Cinematography: Lost In Translation (2003)

sofiaSofia Coppola, writer and director.

Sofia Coppola’s, 2003 film, “Lost In Translation” stars Bill Murray as Bob Harris, a washed out actor, who went to Japan to film a whiskey commercial; and Scarlett Johansson as Charlotte, the wife of an up and coming photographer, who decided to accompany her husband on a work trip to Tokyo. As unlikely as these two characters are, they end up meeting each other and to their surprise the otherwise average trip offers new found excitement.

The cinematography, by newcomer Lance Accord, in the film follows a particular ‘style of shooting, (…), and lighting which conforms, in most respects, to the tenets of the classical Hollywood continuity style.’ (King, 2010:92).

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Lance Acord, cinematographer for “Lost In Translation”.

The use of both hand held camera work, out of focus sequences and recurrent use of wide shots ‘plays a distinctive role in the overall aesthetic of Lost In Translation.’ (King, 2010:100)

For example, when Bob first arrives to Tokyo, in the opening sequence of the film, the camera’s attention constantly shifts between handheld close-ups of Bob’s reaction to the intense neon lights and bustling life of Japan’s streets and then quickly cuts to, assumedly, his point of view of the same images discussed above, whilst inside a moving car.

Lost_in_Translation_006Medium shot of Bob taking in Japan’s sights. Blue tinted imagery.

Lost_in_Translation_005Bob’s point of view from inside the moving car.

The next scene showcases Harris, in a wide shot, in his hotel room sitting on the bed. The shot stays static for quite a while and it gives the audience the impression of the character’s loneliness within such an immense room. It begs the question of where his loved one might be.

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Bill sitting by himself in his hotel room, showed through a static wide shot. Loneliness exudes from the frame.

Within the next introduction in the story, the use of the ‘blurry image quality’ (King, 2010:100) is already a noticeable stylistic choice from Coppola; a girl, later to be known as Charlotte, is seen sitting on the windowsill of her hotel room looking down over Japan’s nightlife, as her husband snores loudly on the bed.

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Charlotte sitting on the window sill of her hotel room. Same blue tint as in Bob’s opening sequence and use of shallow focus and blurred imagery.

The initial focus of the shot is on the city lights bellow and only then does the focus puller, Mark Williams, slowly turns the viewer’s attention towards Charlotte and that simple transition demonstrates her vulnerability in an unknown country.

The sequence follows suit into the following morning, as her husband leaves hurriedly to go and perform a photo shoot and Charlotte is left alone in their room, her loneliness starts to seep through the screen in the same way as Bob’s did. The use of a wide shot to showcase her, looking small in the middle of the room, is almost like she is a child who’s been left alone by her parents to fair for herself in a city she doesn’t know well.

Lost_in_Translation_226Charlotte left alone in the room. A sensation of imprisonment transmits across the screen.

Lost_in_Translation_035Further evidence of Charlotte’s loneliness.

Many of the sequences throughout the movie follow the same rules of continuity and stylistic vision that Coppola has expertly integrated into it, so it is easy to acknowledge that the scenes in the hotel would ‘clearly signify boredom or imprisonment’ (King, 2010:92) and scenes with Bob and Charlotte together would signify freedom and happiness, especially as Bob and Charlotte’s friendship evolves.

Inside the hotel:

  • static shots;
  • monotone grade of color;
  • feeling of imprisonment and confinement transmitted through the characters.

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Lost_in_Translation_535Both characters feel oppressed because they are outside their comfort zone in Japan.

Outside the hotel:

  • More hand held shots;
  • more colorful texture to the scenes with the introduction of more color;
  • a new found sense of comfort and freedom arises with the development of their friendship.

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They are each others anchor in a place where they have no one else to confide in.

In the final encounter between Charlotte and Bob, when he embraces her in the middle of a street in Japan, the long shot holds for a while but, as an escape to the norm, this is one of the only times that this specific shot merely shows two people who care about each other. And even though dozens of people are walking past and around them, Bob and Charlotte still manage to be the primary focus.

Lost_in_Translation_624Wide shot. The final goodbye between Bob and Charlotte.

The visuals seen in the film, from the bustling streets to the giant interactive monitors all the way to the typical Japanese game shows are all specificities that the director and cinematographer worked on as to accurately portray and give life to the memories Sofia had with her from years before. (Coppola, 2004)

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“Lost In Translation” is, in the end, a movie about how a journey to a new and different country can be overwhelming and oppressive but if you find someone who is in the exact same situation then things might not be so bad.

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Have a lovely day!

 

Rita x

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Fifty Shades Of Grey: Book review

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I’ve been considering if I wanted to do a review on this book for a week, since it is such a delicate topic for so many readers. But decided to go ahead on it because it is my personal opinion and I have the right to express it as I choose.

So, as many of you probably already know, Fifty Shades Of Grey is part of a trilogy of books by author E.L. James and the content of the story is very much sexually driven as to explain the connection between Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey.

The main story behind it is that a young girl, in her final year of university and is majoring in English, Anastasia Steele unwillingly falls into doing an interview for her university’s student newspaper on the new up and coming and successful business man by the name is Christian Grey. This interview was to be conducted by her friend, Katherine Kavanaugh, but when she found herself sick with the flu, she convinced Anastasia to go in her place because the opportunity to profile the CEO for Grey Enterprises was too good to pass up for a journalist.

And this is how their story unfolds in front of the readers’ eyes.

  • I have mixed feelings and opinions regarding this book, without a doubt. And with this in mind, I will start with what I don’t enjoy about it:Anastasia is constantly showcasing her immense low self esteem about her physical appearance and, for the most part of the book, is “in awe” of how a man of “such beauty” can possibly feel any sexual attraction to her what so ever.

This profoundly irritates me. Maybe, it’s because I enjoy a strong and empowered female character, but for the majority of the book Anastasia is found struggling with her own personal demons and bouts of self doubt that she imposes on their “relationship”. I understand that she over thinks situations a lot, I can relate to that, but to not understand, after countless sexual encounters with this man, that he lusts after her in such an intense and undenying way is very frustrating as a fellow reader of the book who just so happens to be a woman.

  • Christian gets too possessive and dominant over her, to the point that she becomes slightly frightened of telling him what she feels and wants.

I mean, don’t get me wrong, I personally find it quite enticing when a man is not afraid to tell the world that I’m his and that he wants me so intensely that the world just melts away when he pushes me against a wall.

But, I don’t agree or enjoy when a man gets so possessive to the point that he thinks that he is entitled to tell me what I can or can’t wear, what I can or can’t eat and who I can or can’t be friends with (specially if it is another man). This just crosses all types of boundaries for me. That being said, there were a few times in the book that I found Christian to be too imposing towards Ana and that I hoped she would have set her foot down harder when he did that.

Now onto the more positive notes:

  • I don’t agree or like when people say it’s an abusive film prone to empowering the continuation of domestic violence by masking it within a fake romance story.

First of all, it is impossible for the film to be about domestic violence since the characters aren’t married or even in a full blown relationship through the majority of the book. So that point dies there.  

Second, I don’t agree that the story condones physical or emotional abuse towards women, in this case in the personification of Anastasia. Yes, there are a few times that Christian does things that she doesn’t like or agree physically speaking, but as soon as she tells him this, he never does it to her again without her strict consent. Throughout the book, all of the sexual acts that they engage in are all consensual. Yes, she tries some things out that she finds not enjoyable and that is depicted in the book, for example: whipping with leather whips or spanking with a belt. Even for me reading them, I didn’t particularly enjoy them and yes, Ana didn’t like it either which lead to an emotional moment but as they talked about it together, she never gets whipped again. In life, you need to always try something first so you can decide if you enjoy it or not. The same applies to sexual ventures.

  • When it’s said that it is not a romance.

I am partial on this one because through the majority of the book, they have sex, plain and simple. Not a lot of emotion involved apart from the intense longing and lust they have for one and other. But as the story progresses and as Christian starts to give in to Ana more and more, because of all the concessions he does for her, the story starts to slightly turn as it’s revealed that Ana is starting to develop feelings for him on a deeper level and his actions also enhance how he, himself is starting to feel  same.

EL JamesE. L. James, author

Overall, the book was unexpected to me in the sense that I would not enjoy it one bit because of what I’ve heard it does in describing women but I will say that I was quite surprised when I disagreed with some of the things I’ve heard about it. Their “arrangement” is uncommon and is ‘out of the norm’, but only because it showcases some links to the BDSM community even though it doesn’t delve too much into it.

This being said, it is a very repetitive book in the sense that both Anastasia and Christian’s characters seem to be repeating themselves a lot and I find there is a bit of a lack of character development for both parties and I would’ve liked to see them more in depth.

But I firmly believe this trilogy has received a lot more hate than it deserved and it frustrates me a bit that, even in 2015, sex is still a taboo in the modern world.

 

Rating: 6/10

The Theory Of Everything: Review

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This film recounts the story of Stephen Hawking from the moment he meets his wife Jane until the moment he receives the honour of meeting the Queen of England after many years and numerous books and lectures being published and acknowledged world wide.

But the thing that captured my attention was that the film obviously addresses Hawking’s struggle with dealing and coming to terms with his neurological deficiency at the same time that it shows the impact that that has on Jane.

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As his capacity to walk, talk, dress and eat on his own becomes increasingly affected, Jane steps in almost as an extension of Hawking himself as to care for him and helping to make his life as normal and as easy as possible. She becomes quite literally his back bone.

And it is astonishing to see how she dealt with it all. I mean she married him knowing what laid ahead because she loved him. Truly and completely. There is no denying of that fact.

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Which only comes to showcase that the film tells the story not of Hawking’s ascent into professional stardom despite is illness (although that is still shown) but of Jane Hawking’s increasing descent into unhappiness due to the overwhelming notion that after having to take care of three children with no physical help from her husband due to his own inability to do so, having had to take care of a household in all manners, juggling to finish her PhD in Medieval Spanish Poetry  and the added bonus of having to take care of her husband, only came to an inevitable halt because the combination of all of that mixed with Stephen’s increasing expeditions to other countries either to receive awards or to give lectures, led them to drift apart emotionally.

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This led to her falling in love with the conductor of a church choir, Jonathan whom helped the family a great deal whilst Jane and Hawking still tried to mend their marriage which even led to a third pregnancy on her part. But the increasing difficulties continued even after a full time nurse came to take care of Hawking, only leading to him having a slight infatuation with her.

theory-everything-reviews-charlie-cox So I would say that the film is a brilliant depiction of how love can truly transcend the boundaries of disease, no matter of what level, and it can bring you up or take you further down depending on how you choose to live your life.

Stephen Hawking is without a doubt an incredibly inspiring man, not only because of his work but also of how he chose to live his life. Free of self imposed boundaries or of stereotypes imposed by society on how you should act or be seen by a major audience. He continues to change the world just by living. 

But then again, it is often overlooked that he only managed to accomplish so much because Jane was by his side every step of the way. Unwavering and strong.

It is undoubtedly a beautiful biographical film with a strong human facet.

Rating: 8/10

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Assignment 5: Final review

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Hello!

Today is the day that our film, along with others, was finally viewed and reviewed by our teachers. We were the final group who’s film was viewed and we could not wait. So much work went into doing it that we, at least I, was very excited/anxious to see what would be our feedback on it. So after the viewing out teachers pretty much agreed that the basis of our story was a bit confusing and lacked the accurate representation of the emotional connection between the three main characters, which is true. It was very hard for us to be able to portray, on an emotional level, all the emotional undertones that we wanted to give to the characters in just five minutes. Also, kinda need to be careful using Shakespeare in the future, probably not the best move. They also mentioned that our director and editor’s choice of songs for the film wasn’t quite the best. But now for the good things is that they actually liked the way it was mostly shot and framed while obviously still having a few not so good moments, but it still made me quite proud of myself.

 

For a first timer, I was proud to have a somewhat decent piece of work to present to my course. And it only made me more excited to continue to train my way around the camera and see what future projects I might have in store as a potential director of photography.

'Annabel' credit sequence

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

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Yesterday I went to see the sequel to the worldwide famous “The Hunger Games”, and I honestly didn’t go with the idea of it being very good because even though the first one wasn’t bad, it still didn’t amaze me or made me feel as emotionally invested as I thought it would. But alas, it was a good film! Surprisingly so. I had read the book previsouly to have seen either of them and I have to say that the director and screenwriter have stayed up until now very loway to the books which pleases the fans. And for people who haven’t read them, then can still understand the storyline and relate to some of the characters. Now this in this film, we see a completly different Katniss. She is not the defenseless (well she was never really ‘defenseless’ but you know what I mean) little girl we saw in the first one who had no hope of surviving in the feared Hunger Games and yet she surprised everyone, most of all herself when she surpassed every single obstacle that came her way. And we can see how that eventually came to affect her in this sequel. We see her battle a somewhat post-traumatic disorder, where she has hallucination of the people she killed in the arena. Young kids, just like her. She sees them all the time, in her sleep and when she feels most troubled in her waking state. But out of all of them, the one she never forgets and that haunts her the most is the memory of Rue. The little girl who was her ally in the first film, and the one she couldn’t save from the hands of another tribute who killed her in cold blood. She never forgave herself, and probably never will, and it’s with that regret that when she apologizes for Rue’s untimely death to her family in District 11, when the Victory Tour commences, an old man just lifts of his hand with the three fingers lifted in a sign of respect, admiration, love, but most of all of revolution. That simple gesture triggers a whole series of events throughout the film, because that is where you see the first signs of the eminent revolution begin within the districts and the Capitol itself. We see Katniss trying to overcame everything and everyone that tries to break her down. Yet we do see her mental state starting to progressively start to deteriorate through the film and is it an incredible journey to be able to accompany. Later, when they existing victors are all reaped once again to fight till the death in a new version of the Games, we see the alliances form and we see that this time around, they all know what they need to do to win. Yet, this time it’s not about one of them winning. No. It’s about saving Katniss. Why? Because she’s the mockingjay. She’s the symbol of hope. The beacon of an eminent revolution to, finally, take down the power of the Capitol once and for all. and if she dies, the hope dies with her. So some of the victors have been assembled so their sole purpose within the Games is to protect Katniss at all costs. Even if it means losing their own lives in the process. This is all happening without Katniss having the slightest clue because they all know that if she knew, that was going on, that they were trying ti save her life instead of Peeta’s or someone else’s then things would have been very different. So we embark on this journey of pain, loss, fear and hope. I also quite enjoyed that in this movie they focused a lot on psychological pain rather than the physical part. We see the deterioration of the character’s mental states. The scene when Katniss and Finnick hear in the jaberjays the screams of pain of their loves one’s, specifically Prim (Katniss’s little sister) and Annie (Finnick’s beloved), we see the extent of how “damaged” they both are. And it is thrilling and very emotionally intense to watch, even if it is just on screen, people go through that.

So I can definitely day that The Hunger Games: Catching Fire was a very enjoyable experience and that Jennifer Lawrence was definitely the star in it without a doubt.

8/10 

Doctor Who: 50th anniversary!

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Hello,

So yesterday night I went with a few friends to the 3D cinema screening of the episode that celebrates the 50 years of existence of the Doctor Who series. And it was amazing. The script was written by the unmistakable Steven Moffat, the current head writer of the show, who’s (very) well known for having an “unpredictable”, let’s call him, writing style. His leading of the show for the past 3 years has brought forth a breath of fresh air and excitement. And this episode is by far no exception! The return of beloved old characters, paired with great writing and cinematography make this celebration episode, one of the best. It did a wonderful job pairing up story lines from both the original series and the revamped one in a way that fans from either will feel integrated within the community. Both Tennant and Smith did an amazing job portraying their, respective, Doctors with an obvious and constant bickering amongst each other, which brought a great comedic element to counteract the inherit drama associated with the series. John Hurt and Billie Piper were nice additions as well, bringing a different dimension to the story altogether. Jenna Coleman as the witty companion, held up her own while acting alongside Tennant, Smith and Hurt normally within the same scene. One of my favorites parts of the episode had to be when we saw footage from old archives of the show featuring all of the 13 Doctors, as if they were all “working” together for a common goal. And we even catched a glimpse of Capaldi, who’ll reprise the role of the Doctor on the new season coming up next year!

So I can say with full conviction that this was one of the great episodes in the series, thus far, and I look forward for the Christmas special this year!

The Naked Kiss: Review

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Hello!

This was the very first film we saw in our course in the Screenwriting module and here are my thoughts about it:

The story consists of a prostitute named Kelly, played by Towers, who runs away from a man who’s endangered her safety. Her fleeing inadvertently led her, two years later, to a town where “people are clean” as previously mentioned by Captain Griff. Griff, played by Eisley, is the police enforcement of the neighborhood and is struck by Kelly the moment she stepped on the sidewalk from the bus. This leads to a whole different and complicated “relationship”, of sorts, between the two. Bickering amongst two people with huge prides, is unavoidable. But of course this only adds to the underlying sexual tension they have for each other. We see her falling in and out of love with Griff and her growing infatuation with Grant, the most eligible bachelor in town, with whom she wants to start a life with. The life she never thought she deserved. We see her conflict with this, as well as her admittance that she is indeed in love with Griff, even though they could never have a future together. But undoubtedly, the main plot line of the film, is the journey that Kelly makes from being a low level prostitute to becoming a respected nurse for handicapped children. A far fetched idea, I know. But it works. In my opinion, that is. The various levels of human nature and emotion that are portrayed, primarily, by Towers is what makes the movie for me. Also, visually, the way the story is portrayed to the audience, is of such audacity and passion that you cannot help but get sucked in to this world where prostitutes should be given a second chance in life even though they might kill someone and never go to court for it.

Oh well, the world isn’t perfect.