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Film Essays

Writing Women’s Characters

Writing Women’s Characters

“You are infuriating. I’m not yelling. Oh, it’s perfect!” Now You See It explores the various effective ways that female characters can be written in movies, using Alien, The Silence of the Lambs, Kill Bill and Ladybird as examples.

The Silence of the Lambs: Scene

The Silence of the Lambs: Scene

Lessons from the Screenplay points out how, ideally, a movie scene should be a story on its own. He uses the third interaction between Clarice Starling and Dr. Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs as a shining example.

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Searching: Reformatting a Thriller

Searching: Reformatting a Thriller

(SPOILERS) In the thriller Searching, a desperate father searches his missing daughter’s laptop for clues. The movie consists only of shots of device screens. Lessons from the Screenplay shows how the filmmakers adapted to and embraced this perspective.

Alfonso Cuaron’s One-shots

Alfonso Cuaron’s One-shots

Director Alfonso Cuaron is a master of the “oner,” those lengthy tracking shots which immerse you right in the heart of the action. From Y Tu Mamá También to Children of Men to Gravity to Roma, The Royal Ocean Film Society looks back at the evolution of his technique.

Bird Box, A Quiet Place & Parenting

Bird Box, A Quiet Place & Parenting

(SPOILERS) “Life is more than just what is. It’s what could be. What you could make it.” ScreenPrism points out that Bird Box and A Quiet Place don’t just have similar sci-fi plots. They also both reflect what it’s like to be a parent in modern times.

Groundhog Day: An Inescapable Premise

Groundhog Day: An Inescapable Premise

Lessons from the Screenplay explores the legendary February movie Groundhog Day. Instead of adding twists or a deus ex machina, the movie fully explores its premise – what if someone had all the time in the world? – without being boring or predictable.

The Fascism of You’ve Got Mail

The Fascism of You’ve Got Mail

Nora Ephron’s 1998 film You’ve Got Mail is regarded as one of the best romantic comedies of the ’90s. But as Wisecrack points out, there’s more to the Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan flick than meets the eye, and it has more in common with Orwell’s 1984 than you’d think.

Dead Signal

Dead Signal

A quiet room. A phone rings. What murderous creep could be on the other end of the line? Film Qualia’s excellent video essay looks at how telephones have played an important role in cinematic horror over the years, from Rosemary’s Baby to Black Christmas to Scream.

Black Mirror: Bandersnatch Explained

Black Mirror: Bandersnatch Explained

(Gore, SPOILERS) ScreenPrism deconstructs the story and the various endings of Black Mirror: Bandersnatch. It’s a story about itself, it’s a story about being a helpless consumer, and it’s a story about accepting that we can’t change the past.

The Pixar Moment

The Pixar Moment

Pixar’s movies are often tearjerkers. But they are also about characters who change for the better. ScreenPrism looks at Toy Story, Up and Ratatouille to show the three types of obstacles that Pixar characters overcome on their way to making us cry.

Psychedelic CGI

Psychedelic CGI

We don’t think there’s any way to accurately depict hallucinations, but filmmakers have tried for years to give us an idea, and thanks to CGI, we’re getting some really trippy effects on screen. Film Qualia explores how psychedelic imagery has made it into mainstream films.

Annihilation: The Art of Self-Destruction

Annihilation: The Art of Self-Destruction

(SPOILERS) Science fiction movies often explore human tendencies. But Alex Garland’s adaptation of Annihilation tackles large ideas: duplication, self-destruction and mutation. Lessons from the Screenplay looks at how the film manifests its themes.

Costume Design 101

Costume Design 101

Film Radar made this great video about wardrobe design in film and TV. Good costume designers inhabit the minds of both the characters and the director. In terms of production, costumes are often custom made, even for extras, and may have multiple replicas.

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Marvel Overuses CGI

Marvel Overuses CGI

While computer graphics can be used to greatly expand cinematic worlds, they can also be overdone. Marvel Studios is one of the worst culprits when it comes to slathering on the CGI, and film essayist Browntable provides some examples of why it takes us out of the action.

10 More Great Long Takes in Films

10 More Great Long Takes in Films

Back in 2014, CineFix named its picks for best long takes in films. Now, they revisit their list to add new ones, defend some picks, including fight scenes, slow burning shots, scenes that involve hundreds or thousands of people, opening shots, Steadicam shots and more.

The Psychology of Character

The Psychology of Character

(PG-13: Language) “What do I want a way outta here for?” Lessons from the Screenplay uses Good Will Hunting to demonstrate how writing fictional characters can sometimes be writing about psychology. Characters have traumas that need to be overcome before they change.

The First 10 Pages

The First 10 Pages

Lessons from the Screenplay used the screenplay for The Devil Wears Prada to showcase how an effective script can grab the audience’s attention, introduce the main characters and sum up the movie within its first 10 pages.

Why Our Villains Are Different Now

Why Our Villains Are Different Now

After showing us how movie heroes have evolved, Wisecrack takes a look at the bad guys. Villains are as much reflections of the times as heroes. Going from “the other” to corruption to terrorists, we now have villains that have heroic ideals, but insane methods.

The Relevancy of Cyberpunk

The Relevancy of Cyberpunk

Just Write looks at the stylistic choices and subject matter of Blade Runner and Neuromancer and how they went on to influence an endless stream of science fiction movies, graphic novels, and TV shows for decades to come.

The Most Idiosyncratic Directors

The Most Idiosyncratic Directors

From Wes Anderson to Edgar Wright to Stanley Kubrick, there are some filmmakers who make such a distinctive mark on the screen that you can tell they made a film from a single frame. CineFix looks at these and two other auteurs of the screen in their latest film analysis.

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Animator of the Human Soul

Animator of the Human Soul

(SPOILERS) ScreenPrism looks at the work of director Mamoru Hosoda (Wolf Children, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, The Boy and The Beast, Mirai). Some are calling Hosoda the next Hayao Miyazaki. Regardless, his films are about exploring love in everyday life.

CGI: The Awkward Years

CGI: The Awkward Years

These days, we’re accustomed to such seamless and realistic visual effects on the big screen and even some TV series that we’ve become pretty jaded by CGI. But one look at Diane Bullock’s reel of 1990’s movie VFX should serve as a reminder of just how good we’ve got it today.

7 Deadly Ways to Break Bad

7 Deadly Ways to Break Bad

While most of us who watched Breaking Bad associated its title with the dramatic transformation of Walter White from everyday Joe Schmoe to drug kingpin, but ScreenPrism shows us how multiple characters on the series had similarly destructive trajectories.

Guillermo del Toro: Monster Magic

Guillermo del Toro: Monster Magic

Kaptainkristian looks at how director Guillermo del Toro designs and presents monsters in his films. Using quotes from the director himself, the film essayist identifies the key elements of a del Toro monster, including transformation and the use of prosthetics and motion actors.

Why Comedy Needs Character

Why Comedy Needs Character

Lessons from the Screenplay looks at how Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg wrote Shaun of the Dead to show us a great way to build a story. In the film, the supporting characters and even the story of the world are reflections of the main character’s traits.

Brilliant Moments of Patterns in Film

Brilliant Moments of Patterns in Film

(PG-13, SPOILERS) CineFix presents more brilliant moments in film, this time focusing on patterns. They showcase five scenes from different films that establish a pattern using cuts, camera angles, character movements, only to subvert our expectations.

The Wire’s Omar Little

The Wire’s Omar Little

(PG-13: Language, Gore) “Omar comin’!” ScreenPrism takes a look at one of The Wire’s (and television’s) most memorable and popular characters. Omar Little was a pain for the drug lords of his neighborhood, a sliver of justice in an otherwise rigged game.

Visit the Chopping Mall

Visit the Chopping Mall

Looking for a movie to watch with your pals this Halloween? Look no further than Chopping Mall – a cult classic from the 1980s about a group of horny teens hang out in the mall after work, only to be stalked by killer robots. In Praise of Shadows explains why you need to watch.

Is Snowpiercer a Willy Wonka Sequel?

Is Snowpiercer a Willy Wonka Sequel?

On the surface, Snowpiercer and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory couldn’t be more different. But Rhino Stew’s theory that Joon-ho Bong’s enigmatic film is a sequel to the childhood favorite almost makes sense.

Understanding The Matrix Sequels

Understanding The Matrix Sequels

If you ask us, The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions were huge letdowns, whether or not we compare them to the first film. But Just Write argues that with adult eyes – and some perseverance – the movies are worth rewatching and dissecting.

Why Superbad Is a Masterpiece

Why Superbad Is a Masterpiece

(PG-13: Language) We’ve seen Superbad at least a dozen times, and it doesn’t get old. The Cosmonaut Variety Hour provides his take on why he thinks the 2007 film is the greatest teen comedy of all time. It’s a great coming-of-age story disguised as a horny teen sex comedy.

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