Friday, 20 October 2017

Perspectives | Why Is "Moulin Rouge!" Postmodern

"Moulin Rouge!" Poster
Moulin Rouge! is a 2001 Australian–American jukebox musical, romantic, comedy film directed, co-produced, and co-written by Baz Luhrmann. It tells the story of a young English poet/writer, Christian, who falls in love with the star of the Moulin Rouge, cabaret actress and courtesan Satine. However, why this film is postmodern?

1. Pastiche - The pastiche consists of several sceneries copied/referenced from several famous movies. The scene with Christian standing in front of the Moulin Rouge yelling: “SATINE!!!” is a direct reference from the “STELLA!!!” scene from the movie “Streetcar Named Desire” (1951) or when Christian came up with the lyrics at the start of the movie: “the hills are alive with the sound of music” comes directly from the film “The Sound of Music” (1965) and several others. Only to mention a few reference movies: “Aladdin”, “Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing”, “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes”, “Romeo and Juliet”, “Peter Pan” etc.

2. Mash-up - Director of the drama-musical “Moulin Rouge!”, Baz Luhrmann, utilizes various well-known songs breaks them down and mixes them together. All the songs in the movie are basically mash ups of different songs and therefore allow the movie of not getting into trouble using copyrighted music.

3. Hyper-reality - The world that “Moulin Rouge” endeavors to create strains its credibility that under normal circumstances it would seem to be too phony. Not only the scene with the little fairy (“Tinker Bell”) appearing and Zidler flying around the Moulin Rouge singing with joy, but also when Christian and Satine start dancing in the clouds makes the audience question the story’s reality. However, Baz Luhrmann’s very inventive way of beginning the story makes the audience right from the start that this movie is hyper reality.

4. Non-linear narrative - The way this story is told is similar to a more modern title “The Great Gatsby”: A person who was involved in the past events is telling the audience the story he/she witnessed. Therefore the protagonist Christian who fell in love with Satine and whom the story is evolved around is retelling his past. The movie starts off with Christian in the future who is about to write and retell the story. Throughout the film the scene is constantly changing between the future Christian and the past Christian which indicates with the addition of the flashbacks in his narrating a narrative without chronological order.

5. Mix of Style - The play “Spectacular, spectacular” is supposedly set in the distant past in India, but the costumes are a cross over between ancient India and an elaborate Bollywood performance. To top it off the song they are performing is a mix between Bollywood pop also known as “Indian-pop” and the famous song “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend”, sung by Marilyn Monroe in “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes”.  Not only this scene but also various other performance scenes are consciously and openly draws on a number of different cultural references and mixing them creating an entirely separate piece. This postmodernist style is further represented by the fact that the performance occurs on a stage. Traditionally a theatre performance is a form of high art, but in this case a mix of several styles, genres and cultures occur.

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Maya #1 - Lighting & Rendering | Standard Surface


Perspectives | Key Words #5

  • The Canon - a general law or principle, by which something is judged, created mostly by a council or any other competent authority, for example: a Church law. 
  • DWEM - “Dead white European male” refers to the political correctness issue which caused a big discussion in the 1970s. Mostly represents male historical figures in art and culture whose talent and importance may have been exaggerated.
  • Phallocentricism - expresses male superiority, based on the phallus.
  • Eurocentrism - a worldview centered on and biased toward the western civilization. 
  • Postcolonialism - the historical period of time that represents the end of Western colonialism. The influence of the colonialism is still present.
  • Multiculturalism - a society consisting of two or more different cultural or ethnic groups.
  • Feminism - a movement that advocates the idea of gender equality. The group mostly consists of female supporters fighting for their rights.

Sunday, 15 October 2017

"Inception" (2010)

Fig. 1 "Inception" Poster
Every existing movie has a structure just like short stories or novels. They only differ from each other by having either a 5 act structure consisting of: Prologue, Conflict, Rising Action (eventually leading to Climax), Falling Action and Denouement or a 3 act structure consisting of: The Setup (Exposition), The Confrontation (Obstacles) and The Resolution (Denouement). As for this review about the movie “Inception” the 3 act structure will be discussed in detail.

Act 1 The Setup:

The movie starts off with Cobb our protagonist of the movie doing his work as an expert extractor or more simply an expert dream manipulator. The first sequence set up Cobb’s life as a “thief” as well as his character (expert dream extractor) and his flaw Mal his wife who committed suicide in believe of waking up from “the dream”. The next scenes shown can be seen as the “Inciting Incident”: Saito offers Cobb a job where he has to create not only two layers but three layers of dreams in order to plant an idea inside Fischer’s head who is the heir to a multi-billion dollar empire. At first Cobb decides to walk away, but is drawn back to the job and accepts it eventually. Therefore Cobb is crossing his mental threshold by accepting Saito’s job.

Fig. 2
As for the first plot point one can consider the scene where Cobb tests Ariadne, who will become the new architect of the dream for the upcoming job, in his dream whether she is capable for the job and warns her not to change too much in a dream since the subconscious will seek out and destroy the invader and eventually they run into Mal, Cobb’s wife who kills Ariadne. At this point Ariadne noticed that Cobb is in conflict with himself about his wife and tries to find more about it. Later on, after assembling the six team members who will take part in planting an idea in Fischer’s mind Ariadne finds an opportunity to sneak into Cobb’s dream where he is together with a projection of his wife Mal. She finds out that Cobb is keeping Mal’s projection in the deepest part of his mind locked away in the hotel room where she suicided.

Act 2 The Confrontation:

The first plot point is then followed by scenes working towards the climax. Cobb’s team is preparing and discussing about how to make a three level deep dream, where the dream hijack is going to take place and how to make the target (Fischer) not become suspicious and therefore fail the mission. In order to enter and maintain the third level a strong sedative is needed, the hijack will take place in a plane which Fischer attends to regularly. Coincidentally Saito owns the flight company and therefore allows them to take part of the flight.

Fig. 3
They finally find themselves on the plane with Fischer and initialize the inception. In the dream things do not go as planned. When Cobb and his team hijacked a cap and picked up Fischer they are chased by trained projections. They find out that Fischer trained his subconscious to fend off unwanted intruders. During the chase Saito is shot and is slowly dying. The team is panicking because if they die they eventually end up in limbo, a state they cannot escape and therefore trapped in a dream forever. Cobb sees no other way out and suggests the team to continue as fast as possible.  Soon Cobb’s secret is revealed to Ariadne. He tells her about Mal and himself that they were trapped in their limbo for 50 years, they lost sight of what was real and eventually they realize that the only way to find out the reality is to commit suicide. Even back in the real world she doubts the reality and grows crazier thinking that nothing is real unless you kill yourself to find out. Cobb blames himself for her death that he showed her the dream that he tested/experimented with her until Ariadne tells him to forgive himself.  

The team is chased by the trained subconscious of Fischer with the intention of killing them. They find themselves in the third level of the dream eventually where Fischer is supposed to find “the idea”. This whole mission is a race against the time. In the first level of the dream the entire crew is chased by Fischer’s subconscious and they will get caught in the end they cannot escape forever. Therefore before they are killed by the chasers the crew will be given a “kick” to wake them up. Having not much time left Fischer finally finds himself in front of a large safe where he will find his “idea”, but he gets shot in front of the safe. Cobb and Ariadne try to dive deeper into the fourth level of the dream where they find themselves in the dream Cobb and Mal once lived in. They say if you die in a dream you may still be alive in the deeper level therefore they try to find Fischer down there and bring him back to live in the third level by giving him a kick. Fischer eventually wakes up and opens the safe. He finds his father in it and another safe with a code lock of which the code he knows.

Fig. 4
In the fourth level Cobb finally comes clean with himself. He realizes that Mal is not here anymore and that he has to let go. Surprisingly Ariadne shoots Mal and not Cobb, but the consequence is clear: Cobb has ended his inner conflict and got rid of his flaw. One can now argue whether Cobb finally resolving his inner conflict or Fischer finding his “idea” is the real climax or even both. At least one can agree on that this part of the movie was the climax.

Act 3 The Resolution:

After the successful mission the team initializes the kicks to get them out of the dream. Since Saito was the job offerer and he is killed in the dream Cobb still has to rescue him. Therefore we see the scene where Cobb is stranded at a beach and is supposed to take back the massively aged Saito in his keep who does not remember which important task he had before coming there. Eventually all six members and Fischer wake up in the plane where they initiated the inception. In the end we see Cobb coming back to his two kids and him spinning the totem which does not seem to topple but still unstable.

 Ending Type:

Fig. 5 Spinning Toten
The movie clearly has a partial ending since all of the conflicts were solved throughout the film, but it still leaves the audience in the dark at the ending letting them question if the protagonist really escaped the limbo and leading his happy life in reality with his kids or if he is still trapped in the limbo symbolized by the spinning totem which at first does not seem to tumble which indicates that he is in a dream, but at some point it seems shaky ready to stop and tumble at any moment indicating he is in reality.
 
Plot vs Story:

The plot type of the movie “Inception” is clearly the so called “Arc Plot”. An arc plot is characterized by the concept of a ticking bomb which is very clearly presented in “Inception”. When Cobb’s team were forced to descend the dream levels quick as they had Fischer’s subconsciousness chasing them potentially killing them and therefore trapping them in a limbo. Cobb’s crew is racing against time at that moment. 


Illustration List:
Fig. 1 "Inception" Poster At: https://20ui41tp7v127j03rcnp97oh-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/edit_inception.jpg (Accessed on 14/10/2017)
Fig. 2 At: http://24.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m940w1bqLr1qh7ga5o1_500.gif (Accessed on 14/10/2017)
Fig. 3 At: http://25.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m940w1bqLr1qh7ga5o2_500.gif (Accessed on 14/10/2017)
Fig. 4 At:  http://25.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m940w1bqLr1qh7ga5o3_500.gif (Accessed on 14/10/2017)
Fig. 5 Spinning Totem At: https://i.kinja-img.com/gawker-media/image/upload/s--C99Zt2Bt--/c_scale,f_auto,fl_progressive,q_80,w_800/lfw6bvdh730gervcsavn.gif  (Accessed on 14/10/2017)

Friday, 13 October 2017

Perspectives | Why Is "Scream" Postmodern

"Scream" Poster
Scream is a 1996 American slasher film written by Kevin Williamson and directed by Wes Craven. The film shows Sidney Prescott, a high school student, who becomes the target of a mysterious killer known as Ghostface. The film combined black comedy and with the violence of the slasher genre to make fun out of the clichés from previous popular horror films. But why this film is postmodern?

1. Pastiche - The film borrows the violence of the slasher genre from horror films popularized in early to mid 80's, such as: "Halloween" and "Friday the 13th".

2. Irony - The irony in this film consists of the director of the movie “Scream” Wes Craven who is shown in one scene as Freddy Krueger from “A Nightmare on Elm Street” even though he is not a killer as Freddy was.

3. Parody - The film was unique at the time of its release for featuring characters who were aware of real world horror films and openly discussed the clichés that "Scream" attempted to subvert.

4. Avant-garde - This film is a postmodern avant-garde. Not only it refreshed the slasher genre, but it also lead to brand new disscussions around the horror film ideology.

5. Meta-fiction - Even though the characters in this movie have a precise insight of the cliché course of events of former horror movies, they only joke about it instead of trying to avoid it. It seems to the audience that the movie is a meta narrative since the characters know the sequences in detail themselves and therefore know everything already.

"The Princess Bride" (1987)

Fig. 1 "The Princess Bride" Poster


Hero:
The story starts off in a poor village where our main hero, a farmer’s boy (Westley), lives his peaceful life with his true love Buttercup. Westley soon decides to sail away in hope to gain wealth for the sake of their future life. He is later presumed dead because of the Dread Pirate Robert’s raid and so Buttercup sees no other choice but to marry the current prince unwillingly. After a couple of years our hero returns as the mysterious masked man and decides to pursue Buttercup.

Shadow (Villain):
There are in total two villains in this movie. The main villain Prince Humperdinck, the man Buttercup is supposed to marry. He tries his upper best to either kill Westley or to hide him away from Buttercup since he knows that she will go after him. The side villain of this entire story is the so called “six-fingered-man” who killed the father of one of our hero’s allies Inigo Montoya a Spanish fencing master.

Herald:
The role of a herald is assigned to the grandpa who visits his sick grandchild and reads him the story of “The Princess Bride” like his father did to him when he was ill. Not only is the old man a herald but also an “ancient lady” who appears in the dream of Buttercup and yells at her: “How can you betray your true love?” The betrayal is referred to when Buttercup and Westley were trying to escape Humperdinck’s search for the kidnapped princess and got caught in the end where Buttercup sacrifices herself to the prince and agrees to marry him instead of running away with Westley.

Threshold Guardian:
The threshold guardians in this movie are the three men who kidnapped Buttercup: Inigo Montoya the Spanish fencing master, Fezzik the strong man and Fezzik the genius. When Westley found out their evil plan he tries to get Buttercup back. In order to do so he has to overcome the trial of defeating the three masters (fencing, strength and wits) and manages it in the end.

Trickster:
“Miracle Max” and his wife can be seen as the tricksters in this movie as they try to bring Westley back to life and so cheat death even though he is presumed dead already. The couple prepares a miraculous pill for the hero to swallow that will cause resurrection.

Mentor:
When the ship Westley was taking to another country in hope to acquire wealth got raided by the Dread Pirate Robert’s crew he was presumed dead. Later in the story of course the audience gets to know that Robert actually took Westley in onto his ship where he learned how to fight and eventually becomes the new “Robert”. The Dread Pirate and Inigo Montoya’s father who was a great smith can both be considered as mentors.

Allies:
After Westley overcame the trial of defeating the three masters killing Vizzini the genius, Inigo and Fezzik later on decide to join the hero on his quest of rescuing Buttercup. They were the ones who asked “Miracle Max” for the resurrection pill which brought Westley back to life.

Mother:
The only mother appearing in the movie is the mother of the sick child who gets the story “The Princess Bride” told by his grandfather.

Father:
The movie is split into two realities: the real world and the fantasy world where the story of Westley is told. As the grandfather plays the father role in the real world the king is seen as the father figure in the world of Westley.

Child:
Since the ill child at the beginning of the movie is the only child we see throughout the film, he will be assigned the archetype of “The Child”.

Maiden:
The Maiden archetype in movies mostly embodies purity, innocence, an uncorrupted nature, independence and strength. The character who represents that is Buttercups. She is pictured as the most beautiful, innocent and pure girl in the entire country this is highlighted by the fact that even the prince of Florin wants her as his bride.

Shape shifter:
Clearly Inigo Montoya is the shape shifter in the movie “The Princess Bride”. When he was ordered to kill Westley he did not play any dirty tricks to him, but he gave him a fair fight which Inigo lost. He was at that point neither on the side of Vizzini nor Westley’s. His only goal is to find the “six fingered man” who killed his father to take revenge. The fencing master who once tried to kill the hero becomes his ally in the end which is a clear sign of shape shifting.

Illustration List:
Fig. 1 "The Princess Bride" Poster. At: https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-uory2raawi8/UESemmIDkbI/AAAAAAAAM2U/XF9O-PNrTWY/s1600/The+Princess+Bride+(1987)+Bluray+1.jpg (Accessed on 12/10/2017)

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Perspectives | Key Words #4

  • Avant-garde - original, experimental ,radical, innovatory, introducing or exploring new forms or subject matter.
  • Nostalgia - the desire of returning back to a former time in one’s life or a sentimental longing for a period in the past.
  • Appropriation - to appropriate something for example censorship in media.
  • Pastiche - is a work of visual art, literature, theatre, or music that imitates the style or character of the work of one or more other artists. (reusing an existing concept or idea)
  • Parody - humorous imitation of an existing serious piece of artwork.
  • Irony - expressing one’s meaning by saying the opposite for (mostly) comedy effect.
  • Idealogy - a set of opinions or beliefs of a group that they are living after.
  • Genre - a category in which the artwork is produced according to a particular model or style.


  •  Sherrie Levine -  is an American photographer, painter, and conceptual artist. She is best known for her reproductions of notable male artists' works through photography. Most of all, Levine's reproductions focus upon idolized male artists, such as: Walker Evans, Constantin Brancusi, Vincent van Gogh, and Edgar Degas, ect. In order to critique limiting ideas of talented male artists in which Art History has traditionally undervalued the role of female artists. The artist has said: “Every word, every image, is leased and mortgaged. We know what a picture is but a space in which a variety of images, none of them original, blend and clash.” While Levine sees her work as more of a collaboration with previous artists, in copying and replicating the work of male artists Levine also levels a feminist critique in art history and society. Movements which influenced artist: conceptual art, pop art, surrealism, moden photography, feminist art.

Life drawings #4

2-4Min Poses

20min Facial Study

20min Pose

Monday, 9 October 2017

Perspectives | Why Is "Mulholland Drive" Postmodern

"Mulholland Drive" Poster
Mulholland Drive is a 2001 neo-noir mystery film written and directed by David Lynch. The film starrs Naomi Watts as a Betty Elms. Betty newly arrived in Los Angeles, who meets and befriends an amnesiac woman hiding in an apartment which belongs to Betty's aunt. The story includes several other seemingly unrelated vignettes that eventually interlock, as well as some surreal and darkly comic scenes and images that relate to the cryptic narrative. However, why this film is postmodern?

1. Hyper-reality - The film sets itself directed to reality, but the longer the film goes, the further away it strives away from reality.  The start of the film is seen as cheesy, romantic comedy, where Betty arrives to Hollywood, to become an popular actress. But accidently meets the amnesiac woman (Diane) in her aunts house. The story itself developes into romance but as it unreveals the shadowy mist around it, audience is struck by Bettys mental state. The surrealist hallucinations accure, nevertheless, the film's reality is broken and its shown that the film the audience has watched is not a film, just backward memory flashes which aren't revelant to reality.

2. Unreliable Narrator -  During the entire film an unreliable narrator is telling the story not truthfully and the audience is forced to question the shown scenes. In the final scenes of the film, it cannot be followed as reality  nor dreams/flash back .

3. Non-linear story telling - Through out the movie, the audience follows Bettys story line, but as Betty wakes up from her dream, she is Diane. The story which was once followed is discontinued in another one. It stops following chonological time line and ends up in mystery story.

4. Fragmented - The film "Mulholland Drive" is splint into 3 fragments which follows different story lines with different characters in them. This postmodernistic tactic is used in films to provide the audience an insight to an internal reality through the eyes of a certain individual whose point of view is altered by mental illness or substances (drugs, alcohol, etc.). 

5. Pastiche - The postmodern movie Mulholland Drive uses pastiche, referencing different aspects of Hollywood culture and its history. For example Rita, also known as Camilla, references the actress Rita Hayworth a successful movie star in the 1940s. Another reference used by Lynch is a film of the 1950s, Sunset Boulevard, one of Lynch’s favorites.

"Matrix" (1999)


Fig. 1 "Matrix" Poster
Written and directed by „The Wachowski Brothers“ the science fiction action film „The Matrix“ tells a story about a dystopian future of the human world in which the reality perceived by most of its inhabitants is actually a simulated reality called “The Matrix”. One day the protagonist Thomas Anderson, a hacker named “Neo”, learns about the truth of “the matrix” with the help of Morpheus. Neo who uncovers the lies about the world he was living in which he thought was the true reality decides to help the humanity to unchain itself from the slavery created by the machines controlling the simulation.
Just like many other blockbuster movies “The Matrix” pursues the concept of the so called “Hero’s Journey”. The first man who discovered the similarities between the many stories and analyzed them was the scholar Joseph Campbell in 1949. He called it a “monomyth” or simply as we know it today “Hero’s Journey”. In his book “The Hero with a Thousand Faces” he outlines the 17 stages of a mythological hero’s journey which is condensed about half a century later by Christopher Vogler into only 12 stages. In the movie “The Matrix” most of those stages occur and therefore can be analyzed.
Fig. 2 Hero's Journey

The film starts off with our main protagonist Thomas Anderson in his ordinary world who works as a programmer for the software company MetaCortex. At night he becomes the computer hacker for hire known as “Neo”. One day he receives a strange message telling him to follow the white rabbit on his computer. After tracking it down he meets “Trinity” an infamous hacker who tells him that she knows the answer to his question about the cryptic phrase “the matrix” – his Call to Adventure. One day morning Neo receives a mysterious call from Morpheus who becomes his ally later on telling him to escape as “they” are coming for him. Neo follows Morpheus’ step by step instructions to escape the ones who want to capture him. Finally standing at the ledge of a skyscraper he hesitates to jump as Morpheus has told him therefore refused his request to escape – refuse of the call. He tells himself: “I can’t do this” and lets himself captured. After being released he receives another call from Morpheus who offers him a meeting at his place. Neo agrees and meets Morpheus who offers him two choices: a blue pill that returns him to his former life or the red pill which will reveal the truth about the matrix. Neo decides to swallow the red pill, his first step into the unknown, and so Morpheus becomes his mentor. With his super natural aid Neo will soon learn about the world’s truth.
Awakening from the simulation Neo finds himself in a cryopod filled with a strange liquid. He finally arrives in the real world – the belly of the whale. Morpheus shows him the truth, but at first Neo is in denial and even wants to go back to the simulation. Morpheus starts to train Neo in the simulation world and teaches him the lack of rules in it since it is not real and how to manipulate it. Neo encounters many new challenges and concepts he has never encountered before and tries his best to overcome them – the road of the trials. Neo makes many allies in the real world as he is training. One of them is Trinity the woman who introduced him to Morpheus and the one who reassured him when he was unsure. Clearly Trinity and Neo loved each and therefore she is Neo’s Goddess which becomes clearer later on when she revives Neo after he gets killed by Agent Smith with a kiss.
During the meeting with the oracle she tells Neo that he is not “the one” everyone is talking about and warns him that soon enough he has to choose between his life and Morpheus’. After the meeting in the matrix the crew decides to return to the real world. However, they did not know that Cypher, a crew member, has sided with the agents and has told them their exact location. The crew is attacked and two members die and in order for Neo and the remaining crew to escape Morpheus sacrifices himself and gets captured which can be seen as the death of the mentor stage. Neo decides to dive into the simulation again to rescue Morpheus, at that point he believes in a way that he really is “The One” Morpheus was assuming – atonement with the father. During the action packed fighting scenes with the agents and after the resurrection (the crossing of the return threshold) from the kiss of the Goddess (rescue from without) Neo realizes that he can manipulate the matrix at his own will without any effort since he can see the matrix’ coding through his eyes and has gained a large amount of self-confidence – Ultimate boon/Apotheosis. After defeating the agent and saving his allies Neo return to the real world with the acquired knowledge and strength. From that point on Neo will try to stop the machine and tell the humans in the simulation the truth about the world. He became the master of two worlds by becoming “The One” who will save the earth and the one who can freely manipulate the matrix. The final scene shows Neo in a phone cell telling someone maybe the machine that he will show their prisoners what they don’t want them to see and a world without the machines and hangs up – freedom to live.  
All in all, this movie is top of blockbusters, which sets new standards in the film making industry. As Roger Eberts writes in his review: ""The Matrix" is a visually dazzling cyberadventure, full of kinetic excitement" (Ebert, 1999).

Bibliography: 
 Ebert , R. (1999) "Matrix" At: http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/the-matrix-1999 (Accessed on 09/10/2017)

Illustration List:
Fig. 1 "Matrix" Poster At: https://i.pinimg.com/736x/01/b2/95/01b2953ef273ae55ff65acd8eac844eb--sci-fi-films-cult-movies.jpg (Accessed on 09/10/2017)
Fig. 2 Hero's Journey. (Taken screenshot from Heroe's Journey lectures slide) (Accessed on 09/10/2017)