Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Film reviews - The Trueman Show

The Trueman show (1999) was Directed by the creative mind of Peter Wier. This film uncovers that Postmodern concept of not feeling like your own reality is actually correct - that the vibe for life is somewhat altered and has no real grounds for understanding. It is based on how a man has grown up in an artificial reality since birth, that he is the main star of a reality TV show that basically recreates the ideal suburban American dream yet exploits a man as if he is an Animal in a Zoo. It is the ultimate "Big Brother" - a story about seeing through the lies of organised reality and finding out ones own true identity. It is exactly this notion that "Trueman" (Jim Carey) comes to find when his life seems to go nowhere; That there is no place for his own choices and interests to develop, that anything he reaches out for is torn away from him. This builds suspicion, that his own reality isn't exactly that - it isn't his own at all. The feel for the repetitive daily life cycle of Trueman, from the same people talking to him everyday, the same Car's passing at the same time, to his shifts in a typical dull Office and how his closest friends and family seem to "act" in a fashion that seems like someone else is with them. It all becomes too much and we see Trueman start to unlock these strange puzzles that seem to coincidental to be "real".Then one day Trueman feels a real surge of emotion that he seemingly hasn't felt in a genuine manner before when he meets "Lauren" who's real name is Sylvia (Natasha McElhone). This feeling is love, and we see Trueman scurrying around becoming obsessed to find out who she is. Fortunately for Trueman come to meet this character on more than one occasion, who eventually pulls Trueman to the side and exploits the truth about his curiosities. With nowhere to hide or run, Sylvia has to tell Trueman all she can as quickly as she can and insists that Trueman is to find her when he gets out. The film continues to spiral into Trueman doing his best to escape the fake TV enviroment, being warned the world outside is only as real or more so imperfect than the one he has grown up within.

The way in which this film develops a meta narrative about reality and what is real somewhat creates an uncanny depiction of the world around us and gives this film a strong, heart warming moral about individuality and what it means to be alive.

The colour scheme and lighting used within this film really reflects an almost perfect American suburbia, yet to a point where it is so cliche that it seems to shout that there is something not quite right about it. It consists of bright colours and almost a 70's style of spirit. People tend to indulge into advertising items on set, which is actually a real advertisement for a real product, usually getting Trueman involved as much as possible.

The language used is very clean and appropriate for all ages at all times, it seems that the art of swearing and violence is as  non existent as the realness of the people in Trueman's world. The music used within the film reflects the typical kind of music you would encounter in a drama series on TV - it moves in and out with the emotions that the characters portray. We see the people in control of the music behind the scenes of Trueman's world when the film shows the people in control of the shows ongoing live progression. It is interesting to note that Trueman only ever really listens to music of his own within places like the Car radio, where it can transcend into the output of the live show itself. Obviously, any atmospheric musical composition made in the control room would clash with any musical sound Trueman plays by himself. This like many things however is something that is controlled in a way Trueman becomes blissfully aware of, even family photographs of himself, or false truths imposing fears to keep him from indulging in his interest of Fiji. The camera work is a mixture of the Big Brother style narrative with the use of regular film shots, yet it all feels like one large well edited observation of someone without their consent.

Overall a fun lively, yet heart warming and slightly controversial film.


Film reviews - The day the Earth stood still

The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) was Directed by Robert Wise and helped to spawn the start of the "Alien invasion" movies that we still see popular to this day.

We see the Alien Klaatu (Michael Rennie) and his robot sidekick Gort (Lock Martin) land on Earth just post action of the last World War, which is spawned concern from the neighbouring civilisations in the starry consolations above. Klaatu must inform the world leaders that if the people of the Earth did not change their ways then the aliens would have no choice but to destroy Earth to protect other worlds in the Universe. As this task starts to appear more difficult than he first perceived, Klaatu decides to embark on further action - by draining the world of power to get attention.

The film work produced here is classic of its day - lots of clever tricks to get around things before the invention of the special effects we have today. Things such as reversing the tape of the door to the space ship opening to make it close and save costs on film and time - the space suit of the robot Gort having two models, one with a zip at the front for behind shots and one with a zip at the back for frontal shots. It is also to note that this suit was very heavy, so the scene in which Gort carries Helen (Patricia Neal) he wasn't actually carrying a real person, but was carrying a dummy in replacement.

For its time the special effects used were state of the art, however you can see how they have tried to create story around over excessive use of the primitive (and expensive) effects of its time to avoid extra cost and to keep the film believable. It was originally wrote by Harry Bates, then later turned into a screenplay by Edmund H. North. The filmic version of the original story is vastly different in many comparisons. In the story, Klaatu is killed my a maniac (not a soldier) straight away on arrival to Earth. It puts mention that Gort the Robot comes to life every night to continue his quest and that he recovers a recording of Klaatu's voice from his tomb and uses it to make a copy of him. The way in which Klaatu warns the Earth of the consequence towards its actions is different to the overall way in which the film conveys this; From giving a Scientist the key to an extreme mathematical problem, to deactivating all electrical appliances on Earth asides from those which affect Human safety and being revived from the dead to give mankind the required message. When Klaatu is killed, Gort brings him back to life temporarily to communicate with the Humans gathered around the Spaceship, which is obvious for the many people to be the source of the strange events that have occurred. In the original story, it is then revealed that Robots are the actual true Masters of the Universe and that Organic beings are of less importance in the hieorachy of exsistence.

A film which uses every display of emotion, visual magic and clever twists to the plot that it can, "The Day the Earth Stood Still" really stands out as a legend amongst Science fiction.


Monday, 12 December 2011

Film reviews - American movie

American movie (1999) Directed by Chris Smith that was, ironic to the films plot, premiered at an independent film festival where it achieved the Grand Jury Prize. This film is a Documentary based on an enthusiastic, aspiring filmmaker who wishes to fulfil the creation of his own incomplete horror movie by financing the project himself and smashing his dream. Starring Mark Borchardt as the avid Filmmaker, we see him scramble through attempts to rally up a usable team to complete his creation, the cheesy low budget horror movie "Coven". It was his own demons that originally stopped him from pursuing this dream, but no more - he is determined to over come any bottle that comes in his way to fulfil his dreams. Wanting to over come this lack of self asteem he is determined to not fail: by asking anyone from relatives to the local theatre, pulling together a cast which although he struggles to keep in line prevails in the end with a classic, heartwarming moral of realising his movie is more connected to his pride of being American and what it means to be one - it is his own "American dream".

As you can see the film itself is comprised of the typical first person style attack of a Documentary, giving the audience a "feel" of living out what the subjects go through themselves. This therefore becomes a more personalised stylation of film, where the audience feels an interaction with the cast and a more emotional understanding of  the characters.

It puts the fight into how if you want something, then your supposed to get off your arse and do it. Like many people, myself involved especially, we all have dreams but all too often you will see that person who can't stop throwing off excuses and never gets to the point of their ambition. It is this very feeling that Mark storms through, which although we witness his fatigue from time to time he never lets himself down. In many ways this film therefore is inspiring to everyone who watches it, it gives you that positive feeling to make you want to get up and acheive your dreams.

In many ways the fact that this film is a film about making a film by a filmmaker basically shows a metanarrative to itself - everything that it does somehow references itself in the structure it is based around.


Friday, 9 December 2011

Postmodernism lectures - What I've learned

  • Postmodernism is difficult
We was brought to understand that this subject is without any easy discretion, if one believes they understand it then they haven't really got anywhere close. The loose rules of Postmodernism do not allow for someone to factually understand, only theorise in opinion. 

As the first slide of the presentation suggests:

“The concept of postmodernism is not widely accepted or even understood...”
Fredric Jameson, The Cultural Turn

It is as without grounds as religion or fairy tales themselves, a growing concept that almost views existence within a fourth dimension. What is real? Is reality different from one person to the next or is it fixed on a solid plane? How can we assure that the specific modernist rules towards life can stay a permanent fixture? What makes the static beliefs about the world seem that way, are they not just based on cause end effect? Which in turn wouldn't this prove that there are no stable rules to understanding physical reality?

You can be told how the world works, but to have faith in yourself with your own acceptance of your life and existence requires a conscious mind, therefore each individual having their own experience and this is what a postmodernists views will spill from. Individual experience is like time itself, it changes, but no one moment can be the same again. What that conscious experience takes from this concept is what their true perceptions on their own reality come from. 

This lecture also brought forward the visual representation of the Hydra, a Dragon or Serpent like creature with many heads. This basically shows that the multiple heads represent different perceptions of reality, the many possibilities that reflect back unlike modernism where the rules are wrote down to imprint security and a firm dictatorship of knowledge.

This suggests towards the open theories held within Quantum Physics, where this reality can be a possibility of many which are on going at the same time within different dimensions. Overall the predicament of this is that living in a "Hall of Mirror's" is not proved to be real, yet it cannot be flawed. Anything, even the weather, has options in which mirror to use - as to what reflects the world correctly to that particular catalyst. However, the way to perceive this indirectly as a postmodern outcome is that there was the "choice" to approve of reality within a different way.

When a piece of music is produced, the artist will naturally take claim to inventing the song and therefore owning it's existence. If another artist was to take this same piece of music and replicate it to their own experience, it could be argued that this would then belong to them. It is about taking an idea already constructed, understanding a difference then acknowledging something that can belong within it's spectrum, yet deconstructing it purposefully to become personal to another source .

Postmodernism is the abstract view on everything that we know, contorting the world into something that seems unfamiliar or new, bending the truth to be false and therefore just becoming more conceptual and God like than a solid ground rule.


Whereas Postmodernism is an extension of the enlightenment movement, allowing space to warp the boundaries of conceptual landmarks, modernism is a step behind in the opposite frame of mind. Modernism is about current trend's and ideas about the world which follow realistic tendencies and state themselves as correct. Modernism came into play around the late 19th to the early 20th Century and dismisses the claims made by the romantics during the enlightenment period. Views on an upbringing of society and its sub-categories were to be met by opinion based on rules of modern ethics, perceiving outside of what is known as correct is blasphemous to its nature. It is about using the innovative forms of expressing what is known to reflect the world as developing but realistic to it's current state.

Therefore postmodernism is the dream state of mind that surfaces on the modernist's rule book, which is to view this static experience of life as it is stated to be, how it appears on one level, yet becoming an expression from this plane and observing from another platform altogether.

In a recent discussion with a friend about the subject of dreaming itself we decided upon the notion that within our three dimensional daily lives it is hard to perceive the concepts of such difficult notions like postmodernism even if you accept it's exsistance. However, when we sleep we view our world differently, we see in more than one defined opinion - the world in our subconcious mind is far greater and more expanded into the realms of postmodernity than we are able to conceive as acceptable in a woken state. The dream world is potentially a four dimensional playground, a trick to the subject of what is real and the overthrow of a perceived reality we are in control of.

Where postmodernity can be seen as this alluring powerful thing with plenty of space to allow for everything and anyone, it is also a highly dangerous thing - It should give way to unity for mankind, however as it allows this space for beleiving in the individual experience it also creates the danger of becoming a unity of disunity. Postmodernism is it's own set of paradoxes, which is further more why it is so difficult.

Notes for essay:

Title - There is no Spoon; reality and the Postmodern paradox displayed within "The Matrix".

Notes to make:


Explain about how the matrix sets to deliberately make the viewer question their own existence, how their personal experience of the film can be anything from euphoria to confusion. Explain how this film has created a social impact on the general public and their perception to how the information age is making nothing a certainty. Show that the world is engulfed in controversity via scientific developments and different oppositions.Include a quote from the film about what is real and expand on it. Refer to how in the film it is said no one can be told what the Matrix is, just like there is no definition towards Postmodernism itself.


Discuss the point of how the Matrix deconstructs the world that we know around us, how it warns us of what could be mankinds future if we rely on technology, how we cant be certain that this future isn't here in the present. Again take a quote from the film explaining about time and the truth, explain how this then begs to question times credibility, a man made concept that is only exsistent through our ability organise and understand events and experience. Explain how to question ones reality in the sense of the films experience is somewhat like the ouroboros, that it can be a repetative loop of the understanding of reality and time - how people who die in the matrix are fed from the pulp of the dead.

Show comparisons to post modern theory:

Explain the way in which the Matrix applies postmodern theories to make the film seem more believable or innovating, how such rules of bending the known "truth" of reality is what distorts it into a whole new set of rules, a world of choice and a concious id that the viewer takes on themselves. Talk about Frueds concept of the Id, Ego and Super Ego. Explain the scene about the child and the Spoon: How he explains quite simply in order to bend it you must know that there is no Spoon, it is merely a representation of manipulated artificial reality. Explain how this reality is a choice to believe in, it is a way in which you perceive your surroundings within the Matrix's confindes - for those lucky enough to be "saved" from the Matrix this becomes an apparent observation. Show a quote from the film about the "red pill and the blue pill".
Explain about the link between the dream world and the physical awoken world - What is different? The forth dimension theory. Explain how this could be able to free the mind more than when stuck in a generic, "real" concious world. Talk about the enlightenment period and romantisism, how this "wake up" is a rebelion to the world around you, that there is something you can't quite grasp about being alive in this exsistence. Show how within the Matrix trilogy we see the "creator" of the Matrix, who we come to find is not directly the original creator, but a programme of his design which continues the world in his genius. Explain the way in which this is not only reflecting a person, but also another place in time which feels current; it is merely a reflection directly into the present. We come to find that there has been many "chosen one's" like Neo, all who had the choice of salvation or destruction. It is clear the chosen one is merely a threat to the system of the Matrix, that that person alone has the power to corrupt it - refer to this as the mise en abyme of the Matrix, how it Mirrors itself over and over. Also note that the Matrix is a concept that in the mind of a Postmodernist could be real, therefore you watch the film which tells the audience of a world we cannot see, there is a greater power within society and it exsists in the world we see. Show how the world is becoming a technologically dependant cultural experience and that this reliance on machines could cause such an extreme in the future. Mention that this development IS a concious one, that people will refer to in comparison to science fiction, yet allow for it to happen through adaptation. Include that it is also possible, according to the Matrix, that there is an unknown uncertainty that our world is real at all - therefore we ARE already within a Matrix. Use religion and death as an example, also how if we are within a Matrix we may be being watched ourselfs by others outside of it's exsistence; we could potentially be a warning to another culture in time or conciousness that we cannot perceive ourselves. Explain lost identity and how Neo is portrayed as both "Mr Anderson" and "Neo", almost creating the same person to be two different seperate entities, that there is no true understanding of self identity, only individual experience, which is why a concept such as postmodernity is so difficult to describe.

Explain how Neo is the Avant Garde to the Matrix, how he is the force that can be creative with his surroundings and innovate a new system for the world to adapt to - the prophecy of which he is said to fulfill will change the world for the better, so man and machines can live in harmony, with respect and control.