Month: August 2011

Blue Valentine and The Christian Right

Blue Valentine is a contemporary take on a romance that explores the deterioration of a marriage by jumping through time to examine moments throughout the relationship.

blue valentine

The inevitable failure of the marriage is undoubtedly pinned on Cindy (Michelle Williams), whilst Dean (Ryan Gosling) collects the empathy of the audience. The film opens with Dean displaying a sincere, everyman charm before befriending colleagues and then displaying his lovable treatment of old people. This is juxtaposed with a stone faced Cindy who is shown annoyed at the prospect of fun, before killing the family dog. I hope that my own inherent gender is not the reason for siding with Dean at this point. However, there is a recognised tiredness to Cindy, so following the non-sequential structure of the narrative, there is an expectation of explanation – for a moment which explains or contextualizes her behavior.

The following scenes reveal the moment in which they first meet – Dean exercises his charm and sense of humor, whilst Cindy deals with her  current, disagreeable boyfriend. It is once Dean has been established as the point of empathy, and the character who holds onto his sense-of-humor, that he exercises a subtle conservative, albeit loose, ideology. When they first talk at length on the bus: Cindy tells a dark joke about a child molester. Dean smiles playfully but confesses he does not find it funny – although he is playful, his comment on his taste appears sincere.

Gosling displaying his screen-permeating loveliness

When looking into their future – in an aptly named ‘future room’ of a sex motel, Dean lays bare his want for another child. The audience are aligned with the male position, almost pit against the female. He explains his discovery of fatherhood and his ever delightful concept of family, whilst she appears to act as a mother out of necessity. The sentiment of Dean is not forgotten shortly after when they proceed to have sex. Cindy insists on a rough form of intercourse, in which she is dominated. This is cut short when Dean states that he cannot do it, “I don’t want that. I want you. I don’t want you like this…I’m not gunna’ hit you, I love you”. Left to ponder these words, he seems to be condemning non-heteronormative sex.

Back in time again, twice lovely Dean is told that Cindy is pregnant, and that it isn’t his baby: resultantly she signs for an abortion. In the hospital we witness a vulnerable Cindy answering invasive questions that seem to be forming a picture of her as sexually promiscuous, as if it somehow tarnishes her as immoral or sinful. We learn that she had sex at 13 and has had sex with 20-25 people (she is not sure). Dean waits outside, the very model of a supportive partner. The procedure begins. The camera is very invasive, looking at her fearful expression and amplifying the sound of utensils. Thankfully, in the eyes of pro-life supporters, she sees the light and abandons the procedure. Dean is supportive.

Once word gets to the actual father of this relationship, he and a couple of toughs beat Dean. I’m sure somewhere in amongst the punches delightful Dean turns the other cheek, or forgives them or something. But in all seriousness, his character continues to show reasons to empathize with his position. Cindy, in turn, becomes the antagonist who acts immorally. The closing of the film has her telling adorable, lovely Dean that she wants a divorce. He responds to this by reminding her of the promises made in the ceremony; how she is not recognizing the sanctity of marriage.

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The Ugly Duckling: Female Stereotypes and Psychological Disorders in Black Swan

The conventions of mainstream horror films have transformed ostensibly in parallel with socio-cultural development. The narrative structure and even the nature of the ‘monster’ have undergone broad, noticeable changes with the advancement of movements such as postmodernism and feminism. This particular genre holds a great deal of significance with regard to the representation of women in film: usually confined to a caricatured stereotype, the portrayal of women has evolved broadly from monster to victim to hero. black swan

Whilst there is a general trend of transformation in Hollywood productions, conventions persist in American cinema, promoting negative stereotypes based on clichéd gender roles. Black Swan achieved box office success as well as critical acclaim but also appeared to implement these regressive gender roles. The following analysis is concerned with the resurfacing of archaic female stereotypes in the film Black Swan and how they are ultimately used to subvert mainstream Hollywood conventions through pastiche.

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Semiotics in A Serbian Film

Considered the most offensive, controversial film of all-time – I have attempted to review A Serbian Film by looking past the controversy – opening with a full synopsis..

serbian film

Retired porn legend Milos has settled down with his wife and son, though financial troubles loom over them. This is until he is offered a large sum of money for one last job by a self professed art-filmmaker – Vukmir. The job is not specified but profitability leads Milos blind. His first performance involves being directed to a derelict orphanage where he becomes part of a sadistic reality show. The exacerbating trials of this ‘art-film’ forebodingly blur the fictionality of other participants including an observant young girl. Milos, growing more concerned with the disturbing nature of the film, is shown another of Vukmir’s projects in which a masked man delivers a baby only to rape the child infront of the laughing mother… (aaand we’ll break it here)

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The Ugly Duckling: Psychological Disorders in Black Swan

This here analysis evolved into something a lot bigger and a tad more comprehensive available here

black swan

Aronofsky’s Black Swan utilises fantasy and the unreal to build suspense and consequently unnerve the audience in moments of classic horror. The extravagant device of physical metamorphosis reflects the transitional state of the Swan Queen and is the result of a flexible equilibrium suggested by Nina’s mental state. However, her psychological condition coupled with the subsequent moments of surrealism support a subtext that is prominent in the film.

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Sibling Rivalry: Brothers and Brodre

In the ‘How-to’ guide of film snobbery, claiming that “the original is better than the blockbuster” is a good way to set you out from the crowd as a true lover of cinema. Especially when the original is a little-known, foreign film – in which case, efforts must be made to constantly refer to the original title: extra kudos for applying an accent where necessary. So in the wake of Let Me/The Right One In (or Låt den rätte komma in for those paying attention), I have taken another recent example of Americanisation and provided an unbiased comparative study…though I have tried my utmost to flaunt my own film-snobbery.

brodre poster

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Inception: Levels of Complexity

With Christopher Nolan’s Inception set for release on DVD (it’s out, it’s definitely out) providing the viewer with the means to pause or rewind the action, does the film lose it’s magic?

inception

Inception follows ‘extraction’ expert Dom Cobb (Leonardo Dicaprio) as he attempts to plant an idea into a subject’s subconscious – by entering his dreams. Fronted as one of the most confusing blockbusters of all time it is hard to say whether a one line synopsis does it justice. But with all the dogmatic hype pushed aside: how confusing is Inception really?

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