Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Creating cages of our own devices: SHAME

Shame is a feeling that arises from the consciousness or exposure to unworthy or indecent conduct or circumstances. Steve McQueen's new film Shame peels apart the layers of meaning behind this multi-faceted word and leaves his characters to find themselves amongst the ruins. McQueen directs Michael Fassbinder (Brandon) and Carey Mulligan (Sissy) as a brother and sister who are seeking to find solace in a chaotic and unrelenting space.

The film begins with Brandon, naked in bed. We see him laying with the sheet up to his navel, staring off into space, music swells the screen. He refuses to look at us, or even in our general direction. Brandon is not someone that McQueen is going to let us get close to. Brandon's apartment is a square, white space. We walk the entire length of the apartment with Brandon; from bedroom, to living room, to bathroom, fully nude, somewhat at peace, uninhibited in this sterile place. Brandon's world is constructed out of clean lines, there are no distractions here, nothing to excite the senses, this is a world in which Brandon's addiction can be released. Brandon is an addict, a slave to his body, perpetually fixed on getting off. McQueen never illuminates the cause or circumstances that lead Brandon to this place of alienation, of self-abuse, but we are allowed to see his deterioration, mostly without judgement because we are left out of his past. Brandon's daily routine is infallible; masturbate at home, watch porn at the office, masturbate in the bathroom at work, call a prostitute when he gets home, or watch porn till he falls asleep. Sex propels his day, he is bound by his innate and often unexplained urges. 

His world, and the viewers, is turned upside down when Brandon's sister Sissy shows up unexpectedly in Brandon's apartment. Sissy is the alter ego of Brandon; chaotic, impulsive, overly emotional. McQueen counterbalances Brandon's world through Sissy. She is also pained, chained to her sensitivity, a similar victim of circumstance. They have several exchanges throughout the film, which I believe make this movie nothing short of special. Their interactions are heated, filled with confusion, anger, resentment, and an intense need for emotional connections. This pair of actors are the reason this fim exceeds beyond a simple exploitative film about the cage of sexual addiction and depression. Without Brandon and Sissy, this film is just porn, just a meditation on the breaking of flesh for carnage and self abusive needs. But with them, it surpasses the need for pleasure and breaks into a world of pain. The sex in this film is obtrusive, violent, at times the viewer feels the needs to look away from the screen, but through Sissy and Brandon the sex transcends the physical to become a representation of pain and suffering. These characters are locked in its embrace and are slowly churned into oblivion. 

Fassbinder is fearless and naked (physically but more importantly emotionally) in this performance, allowing himself to be the instrument for his director's art. He brings Brandon's story to life and although we may not understand why he is the way he is or sympathize with his affliction, we care till the very end. Mulligan takes no prisoners in this film, she is uncompromising and doesn't ever plead the audience for their sympathy, though she may require it from Brandon.  The siblings relationship is the heart of this film and honestly I wish McQueen could have found more areas to explore with them. The only fault of this film was it's insistence on pushing the envelope with it's NC-17 rating, giving the audience more flesh than we required and leaving us a bit high and drive on the emotional connections, but Shame doesn't ask more from it's audience than to open our eyes and drink in what we see.

Brandon and Sissy before a moment of explosion. 

 Brandon in his devoid white world. 

 A victim of his fate. 

Brandon's most intimate interaction that fizzles into impotence. 

Brandon, in his empty space, watching porn. 

Sissy's heartbreaking performance of "New York, New York". 

The pain is palpable. Mulligan is astonishing. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


Bill Cunningham lives in a closet stacked from floor to ceiling with filing cabinets filled with film negatives, albeit a closet at Carnegie Hall, but he would be the last person in world to wear that title like a badge of honor. Bill, a man who has spent his life lurking invisibly (at least he says) in the background of the fashion world for the last fifty years, has made a life out of documentation. Bill writes the "On The Street" column in The New York Times. He has made a career out of belts, hats, scarves, patterns, shoes, shows, and women. He was given his first camera by photographer David Montgomery and was told to use his lens like a pencil to paper, to say something with it's images. Bill is the most jovial man I have ever had the pleasure of watching onscreen and his laughter and love for his job is infectious. He has had a very long and intriguing career spanning several heavy weight publications, including WWD, The New York Times, and The original Details magazine.

Richard Press's documentary Bill Cunningham New York follows Bill, now over 80 years old, through his day to day life. We follow Bill on his bike, in his blue painter's smock, a camera slung over his neck, riding up and down Manhattan, in search of the moment when fashion presents itself. Bill never sets out to find the perfect picture but instead prides himself on letting the street speak to him, "The best fashion show is on the street, always has been, always will be". Through the snow, sleet, sun, rain, and whatever else mother nature has to offer, the street is always there and so is Bill.

Bill spends a lot of energy conveying the importance of the clothes, he insists that his point of view is not  of any importance, claiming "it's not what i think, it's what i see." Bill lets the street tell him the story it wants to tell. Bill is just the messenger, but he is also a man who has given up his life to capture culture in New York for decades and because of Bill we have an unprecedented record of the ebbs and flows of fashion's epicenter.

Bill has remained a figure set permanently in the fashion industry while striving and insisting on standing in its fringes. His photos are meant to be fleeting moments that catch his subjects in all their unposed glory. His steadfast belief that money is the root of all evil has allowed him to dictate his career and life's journey any way that he so chooses. Bill says, quite eloquently, "If you don't take money, they can't tell you what to do kid, that's the key to the whole thing." He has never sold out and refuses to let anyone twist his work into anything other than pure observation.

In a interview from 1989, Bill beautifully expresses the need for fashion in a world fraught with wars, homelessness, sadness, and loneliness. He addresses those who believe that fashion is a frivolity that shouldn't be taken seriously in a world full of so much else but Bill insists, "Fashion is the armor that helps us to survive everyday life! I don't think you can do away with it, it would be like doing away with civilization". He insists that the mere existence of beauty allows for the world to find it.

This film must be seen by anyone who has ever craved to find their passion and once discovers it realizes that nothing else needs to exist as long as the path to that passion can be taken.

Bill's Column in The New York Times

Another signature Bill. 

At war on the streets of NYC, capturing fashion as it happens. 

On the front lines of the Parisian fashion shows

Whatever it takes to get the shot

Bill and his camera, in signature blue smock, which he wears purely for functionality

Bill's studio apartment, filled from floor to ceiling with filing cabinets of negatives 

On the street

Monday, November 7, 2011

Down the rabbit hole and into oblivion: MELANCHOLIA

Lars von Triers' cinematic feast of tortured souls continues in his newest film Melancholia. 

Melancholia had its Los Angeles premiere at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood last night, as part of this years AFI Film Festival. People stood in line for hours in hopes to experience a unique cinematic spectacle that would foray outside their comfort zones. A hush came over the room as a gushing Kirsten Dunst took the stage to introduce the film with her co-star, Udo Kier. Mrs. Dunst beamed proudly as she waved to friends and family in the audience and the lights slowly dimmed to blackness. Her smiling face only seconds before sharply contrasts to the film's opening montage, a sequence of slow moving shots of her face, absentmindedly unaware of the destruction taking place behind her. Dead birds are falling gracefully in slow motion as Kirsten tries to open her eyes. This is a stark image to initiate the viewer in von Trier's film but, as we will later discover, we will spend the next two hours as Kirsten spends the first two minutes, alone, trying to open our eyes to the world around us.

The film begins with an overture of images combined with Wagners' compositions from Tristan and Isolde. The epic scale of the images complements the grand operatic score. These opening images allow us to step outside the realm of a created reality and into a dreamlike space where the events of the film are foreshadowed in slow motion, encouraging the viewer to cement these destructive moments in their mind before the film thrusts forward into it's spiraling narrative. These moments are gorgeous interludes that allow the viewer, at the onset of the film, to mediate on the end of the world and the moments that encapsulate it.

The film is broken into two additional parts: Justine (Kirsten Dunst, who hasn't stolen the screen since her indelible performance in Sofia Coppola's The Virgin Suicides) and her sister Claire (played with perfect insecurity by Charlotte Gainsbourg). Justine's section takes place at her wedding reception; a dream world where all the guests are found inside a remote castle to celebrate an occasion that doesn't seem to be happy for anyone. This is the place where we are taken inside Justine's character and shown the darkness that is bubbling underneath. Dunst plays this role with perfectly nuanced moments of despair and longing fused with a slighted air of ineffectual happiness. We see her world crumbling around her elusive nature and this normally wonderful occasion is tainted with distain from beginning to the bitter end. This is the segment where we see Justine's happiness fade in a mere matter of moments into a fragmented series of moments that shred her character into pieces.

The second part of the narrative, follows Claire and the imminent disaster that awaits the planet. A newly discovered planet called Melancholia is on a crash course with Earth and the family is forced to, each in their own way, come to terms with the loss of everything. This part of the film is the most interesting to the viewer as it sets the stage for the disaster that the film's introduction already alluded to. The world is going to be disintegrated but how will these four people choose to deal with that reality is what interests von Trier.

The film's final moment in a field on a hilltop near the house allow us unique access to the mind of each of von Trier's characters. Hiding in plain sight from the looming planet, Justine tells her sister and her son to take her hand and close their eyes. As the camera moves to and from each of the three characters only the son, Leo (played brilliantly by Cameron Spurr) keeps his eyes closed, a image of placid childlike wonder on his face until the very end. Justine, intent on losing her grip on reality from the beginning, opens her eyes but her back remains toward the planet on the horizon. Justine, fearful of the world around her, fearful of all she has to lose, recoils from her son and sister and stares horrified into her fate.

This only being my second Lars Von Trier viewing, the other being his Dancer in the Dark (2000),  I was expecting the violence that explodes at the end but the quiet surrender and total alienation of that destruction left me feeling hungry for the world outside the dark theater walls.

 Justine in her moment of seclusion away from everyone else at her wedding
 A dream that Justine alludes to later in the film, this image is from the beginning montage
 Justine and her new husband, desperately clinging to a false reality. 
 One of the first hints of impending doom, a snow shower. 
 The first image of Justine on screen, trying to open her eyes. 
 The three main characters in the film's beginning montage with Melancholia behind them
An image from the film's final moment, hiding in plain sight from imminent destruction

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Light and Flickering Shadows: THE PURPLE ROSE OF CIARO

Any film that opens with credits over black to the melodic melodies of Fred Astaire singing to his long time cohort Ginger Rogers has to mean that something almost magical is about to happen. The lyrics to "Check to Cheek" make me want to fall in love,  make me to swoon, make my toes tap, and my head swim. Top Hat (1935) effectively changed my life and the fact that Woody Allen's The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985) begins with Fred and Ginger's magical moment meant that something wonderful was about to begin.

The Purple Rose of Cairo is a film that holds a special place near and dear in this heart of mine. A love letter from Woody Allen to the generations of people who had and have shared a love affair with the cinema. 

The film follows Cecilia (Mia Farrow) living a dreary and dull drum life in 1930's New Jersey. She has a husband who beats her, a job as a waitress that she constantly fails at, and a resilient and beautiful relationship with the cinema. Whenever life gives her lemons, and it happens to Cecilia a lot, she rushes to the cinema to sit for hours watching life flicker to life on the screen. She spends all of her time getting lost in the black and white worlds playing out in front of her. 

After one particularly bad day, Cecilia decides to go to the cinema to see The Purple Rose of Cairo for the fifth or sixth time and all of a sudden one of the characters in the film meets her eyes and comes off the screen and into her life. Tom Baxter (Jeff Daniels) adventurer and explorer, has given up his life on the screen to find a new home in Cecilia's arms. This film is best discovered in the eyes of the viewer and it's a genuine pleasure to watch the drama that enfolds the world between reality and fiction. Cecilia is constantly at war with the moment she is living and the fantasy that tugs at her heartstrings. A woman who has always had nothing suddenly has the life she has always dreamed of, so what if it's fictional, as Cecilia says "You can't have everything".  Her relationship with reality prevents her from truly giving herself over to her fantasy and yet at the same time makes her heart believe that love is truly possible in life, not just in the movies. This film will leave you wanting more and breaking your heart all in the same moment. 

The Purple Rose of Cairo is one of my favorite films, it reminds me that magic is always lingering around the corner and even when the world has grown dim and painful. We will always have movies to remind us that something better and more beautiful is lurking just around the bend. 

Mia and Woody on set

Cecilia lost in wonder at the restaurant

Cecilia and her cinema

Cecilia and the actor who plays Tom Baxter in reality

One of the two most beautiful moments on film

Cecilia day dreaming about the movies she loves so much

Monday, June 27, 2011

Melancholy and the Many Faces of Love: MYSTERIES OF LISBON

Let me start by saying, this film redeemed my entire week. After obtaining tickets to The Guard, Winnie The Pooh, Love Crime and The Devil's Double at the Los Angeles Film Festival this week, Mysteries of Lisbon was the only screening I was able to attend. I had never heard of Raoul Ruiz or his plethora of features. My only introduction to this 257 minute film (that's over four hours) was a picture on the LAFF website and the knowledge of its patience-trying running time, not the greatest source of inspiration for a film with a start time of 7pm. But, after David Ansen, Artistic Director of the festival, finished his opening remarks, praising Ruiz as an artist and visual story telling master, I was strapped in and ready to feast my eyes on the images coming to life on the screen.

This film was sumptuous in every way (the man next to me kept saying, "Oh my god, that's gorgeous" over and over and over again throughout the first thirty minutes). Ruiz creates a story which constantly intertwines the playfulness of fiction and the cold dark truths of reality. One of the ways in which Ruiz utilizes fantasy to tell his story is by incorporating a puppet stage, filled with all the characters from the film as paper cut-outs. He uses this stage to set up the tableau in the next scene, using these make believe characters to come to life (so to speak) into their real life counterparts.

The film follows three (you could argue more) main protagonists, all with hidden identities, all with dark and painful pasts. The beauty of the story is in the ways in which all of these characters come to find out who they truly are and how their lives had always been inextricably intertwined. Giving away the secrets would defeat the purpose of the film that Ruiz set out to create, so I will not attempt to do so here. His film is a woven tale of woe, we discover the characters as they discover themselves. This film is about secrets and the way they haunt our lives till the very end.

Ruiz narrative would be incomplete without the incredible art direction by Isabel Branco and set decoration by Paula Szabo. These two women create the world in which Ruiz characters get to breathe and it's a gorgeous world of muted colors and deep greens, you can truly lose yourself within the frame. The cinematography by Andre Szankowski has an indelible impact on the audience. He constantly plays with filters and alters his depth of field in moments of frustration, confusion, and utter loss. The camera work in this film is a journey all by itself.

In an industry which has lost itself in large studio pictures in order to secure a "big bang for their buck", this film was an experience I will never forget. This film helps me to remember why I moved here in the first place and helps me to have faith in filmmakers willing to take a chance on a cinematic experience that they know their audience still craves. It also continues to strengthen my resolve to participate in the festival experience, because films like this need to breathe, they need to flicker to life on screen in front of a captivated audience, they need someone to believe in them.

Mother and Son reunited at last

A love triangle with a tragic end

Just feast your eyes on this gorgeousness.

A lover's quarrel

By her son's fevered bedside.

(All captions are vague, spoiling this film would be wrong in so many ways.)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Overcoming Numbness: ORDINARY PEOPLE

Robert Redford's Ordinary People, was a disjointed portrait of a family struggling to cope with loss. Redford's stunning cast is comprised of Donald Sutherland as Calvin Jarrett, Mary Tyler Moore as Beth Jarrett, Timothy Hutton as Conrad Jarrett, and Judd Hirsch as Dr. Tyrone Berger. I believe that Hirsch's very accurate portrayal of Conrad's psychiatrist provides this film with some throughly redeeming qualities. Sutherland and Hutton's strained and yet tender relationship anchors the audience firmly within the film's narrative, especially in the film's final minutes when both men come full circle to grapple with their debilitating grief. Mary Tyler Moore was the weakest and most unlikeable character in this fantastic ensemble. Her insistence on anger as a manner of managing her grief was believable but completely unredeemable.

Hutton is amazing in his portrayal of a young man lost within himself and amongst the living. The relationship he develops with Hirsch throughout the film truly requires the audience to approach Conrad cautiously, realizing that he is a ticking time bomb of emotion. We, as the audience, have to wait for the final explosion. Conrad and Berger spend most of the film rooting out the societal and familial insistence on closing down emotions, the notion that emotions should remain private, within the individual and/or the family, which in turn prevents Conrad from dealing with the amassed guilt over the death of his brother.

Beth, is an infuriating portrait of a mother. Sutherland sums it up beautifully in his final dialogue with her, stating that she not only buried their son but she also buried everything that made her a woman, a mother, and a human being. The loss of her son completely erased her presence. Her insistence on subtly avoiding and blaming her only living son makes her a monster in the audience's eyes, as we don't meet Buck (the deceased), we have little to grasp in terms of how much she has lost.

The film meanders through it's first hour, slowly building a narrative worthy of it's explosive climax. I think that the last thirty minutes are what pushed this film into the Best Picture category. I don't want to give all the details of the final dramatic scenes but Conrad, Berger, and Calvin find themselves at a crossroads and they all make it across the dangerous impasse to learn what each are truly made of.

Redford's honest portrait of a broken family is beautifully realized in it's characters, and the study of each of these people and all their rough edges make this difficult film an important film to see.

Conrad and the distance between him and his mother.

Final climatic scene between Conrad and Dr. Berger

Calvin and Beth sharing a moment.

Dr. Berger, the most amazing portrait in this film.

Sunday, June 19, 2011


Ok, so this is totally lame of me. My recent (snap) decision to start a blog during a very tumultuous time in my life (hence the lack of consistency with posts and research) already has me feeling guilty and full of anxiety. I wanted to use this blog to reignite that feeling that I had sitting in a classroom everyday. To help remind me why I love film and how much movies have changed my life and hopefully inspire someone, somewhere, to watch something they wouldn't thought to watch before.

Living in LA, I have come to realize that I have access to so many unique screenings both at home and at the theater; ranging from the strange (screening of The Fly, one of my first ventures into the Horror genre), the unusual (attending a Leprechaun franchise series of screenings), the classic (Casablanca on a print for the first time ever), along with generally getting to see every film that piques my interest as soon as it hits the blogosphere.

This is an incredible opportunity to talk about the films that I see every week, both discovering and rediscovering. I want to WANT to write this blog and I boxed myself into a writers corner that I want out of. So as of this next week I am starting over.

Every Monday I will post a new blog, documenting, praising, ranting, or raving about something I have found the week before. Hopefully, I will get to uncover some interesting things I never knew about and maybe inspire someone else to seek out these movies and bask in watching them. I am still figuring out what I want to do in this crazy business of entertainment, but I do know that I want to be a part of finding audiences for films that deserve to be seen. After all, films are art intended to be seen by people seeking a collective experience. So, tune in next week for some good old fashion film talk.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

A Love Affair with the Obsure: ED WOOD

If Edward Scissorhands is a love letter to Tim Burton than Ed Wood, Burton's dramedy biopic of the late director Edward D. Wood Jr, is a love letter to the artists who work with the film medium. Again, as in Scissorhands, there are similarities between Burton's life and that of Ed Wood, both in regards to his imagination and precise insistence on creative control of content and artistic flourish. Burton's film, although I believe it to be his least interesting, focuses on the two major features that Edward made, now celebrated as cult classics, Plan 9 From Outer Space and Bride of the Atom (renamed under a re-released title Bride of the Monster later in the film). It also chronicles Edward's professional and personal relationship with Bela Legosi, which mirrors the relationship Burton created with his long time idol Vincent Price.

The film follows Edward on his journey to gain film recognition and fame and creates a sub narrative about his quest for love of women, despite the fact that he likes to wear women's clothing (he is especially fond of angora, used thoroughout the film as a constant reminder of this strange fetish). The most endearing qaulity of Burton's Edward is Johnny Depp's protrayal. Depp, perfectly cast as a the blissfully ignorant artist who truly believes that quaility and depth is overlooked by the audience in favor of the larger story, plays Edward to a tee. He creates a character we fall in love with for his naive nature and endless optimism, even in the face of muliple failed film financing, limited budgets, small crews, and limited production supplies. Edward and his crew could crank out a picture in only a few days, shooting almost fifty scenes in the same time it took other studios to shoot a meager three or four. At the end of the day, Edward just wanted to make pictures and he wanted people to sit in the theater and enjoy watching them.

Even though it never happened in real life, the scene at the end of the film where Edward meets his idol; writer, director and producer Orson Welles, provides the fictional Ed some solace and joy amongst his numerous failed films. Welles reminds Edward, and the audience, that the business of making pictures should always begin with personal integrity and a willingness to stand by your story, no matter what the reaction of the audience or the critics might be.

The realtionships, in the end, are what holds this film together and why I found some joy in it's conclusion. Ed, admist his professional follies, never lost faith in the people in his life and never sought out to make a movie he couldn't defend. This makes Edward like Burton in more ways than one. Burton fought long and hard to get the funds to make this film in black and white. He was convinced that Edward's story could only be told within the world of black and grey, the same medium in which Edward made his. It was a tough sell to the larger studios and after failing to get this movie finianced, Disney finally stepped in and told Burton they would not only allow him control over the film stock but also allowed him full creative control over the content of the film. Burton, like Ed, sought the difficult route to make the movie he wanted but in the end wouldn't compromise for his artistic vision for anyone.

I wouldn't recommend Ed Wood to the general film viewer but if you have seen the Burton canon, sans this film, you should really give it a watch. It fits within his larger eerily romanticized world but remains the most restrained of Burton's works.

Friday, June 3, 2011

The dystopian land of Edward Scissorhands

The film begins encased in snow. An older woman is tucking her granddaughter into bed, oddly large for such a small little girl. The granddaughter asks innocently about the origin of the snow and the grandmother stares, lost in thought, out of the bedroom window. Her story begins with a boy, a mountain, and the street below.

As we get aquatinted with Burton's "idilic" world, which seems to confine its characters to roam a single avenue neighborhood of lollipop colored houses, we begin to realize that things are most definitely not as they seem. This film is filled with a bouquet of strange housewives and nosy neighbors, who seemingly are never allowed access off this confined cul-de-sac (at least the women are not ever allowed to leave, the men arrive and leave promptly at the same time each day, leaving home in their candy color coordinated vehicles and driving to the land off screen). Every house has an eerie familiarity mixed with the repulsive. We meet Peg Boggs, played by the fantastic Diane Wiest, as she is walking door to door trying to sell her neighbors Avon products with a plastered on smile and veiled disappointment. After striking out with every one of her neighbors,n she gets into her car and fixes her sights on the haunted mansion high up on the mountain above their town. What she finds when she pulls up to the overgrown gate is an entrance to another world altogether. Peg, enters through the huge doorway and finds life is flourishing beyond the broken gates. She is instantly mesmerized by what she finds. As she walks around the house and makes her up to its summit, she finds a small boy sitting timidly in a dark corner of the attic and promptly decides to take him back down the mountain to become a member of her family. 

Edward, played by the indelible Johnny Depp, emerges from the dark, hands first, initially frightening the audience and Peg. But after the initial shock of Edward's appearance, we instantly fall in love. Edward is both initially horrifying and sad to the audience, at once we are hesitant to trust his body, but then we come to realize that he is hesitant too. Edward is a character created by its actor. Depp speaks for Edward in the movements of his face, the subtly of his expressions, and the sheer joy he experiences the moment someone accepts him. When Edward emerges from the light we realize that he has as much to fear about the world around him as we do. We simultaneously sympathize with his social unease and unfamiliarity and empathize with his grace at trying to be a regular human being. 

Edward quickly becomes the oddity turned celebrity in his small town. He is celebrated for his differences and finds himself the center of attention in a town where the rumor mill is all that's interesting. But this fame quickly dissipates when the town ladies man accuses Edward of raping her. The town picks up their pitch forks and their idyllic world goes up in flames. 

As the town begins to take it's revenge on the boy they can't define a sub plot has also been brewing. Kim, played by Winona Ryder, is Peg's daughter. She finds herself initially frightened of Edward and his strangeness but over the course of the film finds her love for him catching her off guard. Her boyfriend Jim, played by Anthony Michael Hall, who she loves for his aggressiveness becomes abrasive the more she interacts with Edward and his sweet awkwardness. Kim, finds herself at odds with the life she had created for herself and the one that Edward opened her eyes too. She realizes that Edward would always be more of a man to her than Jim could ever be. 

Burton's creation and success of this film I believe lies in his familiarity with this story. Burton has always believed that Edward was the screen incarnate of himself. Burton grew up in a similar monochromatic suburban neighborhood in Burbank, CA that could not contain the dreams and make believe that little Tim Burton sought out to create. His vision of the world was larger than the perfectly manicured lawns and close minded natures of suburbia's residents. Burton would always see himself as an outsider looking in. This film was a way for him to express the dystopia he always found in his real life and create a character who ultimately cannot assimilate to the world around him, but in the case with both Burton and Edward, we wouldn't want them too. Burton's stylistically exaggerated world of color and form allow us access to a world outside of the one in which we live. His collaborators, Danny Elman, composer; Colleen Atwood, costume designer; Ann Harris, Rich Henricks and Paul Sonski, set designers; Tom Duffield, art director; Bo Welch, production designer; and Stan Winston, special effects producer all work seamlessly to create the world in which Burton's characters reign. Most of these amazing artists will continue to work with Burton on his subsequent films, which help to cement his visual style and production flair. Burton creates a true fantasy world that we, as the audience, want to crawl into and discover something we didn't know was possible. Burton takes us out of our reality and places us within his dreams. 

More on Burton's style, collaboration, narrative structure, and films in posts all throughout June (I would like to have a new post up every Friday of the month). I also hope to go to the Burton Retrospective Exhibit at LACMA to gain some more information about his career, life, obsessions, and unique works of visual and cinematic art. 

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Here We Go

I never thought I would delve into the totally cliched world of cinema blogging, but lately I have been feeling nostalgic for the countless hours per week that I spent watching, dissecting, critiquing, and generally loving films during my short but sweet time in film school. 

It's been a hard real world realization that leaving school meant the end to the constant flow of new and exciting information, the end of being taught and inspired on a daily basis, and the end of the effortless encounters with films I had never before had exposure to. 

This blog is meant to serve as a way for me to continue film school out in the real world. A place to spend a few hours every week to discover a director, writer, cinematographer, actor, director, or editor that I have had very little experience with before. It's my intention to use this blog as a creative outlet for the learning that I crave and miss in my life. It's a place to help take me out of the real world and into the cinematic illusions that movies consider their sole purpose to create. 

Every month, I will select one artist whose body of work shares a consistent style, theme, and tone and set out to explore four of their films, one for each week of the month, to discover, engage with, and respond to. 

First up, thanks to the opening night retrospective at the LA County Museum of Modern Art and my first unforgettable cinematic experience with EDWARD SCISSORHANDS, is the visionary director TIM BURTON. 

Let's have some fun.