scottcassandra

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Persepolis
(2007)

Assessment of Marjane Satrapi's ability to convey struggles of childhood in Iran
In their 2007 film, Persepolis, directors Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud's retells the events of Satrapi's life while growing up in and experiencing life in Iran before and after the revolution of 1979. Satrapi and Paronnaud implement a minor genre style in the form of animation that recreates the significant events and hardships of Satrapi's life, and successfully communicates the emotions associated with them, if not more effectively than a life-action film (Weber-Fève 322). By analyzing the animated style of Satrapi and Paronnaud's film, there are certain conclusions to be made regarding the film's ability to effectively address political and social issues through a more creative adolescent perspective as they grow up in a rapidly changing and increasingly oppressive country. In the scene in which Marjane wakes up and begins to undergo a rapid physical transition into maturity, various parts of her body begin to unrealistically transform and grow into unusual and grotesque shapes and sizes until her body is seemingly full-grown and, once again, proportionate. This scene demonstrates the power of animation as a tool for reducing time and creatively portraying an ordinary and awkward stage in one's life while giving it a comical treatment. The exaggerated and comical style of recreating and accelerating the stages of growing up as portrayed in this scene enables the audience to further identify with Marjane as a growing adolescent, thus suggesting that this scene might not have been as well received by the audience or as effective if instead live-action was used. This scene also serves as a transitional point in the film in which Marjane's rapid maturation also indicates that she is now subject to the oppressive laws against showing any exposed skin other than the face and is instead forced to don a concealing and overbearing hijab. The majority of this film being in black and white, despite the creative freedom of animation allowing for any number of colors to be used, further evokes the sense of an increasing void in Marjane's life in which she grows more and more scornful of her home country and its newly introduced laws (Weber-Fève 324). In the scene in which all of the students at her school gather in an auditorium to discuss the strict dress code for women, the scene opens to an image of the segregated female and male students. The variety of clothing worn by the men as contrasted with the homogeneously dressed women that are almost impossible to tell apart due to their black, over-sized hijabs. This scene is effective at highlighting the encroaching political and religious agendas of the Iranian government following the revolution through the plain contrast of the animated men and women. The use of animation enables this scene to exaggerate the increasing lack of individuality and feeling of oppression that women in Iran are experiencing, and would likely not have been as effective had the directors decided to use live-action characters instead. The film Persepolis recounts the events leading up to and following the Iranian revolution which led to the introduction and strong enforcement of clothing laws that only targeted the women of Iran. By predominantly using a black and white color scheme for this film, director, Satrapi and Paronnaud, are able to effectively convey the lack of creativity and austere principles that govern women to appear as shapeless, black blobs with plain faces rather than express their individuality. The animated style of this film contributes to its effectiveness in exaggeratedly portrayed certain events from Marjane's life which made them seem more comical and relatable. This film, which is exemplar of an animation that effectively addresses social and political issues, as well as everyday problems, proves that live-action films are not always more effective at addressing significant worldly issues (Weber-Fève 325). As evidenced by this film, animation serves as a powerful tool for analyzing a number of situations while also allowing for the creative freedom to ironically portray a world that oppresses creativity.

Work Cited Weber-Fève, Stacey. "Framing the "Minor" in Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud's Persepolis." Contemporary French and Francophone Studies 15.3 (2011): 321-28. Print.

Pariah
(2011)

Analysis of director Dee Rees' ability to convey struggle of growing up LGBT in an unaccepting society
In her 2011 film, Pariah, director Dee Rees examines the events of a lesbian adolescent female named Alike's life as she grows up in Brooklyn with her family that refuses to acknowledge her sexuality. Rees uses an intimate film style to closely examine the film's characters and the relationships between them as they function in a society that still does not fully accept those that are gay. By analyzing Rees' use of cinematography and plot, there are certain conclusions to be made regarding the film's ability to accurately portray the often struggle-laden experience of teenager growing up, in addition to them being criticized and even socially rejected for being gay. From the start of the film, Alike's experience of growing up while also beginning the process of 'coming out' with her sexuality is demonstrated to be painstakingly discreet. This is shown in the scene in which Alike takes the bus home from the club and changes out of her tomboy-look into more effeminate clothing and puts on earrings, so as to prevent her mother from discovering her sexuality (Serwer 1). This film not only serves as an autobiographical entry of a young women entering into adulthood, but also a journey of acceptance by one's family and society in general. This film also embraces the "womanist" culture, in that the women being portrayed in the film support each other without the assistance of a man's strength and disregards 'girly' stereotypes (Reid 109). Alike serves as an example of a woman that rejects the traditional, Nuclear role of a dependent female that typically relies on the patriarchal power and knowledge of a male figure to extract her strength, which is particularly demonstrated on screen by her nearly completely absent father (Reid, 112). Rees examines several of the greatest enemies of adolescence, the parents, in that they not only reject Alike for being gay, but also perceive her sexuality as a reason to socially condemn her. Alike's parents' rejection of her throughout the film demonstrates the reoccurring phenomenon in films about growing up in which the parents and society in general do not accept the emerging individuality of teenagers (Reid, 115). For example, Alike's sexuality is dismissed as a phase by her parents, which serves as a blanket response to anything that the parents do not like the idea of and assume that their child will grow out of. This film also reveals a certain societal perspective on gay people, which is that they inadequate because of their sexuality, which results in them often keeping their sexuality discreet, just as Alike had (Serwer 1). However, Alike used others' lack of faith in her as a source of empowerment to finally come out with her sexuality and pursue her dreams confidently. The film Pariah examines the struggles faced by those growing up gay in a society that does not yet fully accept them for who they are, and especially not their sexuality. Rees uses a riveting yet realistic plot to share a story not commonly told with the audience in hopes to raise awareness about the negative side-effects of rejecting someone based on an element integral to their being, such their sexuality. This film serves as a type of empowerment for women of any sexuality in that it shows the remarkable strength of one that is almost completely rejected by her family, and yet finds the courage in herself to continue to follow her dreams of writing poetry. More importantly this film serves as a reminder that teenagers and their individual characteristics, including sexuality, should not be treated as anything less than something that is integral to their unique personality and what makes them who they are, whether others disagree with it or not.

Work Cited: Reid, Mark. Redefining Black Film. Berkeley, University of California Press, 1993. Serwer, Andrew. "Film Review: "Pariah" and the Untold Stories in Black Cinema." Mother Jones (2011): 1. 28 Dec. 2011. Web. 16 Apr. 2017.

Otona no miru ehon - Umarete wa mita keredo
(1932)

Analysis of the cinematic techniques exclusive to Ozu's style
In his 1932 film, I Was Born, But…, director Yasujiro Ozu draws a comparison between social problems experienced by two different generations and explores the concept of childhood serving as a transitory gateway into the seemingly more bleak and severe period of adulthood. Ozu uses a minimalist style of filming and editing to offer a more objective perspective on growing up and to subtly highlight certain themes that exist throughout the film, such as family relationships and childhood. By cross-analyzing certain events and characters' behaviors from I Was Born, But… with several academic essays that evaluate Ozu's film style, there are several conclusions to be made regarding the film's ability to evaluate social issues from several perspectives, especially that of a child, and how the film is able to communicate the hardships associated with growing up.

The first scene of the film opens up to a shot of a truck that is intended to move the film's main characters, a family of four, to their new home for the father's new job, yet the vehicle appears to be hopelessly stuck in the mud. Despite the family eventually being able to get the truck out of the mud, this scene, which shows the twin boys scrutinizingly watch their father struggle with the vehicle, is an early indicator of one of the film's themes of childhood and the abstract perspective that children hold of their parents. In this telling scene, Ozu subtly hints at the stagnant and somewhat-low social status of the father which his sons have yet to discover about him later on in the film. This scene also serves as evidence of Ozu's poetic, minimalist film style in which he refrains from using more than a simple cut between actions to progress the story and relies on the audiences' ability to interpret the meanings behind certain objects and subtle gestures without saying it outright with dialogue ("Yasujiro Ozu: The Syntax of His Films", 16).

Later on in the film, when the father is seen in his place of work, the audience witnesses him be openly ridiculed by his new coworkers when he steps into his boss' office. This particular scene, in contrast with earlier scenes that show the twin sons being bullied by their fellow students, serves to reflect the existence of unwarranted judgment and taunting some people face, regardless of their location, occupation, or age group. Following the criticism of the coworkers, there are several shots of the adult workers sitting at their desks which are followed by a panning shot of children sitting at their desks in school. The similarity in imagery and close proximity of these two shots serve as further evidence of Ozu using his minimalist style to suggest that the young school boys will grow up to replace the working-class men and that they are destined to enter and remain in the society's middle class ("Yasujiro Ozu: The Syntax of His Films", 13-14).

One of the film's most critical scenes takes place when the father's associates and boss convene to watch home movies he has made, in which the father deliberately makes a fool of himself in order to impress his boss by making him laugh. While watching their father's foolish behavior, his twin sons experience an embarrassing realization that their father is not as high on the social ladder as they expected him to be and therefore experience a sense of disappointment when they see what he has to do in order to earn more respect from his peers and superiors ("YASUJIRO OZU: A Biographical Filmography," 7). This scene captures the essence of the film and Ozu's underlying intention, which is to offer a trivial view of what it means to be a working-class adult from the perspective of a child. The twin boys epitomize the same idolizing view that children tend to have of their parents which is usually eventually tarnished once the child begins to mature and acquire a more knowledgeable view of those around them and how they function in society.

Yasujiro Ozu's film, I Was Born, But…, seeks to explore the existence of social issues as they occur in both childhood and adulthood and reveal the sometimes adverse effects of these issues on relationships. The place of a working-class adult in society can be a permanent status, as indicated by Ozu's use of minimalist editing techniques that subtly suggest an underlying meaning to certain imagery and events, such as a truck stuck in the mud indicating a cemented social status. This film also seeks to raise awareness of the existence of various types of bullying that, as indicated in the film, takes place in all different walks of life. Most importantly, Ozu successfully presents the concept of adulthood from the perspective of a child, which is often skewed to be in the parents' favor. The subtle analysis of the differences between the innocence of childhood and the harsh reality of adulthood culminate into Ozu's commentary on the bittersweet facets of growing up.

Work Cited: Richie, Donald. "Yasujiro Ozu: The Syntax of His Films." Film Quarterly 17.2 (1963): 11-16. Web. Richie, Donald. "YASUJIRO OZU: A Biographical Filmography." Film Comment 7.1 (1971): 4-17. Web.

Aparajito
(1956)

Analysis of the cinematic techniques exclusive to Saiyajit Ray's style
In his 1957 film, Aparajito, director Satyajit Ray continues to follow the story of a curious and ambitious child named Apu as he experiences the dismal reality of life and the trials and tribulations associated with it. Ray uses his simple film style to evoke a sense of realism by portraying realistic events, and also to procure certain themes, such as growing up, modernity, and death. By analyzing certain elements of Ray's unique film style, which include his use of mise-en- scène, setting, plot, and more, there are certain conclusions to be made regarding the film's ability to accurately convey reality, especially from the perspective of a growing adolescent.

In contrast to the typical upbeat, Bollywood films that India was producing, through his films, Ray sought to, "…depict the reality of people's lives without sentimentality or glorification," (41). In his film, Aparajito, Ray seeks to portray the raw and unrefined reality of the transitional experience from adolescence into adulthood. Apu's character embodies a youthful spirit and seems to radiate positivity and vitality, yet certain tragic events throughout his life forcibly mature him, such as the death of his care-free great aunt, which was the first indication that his childhood would soon be expiring. After moving to the densely populated city suburbs to escape the tragic memories of the deaths of their loved ones, Apu's father also shortly falls ill and dies, forcing Apu to enter the role as an adult and shoulder more responsibility.

The death of Apu's father also serves partially as a criticism of his chosen trade, in which he worked as the village priest, a position that is ironically associated with wellness but instead contributes to his demise. Later on in the film, when Apu's mother forces him to become educated on becoming a priest like his father, Apu longs to play with other children instead and to join them in school. By contributing to his father's death and also to nearly depriving Apu of an education, the position as a village priest is further emphasized to have deleterious effects and signifies Apu's need to lead a life different from his parents. By continuing his studies at a university, it is implied that his absence contributed to his mother's loneliness, illness, and eventual death. However, at one point, Apu's mother attempts to sabotage his education that creates distance between them by not waking him up in time for the train (Ahmed, 41). This event signifies Apu's increasing estrangement from his roots that seem to impede his ability to lead his own life, including his own mother.

This film also functions as an indicator of the increasingly modernizing society in which the events of Apu's life take place (Ahmed, 41). Ray seems to criticize modernity as it makes itself more apparent in Apu's life, such as by presenting the city through the film's imagery as being a grungy and claustrophobic. The fact that Apu's father also passes away partly as a result of the city's arduously steep stairs signifies the symbol of modernity as being perilous. Modernity also takes the form of a train that appears several times throughout the Apu trilogy, and each appearance signifies the onset of great change in Apu's life (Ahmed, 41). Apu's first sight of the train occurs just before his sister's death, an event that led to his family's move to the city in search of a better life. Upon his second sight of the train, Apu realizes his desire to board it and to go to the city to which it was headed and create a life for himself outside of his mother's plan for him.

Director Satyajit Ray's film, Aparajito, explores the concepts of realism, growing up, modernity, and death through the unique use of mise-en-scène, plot, setting, and more. Ray's decision to shoot on location for most of the film results in a more realistic and faithful view of the grungy surroundings in which Apu grows up. Certain objects and events in this film, such as the train and the deaths of Apu's close family members, also function as symbols of his increasing sense of individuality and maturation. While also showing some of the joys and pleasantries of childhood and growing up, this film generally relays the tragedies associated with the passage of time and life itself. Ray's film could be perceived as dismal and hopeless, but it is the very character of Apu that challenges this criticism in that, despite all of his losses, he continues his education in order to one day make a new life for himself.

Work Cited: Ahmed, Talat. "Realism in South Asian Cinema." Film International 4.24 (2006): 40-47. Web.

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