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Zodiac

zo·di·ac/ˈzōdēˌak/

Noun: A belt of the heavens within about 8° either side of the ecliptic, including all apparent positions of the sun, moon, and planets, and divided by astrologers into twelve equal divisions or sign

Zodiac is also known as the 1960’s American murderer famous for sending messages to the government and their local newspaper about his murders written in codes (zodiacs). I already knew about this psycho killer before watching the movie. I saw him in the TV show, The Insider, where they told the story about Zodiac. So before watching the movie, I thought I already knew the ending.

When we were told that we were going to view Zodiac, I was actually excited to watch knowing that I already what would happen. I never found myself reading about the film but when I heard about it, I immediately thought this would obviously be about murder and mystery. So I thought this would be action-packed with blood and thrill. I was psyched at the beginning of the movie there the first murder scene occurred. A random boy and a girl were in a car when a man attacked them by using a gun and firing several shots. The man fired more shots to the girl which killed her. But in the boy’s case, he was able to get out of the car. As he sat, by the car, the man shot him again. Luckily, he managed to survive this attack and in the end of the movie, he will later be of great importance and help to the investigation. Talking about the first murder scene, I agree that it was a beautifully shot murder because the build up of it all was so unexpected. I also liked the way the camera’s position is place during the murder. You are given different perspectives of it. When the attack happened, there was a perspective from being a bit distant from the car looking from the outside then we creep in closer still looking from the outside but having a more magnified view of the scene. There are also perspectives of the murderer and the ones getting murdered as well.

Personally, my favorite parts of the film were the murder scenes and the parts where there was suspension and action. Zodiac is such a long movie that I did not really enjoy that much even if the actors were one of my favorite actors. I had expectations and I believe that this movie did not meet them. I think what contributed to that is the story isn’t really thrilling. Like discussed in class, it is a research movie all about finding who the killer is. It was a very long process and at one point I already found it dragging. I like how the characters were built and how they were so in depth already by the end of the movie. In the end, I thought they wouldn’t find the killer. But what the movie showed is that they had a suspect but they weren’t exactly sure.

I can’t really say much about this mainstream movie but then watching it will open your  mind and your heart.

 
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Posted by on 25 May 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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A Whiner with Primer

Watching two science fiction films in one class was bit of an intense experience for me. La Jeteé was already heavy in its own way but I loved how the movie was made. However, Primer gave a whole different experience for me; the feeling can’t even be described in words. All I know is (sorry for being too harsh) Primer is the worst movie I’ve ever seen in my life

It is just a movie that I cannot find myself being fond of. Maybe one of the reasons why this is so, is because I had high expectation for this movie. Being an AB Communications Major, I am not a fan of science fiction films mainly because I do not have mathematic nor scientific skills. Although, I like watching them because it’s cool to see new inventions and technological advancement ideally. I enjoyed La Jeteé because the style of the film was different also because there was a story within the “science-fiction” aspect. The main character was pretty much in depth and there was a climactic scene for the viewers to enjoy. And I can say the same for the other sci-fi films I have watched like the recent movie of Jake Gyllenhaal, Source Code (2011).

I guess there was a caveat that we might not enjoy the film because of the dialogue and word usage during the film but then I thought to myself “It can’t be that bad. It’s about time travel. What could possibly be bad about that?” And then we watched Primer. Oh my. I got scared. Not scared of the story of the movie but scared of the feeling that my perspective of science fiction films will change negatively. The start of was still fine. They were talking about building a gadget or device of some sort (I didn’t even know or feel it was a time machine) and then they started working but as soon as they were in the middle of their process, they lost me or I got lost. I was gone. My mind time travelled to a whole different universe that made me actually fall asleep in the middle of the movie. I feel bad about not being able to watch the entire thing but then at the same time it didn’t matter either way because I wouldn’t have gotten it. I didn’t like the movie for how the story was plotted in the film because it couldn’t appeal to a general audience. I mean, not a lot of people can relate to that movie aside from the scientists, mathematicians or those people who really love science. Like what we talked about in class, it was like a documentary, a documentary that I could not understand at all. There was a feeling of displacement. Yes. And in that feeling of displacement, I didn’t even want to go back to getting in the right direction because I was so frustrated. In addition, with a story like that, there weren’t even any special effects or some sort to make it likeable. It was too simple yet majorly complex for me. I wanted to understand it and enjoy it but somehow I just found it so bland and real slow. Ok, the slowness of it was the effect of the movie and I commend the makers for having a creative concept but it was too slow. And the ironic thing about it is that the movie was already slow and I still didn’t get it.

However, I don’t want to be too offensive about the movie. I guess the good thing about it is the extreme intelligence of the story and how it was designed.  I’m amazed at how they were able to come up with this idea and actually incorporate it in a movie. Moreover, I have to commend the actors for actually playing the characters well somehow. With the documentary like effect, it made it seem real for the viewers which is good in a way because some or even most people don’t like to get too caught up in too idealistic movies.

Maybe its good thing I know of a movie in this type of genre. I’m glad that I have been exposed to something new and different. But nonetheless, Primer is still not my cup of tea nor is it something I’d want to try to watch again.

 
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Posted by on 25 May 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Feel Good

An anthology film, also known as a portmanteau film, consists of several short stories packaged into one movie and Paris Je T’aime (Paris, I love you) is an example of that. The movie is a compilation of 18 short films with stories in the different areas of Paris directed by 22 directors.

Paris Je T’aime is set in Paris, the country of love. One would expect that this movie would all be about the romantic cheesy type of love but in fact, it captures all kinds of love. There were stories of men and women meeting for the first time and finding to be very fond of each other, stories of parent-child relationships, and stories of couples breaking up and making up; stories of the self, stories with happy ending, stories with happy never-afters and even stories with no endings. There was just so much love actualization and no matter how short the films were they were still very enjoyable. Some people prefer to watch one story and have closure but I liked how Paris Je T’aime didn’t need to have that closure. I believe that these short films were very straight to the point. They didn’t need to have background stories in order for the viewers to get the message.

Some of the stories that are in my top list actually talk about the many types of relationships and dealing with them. First, is about the story of the Muslim girl and the French boy finding an uncertain platonic-infatuation relationship despite their racial difference.  I like this movie because it was simple and somewhat secretive with the dialogue that you couldn’t really know what they were feeling. I like how the film broke the cultural barriers and was built a new foundation for love and friendship. Second, is about the engaged British couple visiting the famous cemetery in Paris with the woman very enthusiastic looking for Oscar Wilde’s tomb and the man, well he was apathetic just following where the woman was going. When they reach Oscar Wilde’s tomb, they get into an argument about how the man isn’t giving her any light in her life and then she walks out and when the man goes after her, he trips and bumps his head on the tomb of Oscar Wilde. As he’s down, he sees “the ghost of Oscar Wilde” telling him that without the woman he will die. The man, punched by realization, runs after the woman and apologizes. They kiss and make-up and then the man sees “the ghost of Oscar Wilde” again saluting him. Then the couple leave the cemetery hand in hand. I really enjoyed this one because of how you need to get bopped in the head sometimes to realize what you have and what you don’t. The story was nice because it seemed realistic. I loved the actors who played the roles because it seemed so fit and so real. The supernatural part of the film and which I think was oddly cool was when the ghost of Oscar Wilde appeared. It’s like a “speaking of the devil” type of thing. The couple was just talking about him and then poof! He’s there. I like the irony of it all; how Oscar Wilde was the fuel of their argument but then became the bridge to bring them back together. Third story is about a mother who can’t seem to let go of her son who passed away. In the beginning of the film, it showed how hard she was dealing with the death. She looked so depressed and so spaced out that even her husband couldn’t get through her. Then she hears her son’s voice, she follows the voice and ends up in the middle of the street. With not seeing her son, she breaks down in tears. To cut the story short, she hallucinates, “sees” her son and lets him go. This encounter, where the boy wanted to go with the cowboy, was a symbol of her letting go. When reality comes back, her husband meets her then she gives him a big hug. The husband asks her where she got all her strength and then she says she got it from God. I like how this film was the most dramatic out of all the films. I like how they combined the values of faith, hope and love into one frame.

I chose these three films to talk about because they were the ones that left a good mark after watching. The simplicity and practicality of how these films were made was what I liked. The pacing was perfect so they didn’t leave me thinking what happened before or what happened. They just left me thinking of what was happening at the moment and that was that. I liked how their ideas were out there making the start of my experience dramatically instantaneous.

There were some films that I also particularly didn’t appreciate just for the fact that they tried to be too artsy. Examples for that would be the encounter of the Asian and French beauticians. I found it too weird and annoying because I didn’t get the message. I found the story shallow and worse, it was described in an eccentric way in which I couldn’t understand. Nonetheless, the main reason why I like Paris Je T’aime in general is how it is the lightest movie we watched in class. This movie didn’t necessarily need thinking but more of understanding the elements of it. I like how there was a mix of languages because it felt like they were reaching out to a wider audience and it didn’t make me get tired of the French language.   I also like how they were able to incorporate several styles of filming with different storylines and fuse them into one picture. I think the single main setting, which is Paris, made it exceptionally easier for the viewers to be drawn into the movie. And aside from not having complex audiovisual effects, the stories were entertaining. The plot is a big factor that contributed to the film’s likeability and I’m glad that I was able to experience something so simply amazing.

This is a movie I’d definitely want to watch again and again just to feel good.

 
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Posted by on 25 May 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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2 Stories, 1 Blood

Francis Coppola has somewhat been able to create a Godfather II, a sequel to the first Godfather, in a more elaborative and heavier manner. In Godfather I, we can already conclude that Michael Corleone’s character transformed from someone who did not want to get in the business of his family to becoming the successor of his father, Vito Corleone. Godfather is watched by a lot of people, some liking it more and others the latter. They watch it because obviously it is a continuation and companion of Godfather I.

I watched this sequel for the first time the same way I watched Godfather I for the first time. The setting was still in my grandparents’ house watching with the same people and the same environment so I was never able to fully understand the movie until I watched it in class. Having watched The Godfather II for the second time made it so much more fun for me. While I was watching in class, there was a feeling of “I know what’s going to happen next… wait. I am not sure.” So somehow there was still an enjoyable experience of wanting to be the spoiler to my seatmates and anticipating the dramatic scenes that stood vague in my head.

The story of The Godfather II seems more elaborative because there was the story of Vito Corleone’s past (from his childhood to how he ended up being so powerful) juxtaposed to Michael Corleone’s present reign. Viewers watching this film right after Godfather I may wonder why they didn’t show the life of Vito Corleone first. But I believe that this was both a good thing and a bad thing. The transitions between the two lives, for me, were a good thing because it showed the differences of father and son. I felt that both of their characters seemed to grow but in very different ways. However, I do also believe that it can be a bad thing if people do not enjoy several characters in a movie. At some points, the element that caused confusion in my whole experience watching this movie was the increase of characters. There were characters from the first Godfather that were younger in The Godfather II so it was hard to recognize each one and plus, there were the characters of Michael Corleone’s time. Basically, there was a mix of both old and new characters that manages to confuse at some way but then directs you to understanding a lot more things in depth.

Revealing the lives of Vito Corleone’s past juxtaposed to Michael Corleone’s reign forced us viewers to compare the two. It focused on how both of them rise to special occasions. Vito Corleone had a more harsh life. Being a less fortunate orphan at a very early age and actually seeing his other family member getting killed, viewers would believe that Vito Corleone had so much angst and anger that could lead him to be a murderer, a crazy man. However, the life of trial and starting from scratch then making it to the top was a life Vito Corleone lived. I wouldn’t say exactly that he had a perfect life (he killed the “Don of their Town”) but from someone so soft-spoken to someone so wise and in power, made him seem very respectable. It was hard for me to hate Vito Corleone even if he killed people because in the movie this was not only seen. What was also highly exposed was his character being a father and a husband. The endearment aspect comes in where I felt that he negotiates with people and sometimes has them killed but with good intentions and for good reason like the time he killed the man who had his family killed. Watching his past and also comparing it to the first Godfather, I found that he valued his family more than anything which made it easier for me to love his character.

Michael Corleone, on the other hand, lived a different life. Born with the money and being able to go to college, we can say that he lived an easier life. The role of being the Godfather just landed on his hands than Vito Corleone really working hard for it. And I believe this is an aspect that contributed to the way he did things. Even if Michael seemed to live an easier life, he still seemed to be harsher and more brutal than his father. In the sequel, where it describes the life of Michael as the Godfather, I felt that his transformation from being a leader changed into being a tyrant. I didn’t like how his character changed so much from the way he was in the first Godfather; from someone so respectable to someone despicable. There was a big change in Michael’s character. And for me, I didn’t like it. Maybe one reason would be that although he did love his family, he never truly valued them as much. I believe that whole “being the successor to my dad” thing overpowered him and pressured him a lot to a point where he lost his wife and kids and where he had his brother, Fredo, killed just because he accidentally turned against the Corleones. However, I believe that a symbol of realization and regret was revealed in the last scene where he was just sitting by the lake in deep thought.

Personally, I like the two films of Francis Coppola. I think they were well directed, the characters were well casted and the stories of both were just awesome. I think I prefer though, Godfather I because it was less heavy than part two and I liked Michael’s character then. In the second Godfather, I seemed to have lost the appreciation just because I didn’t like his character’s growth, how he turned out to be. But putting that aside, I believe it was a very good idea that combined two stories in one film. Some feel that the exchange of the stories made it hard for them to follow each one. But in my case, I liked that element because the minimal fluidity of each story made the movie in general not dragging.

A lot of morals and values in the Godfather movies are mostly questioned but the stories still remain intriguing and impactful. Time-consuming stories like these are not always well executed but somehow Francis Coppola was able to break out of this stereotype and create two movies that outstandingly define the inside scope of a secret criminal organization, a life of a mafia.

I applaud Francis Coppola for sheer greatness.

 
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Posted by on 25 May 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Zero to Hero?

My experience with watching the Godfather I for the first time was great but not as great as when I watched it for the second time. The first time I watched the Godfather I completely, I was in my grandparents’ house with my family and relatives in the living room. It was a Sunday afternoon and it was one of those days where we just wanted to watch a movie. While watching of course, not everyone was super concentrated. I had aunts talking to each other and almost everyone including me, kind of focused on food. So I guess the setting for watching a three hour film was just not the perfect one for me to really understand what was going on. However, with the gist of it all, I really enjoyed it. I knew it was a great film. Watching it for the second time was a better experience for me. I was a bit forced to watch it and that was fine because this gave me a chance to truly understand a great epic movie.

After watching the Godfather I in class, I felt that I knew so much about mafias. The mise-en-scene of the movie really contributed to this whole feeling. The outfit designs, the fusion of the settings of Italy and America, the time of those settings, the language and accents, and especially the role of each character were major aspects of making me believe that it was all real. The story’s drama juxtaposing the action is such an emotional craze for the viewers. What draws them to watch is the story of Italian families in a never ending battle between morals and desires; the desire for revenge and the desire for power. How each character presents him/her is so vivid that you get lost in their world. In addition, the story itself speaks of big influences and strong connections that could either lead to your supremacy or downfall or even worse, death.

No matter how compound the story was and no matter how many characters were built I still managed to really focus on one character throughout the movie who is Michael Corleone, youngest son of the Godfather, Vito Corleone. Although the story of the film talked about the life of mafias and their doings, for me, it circled around Michael Corleone’s life. Watching it for the second time and hearing my brothers talking about the movie so much, I already learned that Michael Corleone was a very important character in the movie and that was proven when I watched it again. In the beginning where it was Connie’s (youngest among the four children) wedding and Michael arrives late wearing a military uniform, I had a gut feeling that he seemed to be the “black sheep” and “apple of the Corleones’ eye” all at the same time. Wearing the military uniform already marked him different from the others wearing suits and black bow ties. As the film goes on, we begin to see that the life of a mafia wasn’t something he wanted for himself. This explains joining the military, his American girlfriend, Kay and not joining in family meetings with his father, eldest brother, Santino and consigliere, Tom Hagen. Here, I felt that he was being a good rebel because he didn’t want to get involved in tight situations that involved negotiations and killings. He seemed so quiet and soft spoken that it made me feel as if he did not have the same power like his father. But there was a transformation. And here, I saw how “apples do not fall far from the tree” and how anything to do with your family can really change you. After the assassination of Vito Corleone, this is where Michael gets involved. This is where, for me, he figured how his family was so important to him. Surprisingly, he then starts acting like a mafia, planning the next move, joining family meetings, basically sort of taking over. Slowly here, I begin to see another side of Michael, a stronger side. And although morally he was entering the dark side, I kind of liked how he seemed so in control with his intelligence. Being advised by his father, I was expecting at that moment that he would be as respected as his father. And when his father died, Michael took over even if it was dangerous and complicated. From the beginning knowing that Michael was a bit different, I wanted to follow the growth of his character waiting for him to be like the rest. And meeting my expectations, from being the black sheep, he became the king of the jungle.

I don’t know what was in the Godfather I that made me love it so much for the second time. Understanding it more made my experience so much stronger. Even if it was shot in the 70’s, I’d say that everything about it was almost perfect. The morals though may be questioned but putting that aside it doesn’t really influence the viewers to be like them. After watching, viewers were able to truly look at what happens in the inside and into their personal lives. And although they do immoral things, there’s some good in them somehow. The film did not make me want to be like a mafia. It made me fond of them.

 
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Posted by on 21 May 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Confusing Solace

I was always fond of films with stories about schizophrenia or psychology in general. Human behavior is something that I enjoy observing because there are more than a million different ways of how people behave. Since I know people who have experienced schizophrenia, I am more drawn to watching films about it.

Spider, for me, is a typical yet ambiguous psychodrama film. During the whole film, it was focused on the protagonist, Mr. Denise “Spider” Cleg.  The typical quality to it was that you’d know that there was already something wrong with him. His actions were so awkward and unusual. In addition, his social skills were lost in his own mind. He, talking to himself in mumbles was sort of a giveaway that there was something wrong with this man. With this idea and watching films related to schizophrenia, I thought that he’d be a very dangerous man. I usually thought that films like this would focus on murders and such. But this is where the ambiguity comes in. Mr. Cleg in the beginning was not the usual schizophrenic man. He seemed gentle and harmless even if he didn’t really talk to anyone. This changed however in the climax of the film.

This movie like we talked about in class is all about memory. In this movie there was a fusion of present Spider and past Spider (when he was a little boy). In showing the past, I thought I’d find the answer to my question of how he became that way. I thought through the childhood memories I’d find the cause of his sickness. What was shown, however, was not the cause but actually evidence of emphasis on his schizophrenia. I liked the way the memories were presented in the film because there was no division or clear separation of the present and the past. While Mr. Cleg was going back to the events of past Spider, present Spider would be there as well. It was like he was a witness to his past. It was never explained why he was going back to those memories but I believe that that was going on inside his head. I think that as he grew up, this is what his entire mind was processing. The story of his parents, especially the mother and Yvonne was so hazy because there was certainly no closure if there really was an Yvonne. It was schematic how the three girls (his mother, Yvonne and Mrs. Wilkinson) tattooed in Mr. Cleg’s memory bank turned out to have the same face. I found it strange that there was this transformation. Viewers already first saw a glimpse of Yvonne’s real face and Mrs. Wilkinson’s. I think with this switch, it put emphasis that Mr. Cleg’s memories were all converging in confusion. With this confusion, I couldn’t make any conclusions. I couldn’t put the puzzle pieces together. I kind of saw it coming that he actually killed his mother when he was a kid. But then I still couldn’t finalize if there really was an Yvonne and the affair with the father. Knowing that Mr. Cleg was sick, I already couldn’t trust any of the events that were happening. Discussing in class that this film directed a subjective experience of schizophrenia, I kind of conclude that Mr. Cleg was just totally confused with everything. His mind was like a spider web he was making. There’d be straight lines of thread but there wasn’t an end nor was there a beginning. It was all over the place but for some odd reason, it kept him at peace. It made him feel safe and protected within those threads so he probably finds solace within his memories. Although these memories for the viewers were lost in confusion at some point, they pretty much served as direction for Mr. Cleg. And with being able to go back to his confusing memories, he was able to stop himself from killing Mrs. Wilkinson at the present. Moreover, he was sort of able to return to a “normal state” realizing that he killed his mother but for people outside his head, he became more unusual.

Spider is a heavy, pitiful and confusing movie to watch but in my experience, it was easy to watch. I liked it because the characters were easy to love. Although the setting was dull and there wasn’t much color, the story and characters were the colors. It may be long and tiring to watch, it still left an emotional impact on me.

 
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Posted by on 19 May 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Remember Remember

“Remember remember the 5th of November.” This haunting yet sacred line is what the movie revolves around on. This is the line that V poetically declares and what Evey dramatically whispers. In the beginning of the movie, we all wonder what this special date represents. As the movie progresses, we see terrorist attacks and revolutionary schemes by V. As Evey accidentally falls into his hands, he then eventually sees her as a tool for change. The setting of the movie seems to be systematically chaotic under the order of the prime minister of London. Obviously, there is some kind of Martial Law imposed on the people. However, some, or even most governments were never known to be pure. They were notorious for being corrupt and disloyal to countries. In this movie, we see how everyone is controlled by the prime minister. A perfect example of this would be how during government meetings, his face is seen on a gigantic screen above everyone else. There is a sense of authority impropriety (for me, at least). This movie strongly expresses problems in politics and the desire for change. V is that “hero” and eye opener to the people of London. Through his dreadful experiences in the past, he shows acts of vengeance in the present. In the movie, you find this is all you see in him. A man of cunning plots of vengeance, a man pushing for revolt, an angry man at that. However, he meets Evey and then you see their shady relationship, how she is treated, how he uses her. He becomes the man on a mission, the man with purpose.

In my experience watching this movie made me become less naive. My views on the government and war were somehow strengthened and changed at the same time. The effect on how V changed the people of London was the same effect on me. I believe it was because of how the character V was so powerful and convincing. His poetic language and charisma was so powerful that it actually made me “love” him even more. Even if he was wearing a Guy Fawkes Mask and never revealed his face, it didn’t change thing. It actually added to the mysterious quality and let me draw his face in my imagination. It was amazing how you could feel his emotion without seeing his facial expressions. This eccentric character grew on me like a vine. The eeriness of his character is what deepens the desire for him. I think in this movie there were many faces. With this I mean there were many qualities seen in each character. With vulnerability, there was strength. With fear, there was courage. With failure, there was redemption. With suffering, there was peace. With cruelty, there was forgiveness. A lot of these analogies were portrayed. This wasn’t a shallow movie to watch.

The effects in this movie were pretty mainstream excluding the final fighting scene of V with the guards. I have seen these effects before in a lot of action movies but it didn’t change my positive view on it. I agree that although the ideas of this movie were all out in the open, it was still very much manipulative. I’ve never experienced an indirect politically emphasized plot so in depth.

I believe that this is a movie of depth and manipulation in such a mainstream level which makes it easier to empathize with. There as growth in each character and the climax was right on. It was very delightful to watch for the second time and the effect still manages to remain constant.

Definitely a movie I’ll remember forever.

 
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Posted by on 18 May 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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