On Campus Screening #2 Her

December 5, 2017

10:24 PM

 

The movie Her is about a depressed man named Theodore going through a divorce somewhere in the near future.  Early on in the movie Theodore gets an operating system (AI) named Samantha.    Despite being an AI Samantha shows considerable personality and the two of them grow very close until the they eventually start a relationship.

I had never seen Her before and found it to be very good.  One of the things that I liked was how it showed a potential future that was still close to reality, it reminded me of the episode of Black Mirror we watched because of this.  It’s future was very believable and close to our own but had enough differences in it to distinguish itself.  Even though I would classify this movie as scifi it didn’t feel like what I usually think of when discussing scifi.  Theodore falling for the ai and her growth on the other hand reminded me Ex Machina.  Just like with Ex Machina I was at first unsure if her feelings for him were real, or if she was even an actual artificial intelligence, or if it was because of her programming.   I also noticed how acceptable it was to be dating an operating system.  Apparently Theodore was not the first to do so, and of the people that he tells about his relationship, only his ex wife seems to think that it’s weird.  It kind of reminded me how some relationships that while accepted now have been viewed as wrong in the past and even in the present like interracial or same-sex marriages.  While dating an ai may seem crazy to us now, maybe in the future it won’t be?

One theme that i noticed in the movie that also reminded me of Black Mirror was how disconnected technology made people in the future.  People would hire others to write love letters for them, have casual sex on the phone, and even spend more time with their operating systems than other real people.

In addition one minor scene in the movie that reminded of our class was when Theodore’s friend Amy showed her a documentary she was making that was just her mom sleeping.  It reminded me of some of the unusual movie images that we’d seen screened in our class.  Particularly the ones that were time lapses, like Empire and the video of the fruit.

Class 14 – November 21: Radical Correspondance

December 4

 

1:50 am

 

The moving image viewed this class session was the documentary Sans Soleil.  Compared to many other movies I’ve seen Sans Soleil seemed to be disjointed and “all over the place.”  Not to say that’s it was bad, just that it did not really seem to have any main focus and was instead a collection of various different topics and thoughts.  This is understandable when you think about that the movie is supposed to be a narration of letters, even if I did occaisonally forget that while watching the documentary.  The closest thing connecting the subjects of this film is that it was mostly all focused on Japan and Guinea-Bissau.  The tone of the movie also seemed to be some what dark and pessimistic.  There were also some very disturbing scenes in the movie, like someone (presumably a hunter) killing a giraffe and later a shot of a corpse. Some other recurrent things that I noticed about the movie was that there was a lot of focus on faces, and that cats were mentioned relatively frequently.  At one point in the moving image it is mentioned that cats are one of their favorite animals so that could explain their presences in the movie.  One thing discussed after viewing the movie that was interesting to me was that the writer of the letters and the narrator were different and not everything narrated came from the letters.  Since a lot of what was discussed in the movie seemed to influenced by personal opinion and taste I wonder what parts of the movie came from who.  If I ever rewatch Sans Soliel it might be interesting to keep that in mind and try to see if I can find anything that might have been added to the letter by the narration.

Class 13 – November 20: RADICAL REFLEXIVITY

November 25, 2017

6:40 pm

 

So the first thing I found myself thinking about after watching This is Not a Film was that it at least to me, clearly seemed to be a film.  It really did not seem that different from some of the films, particularly documentaries I have seen before in the past.  If I had just been shownThis is Not a Film and not told the backstory and title I probably wouldn’t have hesitated to consider it a film.  I guess it comes down to how you define a film.  The main premise for this moving picture not being a film was that it had no real script or plot, so if you think that something must have those attributes to be considered a film I could understand not considering it to be a film.

I think that when he first started the project the wasn’t sure how he wanted to handle it, because some things seemed to change as it went on.   I think he may not have completely planned out how he wanted the not a film to be, and adapted as it went on.  At first he seemed to try to avoid acknowledging the camera early on.  Later he talked to the camera but in a way that he seemed to be addressing the audience, but even later he talks directly to the camera man.  I also noticed after first he seemed to be trying to avoid putting other people in the film but then that ended when the janitor came to take the trash and he started talking to him.  I also noticed that Panahi did not seem to want the camera man to leave. I think this may have been because he had been stuck under house arrest for so long he was frustrated and tired of being inside.

Class 12- November 13: Radical Fantasy

November 18

12:48 am

 

Pan’s Labyrinth was an interesting film.  While some of the symbolism and references towards fascism were obvious others I didn’t pick up.  The discussion after the viewing was really helpful for this one since it helped me pick things up I hadn’t seen.  Like the frog in the tree being a stand in to how a few benefited from fascism to the detriment of many other and the country.  I had thought of the frog as being an environmental message but that explanation made a lot of sense.  Also the pale man being a stand in for the Catholic Church.  I didn’t realize that until it was clarified to us after class.  I did like how the Captain started to resemble a fairy tale monster towards the end of the movie.  He was scarred from when his face was cut the way made him look more monstrous and Ophelia hiding from him and ow he chased Ophelia through the woods felt a lot like a monster chasing the protagonists in a story and even reminded me of when Ophelia was fleeing from the pale man for her second task.  I also thought it was interesting how most of the film was grayish and subdued colors, but then when Ophelia arrived at the fairy tale land at the end of the movie it was bright and colorful.  This was a nice callback to the beginning of the movie when the narrator mentioned that the real world was bright and colorful to the princess when she first arrived.  I also thought there were some interesting parallels about obedience.  The doctor tells the Captain that obedience for the sake of obedience was wrong and in the end Ophelia was not supposed to obey the Faun without question.

There were still a few things I never fully figured out, like why the Captain was so obsessed with clocks or the full significance of the root that was used to help Ophelia’s mother.

Class 11: November 6 – RADICAL SATIRE

 

November 12

3:55 pm

 

In this session the moving images screened were an episode of Star Trek and an episode of Black Mirror.   One thing that i thought was really cool about Star Trek was how they managed to portray a futuristic society with the limitations that they had back then.  Almost the entire episode was aboard the Star Ship Enterprise so not too many crazy  effect were needed.  And while I haven’t watched any of the show Star Trek before I wouldn’t be surprised if most episodes take place on the Enterprise so that the props and backgrounds they have can be reused.  Also the all the aliens shown in the episode were humanoid, enough that all that was necessary to make them look different was makeup but they still looked different enough from humanity that they seemed alien.  To continue on the subject of appearances I liked that they masters alien’s costume looked  a little more decorated and ornate than the slave alien’s.  I was also really surprised at how solemn the ending of the episodes was.  I expected that the crew would manage to get the aliens to come to some kind of understanding but instead they found out that their entire race had wiped themselves out and continued to hate each other for no real reason.  I think this bleak ending made the message more powerful.  I think that Star Trek aired during the 1960s, when there were still large amounts of racial tension.  This episode’s downer ending really highlighted the dangers that violence and hatred would cause.

 

I thought Black Mirror’s method of portraying the future was pretty cool.  It was different enough that you could tell it was not our world, but close enough that it was easily recognizable and something that I could see our world becoming.  At some points it was even easy to forget that it was set in the future.  I think that made the future in this one a little more hard hitting.  Star Trek’s future is something far away, but the world of Black Mirror could be just around the corner.  Also one thing I noticed in Black Mirror was that almost all the people in service positions were people of color.  I may have just imagined it and might need to watch again, but during my first viewing of the episode that was something that seemed to stick out to me.  It’s an interesting choice, because that doesn’t seem to really relate to the show’s plot about the rating app.  Perhaps it was just another way of fleshing out the world and showing the bad parts about it, even if it was nothing as dramatic as the destruction of the alien planet in the Star Trek episode.

Screening 1: Fire at Sea

For my first screening I watched the documentary Fire at Sea at Smith Warehouse on November 2, 7:00 – 9:00 pm.

Fire at Sea is a documentary about the migrant crisis.   The documentary had two focuses.   Some of the documentary focused on the migrants arriving and getting picked up.   It showed them being rescued and treated and also showed some of what they went through after being found.   The other part of the movie focused on the life of a young boy who lived on an island with his family.

The part of the film that focuses on the migrants could be brutal to watch.  The director did not pull many punches when showing their plight.  Many of the migrants were sick or in terrible shape when found.  Some were already dead and some would probably die later.  The dangers that they go through are depicted early on in the film when a boat with about 250 people is lost.  Another part that really struck me was when the rescuers were pulling people from the boats.  Some were so limp and lifeless that I had at first thought that they were dead.  I think this part of the movie does a great job at making the viewer sympathetic to the plight of the migrants and raise awareness which I believe was probably the main purpose of this documentary.  While I didn’t learn a lot of new information while watching it, it did make me feel strongly for the migrants while watching and want to help.

The film’s other part is about a boy named Samuel living on an island.   This part focuses on the his day-to-day life.  He hangs out with a friend, helps his father fish, goes to school and does homework.  While this part is much more mundane than the part about the migrants it was still engaging and held my focus in a large part thanks to the likability of Samuel.   Samuel’s struggles are relatable if much more subdued than the migrants.  For example he has vision problems, gets sick on a boat and struggles in school.

While the film worked, when I think about it i’m not sure why it did.  It’s hard to relate the movies two different settings to each other, other than that they both take place relatively close together.  Samuel’s story offers a nice reprise from the brutality of the migrants and without it the movie would probably be much harder to watch, but I don’t think that’s the only reason for it.  Maybe Samuel was meant to help us sympathize with the migrants?  What if that was him on those boats?  Or maybe it’s to show us a potential future for the migrants.  Samuel’s life isn’t perfect but it’s stable and he seems to be happy.  Perhaps now the surviving migrants can build a life like his?   While i may need to rewatch or think about it more to come to a conclusion, I thought Fire at Sea was a very impactful film.  It held my attention for it’s entirety despite being slow and left me feeling sympathetic to the migrants and their struggles.

Class 10: October 30 – Music Videos

November 3

2:17 pm

 

The topic for this week was more familiar to me than most of the other moving images that we’ve screened.  I’ve watched music videos before in the past, but I have never really payed close attention to them and mostly just listened to the music.

A Hard Day’s Night was interesting to for me to watch.  It certainly had a different feel than most music videos I had seen in the past.  It had a plot as well as long sections where no music was actually played.   At times the music was integrated into the story, like when they played music while playing cards on the train, but other times it seemed like the music was separate from the story and in the background, like when they ran from their fans at the beginning of the music video.  And one part of the music video that I thought was really cool was when the Beatles were at a party dancing and the grandfather was out gambling.  I liked how the music would play with the boys and then it would jump to the grandfather playing cards with no music in the background, and would then jump back to the Beatles with music playing.  I just thought that was an interesting technique for a video.

I also enjoyed the intro to Thriller and how it set up the rest of the video.  The music video had a nice horror movie vibe that i don’t usually expect from music videos.

Some of the music videos we watched had the same director and one thing I noticed was that works by the same director had similar styles.  For example Are You Gonna Go My Way and  Got till it’s Gone both had similarities and were both by Mark Romanek.  Both videos reminded me more of a performance than the other videos.  In both of those it was almost like we were watching a video of a concert or show while the other music videos didn’t portray the music that way. In some of the other music videos we didn’t even see the musician.

 

Both Around the World and Fell in love with a Girl were also similar in style and both were by Michel Gondry.  Both of these videos were really unique and exciting visually.  Around the World had bright lights and unusual costumes while Fell in love with a Girl was a video of what i think were legos.  Also in both videos we don’t actually see the artist or who is performing.  Instead the music is a backdrop to the videos’ visuals.

Class 9: October 23 – Radical Performances

Lance Dozier

October 28, 2017

3:13 pm

 

Of the performers that we focused on in class the one that left the largest impression on me was Matthew Barney.   When we first started his interview I was struck by how gross and disturbing some of the things in his performances were, while at the same time I was impressed at the quality of the costumed and admired how unique they were visually.  I thought it was interesting that Barney said that all of his creations were beautiful to him when to me some of them were pretty gross to look at.  But as i thought about it I can see how he might consider them to be beautiful if not in the conventional sense.  The portion of Cremaster 3: The Order that we watched in class was good, but at the same time very weird.  I liked how unique it was visually and it certainly held my interest and I was a little disappointed we didn’t get to watch more but at the same time, I had no clue of what was really going on.  Watching I got the feeling that there was plot but that i wasn’t able to completely decipher it.  But I think that this is also one of the things that made me want to watch more.  I wanted to understand what the performance was about and understand what was going on and I think I was hoping that as I watched more I would be able to figure out some of its mysterious and at least get some idea of what it was about.

The interview with Marina Abramović was certainly interesting, as well as different from the other interviews we watched.   While I watched it what I wondered about most was her visuals choices for the interview.  She was standing at the back of a room, dressed completely in white with lights shining upon her with what looked like a railroad track leading to her.   She stood completely still with the only movement in her eyes and as the interview went on the camera zoomed away from her, before zooming back in to the end.  I am really curious about what her reasons for this set up was.

in addition the brief section of Four Performances that we saw was impactful.  While saying that the artist must be beautiful she is grooming herself aka making herself beautiful.  But as it goes on her grooming gets more intense and starts to look harmful.  Is this performance about how artists can hurt themselves while striving to meet the artists standards for beauty?  And we only saw a short portion of the performance.  It’s hard to think about how much more uncomfortable her grooming could have become.

I also really enjoyed what we saw of Odile and Odette.  The lack of music was a very apparent choice allowing us to hear every tap and breath of the dancers.  I also thought it was cool how they made the stage appear like a mirror.

Class 8: October 16, Motion(less) Pictures

October 22, 2016

4:22 pm

 

Of the moving images screened in class this session the one I found most interesting was Blue by Derek Jarman.  It was not like any moving image I have ever seen before and at first the movie seemed more to me like an audio piece than a movie since the only thing depicted on the screen was the color blue.   But as I watched the film I started to see that it would be a waste to only pay attention to the audio, and that the blue screen added to the moving image’s experience.   When all we could see in front of us was a blue screen, we could all relate to Derek Jarman and understand his experience of losing his sight in ways that we would not be able to if the moving images had visuals other than the blue screen for us to see.  And as I listened to his detailed narration and the sounds I could imagine and almost see some of the thing he was discussing in piece.   Speaking of the audio the voice over and music did a splendid job of helping set the tone and tell the story.   The narration could be very descriptive at times allowing me to see even without any of the pictures and helped even more for me to relate to his experience and what he was feeling.  The music and narration was also very somber at times and one part I found particularly unnerving was when he listed off the various side effects of his medications.  And one last thing that struck me was how there was no sound during the end credits.  For most of the moving image the majority of our experience came from the audio so the contrast was abrupt and very noticeably to me.  This emphasized the finality of the ending to me and made me wonder if this was purposely done to reflect the death that comes after the disease.

 

I also really liked the first moving image we viewed, Still Life.  To me Still Life seemed more like looking at a series of pictures than watching a video. And seeing all the fruit mold and decay did a great job of representing the passage of time in my mind.

Class 6: Computer Generated Moving Images

October 6, 2017

3:38 pm

 

The first moving image screened was one of my favorites of the moving imaged viewed this session.   This film showed shots from various computer games and talked about the technology required to create the images in them.  I thought the stile of progression used in this moving image was a good way to show off how the technology advanced.  The images would start as basic blocky graphics but advance.  They’d become 3d, more colorful, more realistic with  nicer movements and more complex shapes.   I also liked how they progressed with what type of images they worked with to.  They started with simple grass/trees than depicted fire, and would continue with more complex types of images like water.

The UFO’s moving images was interesting.   Even though the moving images was really just bright lights and shapes with music i still picked up on the alien tone, and even if  I didn’t know the name of the moving image was UFO’s I think I would have associated it with aliens and space in my head.  Also at one point the moving images focuses on three sphere rotating together, which I couldn’t help but associate with the Sun, Earth and Moon which sticks with the space feeling I was getting for the rest of the moving image.

I thought the method of filming the The Lanthanide Series was really cool.  I could tell something was off a few times because I would see something that kind of looked like the reflection of part of the screen on screen but I wasn’t sure what was going on for most of it.   And for the majority of the film the effect wasn’t noticeable.  I also thought the style of the movie was interesting.  It was a documentary, but it focused not just on the science of elements of that it was exploring but also their history and impact as well as even the personal lives of the people that made important contributions to the study of them and the mirror making.