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TonyZao

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Everything posted by TonyZao

  1. My ideal combination would be something like Hitchcock as director, Tarantino as screenwriter, DiCaprio and Liam Neeson starring and Morricone composing the score. That would be a fitting dream team!
  2. One thing I've always liked about classic Hollywood films is the way the protagonists are flirting with each other. It's subtle, classy, elegant, flirting is turned into an art, something you don't see much in modern films, because there is no censorship and everything can be said or shown. In this scene, the actors are talking about something primate and vulgar such as sex, yet they're doing this in a way you could believe they're talking about a work of art. Grant was an expert in such scenes for decades, Saint was not so experienced, but here she is at least his equal. Hitchcock always
  3. Although I've always found Vertigo a bit too creepy and complicated for my taste, I have to admit that it's Hitchcock's most trademark film, along with Psycho. Even the opening credits are disturbing and add to the mood of the film. I'm a computer engineering student myself and I've studied Lissajous figures quite a bit, and I never imagined they could be used in such a subjective way to create distorting, formalistic images, and even dizziness. By watching this brilliant opening sequence, you know that what's gonna follow is not ordinary, and is probably going to play with your mind, even mak
  4. The opening scene isn't a Jeff's POV shot, yet the camera moves in an entirely voyeuristic way. It quickly shows us the entire field of action of the film, the apartments Jeff is able to look at through his camera and, finally, his own. Hitchcock gives us a taste of the claustrophobic, voyeuristic style of the entire film and wants to make us feel a guilty pleasure that we're watching all these people in their private lives. Jeff is shown sweating, visibly dissatisfied with the fact he's unable to move because of his broken leg. The words written on his bandage is another display of Hitchc
  5. I really love Strangers on a Train, and the main reason is this whole criss-cross idea with the switching murders that captures your attention from the beginning (even Danny DeVito tried to imitate it!). Hitchcock uses the railroad tracks to show us two different paths that cross that each other, and then the two characters; their shoes, their equipment, their clothing, but not their faces until later. He uses time and coincidence, two seemingly ordinary people, strangers to each other, who just happened to catch the same train and sit opposite each other. Once more, Hitch tries to say that wh
  6. I absolutely love Notorious from every angle. Hitchcock is masterful from the first scene to the last one. In this scene, the subjective, expressionist, shadowy POV shot of Cary Grant entering the scene is one of his very best, and a proof that he was more handy with B&W filming than color. This time, the scene is dark-toned and the atmosphere is heavy, introducing us to two characters who are gonna be the heroes in the picture, but are not saints by a long way (typical noir). I personally believe that Notorious is as close as Hitchcock ever got with film noir theme and scenery. The ca
  7. Hitchcock opens the film showing us a perfectly married couple, in an idyllic, almost unreal situation. They're in love, they're rich, they don't care about anything. In typical Hitchcock fashion, it appears that nothing can go wrong for the characters displayed in this scene, except everything does in the rest of the picture. One could say that the "ordinary guys in extraordinary situations" doctrine appears in this film, too, with the difference that this time the ordinary guys (Mr. and Mrs. Smith) are largely to blame for being driven into their troubles. Hitch shows us a panoramic view
  8. Hitchcock's contribution to film noir was immense but largely ignored. I think that the main reason Hitch is not considered an important noir director is because his films were so unique that trying to fit them into a particular style or film movement is irrelevant. Uncle Charlie could be compared with many noir characters in this opening scene. He seems calm, not disturbed by the fact two unknown men are looking for him, nor by the large amount of money in his room, he's nonchalant, calculative, and lacking any sentiment. If he feels fear or anything else, it's well hidden. That's his att
  9. Hollywood's influence is obvious in this opening scene. Hitchcock very rarely used flashbacks in Britain, yet he begins his career in the US with one. In the UK, Hitchcock's films typically opened in packed public places with light-hearted dialogue. In this one, there is no humor or levity, the first character, bar the voiceover, appears two and a half minutes into the film and the locations are remote and somewhat scary. Rebecca is not only the first American film for Hitchcock, but also one that is not the most characteristic of his style. However, the "Hitchcock touch" is there, with th
  10. Hitchcock's favorite opening scenes were arguably these international public places. In The Lady Vanishes, the setting, the folklore Central European music, the smiling hotel manager who speaks in all languages, the characters coming from every corner of the world, are contributing to a playful, light-hearted tone. Once again, nothing is there that can make us believe this film is a crime thriller. Charters and Caldicott are somewhat the typical Englishmen of the 30's, obsessed with cricket, with a characteristic accent and way of talking, and friendly towards other nations. They add even
  11. Hitchcock had developed a habit of starting his films in public places, with pleasurable atmosphere and much of levity by his very early days. Once more, we see a bunch of ordinary people, including the one who's gonna be the reluctant hero of our story, entertaining themselves. This time, however, nothing seems to be disturbing or precursing a crime or a manhunt, and by this scene alone you couldn't guess this film's gonna be a spy thriller with crime, suspense and manhunt. Another deviation was the fact that this time Hitch wants us to identify with one character by the very opening scen
  12. What I like about Hitchcock's late British films compared to the famous American ones (although I generally prefer the latter) is their simplicity and the levity of the scripts. The two versions of The Man Who Knew Too Much pose the perfect example. In this version, I think that this opening scene makes us anticipate that characters will be more important than the plot, as it shows us nothing really interesting in terms of events, but introduces us to colorful characters. Peter Lorre's character looks really cool in this opening scene. A humorous, seemingly well-natured foreigner who has n
  13. Hitchcock is known for his audacious experimentation in his films, but, in my opinion, nothing tops Blackmail. The most important invention in film history, sound, appears for the very first time in the whole Europe in his hands, in a film that was made to be silent, yet still he manages to innovate and use it to achieve his targets. Hitchcock knew that, when people have something in their minds, everything they see and hear appears to be somehow connected with this, and reason starts to fail. With this in mind, we can understand Anny Ondra's reaction when she repeatedly hears the word "kn
  14. Once more, Hitch uses a technique, this time POV shots, to subvert the normal objectivity of watching the film and make us identify with the character whose POV we are watching. Everything is about looks here, the angry look of the girl, the even more angry one of the headmaster, the terrified one of the innocent but framed character played by Novello and the guilty but pleased one of his classmate. Hitchcock wants us to understand the characters just be looking at them and getting into their shoes, without showing much. I personally think that one of the reasons he experimented with POV w
  15. The Ring is certainly not your typical Hitchcock film, yet his flirting with German expressionist ideas and the importance of montage and film editing dominates the film, and it continued to influence his way of filmmaking throughout his career. Rapid cuts, very different from one another and somewhat disturbing to the audience, are used again by Hitch to create a subjective atmosphere. Also contributing are some distorting stills that resemble a painting rather than a film scene, and the constant change of pace from fast to slow and vice versa. Hitchcock uses this disturbing effect to
  16. The Lodger was filmed less than two years after The Pleasure Garden, yet Hitchcock's style became siginificantly more mature and distinctive. The only similarities are the exaggerated, almost non-realistic expressions of the people involved, but even this is only for suspense in this film, while in his first he tried to express more emotions, and it was typical in silent cinema. In my mind, the beginning of the film resembles the one of the penultimate movie Hitchcock ever directed, Frenzy. A serial killer targeting young girls creates havoc and mystery among the people. Hitchcock emphasiz
  17. The Daily Doses and the discussion about them was one of my favorite parts in both previous courses and I already think this is going to be the case here too! I'm not very familiar with Hitchcock's British films, especially the first, silent ones, but in this very first scene of his very first film I think there is a Hitchcock touch, especially in the opening stairs sequence. The whole is scene is humorous yet disturbing, subtle yet suggesting, weird combinations that made a trademark of Hitch's long and distinguished career that had just started. The rapid cuts referred by Spoto was t
  18. Ferrell and McKay's style, as shown in Anchorman, embodies every single slapstick characteristic, as defined in the very first day of this course. This scene is absolutely exaggerated, physical, make-believe, ritualistic and, above all, violent. The fact that this is a scene practically independent from the rest of the film (which is a spoof with some slapstick in it) brings it even closer to the standards of slapstick as we've seen it from the 1970's and beyond. Slapstick here is self-conscious just like in Mel Brooks or Woody Allen's films, but no one in the film seems to care about it.
  19. Zucker, Abrahams and Zucker were, in my opinion, the last true masters of slapstick in film. Their combination of extremely exaggerated visual and verbal humor and their relentless parody of genres such as disaster films (Airplane), spy films (Top Secret!) and police procedurals (The Naked Gun) brought many of the funniest moments in the modern years of cinema. While Mel Brooks also excelled in parody and spoof of other genres, his approach was usually more subtle and made in a way his films also pay a homage to their parody victims. ZAZ, on the other hand, are relentless and show little r
  20. I just love Young Frankenstein and I consider it the most successful parody ever made. This particular scene features the late Gene Wilder looking, talking and behaving like the mad scientists of the 1930's horror films, and the other characters aren't as normal as they should be in this environment. Even the skeleton in the background plays its part, making the whole set-up looking much more sinister (and ridiculous, too) that it should. As in the whole film, this scene is an example of a perfect combination between subtle and crazy humor. Unlike another Brooks/Wilder masterpiece made in
  21. From all modern directors, Woody Allen is by far the one with the most knowledge, respect and passion for classic Hollywood, and this is demonstrated in many of his films. What he's magically able to do, though, is making films which are both a homage and a parody of these classic films, and Bananas is just the case. The scene is structured in typical Woody Allen style: people talking nonsense with casual style. First, we see a group of rebels making Allen's character go to bring them food, and also make him believe it was luck who picked him of all others. Then, Allen opts not to rob the
  22. The Great Race is one of the most hilarious and underrated comedies ever made. It could be the best performance in Jack Lemmon's long and distinguished career, while Blake Edwards is simply a master behind the camera. The film is full of cartoonish, violent slapstick humor, often creating situations like falls, fights, accidents and explosions that otherwise would be deadly, but the victims here are more humiliated than harmed. This clip features the first of numerous attempts at Leslie's life executed by Fate, with initial success but complete failure at the end. These backfiring attempts
  23. Inspector Clouseau is one of the best comedy characters ever made, and the fact that films with him are still made (although after Sellers no one was even close to him) proves his lasting legacy and popularity. Sellers' Clouseau has no match when it comes to combining visual with verbal gags. Here, we watch him angrily confronting the incomparable George Sanders with his trademark outrageous French accent, while at the same time he's having trouble with a weird billiard cue the latter gave him, and later with all the cues. Clouseau is a typical comedy character, naive, dim-witted, well
  24. We tend to associate slapstick comedy with Hollywood, so it's good to have a Daily Dose coming from Europe. Besides, European cinema has a rich tradition in comedy and stars like Charlie Chaplin, Peter Sellers, Louis de Funès and Roberto Benigni have contributed in in its development for a century now. In this clip we watch French comedian Jacques Tati portraying a character similar of those of silent comedy stars; a likeable, everyday man with a simple life, ambitions and manners. Always friendly, polite and smiling, there's nothing not to like in this man. There's little dialogue, music
  25. I think Abbott and Costello were much more of a product of their time than W.C. Fields and the Marx Brothers. That's perhaps a reason that their legacy is somewhat inferior in modern times, though they remain popular and funny. Abbott and Costello relied much more on verbal than visual comedy, in my point of view, and they were the first and most famous film comedy duo in which the two actors played distinctly different characters, the pure comedian (Costello) and the straight man (Abbott, for whom a common misconception is that he wasn't funny and his partner did all the work, while in fa
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