Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Time Machine Film Review

The Idiots (Danish: Idioterne) is a 1998 Danish film directed by Lars von Trier. It is his first film made in compliance with the Dogme '95 Manifesto, and is also known as Dogme #2. A seemingly anti-bourgeois group of adults spend their time seeking their "inner idiot" to release their inhibitions. They do so by spassing, this is a Danish term, which refers to those who act like idiots even though they are not? These episodes of spassing give this film an odd look that is guaranteed to turn off a lot people and anger many, especially those who expect more conventional ways of looking at and responding to the problems young people face in society.

Improvised acting and hand-held camera work are some of the many dogmas the film must adhere to. A series of guidelines were also created by von Trier and Thomas Vinterburg. The rules include; that the film must be shot entirely hand-held, in natural light, the sound must be recorded on location (i.e., no dubbing or sound effects will be added in post-production.) Also, no 'genre' films are allowed, such as horror or science fiction. Improvised acting and hand-held camera work are some of the many dogmas the film must adhere to.
As we first encounter them in action in an elegant restaurant and watch them spasse. They retardedly eat their food under the direction of one of them (Susanne), who pretends to be their keeper; while one of them, Stoffer, grabs onto a lady (Karen), sitting alone, and refuses to let go of her. Karen seems to be responding kindly to the idiot, just like she didn't react with any ill emotion after being treated rather abruptly by the waiter when she told him she doesn't have much money and will be just ordering the salad. The group leaves together with Karen and tells her it is just a game they enjoy playing, inviting her to join them, even though, she does not appear to be one of them. But she does look desperate and lonely and unhappy.

Another scene that is crucial is midway through the film when one of the 'idiots' brings a group of people who have Down's syndrome to the house for lunch, and the pretenders are forced to look at the very people who they behave like, only without the disguise of 'acting' or some political ideal of being an 'idiot'. By doing this it really challenges what they themselves have been doing, acting like idiots, mocking what these people are like for real, bringing a certain reality to the film, which is why it makes you question is it right for a group of middle class people to act like this in the first place?

The point that Von Trier was trying to make, is that you really have to be an idiot to change the system, or think that you can change it. That you can only be effective when you really confront who you are, reaching past the point of where authority rules who you are; or else, you are stuck with the same cultural values you have always had and can't really change who you have been brought up as. Being an idiot is the last act of despair. And, it only matters when you can do it for real and not be using it to play a game. There's a rather large question mark as to whether his film is merely an elaborate prank on the viewer or a genuine attempt to question the modes of society when it comes to behaviour and the attempts to homogenize creativity and spontaneity.

Von Trier mocks what is conventionally thought of as right, by doing what is unconscionable and politically incorrect; it becomes only too real and too sad to comprehend. It is presented so as not to give the idiots a way out of how to deal with the alienation they feel. They seem to be left with only their naive hopes and disillusions; and possibly, their emotional experiences that they can value. Their situation is not resolved. The film does not end with all loose ends tied up in a nice bow. But this group of people tried something different... and whether they reached their ‘inner idiot self’ or not, something penetrated them, whether they are the better because of the experience, it is difficult to tell, just as we the audience, whether we liked the film or not, something inside us was moved by what we saw taking place, causing us to react in a way we might not normally act when watching a film.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Thematic Characterisation/Casting Task

Our project is based around the theme of nursery rhymes, looking into taking a nursery rhyme and putting a modern and slightly dark twist on the former children's version. The nursery rhyme we've chosen is Little Bo Peep, so for our characterisation and casting we decided we wanted our model to be a woman who has defined cheek bones in the style of paintings of Japanese woman, with their bright pink cheek bones. We researched into defined cheekbone makeup... creating an almost doll like effect on the models face.

We also wanted the face to have defined features such as the eyes; we want them to stand out in the photograph so we looked at the famous photograph of the afghan girl where her green eyes stand out completely from everything else in the image.

We havent tooken many photographs of people we think would be appropriate for our shoot, this will definitely be the next stage in our devolpment process of the project. But we have a good idea of the type and character that we are looking for

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Seminar 1 ‒ “The Commission ‒ The Portrait Issue”

Finlay MacKay, ‘Changing Pace, David Weir’ for ‘The Road to 2012’

MacKay’s portfolio includes sport and portraiture as well as complex advertising productions that draw on graphic novels and the work of contemporary artists, such as the Scottish painter Peter Howson. For the National Portrait Gallery/BT Road to 2012 Project MacKay has moved away from a traditional sports approach.  By observing and responding to the narratives that the athletes and their training locations present, he has created a series of contemplative scenarios to tell a story of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games from a singular perspective.

MacKay uses a singular perspective to create a bigger picture of the Olympics. Instead of  just simply having the athlete in a training ground he has used a different approach and decided to surround him with a natural landscape. The camera position he has used means that he doesn’t just focus on the athlete, but also the surroundings as well, as they become a vital part of the photograph.

Ulrich Gebert ‘Freischneider’ 2004

In Ulrich Gebert‘s photography work, nature – explicitly the botanical – as raw material for the human being who, incidentally, likes to maintain order comprises but just the outer layer of the analysis of the relationship between human being, shrubbery and patterns of order. In addition to pictures of vegetation, tamed and cut into form, „Freischneider“ also portraits the men who carry the blades? Garden and gardener are set face to face; the confrontation resembles a culprit/victim relationship; this is characterized by gestures of suppression and a hierarchical conception of order, correct and incorrect design.

The separation of garden and gardener demonstrates that a physical confrontation between man and nature is hardly necessary anymore to validate the claim to power: an upright position shows empowerment, upon the plant world. Dressed in uniform, the helmet shows the gardener is armed and ready to protect himself, immunizing him against doubt and wounds from his branches and foliage. The human being presents himself here as an oversized armed Giant; the campaign against the vegetation in its absurd disproportionality turns out as a caricature of modernist dominance-over-nature fantasies.

 Gebert uses a close up camera angle to capture the expression of the gardener, also the way his body and head is placed shows that this was maybe posed. Gebert has also used bright lighting, to highlight the saturation of the colours of the gardener’s uniform.

Toby Glanville ‘Actual Life’ 2002 (Teacher)

Actual Life presents work made in Kent by the British photographer Toby Glanville over a period of three years, from 1997 to 2000. The setting for Glanville’s work is largely rural and yet he generates a response to people and places that is entirely contemporary and compelling. Like the best photographs, Glanville’s restrained and delicate colour images are both simple and densely weighted with the complexities of time and space.

The remarkable thing about Glanville’s work is that he has allowed his subject their uncertainty; we seem to see the conflict on their faces. When a pose is a solution to a problem, the interest of the problem disappears. He has not forced his subjects to make a decision about themselves. He likes to experiment with the subject and how they would react to the camera. Glanville’s portraits of people reveal but never expose the person completely. There is enigmatic straight forwardness about the ways in which Glanville’s subjects look at the camera; and it is usually the camera that he wants them to look at.

What I think Glanville’s tries to show us in this particular series is the absurd poignancy of our wish to be prepared. Glanville has used natural light to create this image, you can see the direction of the light from the window on the right hand side of the photo. This series of of images is all about having a simple approach to photographing a person and capturing colurs in a delicate way. By using soft natural lighting this allows Glanville to capture the delicate colours. Although this image is very simple it still looks posed, like the subject was meant to stand in this specific spot for a particular reason.

After looking at all three hotographers the one similarity they all seem to have is they all appear staged or posed, whether it’s a facial expression or a particular way they are standing nothing is natural. Individually they use lighting and certain camera positions to highlight the subject and make them react to the camera in a way the photographer wants. Each photographer wants to capture the subjects relation to their surroundings in that particular moment in time, highliting on their body position and facial expression.