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Still from Charles Burnett’s classic Killer of Sheep

For Black History Month, film critics Manohla Dargis and A.O. Scott of the New York Times have compiled an interactive list of culturally, artistically, and historically important motion pictures.  This resource is quite valuable and can also serve as a springboard for interesting discussion.  Along with the movies they have chosen — one per day for the month of February — there are many others noted in their comments and footnotes.  Many directors and other figures from film history who are featured in Moving Images, such as Oscar Micheaux, Spike Lee, and Charles Burnett, are highlighted among the selections.

Today’s Google Doodle is dedicated to one of the true pioneers and master directors of cinema: Sergei Eisenstein.  In fact, the splash page illustration of Chapter 1 of Moving Images is inspired from one of Eisenstein’s most famous films, The Battleship Potemkin.  Funny enough, you can look to the last post on mediateacher.net to see a reference to the core of one of the key aspects of Eisenstein’s work and the innovations in editing that he and his peers were establishing in their work, montage style of editing and the meanings that can be forged through the relationships and juxtapositions of shots.  The example used there is expressed in the idea known as the Kuleshov Effect.  For more, here is a fine recent article on Eisenstein and another of his celebrated films, October, by Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian

About a year and a half ago, I posted an end-of-the-summer piece titled A “stink bucket of disappointment” or just some criminally wacky fun? about the movie Suicide Squad, written and directed by David Ayer (whose latest is Bright) and edited by John Gilroy.  For a very interesting critical investigation of editing related to Suicide Squad, I highly recommend this video: The Art of Editing and Suicide Squad It is from the YouTube channel Folding Ideas (by Dan Olson), and you can start at 01’20” into the video where he starts getting into the analysis of the movie’s editing.  

In fact, the piece is as much about cohesive storytelling as it is about the craft of editing.  There are many excellent breakdowns of issues to consider in the process of editing, as discussed throughout Moving Images, particularly in Chapters 1 and 2.  And Olson even references the Kuleshov Effect (at 17’30”) to help explain glaring weaknesses to the opening of Suicide Squad.  It is a revealing example of analyzing the effect of composition choices with editing.  It is worth pointing out that for a full analysis of issues with story and the filmmaking process with Suicide Squad, it would be critical to reference the shooting script by David Ayer.  Many answers to issues posed in the editing analysis could be revealed there.

Are you in the process of working on developing blocking for action scenes?  Comedy?  What about both?  This excellent video from the YouTube channel Every Frame a Painting (by Tony Zhou and Taylor Ramos) focuses on the work of master filmmaker Jackie Chan, and it features some very revealing insights about his working process and unique approaches to directing and editing (and martial arts choreography, of course).  Of particular note are ways in which he creates scenes in his earlier work produced in Asia versus movies made in Hollywood.  A very fun and enlightening movie for film students.

Among the very necessary debates and amidst the range of fallout that mediamakers have seen and are still to see from the New York Times investigative report on Harvey Weinstein and his subsequent fall from power as a movie studio executive, media students, educators, and professionals must sift through many perspectives and viewpoints.  I would like to highlight this op-ed by Sarah Polley that appeared today, The Men You Meet Making MoviesMs. Polley was the subject of an earlier post in mediateacher.net’s series on Women Mediamakers, Talking Stories: Portraits with Sarah Polley, which readers may wish to check out for further information on this important multi-talented creator.

There are many Crash Course videos from PBS Digital Studios, starting with one that builds on the Screenwriting Resources posts here at mediateacher.net: Screenplays.  It reviews the standard basic “rules” seen in screenwriting manuals, although you will of course want to turn soon to Chapter 7 of Moving Images to dig in well and be inspired about the possibilities and standards in writing for moviemaking.

There are also pieces on the invention of the movie camera, sound, independent cinema, many on film history, and numerous others.

Soderbergh on set of “Logan Lucky”

“Really?  Can’t be.  Say it ain’t so, Steven.”  That was what many of us said when Mr. Soderbergh declared that he was retiring from directing movies.  And for those who had followed, studied, or were inspired by his unique career and creative output, it seemed that this might certainly turn out to be a bit of a joke from a world-class jokester.  Well, that indeed appears to be the case, and of course, he never really retired by any stretch of the term (such as with Behind the Candelabra, The Knick, and more).  Here is an excellent article on Soderbergh right now one week before the release of his promising new movie, Logan Lucky (written by the decidedly mysterious Rebecca Blunt — is this another Soderbergh joke?).