Academic Writing

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Symmetry in Motion

If there ever was any doubt that cinema and cinematic technique was a real art form, adhering to and at the same time forging its own visual language this video will explain it.  Kubrick is masterful in his composition: building his shots by paying the closest attention to mise en scene, framing and camera position.  This montage expertly splices together Kubricks films to highlight his acumen for framing and how to elicit emotional responses based on that composition.

Specifically, in this montage Kubrick's use of the one-point perspective is highlighted. The stark symmetry these shots offer allow for a broad view of the scene at hand yet are restricting at the same time.  While the viewer thinks he is getting the whole picture (literally and figuratively) he is not and that causes unease (often times that unease is subconscious).  Kubrick was a master of making his viewers uneasy and this supercut shows off that talent. 


Friday, August 10, 2012

The Bourne Legacy

Completing a trilogy is always a tricky business. In a successful franchise, it’s a rare accomplishment for the final installment to live up to the success of the first two. The Bourne Legacy has an interesting challenge as it’s not technically a part of the trilogy upon which it is based, yet it is inexorably linked to it and has masses of fans to deliver its well-known and well-loved brand. Directed by Tony Gilroy who was involved in the previous Bourne films, successfully mirrors the specific Bourne stylization from the previous films and while not as intricate as those which came before it, manages to be a successful continuation of the franchise.

As the fourth film of a successful trilogy, The Bourne Legacy is the post-script to the series. What was particularly clever about this film is that unlike most franchise extrapolations, it both recognizes and honors the films that came before it. Cleverly interweaving footage from The Bourne Ultimatum, the final in the original trilogy, Legacy takes place concurrent to Ultimatum. It delves deeper into the overarching mythology and background of Operation Treadstone and Operation Blackbriar and depicts the other side of the organization’s reaction to the rebellion of Jason Bourne. We learned that Jason Bourne was not the only operative in the program in in the wake of his dissent the project is literally being killed off.  Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner) is one operative who won’t go away quietly and as he learns of his expected fate we are treated to the heart pounding excitement we have come to expect from this franchise. Along with Dr. Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz), a neurobiologist responsible for much of the research behind the project, they set out to escape the clutches of the program’s administrators. Their group of adversaries, led by Edward Norton’s Col. Eric Byer arms themselves with every tactic they have available to destroy the duo. Cross has been a faithful servant to the program and when he finds out how he’s been taken advantage of, he vows to escape it’s grasp.

The paranoia that Legacy elicits is palpable – anyone can be watched at any point. The labyrinth of cameras around this country has the capability to watch and track your every move. Lately, issues of corporate “big brother” have taken the spotlight away from ideas that the government is watching your every move. In an era where your emails are scanned to pull out key words so ads are better served to you, where your online search history is recorded to collect both individual and mass data and where all your personal information is stored by google or yahoo or any other email client there’s a general sense that corporate America is hoarding your anonymity. While the Bourne series makes it clear that the government overlords are targeting individuals who have chosen to sign up for their program, it also makes clear just how easy it is for your every move to be tracked and traced without your knowledge.

As I walked out of The Bourne Legacy my gut reaction was to tell people that I loved it and I thought it was great. True to the Bourne brand, it’s an adrenaline fueled high impact movie that keeps the audience highly engaged. But the more I thought about it after I walked out of the theater the more I realized how many loose ends were left untied. Ultimately, however, I don’t think it mattered as the goal of these movies are to offer audiences an exciting two hours of action and suspense. And on that, this Bourne delivers.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012