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Posts Tagged ‘New York Times’

Here is a follow-up to the Women Pioneers of the Cinema: Patty Jenkins and the Wonder Women post from a few days ago (see below).  For Mekado Murphy’s New York Times “Anatomy of a Scene” series, Patty Jenkins narrates a key scene from Wonder Woman, along with a nice tip of the hat to a strong inspiration for her — Richard Donner’s Superman from 1978.

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storm-troopers-10-was-star-wars-prequels-improve-seriesLooking to check out, review, or share what the upcoming or just-released movies are right now?  Here’s a thorough yet compact interactive article put together by the New York Times.  Good resource for a fun session of watching trailers and reading about what’s up in American moviedom.

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kreosansachaOr, “what exactly is that movie?”  – which was the title to an earlier mediateacher.net post, so we’ll be returning to that phrase again today to explore the ever-evolving 21st century media creation landscape.  (At least that’s what Google translate gave me, so it’s probably a ludicrous translation.  If appropriate, Russian readers can send along a good translation and I’ll add it to this post.  See: that will be 21st century collaborative media in action.) (O.K., here’s the P.S.: О чём этот фильм is a better translation, I am told.  I’ll take your word for it, Marta — Thanks!)

Today, we will be visiting the groundbreaking media event known as Kreosan.  Two young men from war-torn Luhansk, Ukraine, Pavel Pavlov and Aleksandr Kryukov, began conducting home science experiments and posting them to their YouTube channel.  They started to attract a following, and the political and historical contexts of their work provide powerful examples of the ways in which the creation and dissemination of media messages produce new outlets for communication and expression as well as the sharing of information, discoveries, and perspectives across cultures.  A part of that process is also the written expression of ideas through comments by followers and responses by the creators themselves, who have acknowledged the effect of feedback on their output.

kreosanFor an introduction to their work, please check out this Saturday Profile piece by Andrew Roth for the New York Times.  There is a video to watch as well as a print article.  Like many media literacy stories today, this is a richly cross-curricular tale, from the geopolitical situation between Ukraine and Russia for social studies classes to their experiments (such as with the magnetron or with lightning) for science and tech ed coursework.  Watch out for that ray gun!

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Bond…James Bond?

Bond…James Bond?

One of the primary uses of ADR – discussed in Chapter 3 (Sound and Image) of Moving Images – is for dubbing the original voices of a movie into the language of the country in which that motion picture is being distributed, whether for cinemas, television, video games, or whatever platform for which it has been made.  For most Americans, the term “The Fine Art of Dubbing” might seem like a joke since it is not so prevalently used (except for animation) and a great deal of the dubbing that is done is not particularly effective (such as the longstanding tradition of ridiculously bad dubbing in certain Asian martial arts movies).  However, in much of the world dubbing is taken very seriously and the quality can be exceptional.  Here is a very interesting and eye-opening portrait of the work of a dubbing specialist, German actor Dietmar Wunder (the previous link is to the New York Times article and accompanying video; here is just the video).  He is most famous as the German voice of Daniel Craig’s James Bond.  Like with my previous blog posts about the work of the foley artist or sound designer, these resources can provide compelling explorations into the worlds of sound in moviemaking.

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This is where it started: the original story by Chris Claremont with art by John Byrne – the graphic novel can be used in a lesson comparing media and critiquing adaptations

Let’s take a visit to the world of writers today!  For those of you either teaching or learning about the meaning of the word “exposition,” please go and see X-Men: Days of Future Past.  There’s lots on display there.

Speaking of writing, there are two wonderful examples of the craft of fine writing to be found this weekend at the New York Times: A.O. Scott’s reviews of the X-Men movie and Blended are absolutely brilliant.  I particularly recommend his review of Blended; there you will find the best summary of the “Adam Sandler” movie experience that I have seen to date, such as “There are comedians who mine their own insecurities for material. Mr. Sandler, in his recent films, compensates for his by building monuments to his own ego. In Blended, he once again proclaims himself both über-doofus and ultimate mensch, disguising his tireless bullying in childish voices and the ironclad alibis of fatherhood and grief.”  A.O. Scott concludes the piece on Blended with the rating description: “Rated PG-13 (Parents strongly cautioned). It will make your children stupid.”  

Every once in a while, some students will select Adam Sandler movies as a topic of study (for example, those directed by Dennis Dugan, or “Double D” as the last presenters called him), and I have to watch snippets from a variety of Mr. Sandler’s films.  I think I am going to have A.O. Scott’s review of Blended made into a poster and put on my classroom wall.  Media literacy includes examples of brilliant critical writing too, after all.

Barry Scheck of The Innocence Project and screenwriter Pamela Gray, seated

Barry Scheck of Innocence Project and Pamela Gray

I saw X-Men: Days of Future Past with my eldest son this weekend, and before the movie we were barraged with the onslaught of previews for brain-frying movies that are about to arrive: Let’s Be Cops, 22 Jump Street, The Expendables 3, Kingsman, and…oh, here’s a “woman’s movie” — Lucy (starring the consistently superb Scarlett Johansson).  Ah, Luc Besson is back with the latest incarnation of his adolescent “perfect woman” fantasies that he can’t move on from (La Femme Nikita, Fifth Element, Angel-A, etc.), along with his usual vicious Asian stereotypes and more.  I’ll pass.  So, a propos of all this, I would like to bring up this article about a recent talk with screenwriter Pamela Gray (Conviction, A Walk on the Moon), who is featured in our From Page to Screen Close-Up interview.  Watching those trailers, I couldn’t help but think about these lines from the Golden Gate Xpress article, “Gray also said that what she really writes are character-driven screenplays, and that most of hers just happen to involve female leads. She said the challenge is not writing for these women, but instead lies in the sexism of the industry: ‘What’s more difficult is getting those movies made (and) finding assignments with good females roles,’ Gray said. ‘There are fewer and fewer of those assignments now.'”  So, perhaps that is your assignment right now for your media literacy and production class!

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Orson Welles directing Too Much Johnson

Orson Welles directing Too Much Johnson

One of the most motivating and fruitful areas of inquiry for learners can be to investigate the early paths of diverse individuals as they navigate their ways into professional, creative, and adult lives.  I was very satisfied to have been able to document some compelling stories in the interviews done for Moving Imagessuch as those with Greg Butler, David Riker, and Hiro Narita.  In relation to filmmaking professionals, particularly directors, there are many books published in recent years that document perspectives about how these creators started their careers, such as Breaking In by Nicholas Jarecki, The Mind of the Modern Moviemaker by Josh Horowitz, My First Movie (1 and 2) by Stephen Lowenstein, and Moviemakers’ Master Class by Laurent Tirard.  For me, good places to start are with Doug Liman or Michel Gondry in Horowitz’s book.  And from this summer, a great early-in-the-directing-career story emerged with the discovery and restoration of Orson Welles’s film Too Much Johnson.     

Early Inspirations (photo Carl Casinghino)

Early Inspirations (photo Carl Casinghino)

The New York Times just wrapped up an excellent series in this vein: They asked a variety of creative and critical professionals about  first inspirations that may have begun them on their journey to a professional life in their artistically-oriented field of endeavor.  The series, titled First Crush, features many great short pieces, including TV critic Alessandra Stanley’s essay on the perils of keeping your children from watching television.  There is a nicely diverse selection of narratives here, and featured articles are available about television, theater, video games, dance, and more.  One of the most refreshing aspects of the article “Remembering the Spark that Ignited a Creative Fire” is that the people interviewed here are not famous celebrities (at least to our students); they are professionals who have found fulfillment and success in a career of their choice.  Of particular note for media literacy are the pieces by Katie Chironis (a game designer for Microsoft Studios) and actor Evan Handler.    

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dark knight baneFor decades, debates have raged about the relationships of media and violence.  For discussion in media literacy or psychology classrooms, I would like to point out a highly useful and relevant new op-ed in the New York Times by a group of physicians who established an initiative titled Broadcast Thought to provide expertise on depictions of mental health matters in entertainment and news media.  Doctors H. Eric Bender, Praveen Kambam, and Vasilis Pozios highlight recent scholarship that indicates that the most common popular opinions on violence and media – essentially, that watching lots of violence in entertainment does not lead to being violent in real life, as reflected in recent comments by Mark Millar, creator of the Kick-Ass franchise, about the widely scrutinized movie Kick-Ass 2 – are not supported by research or sound reasoning.  The authors state, “There is now consensus that exposure to media violence is linked to actual violent behavior,” and they provide examples of case studies that show exposure to violent imagery to be a strong risk factor in demonstrating violent behavior.  Meanwhile, much of the critical reaction to Kick-Ass 2 can be summed up in the opening quote from Manohla Dargis’s review of the movie: “There isn’t anything good to say about Kick-Ass 2, the even more witless, mirthless follow-up to Kick-Ass.”  Or listen to Cinefantastique.

Earlier, I wrote about Tackling Difficult Topics Through the Lens of Media Literacy, and this new op-ed piece also made me think of a unit in one of my media literacy and production classes, linked to Chapter 5 of Moving Images, in which students investigate questions of who creates media? / why do they create media? / how is media created? and how do messages reach audiences?  For this investigative unit, we look at the FrontLine pieces Digital Nation and The Merchants of Cool, as well as other sources.  As one component of their work, students have a task that implicates them more fully in the learning objective: They must work in collaborative groups to develop a proposal for a documentary, television series, or interactive moving image-based website that explores a selected theme or issues from one of these research pieces.  Each student must individually develop one part of the portfolio that will be presented to the class in a pitch session.  Among topics explored have been ones including issues related to teens (societal roles, driving, peer pressures, etc.), various impacts of digital communications, and violence and the media.

Media antidotes to glorified or flippant depiction of the impact of violence: recent Ken Loach films such as "The Angel's Share" and "Sweet Sixteen"

Media antidotes to glorified or flippant depiction of violence: contemporary Ken Loach films such as “The Angel’s Share” and “Sweet Sixteen”

In one example of a pitch related to media depictions of violence, four students presented examples of how there is “violence in the media” and the presentation initiated by the first two students generally consisted of showing YouTube links to “Jackass”-type viral videos.  In the second half of the pitch by the other two members, the concept itself became less vague and unconvincing to their peers as one group member showed a prezi with research and graphs depicting the influence and pervasiveness of violence in the media, as well as a resource list including the documentaries The Mean World Syndrome and The Bro Code.  The last group member showed a storyboard for the opening of their proposed piece in which they would dramatize a violent incident in a school linked to various popular media, including a current hit song.  Meanwhile, it is what can happen next that is vital to consider: The most important parts of the learning experience can be the follow-up discussions and further inquiry from research and the investigation of reliable, competent resources such as those presented in the “Does Media Violence Lead to the Real Thing?” op-ed.

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