Little Star (My own idea)

Script outline. Themes: Racism vs Compassion.

The year is 2102 and 70 years have passed since the outer earth war between the humans and nomadic gaizan (working name). The gaizan have been marooned on Earth and forced to settle with the humans although tensions are still extremely high. This story follows Annie, a University student whom by chance meets a gaizan named Kallak in the library and helps him loan a book due to a xenophobic policy forbidding gaizan from taking out books. They continue to see each and what starts as friendship eventually blossoms into a full blown relationship.

Annie eventually gets a job and an apartment and the two start living together much to the chagrin of both their families and the neighbours. Eventually Annie becomes pregnant which worsens the xenophobic neighbors attitudes to them. Kallak is targeted by a Xenophobic street gang and fatally stabbed just as Annie gives birth to a boy and names him Keekin, which means little star in the gaizan language. Annie moves away to a small town in the country to raise her child away from the city. Annie and Keekin struggle to get along with the locals (both human and gaizan) although they are able to eventually make friends within the community.

When Keekin begins school he is viciously bullied by both the human and gaizan children. Keekin tries to make friends but can’t escape the harassment and eventually breaks and runs away during a heavy rainstorm. Annie goes looking for him with a search party comprised of both humans and gaizan, they eventually find him only to discover he has become very ill, Annie rushes her son to the hospital where he makes a full recovery.

(Bear in mind this is very much an abridged version of the story and I have plans for plenty of details to flesh it out)

Bowling for Columbine (Documentary)

Bowling for Columbine is documentary centered on gun crime in America and what the causes of it are. Moore visits the town of Littleton Colorado where the Columbine High school massacre took place and finds that it is close to the largest weapon making facility in the world. When Moore asked the Evan McCollum of Public Relations about why the boys committed the murders and mentions what was the difference between the employees of the facility and the gunmen. Moore also interviewed Marilyn Manson who was blamed by some because the boys who carried out the shootings listened to his music, Moore interestingly brought up the fact that on the day of the shooting America dropped bombs on another country and questioned why that wasn’t featured in the media.

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The film uses the Columbine High school massacre as a catalyst for analysis of American culture relating to weapons and youth violence and what the cause for it is. The documentary covers atrocities committed by the American government in other countries, and draws parallels between the actions of the youths and that of the military. The ethical battle over gun control is explored from many different angles including media coverage, interviews with members of the public who own fire arms like the NRA and Michigan Militia and people who lost loved ones in the massacre itself. Moore makes frequent use of juxtaposition between rival viewpoints and even uses entire montage of atrocities to contradict one person’s statement (http://www.michaelmoore.com/books-films/facts/bowling-columbine).

Michael Moore seemed to paint a picture that the media was quick to cover a story of a mass killing by a pair of students and yet refuses to cover a story about the actions of their own government and military abroad, to be honest it was a little unnerving.

References: https://seanmaguireblog.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/8c5f7-bowlingforcolumbine01.jpg

Citizen Kane (Pre 1960’s)

Citizen Kane is a film that according to many critics is the greatest film of all time. Orson Welles most certainly broke new ground with this land mark picture, with its narrative being told from several different points of view each giving a different version of the eponymous Kane as various points in his life. The film was also regarded as one of the first auteur films as it was presented as a film by Orson Welles highlighting the director as opposed to the studio that produced it, today that is common practice with likes of Steven Spielberg and Tim Burton to name but a few. (http://atyourlibrary.org/culture/great-movies-citizen-kane-most-influential-film-history)

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In my opinion the film was very unique for how the character Kane is presented to the audience within the film as the only scene that features him, not through the point of view of another character, is his death at the beginning of the film uttering the famous word “Rosebud”. From then his close friends, colleagues and former lover break him down from the ambitious young man, newspaper tycoon, would be politician, to his final years as a broken and empty man. This film was made in 1941 when Welles was merely 25 years old and yet Kane in my humble opinion is still a very much a relevant film with a timeless story that can apply to virtually any time period.

One thing I will always take away from Citizen Kane however is the fact that Orson Welles had complete creative control and many tried to destroy the film before it saw the light of day. The film showcased what can be achieved when a great mind is given freedom to work but also the unfortunate truth that those in power may to compromise that vision but they cannot understand it.

References: http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Film/Pix/pictures/2008/07/18/citizenkane460.jpg

The Dummy (Short Film)

The Dummy” is a 1982 student film picked up by HBO, TMC, and Showtime in the early days of cable TV. It received extensive play for almost ten years, more than any other short film. It was often used as a bumper for horror movies and suspense anthologies like “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” and inspired the “Child’s Play” (Chucky) films. It can viewed here on youtube.com (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4-8ocnmE0Ts).

I can say the film was very good at building tension and here is why, the film had dark lighting with ugly colours on the wall, which gives gothic look but in a modern setting (modern for 1982). It took place in an apartment complex, which could give the audience the perception that it could happen in everyday environment and therefore relatable, which would add to the horror element. It was a slow paced film, which builds up tension. It uses what sounds like synthesizer to create foreboding music for suspense and straight jump scares Its like the music is telling you what mood you should be in, This is another common convention of the horror genre like the Thing and A Nightmare on Elm Street.

The film uses fast paced editing and POV (Point of view) shots to heighten the mood of scenes, such as when the woman is in the shower we see a POV shot moving down the hall to the shower room which adds suspense because the audience doesn’t know what’s coming. There are many jump scares that rely on the fast editing, such as when the dummy appears all over the house and scares the women. It’s kind of ironic that I believe this short film did a better job at building a sense of suspense and tension than the film inspired, at least in my opinion.

Angel A (European Film)

Angel A tells the story of inept American scam artist who is in deep with the criminals of Paris; he has until midnight to pay off all his debts or they will kill him, He receives no help from the American embassy or the French police and he is left with no options. On the verge of suicide he meets a beautiful woman named Angela who helps turn his fortune around.

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This film is very fond of its wide angle visuals, showcasing the city of Paris and its many landmarks. Looking back on the film it feels very much like a guided tour of the city of love with the central characters as the unknowing tour guides. The characters are never still for too long as they move from place to place all the while the camera gets as many angles as it can to showcase the beauty of the city. I believe this shows a lot of attention to detail as its clear the director wanted to feature the city as major factor of the film’s cinematography. A lot of the shots are also framed to make the male lead Andre appear as small as possible, all of the characters in the film (including Angela who is an unusually tall woman) are taller than him, there are a lot scenes where he is in the foreground of wide angle mid shots making him appear small and the film has very few low angle shots except when events in the plot favour him.

The director made masterful use of the camera and I believe this film showcases how one can use the camera to affect the mood and atmosphere of scenes and how the audience can interoperate the characters, as I have done when writing this piece.

References: http://thoughtsontheatre.files.wordpress.com/2012/02/angel-a.jpg

 

Akira (East Asian)

In the world of animation there is a name that to many is synonymous with products from the land of the rising sun, that name is Akira.

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Adapted from the manga by Katsuhiro Otomo, Akira was many a westerners’ introduction to the anime genre. The film’s incredible visuals featured a mixture of dystopian cyberpunk, psychological dream sequences and body horror (especially in the film’s climax), all which were drawn by hand; entranced audiences all around the world and showed what could be accomplished in the medium of animation that would be literally impossible to do justice with live action and CGI. The imagery of Neo Tokyo with the shots of the tall neon skyscrapers to the disgusting underbelly and dirty back alleys were all drawn with meticulous attention to detail which I have rarely ever seen in any modern work of animation.

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It precisely the films visuals that defined a generation but it is also a tragedy that this masterpiece is shackled to the words cartoon which in my humble does this film a disservice. Cartoons by definition are a form of animation aimed specifically at children and because of this the majority of the mainstream audiences cannot take animation seriously as a mature form of entertainment (programs like the Simpsons and Family Guy do not change this view as they are comedies). Sometimes I look at programs like Game of Thrones and Breaking Bad and imagine what they could do with material if they animated it, would it still be as critically acclaimed or would audiences instantly dismiss it on the grounds that it was a “cartoon”.

Films like Akira have shown us animation can tell a very unique and mature story with incredible visuals  and I feel that there is an entire industry that we haven’t tapped into.

 

 

References: http://whatculture.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/akira1.jpg

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Avengers Assemble (Blockbuster)

Last summer bore witness to the release of one of biggest superhero team up films of all time; it hit the cinemas to near universal critical acclaim and grossing 1.511.8 billion dollars worldwide (http://boxofficemojo.com/alltime/world/) that film was Avengers Assemble. Such a success story however did not occur over night, in fact the series of films that Marvel produced preceding the Avengers set the stage for its inception.

In 2008 Marvel studios released Iron Man with the actor Robert Downey Jr spearheading what we now know today as Phase 1, the film was very successful at the Box office grossing $318 million domestically and $267 million internationally but it also hooked audiences everywhere with a stinger (an after credits sequence) in which Samuel L Jackson as Nick Fury mentions the Avengers Initiative. In an act of incredible foresight Marvel studios was planning to create a shared universe in which all their characters existed in order to make this superhero team up a reality.   Following Iron man and its sequel Iron man 2 other heroes soon made it the big screen, such as The Incredible Hulk (came out before Iron man 2), Thor, and Captain America; each introducing audiences to the core members of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. (http://www.studiosystemnews.com/behind-the-money-of-marvels-mighty-movies/)

However the preceding films did more than just introduce the heroes themselves they also introduced the various elements that tied all the events in the Avengers nicely together.

The Iron man films introduced Nick Fury and the organisation called SHIELD which brought all the heroes together.

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Thor introduced the film’s main antagonist Loki.

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Captain America gave us the Tesseract, the film’s major plot macguffin (plot device).

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In a sense the Avengers was the ultimate payoff for all of these plot threads, it was structured very much like an epic comic book crossover with several lead in stories.

References:  http://images.starpulse.com/Photos/Previews/IronMan2-051410-0012.jpg

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