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  • Writer's pictureDorsa Sajedi

Film Project: Seminar 4

Learning objectives and discussed films
  • character motivations behind actions

  • ambiguity within narrative and story

  • passage of time

NOTE: I have included the video version of the film that piqued my interest the most, but I will be including my notes and the elements that were raised from the discussions of these films in class.

TOKYO! - 30 minute Michel Gondry segment
Mining Poems or Odes
How to Make a Rainbow

TOKYO! (dir. Michel Gondry)

  • Involves incorporations of fantastical elements -- it uses these stylistic choices to explore deep-rooted societal problems

  • Physical construction of setting: heavy production design, intentionally feels cramped

  • A scene that sticks out the most is of the main couple walking through the city, and while this is a continuous shot, the way it is constructed by the filmmakers makes it interesting. Such as, the blocking and how the characters move and interact with one another - towards the end of this segment, the shot frames a line on the street in between the two, showing a difference of opinion/two sides. This is a simple and short moment, but one that is absorbed subconsciously.

  • Its exploration of an early 20s relationships feels realistic, not too cringy, not too unrealistic.

  • In its representation of friendship relationships, this can be identified in the early umbrella scene - the way the two girls dance together in the rain portrays how important they are to one another, making a future scene more impactful -- later on, the friend of the protagonist insults her behind her back, but she hears and is very hurt by this. We feel for this character, and her heartbreak as we have seen visual evidence for how much their relationship means to another.

  • An unexpected turn for me was when the protagonist turns into a chair. An inanimate object. But even so, she says that she feels useful. This can be interpreted in lots of different ways and so this intentional ambiguity is very powerful in film.

UMBRA (dir. Saeed Jafarian)

  • Umbra's overall pacing is extremely slow. It uses slow paced editing and slow dialogue. While it is only 15 minutes, it feels much longer than that. Perhaps an indication that what it explores could have been tackled in a shorter time.

  • I am aware of the restrictions that comes from censorship. I would not have been able to pluck out the context of her and the missing person's relationship without reading the description.

  • Another thing I found interesting was upon my first reading, I did not realise that her partner was actually real until the confirming phone call towards the end - this is a further sign of excess ambiguity.

  • To complicate matters further, there is an ambiguous discussion of a dead dog.

  • Long takes in reference to Iranian director Kiarostomi

Home (dir. Thomas Gleeson)

  • A very creative portrayal of the notion of 'home', we follow its traumatic and hectic journey to being owned and getting a family.

  • The house becomes humanised through its use of creative shots (inside the moving house, looking outside the window, the ripping of the walls to reveal flesh-like insulation)

  • Its movements feel dreamlike, I felt reminded of things such as the Disney film Up.

  • The biggest downside is the incorporation of people, especially one of the walking baby shot - it makes it feel like an advert. It ruins the tone set by the film, we don't need to see the people to understand that they have moved in.

  • I feel that this film stuck with me the most because its very unique, these are the kind of films I strive to edit and make.

Mining Poems or Odes (dir. Callum Rice)

  • The film deliberately sets out to challenge people's initial preconceptions and stereotypes, but the way in which it does so seems unusual and debatable if appropriate, risking crossing the line of being somewhat classist. The main character is first visually introduced to the screen doing an impression of someone close to him, a father like figure. But, an important thing to note is that this is a performance, it's not the man who is speaking, and here he is, quite close to the camera, pulling faces and speaking quite loud (to which, observing him throughout the rest of the film, he is naturally quite gentle-spoken himself). On the other hand, his performance is gripping, and it makes Archie, the man who he speaks of, a memorable character.

  • This film raises questions regarding a difficulty that many documentaries in production face, which is determining which parts need to come about sooner than others. For example, we get a sense of how gentle this man is and how vast his thoughts are by the end of the documentary, but what if that was the starting point sooner? On one hand, perhaps then the journey of the documentary is already complete, or maybe the presentation had to be adjusted in one way or another, I am unsure as this is something that is resolved while attempting trial and error.

How to Make a Rainbow (dir. Ryan Maxey)

  • This film, for me, did not necessarily feel like a documentary. I enjoyed the topic being discussed and I enjoyed experiencing a glimpse into the journey of the protagonist and her daughter. But, I feel that more could have been done to make the film more engaging. I feel that although there is movement in terms of narrative in regards to their journey, it feels very consistent in terms of intensity.

  • Upon discussions some of us in the class found discomfort from the weight of the topic being discussed, forcing us to really feel for the mother and her struggles. In this regard, there are moments which often feel somewhat intrusive as we are physically very close to them.

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