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What Film Means to Me

Hello my name is Peter, I am a student at Cleveland Early College High School as a freshman and I live in Shelby, North Carolina. I am Vietnamese-American so when I was growing up my parents showed me a lot of Vietnamese films, I don’t think that this affected me much filmwise but I do see the differences in those movies and movies here in America. I would say my family has had a large effect on me movie-wise, because back when I was around nine or ten we would always go to the redbox in Walmart on Fridays and watch a movie. I don’t remember the first movie I ever watched but I know I have been watching movies since I was very young. My earliest recollection of a movie was a Mr. Bean movie. My favorite movies genres include action, comedy, and mystery.

Vietnam Halong Bay

My favorite movies genres include action, comedy, and mystery/thriller. My favorite movies fall in these categories such as “Get Smart” , The John Wick series, and The Anchorman Series. My favorite actors are usually the comedic ones such as Steve Carell, Will Ferrell, and Rowan Atkinson. I don’t know a lot of directors but one that I do know is Edgar Wright, and I love the movies he directs like “Hot Fuzz” and “Shaun of the Dead”.

Edgar Wright
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There are some genres I don’t like as well, such as romance and horror. I especially don’t like horror, I hate being scared and if I watch a horror movie (or even video) it gets stuck in my head for multiple days. The first horror I can recall watching was with my brother and cousins during a sleepover and it was 11/11/11(the Keith Allen film). I was seven at the time and that movie kept me up the rest of the night, I also was scared too to go to the bathroom when it was dark.

Now that time has passed I don’t watch that many movies anymore, at least not with my family, with the advancements of technology and streaming sites like Youtube, I don’t watch as many movies with my family, or any at all. I only watch movies now when I am bored, but there is the occasional get together with everyone in my family, including cousins, and usually we watch a movie. Movies have had a large effect on me when I was younger and helped me make many memories with my family like when we got scared or laughed together. Hopefully in this film class I can learn the elements of a movie that make the memories and notice them when I watch movies.

Post by Peter Tuong on 2/1/2019

Film Criticism = Critical Thinking in Action

How can using the elements of film criticism we explored together help you (and others) examine other arts (music, TV, video games, literature, etc.)

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Movies and films are a form of art so in turn means that some of the same tactics, philosophies, and lessons needed to watch, examine, and examine movies critically can be used to look at and review other types of art, possibly just in various different ways since not all types of art have the same aspects. Arts can include paintings, shows, books, music, dance, and theater.

Baggage is an example of a concept we learned in this course that can be applied to other things. Bias and baggage can affect your view on anything you have baggage or bias on, this includes shows, music, books,etc. So in turn that means that if we set aside our baggage on films to fairly review or enjoy then we can do the same with other arts like shows, paintings,etc.

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Another subject we learned that can be applied to reviewing other arts could be sound design, sound is usually everywhere in art, such as music and the theater. Sound can be used for multiple things, even show feeling and foreshadowing. An example would be a solo in a song or a suspenseful drumming in the background for tension. Even when there isn’t sound like in a silent play/movie you can imagine the sound and the feelings that are supposed to be there,for example a picture of a busy kitchen, you can hear the clattering and buzz in your head.

This same concept can be with color, even if there are no visuals you can imagine a cornfield in the night if it was described. You can see the colors in a painting or in a play so the same ideas apply. Colors have always represented things and they are usually there for a reason.So since they are so important in the setting and tone of movies the same can be said for other things as well. Black in paintings symbolize death or evil and that can go for any other thing as well, blue can symbolize tranquility in both, green can represent nature, and the list goes on.

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There are many more subjects that can be connected to other arts but those are the ones I could think of instantly. The things we learned in this course can help you better evaluate, describe, and (hopefully) enjoy all types of arts whether it be a painting, a movie, or a song you heard on the radio.

Peter Tuong 5/10/19

An Incredible Watching Experience

The Incredibles (2004)

Minute one

What was the director’s name? The director for The Incredibles was Brad Bird. Bird has worked on both live-action films and animated films, other than The Incredibles he has directed other animated films like, Incredibles 2 (2018), Ratatouille (2007), and The Iron Giant (1999). He has only directed two live-action films by the time of this post and they are Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (2011) and Tomorrowland (2015).

Brad Bird

What was the single best scene in the film?For me the best scene would have to be the scene with Frozone when he is looking for his superhero suit and his wife starts to scold him. This scene happened when the end action was starting to pick up so it was a good unexpected humor scene.

Who gave the best performance?I honestly think that the entire voice actors did great and that they all contributed equally so I would say that all of the main cast/voice actors, aside from the regular henchmen voices, gave the best performance.

Minute two

Was this the most perfect film you have seen in your life?This was not the most perfect film I have ever seen but it is a great one. Maybe if you asked the six or seven year old me that watched it back then it would hit top three but now I think it is in the top ten. The reason for this is because the film was released in 2004 so movies now have better animation and better looking scenes (I’m not saying the incredibles had bad animation, it’s just that animation now has gotten a lot better).

Was it the absolutely worst film you have ever seen? I don’t know what movie I would consider the absolutely worst but a movie that comes to my mind when I think of bad has to be The Last Airbender, because of the CGI and bad acting

What is your “gut feeling” grade? It may change in the next eight minutes.My gut feeling grade for this movie would have to be a quite high A, the animation is consistent and pretty amazing, and the story is good but the thing that doesn’t give it the one hundred/perfect A is that the story and setting is a little wonky and both fast and slow at times, for example the setting changed from a remote island jungle to a city in a matter of a few minutes, and how Syndrome ended up not being incontrol of his robot so it was just technically the robot as the villain in the end.

Minute three

Is this the best or worst film you have seen by this director? The only movies I have watched that was by Brad Bird are: The Incredibles, Incredibles 2, Ratatouille, and Mission: Impossible-Ghost Protocol. These movies are all great and were all successful and more on the positive side of the critical reviews. So making it hard to choose the best or worst one, but if I had to choose the worst one it would be The Mission: Impossible one because I don’t remember it as well as the others and the series was already beginning to feel drawn out.


Where on the scale would you put it (from best to worst)? I would put The Incredibles on the top of his movie list because of how much of a classic it is and also because of how I basically was grown on movies like it and that can affect me.

Minute Four

How is this film similar to the director’s other films?This movie, like most of his other films and works, was animated and it was also well received like most of his other works, the story also had more adult themes like some of his other movies like Ratatouille and even Incredibles 2.

How is it different? It is different because it is one of his more younger work and it was the first of his to mix superheroes and families.

Minute Five

How many interesting characters did the writer create? The movie had a handful of interesting characters and I think only a handful, the movie focused more on the family so of course the family would be interesting but every other character was a more static and flat character.

Did the dialogue feel real (authentic and organic), or did it feel forced (fake) or hollow?As I said before the voice acting was great and very real and believable like the teen in Violet and the middle age crisis in Mr.Incredible.

Could you predict events or plot twists before the writer revealed them?Some of the events were predictable such as the villian but the story was fresh in many aspects like the road that led to all the conflict so it wasn’t all too predictable.

Did the character conflicts /crisis situations seem real or artificial (or forced)?What emotions did you feel when watching the film? I do not think the conflict seemed artificial, the voices in all the main characters sounded exactly like their roles, even the unsteady and close to failing marriage between Mr and Mrs Incredible

Minute Six

Examine the acting.

Did the stars of the film act exactly as they do in all other films you’ve seen them in?Looking at the cast for the The Incredibles I don’t recognize anybody but Samuel L. Jackson and he definitely didn’t act like he does in his other movies since this movie was targeted at the younger kid audiences. But this role is different from his other films that are considerably vulgar.

Were you drawn to the characters? Or just the stars? Did it matter?I was drawn to the characters but they weren’t the star characters, I was more drawn to Frozone and Edna more than anyone else in the movie. Focusing on the characters was important to the story because of how it showed the development of a family but I was just drawn in more with some of the side characters.

Did the characters seem real within the story, within the “created world” you witnessed? The characters and voices did seem real within the story and with the pain and emotions in the story and world, like the anger in Syndromes voice that was directed towards Mr. Incredible.

Minute Seven

Were you absorbed into the film or more absorbed into your popcorn?I was definitely more absorbed into the movie rather than my snacks because the plot was definitely there and interesting.

Was there a message? There were multiple messages in this movie and two I can instantly think of is that you can count on your family and that you should be truthful and try not to hide your desires, these can be seen when the family shows incredible teamwork and is able to take down the robot and villain. Also when we see Mr. Incredible kept the truth from his family and caused conflict and tension between everyone.

Was there a sense of truth you could feel about the lives of characters on the screen?There was a sense of truth in the family, especially seen in the kids and their interactions and moods. There is the sibling rivalry and the teen and child stereotypes(the not wanting to be seen and the hyperactivity of kids) that are still common in today’s times.

Minute Eight

Was there any part of the film that you would enjoy talking about with a friend? There are many parts that I would talk to a friend about like the fight scene the Super Suit scene, or the island infiltration part of the movie.

Did the film have any rhythm or pace to it? The film did have a pace in the beginning telling the backstory and the context of the film but the end of the movie was more rushed with the villains and the fighting as well as the setting change. I would say that it was only a little bit jumbled near the end but the pacing before was steady and believable.

Technical Aspects Looking back at the movie a technical aspect that was lacking for me were some of the character designs and models, some of the characters looked very poorly animated and it showed in their screen time. Something that shined was the colors and scenery when there was action, like the jungle scene were the colors and the night mix well together and it looks real (animation movie wise).

Minute Nine and Minute Ten

Verdict; offer a summary of the film’s story in a few short sentences; share your analysis. Give your report card grade.
Overall, I think that this movie is a 2000s classic and it does a great job following a family and the impacts a ban on superheroes had on that superhero family and how they cope and change to that ban and eventually become better together. My grade for this movie is still the same as I said before, it deserves a high A in my eyes.


Peter Tuong 5/6/19

Paul Greengrass

An Indie Director Turned Mainstream

Paul Greengrass

His Start

Paul Greengrass was born in Cheam, Sutton, England on August 13, 1955. When he got older he started working as a journalist for a U.K documentary on the then-current events, he also got to be a producer on that program/show so that’s where he got his first taste of directing and the making of movies/film and started getting more interested in them.

Earlier Independent Movies

He had always loved movies and making them since a young age so he pursued the talent and made multiple dramatized documentaries and book adaptations such as The Fix, The Murder of Stephen Lawrence, Open Fire,etc. He later moved on to making two independent feature films(though he has still never lost his dramatized history aspect in many of his movies both independent and mainstream), The Theory of Flight and Bloody Sunday. Both of these movies were well received and popular in the U.K, even getting multiple awards and honors but they didn’t really gain popularity, traction, or money in the United States.

Open Fire

His Transition To Mainstream and Big Budgets

After Bloody Sunday Greengrass got to direct his first big budget movie, it was The Bourne Supremacy, the sequel to The Bourne Identity, with the budget of 75 million(compared to Bloody Sunday’s 5 million). This movie really shot Greengrass into the Hollywood director fame and marked his transition and start into the more mainstream and bigger budget movies. Since them he has created more movies, some include: Jason Bourne, Captain Phillips, Green Zone, The Bourne Ultimatum, and United 93.

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Success

Greengrass’s first big budget was The Bourne Supremacy and it’s budget was 75 million, and by the end of 2004 it gained 176 million in the United States and around 289 million worldwide. While I couldn’t find much about the numbers and money of his independent movies I know that they definitely did not compete with his bigger movies.

I personally have seen a lot of the bigger budget movies he has directed and I liked them a lot because of the way his movies usually are, with the handheld camera and the pace of many of his movies, and I cannot wait for him to direct more.

Peter Tuong 4/15/19

References

Lyttelton, O., & Lyttelton, O. (2014, March 26). 12 Indie Directors Who Jumped To Blockbuster Budgets. Retrieved from https://www.indiewire.com/2014/03/12-indie-directors-who-jumped-to-blockbuster-budgets-87743/

Paul Greengrass. (2019, April 10). Retrieved from https://www.biography.com/people/paul-greengrass-212152

The Merc with a Review

Superpowers and a murderous killing anti hero with some seriously twisted humor. What’s not to like in this definitely not kid friendly movie mix. Deadpool (2016),starring Ryan Reynolds, is the first Deadpool stand alone movie and definitely will lead to even more movies starring him or including him.

Genre and Rating

Deadpool is a superhero movie that also has comedy, action, some satire, science fiction, and a little bit of romance. Even though that sounds like a great family movie to watch with the kids, it isn’t. Deadpool is rated R and anyone who watched it will definitely agree with that rating, there are tons of curse words and large amounts of gore. So the audience range would definitely aimed more towards older audiences.

Synopsis

Our story starts on bridge with an awesome and gory fight scene, including our main character Deadpool, after the fight scene we get a flashback that goes back about a year that explains all the events that led up to that point. We learn that Deadpool is a past special forces soldier named Wade Wilson(Ryan Reynolds) working as a mercenary, he meets the love of his life Vanessa(Morena Baccarin). After learning that he has terminal cancer he leaves Vanessa (so she won’t have to see him die) and is approached by a mysterious man that says there is a new experimental treatment that could potentially save him.

Wade does agree to be in the experiment and is injected with a serum and is tortured for multiple days by people of the name of Ajax(Ed Skrein) and Angel Dust(Gina Carano). Both these things were for him to awaken his mutant powers inside him by awakening and agitating his mutant genes. This method works and gives him the ability of superhuman healing which is able to kill the cancer as fast as it grows , this does come with a price though. After the torture and experiments Wade’s skin is completely ruined with burn marks, even to the point where he looks like “…an avocado had sex with an older, more disgusting avocado”. So we come back to the bridge scene where we learn Wade had become Deadpool and has been tracking down Ajax to find a cure or solution to his face. So for the rest of the movie we are asking the question how will he fix his face and save the girl but also how he will use his power, for good or for his own gain?

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Focus and Theme

At first glance this movie looks like just an action flick that would on intense fights and dark twisted humor but if you look closer there are many signs of character focus and morality and ethics. As well as themes such as how we sometimes use humor to hide pain or frustration, or even how far some people will go for love or even looks.

Personal Thoughts and Evaluation

I honestly enjoyed this movie and I didn’t really know much about Deadpool before except that he was a comic book character that liked to kill and make jokes but this movie as an origin story really worked because it kept that aspect of him while still explains his origin and situation very well. I also think that the acting in this movie was really well, Ryan Reynolds plays the goofy and vulgar Wade Wilson like that is actually him. Also I think that the story is good as well, I feel that it is cliche though, like the superhero gets powers and has to save the girl but the way the directors and screenwriters break the fourth wall I feel like this is intended. The characters are great, and the supporting characters do add the extra comedic effect since this movie is a big comedy with the superhero and action mixed in.

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If I were to give this movie a grade I would give it a mid A because I think that everything from the comedy of improvised lines to the special effects blood and gore were great, the only negative I had was with the cussing. Even though I knew this movie would have a lot of it since it was rated R, I think cursing can enhance or effect the line but the movie went a little overboard with the language to the point where it was just filler words to me that didn’t affect anything but the MPAA rating.

So to wrap things up I would definitely suggest this movie if you are not with kids and just looking for a movie to be entertained with action and comedy and even see some hidden lessons.

Peter Tuong 4/8/19

Best Comic Talent I’ve Seen on Film

For this post I am focusing on who I think is one of the best comic actors, Steve Carell

Steve Carell

Steve Carell is a pretty well known actor in the comedy world and he has a comedic range he can act in. He made his first appearance acting in the movie Carly Sue, he continued to act in some small roles but his big break happened when he starred in the movie The 40-Year-Old Virgin and show The Office. Afterwards he starred in other films such as Evan Almighty, Get Smart, Dinner fo Schmucks, etc.

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Steve Carell is funny because he knows how to use his facial expressions and silence advance his dry and awkward humor. I don’t know how to exactly name his humor but it has childlike roots(toilet humor/dirty) and just humor that is so stupid that it is funny. Apparently a lot of people agree with me too since he has gotten multiple awards for the roles he played in the sitcom The Office and also awards for The 40-Year-Old Virgin.

He has even acted in more serious roles such as in Foxcatcher which is a drama/thriller film. This is why I chose Steve Carrell because I think he has amazing range in his acting even if it is not a comedic role.

Peter Tuong

A Film Talent Worth Honoring

In this post I will be talking about Leonardo DiCaprio, who I think is an amazing actor. He has acted in many different movies(list here of movies he has starred or co-starred in) and has gotten many awards and award nominations.

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Like I said he has acted in multiple movies, he is best known for his roles in Titanic, Inception, The Departed, and many more. The movies are said to be good because of the characters and the plot, I remember watching Inception and I would agree the movie would not be the same if it weren’t for the characters including Mr.DiCaprio who plays as a smart but troubled man/thief. An example in that movie of good acting was when you saw his character being tempted by his wife to stay in the world of dreams together forever. You see that he acts like a normal natured human would, he is torn and can barely choose, you can just see the emotions in the way he talks and looks in that tense scene.

Another example is when he co-stars in the movie Catch Me If You Can play as Frank Abagnale. In this role he had to even play as someone who acted so in a way he was playing an actor. This role had many unnatural acting parts so he played off many roles, as a pilot, an FBI agent, and a cunning sly thief. This just shows the range Leonardo DiCaprio has for acting, to fighting his demons internally to acting as a runaway genius fugitive. He even has multiple scenes in movies where he shows himself and doesn’t even seem like he’s acting such as when in the movie Catch Me If You Can, when he is told his dad died he totally looks like he is in denial and anger, I think he did tap into something to play that part.

Leonardo DiCaprio winning his first Oscar

Leonardo has also won many awards and gotten many nominations(the full list is here). In all he has 98 wins and 210 nominations, to name a few wins he has gotten: an Oscar for best Actor in a leading role, a few Golden Globe Awards for best performance, a BAFTA award for best leading actor, an AACTA International Award for best lead actor, and there are many, many more.

I think he is a talent worth honoring because if you watch the movies he is in he plays his character so real that you can imagine him being that person in real life. He plays off his emotions so well, when he wants to seem torn he looks torn, when you see him dying of laughter you believe he actually thinks it is funny. An example of him playing something off so well(reactionary acting) was in the movie Django Unchained when he actually slammed his hand on some glass, he didn’t hesitate and just kept on with his lines he knew it would advance the scene and later on keeping bandages on his hand for continuation. That is why I chose him for this post and assignment, he makes good movies even better.

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Peter Tuong 11/18/19


A Quiet Place Review

Story

In a Quiet Place we are following the Abbott family in a post-apocalyptic world where these monster like aliens hunt and kill whatever makes sound. These monsters have amazing hearing so we are taken for the ride along with the Abbott family when we see their everyday life and challenges without making a lot of sound. We are dropped in around 89 days after the monsters have attacked leaving everything looking abandoned, we are introduced to the monster after the little kid Beau Abbott is killed by a monster after making noise. The story then skips to 472 days after the monsters took over, we see that Reagan and Evelyn both blame themselves(Evelyn because she didn’t carry him that day and Reagan because she let Beau have the toy that made sound). Evelyn is in the final stages of pregnancy so the whole family is preparing noise proof areas, but one day when she goes into labor early and makes noise everyone else is gone so she sets up the warning system and tries to give birth while the monster hunts her. The other family members see the warning and come to help. It ends up that Lee is killed sacrificing his life for both Reagan and Marcus because they were in a tight spot close to the monster. But towards the end the family finds that the hearing aid Lee gave to Reagan exposes the monsters enough to kill them, so the final shot is them getting ready to take on the other two monsters in the area.

Characters

Marcus
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Lee

There are four main characters, they are all part of the Abbott Family. They are Lee Abbott(played by John Krasinski), Evelyn Abbott(played by Emily Blunt), Reagan Abbott(played by Millicent Simmonds), and Marcus Abbott(plated by Noah Jupe). Lee is the father and Evelyn is the mother, while both Marcus and Reagan are the children. Side note: both the character and actor of Reagan are deaf.

Evelyn
Regan

Genre and Audience

A Quiet Place has many genres that include horror(due to the fear factor of the film), thriller(due to the suspense of the film), science fiction(because of the alien like monsters), and I would even say that is has a family genre as well since the movie is focused on the Abbott family and there troubles and relationships. I think this movie would be a little graphic for younger kids, but I think the young adult and adult age groups would be the perfect viewing group.

Conflicts

Reagan vs Self-Reagan blames herself for the death of Beau and she lets it affect her mood and attitude

Evelyn vs Self- Evelyn blames herself for Beau’s death because she didn’t carry him that day when he made the huge noise

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Lee and Reagan arguing

Lee vs Reagan- Reagan blames herself for Beau’s death and she also thinks that Lee blames her so you can see the moments when they don’t necessarily get along and get frustrated with each other

Family vs Supernatural/Unknown- the entire family is against the monsters which they only know the bare minimum about

Family vs Nature- the family has to go against sound and sound is part of nature and living

Marcus vs Self- throughout the film you see Marcus having difficulty doing dangerous task but we see him evolve and willing to do dangerous task for the safety of his family

Evelyn vs Nature- Evelyn is pregnant most of the movie and it does cause many setbacks and problems for the family(pregnancy is considered human nature)

Message/Theme

The message I got from the film is that family is important no matter what, this is shown even when Beau dies the family stays together and continues to survive. Another theme would be you should be willing to do things for your family, for instance we see Marcus willing to do a dangerous task after being told it is for his mom. We also see Lee sacrifice himself to save his children.

Cinematography

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This board was never talked about but the camera focused on it when needed

There were many spots where the camera impacted and enhanced the story such as when they used the camera multiple times to focus on newspapers and writings to tell us that these monsters have acute hearing such as in Abbott house and on Lee’s white board that had multiple notes on the monster. This movie did not get any awards for cinematography but I think it should’ve gotten more nominations for it because the camera angles and geography scenes looked amazing to me.

Sound

The Quiet Place did win an award for sound, it was the Satellite Award for Best Sound. I can see why, sound is very important in this film and the world our characters so I can tell that sound was worked on heavily. Such as when the director wanted there to only be natural sound or when they wanted to emphasize natural sound. Such as when we hear the first loud sound when Beau turns on the loud rocket ship toy and gets killed, up until that point it was quiet so that loud sound gets you attention and keeps it.

Personal Thoughts

To me, the movie succeeded because it kept me on the edge of my seat, it was to the point where I would try not to make any noise like the characters. The sound aspect really worked for me, especially with headphones because it immerses you into that world, which is pretty cool in any film. If I would give this movie a grade I would give it a solid A, maybe somewhere between a 90 and a 97, because I think some of the logic is weird(like why Lee didn’t notice Reagan’s conflict and why they would decide a baby would be a good decision in that world).