All posts by Nicholas Tassoni

What Did I Just Watch?

As I said in class, 8 1/2 confused me. That doesn’t mean however that I disliked the film. I didn’t love it, or hate it, I just tried to figure out what was going on the whole time. What I gathered was that we were entering the mind of a filmmaker who didn’t know what to do with a film he was making. I believe he (Guido) had some sort of mental blocks that came in the form of the women from his past and future. The question that came across my mind was why these women kept coming into his life. It seemed at first that these were past lovers that he had wronged, or people that he may have taken advantage of (the woman who danced on the beach for money.) But then we see them in screen tests for the movie (at least I’m pretty sure we do.) This could be a representation of how he wronged them, or maybe they’re all actresses he feels that he wronging that he manifested into a type of nightmare.

I had a few things that I couldn’t figure out about the film. I understand why the lack of continuity seems to come into play, but I cannot understand why the film was dubbed the whole time. It was kind of irritating to not have any dialog coming from the actors in the shot.  I also don’t understand the ending, but I think that he killed himself, I don’t believe the film would’ve shown him shoot himself if he didn’t actually. What does everyone else think?

Temple of Doom is Bad.

When I was younger I remember seeing the first two Indiana Jones (for some reason I didn’t see the last one) and I loved them both. Aside from the traumatizing effect of seeing a man’s face melt off had on me, I couldn’t see anything wrong with them.

And now I re-watched Temple of Doom and I feel like a little bit of my childhood has gone away.  The film is just bad in so many ways. The dialog, plot, action is all very bad, however the music is good, thank you John Williams for that. I can obviously see why we’re talking about the film during a section of the course about ethnic representation. There are three white characters in the film (Indy, Willie, and the British General) and they are all portrayed above the “ethnic natives” around them. It felt pretty bad to see Spielberg, who made Jurassic Park, my favorite movie, sink so low with racism and sexism.

I’d like to look a little more at the character of Willie. Who seemed only to be around to nag, complain, and scream. A very sexist view of women in the film, she was probably supposed to be the comic relief of the movie, but was far too absurd to laugh at personally. Short Round was pretty lame too. I can see why Family Guy makes fun of this movie so much .



Color Adjustment

This was a very powerful documentary with a lot to process.  Taking us through the evolution of race in Television was very eye opening. The film stated that TV tried to be non-prejudice, but what we saw was very racist. Starting with Amos ‘N’ Andy and working it’s wayto much more modern things, it seems that race has very often been portrayed incorrectly.  It seemed like people could be accepting of African American’s on TV, but only if they were “made to seem more white.”

It seemed like there was tension during the civil rights movement and the shows on TV showing African Americans. I thought the most powerful part of the film was when they would cut between shots of people be sprayed with hoses and attacked by dogs, then would cut to Bewitched, or something that had no content having to do with race.

I thought the character and TV show that had Archie Bunker was interesting. Here was a man who was clearly racist, and his family disagreed with him at times, and the studio audience was laughing very much at his racist jokes. I hope that during the time he would be seen as as much of a villain as he would be today if that show aired.

Brokeback Mountain

This is a very well made film with some important messages. First and most obviously it shows the issues that come with homophobia. Almost every character that finds out about Jack and Ennis’ relationship are hostile towards it. Another thing it brings up is how homosexuality was perceived in the time and place of the film. It’s almost treated as a disease, even by the two men. Ennis says “You’ve done this to me” and Jack says “I wish I knew how to quit you.”

There also seems to be a gap in the film between love and family. Ennis leaves his wife and kids often to visit with Jack, and even when sitting with his daughter later in the film his new love interest pulls him away to dance. Jack’s family is somewhat dysfunctional, and he leaves to visit Ennis often. And when Jack hears about Ennis’ divorce he comes up to see him, but has to leave because his kids are there with him. It seems like the two things can’t be together in the film. Only at the end when Jack is dead can Ennis be with his daughter and go to her wedding.

One thing I was wondering about was the label that is usually slapped on the film. Usually the association with Brokeback Mountain is that it is a gay cowboy movie, or a gay western, but I disagree. First of all, when I think cowboy/western. I think of the type of film with the one small town in the desert and shootouts, not Wyoming in 1964. I also am not sure if the characters can be called gay. Ennis has sex with his wife and has a new girlfriend. And Jack has a wife and kid as well. Are they bisexual? Or something else, just two men who love each other? Do we need labels?

Masculinity and “Camp”

While reading the article I felt a some relief. It is mentioned that film tackles many different social issues, but it wasn’t until recently that masculinity was no longer over looked. We’ve talked about how women were objectified in film, but I also was thinking at the time that this happened to men in film as well. Probably not to as large an extent, but it’s very hard to have anyone in film without them being judged, or being objectified. People like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone are usually not mentioned without some mention of their bodies, and they give a pretty unrealistic body image.

While reading chapter 11 there was a section on “camp” and it was mentioned several times. After reading the section I am still a little confused as to what it is, can people tell me what they think of camp?

Mama Mia! Feminism, and Motherhood

While I have heard the soundtrack on several occasions before this week I had never seen Mama Mia! and I enjoyed it. I usually do not enjoy musicals but I thought this was a good film.

First, I’d like to connect the film to the Williams article. Williams writes that women are often viewed as the mother, and that their roles involve joy in pain, of pleasure and sacrifice.  This sacrifice often comes from the difficult decision of “letting their daughter go” like in the film Stella Dallas. I noticed that this happens in Mama Mia! as well. Donna and her daughter argue over the wedding and Donna’s discontent with it happening. Donna does seem like she may be upset to see her daughter go. However, Donna is not only a mother, like the article discusses how Stella was shown as primarily a mother. Donna is also shown to have her own interests, including her friends, work (not as much an interest but another way she is shown not only as a mother) and Sam.

The film is in many ways feminist. It has strong, independent women as the protagonists, and effectively minimizes the objectification of women. I do still believe there was objectification of women in the film however. On the beach Tanya is surrounded by younger men and is pursued by Pepper, with a lot of suggestive dancing. But for the most part Tanya is controlling the situation. In addition to this, when other scenes may have been considered objectifying in other films, they were done in a way that did not. In many scenes men are not around to cast a gaze, leaving only the camera and the audience, and without a male character to follow in the gaze, it is somewhat forgotten and the scene is simply seen for what it is. The three main male protagonists in the film cast almost no gaze in my opinion. One being gay, and the other two having  respect for Donna. Except for the scene where they first meet again, and the camera angle shows the men framed between her legs.

As for the Genre and Narrative of the film, I believe it is a romantic/comedy/musical.  The narrative is primarily from the perspective of Donna and Sophie. But we do not only see what they see, making it effective.

The Celebration and Dogme 95

This film was very intense, I had no idea what to expect when watching it. It was in another language, about a family reunion, and seemed like the perfect set up for a murder mystery film. And them that huge bomb dropped at dinner, that Christian’s father had raped, molested, and sexually abused him and his twin sister when they were young. I remember looking around class during this part of the film and seeing other people doing the same thing in shock and amazement. That changed the whole film from then on out, and everything was much more dark, whereas before it almost passed as a light-hearted comedy. Kinda like that family reunion no one wants to go to. I love my family, but I wouldn’t enjoy having one of them singing a long, sad song while I’m waiting for my food. I liked the film a lot and I noticed that it was made in the Vow of Chastity manner of Dogme 95.

I could not disagree more with the “Vow of Chastity” and it’s rules. In the reading they say “film is dead, and needs Resurrection.” I can’t think of a faster way to kill off an entire art form than to make all films in that manner. This particular film was not boring and was made this way, but calling for all films to be this way is absolutely absurd, for many reasons. For one thing, it is possible to make something that is realistic without those rules, just because you have lighting and sound added in does not make the film less real, if anything it can make it more real by taking away from poor audio and poor video quality.  Secondly, people do not go to the movies to see things that are pure reality and have nothing new to offer them. Film is an escape, and making films in this manner I personally think would get, well, boring.  I’m not saying all films should be made by Michael Bay (poor guy gets so much crap, but he makes movies for teenagers, whatever) but there is nothing wrong with adding effects to achieve realism, or to add to a film. With this rule thousands of the best films ever made would not have been “allowed,” I know they were not calling for a total overhaul of film, but I think there rules were too strict. Very often it is the unreal that makes a film better (the CGI in Jurassic Park looks real, and is the main reason people went to see that movie… and the soundtrack to many films are there best qualities.)

Nick Tassoni

Maqbool Reaction

As someone who’s never read or seen Macbeth I was not sure what to expect from an Indian remake. I enjoyed the film, and after reading a summary of the play it makes more sense than it did before. I got lost while watching the film once or twice, I never do well with subtitles. But after reading the summary I can see that the film followed the play rather closely.

Fidelity is an interesting concept, does retaining more from the original work make something more valuable? One example I always think of when thinking about adaptation and Fidelity is Harry Potter. The first two films follow the book almost exactly, but are they the best films? No!  The third is, and it cuts out from the book than the first two films did. So does Fidelity really matter? Could Maqbool have been more different from the original work and still have been a good film?

Another thing, something I brought up in class is what do we value more? An original work of art or an adaption? The movies this summer that most people are excited to see are adaptations, reboots, and sequels (Jurassic World, Star Wars episode VII, Avengers 2, Cinderella, Divergent 2, Fast and Furious 7, The Hunger Games, ect.) But some cool original films will be coming out too. Which are “better?”

I’d like to get some opinions on a question. Would Maqbool have been a better/worse film if it wasn’t adapted from Macbeth? I know it would be a different film, but would this have worked well as a standalone “mobster” movie?

Nick Tassoni

Todorov and Narrative

Now, I don’t consider myself very knowledgeable on Todorov or Narrative, I read the article, probably not closely enough as I couldn’t contribute much to discussion in class, but I’ll talk about what I can here.

From what I understood while reading, narrative is the way a story is told, and changing the narrative will change how the story is perceived.  Todorov gives several examples of similar situations; people getting caught in inappropriate sexual situations. And each differed from the one before it, but retained some of the same, more central information. Each one of these stories are told from a different narrative about a similar idea.

Todorov’s style an organization on narrative reminded me a lot of Aristotle and Poetics. Where Aristotle talked about tragedy, Todorov discussed narrative, I like this type of organization.

Ghost Dog Reaction

I don’t quite know how to think about this film. I enjoyed it as a whole, I thought it had a good soundtrack, messages, and in general was a good film. But we are studying genre at the moment, and that is why we watched this film, so I’m wondering how to classify it. I think there was a lot more of the traditional “mobster” movie feel than anything else. There was certainly some aspect of samurai, but I saw Ghost Dog more as an assassin than a samurai, like a bounty hunter. I heard a lot of stereotypical “Italian Mobster” things throughout the movie like “forget about it”  and their names a long the lines of “Vinny the snake” seemed like they were making fun of mobster movies, could this film be classified as a satire?

I thought the quotes that came in throughout the film were the most “samurai movie” aspect of the film. I particularly like the quote “large matters should be taken lightly, while small matters should be taken seriously.” I thought the film had a lot more to do with race than samurais.

I thought it was interesting how the cartoons that the mobsters were watching usually had to do with something that had happened or was about to happen.  Especially the early shot of Betty Boop flagging the pigeons like Ghost Dog did. Like I said in my previous post, I am a big Simpsons fan, and I saw all those Itchy and Scratchy episodes before, and this movie gave them new meaning.

What genre do you think this film goes into?