Daniel Day-Lewis and “The Crucible” (1996)

the crucible 1Arthur Miller’s The Crucible has been a classic of the American stage since it won Best Play at the Tony Awards in 1953; the play even made another comeback just last year, receiving a nomination for best revival of a play (tonyawards.com). Miller supplied the screenplay for the well-known screen adaptation of the same title from 1996, directed by Nicholas Hytner. In this version, Winona Ryder plays the sickeningly manipulative Abigail Williams, a young woman in Salem at the onset of the infamous witch trials. Abigail once worked for John Proctor (Daniel Day-Lewis) and his wife, but was dismissed by Mrs. Proctor after having an affair with John. Her lust for John Proctor leads her to accuse his wife of witchcraft, but her accusations go farther than she intended.

Like many of the roles that he chooses, Daniel Day-Lewis took on a well-known role that takes a serious actor to portray. As an actor does who well with accents, he also took on a convincing American accent for the role. His character progresses from one of calm reserve to one who makes impassioned speeches and delivers memorable lines. While Ryder shone in the first half of the film, her character slowly fades into the background as John Proctor takes center stage. His internal conflict is the main conflict of the film. He slowly learns that the decisions of the judges and town officials are already made, and he can’t change their minds. He can only control himself and preserve his own moral dignity. He must decide whether or not to confess to crimes, ones that he has committed and ones that he hasn’t.

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The story is just as interesting as the character conflict, and it’s hard to determine which one is more influential to the film. Abigail Williams and her hoard of “possessed” girls are a fascinating force that create a web of accusations, jealousy, and paranoia in a single town. The story hooks the audience in the first part of the film, but it’s the moral conflict that keeps the film going in the second half. The film definitely sends a message about justice and mercy, as the original play did, and how accusations can get out of control.

As with many adaptations, the film’s focus was bringing the stage play to life and adding elements that could not be done on stage. The cinematography was unique, adding to the frantic scenes where characters may or may not have been seeing spirits and witches. Along with Day-Lewis and Ryder, the film also had a supporting cast worthy of a classic play, including Paul Scofield and Joan Allen. Sound effects and music were also a noteworthy technical aspect of this film; the use of silence in tense moments and sound effects like wind emphasized the frantic, suspicious mood.

The Crucible is a drama, and maybe something of an emotional thriller. We might know the witches aren’t real, but we are thrilled nonetheless by the tension of the trials and Abigail’s haunting influence over the town. The film will please literature lovers, theatre lovers, and anyone who enjoys a good moral drama. Especially with the convincing cast, the film succeeds as a play adaptation.

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THE CRUCIBLE, Bruce Davison, Winona Ryder, 1996, TM and Copyright (c) 20th Century-Fox Film Corp. All Rights Reserved

 

 

Othello (1995)

Among the many adaptations brought to life by Kenneth Branagh, there is Oliver Parker’s Othello, in which Branagh takes on the role of one of Shakespeare’s most despicable villains, Iago. Along with Branagh, this well-known tragedy is brought to life as a film drama with Laurence Fishburne as Othello and Irene Jacob as Desdemona.  Like several other Branagh films, Othello deals with deception and schemes. Angry with the general Othello for picking another man over him as lieutenant, Iago wants revenge.  When Othello secretly marries the beautiful Desdemona, Iago begins to drive him mad by convincing him that Desdemona is unfaithful. The story certainly sends a message about the dangers of revenge and obsession, but the eloquence of the text makes it more artistically focused than morally focused.

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The film appeals to literature and Shakespeare lovers who are already familiar with the play and would see a Shakespearean adaptation anyway. But like any film adaptation of a classic work, Othello also seeks to bring Shakespeare to a new audience. Whether or not it reaches this audience is questionable. Without a working knowledge of the plot and characters, you’ve really got to pay attention to keep up with all of the intricate plots and tricks. And with Shakespearean dialogue, paying attention can be tough. By bringing Othello to the screen, Parker certainly makes the play more accessible to those who don’t like live performances, but his adaptation does not seek to reach new audiences in the way that something like Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet (1996) might.

Since they were working with Shakespeare, the cast of Othello had wonderful dialogue with which to develop their characters. Fishburne and Jacob were excellent, brining life and humanity to their roles. Fishburne’s portrayal of Othello’s conflict with the rumors about his wife was especially gripping. Branaghs’ take on Iago is memorable and precise (after seeing Branagh’s Hamlet as well, I’d say that there’s nothing quite like listening to this actor speak in iambic pentameter). However, I almost wished that Branagh took a slightly more evil approach to the character—maybe he’s just too nice looking to hate. As I watched, I lacked the hatred that I expected to feel towards Iago.

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Many of Shakespeare’s works are plot driven with twists and turns that often lead to a tragic, though satisfying, endings. Othello is no exception. It is difficult to figure out what is going on in the beginning, how each person is connected and what side they’re on. But the plot soon becomes clear: Iago wants to destroy Othello. The film’s focus, therefore, was bringing such a classic plot to life on screen. Film techniques like flash-backs, close-ups, and framed shots gave the story a dimension that a stage play cannot achieve. As I said before, this isn’t necessarily an inventive or creative adaptation, but it does make good and subtle use of the advantages that film can have.

For the Shakespeare lover, the film succeeds. For someone looking for a way out of reading Othello for an English class, the film succeeds. For an audience that really has no interest in Shakespeare to begin with, they probably won’t find anything new here. If you are very engaged in the dialogue and performances, you’ll find this a riveting motion picture. It carries the weight of classic literature with dignity, and I think it will continue to last as one of the best Othello performances.

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The Sweet and the Bitter- Vanilla Sky (2001)

In 1997, a Spanish language film titled Abre Los Ojos staring Penelope Cruz was released. Four years later, Cruz would act in an English remake of the film adapted and directed by Cameron Crowe that used its predecessor’s title, Abre Los Ojos, as its first line. Vanilla Sky is a sci-fi romance thriller that plays with the balance between dreams and reality. David Aames (Tom Cruise) is a reckless and overconfident man who has inherited his father’s business and is often plagued by strange dreams. In voice-overs from a therapy session, David illustrates his encounter with the beautiful Sofia (Penelope Cruz), the woman that might just be the love of his life, and the freak accident caused by an obsessive stalker that changed everything. As David tells his story and futuristic elements are introduced, it’s unclear what’s real and if anyone can be trusted, even David himself.

The film presents a simple message: reality, though disappointing, is more rewarding than fantasy. Crowe seems to target adults with this movie, encouraging them to enjoy both the “sweet” and the “bitter” parts of life. The choices that David has to make often deal with that subject. He wants to take the easy way out and live in a sort of fantasy where everything is easy for him, but he must learn, as the inheritor of a business, to act like a grown-up and face difficulties. He also faces a conflict with the unknown when the lines of reality are blurred and things stop making sense. The audience also experiences this conflict, since nothing is completely revealed until the end.

The story wasn’t presented as a typical linear progression. It unfolded with new chunks of information that shed light on what had already happened. David has some ups and downs and is changed by the end, but it was the story, more so than the characters, that drove the film. It tied the chunks together and compelled the audience to keep asking “what’s going on?” until everything was revealed in the end.

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Without giving everything away, I will say that I found the end of the film to be sort of a cop-out. While the sci-fi elements and the final answer to the mystery were interesting, I thought they diminished the story and the character progress that had already been made, bringing everything to a weird and uncomfortable halt as David makes his final choice. The ending did help to push the film’s message about reality and fantasy, but this made the message almost too forced.

The rest of the film succeed mostly because of Crowe’s trademarks. His dialogue was memorable (“I’ll tell you in another life, when we’re both cats”). The soundtrack, which changed style often, was memorable and helped the audience to move from one strange occurrence to the next. David faced major loss after the accident caused by his stalker, and his character was given more chance to develop with that loss thrown in his way. Sofia also functioned as the “girl he never saw coming,” which served as a catalyst for David to start making changes in his life.

Cinematography was also notable in this film- at times the picture was grainy with surreal lighting, much like the strange dreams that haunt David.
The film focused on changing the audience’s perspective, and in that regard it succeeded. The ending was disappointing, but it accomplished what it needed to for the characters and the overall message.

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Interwoven Conflicts, Solid Acting, an Intriguing Story- “Quiz Show” (1994)

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Robert Redford’s Quiz Show (1994) is a biographical drama based on Richard N. Goodwin’s controversial book from 1988, Remembering America: A Voice from the Sixties. The film’s genre itself is a Robert Redford trademark: a based-on-a-true-story adaptation that takes on a political issue. The story arises from the controversy surrounding the 1960s quiz show, Twenty One. An obsessive, lower-class, and socially awkward contestant, Herbie Stemple (John Turturro) has been on the show for weeks when producers Mr. Enright and Mr. Freedman (David Paymer and Hank Azaria) “request” that Herbie step down from the champion’s chair so that a new, fresh-faced winner (Ralph Fiennes) can bring up the show’s ratings. Herbie agrees, but doesn’t let it go. When the young and confident investigator Richard Goodwin (Rob Morrow) begins looking into the controversy, the show’s producers do everything they can to keep Herbie quiet.

Quiz Show has quite a cast; other supporting actors include Paul Scofield (Oscar nominated for Best Supporting Actor for this role), Christopher McDonald, and even Martin Scorsese. This handful of noteworthy men fits another of Redford’s trademarks: male character- driven stories. Each man in the story has his own battle to fight and his own lesson to learn; these conflicts drive the story. As Goodwin tries to uncover the truth, his man vs. society (or man vs. institution) conflict takes the spotlight. But Charles Van Doren (the suave literature professor who takes Herbie’s place on the show) and Herbie deal with just as interesting man vs. self conflicts that reflect classic androcentric tales. Herbie wants to clear his reputation but must learn to fulfill the duties to his family, while Charles struggles to be true to himself and his father. Quiz Show is definitely a character-focused film, exploring the morality of individual people.

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Paul Scofield in “Quiz Show” 

quiz-show-3With several character arcs shaping the story, it took a while to really get to know each character. However, the pace eventually evened out once Richard began investigating the case and that main conflict got rolling. As the film shifted between Richard, Herbie, and Charles, information was presented in a steady way that the audience could keep up with. And, since the audience knew everything even when the characters didn’t, it allowed me to be more emotionally involved with the story. As I watched, I eagerly hoped that the truth would be revealed to all the characters and that the right thing could be done. This emotional involvement especially helped the film to succeed.

quiz-show-6One technical achievement of Quiz Show is its sound design. Suspense was achieved with highlighted sound effects like heavy breathing and silence. The score was interesting as well, but there was a careful balance between music and silence.

The use of male character conflicts set Quiz Show apart as a male-targeted film, although I (as a female) was still intrigued. Although the film doesn’t dive deep into conspiracy theory or anything like that, those who enjoy stories about uncovering scandals and characters fighting corruption will appreciate this movie. The purpose of the film is to show how corrupt the entertainment business can be, but also to show that truth isn’t always uncovered, even after hard fought battles. With that more realistic perspective on life, the difference between realism and “razzle-dazzle” were also important themes of the film. With interwoven conflicts, solid acting, and an intriguing story, Quiz Show ultimately succeeds.

 

 

“Children of Men”- A Beautiful Celebration of Human Life

It’s 2027 in dystopian, apocalyptic London. Theo Faron (Clive Owen) struggles with loneliness and the implications of chaos. A mysterious plague of infertility has affected all women, and not a single human baby has been born in eighteen years. Theo’s depressive outlook begins to change when he is roped into a secret organization, headed by his ex-wife, that seeks to help refugees. Theo agrees to help and ends up aiding in the escape of one special woman who could change everything.

children-of-men-3 Alfonso Cuarón’s 2006 film, Children of Men, is a beautiful celebration of human life. Based on the 1992 novel by P.D James, the film is part drama, thriller, and sci-fi, with a little bit of action as well. Like many science fiction dystopias, Children of Men does not speak to fictional problems of fictional people, but places real and relevant concerns into fictional situations. The nightmarish situation of world-wide infertility speaks to issues like abortion and healthcare, while also providing an overwhelming reminder of the preciousness of each human life. The film provides a spectrum of humanity in its characters, from a burned-out marijuana grower who still relentlessly loves and cares for his invalid wife to a depressed man who lost his child. Theo is in conflict with the unknown (whatever force has caused the infertility), but he is also in conflict with society, which has turned on its head. He must sort through all the answers that society has come up with- religion, drugs, radical uprisings, strict laws, suicide- and find not only the right course, but hope.

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The film also speaks to refugee situations, an issue that is even more relevant now in the United States than at the time of the film’s release. It seems to target an audience of political activists, although it does not call for immediate, rash actions. Instead, the film sends a message that asks audiences to look back to the fundamental things that connect all human beings. This message was the film’s main focus and is explored not only through the variety of characters, but also in various technical ways. One of Curarón’s trademarks is his unique integration of sound design and score. In Children of Men, he focuses on the sound (or lack thereof) of children’s voices and babies crying to direct the audience’s mind towards things like the innocence of children and the value of human life.

Although the characters contributed to the films’ message, I felt that the story had more of an impact on the film as a whole. The futuristic situation is very unique, and Theo’s character development and healing must come about in his journey through this situation. It’s a story about the hope that can be found in relationships and depending on others, which also points back to the film’s message.

children-of-men-2Other technical achievements and director trademarks included the use of dark/ grey colors to reflect the darkness of the setting. Curarón was also able to help the audience develop empathy with his cinematography. He and directory of photography Emmanuel Lubezki used long and/or handheld shots that followed characters in key moments and often filmed through windows, cracked glass, and shelves to highlight private and tender moments in the characters’ journeys.

Children of Men was nominated for three Oscars in 2007, and won several other awards. Clive Owen and other cast members including Michael Caine, Julianne Moore, and Clare-Hope Ashitey gave their characters dignity and honesty. The film’s message was communicated beautifully and effectively, and I think it will prove to have timeless messages.

Strange Little Story Packs Big Message

es-1When unsuccessful Avon representative Peg Boggs (Dianne Wiest) decides to take her business to the creepy mansion on the outskirts of her suburb, she stumbles upon a frightening yet timid creature named Edward (Johnny Deep). Despite the fact that he has razor sharp scissors instead of hands and looks like he hasn’t seen the sunlight in forever, Peg takes Edward home and hopes to acclimate him into a gossip-driven suburban society. But while Edward tries to navigate this new, delicate world and understand his growing feelings for Peg’s daughter, Kim (Winona Ryder), everyone else in the town wants to take advantage of this special guest.

es-5  While the creepy and twisted visual design of the film (a Tim Burton specialty) gives the film unique artistic value, there was a deeper meaning in the film’s character conflicts. Another Burton trademark in Edward Scissorhands is the man vs. society struggles. Edward just isn’t built to handle things like forks, knives, and water beds. Even when he finds a way to meaningfully contribute to the community through hedge trimming and pet grooming, his innocence allows for others to take advantage of him. Although his physical design is purely fantastical, he represents outsiders in the real world who are misunderstood. In that way, the film takes a fresh look at issues like loneliness and bullying.

es-4With such a strong message about outcasts and misunderstood characters, the focus of the film becomes Edward Scissorhands himself, and much of the movie is aimed at getting the audience to sympathize with him. Although he only says a few words throughout the film, Johnny Deep draws attention to the character with childlike expressions of wonderment and fear. The plot revolves around putting Edward in difficult situations that reveal how out of place Edward is in society. While the story is unique, it certainly borrows from age-old tales about freaks, monsters, or outsiders. But Edward is definitely one-of-a-kind and, it is this character that drives the film.

The film wasn’t made to please everyone. Anyone who considers themselves an outsider will like the film more, especially fans of the gothic artistic style. While I’m not always a fan of Burton’s odd colors and twisted sculptures, I fell in love with the film simply because of the message. While its sets and lighting resemble that of horror films, Edward Scissorhands is definitely not a horror movie itself. It’s a Dr. Sues style fantasy (as many of Burton’s films are) that also functions as a romantic drama.

es-2 Other achievements of the film include its score and sound effects. Danny Elfman, who you can almost expect to score a Burton film, put together a score that seems part love story, part fantasy, and part horror. The fast violin pieces used to accompany the snipping sounds of Edward’s hands perfectly complimented certain scenes. The use of color was also noteworthy in the climactic scenes of the film; the pallet switches from creepy pastels to red and white, accenting the use of blood as a symbol of life and love.

I had always thought that this would be a weird little movie, but it is honestly one of the best I have seen in a while. Burton has successfully created a character that represents many facets of an outcast, from depression and social anxiety to inner turmoil and an innocent desire to help others. His side characters are wonderful caricatures of the judgmental, self-centered members of society. It’s not your typical film, but its quirks bring this strangle little story about a strange little man to life.

Fun fact: In 2005, choreographer Matthew Bourne created a ballet based on Edward Scissorhands. Check out a clip from that ballet here.

 

 

Crime Thriller Meets Moral Dilemma- “Cape Fear” (1991)

cape-fear-4Max Cady (Robert De Niro), a man with truth and justice scales tattooed on his back and a fat cigar permanently perched in his hand, has just been released from Georgia State prison after serving fourteen years for rape. Cady, who spent his time toughening his skin and learning to read, is ready to exact revenge with macabre Bible quotes and an expert knowledge of the law. His prey is the lawyer that defended him, Sam Bowden (Nick Nolte), along with Bowden’s neurotic wife (Jessica Lange) and rebellious daughter (Juliette Lewis). Cady pursues his goal with frightening tenacity, chasing the family all the way to their vacation spot, Cape Fear.

Martin Scorsese’s remake of the 1962 film is an eerie crime thriller that plays with fear. You constantly want to know what will happen next. While people who enjoy gritty crime films will love it, intellectuals might also enjoy Cady’s clever schemes and the film’s discussion of the law.

Sam Bowden is not an innocent hero. He hid evidence that might have lightened Cady’s sentence, unable to fully defend Cady after seeing what he did to a young girl. Cady, who is clearly out of his mind despite his ingenious plans, adds to the moral question by using select scriptures to elevate himself to the status of God and justify his revenge. The film, like Cady’s tattoos, juggles truth and justice; these questions and ideas become the film’s focus and create its thrilling plot.

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It’s not easy to just take the lawyer’s side, since he’s more of a burnt cookie than a cookie-cutter hero. He’s not the most faithful husband, and he often takes the law into his own hands, slyly hiring goons to try and beat Cady up. Leigh, his wife, isn’t the dutiful housewife either, with annoyingly neurotic tendencies. Meanwhile, their daughter delights in the fact that a mysterious criminal is sexually targeting her. The less than ideal family is not pleasant to watch, but their development is interesting. In the final few scenes, which involve intense physical and emotional man vs. man conflict, each family member must face their flaws.

cape-fear-3With icky characters that I didn’t really want to root for, it was the story that drove the film forward. With such an interesting situation set up by the film’s moral question, I was really pushed to keep watching. Did Cady know that Bowden tampered with evidence? How did Cady get into Bowden’s house? Unfortunately, not everything was answered. While this can be a virtue for many films, I felt that this one should have revealed all the secrets. I was still confused about several points at the end.

While I was unsettled about parts of the film, it mostly succeeded. De Niro was a memorable villain and quick to make an impression. I’m not a huge fan of Juliette Lewis, but the character was well suited to her slow, awkward movements. Jessica Lange was also well cast, striking the balance between mentally ill and loving. I enjoyed the score as well, which was full of spine chilling chords that foreshadowed the final stormy scene. The cinematography was interesting; while I enjoyed a shot of Cady sitting king-like on a wall with fireworks cracking behind him, I was not a fan of the random filters and coloring.

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Along with the presence of De Niro, other Scorsese trademarks included crime and religion themes, corrupt authorities (Bowden, with his position as a lawyer), and conflict overcoming character. It was not the most satisfying dip into Scorsese’s work, but still proved to be a good thrill.

“Hannah and her Sisters”

hannah-and-her-sisters-1Hannah and her Sisters (1986) is a comedy/ drama written and directed by Woody Allen. The film winds through a two-year period in the hectic lives of several characters who are all somehow connected to the part-time actress and full-time mother, Hannah (Mia Farrow). Hannah’s husband, Elliot (Michael Caine), is dealing with a growing attraction to his sister-in-law, Lee (Barbara Hershey), who is struggling with her own relationship and the murky details of her future. Hannah’s other sister, Holly (Dianne West), is also worrying about her future, trying to make ends meet, and struggling to find love and a career. Meanwhile, Hannah’s ex-husband, Micky (Woody Allen), tries to find overall peace and meaning in life. The characters’ lives interact in flashbacks and not-so-coincidental meetings, revealing both embarrassing and hopeful truths about life. The film includes many of Woody Allen’s trademarks, including cast members that he previously worked with (such as Mia Farrow and Dianne West).

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The movie, rated PG-13, will appeal most to adults who can appreciate life’s sticky situations and rough patches, including career competition, taking care of elderly parents, and infertility. While it’s not a side-splitting comedy, subtle humor can be found in Woody Allen’s self- deprecating but honest dialogue. The pervading genre, however, is drama, as the film deals with complicated relationships, anxiety, and difficult life decisions. These themes lend the film to be character-driven. Woody Allen takes lots of time to study each character with intimate dialogue and voice-overs that expose their thoughts. Situations in the plot such as affairs and possible life threatening illnesses also reveal a lot about the characters. While the plot is unique, it is the characters that really drive the film forward.

Allen throws the audience right into those character- revealing situations, immediately exposing Elliot’s lustful desire for his sister-in-law in the first scene. While most of the situations lead to character vs. character conflict, such as Holly arguing with her sister for not supporting her, the most prevailing conflict in the film is character vs. self. Elliot must decide how much his wife really means to him, Holly must find enough self-confidence to move forward in her career, Micky must find something to believe in, and so on.

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For me, the film succeeded. Allen’s fast-paced dialogue took some getting used to, and I had to pay lots of attention in the first few scenes to keep up with everything. But I was easily drawn to the characters, and it was a joy to watch them develop. The acting was superb. I couldn’t identify any actors that seemed especially weak; each one seemed realistic and comfortable in front of the camera. Each of the three female leads, the three sisters, were well-crafted characters. The film took plenty of time to explore all of their strengths and weaknesses.  The jazzy music helped to established the New York City aesthetic (another Woody Allen trademark) while also keeping the mood light in hectic situations. I also appreciate that the film did not end with an overwhelming life lesson or moral. While the film showed life as a hopeful experience, it did not push perfect, happy endings.

Toying with Emotions-“Psycho” (1960)

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Everyone is familiar with the famous shower stabbing scene from Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 thriller, Psycho, with its screaming score and gooey fake blood. So, is the whole film as memorable as that iconic scene? What’s the story behind this cinematic snapshot?

The film starts by introducing the steamy affair between Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) and her lover, Sam, who cannot yet marry her because of his debts. When entrusted with a considerable amount of cash that she must deposit for a client at work, Marion instead makes the impulsive choice to take the money and run. She finds herself in Sam’s hometown at the Bates Motel. Awkward and lonely Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins), the hotel’s owner, immediately befriends Marion and talks to her about his life at the hotel with his invalid mother. But Marion is in for a surprise during her one night stay, and finds herself wrapped up in a fatal mystery.

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The film is a mystery and a thriller that toys with uncomfortable and taboo subjects while also playing with the audience’s anxiety. Hitchcock taps into suspense and anxiety by focusing on the story rather than characters. While some of the characters, namely Norman Bates, are quite intriguing, others prove to be (spoiler alter) quite disposable. The audience isn’t prompted to emotionally connect with characters, but rather to observe the story as it unfolds. And in that way, Hitchcock archives his purpose with the film: to entertain through suspense.

While the main focus of the film is that emotional effect, Hitchcock also focuses on technical aspects to achieve that effect. He makes good use of voice-overs to mimic the endless chorus of voices we often hear in our heads when we are faced with guilt or a tough decision. The choice to have the film in black and white enhances a dense of desolation and isolation, which is important in making people feel afraid. The music is also excellently timed; it clues the audience in on the flow of the story and guides their emotions. In that shower scene, for example, when the woman first gets in the shower, there is no music at all, reflecting through sound the feeling of holding one’s breath and waiting for something big.psycho-3

The type of conflict within the film changes depending on where you are in the movie and how much you know. But overall, I would say that the conflict is man vs. the unknown. Since the film is a mystery, the audience is directly involved in the conflict because they don’t know what is going to happen. Even at the end, when all is revealed, the answer to the mystery is a frightening reality about the human mental condition that doctors and psychiatrists did not fully understand in 1960. In other words, the characters are still dealing with the unknown when the mystery is revealed.

The film’s strongest point is the story and the careful timing of revealing information, both to the audience and to the characters. While outdated special effects may seem like a weak point today, the film still effectively taps into fear with its subject matter. It succeeded in haunting me and holding my attention as I waited to find out what was really happening. It was obvious that careful planning went into this film, so as always, I appreciated it simply for the fact that it is well made. But I was also entertained, concluding that the film is just as memorable as its most famous scene.

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My Favorite (and least favorite) Filmmakers

      I love a wide variety of movies. I just like movies in general. It is difficult to pinpoint what I like the most or what I dislike. But when I think about those movies that I really love more than others, what stands out to me is uniqueness. The movies I like the most are those that have their own little quirks: films that create their own worlds. This quality will certainly be different for everyone. A film that seems so original and creative to me may seem like the most clichéd and boring wastefulness to the next person. For each of my favorites, I have different reasons as to why I think they are unique.

quentin-tarantino Quentin Tarantino is one of my favorite filmmakers as a writer and director because the films are uniquely his. They are easy to identify and group together, although each one is special. First and foremost, I love Tarantino dialogue. It is quick witted, cheeky, and edgy. In fact, everything about his films is a little edgy. He’s not afraid to show blood and gore, and he’s also not afraid to make that kind of stuff into humor. A lot of people are surprised when I say I love Quentin Tarantino, because I don’t come across as an edgy, black humor sort of person. But maybe that’s why I like this films so much. I like escaping to a gritty world of dark humor, swearing, and violence. And I love how Tarantino makes us laugh with all of that.

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       But I don’t just look for dark humor in movies. I also go to films to find joy. One filmmaker that I think is unique in his ability to bring joy to the screen is Gene Kelly. His films might be old fashioned and corny, but his joyous tap dancing and smile set him apart. When I watch the title number of Singin’ in the Rain, I can’t help but be filled with joy. It’s not just regular happiness that I might get from watching a comedy, but genuine, bursting joy.

       But, like I said before, some filmmakers have unique styles that don’t appeal to everyone. It’s hard for me to call someone my least favorite filmmaker, because I tend to like everything. So, when I say someone is my least favorite, that doesn’t necessarily mean that I think they are bad. They just don’t really suit me that well. I’m not a huge fan of Tim Burton. While his style is creative and special, I just don’t enjoy seeing it. I suppose I’m just not into the creepy, nightmarish stuff.

       I’m also pretty picky about the type of comedy that I like to watch and the comedic actors that I like. Will Ferrell is probably one of my least favorite comedians. I think the best way to describe it is that he’s too loud for me. True, I haven’t seen a lot of his movies, but from what I have seen, he comes across as a bit obnoxious. It’s a unique type of humor that I’m just not into.

Love or hate

If a filmmaker is especially unique, they will stand out to me, either in a good or a bad way. I suppose that is a risk that any artist takes when they are true to themselves and really follow their style. People will either hate them or love them.