”Child’s Pose” wins Best Film at the International Francophone Film Festival in Namur

Romanian film ”Child’s Pose” directed by Calin Peter Netzer and starring the great Luminita Gheorghiu, Florin Zamfirescu, Ilinca Goia amongst many other talented artists, won the most important prize at this year’s International Francophone Film Festival in Namur, Belgium.

Already awarded the Golden Bear at the 2013 Berlin International Film Festival, the film ”Child’s Pose” received yet again another important recognition for its contribution to the world of international cinema.

Critically acclaimed, The ”Child’s Pose” is a contemporary drama focusing on the relationship between a mother and her 32-year-old son. After the accidental killing of a boy in a car crash, the mother tries to prevent her son being charged for the death, and she refuses to accept that her son is a grown-up man.

On Indie Wire Patrick Gamble from Cinevue used B+ in rating the film and described it as: ”A suffocating and overbearing drama, Child’s Pose cuts to the bare bone of maternal love. Yet despite Netzer’s harsh and clinical approach, his gentle use of humour and the most sincerest of intentions create a deeply compassionate film about the emotionally crippling effects of loss – and an enlightening examination of contemporary Romanian society.”

Child's Pose

Protagonist Luminita Gheorghiu who plays the role of the mother has also proved an exceptional talent and skill in the ”Child’s Pose” for which she was awarded the Best Actress Prize both at Berlin’s International Film Festival and at the International Francophone Film Festival in Namur, Belgium. This is a distinction that only a handful of actors and actresses manage to achieve throughout their career and comes at a perfect timing for Gheorghiu who had spent decades working in the Romanian theater and cinema world.

Hollywood Reporter stated that ”Luminita Gheorghiu shines as a controlling mother who goes into overdrive when her adult son runs over a child.” Critics went on to say that ”More than anything else, it is Gheorghiu’s un-self-conscious, realistic character study of the emotional tyrant Cornelia that keeps the engine running on a compactly written drama.”

Also referring to the screenplay by Razvan Radulescu and director Calin Peter Netzer, The Hollywood Reporter considered it to be ”admirably handled, with wicked moments of humor balancing out a truly dramatic finale.”

Soon to be shown in Luxembourg, as part of the official competition line-up of the CinEast Central and Eastern European Film Festival, I am truly looking forward to watching yet another great production that comes to maintain and reconfirm the quality of the Romanian cinema produced in the most recent years. Besides that, Ilinca Goia who stars in the film will attend the official screening and will therefore be answering questions posed by the audience.

The ”Child’s Pose” has also been selected as the Romanian entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 86th Academy Awards.

Have you watched the film yet? Woudl you rate it or slate it?
Have you heard about the film before? Have you considered watching the ”Child’s Pose” before reading this little article?

The Romanian ‘‘New Wave’’ of filmakers and their vision

Soon after the fall of communism, a new generation of filmmakers has risen. Young, cinema passionate and eager to produce quality in spite of low-budgets, lack of support and low cinema interest in their country, Romanian directors found a way to prove their talent which finally paid off when more Romanian productions became critically acclaimed and received important awards at film festivals.

After 2001, the Romanian cinematography has seen an unpredicted explosion of films that were very well received by critics around the world. Eight years later, Mocan (2009) recalled that 17 movies had received international prizes or had been nominated in various festivals, fact which raised the first questions of whether or not critics should speak about a new Romanian wave in film. Today, scholars claim that the final answer regarding the authenticity and importance of the Romanian film was provided in 2007, when Cristian Mungiu produced a story about an illegal abortion in communist Romania that received the Palme d'Or award at the Cannes Film Festival. His movie “4 months, 3 weeks and 2 days” was awarded with 21 prizes and 16 other nominations which according to many theorists has finally put Romanian cinema on the international film’s map.

In 2007, film journalist and critic, Anthony Kaufman wrote in Indiewire a summarised description of the contemporary Romanian cinema:” The Romanian Revolution of 1989 ended decades of oppressive rule by Communist despot Nicolae Ceausescu, but it took another dozen years before Romanian filmmakers finally found their voice and vision. As anyone knows who follows the state of world cinema, the Romanians represent the newest national film movement to catch fire.”

According to Dimitri Kerkinos cited in ”Variety” the new breed of Romanian pictures has a very specific style: ‘‘Realism, very sparse, almost documentary-style editing and a great sense of suspense. They make films out of nothing, and they’re using a common language. What we can see here is a new school of filmmaking developing.’’ Although filmmakers don’t benefit from major financial support from the state, ‘‘there is so much talent, that these problems actually spark creativity.’’

Most contemporary directors focus in their films on the multidimensional aspects and facets of the former communist ‘‘reality’’ and, at times, are engaged in portraying the sort of ‘‘new life’’ experienced by people in the early years of post-communist Romania. The communist ideology seems to be treated with a sort of curiosity by western film critics and the media. However, beyond the fact that communism is a fairly unexplored subject, any depictions being welcomed for their documented value, one of the major reasons why Romanian film director had chosen to tackle such themes must be conferred by their personal experience and perspectives on society.


The new wave of filmmakers is strongly dedicated to depicting the Romanian communism because the past was once their own present. Cristian Mungiu, Corneliu Porumboiu, Radu Muntean, amongst others, were brought up facing oppression and censorship which heightened their ultimate ‘‘need’’ for presenting reality as it genuinely is. The films they created are surprisingly factual and intense for the audience as, most often, characters are based on real persons and former communist typologies.

The young generation of filmmakers has risen to give reality a strong voice. At the end of the day, who would have portrayed Romanian communism better than these critically acclaimed young directors who once witnessed it. They are indeed aware of holding an outstanding position as former spectators of communism and current storytellers of the era.

For Romanian critic, Andrei Gorzo, as suggested by Kaufman (2007) the new filmmakers are using the cinema as a tool to investigate reality with documentary-like specificity and moral depth. Referencing Porumboiu’s ‘‘ 12:08, East of Bucharest’’ Mungiu’s ‘‘4 months, 3 weeks and 2 days’’ and Cristi Puiu’s ”The Death of Mr. Lazarescu” Gorzo has argued that ‘‘this belief- this sense of duty towards reality- comes through with a special, startling, clarity and fervor in the work of Puiu and in the more recent films.’’


In order to understand the value and the liberal views of the contemporary Romanian cinema, it is important to look at how films were constructed in the communist era and to acknowledge that film productions were purely based on a ‘‘staged idea’’ giving the audience a false representation of reality. As Gonzo (cited in Kaufman 2007) pointed out ‘‘ for years, everything in Romanian films- except the clothes that people were wearing and the buildings they walked past- was fake.’’

Filmmakers also based their advocacy for truth and reality on political grounds which explain ‘‘the obsession for reality and sincerity towards the story told.’’ (Gorzo cited in Kaufman 2007)
As a film critic, Andrei Gorzo believes that the new generation of film directors is defined by a strong motivation to elicit propaganda. ‘‘If young Romanians have anything in common […] that is the desire not to do films like the passed generation did, when the cinema was one of the most important ways of propaganda.’’

When it comes to the discourse and narrative of these productions, Andreescu (2011) has argued that Romanian films present a structure of fantasy that brings forward a constant theme of suffering, inflicted by a source of authority with the power to constrain the agency of the hero and produce pain. ‘‘The hero in Romanian cinema seems at the mercy of an all potent and controlling power, and is generally presented as a victim.’’ (p.78)
In the communist era, ordinary people could easily identify themselves as victims, being oppressed by a system that was continuously scrutinising individuals. In 1989, when Ceausescu was executed and, consequently, 44 years of communism were brought to an end in the country, Andreescu (2011 p. 87) explained that Romanian people experienced a social and cultural trauma. Because the communist ideology greatly shaped social identities, its sudden collapse led to the invalidation and the dismissal of these identities, an action that proved to be traumatic for the society. People were confused by the new regime after having lived their entire lives under Ceausescu’s rule. The theme is also being successfully explored by the new generation of directors who do not cease to amaze both critics and audiences.

Films like ”Boogie”(2008) directed by Radu Muntean, ”Liviu’s Dream”(2004) directed by Corneliu Porumboiu, ”Stuff and Dough”(2001) directed by Cristi Puiu, ”The Death of Mr. Lazarescu”(2005) directed by Cristi Puiu, ”4 Months 3 Weeks And 2 Days” (2007) directed by Cristian Mungiu, and ”The Way I Spent the End of The World ”(2006) directed by Catalin Mitulescu, all have the power of revealing the hidden aspects of life that are usually masked under a sense of normality.

Kaceanov (2008) claimed that a new generation of Romanian directors produced an impressive body of films that have consistently landed at the top of international critics’ polls and in the coveted top tier of international film festivals. ‘‘Some critics and ”cinephiles” call it a “New Wave” others dispute the title, but everyone agrees that recent Romanian filmmaking is now perceived as a hotbed of fresh, expressive, and pertinent cinematic renewal.’’

According to Kaceanov (2008) these filmmakers create memorably ‘‘idiosyncratic characters and incidents’’ while following specific events as they unfold, usually disastrously and often comically. Social issues raised by this approach to storytelling are sharp and challenging. These directors have a common and recognizable style: long takes, hyper-naturalism and hand-held camera. Tragedy, irony, and satire are their moral and aesthetic arsenal.


The Romanian ‘‘New Wave’’ represents a valuable example of how counter cinema can produce exceptional films despite low-budgets, poor cinema infrastructure and promotion, as well as limited support from the government. The Romanian film is not designed to act as a form of escapism, but rather as a reminder of what it takes to be trapped in reality. Films may include graphic scenes describing violence, swearing, shocking close-ups such as in ‘‘4 months, 3 weeks and 2 days’’ directed by Cristian Mungiu. In this context, it is also worth noting that even those productions that generate laughter amongst the general public like ‘‘12:08 East of Bucharest’’, they still manage to criticise and reflect on important issues through the use of satire.


Through its discourse and narrative, the contemporary Romanian cinema draws attention to numerous ideological features of the former communist era. As Turner (1999 p. 171) suggested, it is impossible to stand outside ideology and talk about it in a language which is itself free of ideology, which is why none of the Romanian directors referenced throughout this paper can be accused of claiming to be completely objective. They should be rather seen as visual storytellers of their own communist experience, which does ultimately require one to have an understanding of how communist societies used to be constructed.

Whether or not one can describe it as a ”New Wave” in cinema, the current generation of Romanian filmmakers has proved exceptional talent and a great ability to turn their ”unfortunate”communist past into an compelling visual experience for ”cinephiles”.

REFERENCES:

ANDREESCU, F., 2011. The changing face of the Other in Romanian films. Nationalities Papers: The Journal of Nationalism and Ethnicity, 39(1), pp. 77-94.

CVIKOVA, L., 2009. Romanian New Wave. [online]. Rotterdam: Rotterdam International Film Festival. Available from: http://www.filmfestivalrotterdam.com/professionals/blogs/ludmila_cvikova/romanian-new-wave/ [Accessed 23 April 2012].

HOFMAN, K., 2007. Romanian cinema on the rise. [online]. Los Angeles: Variety. Available from: http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117967521?refCatId=13 [Accessed 21 April 2012].

KACEANOV, M., 2008. On the New Romanian Cinema. A Danish Journal of Film Studies, 25, pp. 80-92.

LEFT FIELD CINEMA, 2009. Analysis: The Romanian New Wave. [online]. Left Field Cinema. Available from: http://www.leftfieldcinema.com/analysis-the-romanian-new-wave [Accessed 23 April 2012].

LIVEZEANU, I. 2005. Romanian Cinema on the Edge. [online]. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Film Studies. Available from: http://www.filmstudies.pitt.edu/romanianfilmseries/index.html [Accessed 21 April 2012].

MOCAN, E., 2009. Approaches of the 1989 Romanian Revolution in terms of the new wave cinema. Integrating Methodologies in Visual Culture Research, 1, pp. 67-83.

TELAROLI, G., 2008. The Best in Current World Cinema: Romanian New Wave. [online]. Beverly Hills: Take Part. Available from: http://www.takepart.com/article/2008/01/25/best-current-world-cinema-romanian-new-wave [Accessed 22 April 2012].

TURNER, G., 1999. Film as social practice. 3rd ed. London: Routledge.

Coursework 5- Review ‘Midnight in Paris’ by Woody Allen

‘Midnight in Paris’ is a romantic fantasy created by the one and only Woody Allen. Starring Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, Marion Cotillard, Adrien Brody and French First Lady,Carla Bruni, the plot reveals an American family visiting Paris. From the outset, Allen creates a world of contrasts; Gill is a day-dreamer Hollywood screenwriter struggling to finish off his first novel as opposed to Inez, a rich superficial girlfriend and her snob parents. Their perspectives on life seem to differ too. Gill wants to thoroughly discover Paris, mostly in the rain, going to old book-shops and looking for symbols of a long-gone Paris, while Inez and her posh parents go shopping, dine in expensive restaurants and purchase fine furniture.

‘You’re in love with a fantasy.’ The contrast of these 2 characters is perfectly reflected by the scene when Inez warns Gil of loving something unreal.

Owen Wilson takes the proxy-Woody role as a writer idolising the old-days, the bohemian Paris of 1920s. Showcasing an unexpected twisted character, Wilson plays it perfectly, offering a bemused, enthusiastic and at times naïve, charismatic man.

Expectedly, Marion Cotillard plays Adriana, the Parisian woman, a romanticised combination of the ‘femme fatale’ and ‘femme chic’ whose beauty attracts Gil instantly. Kathy Bates makes a great character as well, portraying a perfect Gertrude Stein who reads Gil’s novel and encourages him to carry on writing. Corey Stoll creates a genuine Hemingway who accompanies Gill in his literary pursuit.

The storyline begins in a tense, shallow present; however, one night while strolling alone in the city, Gil is approached by an antique vehicle whose occupants urge him to join them for a party. From now on, nothing will be the same. Gill accepts and so starts travelling back in time where he meets F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, and Cole Porter, Picasso, Salvador Dali and other prolific personalities of the 1920s’ lost generation.


Over the next few nights, Gil finds all sorts of excuses to go for a walk and so return to his fantasy world. He spends more and more time with Adriana, who despite being Picasso’s mistress, is portrayed through pure beauty and charm. They walk together on the streets of Paris before being transported to the Belle Époque, where the two meet Paul Gauguin and Edgar Degas. When Gil realizes that it is best to return to the present, Adriana chooses to remain in the Golden Age, so the two must take apart.
In the meantime, Gil is consulted by Hemingway and Stein on his novel, several scenes referencing strong ideologies of those who would become widely acclaimed over the years. Gertrude Stein is also the one who encourages Gil to see the reality as it is in his relationship with Inez.

‘Midnight in Paris’ is Woody Allen’s tribute to the early 20th century art and literature.
The film is full of the director’s love for Paris, its history and culture. From the very beginning, the city of Paris is gradually revealed by day and by night, placing the story in an already mystical set.
Also noteworthy are the framings, the pacing of the shots; the cutting in some scenes and the dissolves in others. Woody Allen proves to have put a lot of care and thought into his visuals. The film, a mere 94 minutes, has a real flow, reflecting the work of a director who was fully engaged by his material.


Let’s do it, let’s fall in love.’ The sound track of ‘Midnight in Paris’ is as exceptional as the script. You’ll hear the voice of Sidney Bechet, Conal Fowkes and other classic songs of the 1920s which fit perfectly the extravagant sets of Gil’s fantasies.
The film depicts a bohemian in love with femininity, with the idea of angelic women.
Everything is beautiful about this movie; the music, the costumes; the parties are exceptional, creating a romantic, yet exotic atmosphere, ready to be indulged by the public throughout the 94 minutes that it lasts.

‘Midnight in Paris’ premiered at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival and was received with widespread critical acclaim. In 2012, alongside an important number of worldwide nominations, Woody Allen’s film won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay and the Golden Globe for Best Screenplay.

This is all you need to you hear before watching ‘Midnight in Paris. And when you do, be prepared to feel nostalgic, romantic and in love.


REFERENCES:

BRADSHAW, P., 2011. Midnight in Paris – review. [online]. London: The Guardian. Available from: http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2011/oct/06/midnight-in-paris-film-review [Accessed 12 April 2012].

EBERT, R., 2011. Midnight in Paris. [online]. Chicago: Roger Ebert. Available from: http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20110524/REVIEWS/110529987 [Accessed 12 April 2012].

KENNY, G., 2011. ‘Midnight in Paris’: A Woody Miracle. [online]. Redmond, WA: MSN Entertainment. Available from: http://movies.msn.com/movies/movie-critic-reviews/midnight-in-paris/ [Accessed 11 April 2012].

ROBEY, T., 2011. Midnight in Paris, review. [online]. London: The Telegraph. Available from: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/film/filmreviews/8811882/Midnight-in-Paris-review.html [Accessed 12 April 2012].

TONGUETTE, P., 2011. Midnight in Paris, and its antecedents. [online]. Mountain View, CA: eblogger. Available from: http://petertonguette.blogspot.co.uk/2011/06/midnight-in-paris-and-its-antecedents.html [Accessed 12 April 2012].

Coursework 4- implicit and explicit ideologies in film

One way to ‘read’ and analyse films is to situate them into their historical and cultural context, to see how they fit into specific genres and promote certain ideological positions.

Within the Marxian tradition, Marx and Engels initially characterized ideology as the ideas of the ruling class. Alternatively, Althusser (cited in Comolli and Narboni 1969 p. 815) defined ideologies as ‘perceived-accepted-suffered cultural objects which work fundamentally on people by a process they do not understand.’
Comolli and Narboni (1969) argue that because every film is part of the economic system, it is also part of the ideological system ‘for cinema and art are branches of ideology.’ (p. 814)

Every film is political in as much as it is determined by the ideology which produces it. It is argued that cinema ‘reproduces’ reality, however the tools and techniques of filmmaking are part of a ‘reality’ themselves, a reality which is nothing but ‘an expression of the prevailing ideology.’ (Comolli and Narboni 1969 p. 815)

From the early stages of a film’s production, the subject it explores, the style and form it takes,the meanings and narrative traditions it adopts, they all underline the general ideological discourse. ‘The film is ideology presenting itself to itself, talking to itself, learning about itself.’ (Comolli and Narboni 1969 p. 815)


‘Law Abiding Citizen’
(2009) is a film which both critiques and supports the dominant ideology. The storyline reveals a clear argument: individuals against the system, more specifically an average family guy versus the US legal system and its hierarchy.

Throughout the film, Clyde Shelton fights for justice and hence confronts his ‘enemies’, represented firstly by his family’s murderers, and then by district attorney Nick Rice and everyone else standing for the law. Although, Shelton manages to get his revenge, by killing the murderers of his wife and daughter, and also teaches a lesson to the corrupt court ruling his case through killing an attorney, a judge and other officials, in the end, he can’t escape the system.
The message transmitted by the film is that even if you are a former CIA officer, betrayed by the state, you can’t fight your fate; you can’t overrule the law. The dominant ideology takes over no matter what. Ideology is not only explicitly expressed in ‘Law Abiding Citizen’ but the film also invites spectators to self-reflect. The audience is being invited to explore the fate of a rebellious, and the consequences of an aggressive anti-state behaviour. In the end, the American state is above everything, powerful and invincible.


As a film that only expresses ideology implicitly,‘The Big Year’ (2011) seems to focus on how three men pursue the Birder of the Year title. In this case ideology is reflected through the film’s form. Although initially, the plot follows an easy-going storyline, presenting at times fairly dull characters, the symbols that these men stand for are expressing ideological constructs. All three characters feel dissatisfied, unhappy with their lives, they are misunderstood by other people. After a fierce competition, despite getting to live their dreams, the three bird enthusiasts come to realize that winning the contest involves sacrifices and loss. The winner of the title lost his wife, being condemned to live alone,whereas the other two men who lost the contest benefit from the support and love of their family.

‘The Big Year’ discusses how one’s life becomes a social stereotype, where you can not have it all, you can either be successful but single, or you can focus on fulfilling your personal life but you would have to neglect your profession. The film subscribes to the dominant ideology.

Both the production and reception of a film are framed by ideological interests. No matter how insistently this might be denied, Turner (1999 p. 171) concluded that it is impossible to stand outside ideology and talk about it in a language that is itself free of ideology.

REFERENCES:

COMOLLI, J.L. and Narboni, J., 1969. Cinema/Ideology/Criticism in BRAUDY, L. and COHEN, M., 2004. Film Theory and criticism. 6th ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

DE FEDERICIS, G., 2011. Movie Review: The Big Year – Birdwatching Gone. [online]. Blogcritics video. Available from: http://blogcritics.org/video/article/movie-review-the-big-year-birdwatching/#ixzz1rmWBqxdi. Accessed 10 April 2012].

DUJSIK, M., 2009. Law Abiding Citizen. [online]. IMDb. Available from: http://www.markreviewsmovies.com/reviews/L/lawabidingcitizen.htm. [Accessed 11 April 2012].

IMDb, 2012. The Big Year. [online]. IMDb. Available from: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1053810/. [Accessed 10 April 2012].

IMDb, 2012. Law Abiding Citizen. [online]. IMDb. Available from: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1197624/. [Accessed 11 April 2012].

KELLNER, D., 1991. Film, Politics, and Ideology: Reflections on Hollywood. Film in the Age of Reagan. The Velvet Light Trap Archives, pp.1-24.

TURNER, G., 1999. Film as social practice. 3rd ed. London: Routledge.

The GOPO Movie Awards

On the 26th of March 2012, the Romanian Film Promotion Association organised the 6th edition of the GOPO Movie Awards.
Designed as the Romanian version of the US Academy Awards, The GOPOs reward the best contemporary filmakers and pay a tribute to national film industry legends.

Established in 2007 and named after the Romanian film director Ion Popescu Gopo, the event gathers every year the most important and prolific names in the national film industry.

Directors, actors and other celebrities have attended this year’s event hoping not only to receive the GOPO trophy but to also benefit from extensive media and industry recognition.

The GOPO Awards honour the best Romanian cinematic achievements of the previous year, as well as the best European film distributed in Romania in the previous year.

And now the main winners are…

BEST FEATURE FILM: ‘Aurora’
BEST DIRECTOR: Cristi Puiu for ‘Aurora’


BEST ACTOR in a leading role: Bogdan Dumitrache for playing Alex in ‘Best Intentions’
BEST ACTRESS in a leading role: Ana Ularu for playing Matilda in ‘Outbound’
BEST ACTOR in a sopporting role: Adrian Titieni for playing Dr. Crisan in ‘Best Intentions’
BEST ACTRESS in a supporting role: Ioana Flora for playing Lavinia in ‘Outbound’

BEST SCREEBPLAY: Cristi Puiu ‘Aurora’
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY: Marius Panduru ‘Outbound’

And last, but not least, THE BEST EUROPEAN FILM distributed in Romanian theatres in 2011 was ‘MELANCHOLIA’, directed by Lars von Trier.

Coursework 3: Dominant versus Counter Cinema

The vast majority of Hollywood film productions are considered to be mainstream for a number of reasons: they are produced on high budgets and will always target mass audiences; the cast will include well-known actors and film stars who generate publicity; they will guarantee a staggering commercial success and consequently produce millions of dollars in revenue.
The ‘Dominant cinema’ relies on a clear production system: a well-defined genre, at least a film star as part of the cast and the mass production of the film, producers and Hollywood studious seeking to fully exponentialize their material investment.


Just go with it’ (2011) is a classic example of the ‘Made in Hollywood’ film. Firstly, the plot is constructed in an easy-to-follow manner: A plastic surgeon (Danny Maccabee) who is romancing a much younger schoolteacher, enlists his assistant (Katherine) to pretend to be his soon to be ex-wife, in order to cover up a careless lie. Created as a pure ‘comedy’ the film fits a clear genre and furthermore, the protagonists are played by famous actors such as Jennifer Aniston and Adam Sandler.

Produced by Columbia Pictures and Happy Madison Productions on an estimated budget of $ 80.000.000, after almost 4 months ‘Just go with it’ had generated over $103,000,000 in the United States only.
Production-wise, the film didn’t put forward an outstanding mise-en-scene or editing, displaying fairly dull filmmaking techniques. The film was undoubtedly created for a global audience, trying to reach the masses of comedy lovers all around the world, with a focus on quantity rather than the quality of its content.

As a response to ‘mainstream’ filmmaking and its seven deadly sins, counter cinema can be praised for providing the seven opposing cardinal virtues. (Wollen 2002 p.74)
If mainstream filmmaking involves narrative transitivity, identification, transparency, single diegesis, closure, pleasure and fiction, counter cinema implies narrative intransitivity, estrangement, foregounding, multiple diegesis, aperture, un-pleasure and reality.


‘Never let me go’ is a 2010 British film based on Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel. Exploring the story of 3 young people, whose lives were created in a laboratory to supply severely ill patients with healthy organs, the plot reveals a disturbing depiction of human imprisonment and an unusual love triangle. Starring Carey Mulligan, Keira Knightley and Andrew Garfield, the narrative presents the childhood and adolescence of three friends who are unaware of their mission. The film treats an unpleasant theme and reflects to an extent the notion of ‘reality’, which makes the audience self-reflect and question the meaning of life.

Multiple diegesis: the story is depicted through short episodes that switch from ‘present’ to ‘past’ on a number of occasions; the narrative is not continuous because two worlds are created simultaneously: one created by others and one that protagonists want for themselves, fighting against rules and constraints. Flashbacks, changes of settings, an overlap of genres and messages, ‘Never let me go’ has them all. The movie could equally be a drama, a sci-fi and an alternate fiction.

The ending doesn’t provide happiness or triumph, but rather frustration and defeat. Protagonists can’t fight their fate, not even through love which is stereotypically invincible in mainstream cinema. Bradshaw (2010) argues that ‘Never let me go’ is ‘a muted story of submission to authority.’

References:

BRADSHAW, P., 2010. Never Let Me Go: review. [online]. London: The Guardian. Available from: http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2010/oct/13/never-let-me-go-review [Accessed 7 March 2012].

SIMON, C., 2009. Dominant versus Counter cinema. [online]. WordPress. Available from: http://filmtheoryandcriticism.wordpress.com/research-topics-source-materials/new-wave/dominant-vs-counter-cinema/ [Accessed 6 March].

IMDb, 2012. Just go with it. [online]. IMDb. Available from: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1564367/ . [Accessed 7 March 2012].

IMDb, 2012. Never let me go. [online]. IMDb. Available from: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1334260/ [Accessed 7 March 2012].

WOLLEN, P., 1972. Goddard and counter cinema, in The European Cinema Reader, 2002. London: Routledge.

Coursework 2- What makes a filmmaker an Auteur?

The auteurship theory praises the director for being the personal creative and artistic vision behind a film. Etherington-Wright and Doughty (2011 p 3) also explain that an auteur’s films shall be regarded collectively ‘as a body of work sharing common themes or techniques’ which express a particular style and perspective.

Martin Scorsese is one of the greatest directors ever, whose work including 46 films, can extensively prove and commemorate his ‘auteurhip’. With a career now spanning 60 years, BAFTA Film Awards named Scorsese as one of the most influential filmmakers in cinema history.

The son of Sicilian immigrants, Scorsese started his life with aspirations of being a Catholic priest (that never materialised) but which would later have an essential influence on his films. He uses religious undertones and motifs throughout his work, such as the Christ-like poses that Frank Costello in ‘The Departed’ (2006) and La Motta in 'Raging Bull’ (1980) emulate upon their ultimate defeat and the obvious symbolism of ‘The Last Temptation of Christ’ (1988).

Martin Scorsese is a great example of an auteur. We see the same thematic consistencies throughout his work. Catholicism, redemption and the virgin/whore conflict, guns, cars, water and flames, Italian-American neighbourhoods, these appear in most of his films. When it comes to the cast, Scorsese proves to be loyal to a small number of actors; Robert De Niro appeared in 8 of his films; Harvey Keitel in 5 and more recently Leonardo DiCaprio has become his muse.

Throughout Scorsese’s films, there is a huge emphasis on his main characters and their psychological perspectives.
For example, Travis Bickle (De Niro in 'Taxi Driver' ) suffers from severe loneliness and depression. In ‘Raging Bull’, boxer Jake La Motta (also played by De Niro) has a serious temper problem. Thirdly, 'Mean Streets' (1973) is the story of conflicted New York hooligan Charlie (Harvey Keitel) and his Catholic guilt as a sinner doomed for Hell.

1970s-1980s New York City, reflected by dirt, scum and crime, is used by Scorsese in many of his films and it is believed (Kyser 2009) to serve as a microcosm for the hell in which many of his antiheroes find themselves spiritually.

Used as a visual detention for the hustlers and hoods of ‘Mean Streets’, New York City is even more important in the narrative of ‘Taxi Driver’ (1976), where mentally unstable Vietnam veteran Travis Bickle becomes obsessed with the idea of saving angelic women from the evil scum of the city.
By the time ‘Taxi Driver’ was produced, Scorsese was becoming more highly accomplished in his technical skills and experience. Several of his touches are also included in the film, by using jump cuts, expressionist cuts, slow motion shots, and its ‘regular’ location.

In “Raging Bull,” the boxing scenes are not simply action sequences; they are used to develop La Motta’s character.
Scorsese also placed the camera inside the boxing ring to give us the feeling that we are inside the action.

The water that we see frequently in these films is thought to represent cleansing. Charlie, Travis, and Jake are often looking into mirrors; this indicates to the viewer that there is a sort of internal conflict in each of these characters. Scorsese also uses slow motion in all three movies to emphasize the emotions of his characters.

Martin Scorsese has become known as the master of crime and mob movies. He has perfected the art of blending controversial violence into effective storytelling and has proved that ‘one camera angle could transform a world and a jump edit could shake up an emotion.’ (La Rocca 2012)


Taxi Driver (right)
Raging Bull (left)

References:

Etherington-Wright, C. and Doughty, R., 2011. Understanding Film Theory. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan

Kyser, 2009. The Auteur: Martin Scorsese. [online]. Eblogger. Available from: http://jackkyser.blogspot.com/2009/08/auteur-martin-scorsese.html [Accessed 6 March].

La Marca, 2012. Three Filmmakers and the Auteur Theory. [online]. Casey La Marca. Available from: http://www.caseylamarca.com/auteur_theory_7.html [Accessed 5 March 2012].

La Rocca, 2010. Martin Scorsese: Gritty Auteur. [online]. NY: Examiner. Available from: http://www.examiner.com/film-reviews-in-new-york/martin-scorsese-gritty-auteur [Accessed 6 March 2012].

Scorsese and his films, 2000. Filmography. [online] Martin Scorsese and his films. Available from: http://www.scorsesefilms.com/filmography.htm [Accessed 6 March 2012].