Category Archives: Second student post

Rebels on the Backlot Presentation Summary

I’m terribly sorry for the tardiness, I’ve had this this whole time i promise I just completely forgot to upload it as instructed. I was supposed to present this in class but came to class 15 minutes late and missed my allotted time-slot.

Rebels on the Backlot by Sharon Waxman

Spike Jonze

Being John Malkovich. Began under Polygram entertainment.

-Producer Lance Acord fended off Producing Chief Matt Kuhn.

-Eventually, in early 1999, Matt Kuhn lost his job. Polygram sold to USA films.

-Did not hear from execs in months. Malkovich was project under USA films under Universal.

-Jonze used the same key crew members he had used for all his previous work.

-Low-key and relaxed atmosphere. Jonze’s brother a PA.

-Tunnel carted 6 different locations.

-First assembly 4 hours long.

-Took 9 months to edit as Jonze went on to act in Three Kings.

Lorenzo di Bonaventura

-Mid 1990s, Traditional blockbusters started becoming less cost-effective. Rising star pay-checks.

-A co-head of production at Warner Bros.

-Opened doors for The Wachowski Brothers and David O’Russell.

Wachowski Brothers

-First Script, Assassins got picked up by di Bonaventura.

-Script fell into the hands of Director Dick Donner and Sylvester Stallone. Movie was a flop.

-Pushed di Bonaventura to sign a 4 script deal with Wachowskis, in effort to be more protective

-Pitched the Matrix in a time where email was barely comprehensible to studio execs.

-Execs placed faith in di Bonaventura’s passion.

-Marketed as action film. Matrix garnered $400 million worldwide.

-Spent Eighteen months doing research and writing Three Kings.

-Secured funding with the help of di Bonaventura.

-Warner Bros. loved Clooney, David O’Russell felt he couldn’t act.

-Studios disliked his decisions, including casting of Spike Jonze.

-Shooting on Ektachrome.(gives weird color palette)

-Shooting schedule was tight, Clooney was shooting ER throughout the week when he wasnt working on Three Kings.

-Spike Jonze would fly out to edit John Malkovich on the weekends.

-O’Russell would make up shots on the go. Tension was very high.

-Escalated at O’Russell getting hands on with an extra who was supposed to push Ice Cube.

David Fincher

100 day shoot for fight club

-People began to notice that extras and stunt doubles were constantly walking out of the soundstage with fake blood and bruises.

-Fincher wanted 30 takes of fight scenes.

-Practiced bare-knuckle fighting for bare-knuckle fight scenes. Actors and doubles all ended up with broken ribs and dislocated fingers.

-Spiritual experience forPitt and Norton. Found that they were getting the same injuries.

Right before release of Fight Club, overshadowed by Columbine, started debate on Hollywood Marketing violence to teenagers.

-Execs were appalled when Fincher screened Fight Club for the first time. Fincher thought the movie was funny.

-Fincher felt that being a studio exec meant that they did not have a shred of creativity within them.

-Did not make the effort to converse with the execs.

-Came up with his own trailers. Fake Public Service announcements.


-Critics hated Fight Club, brought in only $1 million opening weekend. Called immoral and irresponsible.

-Critics loved Three Kings. Called brilliantly subversive.

-Fincher envious of this. However, Three Kings wasn’t nominated for anything.

-Being John Malkovich nominated for Best Director and Best Screenplay. Made no money.


Jaap’s Recitation 5/2

Apologies for the tardiness! Finals week and all.

Jaap started off the recitation by showing us a clip from the original movie Tron. Although a couple of us in class were scoffing at how ridiculous it looked, Jaap was quick to remind us that it was the very first film that used actual CGI, which in retrospect was pretty great, particularly the sound design that went with it that really made the crappy models come to life.

We discussed the ethics surrounding the advent of CGI, and how the previous stigma of everything in front of the camera being real and true had been shattered with its invention.

Jaap then compared the clip to another clip from Speed Racer, a present day film that used a lot of CGI. The topic of 3D was brought up. A majority of the class really disliked 3D and felt like it was cheap and that it added nothing to the value of any films. One person said that good cinematography can do anything that 3D can without having 3D involved. Some speculated that 3D was just a passing phase and that its novelty would wear off fairly quickly.

After the Stephen Prince presentation, we talked about Zodiac and how even it(being a film rooted in realism and involving basically no elements of fantasy or sci-fi) employed the use of CGI to replicated buildings and such. We then went around the room and talked about our favorite and least favorite films that we’ve seen in class and wrapped a wonderful semeseter.

Jaap’s Recitation 5/1

Last week during lecture and section, we discussed how new technologies change the way films are made, distributed and seen.  We looked at the innovations that digital filmmaking created and how it was different from using analogue film.

During lecture, we looked at the final race of the grand prix in the movie Speedracer.  We then watched the film Zodiac which offers a different take on filmmaking and the question of reality.  The entire film was shot using digital technology, and no actual film was use.  This was done to create “a more real kind of film.”

During section, Jaap discussed handing in our papers in his faculty mailbox.  We then watched a clip from the original Tron (1983, created by Disney).  It was important to watch this film because it was the first film that contains CGI.  We also looked at this film in relation to Speedracer and how the film presents this idea of immersion into a virtual reality.  This led us to discuss the positive and negative effects of using 3D in films.  Natasha then gave her presentation on the Stephen Prince article.  After the presentation we discussed Zodiac.  At the end of class we did an informal evaluation as well as formal evaluation.  The informal evaluation was where we went around the room and discussed our favorite film, least favorite film, and most interesting topic of the class during the semester.

5/2 4:55

Our final recitation of the semester began with that irritable Ryan Trecartin short, titled “Tommy Chat Just Emailed Me”, followed by the presentation on Wayne Koestenbaum’s article. I still can’t get over that it has 45,000 views on youtube, or the fact that Bruno had to watch it three times in one day.


We, then, focused on this week’s topic of digital special effects, beginning with David Fincher’s use of it in Zodiac. We suggested the idea that perhaps, with the mise-en-scene used, and without the dating of the crimes, the special effects, and the known actors, audiences would believe that this film was actually made forty years ago.


Moving onto the ending of Speed Racer. Is this a huge step into the future of cinema? At  many times, the shots weren’t even filmed with a camera. With talking heads being used as wipes, and very exclusive camera positions, or lack-thereof, CGI could be the birth of a new era in film.


But then we discussed if audiences will in fact enjoy this new style of filmmaking. Some viewers complained of the new Hobbit film, shot at 48/fps, saying that it was too real.


We also briefly went into the problems of preservation of films in the future. Now that VHS is obsolete, we can’t help but wonder when the next generation of technology will cause issues with transferring our current works over.


We wrapped up the class with the presentation of Stephen Prince’s article on film theory and digital imaging and a brief discussion on the recent craze over 3D films. Hope you all have a nice summer.

Mulholland Drive Explained (a bit)

I was supposed to write a post about the recitation on 4/25, but I was unfortunately unable to come to class. Therefore, I am writing a post about the assigned article, “Lost on Mulholland Drive: Navigating David Lynch’s Panegyric to Hollywood” by Todd McGowan. I am opting to write this post in a series of bulleted points, because I feel that this will be more easily accessible to those who might want to more fully understand the film (assuming that they have not already read this article, and assuming that they do not already understand the film).


Separate Worlds

The film is divided into two separate and mutually exclusive worlds: that of fantasy (the first part of the film) and that of desire (the second part of the film).

The world of desire is also the world of reality, although it is not presented “within time.”

This interpretation is supported by the dramatic change in “mise-en-scene, editing, and the overall character of the shots” between the different parts of the film.

The fantasy world is well-lit (more Hollywood-esque), colorful, and follows a relatively straight forward narrative format,

The world of desire is seen in low light, has a much more muted pallete, and has no narrative.


The Mystery of Desire?

Diane creates the fantasy world portrayed by the first part of the film in order to be able to fulfill her desire for Camilla in fantasy.

Betty is Diane’s perfect ego, and Rita is the obtainable object of desire/ love object.

The opening scene where Rita loses her memory puts the audience within Betty’s fantasty – Like Rita, “the spectator has no idea what the driver wants,” and “like her, we have no foundation on which to sense of the situation.”

The relationship between Betty and Rita is a fantasized, more successful version of the failed one that actually exists between Diane and Camilla

The fantasy is structured like a mystery – therefore, the fantasy both solves the mystery of desire and creates mystery to “obscure the necessary deadlock that all desire animates.”


Fantasized Temporality

There is no time, no chronology in the world of desire because desire does not move forward.

Fantasy constructs a sense of time so that desire can move forward.

Fantasy also fills the gaps that are experienced in the world of desire.

Ex. In the world of desire, director Adam Kesher mentions, “so I got the pool, and she got the pool man.” From this fragment of understanding, the world of fantasy constructs a full-blown narrative about Adam’s relationship with his wife and her lover.


Diane’s Wish Fulfillment

In Diane’s fantasy, she strips Camilla of her power over her; Camilla seems to taunt Diane by sharing her sexuality with others in from of her.

In fantasy, Adam is also stripped of his power – his film is taken out of his control, he is forced to choose Camilla as his leading lady (also suggesting in fantasy that Camilla only got her big break because it was forced, appeasing Diane’s sense of failure in only ever procuring bit parts).

Some characters change completely – Coco goes from landlord in fantasy (a maternal figure) to Adam’s mother in desire

Both Betty and Rita’s characters range widely, suggesting that they are not “real.”


The Successful Sexual Relationship

The idea of sexual relationships as the primary stumbling block in human relations is presented.

The film does not reduce the lesbian relationship to a heterosexual one, but refuses to romanticize it – no sexual relationship can succeed.


Going All the Way in Fantasy

Lynch seems to suggest that Hollywood does not go far enough in fantasy to fully support it – it cannot be fulfilling, it cannot push the characters and spectators into “the Real,” unless it is fully supported.

The fantasy has a feminine structure – it goes to far past the fulfillment of the sexual relationship to the point that it must end. With the end of the successful relationship comes the end of the fantasy (seen in the Club Silencio).

The blue box is the portal between the fantasy and the Real/ the world of desire.

The Cowboy is the personification of the superego, the conscience, that pushes Diane out of fantasy with his call to “wake up.”

When Diane succeeds in having Camilla killed, the barrier between fantasy and desire collapses. The fantastic versions of the old couple from the airport enter reality and terrorize Betty. She kills herself.

The Real is first encountered when Betty and Rita sees the body of Diane, although they think in fantasy that it looks like Rita.

Fantasy forces the Real upon the fantasizer.

Fantasy is the “privileged path to the Real.”

Jaap Recitation 4/25

At the beginning of class, Jaap discussed final papers and confirmed that we are free to choose any style of citation as long as we are consistent.We then went on to watch a clip from Super 8 (JJ Abrams). In the clip, the kids are filming their own movie on a Super 8 camera down at the train station when they witness a train crash. Overall, the clip dealt with nostalgia for middle class America, childhood, and past Spielberg films, especially ET. The paradox lies in the celebration of fan culture and amateur filmmaking while at the same time relying heavily on special effects. Also, it is ironic how Spielberg’s films already depicted a nostalgia for American suburban towns, and now Super 8 is nostalgic for Spielberg’s already nostalgic films.

Next we watched Matt and Denzel’s presentation on Henry Jenkins’ “Quentin Taratino’s Star Wars? Grassroots Creativity Meets the Media Industry”. They discussed fan culture and convergence culture. We then went on to watch a clip from the Animatrix. This was another example of how convergence culture comes into play. David’s presentation on Tom McGowen and Mulholland Drive was very fascinating because he showed us many interpretations of the movie. This led into the discussion of the film in which we looked at the fantasy and the real and debated where we thought reality was in the film.

Jaap’s Recitation 4/25

Class began with a reminder from Jaap that final papers are due this Friday – how’s that coming along, folks? You don’t have to answer, I get it.

From there, we launched into last year’s summer blockbuster Super 8 (dir. J.J. Abrams). We watched as a train crash exploded into scientifically impossible degrees. The discussion from there regarded the film’s play on nostalgia and fan culture, taking heavy influence from Spielberg’s early days (especially Close Encounters of the Third Kind and E.T. Extra-Terrestrial). The very idea of Super 8 cameras is a culture that Abrams’ generation grew up in, and this is what drives the movie’s homely feel.

Speaking of fan culture made for the perfect segue into Denzel and Evan’s presentation on the Jenkins reading. Though Jaap made them skip their various Star Wars references (which the reading discussed quite a lot in example), they improvised well and spoke about the interaction of movies with their audiences. With the mainstreaming of the Internet, fanfiction become a phenomenon, and fans had a new medium to laud their favorite movies and form a mythos.

When the Wachowski Brothers created The Matrix, they were very much aware of this. Taking advantage of other media and marketing ploys, they created the Animatrix as not just an optional extension for fans, but as a necessary device in order to fully understand the world they’d created. The Animatrix goes back and shows you the war between man and machine, and how things have become what they are – not always in ways you were expecting. For instance, it turns out that the nonexistence of the sky in The Matrix is actually at the blame of man, as a last-ditch effort to block their nemesis’ power source. Such a necessity allows for further audience participation and interactivity with the mythos, even though the Wachowski Brothers are still in control.

Finishing the class was a presentation from this really awesome kid named David B. Jacobs. I swear, that guy has the coolest slideshows ever – did anyone else notice how his picture choices for last week’s American Psycho presentation became progressively more violent throughout the slideshow? Now that’s structure! This week, he spoke to us about Mulholland Dr., specifically regarding Todd McGowan’s essay analyzing the film.

McGowan refers to the most common interpretation of the film, that the first part is a dream of Diane’s, subconsciously satisfying all her desires presented in the second. McGowan points out how each element of Fantasy in part one reflects upon some Desire in part two, and discusses that the power lies in Lynch’s separation of Fantasy and Desire. Where they meet, he claims, lies the “Real,” a horrifyingly traumatic state which is best to merely graze.

David, however, cleverly pointed out the flaw of McGowan’s reading: He only discusses one interpretation. Some additional research (WOW, that kid even did additional research for his presentation! He totally deserves an “A”!) uncovers a massive amount of a variety of interpretations of Mulholland Dr., many of them completely incompatible with each other. David’s slideshow included a cool-looking collage illustrating just a few of the more interesting theories.

Ultimately, we decided that the film’s multitude of interpretations is possible its most interesting quality. This is what compels viewers to return for repeat viewings – it is a movie you cannot only watch once. And so, we cycle back to our discussion of audience interaction, in this case with the so-called “puzzle film.” A film which we must piece together for ourselves.