Archive for June, 2011

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

Kelsey and I finally began our Spanish movie night with El laberinto del fauno last Wednesday, which was a great start- this week we’re hoping to show Los diarios de motocliclaje or The Motorcycle Dairies, a dramatization of Ernesto ‘Che’ Guaveras diaries of his youthful roadtrip across Latin America  in the 1950s that led to his calling as a social revolutionary. Kelsey and I hadn’t realized that Ernesto’s character was the youthful portrayal of ‘Che’ (one of the hazards of picking MRC films at random) so we’re looking forward to re-viewing this film in a political, biographical context. Of course, there have been dozens of portrayals of ‘Che’ Guavera, by famous actors such as Benicio del Toro and Omar Sherif, but Gabriel Garcia Bernal does a fantastic job of creating a human young man before he became an icon. As always, I attached the English trailer below.

Motorcycle Diaries Trailer

One of the problems that we’re running across while compiling clips for Cineglos is that the majority of the clips we’ve been making are from films based in Spain or by Spanish directors. This may be explained by our current obsession with Pedro Almódovar films, but also because the majority of Spanish-speaking movies in the MRC are from Spain.

As a result, Kelsey and I have changed our tactics from picking films randomly or following directors and actors we enjoy to actively seeking out more Latin American films, especially those who have contributed to an independent industry that rejects cinematic tactics of Hollywood.

Yesterday I watched La historia oficial , the first Argentinean film to win an Academy Award for best Foreign Language Film in 1985. The film deals with the collapse of the military dictatorship in 1983 and the subsequent collapse of one woman’s world, as she begins to realize the extent of her husband’s complicity in the years of brutality during the junta.  Since I’m a Latin American studies concentrator, I was impressed by both the history (the movie was made in conjunction with the Madres de Plaza Mayor, families of those who remain kidnapped and disappeared) and the cinematographic shots that variy between distant, more subjective shots of the upper-class and the painful close-up shots as Alicia, the main character, begins to learn the truth. Having these clips in a film class are essential in showing how film is not just an art or entertainment form within itself, but a vehicle of biography, politics and history, as in both The Motorcycle Diaries and The Official Story.

Week 3

Tuesday, June 21st, 2011

Unfortunately Kelsey and I had to delay the start of our Spanish Movie night in order to secure permission to use Hogan, but last Wednesday night turned out to be the final game for the Stanley Cup, so I think that all Bruins fans would agree that it was delayed for a good cause!

In the MRC we’re currently on a Pedro Almodovar spree- he’s probably the most famous and critically claimed director of Spanish film, and once we started watching his movies we couldn’t switch to anything else. Almodovar is best known for Volver starring Penelope Cruz, but we’ve been enjoying his earlier movies such as Mujeres al Borde de un Ataque de Nervios, Todo Sobre mi Madre, and La Mala Educacion. They certainly aren’t easy viewing; I wouldn’t recommend them to the easily offended, but they certainly give a jarring and fascinating portrait of post-Franco Spain.

Right now we’re in the editing component of CineGlos, cutting the movies we viewed to demonstrate the different shots and techniques we’ve defined. For example, the opening shot of Barcelona  in the trailer of Todo sobre mi madre is one example of an aereal shot, taken from an airplane or helicopter.

Todo sobre mi madre Trailer (at :21)

We’re also starting to address other aspects of the project, such as creating a logo for the CineGlos website and brainstorming academic conferences at which we could present CineGlos.

I included some photos of our beautiful HC campus in the summer- since most of the time we’re buried under snow/rain/finals, it’s been great appreciating the landscape.

In the last week or so the campus has been much busier than normal, thanks to the arrival of the Summer OLs and the Gateways kids. The incoming freshman all have that familiar deer-in-the-headlights look, but I’m sure they’ll transition well once they’ve survived all the icebreakers and seminars. When I see them again, they’ll be sophomores, and I’ll be a senior returning from study abroad, which is a scary thought!

Week 2: Finishing the Glossary and Pan’s Labyrinth!

Monday, June 13th, 2011

This week Prof. Franco, Kelsey and I finished up the glossary of terms- we have well over 100 definitions organized by grouping such as ‘Camera Work’  or ‘Editing’ and linked to related terms, just like any online dictionary or thesaurus. On Wednesday Kelsey and I will receive our training in the MRC (the Mutimedia Resource Center)  to edit DVDs  and extract our clips for the website.

Kelsey and I are also starting a Spanish movie night for the students on Campus, to share what we do with our fellow researchers and display the best of some of the movies we’re watching.  Our first movie this week is El Laberinto del Fauno or Pan’s Labyrinth, the award-winning and hugely popular Guillermo del Toro fantasy set directly after the Spanish Civil War. Below is the English trailer for the movie, which was released in 2006. It’s one of my favorite spanish-language movies and popular enough that most students have already heard or watched it before. As the movie night’s progress (they’ll be once a week in Hogan), we hope to show movies that are not as well-known or hollywood-esque as El Laberinto del Fauno.

Pan\’s Labyrinth English Trailer

Kelsey and I will be giving a brief introduction to explain the historical background of the Civil War, the conflict between the Falangist troops and the guerilla troops rebeling against Franco, as well as the mythology behind ‘el Fauno’ or Faun. Afterward we’ll also lead a short discussion about the various cinematographic techniques of El laberinto del fauno, and how we would use it in our glossary.

In other news, I checked off one of the items on my Holy Cross Bucket List and had Sunday brunch at Miss Worcester’s with some of my friends. We all sat at the counter, so I watched all the food being made and drooled over things like ‘banana bread French toast’ and nutella pancakes with whipped cream.  My dad ate there as an undergraduate, and the diner apparently hasn’t changed much, but the food is as awesome as ever!

Building CINE-GLOS

Sunday, June 5th, 2011

So we all survived the tornado on Wednesday- luckily living in the basement of Alumni meant that me and my suitemates never had to look for shelter- we just huddled in our common room and watched CNN until the alert lifted around 8PM.

Kelsey and I continued creating our glossary throughout the week. In order to create an online database of terms that will be easy for students to use and navigate, we write the program script for the Spanish and English versions of the term; then, we create a Spanish definition of the term from reading different sources. Then we categorize the terms under different headings like ‘Script’ or ‘Editing’ as well as cross-references to other linked terms.

For example, the film term “jump cut” is called a “salto de imagen” in Spanish. I created the following definition in Spanish: “cuando la película cambia bruscamente de una toma a otra sin explicación; el argumento parece ‘saltar’ hacia adelante o detrás sin continuidad.”

Example of Jump Cut

This is an example of a ‘jump cut’ from the movie “Breathless” by Jean-Luc Goddard. When CINE-GLOS is completed each term will have one or more clips from the Spanish and Latin American films that Kelsey and have been watching every day.

After watching Fresas y Chocolate we watched Como Agua Para Chocolate and Belle Epoque. During the tornado alert I re-read the book by Laura Esquivel that Como Agua Para Chocolate is based on. I’ve never seen magical realism translated into film, so I was interested to see how that kind of literary imagination was shown in a movie.

Kelsey and I have also been working to understand the historical context of each movie; since we’re choosing them pretty much at random, each one leaves us recalling certain periods from our Spanish classes. Como Agua Para Chocolate is set during the turn-of-the-century Mexican revolution, while Belle Epoque is Spain in the 1930s, during the brief establishment of a republic. Since we write short summaries for each film we watch, future HC students will be able to read up on our Spanish films before watching!

First Day, First Movie, TORNADOS

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

Today was my first day of my internship- Kelsey and I met with Prof. Franco to outline our project. For the next few weeks we’ll be creating a glossary of cinematography terms using resources in Dinand Library and watching a flim every day, hopefully noting more and more instances of our terms in films as we go along.

For our kickoff film today Kelsey and I picked Fresas y Chocolate, a Cuban movie made in the 90’s. We actually chose it by accident, thinking that it was Como Agua Para Chocolate because I’ve read the book it’s based on. However, it turned out to be a fantastic film and a great start to our project. Fresas y Chocolate deals with the friendship between Diego, a homosexual man and David, a heterosexual university student in Communist Cuba.  Both actors were fantastic, and the panoramic shots of Cuba were gorgeous. Kelsey and I are already starting to watch critically as well as for pleasure, noting instances of certain shots and techniques.

I’ll describe more on our project later; right now Worcester is in the middle of a severe tornado warning, so we’re all starting to get a little nervous in Alumni. The scary red weather-spots are circling Worcester, so all the HC summer researchers will be watching CNN nervously for the next couple hours. Tornados have already touched down in Springfield, Southbridge and Sturbridge, and sightings of funnels are rumored on Shrewsbury Street. Wish us luck!