Darlene W

I have a hard time analyzing films...

30 posts in this topic

When I watch a movie, any kind, I watch it for the mere pleasure of enjoyment and have a difficult time picking it apart and answering these questions put to us.  I read what others are posting and nod yes to myself in agreement to most responses but I don't see those comparisons or ideas until they are brought to my mind.  I very much enjoyed all the clips this week and especially Lecture #2 video on "Hallelujah", when Richard Edwards made the statement that King Vidor "created" the roadmap, he did not "follow it" I think that speaks huge volumns.

i am finding this course fascinating but get so frustrated that I have to be hit over the head to see or pick out nuances that others see and can comment on so easily.  There is also so much to learn about the "behind the scene" details like the Foley Artist!  Who knew :)

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Don't beat yourself up! It's actually really great that when you watch a movie, you get lost in the enjoyment of it. The problem with being a critical viewer is that sometimes it's hard to turn it off and get lost like that. Have you tried watching things twice? First for the enjoyment, and then again to analyze it? I often do that.

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Same here Darlene. But I think as we go we will eventually be able to analyze. After all what is the point of learning, to learn things we didn't know or know how to do. Eventually hopefully I will be brave to leave my analytical comment. Hopefully you will too ?

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I can analyze things like movies & music, but it doesn't come naturally. Noticing small things like the pre/post code comparisons or different styles of filming doesn't bother me, but I can't stand being asked to be too critical. I HATED music appreciation & college literature courses because it took all the enjoyment out music & reading! With practice, each of us can learn to do one without losing the other.

 

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I wouldn't worry about it. I don't have much of an analytical mind myself unless, like you, someone points it out to me first. And maybe not even then. 

I really wish Oklahoma! was one of the movies we'll be watching, because I have noticed a few things about that movie that has me full of questions. Unfortunately IMDB, my go to movie source, took down their message boards so I can't ask them there. I guess I'll go to my grave wondering lol.

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Break things down. Understand filmmaking inside and outside. Brush up on your terminology for things like cinematography, staging, camera techniques and try to see how these things work to make the picture original. Try to see the film from a historical and cultural context. Ask lots of questions and try to answer them yourself.

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It has a lot to do with your professor, at least at first until you develop your own analytical skills. I had teachers who made you nearly hate reading and literature after their relentless pedantic dissection of a work. But then there were those who knew how to break a piece of writing or art down and then put it back together in a way that made all the facets of the work seem to shine in a new thrilling way.

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Thanks everyone for your input.  To MStacey, yes I can rewatch several times and I am one with the remote when it comes to the back up feature.  Like Tatiana Marie said, one day I will be brave enough to leave my analytical comment here. I appreciate everyone's words of encouragement and I also feel your pain BlueMoods in having all of those unanswered questions.  My Grandmother always said that Delbert Mann, director of (Marty, Dear Heart and others) was a cousin to my mother.  Well that one will go unanswered for me.  I always wanted to write to Robert Osborn for direction to find out.  I look forward to reading everyone's take on our films we will be watching as i will also learn from you.

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Honestly I never really analyze films because that would not give me very much enjoyment. I get different perceptions watching motion pictures and I notice things, but its more of a natural thing for me. Here is an example of what I am talking about. I watched a film titled "All About Eve" because it was on my personal list of movies to see. (I am currently viewing all the films that ever one best picture) I knew nothing of the plot of the movie and as I viewed the picture there was a character that was very innocent, kind, and humble. I did not like the character which was strange to me because I thought that I should. It turned out that the character was nothing she seemed to be at all in fact she was malicious and conniving. So I made a subconscious observation. In short I do not watch films I experience them. I don't know if this helped or made since but I tried.

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Just a side note:  I aced the quiz so I must be doing something right. Good notes I suspect and not bad for this 71 yr old movie lover.  I hope you all did well too.  Bring on Week Two?

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It makes sense to me Jordan Mitchell. I can usually tell early on whether I am going to like a character and I also watch films to be entertained without giving to much thought to the process.  We are learning so much though.

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I also am finding it hard to analyze the films. It's good to know that I'm not the only one.

I'm probably over thinking things (a bad habit of mine). This is only my second post, I've been trying to come up with my own thoughts first before reading others so as to not be influenced by their comments. But, this is not working since it's netting me no posts and I'm missing the interacting part of this course.
One thing that strikes me as funny is that I'm having all of these thoughts about comments I have for non-musical films. It's like I caught the whole "don't think about elephants" thing and then that's is all you can think about!
I love musicals but, I'm thinking about all the stage musicals I've seen (or want to) and not the films.
It's just been hard to focus that deeply on what we're suppose to try to look for.

I also believe that the fact that you have to really concentrate to find these things means that the film is very effective at what it's trying to do, by the mere fact that you don't focus on individual elements.
Like CGI effects in films today, for me if you notice that "that must be a CGI effect", the effect failed because you "saw" it.
Now, if you are a person say that really takes note of lighting or costumes naturally of course you will notice those things more when you watch something. But, it's not failing if you don't see those things. If you want to try to see them then you can work at it. Or maybe it's something that doesn't interest you and that's okay.
I think you can still get a lot out of watching films you may not know and looking at old favorites.  You are learning about the history of the films,even if you can't find your own comments right now.
Just reading others comments can at least open you up to different points of view. You probably have thoughts about the films you watch, while you might not think of them in "analyzing" terms, maybe they are and you just don't realize it. Maybe it's that word itself that's tipping you up, making you think too hard about thinking. I'm hoping that's the case for myself. Besides just the nerves involved with putting my thoughts out there.
Sorry this has probably turned more into a pep talk for myself, but I do hope it's helpful to you.

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Musicals usually don't take the time to focus on the dialogue and/or characters'  facial expressions & body language in order to more deeply explore plot lines or the depth & development of a character.

They're primarily looking for places in the screenplay to plop another song or dance. Plus many are either based in fantasy or in completely preposterous situations. But that's okay. They're musicals after all.:D

I think for those reasons it can be very difficult to analyze a musical due to:(a) lack of substance & character development and/or (b) unrelatability. (There are, of course, exceptions to this in many musicals. Most of these were transplants from the Broadway stage where dialogue & character development became as integral to the production as the score.)

Dramas (good dramas) take pains to explore nuances of a character's backstory, growth or demise; focus on facial & body expressions; and rely on intelligent dialogue. And even if the specific situation or plot line is not relatable to some viewers, a good drama will always include some aspect of human nature with which many in the audience can identify. These are aspects of the drama that can make them easier to analyze than most musicals. 

Conversely, it can also be quite difficult for some to analyze a drama if they have no life experience identification with either a plot, situation or individual in the film. "Live It. Learn It", as they say.

 

 

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On 6/8/2018 at 7:58 PM, Darlene W said:

i am finding this course fascinating but get so frustrated that I have to be hit over the head to see or pick out nuances that others see and can comment on so easily.

You're not the only one! ?

My husband teaches a class using classic Westerns to highlight philosophical themes. In the beginning, very few of the students "get it." (I know b/c I sit in.) His approach is to have the students watch the movie on their own first. Then, they watch it together in class and he'll pause or talk over the movie to highlight the point he wants them to get. (Teaching them how to critically watch a movie.) Changing genres, but if you know The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (John Ford, director), think of the way Stoddard (Jimmy Stewart) treats Pompey in the school house scene versus the way Pompey is treated by Doniphon (John Wayne) in the restaurant scene with "my man Pompey, in the door." Most students hear "my man" and assume it's meant as ownership (even though it's set after the Civil War). But Wayne is treating Pompey (a black man) as an equal-- as a man. Stoddard is condescending toward him, treating him more like a dolt. Even Stoddard's posture in the scene reflects his disrespect for Pompey. None of the students even notice this on their own. But once you see it, you see it everywhere with Stoddard. It tells you a lot about Stoddard's character.

I think this is some of what Ament et al. are trying to do-- teach-- but in more relaxed fashion and in a lot less time.

I know westerns but not musicals. So, here's what my plan is. 1) Watch the movie for enjoyment and the music and the swaying and humming... . At first I just want to see like more or less like the original audience did. 2) If something jumps out at me, I note it. But I'm not looking for anything. 3) Read & save the lecture notes; watch the lecture videos. 3) Pass the quizzes! 4) Later, probably after the class is finished, I'll review the material again and RE-watch the movies critically. Oh! And hang around the forum getting clues about what to pay attention to!

I have probably (literally?) watched some of those westerns 50-60 times. And every time, I see something new. And now, when watching a new (to me) western, I still enjoy the movie but I can clearly see things in the first viewing that I never would have before. I'm expecting the same to happen with musicals.

But right now, I'm just enjoying them.

[Sorry to be so long winded!]

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I would always keep in mind that, much like anything, critical analysis is not something that can be perfected. There will always be some detail or other that you feel like you missed or could have done a better job explaining. This is mostly because we just never really have all the information we need when we need it. But that's okay! Analysis is not something that comes naturally - as such there is no proper answer on "how to do it". It takes years of practising putting yourself in the mindset to sit down and think differently about a topic.

Baby steps and small victories. Focus on fleshing out one detail or topic or theme at a time, as best you can. Read what others thought, go back and see if you can pick it up once you know about it. Do you agree? Why? Do you disagree? Why? What do you think can be added/subtracted to someone else's interpretation? The beauty is that something always can. It starts with just putting your thoughts down on paper, and then some more, and some more, and going from there.

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And something else to consider, Darlene, it may be helpful for you to read some posts as a trigger for your thought process, but I'm finding sometimes I'm not answering the way others have because I may have a different point of view.  For example Dr. A's question of what musicals in Judy Garland's later career were examples of her "increasing ability to capture an audience's imagination as a storyteller when she sings".  I never perceived it as an "increasing ability" as in my opinion it seemed she was always able to do that; and I cite a number from Girl Crazy when she was 18 and another from Summer Stock ten years later to illustrate my point, while many posted the obvious of A Star Is Born as Judy was a mature woman.  While there are obviously right and wrong answers to tests and quizzes I consider there to be none for the Daily Dose Of Delight as we all may view things differently.  Besides they are not graded; so relax and have fun viewing.

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I agree what others have already shared and please don't beat yourself up. There have been many times that I watched the DD and read the questions and thought, "I got nuthin'." But once I begin thinking about the film (I actually don't do it while watching the film either. Only afterwards) one thought leads to another. Sometimes when my thoughts jump about I can't get them down fast enough and forget them...lol.

Just relax. Don't be so hard on yourself. Continue to enjoy the films. Once you gain more experience analyzing the films you'll find it easier. Read through the comments before you begin to write down your responses. Perhaps one small thing someone says will spark your own thoughts.

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I don't do an analysis of the movies in this course. If I get lost in a movie that means the movie was so good that I became a part of it. I happen to enjoy the genre of movie musicals & that's the main reason for taking this course. I either like a movie or I don't. There were a couple of movies that I didn't really like from the TCM list. I guess that's how I work my own analyses of the movies. The questions in the Daily Dose make me think about certain aspects of these films but I always go back to the same question for each movie...did I enjoy the movie or not? I work my answers from there. Go with your gut & enjoy!

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I’m joining the crowd here.  I also find it difficult to do the analyzing whether I read others’ posts first or attempt to come up with my own ideas before reading other posts.I was pretty good at analyzing novels in English Lit. classes but this is different for me. I was never into analyzing for analyzing. That said, I am thoroughly enjoying this course and feel that I’m learning so much! I’ve always been a fan of musicals and black and white films. (I’ve always thought I was born in the wrong era! Lol) I’ve been doing all of the readings, watching the videos and seeing as many movies as my schedule allows. I’ve been reading many posts and learning from all of you! Also did great on the first quiz. So I think there is happily room in this course for all types of learners! 

On to watching “Holiday Inn”-

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On 6/9/2018 at 12:03 AM, BlueMoods said:

I wouldn't worry about it. I don't have much of an analytical mind myself unless, like you, someone points it out to me first. And maybe not even then. 

I really wish Oklahoma! was one of the movies we'll be watching, because I have noticed a few things about that movie that has me full of questions. Unfortunately IMDB, my go to movie source, took down their message boards so I can't ask them there. I guess I'll go to my grave wondering lol.

Ask away, BlueMoods!  Maybe one of the fans can answer it even though it isn't being shown!

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I also noticed that for the recommended films, they don't discuss some of them in the lecture video. I DVR many of the movies on the recommended list because I don't have time to watch everything, but then I noticed they discuss different movies in lecture videos. I think if I had more notice of the discussion I could plan to record it when it's on. What's the point of watching a discussion of the film if you can't watch it?

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I pretty much ignore the suggested topics and comment what I'm thinking. I find I disagree with some of the material, especially regarding the history of what is going on in the US at the time of these films. You have to be careful in conflating studio propaganda and desire to have a big box office with political thought. We were definitely NOT preparing for WWII in 1939. There was a massive sense of isolation. Roosevelt had a heck of a time even getting lend lease passed. And ask yourself if we were preparing, why were we asleep during Pearl Harbor.

 

Don't care for the Hollywood version of women's roles, either. I don't think real woman had those attitudes. And remember, Hollywood was run by men and any portrayal of women was through the filter of men and their fantasies. (I'll bet if any man had treated the person Ethel Waters like Joe did in Cabin in the Sky, she would have knocked him on his read end.)

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Darlene,

I was a high school English teacher. At least one person in each class would ask how I "saw" all those symbols, style elements, etc. in a poem or story. I will tell you what I told them: no one ever starts off knowing how to do this. In fact, I almost failed my first college English lit class because I did not have the background and could not see it. It takes experience and help from the masters. In this class, the materials teach all of us some new elements that we had not been able to see before. The lecture notes and videos let us learn at the knees of the experts. These message boards give you impressions by others. No one person has all the answers. It takes a village.

While we often wish someone could just open our heads and pour the information in, don't fight the process. First, this is an art form. When you go to a museum, you look at a piece of art and form an immediate reaction. If you like the painting or sculpture, you will linger and look at the details. If you don't, you will move on until you find something you do like. At first, you do not know why you like it but the longer you stand there, the clearer it will become to you that you like the color, images, perspective, etc. From that first, overall impression, you will want to look into more depth. So, you will join a docent tour, read a book about the artist or the period, go to more art shows.

The same process applies here. First, enjoy the movie. Don't parse it out. Just let it wash over you. Then, find one element you want to see. Pick just one aspect to look for. Once you gain confidence in  finding that one element, you will be flooded with other elements. You will see more.  There will be no stopping you.

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10 hours ago, filmnoirguy said:

Ask away, BlueMoods!  Maybe one of the fans can answer it even though it isn't being shown!

Okay, here goes. There are several places in the movie that look like they were candid or improvised or even an "oops" moment that didn't get cut. In the "Farmer and the Cowman" scene, one dancer seems to be looking towards something or somebody "off stage" and then nods and dances/runs out of the frame. In the "Kansas City" number when the "Goon Girls" are being helped down from the moving train, one of them (can't remember which) jumps into the arms of the cowboy and knocks his hat completely off when she throws her arms around them. And in the wedding/Oklahoma! number, Will and Ado Annie are on the porch and Annie buries her face in Will's chest. He then takes his hat off and pats her on the back with it. I read somewhere that Gloria Grahame was extremely claustrophobic and started to have a mini-meltdown, and Gene Nelson actually was trying to comfort her and calm her down.

It's almost as if those scenes (and maybe others I can't think of at the minute) were filmed live with little or no editing. I always understood that everything in a film from product placement to the arrangement of furniture and decor to the actors' moves and mannerisms are done for a specific reason. That's actually one of the things I love about Oklahoma but I've always wondered if they were planned/orchestrated or were purely accidental and left in the final product for whatever reason.

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