Use of actors

Actors, of course, are part of mise-en-scène, and Biga points to Alexander Payne's preference not to work with, or at least to not be compelled to work with, "big" stars, preferring actors who may be from TV (e.g., Thomas Haden Church in Sideways), or are not yet established as stars (e.g., Reese Witherspoon at the time of Election), or who typically play character or supporting roles (e.g., Paul Giamatti in Sideways), or even non-professionals (many of the background or minor roles in both Election and Sideways).

Do you think this preference is effective in making Payne's films look and feel more real? How would having George Clooney in the role of Miles instead of Paul Giamatti, as reported by Adam Biga, have affected Sideways?

Differences in mise-en-scène

How is m-e-s in Sideways distinct from Election? What commonalities do you see? In Biga, Payne says he "resists" the assumption that everything you see in a film needs to be "beautiful." How do these films demonstrate that commitment? Do you see differences in the "beauty" of what's in the from in Sideways as compared to Election? What accounts for those differences?

Frame Analysis: SIDEWAYS

Update (M 4/28): If you were prevented from doing or completing this Frame Analysis by the Typepad service outage, let me know and we will work out an extension.

Choose two (2) of the following frames and for each one write an analysis that includes:

  • Angle and distance.
  • Focus (depth).
  • Framing.
  • Form.
  • And a discussion of the overall effect that these elements have on how you understand or interpret what you see in the frame. Be sure to keep the context of the images in mind.

Go here for full instructions.

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