Sunday, March 7, 2010

Avatar Will Hurt Locker

Avatar and The Hurt Locker. Of all the nominees for the Best Picture Oscar, these two are arguably the most deserving, for similar and different reasons. First of all, they are both war movies that speak volumes about the present situation. The intensity that they both deliver is extremely palpable, but sometimes I wonder which film was able to do a better job at intensely enveloping me in a believable world. Maybe the The Hurt Locker, because the sound editing and the shaky camera make us feel as if we were really in Iraq, and we know that Iraq actually exists? Or is it Avatar, because the 3D experience of Pandora is insanely realistic even if it is a made up world? In the end, isn't Pandora a verdant Iraq?

Again, let me reiterate: the 3D imagery in Avatar is monumental. Half of the reason to see this film is the genius creation that is Pandora; sea-like plants and trees made up of neurons are intriguing to say the least. Add to that 3D enhancement and you have incredible depth that virtually transports you to the Garden of Eden. I never knew I would be so enthralled with floating tropical islands. Anyways, I was reading the British film magazine, Sight & Sound the other day and the editorial said that Avatar would win the Oscar because it would symbolize the rebirth of cinema through 3D enhancement; a reason for people to return to the theaters. I beg to differ. Avatar, has a lot more to offer than amazing graphics.

The Hurt Locker is not just a war movie. It is a psychological portrait of a soldier. Avatar is not just a war movie. It is a love story, a coming of age story of a soldier, a fantasy film, a political thriller, an activist film that denounces a military complex and criticizes our capitalist society (and yes, I realize the movie itself is a product of capitalism, but sometimes you have to use the system in order to beat it). It is the cinematic culmination of an entire movement that defines our current generation: Environmentalism. And that is why it will win the Oscar.

Critics say that Avatar lacks originality, and the statement has some truth. Dances with Wolves, and Fern Gully are films with similar story lines that come to mind. One can compare Avatar to Pocahontas for goodness sake. So what? The imagery is incredibly overwhelming that to add a complex story line on top of that would have been ridiculous. But at the same time I don't understand why many people don't see that although the story may not necessarily be original, it is the retelling of the story -the way that it is retold that matters the most. The fact that a language was created for this film, the fact that the N'avi have organs that help them connect with the souls of other beings, and the fact that the trees are made up of neurons that retain memories is fascinating. Also, the obsession of living through a dream is another incredibly intriguing element. In fact, I wish they had elaborated more on this subject.

Now, let me be clear. I am little biased towards Avatar, one reason being is that I can personally relate to what happened in the film...its very a long story. But my story is not the only one. History can attest to that. And the relatability of Avatar maybe another reason why it has been so appealing to people all over the world.

By the way, if Inglourious Basterds does not win Best original screen play, and if Christoph Waltz does not win Best Supporting Actor, there will be riots in the streets.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

6x1 Part Deux

If I were to create 6x1 part deux, it would involve a super project with all the assignments from 6x1 part one combined. One would have the option of letting the project be narrative-driven, music-driven, anything-driven, etc. I wouldn't mind meeting on a weekend again to film with the bolex, or show up earlier to work on stop-motion. I personally would have liked to film with the super 8 more. Also, for assignment one, going over new manipulation techniques for the super 8 that we didn't discuss in class would be cool.
Overall, if part deux is anything like part one it would be awesome. I really loved this class because it is not like any other film class I have taken. The assignments were extremely fun. I learned camerless filmmaking, got my hands dirty, worked with super 8, worked with 16mm, experimented with different mediums, became a mad scientist, messed with sound, lived through a 48 hour video race, jammed some culture, and managed to keep some of my sanity in the end. And I grew as a filmmaker in the process.

Stop motion = 1, because moving an object and then clicking a button to create a film is amazing. I brought stationary figures to life.
48 hour video race = 2, because it is such an adrenaline rush.
Bolex project = 3, because working with a bolex camera, and 16mm film is awesome, and you don't get to do that everyday. Plus creating sound for it was fun.
Elements project = 4, because I was able to get my hands dirty and create something without a camera.
Rhythmic edit = 5, I had more fun filming this than editing it. Editing was really tedious, but why am I complaining? It turned out awesome in the end.
Found Footage project = 6, I loved working on this project especially because I loved the subject, but its something I can do in intro to editing. BUT the culture jamming aspects that we learned from this project are crucial. They were only touched apon in my intro to editing.

Although I kind of slacked off toward the end of the semester, I enjoyed doing the blogs because they made me use my brain and really reflect on very interesting information directly related to our projects. It feels cool to be part of the blogosphere too.

The Yes Men

I like watching documentaries especially politically charged ones, so watching The Yes Men was great. These guys really have some guts to do what they do, but when you’re passionate about something then it doesn’t really matter what everyone else thinks. I personally thought that all the anti-corporate shit that they did was really inspirational, not to mention hilarious. I can’t believe the people in the room actually clapped for the “pleasure” suit demonstration, which was later sheepishly lauded in a newspaper article. Wake up and smell the damn coffee people.
I’m not a big fan of useless international corporations that say they are for the benefit of poorer countries when in reality they have a systematic bias towards rich countries, so I am happy to see that there are people out there like the Yes men. Satiric infiltration, it’s a very creative form of activism. 007 activism. That has a nice ring to it. Anyways, these guys were cut down with time and had to infiltrate these events on the go, so in that respect, project numero cinco ties in with this documentary. Our last project ties in better I think. These guys culture jammed the hell out of WTO, and that’s what I did to a much lesser extent with the fanta found footage that I worked on.
Another thing I was thinking about: Have these guys been sued for this? As far as I know, no. Then again, I would be LMAO if the WTO actually brought these guys to court. It would be more embarrassing to the WTO then it would be to the Yes men because it would show that they can’t control their own conferences, and plus it would draw popular reactions for the Yes men. U.S. Law on parody is probably what is protecting them.

Teatro Duro (rough translation)

I thought "The Rough Theatre" by Peter Brooks was a very interesting article. Although it was probably written years ago, what it says still holds true today. What's "popular" these days was not necesaily "popular" when it first came out. I am talking about documentaries, experimental film, anything non-blockbuster hollywood-esque. These to me are my rough theater, which more than not are playing at a small communithy theater, a small venue located on the second floor of a library, or a simple art house theater, hence the name art house cinema. They are the types of films you see at Jengo's playhouse. Yet, after enough rave, one of these films could evn reach Mayfaire.
Okay, let me continue to talk about the actual movies. As I said before, I believe that low-budget movies, independent film in general, documentaries, experimental film, etc. are my rough theater because they usually don't depict the same cinematography, special effects, or general quality that Hollywood films do. But because of their nature audiences forgive that. In fact their "roughness" might even enhance their subjects or their very nature. A shaky camera in a documentary bolsters the realism of the film. The 16mm of an experimental film will enhance a classic look if that is what you are after.
Even if there are inconsistencies in a film, yet everything else is well done, I will forgive it for the sake of film, and because it in many ways might mirror the "roughness" of my life.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Frijolero by Molotov

video

I Don't Wanta Fanta!

video

The Molotov Man

I read the Molotov Man article a while ago, but I never wrote a blog about it because I was blown away by to the point that I didn't know where to start or organize my thoughts, so I just figured I'd respond to it later. I have accepted the fact that I just need to let my thoughts flow. Seriously, this article is perhaps the most impactful article I have read all semester. Let me begin with Joy Garnett. I was sympathizing with her at the beginning of the article to tell you the truth. I didn't see anything wrong. She had taken an image and made it her own as well as all her supporters. Wasn't Joy helping Susan out in way by bringing attention to her photograph? Have not many images gone into the public domain after so many years? Perhaps, but what Joy had done was decontexualize the original image. That is the problem.

"Who owns the rightst to this man's struggle? The words continue to resonate in the room.

Meiselas was documenting the war in Nicaragua. In fact, she had documented a crucial moment in Nicaragua's history when this man is threw a molotov cocktail at the Somoza national guard garrison, "one of the last such garrisons remaining in Somoza's hands." The Sandinistas would soon after take power and govern Nicaragua for about ten years "and this image ended representing that moment for a long time to come". Meanwhile, this image of the Molotov man would reappear all over Nicaragua; on walls, on matchbox covers, on church pamphlets. Anyways, If I were Susan Meiselas, I would probably feel the same way about Pablo Arauz's context being stripped away. He had fought too hard to have his story turned into an image of an abstract riot. In the end I can't help but agree with Susan. We owe it to ourselves and our subjects to preserve the specificity of these images, so that everyone may known its history. Because those who don't know their history are doomed to repeat it as Santayana once said. Just because you can manipulate an image doesn't mean you have to. And Susan's photo didn't need to be manipulated. Yet, I can't help but say that certain images/footage might benefit the public by being manipulated, or parodied. Parody. Now thats something to take into account. What if I want to send a beneficial message to the public by manipulating an image of George W. Bush, which might cause people to see him in a new light. For the good of the public.
Anyways, I'm still thinking about this. You know, my found footage video on Fanta was a parody. Soda is bad for you in general, and the types of marketing for this product is insanely over-the-top (fanta can chasing people), so I decided to make fun of it. Besides, its a subject that I don't think you can compare to the seriousness of Pablo Arauz and the Sandinistas.
By the way, there is a rock/hip hop band called Molotov from Mexico that is extremely popular for there politically charges songs. I wouldn't be surprised if they were inspired by the Molotov man.