More Questions Than Answers

I broached this subject with my friends before, so please forgive me, because I can’t help myself. It’s like I have some kind of sick addiction, some overwhelming inability to contain myself, but every time I see a critic lambaste a movie because it fails to reach any conclusions or provide any real answers, I want to retch.

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The Mise en Falcon: Examining ‘The Maltese Falcon’

From left to right: Humphrey Bogart, Peter Lorre, Mary Astor and Sydney Greenstreet in 'The Maltese Falcon'
From left to right: Humphrey Bogart, Peter Lorre, Mary Astor and Sydney Greenstreet in ‘The Maltese Falcon’

Director John Huston’s The Maltese Falcon was made in 1941 and starred Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor and Peter Lorre.

Within the realist-classicist-formalist continuum this film would fall under the classicist with formalistic tendencies. For example, the film makes use of low angles, especially when the main characters are in the same room together and interacting at pivotal moments. Plus, when Mr. Guttman’s knocked out gunman awakes to realize they have all sold him out to become the fall guy, we see a low angle close up point of view of the four other people in the room. This gives an unsettling view of the action that will come to his man.

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Style and Substance

Mark Wahlberg in 'Boogie Nights'
Mark Wahlberg in ‘Boogie Nights’

Staccato edits. Extreme camera movements. Bombastic audio assaults. All are trademarks of contemporary American cinema. P.T. Anderson’s second feature-length film, Boogie Nights, employs many of the techniques favored by a generation of filmmakers weaned on Scorsese and MTV. The filmgoer is quickly overwhelmed by Anderson’s giddy pyrotechnics and visual bravura.

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Pen to Paper

With big budget films, a good script is doubly important, because so much money is riding on it. For the most part, Hollywood has ignored the concepts of good story and three dimensional characters. And in exchange for that, independent films have risen in popularity and have gained respect in the mainstream. It isn’t difficult to take the time to make characters more interesting, or making the story more plausible or more exciting. Unfortunately, many producers don’t seem to realize this.

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Planning Ahead

It’s a brilliant idea and sure to be a cinematic masterpiece. You can’t wait to start shooting and allow all those stunning ideas to unfold for the camera. Great! But first, take a moment to slow down and let’s do a little planning, you and I.

Creating a story is a wonderful experience. Then, to see the concept you had unfold on the screen — be it wide or television. But most people who have a terrific idea never see it come to fruition. Why? Simple — they never complete pre-production.

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Planning Ahead

One of the first things you need to do as you begin pre-production is to breakdown.

No, not you! The script.

Your screenplay needs to be broken down. That means reducing the script to those elements that will effect production.

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