21 March 2014

17 March 2014

Hunger

Dir. Steve McQueen
2008

Opening Image:















Closing Image:
















Steve McQueen opens his film detailing the hunger strike instigated in the Maze prison by Bobby Sands with a chaotic image of protest. We at first only see abstracted movement and hear a deafening rattle. Slowly we realize the image is that of a trash can lid, slammed repeatedly against the ground; there are other lids too, a whole army of them, pounded against the ground by a group of determined protesters. It's an arresting way to start the film, and stands in stark contrast to the next 15 or so minutes, in which very little action appears on screen. We're prepared for the violence that occurs later on in the film by this opening, however, and prepared for polemic nature of the film: after all, it starts with a protest.

16 March 2014

A Serious Man

Dir. Joel and Ethan Cohen
2009

Opening Image:








Closing Image:


"Accept the mystery," says the parent of a student trying to bribe the beleaguered teacher, Larry Gopnik. Larry struggles to find meaning to find a reason behind all his troubles: his divorce, his troubled brother, his lack of answers from his spiritual leaders. The Cohens open and close their film with images of weather, symbolizing the lack of ability humans really have to control their own destiny. Why, really, does snow fall, or tornados whirl? Does it have to do with the actions of the mortals on this planet? Is it punishment from a divine being or simply pressure systems? Ultimately, the answer is unknowable.

14 March 2014

Harry Potter and The Sorcerer's Stone

Dir. Chris Columbus
2001

Opening Image:





Closing Image:












We start the seven year, 8-film journey charting Harry Potter's development from neglected, underfed, friendless and underprivileged to his ascension as a knowledgable, capable and person-of-import here, looking up into a bleak night sky with a sign announcing the plainness of his origins. It's always there, in the back of Harry's (and by extension, the audience's mind), that Harry came from an ordinary (and, in many respects quite unhealthy) place; and it's somewhere he could always slide back into. Indeed, each film begins with him again back at Privet drive. But, inside this opening image is embedded a clue to his potential, a magical owl; a person in animal form who is looking out for him. Indeed, in the final shot the angle has changed; we are above the clatter of the world and looking straight at the distant magical castle. We are inspired to dream as Harry dreams: that no matter our origins and previous traumas and no matter our tendency to return to them, we have a greater potential, and, perhaps, we have loved ones looking out after us.