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Posted by Patricia Zimmermann at 9:39PM   |  31 comments
cinemapolis

Blog written by Patricia Zimmermann, professor of cinema, photography and media arts, Ithaca College and codirector of the Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival.

As the snow falls and film studies courses wrap up for the semester, it's time to uncork your passions and join the FAVORITE FILM CHALLENGE.

Pick your favorite film of Introduction to Film Aesthetics and Analysis, if you are one of my students, or, your favorite Cinemapolis film of the fall, if you are not one of my students.  Then, explain why it's your favorite film in a short, well-written paragraph. Post your challenge in the comments section of this blog.

By late next week (Friday December 17), we'll  select a winner.  The winners will receive some specially selected film books and some passes for free movies to Cinemapolis as prizes.  The judges are Mickey Casad, Corinna Lee and me.  DEADLINE: Thursday December 16 at MIDNIGHT

Criteria: a solid, compelling, eye-opening, moving, and convincing argument for your film.

Join the FAVORITE FILM CHALLENGE.  See you in the comments section on this blog!

 


31 Comments

My favorite film from the Intro to Film Aesthetics and Analysis course has to Shanghi Triad. I was particularly struck by the constant contrasts and clashes established in the film. While the film fits into the gangster genre, it both uses standardized forms of the genre while also differentiating itself from from the genre. Like a gangster film, Shanghi Triad's narrative places an emphasis on loyalty, focuses on a young man working his way up in a gangster organization, the gangster's wear suits and hats, and characters fight for control and property against rival gangs. Yet the film opposes many stardizations of the gangster film. Instead of focusing on the strong, male gangster character as its primary plot, the film instead focuses on the plight and despiration of a female character. In the end, it is not the male gangster who must suffer for opposing the social order, but the female who dies. There is a distinct lack of on-screen violence in the movie. During a major gang fight, we only see shadows and guns shots, and eventually only see the bloody aftermath of the fight. The film contrasts a genre gangster movie with elements that go against the basis of a gangster movie. This is paralleled by the beauty of the mise-en-scene. The film employs beauthiful contrats between day and night, with a gold/red color palette for interior spaces and blue for exterior spaces. These two color palettes contrast each other. However, the film flips these palettes in the second half of the movie; exterior spaces becomes gold while interior spaces become blue. Shanghi Triad constantly defies a standard form to use, but instead wonderfully provides a world that refuses, like the lead female character, to conform to a single ideology.

My favorite film from Intro to Film Studies would have to be The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. Its fusion of a "literal" color interpretation of night and day coupled with the obtuse, almost recycled-esque set design made this film unique. I sat up front that day in class and I was actually creeped out by this film, something I never felt with other films we have watched. There is a sense of German history during the German Expressionist period that creeps me out for some reason. I suppose the demented ideology behind Cabinet was a foreshadow to Hitler and his rein, in an emotional way. The mise-en-scéne of this film sets that tone for a creative strike that can be seen in many modern films, such as David Lynch's "The Grandmother". Cabinet's use of make-up to highlight the grizzled expressions on the characters faces just made the movie even more creepier. This movie, and as Susan Haywood describes on page 194, shows an industrialized, almost H.G. Wells like world with creaking joints, clapped down facades, and a bendy world out of Marilyn Manson's mind.

My favorite film from this course is Donen and Kelly's 1952 film Singin' In the Rain. An aural exploration of the introduction of sound into films, Singin' In the Rain reveals sound's ability to create illusions and belie images with false meanings. The film's self-consciousness about the technology used to produce movies with synchronized sound generates a repeated theme of illusion vs. genuineness. For example, Lina Lamont, an actress whose cacophonous voice is dubbed for talkies, represents deception, simultaneously expressing sound's ability to manipulate audiences' interpretations of films. Contrastingly, Kathy Seldon, whose beautiful voice dubs Lina's, symbolizes authenticity. The contradiction between these two characters expresses the binary opposition between pure and artificial use of sound. Cleverly, Donen and Kelly wield irony throughout the film. For example, at the beginning, Don Lockwood's semi-diegetic voiceover lacks visual confirmation. However, the most ironic aspect of Singin' In the Rain exists in the actual creation of the film: Jean Hagen (Lina Lamont) dubs Debbie Reynold's (Kathy Seldon) voice. This fact in itself reveals the extraordinary influence of sound to affect interpretations of images, especially in the Hollywood film industry. Additionally, the film emphasizes the significance of sound through combinations of diegetic, non-diegetic synchronous, and asynchronous sound. Combined with spontaneous dance numbers and songs, Singin' In the Rain's clever integration of sound technologies and perceptions produces an original visceral experience.

Of all the films we watched in film a&a, I would have to say my favorite was Fatih Akin's Soul Kitchen. From the story line, to the characters, to the absolutely beautiful food that literally made my mouth water, Soul Kitcken was riveting from beginning to end. One of the professors commented before the class screened the film that Akin stated this was a film about film, and you could see it throughout. The use of visual motifs, for example the train and the progression of food helps to seamlessly move the narrative along in the most basic yet intrinsic of ways. Soul Kitchen was an absolute joy to watch and I would see it again any time.

My favorite film was Kenneth Anger's "Scorpio Rising," and not just because of the great soundtrack. The entire experience of that movie was just something akin to being punched in the stomach and somehow enjoying it because you know you have been punched in the stomach by something great, beautiful, and intensely personal. Watching it, I felt like what Brian Wilson must have felt like coming off of "Pet Sounds" and then hearing "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" for the first time: no matter what I do for the rest of my life, no matter how good a filmmaker I become, I do not think I will ever make a movie quite as good as "Scorpio Rising." It is a seething, angry, sexy, demonic, fascist, anarchist, star-crazed, queer-as-folk rock 'n' roll film. It surprises me that the film was controversial because of its depictions of nudity (almost unnoticeable) and not because of its juxtaposition of images of Jesus and religious symbolism with images of Hitler to the tune of "My Boyfriend's Back" by The Angels and "(You're The) Devil in Disguise" by Elvis Presley. Kenneth Anger is just so skilled in taking this weird hodgepodge of footage and turning into this examination of emerging biker culture, both demonizing it for its reduction of men into self-constructed machinery not un-like their own motorcycles and fetishizing it in the most truly religious sense of that word by using footage of religious films to suggest that these vagabonds of the California Babylon literally walk with Jesus. It is safe to say that I enjoyed this film very much.

My favorite film that we watched in Film A and A would definitely be Godard's "Breathless." Part of the reason being that we were able to watch the film in Cinemapolis, an actual movie theatre, instead of the Park Auditorium. While I had enjoyed all of the films that we had watched up until that point, "Breathless" was the first time a movie made me feel "breathless." I was not a big film fanatic before taking this course, but "Breathless" showed me that a film doesn't have to have a huge budget to be a spectacular film. The pacing of the film is what stands out to me. It's very fast paced at the beginning of the film with the use of jump cuts and then slows down in the long bedroom scene, that I actually wished could have been longer. Godard uses distanciation in the film, calling attention the act of filmmaking itself, which got me interested in the idea of self-referential art. This film opened up many doors for me, as it introduced me to French New Wave cinema and other amazing films of this time period, including "The 400 Blows." "Breathless" was hands down my favorite film of the semester.

My favorite film of the semester would have to be Breathless. From the actors incredible performances to the romance that France provides it certainly took my breath away. The camera movements provide a POV that immersed me into the film completely without wanting to blink. I especially love the black and white film from the images to the story it's a wonderful movie that I would love to share with everyone and anyone.

My favorite film from A&A is "Earth". I loved that it had elements of a melodrama and international art cinema. The concentration on women, victims, and domestic space make the film a melodrama. However, by focusing on cinematic form by using color, shooting on location, and using characters to represent ideas rather than themselves makes it an art film. I love to see how colors are used in films. I enjoyed how the colors from the Indian flag are in every shot in the movie and carry a specific meaning throughout the film (saffron stands for Hindus and green for Muslims). Being an Indian film, "Earth" has a lot of emphasis on music. A.R. Rahman is already one of my favorite film composers and his score for this movie was beautiful. After seeing the film, I went out and bought the soundtrack. What really sold the movie to me was that it was based on an historical event. I am a big fan of historical films. Hollywood films are follow the plot of order, disorder, and order restored. However, in "Earth", there is no order restored. The viewer is left with questions about what happened to Shanta, what really happened in India in the year 1947, and what is the state of India today. I could not answer the question about Shanta, but I was able to do research on India. I learned a lot about what happened during the partition, India’s culture, and their cinema. I became fascinated with Indian cinema and set out to watch and read about as many Indian films as I could. Nearly two months after seeing "Earth" for the first time, I am still learning and asking questions about India and its cinematic history.

My favorite film we watched in film A&A was Fatih Akin's 2009 film, Soul Kitchen. The Film was a great comedy based around the misfortunes of the German-Greek chef Zinos. Through the interactions and hijinks of zinos and his friends, the comedic value presents itself. This film uses a range of symbols and dialogue to convey Fatih Akin's past life events and feelings about being an outsider in a foreign land. I like delving into the story an looking for the hidden meanings of the characters' actions and analyzing them, not to mention getting to see the movie in an awesome theatre. That is why this film was my favorite film.

I think my favorite film from the course would probably be Street of Crocodiles. A very kafkaesque journey into a dirty and decaying world, the story follows a gaunt puppet who is released from his strings and free to explore his bizarre surroundings: dark shadows, screws and nails moving on their own, unexplained and rusty machinery, and even what appears to be a bloody heart with pins in it like a pin cushion. The street of crocodiles isn't necessarily even about plot, but more focused on establishing mood and tension in what appears to be a deeply sinister and nightmarish realm. It seems to employ a certain fantastical and grimy realism; the meticulous attention to the miniature set, from the rusted nails to the dust that seemed to take years to cake that thick all almost made me feel like I was simply in a dream. I've always been a fan of stop-motion animation, as it seems to offer a pretty creepy view of animation. It's a rather existential film, but all in all, it offers mesmerizing camera work, extraordinarily detailed sets and very cool stop-motion techniques to create A nightmare before christmas the likes which have never been seen.

My favorite film in Film A and A was Lemon by Hollis Frampton. Lemon was an experimental film which dealt with a very unique aspect of filmmaking. Frampton turned to lighting to show the beauty of a simple lemon. This film references the art of still life and focuses on how the lemon transmutes as the lighting shifts. However, as much as Hollis Frampton tried to make the lemon comparable to the female breast, I believe he failed. During the screening, most of our classmates failed to see this within the lemon and saw different things. Some people saw faces while others just saw a lemon. This is what I loved about this film. It allowed for disagreement and for people to place their own interpretations in. This film asked us the question "What do you see?" and instead I was asking myself "What do I feel?". From this film I learned that film making is not just about telling a story but allowing the viewer to find the story within themselves.

Also, Soul Kitchen was an amazing film too. It's always nice to see a good comedy.

My favorite film that we saw in Film A&A was Faith Akin’s Soul Kitchen. From the very beginning this movie caught my interest. This comedic melodrama dropped us straight into the life of a restaurant manager/chef and bombarded us with laughs as well as heartfelt sob. The cast and each of their own individual characteristics is what really made this movie special. The main character for instance with his dissolving love life, eager attitude, failure of a brother, lack of luck, and a bad back made for the most interesting of characters. There was no weak point to this movie. The symbolism of the grandmother, who was the only stable connection to his girlfriend, who was his life, dying was a re occurring theme. Over and over again we saw order, destruction, and order restored with the stories double plotting of love and relationships while keeping the restaurant. Even with a predictable ending for a comedy the movie kept me on my toes. Maybe it was due to the fact that it was on the big screen. Soul Kitchen gave us the realist view of a group of restaurant owners and with a great soundtrack use of double plotting, melodrama, and perfect repetitive comedy with great timing, left a smile on everyone’s faces and an impression in everyone’s minds.

My favorite film from this year's Film Aesthetics and Analysis class was /Earth/ directed by Deepa Mehta. The only Indian cinema I had ever been exposed to before that film was Bollywood. This film instantly cured my my misconceptions that Indian movies were all similar to Bollywood films. There were many fascinating components of this film, both onscreen and offscreen. The choice to use Lenny Baby, an innocent and neutral child as a main character allows the audience to objectively observe the conflicts in India just as she does. This really impacted me because while I was shocked to watch the riots and violence, I was even more horrified to know that I was watching it through the eyes of a child. This expert manipulation of emotions was well calculated, and I enjoyed the movie more with this added emotional aspect. The mise-en-scene was expertly designed to match the historical implications and events that took place in the film's setting. Deepa Mehta arranged the colors of each religion involved in the conflict into certain scenes to further emphasize the importance of the different faiths and their impact of the newly "free" country. I found this technique absolutely brilliant, and I hope to be able to incorporate the same sort of idea into films I make in the future. There was a perfect balance of drama, romance, comedy, politics, tragedy, and horror that provides something for each viewer, but makes it difficult to classify the film as one specific genre. It is a hybrid genre that realistically represents the broad range of emotions one feels in real life. The movie was very well made, and would be enjoyable even to people who know nothing about cinema. However, I feel I was able to appreciate it more than most could thanks to what I've learned in Film A&A this year. I was able to truly understand and admire the subtle techniques that Mehta used to make this movie such a moving and gripping work. I am even more impressed about the controversy she had to undergo in real life just to make this movie. I am very happy that I was able to see this film, and look forward to watching the other two movies in her trilogy on my own.

Singin' in the Rain was my personal favorite out of the films we watched in Film A & A. Sure, I know it's classic Hollywood, and that seems to be a turn-off to some film analysts, but I love it. The musical genre calls for predictable (and often incoherent) storylines based around heterosexual coupling, spectacle, color, music & dance, and an overall Utopian outlook—and who cares if it doesn’t make sense sometimes when a film is this fun? Since the rise of the hit television show, Glee, I've learned to embrace the corny-ness of the musical once again. This film shaped musical genre in many ways, and was groundbreaking in Hollywood. One reason I like this film so much, is that if you want to take a break from analyzing a film, this movie entices anyone to watch carefree, as this simple storyline doesn't put pressure on the audience to do a whole lot of thinking. At the same time, however, if you are a film analyst dying to test your analysis skills on this film, you won't be let down either, because it is the quintessential look into what the musical genre embodies, and has a curious amount of background story, as well as social/historical context that can be considered to make this film even more interesting to those intrigued to take a deeper look. For instance, lead actor, Gene Kelly, was famously accused of being a communist at the time this film was released, and this film was said to be a dig at HUAC, because despite their accusations, he was “Singin’ in the Rain!” Also, although the film revolves around the idea that Kathy Selden, played by Debbie Reynolds, has to dub over Lina Lamont’s voice, played by Jean Hagen, it was actually Jean Hagen dubbing over Debbie Reynolds. Facts such as those make this film more interesting for analysts to watch, because they can consider “why” those choices were made, and the significance of them. Plus, no one can deny the talent of Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen as dancers and musicians—no matter how many times I watch this film I never seem to be any less mesmerized by their moves.

I struggled a lot with my favorite film for Into to Film aesthetics and Analysis. I walked away feeling incredible contradicting emotions. I felt angry and cheated, and yet amazed and moved. "Black Girl" (or "La Noire de...") a 1965 film made by Ousmane Sembene, is one that I have not stopped thinking about since watching.

As a viewer I became very attached to Diouana. I related to her suppression, as a women who has always felt held down in our sexist society. Her innocence and naiveness of not knowing the realities of her world is how I felt prior to understanding that our society is still not equal; 46 years after the Civil Rights Act, Women and African Americans still face discrimination in housing, education, and the judicial system. Diouana was happy to go to France without even asking her employer what she would be doing in France. She was naive because she didn't understand her lack of mobility culturally (in terms of France's racist social structure) and internally (in terms of her work place).

The end of the movie is what angered me the most. Diouana overcame her suppressors (aka her employers) and stood up to them. She threw their money in their faces; symbolically took back her culture by taking the mask off the wall; and put her clothes back on, instead of wearing the apron, which symbolized her acceptance of a lower status in society. I was ready for her to pack her things and hitch the next boat back to Senegal. I thought she would become a leader in rights for Black people. But she didn't - she killed herself instead. I felt cheated and frustrated with this outcome. I began to feel empowered by this film, as it began to send a message to fight for your rights and stand up to the people who suppress you. But when she killed herself it was as if the message it was sending is that even when I become empowered and gain an upper-hand in society, I still have no way out and no room for mobility. Even if I gain power I will still be trapped.

I hated the ending of the film because of this message (whether or not this was the correct interpretation). But I loved the rest of the film. I think the fact the film pushed me out of my comfort zone, where I only feel one emotion toward a film, made me love it more. It shoved me into the spotlight of discomfort, forcing me to face the challenge of analyzing an extremely powerful film.

Out of the 40 films we watched in Intro to Film Aesthetics and Analysis, I believe my favorite has to be the 28-minute black and white science fiction film by Chris Marker: La Jetee. I remember during class when we discussed how La Jetee made us ask the question of what can classify as a film, for although this short film is composed of mostly still images with voiceover, music, and diegetic sound, there is only one 5-second clip of actual film footage. The rest of the film simply shows pictures of the essentials of the story so the narrative can visually make sense. When we saw the film clip of the woman waking up and she blinked, I remember asking myself if that had actually just happened. It was so unexpected and fleeting, it gave me an appreciation for the art of motion picture film.

My favorite film of the year was Chronic. I loved the experimental style of the film and the distance I am placed from the character. The images were haunting at times and I found myself unable to stop thinking of the main character and her place in the world. I felt like she was a real person and she was letting me read her diary.

It's actually pretty hard to pick a favorite film of the semester, because we really did watch a lot of compelling and interesting ones. A film that has definitely stuck with me though is Meshes of the Afternoon by Maya Deren. I really loved how it was put together; no coherent time or space, yet it still somehow made sense. I liked the camera work used when Maya was having her dream: the shots reflected how I think dreams actually feel. For instance, there is a shot of her walking up the stairs, but she is very unstable and keeps knocking into the walls, while the camera is moving back and forth, making the world look unstable. This happens a lot in dreams; especially when you're chasing something, as she is, something about your world makes it harder for you to move.
I also loved the deeper meaning of this film, especially since it is something I can relate to. In the film, Maya encounters a figure she keeps chasing, perhaps longing to know who it is, what it is, what it means to her. She sees multiple versions of herself as well. This film deals with issues of identity; is she the mirrored figure she keeps chasing after? Does she have multiple sides to her, hence, the multiple figures? A key is a motif throughout the film, and this key keeps showing up in multiple places, and disappearing. I read that as the key being an answer to her questions, yet she can never reach it. I identify with this, and probably others in my situation do too. I am a college student, working towards my final goals in life, trying to figure out who I am and what I'm best at. It is not an easy task to undertake, and I often have identity issues, as Maya seems to have in this film. Sometimes I'm chasing after something but I'm not quite sure what it even is.

My favorite film from this semester was Jean-Luc Godard's 1960 film “Breathless”. I enjoy the film both for its qualities as a piece of art on its own and its importance in the history of cinema. The one long scene in the bedroom between Michel and Patricia is worth more than 99% of scenes in cinema's history combined. It is a flawless examination of character in a hyper-realistic setting. This scene gives to the viewer a sense of voyeurism unmatched in the majority of narrative films. This is direct cinema at its best. The smart dialogue, interesting characters, and brilliant camerawork combine to make this a very quality film. The dialogue is where the film really shines and is filled to the brim with smart pop culture references and existential musings.

What I most enjoy about the film, however, is how influential it is for later filmmakers. The entire modern Action movie genre would be very different today if Godard had not made his film too long and been forced to invent the jump cut. This really underscores the fact that many of Hollywood's modern conventions were created and perfected in the world of art cinema first. Also, Godard's work has influenced many great filmmakers – chief among them being Quentin Tarantino. Looking at how the characters in Breathless spend most of the film not referring to the plot but to pop culture or to questions of existentialism you can see the seeds of what would become Tarantino's signature style. He does not shy away from this either considering his “A Band Apart” production company is a reference to a Godard film. I'd argue that Breathless is one of the most important films in the history of cinema, in the same league as Welles' “Citizen Kane” or Griffith's “Birth of a Nation”. They are the foundations upon which the future of cinema is built.

My favorite film of the semester was The Street of Crocodiles. The greatest films, in my opinion, are those that display struggles to retain humanity. The enigmatic characters of The Street of Crocodiles resemble people, but they are distorted by their circumstances, and hence they are alienating and strange. The film is a powerful allegory of Germany after the devastation of war and the emotional taxes paid by ordinary citizens. As their constructed reality crashed down along with the walls of their cities they were each left reeling, unable to explain what had happened to them, their forced transformation, but trying desperately to regain their former status as human beings. The voice-over at the end affirms that the Street of Crocodiles is a real place, its inhabitants were once human, and the film is an attempt to explain them, though it will "obviously", inevitably and tragically fall short. I believe this film resonates as an example of the the plight of the artist: he will obsessively attempt to convey that which he cannot explain, but what he knows to exist. For that reason I love it.

My favorite film for Introduction to Film Aesthetics and Analysis was La Jetee by Chris Marker. I enjoyed this film because the complexity and innovation that went into this film. The most memorable moment of this film for me was when the love interest of the main character was sitting on her bed and the still frames sped up to portray the motion of the woman blinking. I also particularly loved the choice of non-diegetic background music. The heartbeat and the violin added an intense emotional aspect that heightened the intensity of the film. The ending, also, caught me off guard. I expected the man to stay in the past and live happily with this woman he found love with. Instead, he ends up experiencing the death of a man he saw as a pass away as a child. Which ends up being the same memory that made him eligible for the German scientist's experiment in the first place. The irony and complexity of the whole situation stayed in my head well after we viewed this film in class.

Although we watched many fantastic films this year in Film Aesthetics and Analysis my favorite one has to be Earth by Deepa Mehta. Not only did this film have an incredible story line but the mice-en-scene of this film was also enticing. The colors in the movie were so rich and did fit with her analogy that all of the colors of the film were based off of the flag of india, white, saffron, and green. I also liked the Bollywood aspects of the movie. I have never really seen a true Bollywood film before but the outfits, the music, and the settings were all well put together.

My favorite film this semester was our first film, Singin' in the Rain. I have always enjoyed musicals, and I can't believe I hadn't seen it until this year! More than just the singing and dancing, I liked learning about how it was made, its use of technicolor, and Gene Kelly's style of using the camera as a dance partner. I was really inspired by the film, it made me realize that not all films have to be heavy and dark. Singin in the Rain is lighthearted and whimsical, and yet I took away more from that film than any other. After watching the film, and learning about the history of the film and of the biographies of the actors, I didn't want to just forget about it, so I decided to choreograph my own tap dance to a compilation of the songs from the film for IC Tap. I think that any film that inspires me to take action is a good one, which is why I say that Singin' in the Rain was my favorite this semester.

Of the films we have viewed this semester, my favorite is Soul Kitchen, without a doubt. For one, it was one of very few comedies we watched (a travesty, really, since many important films are also comedies) and also an example of an international, independent film that is both artistic and entertaining. I felt like, for a majority of this semester, we have watched many films simply for the sake of their "artistic" merits, when, in fact, a majority of the students in the class are more interested in narrative filmmaking, and are thus more attracted to Hollywood because it seemingly is the only example of successful narrative filmmaking. However, Soul Kitchen proved to us that an entertaining, intelligent film can come from independent roots, and even be very funny while doing it.

My favorite film that we have watched this semester has to be La Jetee. The photo-roman style of the film, the shallow focus in all of the shots and the cyclical storyline really stuck out to me and inspired me. I am always fascinated with movies that start and end in the same way or with the same scene. The whole film was put together in a series of powerful shots. The scenes of Paris, the shots taken in the underground chamber where the protagonist was experimented on and the sequences of the woman were equally as powerful, memorable and absolutely beautiful to me. I aspire to create something as powerful as Chris Marker's La Jetee.

My favorite film screened in Film Aesthetics and Analysis is Battleship Potemkin by Sergei Eisenstein. Socially, Battleship Potemkin stirred controversy and inspired revolution amongst the people of the USSR; formally, it was revolutionary in its own right by using conflict and collision (intellectual montage) to show a much larger image of revolution rather than condensing it to a single person. Battleship Potemkin, at the core, is an avant-garde, disjunctively edited film, but what it stands for are large ideas and conflicts.

My favorite film throughout the whole year was Earth. Every part of the film was thought through and given special attention. The beauty of India and its colors were translated into film and the fact that every scene has the three colors of the Indian flag is a true testament to the filmmakers attention to detail. The storyline and acting were on par with any film out in the past decade and it was truly a fatal tragedy. I wish every film had this much attention to detail.

In reflection of this fall in Introduction to Film Aesthetics and Analysis, the one film that left both a savory warmth in my heart as well as a grin on my face (and not to mention a grumble in my stomach) was Fatih Akin's Soul Kitchen (2009). The quirky-but-relatable characters, dizzying intertwining of hilarious sub-plots, snarky dialogue, quick comedic timing, and a toe-tapping soundtrack makes the recipe for a delicious and refreshing 99 minutes. Though Zinos' life was encroached with a romance on the fritz, a brother out of jail, and an unfortunate back injury, his restaurant, Soul Kitchen, remains a constant, and even when its success dips below normal, he perseveres in caring for his customers and learning new things through culinary endeavors, showing the audience that passions are not to be fooled around with (and that anyone can learn to cook). Girlfriends can come and go, employees can be fired and re-hired, brothers can go to jail and get parole, but a passion that kindles a flame in one's soul always stays fervent. Such an inspiring message, when conveyed with food, something we all can relate to, left such a beautiful and eye-opening feeling with me. Our lives are so fast-paced that sometimes when we eat at a restaurant, after skimming the menu, ordering, shoveling food down our throats, paying, and then running out to the parking lot, we don't stop ourselves to remember that we just contributed to someone's pride and joy, that while we were nonchalantly slurping our soups and forking our side-salads, someone like Zinos was in the kitchen preparing our meals with a love for his career. Soul Kitchen takes this concept of passion and runs with it, reminding us that we should be happy with what we do and that we should do what makes us happy. Fatih Akin, in this sense, could be considered the greatest chef in the film industry.

My favorite film in Intro to Film Aesthetics and Analysis this year was Jean-Luc Goddard’s 1960 film “Breathless.” Aesthetically the film is very pleasing in stark black and white with a very attractive Jean Seberg playing something of a femme fatale. Goddard once said that “All you need for a movie is a gun and a girl” and “Breathless” is a wonderful representation of that. The film pulses with energy and life as jump cut after jump cut plunges us further into it’s simple tale of a man on the run from the law. The dialogue is riveting and excellently crafted. Who could forget the character Parvulesco’s greatest ambition: “To become immortal... and then die?” The distanciation in the opening scene is incredibly entertaining a Michel tells us to “get stuffed.” The greatest scene in the movie, and easily my favorite this semester, is the extended scene in the hotel room where Michel and Patricia just talk. They truly connect in front of us and our attachment to the characters is solidified. The real reason I love “Breathless” is the feeling of energy and impromptu filming. The hand held cinematography gives a documentary feel and you can feel the passion of the filmmakers jumping off the screen. “Breathless” oozes love of film and Goddard fills it to the brim with the enthusiasm of a young filmmaker ready to make his mark on the world. Breathless is the kind of film I want to make; a film that feels real, raw, and vital.

My favorite film from Intro to Film Aesthetics and Analysis this year was Battleship Potempkin, partially because it was a unique and spellbinding film, and partially because it was inspiring to know that such a great motion picture was made in 1925. The fact that it broke the conventions of classical filmmaking by having no main character was especially interesting, and of course complimented the political context of the 1905 Revolution and the idea of the proletariat.

I also thoroughly enjoyed the ten minute build-up as the two ships advanced toward each other; I laughed aloud when the title "BROTHERS!" came up on screen.

Battleship Potempkin is a film that I would recommend to any film student, experienced or no. I myself intend to watch it again.

When I look back at what this semester in Introduction to Film Aesthetics and Analysis has been, I realize that we have dived into the world of films and we have travelled through time, space, race and religion. Although every single movie we have seen has undoubtedly added to my further understanding of the art of filmmaking, the one movie that completely shattered my understanding of the outside world was “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari”. In high school we inevitably study about World War I and the consequences it had on different countries. When we discuss what happened to Germany, as a country that lost, we talk about the huge reparations that needed to be paid, the lack of male population and the poverty that prevailed as an aftermath. However, what makes “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari” unique in its representation of that time is that by diving into the world of this film, I feel as if I enter the distorted mind of a German after the war had ended. The horrors, the distortion, and the fear all creep in from every single set we see on the screen. Through the use of oblique camera angels, distorted shapes and odd settings we enter history as some people experienced it –some went crazy and lost complete understanding of the outside world. To some extend, I feel like we can compare this movie to Freud’s work on trying to bring the unconscious on the foreground so that hysteria can be expressed and then healed. In our case the plot mimics Freud’s efforts by trying to bring both us, as viewers, and the main protagonist to the idea that the crazy person is not Dr. Caligari but Francis himself and he needs to be healed.



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