Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Wes Anderson

           This week I chose to watch 3 film by Wes Anderson, The Royal Tenenbaums, Fantastic Mr. Fox, and Moonrise Kingdom. All three films have strong similarities both thematically and through execution. There is a clear theme of neglected and misunderstood children in all 3 of these movies. The siblings in The Royal Tenenbaums are all fairly neurotic in their own ways because they grew up without their father. Sam and Suzy in Moonrise Kingdom both come from homes where their parents (or foster parents) don’t understand them. And Ash in Fantastic Mr. Fox is constantly doubting himself because he feels he is living in the shadows of his cousin Kristofferson. Again, he is a son of a father who doesn’t spend enough time with him to understand him. These neglectful parents, specifically father figures pop up in each of these films, leading the viewer to believe that maybe Wes Anderson has had his own familial issues in the past. His movies also tend to feel like a throwback to simpler times. His movies, from what I’ve seen, tend to be set either in the past or during a time before our digital age. This focus on time periods when social interactions were more personal and people actually spent time outdoors give his films a very nostalgic feel.

There is no doubt that Wes Anderson has a strong directing style. You could take a still from any of his movies and imidiately identify his signature approach. All of his films are shot using primarily flat staging. He uses what seems to be a very simplistic compositional technique and constantly finds way to turn the staging on it’s head by playing with forced perspective and camera movement.  At the beginning of Moonrise Kingdom this staging is used to give the sets a very nostalgic look. The camera passes through the rooms of a house as if it were an old dollhouse and the illusion is broken when actors begin to enter the rooms. Anderson also has fun with the fact that you have no sense of perspective with flat staging. There is one shot in Moonrise Kingdom where you initially think a phone is very large in the forground until a girl walks up to it and makes the phone look miniscule in comparison. The flat compositions also work well with his subject matter since flat staging is used primarily for comedic effect. Fantastic Mr. Fox has a lot of fast paced action and dialogue and the quick cuts with characters essentially looking directly into the camera back and forth are very amusing. His directing style gives his films a signature quirky feel that sets them apart from mainstream Hollywood films that tend to focus on sweeping, epic camera moves and effects.  His films, at times, feel like living story books. This is partially because he is very practical in his directing style. He doesn’t rely on many CGI effects to make his films. One example that comes to mind is the use of cotton balls to create smoke in Fantastic Mr. Fox. It’s clear a lot of his visuals are just practical effects and it’s the kind of traditional technique that you don’t see a lot of in films today.  

Political Ad

Dominant Framework: The Obama campaign’s biggest push is always to go after younger voters. Through the use of social media he has been able to attract our generation in a way that Romney hasn’t bothered with. Because the campaign is so youth savvy, it’s aware the easiest way to get people to pay attention to videos on the Internet is to make something short and funny. That is where this ad succeeds. This ad stars Lena Dunham who is a rising star who’s work appeals to our generation. Her work on the HBO show “Girls” makes her a voice for our generation. The joke is a double entendre about voting that sounds like losing your virginity. It’s cute and clever and she brings up the hot button social issues that people my age are most interested in. Topics like gay marriage and birth control are brought up.  Lena also makes politics more accessible by talking directly to the camera as if she’s talking to a friend. It feels like any other popular youtube video only it’s one that is actually sponsored by the Obama campaign. The ad relies heavily on emotional appeal instead of political facts and that makes it more accessible to anyone watching it. You don’t have to keep up with politics to understand this video and that makes it appeal to a wider demographic. It’s a smart move on Obama’s part to create many different ads all trying to appeal to different kinds of people. This one is clearly made for the college age to early 30’s age bracket. The video is done in one of the most popular mediums of our time (online video) and it succeeds in peaking the interest of it’s intended demographic.

Oppositional Framework: Ever since the advent of television, political campaigns has become less about the actual issues and ideas a candidate supports and more about how hip their personality is or how attractive they are to the nation. Candidates are more interested in appealing to voters on an emotional level than on a serious intellectual level. What kind of political credentials does Lena Dunham have to endorse the Obama campaign? She is a celebrity and her opinions should not be what is driving people’s notions on who to vote for. This ad is frivolous and silly. It doesn’t really address any solid facts or present any of Obama’s plans on how to fix the economy or what to do about the environment. Instead it makes a bunch of dumb jokes about losing your virginity. It’s trivial and quite honestly it makes one believe that maybe Obama isn’t taking this campaign very seriously at all. This ad is just a mixture of elements that are deemed as “cool” for this generation. It involves a risqué joke, a celebrity endorsement, and a hand held interview style.  Most of this ad is just fluff with Lena talking about her previous voting experience. This ad should be showing Obama and it should be filled with actual facts. It shouldn’t be an elaborate joke. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Medium is the Message

Medium is any extension of ourselves. In that case, there is no more prominent medium in our generation than social media. 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


          The main relationship in Lolita, while incredibly unsettling, is a fascinating contradiction. The love that Humbert has for Lolita is all encompassing and so strong that he still thinks about the girl longingly years after the fact. His attraction is also incredibly fleeting. Throughout the novel Humbert talks about the appeal of the nymphet and how their allure only lasts for a short period of time. When first describing nymphets Humbert says “the idea of time plays such a magic part in the matter.” He brings up puberty constantly as if it’s a ticking time bomb always looming in the distance. Humbert is only attracted to a certain kind of girl at a very particular age. Once they grow out of that bracket he looses interest. In Lolita, Humbert finds the epitome of every nymphet quality he is looking for. Her mere presence makes him weak in the knees and he spends the first half of the novel pining over her. The attraction he has towards her is intense. One of the reasons he is so fervent with his desire for her is because she is just on the cusp of growing up. The novel progresses at a rapid pace that is partially created by Humbert updating how much Lolita has grown over periods of time. The more Lolita grows into womanhood the more resentment starts to grow within Humbert towards her. This is shown most clearly during their 2nd road trip in the novel. At this point Lolita is going through a growth spurt and Humbert describes in inches and pounds. This is the trip where Lolita is becoming increasingly more independent as she grows into being a teenager. She starts running off with boys, which makes Humbert furious.

 His budding resentment for her and her actions is very much so in the same vain as his feelings towards grown women. The way Humbert describes adult women in the novel is with complete distain. In his wives he only sees every feature that proves their age. He is almost to a point of being totally repulsed by the mature female figure. While working at a university in America he mentions is distain for the female coeds. It’s the aging process that gives his love for Lolita a time limit.

Despite this, the fleeting nature of Humbert’s physical attraction to Lolita is far outshined by his powerful love for the idea of her. He is infatuated with this perfect nymphet image he puts upon Lolita. Lolita isn’t even her real name; just a pet name he latches onto when fantasizing about the young Dolores. It’s clear that his initial attraction is all based on fantasy because Dolores does nothing more with Humbert then act like the child she is. She walks around aimlessly and reads comics. To Humbert she is something glorious to behold. The initially love Humbert has for Lolita is so strong that even during the time of “writing” the dissertation that the book is claiming to be he still writes about his Little Lo pensively. The love with the ideal outlives the physical attraction. This constant back and forth between his passionate feelings towards this fabricated romance with the harsh realities of the real world create the main conflicts and tension in the book. Humbert takes Lolita on a year long road trip after her mother dies in an effort to spend as much time as possible with his soon to be outgrown nymphet. While he attempts to make this excursion one of romance and excitement, the reality is it’s a trip filled with paranoia. Lolita is actually Dolores, a pre-teenage girl who is constantly trying to push Humbert’s buttons by getting him into trouble. There relationship brings up the question of whether or not what Humbert feels for Lolita is lust or love. When you truly love someone, you want the best for them. Humbert could care less about Lolita. He takes her out of school so he can spend more time with her. He brings her into his life on the run. These are all selfish acts.  So as many times he writes about his love for Lolita in the novel it must be taken lightly. 

Chasing Amy Production Notes

Production Notes: Chasing Amy

Chasing Amy is a movie about relationships and how people like to make them more complicated than they actually are. The movie follows two friends, Holden and Banky, and how one woman can completely rearrange their lives. I think this movie is trying to get across the points that if you like someone just go for it. You should enjoy your relationship and live in the moment.  When Holden and Alyssa first meet they have a very palpable connection. Holden quickly falls for Alyssa after their initial meeting and is completely shocked to find out that she is a lesbian. Holden decides to continue hanging out with Alyssa as friends. The times that Holden and Alyssa spend with each other are effortless and comfortable. It’s clear the two really connect with each other emotionally. After weeks of hanging out Holden can’t hold in his feelings anymore and he takes a leap of faith by declaring his love for Alyssa.  This is where the movie takes an uninspected turn. Alyssa is at first angry at Holden’s confession for complicating their friendship but they end up sleeping together by the end of the night. There relationship is questioned by everyone around them. Alyssa’s lesbian friends are shocked to hear about her new boyfriend and Banky is incredibly suspicious of their relationship. Despite outside disapproval the two are happy together until one day when Banky tells Holden a story he heard about one of Alyssa’s past sexual encounters. Apparently Holden wasn’t the first man that Alyssa has ever been with. Holden feels incredibly betrayed by this realization and takes it out on Alyssa. She tries to explain to him that what she’s done in the past shouldn’t effect their relationship in anyway but Holden is too overwhelmed by jealousy. His judgment and anger goes on for so long that Alyssa decides they shouldn’t be together anymore. Instead of letting go of the past, Holden fixated on rumors and lost the woman he loved.

Near the end of the film Holden confides in his friends Jay and Bob. Bob tells him a story about his past relationship that ended the same way. He tells Holden that he realized after the fact that “She wasn’t looking for that guy anymore. She was looking for me. But by the time I realized this it was too late.” This drives home the point that you need to appreciate the people you are with, or else you’ll end up chasing Amy.


Holden – Comic Book illustrator. He’s generally a level headed guy with a good heart. He wears his heart on his sleeve and isn’t afraid to lay it all out on the line when he feels really strongly about something. He loves Alyssa and Banky is like a brother to him.

Banky – Incredibly crass. He’s constantly cracking smarmy jokes. Despite his immaturity he’s very loyal to his best friend Holden.  He’s very defensive and is always trying to prove himself. This stems from his insecurities with being the inker for the comic he makes with Holden and also his sexuality. At the end of the film it’s addressed that Banky might very well be gay.

Alyssa – She is very outgoing and quick witted. She’s experienced a lot in life and has been in relationships with many different people. At the beginning of the film she identifies as a lesbian but she is actually a bisexual who falls for men if the chemistry is there. She loves how genuine Holden is and his heart broken when he becomes so accusatory towards her by the end. She is also a comic book artist like Holden and Banky.