26 August 2010

What do filmmakers do at lunch anyway?

The director and I work out an upcoming shoot for our short film.

19 August 2010

Jaws on the Big Screen

Just got back from seeing Jaws on the big screen at the Somerville Theatre. It is playing tomorrow night as well.

As you can see from the promotion above, there was plenty of good fun had by all. And I can report that Jaws still can make 'em jump!

14 August 2010

Columns and Temples In Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket

Stanley Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket is often critiqued as being two different movies. The first half is a spartan portrayal of Marine boot camp that ends with a bloody look into to the face of madness. The second half brings several of the players from that fascinating basic training sequence into actual fighting in the cities of Vietnam. The second half climaxes in an assault on a building in which a sniper is pinning down and picking off Marines.

However, there is so much symmetry connecting the first half and the second that it is really hard to separate them.

I thought I would just show one of the image motifs Kubrick enforces in the first half of the film, only to spring it on us in the climax of the second.

There is, of course, the above image which, with the recruits in their white underwear and t-shirts, emphasizes the orderliness of basic training. The exception to the rigor of the shot above is the jelly donut being eaten by Private Pyle, along with the scattered contents of his footlocker - it almost makes literal Pyle's inability to "keep his shit together."

As you will see below, the columns of the barracks are ever present, framing everything confining the viewer and perhaps comforting the recruits?

In the shot below, Private Joker(Matthew Modine)approaches the mouth of madness on the platoon's last night in their Parris Island barracks. Lit in moonlight blue, the shot heralds the lunacy that awaits him at the end of the columns.

Now, at the end of the second half of the movie, Modine has entered a building and ascended to the top floor where a sniper is known to be hiding. (Remember that during boot camp, the drill instructor praises the marksmanship of Lee Harvey Oswald to the recruits.)

Does anything about the temple-like room below look familiar? There are the columns, awaiting Joker's final approach to the altar, only the orderliness has been been transformed into a vision of hell.

Note how the gating on the left side of the shot somewhat mirrors the steel bunks lining either side of the barracks from the earlier shots.

Two Sides of the Same Cinematic Coin

For a 1996 live interview on Terry Gross's Fresh Air, Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert were each asked to bring a scene from a film.

Ebert began the interview by saying that he was going to bring the famous clip from The Third Man with the cat in the doorway. However, upon revealing this to Gene Siskel, he was wisely reminded that the interview was for radio and The Third Man scene has no words.

Ebert changed his selection to a great monologue from Citizen Kane, and, in turn, this inspired Siskel to bring an almost reactionary scene from a film that was current to the time the interview was being taped.

Here are both those scenes. Watch the Citizen Kane clip, then the one after.