Actors & acting

Topics for M 12/2

Here are, belatedly, some topics for our discussion of X2. Feel free to comment.

  • Which characters embody mutation as marginalization?
  • Which can “pass”?
  • How does the film in particular show mutation as a metaphor for gayness/queerness?
  • How does Mystique (Rebecca Romijn) embody mutation as queerness?
  • Brian Cox as William Stryker - how does he embody prejudice against mutants?
  • How does the film show de-humanization of mutants?
  • Logan (Wolverine/Hugh Jackman) - how doe he embody the dehumanization of mutants?
  • How do mutant “powers” complicated the idea of mutants as marginalized? How does Magneto, in particular, (Ian McKellen) embody that complication? Which of the “good mutants” also embody this complication?

Topics for M 11/25

Here are topics for our discussion of Carol on Monday. Feel free to start the conversation here or to suggest additional topics.

  • Framing & decor: the use of windows and mirrors in framing shots.
  • Lighting.
  • How the filmmakers use mise-en-scène to create a film that not only looks and feels like the period, but also looks and feels like a film from the period.
  • Action and performance: how Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara use facial expression and body language to show emotion and change. We can also talk about how costume and make-up support these performances.

 


Topics for M 11/18

Here are topics for our discussion of Blindspotting 0n Monday. Feel free to start the conversation in comments and to suggest additional topics.

  • Setting, particularly through contrasts.
  • Use of props, costume and make-up for character development and also setting.
  • Masculinity through action and performance.
  • Color and lighting, especially in Collin's dreams/memories).

Topics for M 11/4

Here are possible topics for our discussion of Leave No Trace on M. Feel free to make additional suggestions or to start the conversation here.

  • Establishment of setting in the opening shots.
  • A related issue is the use of light and color.
  • Use of props to develop character.
  • Action and performance, particularly in terms of how Ben Foster and Thomasin McKenzie use their faces and bodies to communicate their place in the world.
  • Based on what we are shown in the first act of the film, what do you think we are supposed to think about how Will (Dad) and Tom live? How do you think these feelings are meant to change as the film progresses? Who did you identify with more, Dad or Tom? Why? Or is this a false choice? What did the filmmakers show you that persuaded you to feel this way?

Topics for M 10/28

Here are points of discussion about Zodiac for M. Feel free to suggest other topics and to start the conversation in comments.

  • Use of sound, especially music, and how those choices affect our reading of mise-en-scène.
  • Use of lighting.
  • The choice to keep the killer out of frame or obscured in the m-e-s.
  • Parallels between the police, Toschi (Mark Ruffalo) and Armstrong (Anthony Ewards), and the journalists, Avery (Robert Downey, Jr.) and Graysmith (Jake Gyllenhall), investigating the killer.
  • The use of setting to show character, e.g., Leigh Allen's (John Carroll Lynch) trailer and Paul Avery's houseboat.
  • The effects of casting choices, especially for the actors playing the suspected or implied killer. Carroll Lynch and Bob Vaughn (Charles Fleischer). How do these choices play on stereotypes people may have about what a serial killer like the Zodiac would look like?

 


Questions and topics for M 10/7

Here are possible topics for discussion about The Perez Family for M. Feel free to make additional suggestions or to start the conversation here:

  • Showing marginalization through costume, and also character styling like with hair or make-up.
  • Showing marginalization through setting.
  • Action and performance as a way to show which characters have marginal identities and which do not.
  • Visual symbolism, e.g., water and flowers.
  • Uses of color.
  • How the film shows what makes a “family.”

Actors & Acting

We've discussed the role that actors play in how audiences might interpret or relate to a film. Certain actors bring certain expectations, e.g., for most people Jimmy Stewart signifies decency, Bruce Willis signifies toughness. However, filmmakers can either use these expectations in casting or try to subvert them by casting against type, e.g., as noted in class, Brad Pitt's role in Twelve Monkeys can be seen as going against type as a romantic leads. Actors, in this sense, are important parts of mise-en-scene.

Do you have strong impressions of any of the actors that have appeared in the films we have screened? Were those actors used in roles you would expect or cast against type? How effective were they used in either case? What's the difference between someone who is simply an actor and someone who is "star"? What do stars bring to films? For you, who are the movie stars that we've seen this term? Have any of the films been "star-less"?


Formal Analysis of APOLLO 13 part 2

The task (which we will discuss in class on W 5/13):

  • Write a short and concise essay on what a pilot looks like based on the representations in The Right Stuff and Apollo 13. Prompts for thought:
    • What the two films have in common in terms of the visual representation of pilots.
    • The "looks" of the different actors.
    • The acting or performance styles of the actors.
  • Base your analysis on a critical examination of the use mis-en-scène. I have provided a set of images as references. Feel free to select or reference images of your own choosing.

Assessment:

  • I will look first at the precision and formality of your language. Be as specific and as technical as possible.
  • I will also be look at how clearly you explain your interpretation in visual terms. Being articulate is more important than being "right."
  • I will also be looking at how carefully your analysis is composed and edited and that you have addressed each of the required points for each image.
  • I think that one to three single-spaced pages is a reasonably guideline for length.

Submission:

  • You should submit your assignment via Moodle by M 5/18 at 5:00 pm. Additional details on Moodle.
  • This assignment is worth five (5) points.

The images:

At 7:09 from The Right Stuff:

RightStuff07mins09secs

At 105:59 from The Right Stuff:

RightStuff105mins59Secs

At 56:06 from Apollo 13:

Apollo1356mins06secs