As a follow-up to a previous post on film class and screenings, here are a few more we’ve watched to study the elements of cinematography.

“Lolita” (1962)

We had to watch this Stanley Kubrick film on our own for more in-class discussion time about it in the art of film directing class.  I had never seen “Lolita” before and never knew who was in it, so it was a bonus to see Shelley Winters in it.  She is one of my favorite actresses, having seen her in “A Place in the Sun” (1951), “The Diary of Anne Frank” (1959) and “The Poseidon Adventure” (1972).  Lolita, the daughter of Winter’s character, shows two opposite personality traits toward Professor Humbert throughout the story.  In that sense, it reminded me of Alicia Silverstone in “The Crush” (1993), which has been on TV once or twice recently.  The difference between that example and “Lolita” is in the lead male characters of both films.  Humbert doesn’t want to lose Lolita who is too young for him.  In “The Crush,” Nick (Cary Elwes) definitely wants to break free from Adrienne’s (Silverstone) obsession with him.

“Psycho” (1960)

With all of the pop culture references of the scary shower scene, I thought I would most likely never see this Alfred Hitchcock film.  However, the first time I saw any of “Psycho” was that very shower scene.  The famous scene was viewed for discussion of cinematography during film appreciation class.  Given all the gore of such scenes in recent horror movies, it didn’t seem as scary as I was expecting.  I didn’t have the urge to cover my eyes or look away as I would with present-day all-out slasher films.  However, I can definitely see how the shower scene was one horrifying scene for its time and for many years.  The “slicing” music accented the stabbing motions the killer makes with the knife, adding to the shower scene’s creepy atmosphere.

“The Birds” (1963)

This is my favorite Alfred Hitchcock film; I’ve seen it the most out of all the Hitchcock classics. In film appreciation class, we watched a short clip of the diner / gas station accident scene.  The scene was replayed again, in slow motion to compare Tippi Hedren’s character looking all over while gas flows from one point to the other.  For memory’s sake of a comical moment in class, watching a scene from “The Birds” in slow motion is not an easy thing to do without having to hold back laughter.

“Paranoid Park” (2007)

This Gus Van Sant film was screened in my English literature class focusing on novels about alienation.  I haven’t seen any other of Van Sant’s films.  So, comparing to other films, “Paranoid Park” was very different in that it used sound at times to really emphasize the turmoil of the main character.  That turmoil is the result of teenage Alex being involved in terrible accident which killed a security guard.  Just a heads-up: that terrible accident may induce squeamish feelings just from the idea of what happens to that guard.  Afterward, the film shows very well just how alienated Alex becomes from life as an average teen.

“Dr. Strangelove” (1964)

For the film class covering Kubrick’s work, we began watching “Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.”  Although I haven’t seen this all the way through on my own yet, there were a few scenes that really stood out for me.  One such scene is when two of the men meeting in the war room start fighting; the president yells at them about the idea of fighting in that particular place.  Then there are the scenes of a B-52 flying over the mountains, adding dramatic landscape to the film.  Another scene included a underwear-clad woman in General Turgidson’s (George C. Scott) bedroom.  The way she talks on the phone while relaying messages between the caller and Turgidson is very official and business-like, a contradiction to what she is wearing at the time.  At the war room meeting, there is a humorous moment in which Turgidson gets a call from the woman and reminds her not to call him there.  It reminded me of a similar scene from “Spaceballs” (1987); it’s the scene in which President Skroob yells the same thing to someone who calls him.  I’m not sure if that was to pay homage to “Dr. Strangelove,” along with the spoofs on numerous sci-fi blockbusters.  Despite the serious topic of “Dr. Strangelove,” these are just a few odd moments of humor throughout the film.

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Next up, I have a paper to write on one of six films to choose from.  On the night the choices were given, I narrowed it down to three that I’m interested in writing about.  At this point, I’ve picked out the one I’m writing about; now I just need to write a short thesis  due on the next class meeting.