The Gaze” and representations of Gender in Lady Eve

 Laura Mulvey’s theory of the “male gaze,” is something that most people are going to talk about. We all know that what she says is true regarding the camera tending to reinforce a male perspective. The fact is that we are not created equal- thanks God for that- as a male has the tendency to feel attracted to a woman by pure looks initially- and the rest is about the personality of the male and female involved.

Men enjoy looking at beautiful women and women, as part of their natural instinct care a lot about their looks and use this weakness in men to their advantage. So far, all of this is normal and accepted.

Different societies have different ideas about how a good woman or good man has to behave and when any one gets out of those norms or ideas, that person is punished or even killed by the laws of society or in subtle ways by how the members of society treat the “wrong doer.”

In the film Lady Eve, Jean is a beautiful con artist that works with a partner to manipulate rich men and take their money. Charles is a rich, handsome Biologist that comes on board the ship as he is coming back from the Amazon jungle- after studying snakes native to the Amazon jungle. Charles is portrayed as a little bit of a fool and women in the Cruise ship look at him as prey that needs to be caught.

In the movie, as in real life, the women do not approach Charles directly but they try to attract his attention using different tricks that seem to lead to casually engage Charles in conversation to motivate his attention. Throughout all this action Jean is directing our  attention through a mirror; by doing this Jean is controlling the camera and our attention to what she wants to see and she is studying Charles and makes fun of the  foolish attempts that other women use to get Charles attention. This is the female gaze and its intention to get what she wants without being direct. This intention of women to get what they want without being direct is, in my opinion, what causes so many misunderstanding between men and women.

Because men feel pleasure to look at beautiful women, they are easy to read and understand. Women attraction to men is more complicated as they are attracted by looks but also by security and other subjectivities that can be different in each woman. Men, at least initially, are purely attracted by the looks of a woman.

In Lady Eve, this gaze is extremely magnified to an abnormal point because Jean is a con artist, a manipulator of men, a bad person who attracts men to take advantage of them without caring for their feelings or well being. I would compare Jean’s gaze to the male gaze of Norman in the film Psycho, when he is looking, through a peephole, at Marion getting undressed.

I believe that I have gone too far in choosing to talk about Norman and Jean’s gaze as they do not represent the normal gaze of a men or women but these extreme representations are good to express the idea of the male and female gaze.

Professor Herzog, thank you for this wonderful class/experience.

Ricardo La Rosa.

EXTRA CREDIT REVIEW OF UMBERTO AND THE BICYCLE THIEF

EXTRA CREDIT REVIEW OF UMBERTO AND THE BICYCLE THIEF

Professor Herzog, I have not been able to comply with blog challenge # 2 about the film Umberto. I have a small business renovating restaurants and I had to do some emergency installations. This is my excuse for not getting the movie to do the shot-by-shot analysis. Please, allow me to try to help myself…

Besides the numerous extra film reviews and comments that I already posted, I am going to post below a review of two films, Umberto and the Ladri the biciclette, the bicycle thief. I hope this will help me to improve my grade. I am not going to repeat the story of the movies because I think is more interesting to give you my point of view.

Italian neo realism is a presentation of life as it is- if we discount the input and subjectivity of the film’s Director and the acting of the cast. The movie Director’s point of view is really, what we see, because he chooses the story and the way he wants to tell it. In these films, sometimes, the camera just rolls as the actors naturally take on the characters that they are playing. The movies do not have much technicality as they try to be as realist as possible and intend for the open camera to tell the story.

Umberto is a retired old man who has no one else but his dog. Umberto eventually finds himself without a place to live. He tries to kill himself but in the last minute, he backs off and the movie ends presenting Umberto walking with his dog. In The Bicycle Thief, Antonio is a father who needs to provide for his family and for that he needs a bicycle to be able to do his work. A thief stills Antonio’s bicycle and he roams with his son the streets of Rome in desperation looking for his bicycle to be able to provide for his family. In the end, they never find the bicycle and Antonio walks in sadness with his son Bruno. Both films are presented in an Italy impoverished after the absurdity of WWII.

I saw the bicycle thief in Italian and the feel was more intense as it took me back to South America. I have been in a few South American countries in the 70s and they had, at the time- less so now, the kind of poverty and desolation that we “experienced” in Umberto and in The Bicycle thief. For me, the movies were painful to watch

The idea of Vittorio De Sicca in both films was to present the struggles of the poor, the common man, who finds himself in desperation and desolation that reflects the feeling of Italy after the war. He wants to anchor the viewers in the reality of Italia he is complaining in your face and presenting the question: How did we get in this mess? Why nobody hears the cries of the poor and needy?

Personally, I love movies that present life as it is but I do not like to dwell on the vicissitudes and sufferings of the poor. I am saying this, taking into account that movies like these are also necessary to express the poor’s cries for help and to make us reflect in the meaning of our society and how we are all in this together.

In my mind, I see the art in keeping these movies in black and white is this way they express better the idea of suffering and abandonment.

I hope that when you remember the characters of Umberto and Antonio you remember their sadness and Ricardo’s sadness if he gets a low grade…just kidding… I enjoyed the class a lot!

Ricardo La Rosa

Psycho

Psycho

Alfred Hitchcock made this movie to entertain us with a psychological thriller that keeps us in suspense all the time. He plays with us, directing our attention to actions that never fulfill our expectations to later conclude with the unexpected. Personally, I am not a fan of movies like this because they are a game with a goal to scare us. I like to feel other emotions than fear. Out of all the emotions that I like to feel, fear is very low on my list… Having said that, I can see the enormous detail and work that the Director, Hitchcock put in the movie to control the audience.
The thing that I appreciate most is the non-diegetic music which weeks later it is still in my mind…-tun tun tun tun- I felt the same sensation when I saw the movie Jaws. In PSYCHO, a secretary is having an affair with a married man and steals $40,000 from her job. While running away, she stays in a hotel where the owner is a psychotic young man with a split personality who has killed other people already. Norman, the Hotel owner, kills Marion, the secretary; this leads later to his capture and to his institutionalization to a mental hospital.
The movie is shot in black and white, uses the camera to imply symbolisms, social norms of the time, and plays with the idea that the audience enjoys voyeurism. Hitchcock is obviously right in his assumptions, as the movie was a success in the box office.
Norman, played by Anthony Perkins, is the central figure in the movie; he is fascinated by birds that he keeps stuffed and of paintings of birds. He is attracted by Marion but kills her while he is taken over by the protective personality of his mother. Personality that he has created to deal with his personality problems and craziness. Marion is a very sexy woman that is the visual candy of the movie.
I enjoyed the techniques used by Alfred Hitchcock and the way he plays with the audience. I believe these techniques are easily translated to good use in other more fulfilling movies. I intend to see more Hitchcock movies for didactic reasons because although I do not like horror movies, Hitchcock movies are very technical and helpful for a film student.

Written on the Wind

Written on the Wind

This movie was a pleasure to see. The story is realistic and shows people who make mistakes and those mistakes bring out their character and the best and worst of what they have to offer.
In the movie, an old rich man has two children, his son is weak, and alcoholic, his daughter, Marylee, is a nymphomaniac woman who has been spoiled to the point of self-destruction. The son marries a secretary from New York. The old man’s right hand is a character played by Rock Hudson. He is an engineer and he is in secretly in love with the same secretary.
The marriage doesn’t’ last because of Kyle’s insecurities. Kyle hits his wife, Lucy, who is pregnant and looses the baby. Rock Hudson, Mitch, threatens to kill Kyle. Eventually Kyle returns home, finds Mitch comforting Lucy, and believes that Lucy is pregnant with Mitch’s baby. Kyle tries to kill Mitch but, Marylee struggles with his brother to avoid this from happening, the gun goes off accidentally and Kyle is dead.
In the Court, we are lead to believe that because Marylee is in love with Mitch, she will blame Mitch but in the end, she does not do so. Mitch leaves with Lucy.
The movie is well told; the color is very vivid and the color tones are well made for the appropriate scenes. The editing narrates the picture well through continuity editing. Of all the actors, I believe that Kyle did the best performance as a tormented weak son who disappointed his father and himself. Marylee acts crazy as it is required of her, a completely spoiled woman who wants continuous pleasure like a spoiled little girl.
The music diegetic and non-diegetic is well presented for maximum effect on the audience, especially in the scene where the father is having a heart attack and the daughter is dancing, I believe there is some parallel action in the movie while these scenes are happening. Brilliant!
I enjoyed the movie very much. As time goes by I am getting a better perspective and feel, for the movies I see and I learn continuously from them. I see myself directing a movie and incorporating in it many of the techniques I am learning.

Shot-by-Shot breakdown of Charles giving a political speech.

Shot-by-Shot breakdown of Charles giving a political speech.

Close up of Charles very illuminated giant picture. Camera moves down to center Charles in the frame of the picture. As Charles gives a speech to the crowd, the camera gives us a view of Charles in control of the crowd and the politicians looking attentively from below, behind him.
CUT-Extreme long shot from the very back of the theater centering Charles giant picture behind him above eye level. The light illuminates Charles and his mural picture giving total importance to him.
Camera still in a LONG SHOT and starts moving towards Charles. There is another picture of Charles mural over imposed in this frame as the camera moves from a very long shot rapidly into a MEDIUM SHOT this is to accentuate the effect of Charles being the repetitive center and the power figure in this frame. As this happens, Charlie’s s white shirt brings him out even more as he is surrounded with dark dressed politicians. Charles extends his arms presenting with his person in a symbolic figure of a cross. The palms of his hands are openly facing to the crowd symbolically giving the idea that he is an honest man with nothing to hide.
CUT. Camera has a medium shot of Charles framing him from below to accentuate a powerful image of this aspiring politician. At all times Charles image is presented very illuminated while everyone else is in darkness or shadows.
CUT. A frame of a Medium Shot appears showing Charles’ son getting excited at his father’ speech while the mother attentively calms her son down while Charles voice is in the background.
CUT. Medium shot. Charles keeps talking.
CUT. Medium shot. Charles keeps talking while being focused from another angle.
CUT. Medium shot. Charles’ son waves to him.
CUT. Medium shot from above eye level and Charles’ left side. Charles waves back to his son and keeps talking to the crowd.
CUT. Medium shot. Charles close friend, Jed Leland, is attentively listening to Charles. Leland is framed in light while people and things around him are dark. Leland blinks only at the last 10th second.
CUT. Medium shot. Charles moves to the left side of the podium and with his fist against his lower back in a defiant gesture keeps promising to help the underprivileged.
Cut. Medium shot of people applauding.
CUT. Charles son and wife are presented in Medium shot. Figures of mother and son totally illuminated. Son proudly asks to his beautiful mother if his father is Governor already and the mother responds” Not yet Junior.”
CUT. Charles keeps delivering his speech. The camera is filming from above and starts closing for a Medium Shot of Charles, as he is once again promising to get rid of Jim Gettys. This is medium shot from a long shot is to accentuate his promise.
CUT, now Leland is framed in a Medium Shot and centered in the light. He is happy of the successful performance and oratory by Charles. Leland’s destiny is being played in Charles winning his bid for the governorship.
Cut. Frame appears as a Medium shot of Jim Gettys looking at Charles from a very high balcony but keeping a deep focus, dramatically showing how Jim Gettys is above Charles and Charles appearing very small in the deep focus of the frame. This frame is a dark sign of things to come.

Comment to Bengewarmer who is closed to comments

Bengewarmer, I enjoyed your review of Double Indemnity. Most of all because it is easy to see that it is truly your point of view and because it is very sincere. I agree with you about “this film plays with your moral center in that, in the end, you’re not sure who you’re happy or sad.” This happened to me also but as I am older and have seen a lot more, this feeling did not last long. These two bad persons are ready to kill to advance their goals.

I also agree about the acting being very good and the fast pace of the storyline. It was very well narrated by the movie Director. I am also looking for more movies where Barbara Stanwyck appears. She is awesome.

Please comment on my posts. I will do the same for you.

Ricardo1217.

Citizen Kane

CITIZEN KANE

 

I am one of those crazy persons who, sometimes watch three movies at the same time and is content with watching the beginning, middle or end of the missing part weeks, months or years later. Occasionally I see a movie that draws me completely and evokes in me places, persons, and feelings that are familiar to me even though I may have not experienced them. This happened with Citizen Kane.

 I have seen so many movies, seldom caring to even know the title of the movies I have seen. I was happily surprised that I have never seen Citizen Kane.

I made notations to talk about a shot-by-shot breakdown of a scene for my next participation, but I must jump immediately to the part where Charles Kane says, “I always gagged on a silver spoon…” and then he adds, “If I was not born rich, maybe I would have been a great man…” I believe this to be the essence of the tragedy in the movie and these words are the key to explain Charles life… “Rosebud” was only an ingenious idea to move us trough the tragedy that engulfed Charles Kane’s life.

The movie starts with a “No Trespassing” sign on a dark rainy night with flashes of light imposing the somber view of a castle on top of a mountain premonitioning the tragedy we are about to see. A man is dying and his last words are a puzzle to everyone “Rosebud.”

The flashback takes us to the beginning of his life where destiny imposed, with cruelty, immense richness into the hands of a child who could have, instead, taken the love of his mother if given the chance to do so. Charles was sent away to a boarding school and lived his life moving from place to place, never fitting anywhere but buying anything he wanted. His instinct, it seems, was to do good but his training as a buyer of things always got in the way and was never able to love anyone but himself. He considered himself above all men and human nature confirmed to him more often than not that anything could be bought.

Unimaginable richness put him above men and destiny forced this drug of richness that he accepted and consumed with gluttony. He was never able to give it up even though that meant a life of loneliness. “Charles never gives you anything. He only gives you a tip.”

He tried to do good things, not for the goodness of the causes in themselves, but for the common people to love him. He needed love and he tried to buy it. He failed in politics because he had the training of a king, never understanding the limits of the society he lived in.

I believe that besides the technological advances and genius of the people who made Citizen Kane, we also feel attracted to the drama of seeing one of the richest persons in the world suffering for the same reasons than the rest of us suffer. What I mean by this is that with money,  person can have  many needs fulfilled but the essential ones, like love, family, companionship, a sense of  purpose, among others, cannot be fulfilled with money. I cannot deny money may make things easier- but this things come freely from inside of us and from the way we deal with the world and people around us.

I really enjoyed the movie!!!

Lady Eve

9/11/2011

RicardoLaRosa                                                                                                                 

History of Cinema II                                                                                         

Prof. Amy Herzog

The Lady Eve

This movie starts in the Amazon jungle where a rich biologist returns to the United States with a snake pet. Women aboard the ship know that Charles is rich and try to be noticed by him, including a lady-con artist. Jean is aggressive in her pursue for Charles and is able to seduce him but, she genuinely falls in love with him. When Charles finds out that Jean is a con artist, he treats Jean with disdain and breaks up the relationship. Sometime later, Jean reappears in Charles life as an English woman and decides to torture him before taking his money in revenge because Charles did not believe in her during their first encounter.

The movie is a funny physical comedy even though the situations are very much forced by the director, Preston Sturges, and Charles has to act in a role that puts him borderline retarded. Jean, played by a romantically aggressive Barbara Stanwyck, is the center of the movie charming everyone with her beauty and wit. I liked the pratfalls performed on poor Charles.

Jane seduces Charles twice in a smooth manner where the poor guy never had a chance. I found Jane’s character fascinating and well performed. Jane never stops loving Charles and twice she never gets to consummate her plot to rob him. That part of the story is very credible.

The English uncle and the fake father are very good in their performance. I also liked how subtle the mention of war in Europe is introduced in the dialogues. The movie is well done chronologically and though I find the movie pushed forward too fast in some instances, I liked the editing.

The movie presents the idea that though some persons do bad things, they remain vulnerable and sometimes they cannot control their feelings, as is the case of Jane in this movie.

At the end, the cat keeps playing with the mouse and both end up forever happy.

Public Enemy

Public Enemy

Ricardo La Rosa 9/2/2011
History of Cinema II Prof. Amy Herzog

This is a movie made in the prohibition era about two kids, who guided by an older man, took a life of crime from an early age. The film shows the forces of good and evil, the good represented by Mike and Tom characterizing the bad brother.

 I did not like the movie because with the exception of James Cagney and Jean Harlow, the acting was very weak. The Director, William A. Wellman, was weak in not providing better input for the actors to do their roles properly.

 Cagney humanizes the gangster with gestures that are at times charming and mostly realistic to his character. In this movie, the women are treated as a burden to the story presenting them as exaggeratedly easy and just there to fill the story without details that make a story savory.

These boys grow up to be gangster that live the life of gangsters, always in danger and buying cars, girls and dressing the part very well.

The director could have done a lot more  to show the  struggle of good and evil between the brothers specially after  the Mike comes back from the war, he could have demonstrated  more passion in  his roll and not just seat there  doing such a horrible job in opposing the bad brother.

 The good thing about the movies I have seen so far in the class is that the actors stay in character and follow a psychological trend, for example, Tom is violent, short-tempered, and very impulsive. He gets to kill the traitor mentor who initiated him in the life of crime but, is loyal to his friend and family. Tom treats girls as objects.

I have to mention that the Director presents an unfinished story in the relationship between Cagney and Harlow. In the end, the bad brother dies the same way he lived life, with violence.

M (1)

M (1)
Ricardo La Rosa 9/2/2011
History of Cinema II Prof. Amy Herzog

M

The crime film “M” by director Fritz Lang, is an excellent film that depicts film making with ingenuity and graciously exaggerated characters that gives film students an insight on how to develop a story through the presentation of images and sound.

After viewing the film, through some research I discovered that Lang was the later part of the movement known as German expressionism. The German expressionist movement emerged during the recovery period following World War I. In contrast to the lush Hollywood films at the time, Expressionist filmmakers developed their own style by using symbolism and mise en scène (arrangement of performers and properties to develop a scene) to add mood and deeper meaning to a movie, concentrating on the dark fringes of human experience. At the time this film appeared, Germany was falling under Nazi control and there were strong controversial thoughts about race superiority including social Darwinism that was used to justify Nazi ideas.

In a protected German film industry where film directors did not have much money to create their films, Lang used sound, a relative avant-garde, to associate whistling with the Killer’s personification. We also see the exaggerated acting of the traditional suffering mother of the child to be murdered, she moves slowly with a tired face and body, always performing her duties and worrying about children. The killer is also exaggerated in his acting, with his bulging eyes and his almost clinical personification of a schizophrenic including “hearing voices.” The film was enjoyable because it presents the flow of the story very well, in a didactic manner, offering a glimpse of hope that we can learn to make films if we follow the sequence of events as chosen by Lang.

The story is about a killer of children who terrorizes a city, creating paranoia among the neighbors who blame one another about who the killer may be. It also presents the dilemma about what to do with mentally ill persons who are a danger to society. Can moral nihilism be tolerated in any society?

To narrate the story, Lang uses exaggerated presentation of characters and continuity editing to follow a natural presentation of the story. I particularly liked the parallel cutting of the meeting by the police and another meeting by members of the underworld, both teams trying to find a way to catch the killer.

Lang questionably left some scenes without any sound at all. These scenes felt a bit long and over done. However, the research done by the screenwriter regarding police methods and the systematic way the police pursued the killer was very detailed.

Although it was likely unintended, I found it comical that German beggars belonged to a syndicate and the intentional parody of the killer’s trial by members of the underworld trying to present themselves as higher members of society to a low life killer. Here, the film shows a human desire of men to create order even among people who has defied a more strict order in the real world they live in. The truth was that the members of the underworld really only cared about terminating the killer, so that their business can go back to normal without the constant interference of the police.

The similarity between this story and that of the “Son of Sam” that happened in New York in the seventies is astonishing, despite being almost half a century later. In reality, this is not surprising because Lang’s depiction of his killer was almost a full clinical description of schizophrenic people, who will always habitat this world. The similarities with organized crime and the police are also present in the Son of Sam story.

At the end of the “M” film, reflecting the times of the story, the filmmaker sees fit to present the mothers, in the trial, lamenting that nothing will bring back their children and a painful challenge about children stating, “We must protect them.”