Film Studies for Free

Here’s the link to the website I mentioned in class:

http://filmstudiesforfree.blogspot.com/

Great resource.

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L.A. Noire: A Blast From The Past

Film Noir has truly left its mark on the face of cinema. Cynical attitudes, harsh contrasts, femme fatales, rugged detectives, plenty of cigarettes, and sexual motives, epitomize the once viral cinematic form.  The uniquely stylized “genre” of Hollywood crime drama has managed to stay very much alive through modern day representations in mass media. In 2011, Rockstar games came out with the popular crime drama video game, L.A. Noire. 

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   L.A. Noire blends investigative elements such as mystery and crime solving, with fast-action situations, including car chases, hand-to-hand combat, gunfights, and interrogations. The game quickly earned attention and eventually became one of the best games of the year . Soon after its release, the dramatic crime thriller was chosen to be shown at the Tribeca Film Festival, interestingly the first video game to be entered and accepted by the festival (vg247.com).

  The aesthetic elements draw heavily from the imagery of classical hollywood film noir. The game does a great job mimicking “dark” lighting, almost always casting a shadow, with the right balance of darks and lights. It is obvious that the shots directly mimic that of Film noir, though the video game’s incorporation of graphic colors seem to introduce alternate moods that the noir period could not capture. It is my opinion that the success of this game is largely due to its representation of  the ” dark visual style and black vision of despair, loneliness, and dread (Porfirio 80)”, that film noir so deeply encompasses. This participatory form of media re-creates and regurgitates this visual theme, in my opinion, perfectly. The game really defines itself as a neo-noir artifact, simply because of CGI and modern graphics. Otherwise, i’d say its almost exactly identical in visual style, and even in structure.

   The protagonist, Cole Phelps, plays the niche of an L.A. police officer and later detective. The whole storyline of the game revolves around this one subject, following his path through his career as he deals with various cases. Both the gamers of L.A. and viewers of film noir are able to watch their “hero” take abuse, get into trouble, or even stumble into a sexual encounter, and be able to identify and grow with that character. Our not-so-heroic hero mirrors that of the noir protagonist’s status, as he is constantly subjected to brutal stresses and strains”(Christopher 17). Intended for the demographic of young to middle aged males, L.A. Noir does a sound job at re-creating the structure of the game through the eyes of a man, for men. Ultimately, L.A. Noir is able to ignite a sense of “shared human responses” within the participator’s own psyche (Porfirio 81). For most of today’s video games, i think it’s safe to say that this isn’t the easiest thing to achieve.

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   Interestingly enough,  TNT has recently ordered a pilot for their new drama series…. L.A. Noir. produced by former Walking Dead showrunner, Frank Darabont. Although there are many modern artifacts out there today that border on the line of noir, it will be a very different perspective to see true noir packaged into a TV series format. Since its creation from German expressionism, film noir continues to grow and transform, jumping from medium to medium, constantly re-surfacing within various artifacts throughout the world of media today.

    If you haven’t played the game i suggest you do, however if you want to see more about how the game looks overall check it out right here!

Film compare/contrast analysis

Objective: to understand how film noir has influenced other genres over time.

Task: watch two films- a noir film of your choice from the past and a modern film that is considered noir or has noir influence.

Give a presentation, PowerPoint, video essay, anything you’d like to do that covers the following:

Brief synopsis of each film
What makes the modern film noir
What elements of noir are important in the older noir film
Compare/contrast the two films
Summarize the importance of these films and how they influence society- now & today

Criteria for a good grade will include the following:

Does your presentation provide informative, new information?
Does your presentation help create a better understanding for what we have discussed in the class
Do you present information in a clear concise manner.

Course Assignment Draft

I was thinking that it would be interesting to take a piece of media categorized as noir (that isn’t film) and compare it to one of the films we’ve seen. The point of the assignment would be to see if noir is inherently film or if it translates well to other pieces of media like books and video games. The assignment would require a short essay (3-5 pages) and a short in-class presentation that shares your opinions and gives the class a little context about the work you’re analyzing. An excellent essay/presentation would be one that was clear and concise, with all of the necessary information. It would give the class a good feeling for the piece of media chosen and have 3-5 ideas compared and contrasted about the work.

Sorry it’s a little unclear, I have it all in my head, the keyboard was just inhibiting me.

Compare and Contrast: Noir Blog Post assignment (Draft)

Objective: The objective of this assignment is to find and illustrate parralels and connections between readings and films we have covered either in or outside of the course.

 

Description- Pick at least two films within the genre “noir”. In a blog post, illustrate parallels and differences between these films, while using evidence from our readings to thoroughly support your argument.To complete a well written post, one should highlight modern day productions that may have evolved from the style or structure of film Noir.

Criteria:

  •  Must be an organized blog post with a clear argument
  • Distinguish parallels or differences in your own words, with supportive evidence from our readings.
  • Posts should avoid being dry and instead incorporate text with other visually representational media. Image, audio, video, etc. 
  • Length – up for discussion 

 

 

Scene Characteristic Posts

Objective: To critically analyze scenes from noir films and show an understanding of what characteristics makes it a noir film.

Description: Using the films we will be screening this semester, pick three films and write a one page analysis  of a characteristic that helps define the movie as a noir film. Then post a scene supporting your analysis and the analysis to the blog. Once everyone has posted go back and comment on at least four other scenes discussing whether you agree, disagree, or see something else.

Blog post = 20 points each

  • 15 based on your page characteristic analysis
  • 5 for the video

Blog replies= 10 points each

  • Based on depth of your reply.

Controversial Films?

 

  • This assignment should access the core elements that make up the genre noir and apply those to what really makes a film a “noir”.
  • Pick two of the most controversial/challenged film in the noir community. Divide the class in two giving each half their own film. It is now that groups job to make the most logical and supportive case for why that film should truly be considered a noir or not. Each group should feel free to present this information to the class in any way they pursue. 
  • Grading will be based on how well the group provides evidence for why or why not the film should be considered noir. This should heavily include elements that are established in noir but can consist of outside views as well.

Analyzing Noir like films (draft)

Objective: Pick a film (not on the class list) and analyze the aspects of it that seem uniquely noir like.

Description: Choose a particular aspect of a film such as: characters, camera angles, settings, or narration style. Analyze one or all of these aspects of the film by relating them to what we have discussed as “Noir” in class. You can decide on whatever method you might want to use to convey how the film is Noir like such as: Powerpoint, Video presentation, Paper etc. Create the assignment with the understanding that you will present some of your findings to the rest of the class. This can be done either in class or through the blog.

Evaluation Criteria:

1. Was the film in question analyzed properly to show its Noir like aspects?

2. That’s it! It’s that easy!

Noir Assignment

I think a creative/engaging assignment we could do in the class would be to analyze a tv series that has elements of a noir but isn’t directly a noir tv series. Think about TV shows you have watched (whether it be an episode/episodes or particular themes/behind the scenes work done on the show) that can be defined as noir, then do a presentation as well as a paper on your findings. Focus on characters, sets, camera work, plot, visuals, themes, etc.

Criteria

  • Must be a series that isn’t a noir
  • Implement clips into your presentation
  • Compare your findings to not only noir films we have watched but also to the readings as well
  • Presentation must be at least 10 minutes long; Paper must be at least 3 to 4
  • Be Creative! The more obscure the better!

Examples of shows I may choose

  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars
  • Community
  • Young Justice