Thursday, June 16, 2011

Week 11: HU121 Film In Society (Paranormal Activity)

Paranormal Activity (2007)
After moving into a suburban home, a couple becomes increasingly disturbed by a nightly demonic presence.

Watching via NetFlix.
Information available on IMDb and Wikipedia.

Discussion Question:
What's your favorite scary movie of all time? Using your knowledge of film and the vocabulary from this class, tell us what makes it so scary. It would help to describe the sound, the shots, the acting, the lighting, and so on. Make us believe it really is the scariest movie out there!

Discussion Answer:

In general, I am not a fan of horror films but I do have a few favorite movie of the genre. The Shining is one of those few films. Throughout the film, many different types of shots are used to build the suspense and fear. 
Many creepy close up shots, especially of Jack Nicholson, raising his signature eyebrows illustrate the insanity going on inside his head. When the family journeys up to the hotel, there is a high-angle shot done from a helicopter, following them giving the sense they are being watched. Another type of shot that is used quite frequently in the film are jump shots. The shot that comes to mind is when Danny is riding his three wheel around and sees the twin girls and the shot is jumping from a full-body shot to a close-up shot to create tension.
Jack Nicholson, one of my favorite actors, is extremely creepy in this film. He really makes you think that he is completely out of his mind. The way he speaks the lines. The way he expressed with his face. Amazing work!

Assignment Question A:
  1. Both of these films had relatively small production budgets - Paranormal Activity was made for roughly $15,000, but it made over $100 million. Cloverfield made over $180 million worldwide. In either case, how did the filmmakers make the tiny budget work for them? Would the film that you watched have worked if they had another $10 million to make it? In other words, what are some ways these small budgets affected the films?
  2. Pretend you were asked to remake the film you viewed. Who would you cast to play the leads? What would you do differently?
Assignment Answer A:
  1. Paranormal Activity made the budget work for them by only using one location, having a small cast, and using "home video" footage for a majority of the film. I don't think the film would have worked if they had an additional $10 million to make it because what wouldn't add anything else to it and special effects would have taken the audience out of that reality. The small budgets made the film makers do things in innovative ways like using a more practical way to drag Katie down the hall as opposed to special effects. 
  2. If I were to remake Paranormal Activity, I would cast much like the film makers here did with unknown actors to give the film a real world feeling. THe only thing that I would have done different as the director with my version of this film to tighten up the pace, in this version some (in my opinion) run long.

Assignment Question B:
Compare and contrast two films by the same director (two Spielberg films or two Hitchcock films or two Kubrick films or Coppola films).

Assignment Answer B:
For this assignment I chosen to do two films by Steven Spielberg, that both star Tom Hanks. Firstly, Catch Me If You Can (2002) is the true story of Frank Abagnale, Jr. who conned millions of dollars worth of checks as a pilot, doctor and legal prosecutor. Then, The Terminal (2004) is about an eastern immigrant, Victor Navorski who finds himself stranded in the JFK airport and takes temporary resident there.

Both of the film's cinematography was done by Janusz Kaminski. Janusz Kaminski has done the majority of Spielberg's films. Both films were filmed in a similar style. Catch Me If You Can used a lot of epic long shots to show the Scope of Frank's adventures. The Terminal used medium and close up shots to give the sense of closeness to Victor.

Like the cinematography on these films the editing was done by the person, Michael Kahn. The editing on Catch Me If You can was fast pace to create the feel of the chase between Frank and Carl. The editing has a much slower pace with The Terminal because they wanted us to feel along with Victor, with time going by much slower. Steven Spielberg, one the worlds best directors, I feel approached these two films in a similar ways. Both films have strong comedic moments as do most if not all of his films do. Both films create compassion for the main character. Through Spielberg direction, he gets just what the films needs from the actors.

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