All the World’s a Screen: Substance versus style: how the ‘single take’ lost its original meaning

first_img“Apocalypse Now,” for example, is told through the perspective of Martin Sheen’s character, Captain Willard. You don’t need to watch much of the film to gather that Willard’s narration is married to the visual style of the whole movie. The film opens with a psychedelic montage of Willard getting drunk in his room with images of Vietnam explosions cutting into the action and superimposed on his face, all set to The Doors. Willard is not just telling us his story — we’re in his head.  The single take — and, really, any other aesthetic decision — should be made for a reason that supports the perspective of the film and adds to its themes. Viewed from this angle, “1917” had good intentions — to make us feel like we’re in this neverending wasteland with these men. It’s our reaction to it that wrongly emphasizes the marvel of its cinematography over any of its dialogue or characters. I say this because I did it, and the only reason any of my friends want to see “1917” is to see camera tricks, not story.  Thinking about aesthetics does not detract from how you can express a story in film; I believe it makes a film more engaging because every part of it is geared to one goal, one vision for how the story ought to be told. If every stylistic and narrative choice in your movie is directly tied to the perspective, feelings, characters and themes of your story, I believe you’ve made a better movie than if it had one scene without any edits. Movies that explicitly use a single point of view don’t always need narration to show it. In “Meek’s Cutoff,” director Kelly Reichardt presents the story in a tight, square-aspect ratio because we are meant to see things from the restricted perspective of the female characters — their view is limited because they’re wearing bonnets. Stroke of genius.  (Tiffany Kao | Daily Trojan) I don’t mean that as a bad thing. But, the whole point of this longwinded background on perspective is because I want to talk about how the “Oner” has lost its significance as a tool to establish a movie’s point of view. Now it’s seen as little more than a way for a director to puff his chest. In the best movies, however, every narrative and aesthetic decision can be traced back to perspective. Take a recent example: I recall seeing a tweet that lamented the success of “1917” because it meant every film student would try to shoot projects in a single take. I liked “1917,” but, at least in my opinion, its technical wonder overshadowed its gruesome story. The film became more about “How did the filmmakers do that?” than “How did the soldiers get through that?” If a movie is meant to make the audience empathize with the characters, putting technical achievement at the forefront detracts from this original purpose.   It is in this context that Scorsese deploys his famous Copacabana long take, or “Oner.” Hill and his girlfriend Karen (Lorraine Bracco) enter the famous club through the basement, across the rowdy kitchen and up to the packed main room. The whole thing is a single uncut shot, and it’s the stuff film buffs drool over.  Narration is a fascinating issue in literature and film. F. Scott Fitzgerald speaking through Carraway is like Martin Scorsese speaking through Henry Hill in “Goodfellas.” In such cases, the author really wants his readers to see the story from only this perspective. In novels, the words are supposed to be “written” by the fictional narrator, but in film every aesthetic choice ought to be subservient to the story’s perspective.  In “Goodfellas,” Ray Liotta’s Henry Hill narrates his life as a gangster, and we see his perspective reflected in the way the movie is shot, edited and soundtracked. Scorsese is pretty blatant about it too: Early on, as Hill lists his fellow gangsters, the camera glides through a restaurant and each face greets it when his name is called. They’re not greeting the audience — they’re greeting Hill. But, doesn’t it feel like they’re greeting us? We feel like insiders, excited to have access to this lavish gangster joint. Maybe Hill felt like that in the moment too. Try for a moment to think back to your 11th grade English class. With a little more effort, think of what you actually learned in that class. Doubtless, you read “The Great Gatsby” and learned that Nick Carraway is something called an “unreliable narrator.” We get the facts of Jay Gatsby’s life solely through Carraway’s narration; he sounds like an aged man recounting times past, and we can’t help but wonder if he’s embellishing or covering things up. Even in my upper-division English classes, the novel is the prototypical text on narration.  If any film students are reading this, take it with a grain of salt. I’m not a film student, but I like to think I speak from a place of equal passion as you — I drool over single takes myself, but I want to think about them the right way now.  Isa Uggetti is a junior writing about film. His column, “All the World’s a Screen,” runs every other Monday.last_img read more

HBO’s Anna Deavere Smith speaks on ‘Notes from the Field’

first_imgStudents and faculty members filled the Wallis Annenberg Hall on Thursday to see actress and writer Anna Deavere Smith speak in the third installment of USC Annenberg-HBO Diverse Voices Forum series. The event was moderated by Director of the School of Communication Sarah Banet-Weiser.Anna Deavere Smith, an actress, writer and professor, spoke about her upcoming film Notes from the Field. Emily Smith | Daily TrojanSmith, known widely for her play Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992, spoke about her upcoming film Notes from the Field, which will premiere Feb. 24 on HBO.In Notes from the Field, which has been adapted from the stage to the screen, Smith said she depicted the personal accounts of students, parents, teachers and administrators caught in America’s school-to-prison pipeline, the disproportionate tendency of disadvantaged students end up going from school to prison.In 2011, Smith was introduced to the concept of the school-to-prison pipeline and recounted the story of a Baltimore child who peed in a watercooler and was taken to jail.“That really blew my mind!” Smith said. “I couldn’t believe something like that could happen in my hometown. That was when I realized that rich kids, even middle class kids, get the opportunity [to be] mischievous while poor kids are met with a path to prison.”Smith said that this story served as the catalyst for both her play and Notes from the Field. Drawn from over 250 interviews of people living and working within a challenged system, she said she decided to elucidate a lost generation of American youth through her stimulating portrayal of 18 characters. In them, she hopes to inspire awareness and change. As an actress that Banet-Weiser said “brings souls to life,” Smith noted that history builds a context in which people won’t pursue a better future.“The knowledge of history is the opposite of hopelessness,” Smith said. “I want the people that watch this to be inspired to act on it.”Wyatt Vinchi, a senior majoring in theatre, said he was empowered by Smith’s work.“She has no fears when she is conveying her truth, and especially during our political climate, we need strong voices,” Vinchi said. “She is one of my invisible mentors. This was incredible.”last_img read more

Manchester derby takes centre stage in EPL

first_imgCity go head-to-head with arch rivals United at the Etihad Stadium at 4pm.City trail leaders Leicester by 15 points and are also below Tottenham and Arsenal in the race for second and third. Arch-rivals United, who crashed out of the Europa League at the hands of Liverpool this week, will be aiming to close the gap on the top four. Elsewhere at 4pm, second placed Totthenam welcome Bournemouth to White Hart Lane.Before that, Newcastle face Sunderland in the Tyne-Wear derby with only one point separating the two sides at the bottom  of the table.And Liverpool make the trip to a Southampton side sitting just above them on goal difference.Both those games kick off at 1.30pm.last_img read more

Man perished to death after leaving friend home on Christmas night

first_imgA man who perished just yards from his home after driving a friend home on Christmas night died from a mixture of alcohol poisoning and hypothermia.The body of Bartley Doohan was found by his brother close to their home in Gortahork, Co Donegal on St Stephen’s Day, 2016. The 58-year-old machine operator had gone to the home of neighbour John Harkin, less than 500 yards away, for a couple of festive drinks.However, an inquest into Bartley’s death heard he never returned that night and was discovered face up in a ditch the following day.Donegal Coroner’s Court, held in Letterkenny, heard how Bartley’s Renault Laguna car was found partially in a ditch and his body was found in five inches of water a few yards away.A post mortem on the dead man’s body found that he had eight times the normal drink-driving limit of alcohol in his body when he was found.Mr Harkin gave evidence that he had been in Mr Doohan’s home earlier in the night at Curransport but he had left him home and the pair enjoyed a few hot whiskies together.Mr Doohan left after 1.30am but the next morning he was contacted by Bartley’s sister Ann asking if he had seen her brother.He went looking and came across Bartley’s brother Peter saying he had found him drowned and asked him to give him a hand taking him out of the ditch.A doctor from the NowDoc service arrived on the scene along with Gardai and Mr Doohan was pronounced dead at 11am and taken to Letterkenny University Hospital.Pathologist Dr Katriona Dillon said the dead man had no noticeable injuries either externally or internally apart from a small abrasion above one of his eyes and another on his toe.She said that in her opinion death was due to alcohol intoxication and exposure to a cold environment and that there was no evidence that Mr Doohan had died as a result of a road traffic accident.She said a reading of 403 milligrams of alcohol per 100 ml of blood of was found in Mr Doohan’s body.Coroner Dr McCauley remarked that he wouldn’t normally see as high a level as that noting that 50 milograms of alcohol was the drink-driving limit.He said “That alone could have been enough to cause his death.”The coroner agreed with Dr Dillon that death was due to alcohol intoxication and hypothermia and recorded a finding of death by misadventure.He added it was especially sad considering the time of year of Mr Doohan’s death.“It’s just very sad. It was miserable night and he wasn’t going to walk home and it resulted in a terrible accident which caused his death. It happened on Christmas night which adds to the sheer extra sadness,” he said.Man perished to death after leaving friend home on Christmas night was last modified: September 1st, 2017 by StephenShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Tags:alcoholBartley DoohancarCHristmasdonegalGardaigortahorkhypothermiainquestlast_img read more