in or figure out who you are and what your identity  is, is something many people fear and struggle with everyday. This element of realism makes you feel extremely sad for Marjane and gives you a sense of understanding her whirlwind of a life. The story ends with her in a cab telling the cab driver she is Iranian. Although it is not a happy ending, Marjane is able to finally find and come to terms with the basis of her identity. This realistic element is nice to see because although it took her a while to find her identity, she has finally found it. Hopefully she can use that as a start to find happiness.

Soma Girls vs. Born into Brothels

Although we did not view all of Born into Brothels, there was a key difference which I noticed almost immediately. It was hope. Soma Girls showed many interviews of the children with goals and aspirations to do well in school and take care of their mothers. All of the girls wanted to move their mothers out of the red light district. They were working for a better life. In Born into Brothels, there was only one interview with a child and she discussed the gross men in her building and mentioned she is always asked when she will join their line of work. Soma Girls was more pleasing to me as it portrays the girls aspirations. Although I am judging Born into Brothels just based on approximately 15 minutes of film, I feel like Briski decided to show Calcutta as like a black hole that you are stuck in forever while Sikand showed that it is possible to escape if you work very hard. Soma Girls is more uplifting while Born into Brothels is more depressing.

Monotone narration in Miss Representation

One critique people have about Miss Representation by Newsom (2011), is that her narration was in a monotone voice. People think this gives the film a more boring and less serious tone. I on the other hand think it makes the film more powerful. I believe Newsom took away her personal emotion so that the film was less about her emotion but rather about her story. Women are more likely to state a fact in a higher tone and finish the sentence almost as if they are asking a question. I think Newsom uses  monotone to state the fact. She avoids leaving it up to interpretation but rather states what is true.

The Portrayal of The Sissy

The role of the “sissy” in film in the 20’s and 30’s was very interesting. Sissies were put into films just for comic relief it seemed. The directors made the sissies very dramatic and super flamboyant. I think they did this to make the sissy seem very out of place. He was meant to be viewed as weird and “not normal”. The introduction of Hollywood Censorship was also interesting. Directors did not use the sissy in the same humorous blatant matter. Directors had to rely on creativity to use a sissy in the 40’s and 50’s but the sissy was not the typical one that viewers were used to in the 20’s and 30’s. They were dark and villainous. It is interesting because in both cases the sissy is portrayed very different than the other characters in the film. The early sissy was very dramatic and flamboyant and overly peppy, while the later sissy was more monotone and viewed as creepy. Rather than flamboyant, the new sissy played a dark role. It is interesting how after rules changed, the sissy was differently played. Although they were played completely opposite of each other, the overall concept of the sissy not fitting in and being noticeably weird/different was a common trait.

The sound in the Mexican Restaurant scene

The Mexican restaurant scene is very interesting. It begins with Mexican music being performed by the Mariachi band. As Darcy and Lalita begin to hit it off however, the sound shifts back to a more traditional Indian sounding song performed by the mariachi band. It is interesting because previously in the film, the music matched up with the culture, rap music in California and because of Mr. Kholi. It seems that when love scenes happen, the sound returns to the traditional Indian sounding music. The music is non-diegetic, async sound. It is also a good example of parallelism. The song is titled Show me the Way  to Love or Take me to Love. As Darcy is taking Lalita all over California, they are falling deeper in love. He is showing her the way to love. They also use a sound bridge. Wherever Darcy and Lalita go, in the helicopter, on the beach, etc., it has many different transitions from day to day yet the music stays and follows the action. It is a way to show the progression of their love. This is a typical elliptical editing scene especially in Bollywood film. It compresses the time while showing many different days and dates and costumes all within a couple of minutes.

Editing in JFK

I think the editing in JFK is incredible. The ability to use real footage and incorporate it into the film without skipping a beat is very impressive. I think the ability to do this relies on the ability of things like mise-en-scene and cinematography. Because the film looked and felt like it was during the 60’s really allows Stone to freely incorporate the old footage. Sometimes, It was even difficult to determine if the news footage was real footage from the time period or footage Stone created. Without the ability to make everything seems like it was in the 60’s I don’t think stone would have been able to incorporate this footage so easily. It gives the film a truly realistic vibe and feels like I am watching the story unfold as it happened in 1960

War and Peace

The press conference scene provides and demonstrates the constant change in public opinion about the War. Colonel Mathieu was just brought in to win the war in Algiers and has successful history. After a couple months of leading the French, Mathieu is being criticized and harped on about his use of torture. Colonel Mathieu is a little taken back by this because his strategies were asked for. When applying them and helping thwart the terrorism, he is now being questioned. This is a classic example of the desire for both War and Peace. It is not possible to have both. The French want to win the war but when they hear about the torture, they believe this is mistreatment of the Algiers in Casbah. Public opinions about wars are always different, but many times people believe war is necessary but then do not agree with the way a country goes about it. Without experience fighting in wars, it is almost impossible to understand it. War is War. It is not a video game. You can not physically win a war by being peaceful. Asking to show peace during war is pretty much waving the white flag. I am not saying I am pro war or pro torture, I am just stating that War and Peace is not a viable combination. The public opinion in the film is very realistic and enhances the film’s realism as this issue still comes up in today’s wars.