Section 5: Film Reviews

5.1 

Please post a short film review of approximately 250 – 500 words in length. You are welcome to upload or make use of the framework provided in Rupert’s class. 

The short film ‘Paperman’ is a romantic animation about a young man who bumps into the girl of his dreams on his way to work. Due to the tight schedules of busy workers in the inner-city, the connection the man felt with her did not last long as she had to board a train quite soon. After she leaves, the man is left with a pile of papers and one in particular which has her lipstick on it. The rest of the film explores how the man uses paper airplanes to catch her attention between two building and how the paper airplanes eventually (literally!) brings them together .

While it is a relatively modern animation, the film is completely shown in black and white apart from the girl’s red lipstick. In addition to this, the characters look stereotypical and exactly like drawings. These additions to the story create a nostalgic mood that is quite unique to this film.

It is not just the visual elements that resemble a mid 20th century animation; it’s the music as well. Using instruments such as saxophones and pianos create a jazzy feel and add to the overall nostalgic mood of the film. Music is also used in this film to mirror the emotions and actions of the characters. For example, when the man’s antagonistic-like boss approaches a shot, low and loud saxophone tunes are played to introduce the character to the audience. 

In conclusion, ‘Paperman’ is a very convincing short film that is successful in conveying every emotion the characters are feeling in a short amount of time. Even though similar stories have been brought to life before, Paperman creates its own uniqueness using the colours and music.

5.2 

Please post a review of a feature film production of your choice (British or World cinema). Make sure to comment on the narrative structure, as well as sound, camera, lighting and editing choices.

‘Argo’ is a 2012 historical drama film directed by and starring Ben Affleck. The rest of the cast include Bryan Cranston, Alan Arkin and John Goodman amongst others. The film is a visual representation of the Iran Hostage crisis in 1979 when CIA officer Tony Mendez led the rescue of six U.S. diplomats from Tehran, Iran, under the alias of a Canadian science-fiction film crew.

The film begins through a voice-over narration in which the narrator tells us a short history of the Shahs in Iran. It then introduces the streets of Iran that are covered by the public as they protest and march towards the American embassy. While this introduces the audience to the narrative, it also carries across the tense sense of chaos and how much the Iranians hate the Americans, which is a major key to the rest of the story.

The stage then switches over to American soil where we are introduced to the main character Tony Mendez, played by Ben Affleck. After he is informed of the hostage situation over in Western Asia, he is sparked with the idea of posing to be a Canadian film crew who are location hunting in Iran. We switch over between the hostages in Iran and Mendez in America as he takes his plan into motion for a while until Mendez leaves for Iran himself. Before he leaves we see Mendez mailing a birthday card for his son; this creates an emotional bond between the audience and the character because we know that there would be consequences if anything was to happen to Mendez while he is abroad in war-torn Iran. This gives us further reason to support the title character and so gets the audience further involved in the story.

After Mendez arrives in Iran, we see Affleck’s character switch from being a smart, well-dressed man to a nervous, tensed and anxious foreigner in a dangerous country. We see more chaos during this stage which further establishes the chaos in the country.

Mendez then meets the hostages, who have been staying at the Canadian ambassador’s house in Tehran. Initially, they do not trust Mendez to go along with his plan of posing as a film crew as they fear it may not work. They even figured out the he told them a fake name  if anything were to go wrong.

However, Mendez wins their trust by being honest and telling them his true identity and such. They all agree to go ahead with the plan.

Towards the end of the film, we see the tense scenes at the airport as Mendez and the hostages try to escape Iran. And as expected, they all make it through to home soil in the end and the film tells the audience that they all continue to live happily back home.

In the early stages of the film, the music played is upbeat and energetic, especially the scenes in Hollywood where Mendez meets with producers and creates ‘Argo’ the fake movie. This shows us the hope that was present in the early stages of the plan to help the hostages in Iran as well as getting the audience to understand the differences between America and Iran, where dramatic silences are preferred to music. This contrast of sounds used in the two countries solidifies the tension and chaos in Iran.

On the topic of camera, shots are usually steady and composed when shot in America and the opposite in Iran, especially in the shots of rioting and violence. This is used to convey the disorder and distress in the foreign country.

Similarly, bland and dark lighting is used to show Iran while bright and striking colours are shown in Hollywood. This also tells the audience about the situation in Iran.

In conclusion, Argo is a heart-racing and emotionally attaching film that jumps between America and Iran with many, many contrasts. These contrasts are used to mirrors the respective moods and atmosphere of the country and is successful in doing so to a large extend. In a nutshell, it is not a surprise that Argo was critically and commercially successful with the screenplay, camera movement and music keeps the audience tensed and up-to-date with the moods.

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One thought on “Section 5: Film Reviews”

  1. Great film reviews Gokul! It would have been great not to pick an American film for the feature section, but I really enjoyed your thoughts and think you did a great job at considering sound, camera etc. You’ve successfully completed 5.1 & 5.2!

    Like

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