Monday, 6 November 2017

Creature from the Black Lagoon - Film review

fig.1 film poster

Released in 1954, ‘Creature from the Black Lagoon’ is an American 3D horror film. While the film has been rated as a B-movie, ‘Creature from the Black Lagoon’ has a cult following. It is now being considered a classic but has been well received upon its release. Directed by Jack Arnold, ‘Creature from the Black Lagoon’ attempts to pave way for a new monster in the film industry. The “Gill-man” manages to match the other major monsters, such as Dracula, in terms of atmosphere. Despite having relative success, the film still retains the inherent flaws of a B-movie.

The film has been recognised for being a B-movie for a number of qualities. This category of film has been regarded as low budget and typically inferior in quality when compared to contemporary cinema. B-movies have been typically used to fill a niche in the market. Low budget films can be produced and sold cheaply allowing them to be viewed by a larger majority of people. Typically these films follow a certain structure using stock characters alongside gimmicks to help sell the film. ‘Creature from the Black Lagoon’ is no exception. In this case the gimmick is the use of 3D effects, something that is still considered a gimmick to this day (even with the advances in technology).

Stock characters also make an appearance, the most obvious being the damsel, in the form of Kay Lawrence and the sensible hero, David Reed. Following the theme of obsession similar to that of Captain Ahab (Melville, 1851) is the fanatical Mark Williams. The character which once had great ambitions quickly turns to blind obsession, chasing the creature to his bitter end. As a result of this the story can be easily read. The damsel in distress will be unable to defend herself and held by the antagonist for the hero to save. There is little character development beyond the given stock personality. This means that the characters themselves are not the focus of the film but instead the interactions with the creature. The biggest focus of the film appears to be cinematography of the footage itself.

During early parts of the film the camera is carefully positioned to ensure the creature is never fully exposed early on. Instead this affair is drawn on creating far more tension, helping to create atmosphere. The monster of the film retains a certain quality of 1950s monster (a man dressed up as best as possible). However the costume designs remains impressive for the time holding the impression of a scaly, aquatic menace.  Helping the monster feel at home is the Florida Everglades, a location chosen for its surrounding. The wild atmosphere makes it a more appropriate home for the monster as it is able to blend in easily with the weeds and water lodged setting. The water has an important role in the film in terms of cinematography.

‘Creature from the Black Lagoon’ makes great uses of its underwater camera shots. Footage used is often clear enough to see the characters, motions and actions. Not only do they help to develop the story but also build tension as the characters have entered the Gill-man’s territory. The water helps to build on the concept that we are foreigners to the water. There is a darkness below that we are yet to explore leading to the secrets being hidden.

“The underwater sequences are particularly memorable, while the scene where Adams swims alone with the creature watching from below plays upon all our fears of what may lurk beneath the sea.”(Sellers, no date)

 The camera follows the creature as he stalks Kay Lawrence nearly stealing her away. This memorable shot has gone on to inspire iconic scenes from ‘Jaws’ (1975 Spielberg). Spielberg’s own camera also follows the shark from the depths as it stalks its victims. While the use of close ups during the underwater scenes are used it is still difficult to read the situation at hand or even the expressions of the characters. 

With the characters unable to express themselves properly underwater the film makes good use of dramatic music to make up for this limitation. However the consistent use of the loud orchestral music becomes apparent as it is used at the slightest hint of the creature quickly losing its impact on the audience. Never the less the score is easily remembered as it is played over and over again.    
In conclusion the ‘Creature from the Black Lagoon’ is a film that has a cult following and has gained success for its atmosphere. The film does well using its assets as a B-movie to help build a strong and tense atmosphere.  

Sellers, R. (no date) Creature from the Black Lagoon – review | cast and crew, movie star rating and where to watch film on TV and online. Available at: http://www.radiotimes.com/film/fqkdfw/creature-from-the-black-lagoon/ (Accessed: 6 November 2017).


Thursday, 26 October 2017

Post Modernism - "Funny Games"

Five reasons why "Funny Games" is an example of Post Modernism


Funny games poster

'Funny Games' is a film that falls into the thriller/horror category, directed by Michael Haneke, the film has been remade shot for shot for American audiences under the same name. The American remake has been both criticised and applauded by critics. This can be explained by Haneke's goals as he aimed to create a film that sends a message about violence in media, particularly that shown in horror/slasher films. 

1.(Breaks the 4th wall) One of the first moments that immediately stick out as odd in the film is when Paul, one of the film's antagonist turns to the screen as if he can see the audience, acknowledging their existence. An issue raised by this is that it immediately breaks the suspension of disbelief making the film difficult to perceive. 

2.(Breaks rules of physics) Another moment that breaks suspension of disbelief is when Paul uses a remote control to reverse time. This does not fit the genre of the film and once again breaks the story. It also seems strange that this feature has been put in the film as the rules set in the world appear to copy those of reality. 

3.(Irony) Paul comments "You shouldn't have done that Ann, you're not allowed to break the rules," which is ironic as Paul just before breached the rules of physics in order to win. This is reversed onto the protagonists who are unable to break the rules to their own benefit e.g. kill the antagonist. This can be taken as a statement on the true odds that are stacked up against the protagonists in slasher films. Not only this but peter, the other antagonist makes a number of comments on the traditional ways to draw suspense from cinema. 

4.(Appropriation) As mentioned before the film was remade shot for shot for American audiences. The reason being was to appropriate the film for a specific culture. The original film, being Austrian, did not adequately portray its message through English subtitles.  

5.(Frustrates audiences) Unlike a majority of films, 'Funny Games' does not aim to please the audience and instead refuses to give into tropes of its genre straying away from the conventional story lines. The protagonist does not succeed and the antagonist does not repent. Scenes of tension are drawn out testing the audience's patience.  

Definitions

Normativity: A phenomenon in which certain actions or behaviors become the accepted norm and is considered the correct or morally correct one.  

Binary opposition: A concept that consists of two complete opposites. Within this concept the two opposites that can be applied such as male and female are strictly the only choices. 

Deconstruction: A way of thinking in terms of philosophy that focuses on the most basic language in which meanings are derived from. Deconstruction involves taking such concepts and making questions out of even the most simple of matters. 

DiffĂ©rance: Coined by Jacques Derrida, this term is used with the concept of deconstruction. While not directly translatable to English it refers to the significance of the various number of meanings within a single one. 

Reinscribe: To rewrite a meaning or text with the purpose of having a stronger form or context. 

Cognitive dissonance: Where something can hold two or more meanings that are contradictory of each other.

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Artist Toolkit - Arnold shapes shader

With the introduction to Maya 2018 the new renderer, Arnold, was introduced to the class. The capacity of the new renderer was shown to be very capable of creating realistic depictions of various materials. These included metal, glass, plastic. The picture below is a test performed with a number of these materials with varied settings. 

Maya 2018 Arnold shapes test

Artist Toolkit - Maya, Moom animation, weight lifting

After creating the weight lifting Moom poses based upon a real life example additional frames were added to create a sense of anticipation and follow through. The frames were then used to create an animation.  

Artist Toolkit - Jet Pack Jones, Head Modelling: Part 1

Toolkit 2 tutorial with the final aim to bring a 2D character ,Jet Pack Jones, into the 3D world. The first part of the tutorial is to model and prepare the head from scratch using orthographic images.

2 - Rough blocking

3 - Rough blocking continued

4 - Mouth

5 - Eye

6 - Nose

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Post Modernism - "Moulin Rouge"

Five reasons why "Moulin Rouge" is an example of Post Modernism


1.(A play, in a play, in a film) "moulin Rouge" can be seen having multiple layers as the film openings with the curtains of a theatre. From this the film continues with the protagonist, Christian isolated in his room, typing up a story which becomes the main narrative for the film. Within this main narrative a play is being prepared creating a number of layers surrounding the concept of putting on a show.

2.(Intertextuality) Baz Luhremann's work makes use of songs from various times that do not belong to that period. Referencing them gives a more vibrant sense that viewers can understand and be familiar with.

3.(Appropriation) Alongside using a number of songs within the film such as "Diamond Dogs" by David Bowie and "Rhythm of the Night" by Diane Warren, "Moulion Rouge" appropriates such  songs to fit the situation and mood. Such an example is when "Smells like Teen Spirit" is used alongside the large, frantic and colourful dance scene. This contrasts the song where it is normally recognised for having a rather dark and low mood.

4.(Non-linear time line) Not following a conventional chronological time line the film opts for one that starts at the end giving a brief explanation and expectation for the film. From this the film slowly unravels itself explaining all the elements to the audience.

5.(Surreal elements) There are small moments within the film that have an odd sense of reality applied to them. Examples of this being when the Christian and Satine are dancing amongst the clouds or when large and out of scale handgun bounces off the Eiffel tower. This seems rather odd as the rules set in this universe appear to be similar to our own world. However these small moments cause doubt whether or not the story being told is truthful or a figment of imagination.


Definitions

The Canon:
A text or meaning that is generally considered to be the correct or superior one by critics and accepted as the main one.

DWEM: Standing for dead white European Male, DWEM are consider as the ones dominate in literature as the basis for such literate has been created by them.

Phallocentricism: A belief that surrounding the male point of view and the importance and dominance of males.

Eurocentrism: Interpreting the world using European standards, values and experiences forcing them onto other cultures.

Postcolonialism: A way of thought that has been influenced through the old way of ruling through colonial control.

Multiculturalism: Support and cooperation shared between a number of multiple ethnic groups in a society.

Feminism: The support of equal rights between females and males.

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Post Modernism - "Scream"

Five reasons why "Scream" is an example of Post Modernism



Directed by Wes Craven "scream" is a 1996 slasher that has been recognised as the film that revived the slasher genre, during an era where the cinema was bloated with generic slasher films. 

1.(Intertextuality) "Scream" is famously known for using other big slasher names during its run time. For example the film opens with a high school student being asked over the phone "Whats's your favourite scary movie?", during this conversation "Friday the 13th", is mentioned. 

2.(Irony) Another defining factor of "Scream" is that it makes use of irony making fun of the classic tropes seen within slashers before it. 

3.(Pastiche) The film borrows multiple scenes from various other horror films, being essentially a parody of the horror films before it. 

4.(Appropriation) "Scream" borrows from a series of paintings by Edvard Munch, appropriating them for the horror genre. It can be seen where the influence has come from as the once horrified painting becomes a gruesome face of the murderer, ghost face, paying homage. 

5.(behaviour of characters) In the film it can be said that the characters both killer and victim reject the typical attitude and behaviour towards their slasher scenario. Instead the killer is seen to be rather incompetent at times and those running away always put up a decent fight. 



Avant-garde: The avant-garde is the description used for those who aim to progress work respective to art, culture and society. This is done through using new, radical and different techniques.  

Nostalgia: A pleasant feeling that is provoked by memories of the past. This could be a result of 'rose tinted glasses' as those affected selectively remember the good parts of memories. 

Appropriation: Making something appropriate for the selected subject or culture. 

Pastiche: An imitation of an artists work that is seen as an imitation or homage paying respects to the work they are referencing. 

Parody: A parody is a work that aims to imitate and fun of an original piece of work.

Irony: The use of a statement that is contradictory in its meaning or any previous meanings and actions committed.

Ideology: An idea or concept that is used as a basis for how society should work. This can encompass economics, political theories, policies etc. 

Genre: A style of literature that helps to group various concepts.


Sherrie Levine

Born on the 17th April 1947, Sherrie Levine was an American photographer who has been known for taking work done by male artists and appropriating them with a new meaning. Levine completed her work using photography to capture already existing work an example being a photo of a wife during the depression. As the photo was then appropriated by a woman the work was then created with the viewpoint of a feminist rather than a man looking at the effects on a farmer's wife.

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Post Modernism - "Mulholland Drive"

Five reasons why"Mulholland Drive" is an example of Post Modernism

"Mulholland Drive"
is a 2001 film directed by David Lynch that provides a distorted and cryptic narrative of a failed movie actress in Loss Angeles. Regarded as one of Lynch's finest work, the story remains one of his more complex pieces consisting of both dark and surreal imagery. The film "Mulholland Drive" falls under several categories of post modernism. 


1.(Non-linear narrative) The first portion of "Mulholland Drive" is told through the warped mind of Diane, a depressed and failed actress. As a direct result of this the narrative received by the audience takes place in an alternative to reality. 

2.(Reflection on Hollywood) The film's story follows an actress who has just arrived in Los Angeles, hoping to climb up the ranks and one day reach greatness. This, perhaps now typical Hollywood story, has been reflected to the reality of Hollywood with dreams being crushed by the film industry. Those hoping to one day be famous being stuck at the bottom rather than reflecting main stream films of those who gain fame. 

3.(Unreliable narrator) The story is seen through the eyes of Diane meaning that the story is not told with clarity or objective truth but instead feelings of anger and depression. This leads to a interpretation that is used by Diane to escape from her reality. 

4.(Fragmented) The story itself does not have a single conceit story line. This means that the film does not follow a normal narrative but instead takes three different story lines and breaks them down. As a result the story is difficult to follow. 

5.(Realism) There are many scenes within the film that have very loose connections to the story as a whole, seeming incredibly abstract. One example of this is the performance put on by the Club Silencio where everything was regarded as an illusion. Another is the hallucination of an elderly couple that haunts Diane.  


Metanarrative: A grand narrative, theory or reasoning that can offer an explanation for a number of events and experiences. Examples of these include science, art and religion. 

Essentialism: The pure essence or reasoning for an object is referred to as essentialism and regards the importance or pure nature of such object. 

Utopian: An environment (mostly cities) that can provide the best for all its residents. Essential a perfect place where all are happy and benefit greatly as one unit. 

Axiomatic: Without question meaning that the proposed theory or concept does not require evidence as it proves itself. There is no reason to question such a concept.

Dystopian: The opposite of Utopian, describing an area that is unsuitable for living, where all suffer and cannot rise to that of a good living standard. There is no escape from such a terrible life as all are equal.

Scepticism: Doubtful of the information that has been provided. Creating questions and trying to poke holes in the concept or knowledge.

Relativism: A doctrine (a writing telling how to complete or follow and action under certain circumstances) that states there are no absolute truths. 

Pluralism: A principle that accepts the existence of one or more theories of explanation, more often done to suit specific situations and people. 

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Lord of the Rings - Film Review

fig.1

Directed by Peter Jackson 'The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring' is the first of a trilogy based on J. R. R. Tolkien's epic high fantasy novel. Loved by both fans and critics this first film takes the audience through the fictional land of Middle Earth. 'The Fellowship of the Ring', sets up the fantasy world and the impending doom of Middle Earth. T
he second fleshes out the individual characters, developing them and the third film resolves all the issues present. Peter Jackson's interpretation remains extremely faithful to Tolkien's book even with the limitations of translating the story into a visual media. Despite leaving out beloved characters such as Tom Bombadil. 

Regardless of the fact the resolve of the overall arc is held within the third film 'Return of The King', 'The Fellowship of the Ring' can still convey parts of the Hero's Journey. The concept of the hero's journey can be very well adapted to 'The Lord of the Rings' and in appropriate fashion as it has its roots from old myths, legends and story tales. Tolkien's books themselves have been written as such and appears as an old tale fitting in with this journey. 

1. Ordinary world: The main protagonist, Frodo, is living happily in the shire with little to no care. Food is lavish and enjoyed by the hobbits who have no need to defend themselves. 

2. The call to adventure: Gandalf initiates the adventure by calling upon Frodo for his help. It is requested by the wise old wizard to go out and deliver the ring to Rivendell so that it can be later destroyed. 

3. Refusal of the call: At first Frodo is unwilling to go on such a quest as the quest is too large for such a small hobbit. 

4. Supernatural aid: Along the way towards Rivendell Frodo is assisted by his old friend Sam Gamgee alongside Aragon and mysterious figure who appears cloaked in black.

5.Crossing the threshold: It is when Frodo reaches Rivendell that his real adventure begins. Frodo is given the choice to return to the shire, resuming his normal life but instead rises to the aid of those who would form the fellowship of the ring. 

6. Belly of the whale: When entering the mines of Moria the fellowship of the ring enter a more physical representation of a belly. Being forces down the dark depths of the tunnels the group encounter a large number of creatures who they must fight off.

7. The road of Trials: The group continue to counter various opponents including orks and the balrog that kills Gandalf.

8.The meeting with the goddess: Frodo upon reaching Rivendell is told the future by Galadriel.

9. Woman as temptress: In the case of Frodo he is tempted by the power of the ring and the ring itself tries to seduce Frodo into giving up the quest to destroy it.

10. Atonement with the father: While not directly applicable to Frodo, Aragon must go on and confront the legacy set by his ancestry foreshadowed as he examines the sword at Rivendell. 

11. Apotheosis: There are several points where characters gain a god-like power including when Frodo puts on the ring at the pub however Gandalf's power is shown as he fights the balrog. This displays the power and damage he can inflict, far more than a mortal man. 

12. The ultimate Boon: Frodo receives gifts from Bilbo among which are sting, a sword that glows when near orks and mithral chain mail.  

From this point on the hero's journey is more closely linked to the second and third film as they hold more resolve to the three films. 

13. Refusal of the return: Frodo unable to return to his normal life in the shire as he has seen to much strife and death opts to leave middle earth with the elves. 

14. The magic flight: During what appears to be the end of Sam and Frodo on top of mount Doom Gandalf and the eagles lift the two into the air towards safety. 

15. The crossing of the return threshold: Aragon launches a last ditch effort to attack and distract Sauron and destroy the ring. 

16. The master of two worlds: Frodo is able to come back to the shire for a brief while alongside the other hobbits living as he once did before, writing his book. 

17. The freedom to live: Aragon rules over the land of Gondor creating a era of peace in which those who live in middle earth can do so with little to worry about war.

While the films have been well received it has also been criticised for a lack of strong female protagonists from the start. Strong female characters such as Galadriel, the elf-queen are shown but have little role. As stated by critic Peter Bradshaw, "their roles are marginal - this movie is a men-only affair" (Bradshaw, 2001), this further highlights the issue. However the issue can be traced back to the source material of the books, Tolkien himself regarded the lack of strong female characters and has regretted such choices. 

Despite this, the film remains visually appealing with the use of lush landscapes and amazing CGI, "Jackson has used modern special effects to great purpose in several shots, especially one where a massive wall of water forms and reforms into the wraiths of charging stallions." (Ebert, 2001). The use of such well done CGI in amalgamation with the beauty of the natural landscapes helps to bring Tolkien's fantasy world to life often capturing the viewers gaze with its strong and romantic scenery. This was realised with the help of Alan Lee who helped with the concept art. Supported by the costume design fit for its elves, hobbits, orks, human, dwarfs etc. the world of middle earth feels right, solid and full with history.  

Moments of tension are broken with pockets of fast paced combat as the heroes of the story are constantly being chased down through the land. The scale and the opposing force are realised setting up the story for the next films. At this point the film ends with great damage done to the group of heroes leaving the audience uncertain of their future fate.

Overall Peter Jackson's work has led to a spectacular translation of the original books doing Tolkien's work justice. 
 

Bradshaw, P. (2001) The Lord of the Rings: the Fellowship of the Ring | Film | The Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/film/2001/dec/14/lordoftherings1 (Accessed: 2 October 2017).

Ebert, R. (2001) ‘Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring Movie Review (2001) | Roger Ebert’. Available at: http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/lord-of-the-rings-the-fellowship-of-the-ring-2001 (Accessed: 3 October 2017).

fig.1, the-lord-of-the-rings-fellowship-of-the-rings.jpg (1000×1561) (no date). Available at: https://wtfbabe.files.wordpress.com/2012/09/the-lord-of-the-rings-fellowship-of-the-rings.jpg (Accessed: 2 October 2017).




Monday, 2 October 2017

Post Modernism - Enlightenment Project

Enlightenment Project

The Enlightenment Project is a concept that has been ongoing since the 18th century being discussed by a number of philosophers and great thinkers. At the core of the project was the rejection of previous reasoning of life such as religion, creating a rational explanation for issues or problems faced by people.

This was an attempt to create a world in which understanding all relations and activities of humans could be possible. The pursuit of truth would give the framework for understanding society but lacks regard for factors such as religion or individual issues. With new thinkers came new advances in science. that people believed could resolve issues drawing connections between all people and problems.

In terms of modernity it follows the concept of moving onto a new age of thinking. The concept of modernity is the contemporary way of thinking that is fit for the modern man. Religion is replaced with science driving forward knowledge and pure devotion to function over form. As the essence of an object is within the purpose issues can be resolved by removing its appearance. This relates heavily to the project as modernity tries to draw connections to the most basic building blocks that connect to more complex issues.

Structuralism: Structuralism is the concept of understanding the relationship between an object and the overall part it plays. It is the attempt to understand the core relation between a object and a person. As a result the chair will be made to suit the persons need above all else rather than fitting it towards aesthetics.

Ahistorical: Is not affected by time or history and as such are above both, being relevant not matter how much time has passed.

Irreducible: Cannot be made any more simple or be reduced to a more basic component.

Objective: Devoting purely to the goal in which is not effected by any personally elements or factors.

Universal: Applicable to all people or groups. Is the one common factor that can be applied to all.

Definitive: Is the complete end or solution to a problem or situation requiring no future amendments.



Sunday, 1 October 2017

Post Modernism - "Inception"

Five reasons why "Inception" is an example of Post Modernism


1. (Non-linear story telling) "Inception's" is told through a non-linear narrative meaning that the story is not conveyed in the correct chronological order. This is seen in the very beginning of the film as confused viewers will see Cobs, the protagonist being dragged to from the beach near the end of the film. 

2. (Blurred sense of reality) During the events of the film the characters venture through the dream world which simulates a reality perceived by a select person. This results in an altered perception of reality in which the story is told through during each layer.

3. (Unreliable Narrator) The story is told through an unreliable narrator meaning that the story is not being told truthfully either through omitting parts of the story at a time or making false conclusions. The audience is left with only parts of the whole story as it progresses.

4. (Ambiguous ending) The ending of the film leaves the viewers uncertain whether or not the protagonist is left in a dream or not. Cobs leaves the spinner before it is able to finish spinning and so taunts the audience by not giving a straight forwards conclusion to the story. Instead the audience have to choose if Cobs is in a dream world or the real one. 

5. (Perception of time) "Inception" makes great use of the perception of time. As time passes mores slowly in the dream world in comparison to the real world. This is a major component to the film as it adds more layers and stretches the film as audiences have to keep up with each layer.


Friday, 29 September 2017

Artist Toolkit - Life Drawing (27/09/17)




Artist Toolkit - Maya, Moom Poses (28/09/17)

Once again we were tasked with posing Moom however this time Moom must replicate a more subtle acting pose. 

James Bond

Dunkirk

Kick Ass

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

The Walking Dead