A Teacher (2013)
Written & Directed by Hannah Fidell
There is a movie called A Teacher. I want you to read that sentence again, so in case you’re like me and your automatic reaction to instructions is to ignore them, I will type it again, forcing you to:
There is a movie called A Teacher.
Here’s why I like that sentence—the most you can say about the movie A Teacher is that the person the filmmaker shot the most footage of was playing a teacher in this movie about a teacher that is called A Teacher. Nothing could ever be more literal. I have no idea what writer-director Hannah Fidell was going for with her title, but she has achieved the strongest connection in history between a piece of art and its title—A Teacher is most definitely 75 minutes of a teacher.
Continue reading There Is A Movie Called ‘A Teacher’
Continuing a series started by John D’Amico.
You could watch Wall Street first and then Boiler Room, or the other way around, or be meta and put them both on at the same time and quote the scene where everyone in Boiler Room quotes Wall Street while watching Wall Street.
However you choose, these two movies are way better than The Wolf of Wall Street or that Michael J. Fox one, the one with Helen Slater.
Continue reading Proposed Double Feature: ‘Wall Street’ & ‘Boiler Room’
Continuing a series started by John D’Amico.
Shattered Glass is a wonderful movie that doesn’t get enough credit. It’s that case where an indie movie is good enough to be a real movie, so nobody notices it. People do like it, but their eyes don’t light up the way they do when they talk about some shit that sucks like Wendy and Lucy. It’s hip to like crappy shit, whereas, it’s square to like good movies.
Continue reading Proposed Double Feature: ‘Shattered Glass’ & ’30 for 30: Big Shot’
This seemingly random stock photo will make sense later on in reading this piece.
There’s a blatant continuity error in Jurassic Park that terribly irked my six year old brain. I’ve pointed it out to tons of people in my life, so I might as well publicize it here too. I’m sure it’s already on IMDb, but c’mon, this is my life story here.
When the helicopters are landing to deliver our main characters to their exotic location, there are several shots of the helicopter slowly lowering to the landing pad. It’s a great sequence, but in it is a shot of two jeeps pulling up to a stop, and in the wide shot, the jeeps are already there.
This mistake was very bothersome to me. It also awakened me to the fact that movies are fake, and, that they are made by people.
Later in life, I learned that Spielberg doesn’t care about continuity mistakes and just lets them happen. Scorsese has a similar attitude. In their minds, you should be paying attention to the story, and if a mistake like that ‘takes you out of the movie’, then they have already failed. In other words, if a movie is truly lessened by these errors, how good could it be in the first place? Scorsese just lets his actors go nuts and freely cuts between takes, because he knows that, at the very least, he’s adding to the jaggedness of the scene. And when Spielberg overlooks them, it’s because he’s simply more focused on the story than the amount of coke left in someones glass.
Continuity errors don’t bother me—unless we’re talking Troll 2 or something. Instead what’s always bothered me is the bizarre rules that govern the worlds in movies.
Continue reading 7 Annoying ‘Movie World’ Mistakes
There’s a great little story about how on the set of E.T., Spielberg slowly unwrapped a toy off camera to illicit a reaction from the young actor playing Elliott. I’ve always thought this story was a great way to explain how a filmmaker should approach exposition. Exposition is the easiest, most fun, and most misunderstood part of storytelling. But filmic exposition is generally stupid, because people are afraid of it.
Somebody once asked me, about my 50/50 Rule, “When making a movie, would you pay extra special attention to how it starts, since you lose interest in so many movies so fast?” The answer is decidedly no, because every frame of a movie is sacred and equally important. If you treat your entire movie like that, then you don’t need to spend extra attention to any one part of it. Exposition is too often just underestimated as something that has to be blown through in order to get to the fun stuff. To counteract this, the indies have bloated their exposition with way too much visual minutiae. You can build a ‘stark’, ‘oblique’, ‘atmospheric’ world with your story—you don’t need shots that hold too long on a girl as she wistfully puts on makeup.
Jurassic Park is my favorite exercise in exposition, and in a way, the entire movie is exposition.
Continue reading On Exposition