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About agalvan

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  • Location
    Los Angeles
  • Interests
    Cinephile, Bibliophile, Francophile
  1. What's truly fascinating about this Lumière Bros. film is that it is unequivocally a genre film i.e. slapstick comedy. Funny how these two pioneers of cinema who actually believed that this new art form was ultimately a "fad" that would dissipate and soon become unpopular would actually take the time to make a comedic film or a film with a storyline. Maybe they did see the potential films or moving pictures could have on audiences all over the world --the fact that this art form could take on new subjects/genres and styles.
  2. Kiss Me Deadly offers an incredible opening that forcefully hurls the viewer into Christina and her troubles. No time is wasted! The mix of the pitter patter of her feet on the asphalt and her nearly crashing into the camera in crash zoom fashion captures her overwhelming anxiety and breathlessness. Her desperation is visceral, to the point that she is even willing to put herself in harm's way as she surrenders in the middle of the busy road. The headlights of Mike Hammer's car function as a beacon of hope, a form of escape from where she's been. The disorder of the opening credits create a di
  3. This sequence masterfully sustains the power of the camera to capture reality and a surreality. The introductory shot of Cotton walking along cobblestone streets and petite, forked alley ways capture an authentic Vienna. The woman in the apartment stretching her head out of the window conveys an everyday reality as she angrily bares her grievances and irritation with Cotten's belligerent yelling. This is quotidian living. The zither music also functions as a character in itself throughout the film. The music provides fidelity to the Viennese locale. The non-diegetic score fully immerses us int
  4. Frank (Garfield) is our everyman; he's cordial, easygoing and optimistic. Adventure is only around the corner, even though it may be a dark corner. His entrance is shot in high key lighting or rather natural sunlight. We see him and feel like we know him because he is like any one of us. He doesn't know Fate is about to throw a major curve ball towards him in the form of an itty bitty compact lipstick. The gentle, smooth rolling of the lipstick seals his Fate and infatuation with Cora Smith. Lana Turner's (Cora) entrance is taken automatically from the male gaze. She is introduced to the audie
  5. The noir elements are apparent in the dialogue as well as the actors' body language. Kathie's bouts of silence and sultry glances evoke the femme fatale persona we know well but also add to her mystery and intrigue. A woman who appears from a white, angelic and heavenly light into the cool, dark shadows of a lowly cantina in an exotic location. Jeff's dialogue oozes with deep existentialist musings about human existence and the desperate need to overcome loneliness and isolation (mirrored in the film's title sequence of an isolated mountain town). These individuals are both lone rangers and in
  6. Right off the bat, we see the heavy influence of German Expressionistic lighting with strong shadows and low-key lighting in the diner but especially in the Swede's room. Swede (Lancaster) is bathed in complete darkness, sheer and utter mystery. The shadow of the young man warning him is beautifully curved above Swede: hanging gently above him (appearing gentle yet slightly menacing). I find the diner scene reflects bits of Expressionistic lighting with the stark shadows of leaves and across the men's faces, making them appear sinister. While the diner scene relates to a more cinematic realism
  7. What is really captivating about this musical sequence is its duality: there is the illusion and idealized vision of Gilda, a sexy and confident woman men grovel at, as viewed by the audience (and us the spectators as well) and then there's Gilda's own insecurity and her broken down image at the end of this scene. The close-ups exude Gilda's hyper sexuality with the hair whips and slow, sensuous removal of her glove. She is teasing the audience, luring them in true femme fatale fashion. Her exuberance implies confidence but by the end of the scene we know that it is a mask for her insecurity a
  8. I find the shot composition in this scene from Mildred Pierce particularly interesting. It really speaks to the tumultuous dynamic between Veda and Mildred at this point. Though young and child-like before, Veda now stands proudly and defiantly. The staircase scene puts Veda at a slightly higher elevation than her mother (if but for a brief moment), thus connoting the extent of Veda's manipulative power and assertiveness that she possesses over her mother's more melodramatic and submissive nature. The noir elements really pop out to me through the dialogue. Veda assumes this unmistakable femme
  9. The swinging pendulum in Ministry of Fear functions in the same way as the children's nursery rhyme and the cuckoo clock in M: it relays impending doom. The massive pendulum (which reminds me greatly of Edgar Allan Poe's own macabre tale entitled, "The Pit and the Pendulum,") sways heavily back and forth almost similar to a noose hanging above a thick tree branch (a bit morbid, I know). The deep, stark shadows add to this gloomy ambience. Although the clock's chimes of noon signal the protagonist's countdown to freedom, the feel is more sinister and ominous than liberating. It feels more like
  10. Powell's Philip Marlowe exudes and comports himself very differently from private detectives in past works through his fast talking, sexualized bravado. He always carries himself as though (and probably is) one step ahead of the cat-mouse game. His unabashed forwardness, falling on sexual lines, exemplifies the new detective of 40s noir: no-nonsense macho whose actions are questionable and thus, he is willing to take morally ambiguous steps to get to where he needs to go or to solve the crime. This detective model contributes to one of the most significant characteristics of the Film Noir styl
  11. I found the POV shot in Dark Passage to be successful and quite an experimental shot for a time when the Classical Hollywood style reigned supreme and was the norm. The POV shot allows the viewer to feel all the bumps and jumps Bogie makes and in many ways, you feel like you escaped with him. Feels like an early precursor to handheld camera work done during the French New Wave and Hollywood Renaissance. You can feel the strain and exertion Bogie makes to get away from the police. The POV shot offered the greatest amount of tension when we are watching the driver react to the radio bulletin and
  12. Though the establishing scene did not feel as surprising or shocking (since I am an avid film noir viewer), what was surprising was having a female character be the film noir's protagonist, a genre dominated by male characters and voiceovers, their (mis) deeds and POVs. I love that none other than the incomparable Bette Davis was our introduction into this story of murder, deception, intrigue and exoticism. The sweeping shot and gorgeous chiaroscuro lighting were magnificent. The tropical locale reminded me of a particular scene from Out of the Past. The close-up shots of the moon strike me th
  13. I remember first seeing this film over a year ago and marveling at it being one of the longest opening sequences I had ever seen! Essentially, I find that our protagonist Lantier is personified by the train: a hurling, relentless, primal beast heading straight for ruin. No spoilers here for those who haven't seen it, but the film's ending is quite poetic. We get 4 straight minutes of this train barreling through towns, in many ways like a' bat out of hell' as a fellow peer stated. We don't know where we're going or what will appear at the end of the line so to speak but we instinctually know i
  14. Love the interplay and juxtaposition of silence and overwhelming, ominous sound of the bell, cuckoo clock and car horns! They truly signal a foreboding and inevitability of what happens next. I especially enjoy the establishing shot of the kids playing. The high angle camera shot provides a type of God's eye, omnipresent but non-interventionist view. And the final looming shadow of the murderer is masterfully done! Three words to describe it can only be: Ominous, Eerie and Arresting
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