Tuesday, 31 December 2013

The Master of Suspense

Alfred Hitchcock was often referred to as 'The Master of Suspense'. He was the pioneer for techniques that helped to create suspense and was the master of the psychological thriller genre. Hitchcock was also famous for popularizing the term 'MacGuffin' and this was applied in a vast array of his films.

Some of Hitchcock's devices that were commonly used in his films was suspense, the audience as voyeur (practice of spying on people engaged in intimate behaviour) and the MacGuffin. Some of his most famous films that portray these elements are Psycho, Rear Window and The Birds.

As mentioned earlier Hitchcock was famous for making the term popular and it was first prominently used in his 1935 film, The 39 Steps. Hitchcock explained the term; "It is the mechanical element that usually crops up in any story. In crook stories it is almost always the necklace and in spy stories it is most always the papers".

The term MacGuffin can be commonly associated with the thriller genre but it has a broad definition that can be readily applied to all films. In fiction, a MacGuffin is a plot device in the form of some goal, desired object, or other motivator that the protagonist pursues, often with little or no narrative explanation as to why it is considered so important. The specific nature of a MacGuffin is typically unimportant to the overall plot. The most common type of MacGuffin is an object, place or person. However, a MacGuffin can sometimes take a more abstract form, such as money, victory, glory, survival, power, love, or even something that is entirely unexplained, as long as it strongly motivates key characters within the structure of the plot.

Examples of MacGuffin's in other films include: the meaning of 'Rosebud' in Citizen Kane, the 'Rabbit's Foot' in Mission Impossible 3 and the briefcase in Pulp Fiction.

Monday, 30 December 2013

Skyfall opening titles

Skyfall is the 23rd film in the James Bond series and stars Daniel Craig and Javier Bardem. Skyfall is an action/thriller which sees our beloved spy James Bond return to duty after a botched mission. Rugged, tired and not the usual Bond we are used to seeing on our screens, he must go on a mission to stop Silva (Javier Bardem) and protect the exposed identities of MI6 agents. But Silva has a personal vendetta that involves someone at the top of MI6 and will stop at nothing to kill them. The Bond films are infamous for their opening sequences and Skyfall is no different although this one may be particularly remembered for its soundtrack performed by Adele. The opening titles start with Bond being dragged into a deep, dark sea with a bleeding wound creating swirls of blood that float behind him. The blue of the water makes the blood stand out even more and it foreshadows the elements of danger that Bond will face throughout the film. He is dragged into a hole in the ground were the audience is flown through a graveyard where the gravestones are guns and bayonets. The blue transforms into a red swirl which just spells out death and suggests that our protagonist has fallen already. After escaping from the graveyard we see Bond standing in a large hall shooting shadows of himself. This shows the paranoia that may be starting to settle into his mind. Black, white and grey colours present the idea of blurred lines and a mistrust between people; the game is no longer good or bad and it has merged to challenge our hero to figure out the problem by himself. These titles are similar to the Kiss Kiss Bang Bang titles as they both present/foreshadow the same conventions of a action/thriller by using similar methods, however the James Bond titles would be much harder to try and create opposed to the Kiss Kiss Bang Bang titles.

Sunday, 29 December 2013

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang opening titles

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is an american thriller film by debut director Shane Black. The film stars Robert Downey Jr and Val Kilmer. The plot involves a petty thief (Robert Downey Jr) posing as an actor who is brought to Los Angeles for an unlikely audition and finds himself in the middle of a murder investigation along with his high school dream girl (Michelle Monaghan) and a detective (Val Kilmer) who's been training him for his upcoming role in the film. The genre of this film is a mixture of action/thriller with strong comedic elements and these are shown by the opening titles. The colours white, black and a pale red foreshadow the films possible themes. The red commonly represents death, danger and lust and the contrasting black and white is like a battle between good and evil, right and wrong. The white is also often used as a symbol of innocence or purity and this is shown through the character of Harmony Faith Lane. The mise-en-scene in the titles show bullet holes, guns and ladies lips which supports the genre and the elements shown by the colours. The music that accompanies the sequence is like a jazz/blues sound adds a light hearted, sexy feel to the scene but also adds intrigue and mystery. The animation is simple looking; it does not utilise a whole pallet of colours and there is little detail on the people or figures, but it does flow smoothly and uses the whole screen to create a full and interesting opening sequence.

Monday, 16 December 2013

Epic Film Music: Halloween

This is probably the most famous Horror film theme music of all time, John Carpenters theme song to Halloween is chilling, unnerving, a little repetitive but generally awesome. Perhaps making the film more memorable than even Michael Myers himself the theme song has helped to make Halloween one of the best horror films ever. The theme song building up the tension and mystery and then suddenly cutting out to an eerie silence is truly terrifying in this film.

Saturday, 14 December 2013

What's your favourite scary movie?

Why Ghostface I think that'll have to be Scream.
Released in 1996 Scream became iconic for its use of satire in completely summing up the horror genre in an almost comedic fashion. Heavily influenced by the classic slasher films such as Halloween and Friday the 13th, Screams villain consisted of a crazed killer running around murdering high school students in giant black overalls and wearing a creepy looking mask that resembled, well a Ghostface!

The film went on to spawn 3 sequels that involved a different perpetrator utilizing the ghost mask to commit an act of revenge or to just have a good time terrorizing the residents of Woodsboro. While the sequels could never match the sheer awesomeness of the first film they made Ghostface an icon for generations of younger people.

There are two aspects that I really like from the Scream. First is the iconic villain that the film has. Ghostface is instantly recognisable and is an interesting characters. The fact that you never know who the killer behind the mask really is ad that the costume can supposedly be picked up from your local supermarket adds an element of realist terror to the film. Secondly Scream pays tribute to many classic horror films, perhaps the most notable one is when the teens are watching Halloween at a party before the final confrontation occurs.

Scream will always be one of my favourite films no matter how old it becomes or how many times a Scary Movie films tries to slander it. Scream is an all time classic horror.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Epic Film Music: World War Z

World War Z is a really awesome film. It's a zombie film sure, but presented on a global and epically intense scale. But what really makes it special to me is the main plot for the film, as I find it isn't really focused on the survival of our main character, even though that is a major part of it. Instead I feel that it is more engaged in telling the origins of what caused the pandemic and subsequently understanding the 'Zekes' or zombies. I think that the music echoes this perfectly through the quick, mysterious piano which is why I find the music so haunting in the way it suggests that there is something to be discovered and understood which could be potentially quite beautiful. Similarly the piano within this piece is almost like the Mass Effect 3 song.

Monday, 9 December 2013

Epic Game Music: Mass Effect 3

Mass Effect 3, is the third and possibly final installment of the awesome Mass Effect trilogy. Whilst the ending of this game was considered a crime by its fan-base, the thing that haunted me after this film was not the unanswered questions or the stunning cinematic sequences, it was in fact the music, and this song titled "Leaving Earth" in particular. Whenever I heard it my heartstrings were tugged and I felt the tears well up behind my eyes (seriously, this game made me cry). This song stood out among many of the others within the soundtrack for reasons that will make you shiver. Firstly the most striking thing for me in this piece is the piano that plays a few simple notes that just resonate and give so much depth to the music. It's as if i should feel happy, but sad too and this is also emphasized with the triumphant blast  of the trumpets and other brass instruments that empower the music even further. This is probably one of my most treasured pieces of video game music.

Monday, 2 December 2013

Marvel and Iron Man 3 case study

Marvel Studios (formerly Marvel Films) is a an american television and film studio that was founded in 1993. The studio is a subsidiary of Marvel Entertainment which is wholly owned by the conglomerate Disney and therefore works in conjunction with Disney Studios.

Marvel Studios has been involved in three of the Marvel Cinematic Universes; X-Men, Superman, and the Marvel Universe.

The "MVL Productions LLC" unit has released eight films since 2008 under the Marvel Cinematic Universe banner: Iron Man (2008), The Incredible Hulk (2008), Iron Man 2 (2010), Thor (2011), Captain America: The First Avenger (2011), Marvel's The Avengers (2012), Iron Man 3 (2013) and Thor: The Dark World (2013). Captain America Winter Soldier will be released early 2014.

Iron Man 3 is the seventh instalment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the second-highest-grossing film behind The Avengers. The film earned $408,883,156 in North America , as of September 2, 2013, and $805,700,000 in other countries of the same date. The total was a worldwide amount of $1,214,583,156.

Interesting Facts

The film featured over 2,000 visual effects shots and was worked on by 17 studios. From January  2013 through to the film's wrap in April, the collective crew had one d`y of downtime, otherwise working 7 days a week and 14 to 18 hours a day.

A total of 3 hours and 15 minutes of footage were shot before editing, where it was brought down to 130 minutes (119 without credits).

On August 15th, production was halted when Robert Downey Jr suffered an ankle injury, Shooting resumed on the 24th August.

Warp X

Warp X is a British independent feature film production company, a sister company to Warp Films. Formed in 2005 the companies purpose was to add energy and vitality to the British film industry and to allow first time directors to produce a film without the expectations of performing well at the box office. The studio began with support from Warp Films, Film Four, the UK council, EM Media and Screen Yorkshire.

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