Film: why it matters

The question is why do I think film is important? And why is a question that many people ask now let me answer it I believe film is important: first of all films are used as  a way people can escape daily life they could have an adventure right in their own home or a theater, also it allows people of all ages to use their imaginations and thinking skills to formulate conclusions maybe even places where the film transports them films are an international joy and treasure that we have the blessing to enjoy not to mention very profitable. Film isn’t only to entertain its much more than that film has so much history behind itself from being silent and black and white to technicolor and having sound the advancements of film have been revolutionary with new technology arising every day. Throughout this course I have learned things about film that I couldn’t even imagine and if I didn’t learn anything new, my knowledge would increase on what I already knew with deeper and more meaningful context and the process to make a film is already as lengthy and as meaningful as it is billions of dollars being put into one production.

It’s no one man job let me tell you so many people are involved in this process everyone has a role of some importance whether it be acting, directing, sound, or special effects everyone has a role to play and if they don’t do their job it could make or break the film it’s pretty stressful if ya ask me you can have the best director but still have the worst actors the plot could be excellent but, it’s up to the actors to execute it correctly. Not to mention this course was pretty stressful hehe but, I rolled through the punches and learned what it takes to be a film critic and it takes A LOT you have to know your theories and you have to know what not to put in your review which I struggled with alottttttt. Either way this experience has taught me so much too much but, in the end it was worth it and I’m proud to say films are gonna stick around for while and for film critics alike more discoveries, theories and of course films are coming and are going to keep advancing unlike me I’m out of here this is the end my friends we’ve had a lot of good times together until next time…..CUT! That’s a wrap everyone!

We are what we believe we are- Split (2016)

Minute one!

The director of this 2016 thriller is M. Night Shyamalan. The single best scene in this film was the rejoice of the beast as I call it when the beast sees the scars Casey bears from pain and abuse she was broken just like he was. As flashbacks of the rape/abuse caused by her uncle came giving deeper insight into her mind and her use of psychology. In my opinion James Mcavoy (Kevin Wendell Crumb)since in the film h was the best he had to portray so many different personalities each one ended up being unique in its own way with smooth transitions between each character and each having their unique voice and personality as well as backstory.

Minute two! eh

This film isn’t the most perfect but the film has an amazing plot as well as directing techniques and special effects not to mention exquisite acting sure some things could’ve been better but, overall like I said its an amazing film. My gut grade for this film is a 95.6 or a 97.5 like I said amazing movie but some things could’ve been improved such as the graphics for the beast I understand he’s supposed to be superhuman but, that was bit much in my opinion.

Min three and four…

This is the best film i’ve seen by this director but, it definitely isn’t the worst the worst film he directed in my opinion is The visit. This isn’t the director’s first film rodeo his first film was She’s all that which is completely different from the rest of his films majority being either thrillers or paranormal horror. He even had one children’s film which was Stuart Little. This film is in similar genre with most of his films being thrillers such as The visit, The sixth sense, and Glass each one has some psychological background behind each one. It’s different from the others having protagonist think to save her life as well as the antagonist having a personality disorder that plays a huge role in this film.

Min five and six T^T

(Dennis, Ms. Patricia, and Hedwig)

25 characters were made even if all of them were not present. Kevin Wendell Crumb being the one being affected by the personality disorder having 23 personalities which are practically characters themselves each one having a different age and a different life story. We mostly see Barry S the sketch artist and fashion designer,  Dennis the OCD neat freak, Ms. Patricia another OCD perfectionist but she’s the calmest, Hedwig an annoying nine year old boy, and of course the 9th wonder of the world The Beast his 24th personality that has superhuman abilities but is literally an animal a very violent one. Another great character was Casey her back story is heartbreaking I had the feeling of sympathy but, it has taught her how to survive getting kidnapped by (Dennis and Ms. Patricia) along with her friends to be sacrifices for “The beast”. For example she told one of her friends to pee on herself to avoid Dennis from doing anything which is something she herself used to avoid sexual abuse. The dialogue was very realistic especially between Casey and Kevin well more like Kevin’s personalities as she persuaded one of the personalities (Hedwig) to try and get her out even though in the end she just ended up making the nine year old upset almost causing him to tell Ms. Patricia on her, typical nine year olds am I right jeez blabber mouths if you ask me.There were moments of suspense through the film that surprised me, for example when the beast was rising I never thought he was going to be an actual beast it made me jump honestly. Once again the acting felt natural in its big city setting as well as James Mcavoy’s acting was very well played and accurate to the personality switches that people that actually have DID ( Dissociative identity disorder). I was more drawn to the characters themselves I really didn’t care much about the actors they were not what my eyes were seeing my eyes were seeing only the characters they were seeing Kevin etc (cause im not about to go down the Kevin persona list) and Casey.

The Beast

Min seven is this over yettttt! >O<

There isn’t much I could learn but I can see that no matter what someone shows you on the outside under all the personalities, smiles, and clothing they could be hiding their scars being suppressed by that coverup and their true selves can not arise. Aside from the beast Kevin the character is a true portrayal of life with that condition isolated outcasted as well as misunderstood. Casey is the accurate symbol of all those who were affected by rape/ sexual abuse but as said in the film the broken are the strongest which is true in Casey’s case as her broken past technically saved her life from the beast since she truly knows what pain is the pain of abuse and solitude.

8 I. give. up

I enjoy talking to my friends about the whole film honestly each scene is well directed and it has a quick but orderly flow to it like Kevin’s personality transitions but, the one scene that catches my eye and that’s the train scene before the beast emerges its almost as if a tragic memory is buried there by Kevin that makes his blood boil which must’ve been the beasts cue to rise. The sound design and colors caught my eyes the most sound wise the beast’s roar was impressive but also the footsteps throughout Kevin’s home each time he walks (or one of his personalities) which causes some pace quickening suspense. Color wise i love the use of dark shadows within kevin’s home as it shows his shrouded solitary life the darkness that lingers in his life.

Nein!!!!!! and TEN FINALLY THE END

Look 1-8 there’s a guy he’s crazy with DID right, he kidnaps some girls for some ritualistic type welcome of the beast leaving one survivor the one who knows true pain and true suffering . I love this film and i’m totally! not just saying that to get this thing over with I give it tens across the board it’s semi-perfection every film could be better one way or another: Acting=A+, production=A+, special effects etc= A-, storyline and plot= A++ NUFF SAID.

-Melanie Degree

May, 7, 19

A Quiet Place…

Silence is the only thing that’ll keep you alive…

April 6, 2018 

A Quiet Place is a film about a family that has had to survive through some strange alien/creature invasion that has wiped out most human and animal populations due to the fact that the creatures attack anything that affects their hypersensitive hearing. The catch is that to survive they have to live in total and complete silence on their farm because if they hear you, they hunt you.

Summary

This film focuses on the Abbott family and how will they survive in this post apocalyptic world. The trick is they have to live in silence which is way harder than one would imagine from creating sand paths to mute their steps to making marks on where to step on floor boards so the floor wouldn’t squeak. The only advantage they had was that their eldest daughter was born deaf which allowed the Abbott family to communicate in complete silence using American sign language.

Conflicts and fire starters

The main conflict presented in this film is between Lee and his daughter Regan this conflict is started when the youngest child Beau gets killed since Regan gave the child a toy Spaceship that was found on one of the families supply runs which unfortunately had the batteries in. On the way home he it turned on it made noise and sadly he couldn’t be saved in time from the creature. Regan blames herself for this and believes that Lee also blames her for Beau’s death. As the film progresses we discover that Lee is trying to make an earpiece for Regan to help her regain her hearing which Regan deems impossible and that it’ll never work even after countless attempts.

Cast

John Krasinski– The male lead Lee Abbott, an engineer his goal is survival as he tries to protect himself and his family.

Emily Blunt- The female lead Evelyn, Lee’s wife as well as a mother of three children whom she tries to keep fully informed so they have a chance at survival.

Millicent Simmonds- Regan Abbott, Eldest daughter of Lee and Evelyn she is also deaf.

Noah Jupe- Marcus Abbott, The second eldest child of the Abbott family a timid boy.

Cade Woodward- Beau Abbott the youngest of the Abbott children he is also the first killed in the film.

Ezekiel and Evangelina Cavoli- The newborn Abbott baby.

Leon Russom- An old man who lived in the woods whose wife got killed by one of the creatures.

Unexpected directors and writers

The film was written and directed by John Krasinski along with Scott Beck and Bryan Woods two under the radar screenwriters that spent their time studying silent films in college. In 2013 they began writing the story that would later on become the film using childhood experiences that relate to the film as inspiration. It was honestly a shocker that a film written by two unknown co-screenwriters became an award winning horror movie with the small production companies being Sunday Night and Platinum Dunes.

Personal thoughts and opinions

I believe that this film has the recognition it deserves its outstanding in its use of building suspense and using little to no sound giving the film a unique feature. Not to mention the CGI and special effects used for the sound as well as the making of the creatures. The lesson that this film leaves is very universal about the importance of family and sticking together as well as sacrifice shown by Lee when he gave his life to save Regan’s and Marcus’s life leaving his daughter with this message “I love you, I have always loved you” I give this film an A plus the rating I would say at least pg-13.

-Melanie Degree

4/15/19

!Juan de los muertos!

“Juan de los muertos matamos a sus seres queridos” is just the thing you want to hear when you’re in a Cuban zombie apocalypse and you just can’t get rid of your pesky un-dead mother in law trying to kill you, this time literally. Well this might not be your problem but in “Juan de Los Muertos” that’s just one of the many phone calls that Juan (Alexis Díaz de Villegas) has to respond to.

In the slums of Havana, Cuba lives a lowly fisherman Juan (Alexis Díaz de Villegas) with his friend lazaro who’s worse of a bum than him, but their life of leisure and no worries soon ends for the dead have risen in Havana, Cuba. Juan and his little gang made up of Lazaro’s son Vladi California (Andros Perugorría), Juan’s daughter Camila (Andrea Duro) as well as La China (Jazz Vila), Lazaro (Jorge Molina Enríquez), and El Primo (Eliecer Ramírez). Take this opportunity and make it into a business since they are stuck on the island they named it, well Juan named it Juan de los muertos (Juan of the Dead) their motto being “Juan de los muertos matamos sus seres queridos” (Juan of the dead we kill your loved ones).

The nitty gritty

10 September 2011

The question behind this film is will Juan and his friends escape this terrible zombie infested island. Even with his thriving business they can’t stay there forever I will say along the way they lose friends and gain some help along the way.

In my opinion this film wasn’t the best made film in history but the graphics are very good for the time that this film was created (2011) the genre speaks for itself this film has action with the killing of zombies and explosions, horror I mean its a movie about zombies need I say more and not to mention crude dirty humor which is a 10/10 in my book from ridiculing spaniards as well as some nudity. This film is truly unique being internationally the collaboration of Spain and Cuba being able to make this film even possible.

The setting by the way is phenomenal but, it also fits with the whole zombie apocalypse theme the slums of Havana, Cuba providing a already torn up and abandoned environment with only one way to escape and that’s the ocean my friends. Even the ocean isn’t safe because there is when we see our first zombie that attacks Juan and Lazaro.

Conflict is no stranger in this film especially between Juan and Camilla Juan never being a good reliable father has caused them to drift part to the point where Camila wants to move to Miami to live with her mother since she said and I quote “there’s no one worth staying for”.

Cast

In conclusion this film is intended for a mature audience at least 18 and up. What i’ve learned from this film is sometimes change will come at a price and sometimes it takes a painful effort to let go. Finally I would give this film an A minus rating maybe even a B plus for its amazing plot and decent graphics etc. Now who has a mother in law that needs to be killed.

-Melanie Degree

4/9/19

Exploring Music- Hairspray (1998)

The 1998 version of the movie Hairspray (the best version in my opinion) directed by John Waters he also acted in it using his shining star the queen of filth herself Divine.

Stars (Ricki Lake) as Tracy Turnblad a chubby teen that auditions for a spot in the Corny Collins show in which she succeeded angering Amber Von Tussle (Colleen Fitzpatrick). Winning over Ambers boyfriend Link in the process (Michael St. Gerard), later on she meets some colored kids and befriends them striving for equal rights pushing for integration on the show. This gets her in trouble in many situations many of her friends being involved and of course the Von Tussles have something to do with it.

In my opinion this film is a comedy most of John Waters films have a comedic balance to it like In Pink Flamingo or Cry baby which I do recommend you check out. The soundtrack of this film is background the song being played whilst they dance away at the Corny Collins show or when they go pay a visit to Motor Mouth Maybel, songs like “Town without pity” by Gene Pitney being atmospheric and “You don’t own me”by Leslie Gore being background.

  • Ricki Lake as Tracy Turnblad, an optimistic, aspiring teenager who hopes to dance on a TV show as well as promote integration.
  • Divine as Edna Turnblad, Tracy’s kind, plus-sized mother who is ashamed of her obesity. Divine also plays Arvin Hodgepile, the rival TV station owner who is against racial integration for his studio.
  • Debbie Harry as Velma Von Tussle, Franklin’s wife and Amber’s mother.
  • Sonny Bono as Franklin Von Tussle, Velma’s husband and Amber’s father.
  • Jerry Stiller as Wilbur Turnblad, Tracy’s loving, funny and encouraging father.
  • Leslie Ann Powers as Penelope “Penny” Pingleton, Tracy’s shy best friend.
  • Colleen Fitzpatrick as Amber Von Tussle, dancer on The Corny Collins Show.
  • Michael St. Gerard as Lincoln “Link” Larkin, a teenage heartthrob, Tracy’s boyfriend, and Amber’s ex-boyfriend.
  • Clayton Prince as Seaweed J. Stubbs, Motormouth Maybelle’s son who loves to dance. Seaweed is Penny’s main love interest.
  • Cyrkle Milbourne as L’il Inez Stubbs, Seaweed’s little sister.
  • Ruth Brown as Motormouth Maybelle Stubbs, a friendly and strong-willed African American and mother of Seaweed and L’il Inez.
  • Shawn Thompson as Corny Collins, the eccentric host of The Corny Collins Show.
  • Mink Stole as Tammy, an employee and personal assistant to Corny Collins.
  • Joann Havrilla as Prudence Pingleton, Paddy’s wife and Penny’s overprotective controlling mother who doesn’t approve of Penny dating Seaweed.

Here are the characters and their main roles each actors link is on their name.

The cinematography of this film is key as in dark alley scenes the lighting is dim and the camera is either up close or at a high angle another scene where this is shown is when Tracy, Seaweed, Penny, and Link end up in the apartment of two beatniks the room dark with horrible lighting as they live life getting naked and high and of course having odeta as inspiration.


  1. “Hairspray” by Rachel Sweet with Deborah Harry 
  2. “The Madison Time” by The Ray Bryant Combo 
  3. I’m Blue (The Gong-Gong Song)” by The Ikettes 
  4. “Mama Didn’t Lie” by Jan Bradley 
  5. Town Without Pity” by Gene Pitney 
  6. “The Roach” by Gene and Wendell

The soundtrack resembles so much of the time the movie was based on in the 50’s and it stays true to certain scenes wether they be solem or dark or happy bright and care free.

In my opinion this movie got the recognition and ratings it deserves scoring a 98 to 81 percent in rotten tomatoes being nominated for the Six independent spirits awards it may have not been worthy of an Oscar but it was worthy enough to be iconic.

Gloomy Sunday by Rezsö Serees sung by Hal kemp lyrics by Sam M. Lewis

A. Character or Characters- only a widowed Hungarian man
B. Some type of conflict/crisis-the man is in sever depression due to the death of his beloved wife so looks to suicide as his only option to reunite with her despite the worry of his family and friends.
C. Resolution- he hangs himself bidding farewell to everyone.

Sunday is gloomy
My hours are slumberless
Dearest the shadows
I live with are numberless Little white flowers
Will never awaken you
Not where the black coach
Of sorrow has taken you Angels have no thoughts
Of ever returning you
Would they be angry
If I thought of joining you Gloomy Sunday

Gloomy is Sunday
With shadows I spend it all
My heart and I
Have decided to end it all Soon there’ll be candles
And prayers that are said I know
Let them not weep
Let them know that I’m glad to go

Death is no dream
For in death I’m caressin’ you
With the last breath of my soul
I’ll be blessin’ you

Gloomy Sunday

Dreaming, I was only dreaming
I wake and I find you asleep
In the deep of my heart here

Darling I hope
That my dream never haunted you
My heart is tellin’ you
How much I wanted you
Gloomy Sunday

A. Identify the characters-a depressed Hungarian man
B. Identify the Inciting incident-his lover has died or wife and he’s going through depression as he realizes that she will never return death being not such a bad idea.
C. Identify the setting of the story (if you can tell)-in a house in Hungary on a rainy day.
D. What is the conflict/crisis?- he can’t sleep he can’t live he feels the shadows of his loss haunting him eternally so he makes the choice to kill him self his heart having enough pain.
E. What is the resolution-he hangs himself happy to die for now he will be with his beloved hoping that the angles above will not be angered by him joining her and letting everyone know that he’s happy about his choice. For in death they will meet once again her in his arms.
F. If this were made into a film, would it be a comedy, drama, action, horror, animated film? 

Horror and honestly in a strange way romance if this movie were to be continued on his journey into the after life.

Rezső Seress
The pianist composer of “Gloomy Sunday”

This is a slight warning there is an urban legend around this song saying that if you listen to it alone either the lyrical version or the original piano version thoughts or attempts at suicide will occur especially if you’re alone so beware

-Melanie Degree

3/3/19

“the silence of the lambs” Film review (released Feb, 13, 1991)

The film begins with the FBI trainee Clarice Starling shes been put on the Buffalo Bill case, Buffalo Bill being a transexual serial killer that skins his victims the targets are plump females, using the skin to make himself a body suit to become a woman. This leads her to meet Dr. Hannibal Lecter whos been put in a mental institution ironically being a psychiatrist himself. Not only that he was a psychopath killing countless people feasting on them like a cannibal, the main reason they met is cause Hannibal has some crucial information on the Buffalo Bill. This was almost to no avail even if the doctor had a particular liking to clarice he made her think to find the response. Giving her mind bending clues that could easily be found but not easily deciphered. Things get heated as the senators daughter gets taken by Buffalo Bill the clock was ticking for Clarice and the senators daughter till Dr. Lecter gives Clarice just the information she needed at their final meeting. Giving him a chance to escape causing Clarice to be the hero and save the senators daughter killing Buffalo Bill this act automatically got her into the FBI but, the celebration is short lived when she gets a call from Hannibal the show has just begun.

This film is presented as a psychological thriller with deep embedded meaning that most people look over. Even the title should provide question for the viewer each element of the movie is key in the message the the movie portrays. This movie deserves the rewards it has received being the third film to win the Big five: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, as well as Best Adapted Screenplay. Each of the actors performances being extraordinary, Jodie Foster as (Clarice Starling) and  Anthony Hopkins as (Hannibal Lecter), The audience that this film is directed to is mature adults with a rating of R especially cause of the explicit scenes and thinking processes and strong language.

The question that the film gives is as said by hannibal Lecter himself  

“Do you think if you saved Catherine, you could make them stop…? Do you think, if Catherine lives, you won’t wake up in the dark, ever again, to the screaming of the lambs? Do you…?”- Hannibal Lecter (catherine is the senators daughter)

Referencing Clarice’s childhood experience of waking up hearing the screams of the lambs being slaughtered every night the screams taunting her till one night she ran away taking one lamb with her trying to save it but to avail she was too weak thinking if she at least saves one that she would stop awaking to the screams of the innocent lambs…..so the question is will she ever hear the silence of the lambs? if she saves that one innocent life will the screams stop.

Most of the Characters were dynamic in their own way such as Clarice being the center of everything the solution and the problem revolved around her Hannibal simple being a sideshow, Buffalo Bill being the flint that made the spark that started it all. There were some round as well as flat characters that had a short appearance in the film such as the storage keeper and the doctors that preformed an autopsy on the first victim but she was the last to be found.

Clarice suffers two main conflicts in this film Character Vs Self as well as Character Vs the unknown. Vs Self is show by her own mental trauma and limitations from the death of her father, to waking up to the screaming of the lambs. Even without understanding her intentions and results of saving Catherine as questioned by Dr. Lecter. Vs Unknown is shown by the Buffalo Bill Case she doesn’t know who Buffalo bill is or even what he is mainly up against following Hannibal’s mind games leaving herself open.

The Blake Snyder genre that fits this film is the Incomplete Hero this is shown by Clarice and Hannibal. Clarice not having the strength or even the information she needs to find Buffalo Bill, but Hannibal is what makes her protagonist persona complete giving her just what she needs to solve the case even if she has to work for it opening herself up to him relying him even giving him the case file but, of course this seems unlikely since she is getting help from a PSYCHOPATH! it’s debatable whether Hannibal is the actually a full antagonist but, as seen in the last scene it’s probable that he is.

This film will later have a second movie continuing the story called Hannibal as well as a Tv show adaptation by the same name but, the original still overrides any other adaptation in my personal opinion it’s all A’s having the best portrayal of the characters as well as the brain churning plot and it unfolds little by little and even then there are still questions that were left unanswered or so we think….

-Melanie Degree

2/24/19