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midterms.. tests.. hmm

This has nothing to do with film history, just an in general question.  Do you think written tests/exams/midterms/finals actually test a person’s true knowledge in a subject?

I feel, as a terrible written exam taker, that written exams can cause some to be overly nervous and could never actually measure someone’s education. Rather than putting people in the situations or in conversational reality with the subject, it’s put into words written by a professor that are either wrong or right, not actually testing their instincts but their ability to memorize.

Ozu, Smart and Original

Ozu was far ahead of his time, which is why I think critics said his work was slow during that time period. He took film in a realistic direction of life. There is art where the silence takes place. The moments of negative space and fragility actually set the tone and fill the film with the presence of emotion. Where he chose to put the camera really places you in the scene and allows you to understand his direction. You could absolutely tell the woman in the film’s emotion without blatantly expressing it. When asked what her boss had said, just the way of grabbing the coffee pot and walking away left the anger in the scene. It also seemed to me that the symbolism of the bread being broken in half and being that the camera stayed on it for an extra amount of focus symbolized the family’s broken state of emotion. It seems Yasujiro Ozu and Vittorio De Sica had some common interests in not making their movies for direct plot rather than a person or person’s daily life and struggles. I personally think Ozu’s work was very artistic and realistic.

Mixed Thoughts on Double Indemnity

I truly liked the film for what it was and the time period it was done, however it seemed like Sherlock Holmes Meets A Love Story. Fred MacMurray seemed to have played his role of and insurance seller as if he were a detective and every time he spoke to Barbara Stanwyck there was a solid no emotion presence. Maybe it’s just the direction they were looking for however in some moments it seemed a little awkwardly funny to me. Just adding my 2 cents on what I thought because I wanted to see if anyone else thought the same.

Alice In Wonderland

The technology of today is absolutely astonishing along with the visual creativity of Tim Burton. If you are a fan of Tim Burton’s style of films, Alice in Wonderland is a visual masterpiece. The story of Alice in Wonderland is altered with a very different twist. The original story had many lessons to life deep within the words and wacky conversations in comparison to this new and completely different angle where the emotion and mystery comes from what you see not what you hear or is spoken. Tim Burton’s approach on Alice in Wonderland is similar to Christopher Nolan’s take on Batman, giving a dark and deep background to a developed story. I truly appreciated the work that had been done.

“As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster.” -Goodfellas 1990

The desire for being a gangster in American society has a meaning for everyone with any desire at all. The gangster is a symbol of freedom in it’s own ways. In a free America, what we are limited to holds no bars to the men like James Cagney’s role of Tom Powers in The Public Enemy, directed by William Wellman. This was one of the first, if not, the first gangster film. The genre is so popular do to America’s need for a hero, a tragic hero.

Tom Powers is the kind of man whom has no limits and never takes no for an answer. He’ll get what he wants and do anything until he gets what he wants. With dirty work comes good money, which also brings power. That power will earn the respect anyone could only hope for in life. To walk in a room and everyone know you’re there, to have people love and fear you, to break the law without getting caught or in trouble for it and to have everyone at your feet whom isn’t at your level. The gangster life is truly a selling description however the down-falls to a gangster life is what reminds us of the reasons we stay in the lives we have. In every film or depiction of a gangster, the man is feared, yet he must do what he’s told in accordance with his decisions or his life may be on the line. There’s always a thin line between life and death fooling with the law and people’s lives. Gangster’s get jailed, they get in trouble and killed, they go into witness protection systems. All of these situations leave the man with all the power to understand he is not superman, he is not invincible and what he’s doing needs to be changed. Much of the time, the gangster changes too late or just makes it at the last second. In changing too late, another gang or the law catches up with him and he finds himself dead. If that doesn’t occur you’ll find the gangster giving himself up and helping the government with taking apart the gang he was a part of and other gangs that may be out there. This all brings the reality down to anyone watching that, yes, it’s a wonderful life to be able to get away with all the law breaking, killing, money making, drinking champagne and getting whatever you want, but that good life will never last with it’s course. The interview, Wild Bill: A William A. Wellman Interview, written by Scott Eyman, Wellman tells of his rebellious past and almost clearly gives a connection to the characters depicted in The Public Enemy.

Wellman’s lifestyle as a child was with no boundaries. He spoke of being the problem child who was basically just out to have a good time. He gave himself the freedom of doing whatever he wanted and had no fear of danger. This is all very closely connected to the film. He also explains the scene in the film where Tom Powers shoves a grapefruit in the face of his mistress during breakfast. He spoke of one of his wives whom he always wanted to just shove a grapefruit in her face while nagging but he never did, so he decided to put it in the movie. This directly comes from society wanting to do something they see on film which is why it is glorified. Robert Warshow’s article, The Gangster as a Tragic Hero, shows how the gangster is more than crime to people, it has an invisible connection to the heart and desire of people who want an extra amount of freedom. In the film, Goodfellas, directed by Martin Scorsese, Henry Hill is helping the Italian Mob. Henry Hill himself, at one point in the movie actually states, “As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster.” This movie actually has it’s character fascinated with the lifestyle put the words of people watching the film, in narration. What does that quote mean? More than just the gangster by far. As far back as anyone could remember, they’ve always wanted something they couldn’t have, something that crossed the line or too afraid to do.

A gangster is about the power, the freedom and the wealth. What you can have in life that others don’t. Like drinking is to teenagers, something the law prohibits and helps them feel rebellious to do. Feeling good about not caring for once, for being able to knock out the people that disrupt your life. The magic of film is the beauty of emotional persuasion and when it comes to gangster films, a symbol of dreams as if they were reality and it’s consequences.

-Frank Orlando

Favorite Gangster Film: A Bronx Tale (1993) Directed by Robert De Niro

GoodFellas – Always Wanted To Be A Gangster

A Bronx Tale Trailer

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