Category Archives: Film Studies

Philosophy according to Bertrand Russell

The late English philosopher Bertrand Russell describes philosophy as such: –

“Mankind, ever since there have been civilized communities have been confronted with problems of two different kinds. On the one hand, there has been the problem of mastering natural forces, of acquiring the knowledge and the skill required to produce tools and weapons and to encourage Nature in the production of useful animals and plants. This problem, in the modern world, is dealt with by science and scientific technique, and experience has shown that in order to deal with it adequately it is necessary to train a large number of rather narrow specialists.

He continues: –

But there is a second problem, less precise, and by some mistakenly regarded as unimportant – I mean the problem of how best to utilize our command over the forces of nature. This includes such burning issues as democracy versus dictatorship, capitalism versus socialism, international government versus international anarchy, free speculation versus authoritarian dogma. On such issues the laboratory can give no decisive guidance.

The kind of knowledge that gives most help in solving such problems is a wide survey of human life, in the past as well as in the present, and an appreciation of the sources of misery or contentment as they appear in history. It will be found that increase of skill has not, of itself, insured any increase of human happiness or wellbeing.

Philosophy for Laymen  (1946)

http://www.philosophy-index.com/russell/problems-philosophy/15.php

Philosophical knowledge, if what has been said above is true, does not differ essentially from scientific knowledge; there is no special source of wisdom which is open to philosophy but not to science, and the results obtained by philosophy are not radically different from those obtained from science.

….The essential characteristic of philosophy, which makes it a study distinct from science, is criticism.”…

http://www.philosophy-index.com/russell/problems-philosophy/15.php

 (emphasis mine)

The above describes both the focus (the forces of nature) and method (criticism) that one should adopt in thinking and practicing philosophy. Indeed one should engage in  philosophical “uncertainty” – in the sense that this “uncertainty” is determined by a sense of childlike curiosity and a fundamental breaking apart of ideas, behaviors and assumptions of everyday life in Singapore.

Philosophy is to be studied, not for the sake of any definite answers to its questions, since no definite answers can, as a rule, be known to be true, but rather for the sake of the questions themselves; because these questions enlarge our conception of what is possible, enrich our intellectual imagination and diminish the dogmatic assurance which closes the mind against speculation; but above all because, through the greatness of the universe which philosophy contemplates, the mind also is rendered great, and becomes capable of that union with the universe which constitutes its highest good.

Philosophy according to Giles Deleuze

What can philosophy do?

Deleuze argued that philosophy (thinking, understanding, interpreting, and arguing) can open life up to diverse modes of thinking and not just leaning towards common sense tendencies and agreed ways of thinking (Colebrook, 2002, pg11).

We do philosophy then, not to conform or correct some dogma of common sense, we do it to expand thought to its infinite potential (ibid, pg15). There is a universal power of philosophy. It is not a power for generalization or looking at some common features that all beings share. But thinking universally to think about how any being might be possible (ibid). Thinking, in Philosophy, Art and Science, gives power to the thinker to maximise the power of human consciousness (ibid, pg 106).

  1. Philosophy is the universalising power to create concepts. to think about the immanence of becoming
  2. Art has the power to create concepts of percepts and affects
  3. Science takes the flow of life and fixes it into observable ‘state of affairs’ that can be ordered by functions
  4. Literature or literary text contains scientific powers of observations AND philsophical powers of conceptuality

Why is Philosophy, thinking or thought, important?
If we accept thought as homogeneous, we fall into unquestioning opinion, reducing all science or philosophy to fact-finding (representing what exist) *Instead of what it could be*THe transformative or disruptive potential of using thinking.* Art, like Philosophy and Science, has the power to transform life.

What is Art?
Art, like Literature, is the power about the imagination of a possible world. “Art is not representation, concepts or judgments; art is the power to think in terms that are not so much cognitive and intellectual as AFFECTIVE” (Colebrook, 2002, pg12).

How to read a work as Art or as Philosophy?
He suggested looking at a work at what it DO instead of what a work IS, and understanding its SPECIFIC FORCE, or its capacity for rupturing life.

如何分析影片?

如何分析影片?

影片分析的目标

  1.  更深了解自己对电影的反应
  2. 说服其他人你喜欢或不喜欢电影的原因
  3.  向读者介绍一些他们可能不知道的电影历史/文化/技术
  4. 比较和对比电影
  5. 了解电影与历史和文化之间的关系

 

分析的大纲

  1. 主 题
  2. 结 构
  3. 人物
  4. 镜头,灯光,场景
  5. 剪辑
  6. 声效

 一 主 题

  正像其它艺术作品一样,影片的主题是电影作品中的灵魂和精华,也是我们为之迷恋的“精神家园”。更是我们在看了一部影片以后,力图总结分析出来东西。主题——是电影中内容的核心与内涵;是电影所要表现的主题思想。

 二 结 构 

   影片分析中对影片结构的分析是一个非常重要的工作。在我们的影片分析中,大部分同学经常会忽略分析影片结构,甚至,根本不去关注。其实,电影的结构是电影的最重要的艺术形式之一。

   结构——是影片的组织排列的方式和叙事组合的构造。

   影片的结构,框架,就是电影的风格。

   导演根据影片的主题、内容、人物塑造的需要,运用各种手段、方法,将各诸要素合理、有机、完整地组成一个视听整体,达到艺术上的统一。

 三、人物

   世界电影中的常规情况是,观众对于电影中的人物(其实是对演员)感兴趣,对于电影中的故事感兴趣,对于电影的主题感兴趣,才会全方位的对电影给予关注。

   我们所理解的“人”,是自然的人,社会的人。

   电影中的“人物”,是电影叙事中、戏剧结构中的“符号”和“虚构”的人,是由演员(职业的、非职业的)扮演的银幕形象。在我们的潜意识中,人物——演员,演员——角色,这两者交替的认同。

1.分析N物在影片中担当的角色: 我们理解的电影中的人物,往往是电影中演员扮演的“人物”十演员自身形象的综合感觉。人物有时候是一个具体的概念,有的时候是一个抽象的概念。

2.分析影片中人物的表现方式:a)人物外形表现:b)人物景别表现:c)人物形体表现:d)人物位置表现:

3.分析人物动作的表现技巧: 影片中决定人物动作的重要因素是环境、事件和规定要求。作为导演,对于人物动作的简单表现和复杂表现,在影片的叙事风格上会产生不同结果。那么,核心的问题就是导演采用什么样的镜头技巧来反映和表现这些人物的动作。这时叙事中的人物动作成为了内容,镜头处理表现技巧成为了形式。

4.分析场景中、镜头中人物的光线形式:按电影的常规分析,场景中、镜头中人物的光线的形式应该有其相对的设计性、独立性、形象性、鲜明性。

人物光线的形式,除了受到场景、空间、环境、光源的位置、方向、性质的影响外,还要受到影片的主题、内容、风格、样式、叙事、情节和导演处理的制约。

视听语言分析

 

To be wise or not to be…

Philosophy can be daunting. But it is not something that is specially reserved for a select group of experts and specialists.

If there is anything to be learnt from the study of philosophy, it is that anyone and everyone can be a philosopher in their own right.

That is because one does philosophy not because one seeks to become a professional philosopher. Nor is it a subject meant to intimidate or impress upon others the depths of one’s intellect. Indeed, philosophy is not about reading, memorizing and regurgitating the words and thoughts of dead old philosophers.

The goal of philosophy is not to understand philosophy, the goal is to use philosophy to change yourself in thinking about the world.

The goal of studying philosophy is, in my humble opinion, nothing more than critically understanding and seeing the people and world around us.

It is simply adding new and critical conceptual tools to our mental toolbox.

It should help us to think critically about the physical world; problems of human behaviours and relationships, problems of thinking about ideas, problems of how people can perceive, misunderstand and interpret events.

Philosophy is an activity that should strengthen and condition the mind to be able to think critically.

The job of philosophizing belongs to everyone.

To philosophize about something is not an activity that is best reserved for the self-anointed ones.

To think otherwise is to do a disservice to the purpose, function and character of philosophy. It is also a particular disservice to human agency.

To think that scholars only do philosophy is nonsense.

It is also vanity. It is vanity because the thought of something is only meant for someone is to demarcate and mark out a hierarchy of worthiness of human life.

Furthermore, to accept philosophy as somehow belonging to the experts is, in my opinion, a betrayal of freedom of thought and critical thinking.

It is not uncommon to hear non-specialists and non-experts struggling to understand the point/s of philosophical-speak and finding the patience to go through the long-winded and circular manner of speaking and writing in philosophy.

But this is not to discredit the efforts of philosophers in contributing to human thought. After all, one of the main goals of philosophy is to think critically about things.

But to think critically about something, the process requires a clear understanding or examination of all aspects of a particular issue, topic or problem.

There is philosophy that is abstract and metaphysical; which has merits on its own; and philosophy that tries to solve physical and human problems; in ethics, in critical thinking, in conceptualizing the world or understanding human relationships.

It is as much an exercise in logical speculation as it is about practical problem solving; as much as it involves a kind of thinking ‘out there’, it is as much as thinking about everyday bread and butter issues that affect all of all.

The late English philosopher Bertrand Russell – and of the best ones – describes philosophy as such: –

“Mankind, ever since there have been civilized communities have been confronted with problems of two different kinds. On the one hand, there has been the problem of mastering natural forces, of acquiring the knowledge and the skill required to produce tools and weapons and to encourage Nature in the production of useful animals and plants. This problem, in the modern world, is dealt with by science and scientific technique, and experience has shown that in order to deal with it adequately it is necessary to train a large number of rather narrow specialists.

He continues: –

But there is a second problem, less precise, and by some mistakenly regarded as unimportant – I mean the problem of how best to utilize our command over the forces of nature. This includes such burning issues as democracy versus dictatorship, capitalism versus socialism, international government versus international anarchy, free speculation versus authoritarian dogma. On such issues the laboratory can give no decisive guidance.

The kind of knowledge that gives most help in solving such problems is a wide survey of human life, in the past as well as in the present, and an appreciation of the sources of misery or contentment as they appear in history. It will be found that increase of skill has not, of itself, insured any increase of human happiness or wellbeing.

Philosophy for Laymen  (1946)

http://www.philosophy-index.com/russell/problems-philosophy/15.php

Philosophical knowledge, if what has been said above is true, does not differ essentially from scientific knowledge; there is no special source of wisdom which is open to philosophy but not to science, and the results obtained by philosophy are not radically different from those obtained from science.

….The essential characteristic of philosophy, which makes it a study distinct from science, is criticism.”…

http://www.philosophy-index.com/russell/problems-philosophy/15.php

 (emphasis mine)

The above describes both the focus (the forces of nature) and method (criticism) that one should adopt in thinking and practicing philosophy. Indeed one should engage in  philosophical “uncertainty” – in the sense that this “uncertainty” is determined by a sense of childlike curiosity and a fundamental breaking apart of ideas, behaviors and assumptions of everyday life in Singapore.

Philosophy is to be studied, not for the sake of any definite answers to its questions, since no definite answers can, as a rule, be known to be true, but rather for the sake of the questions themselves; because these questions enlarge our conception of what is possible, enrich our intellectual imagination and diminish the dogmatic assurance which closes the mind against speculation; but above all because, through the greatness of the universe which philosophy contemplates, the mind also is rendered great, and becomes capable of that union with the universe which constitutes its highest good.

The Timely Death of Film in the Age of Digital Cinema

The rise of video platforms like Netflix or Amazon, YouTube, Hulu and many others have not only changed the way people are watching their favourite movies and long-form drama serials, but it has also highlighted the death of the idea of Film as Film in the age of digital cinema. No longer is film king of entertainment; indeed it is now digital cinema.

It is therefore not a surprise to see that film is fasting becoming obsolete in the age of digital cinema. Indeed, film is dead and no one; at least not the masses; is the least bit concern by it.

Indeed, film theorists like Noel Carroll advised us to think of the subject of film not as film but as and in terms of moving images. One would go further and say that it is better to think about the subject of film in terms of the specific contexts in which it is used in conversations and discussions. That is because the word film is not only a noun but it is also a verb and an adjective all rolled up into one; and where sometimes the lines are blurred without one knowing that they are blurred in the first place. Hence, it is important to divorce the different uses of the term film by identifying the specific contexts in which it is referred to in conversations.

Firstly, it is important not to conflate Film as a be-all and end-all term of not only the art and craft of making movies but also the theorization and thinking about the subject in academia. It is important to see that there is the literary interpretation of film as a unit of analysis and discussion of cultural representation. Secondly, there is the sociological study of the effects and impact of media on people. Third, the socio-economic structure and superstructure of Film as Industry. Lastly, film within the supplementary domains of film criticism, fandom, and gossip columns. But while all of these domains make for a vibrant and exciting film ecology, they are nonetheless equally affected by the advent of digital disruptions and technologies that are not only improving but changing the ways in which films are made and seen in the era of digital innovations.

Indeed, the digital disruptions that are transforming ways of doing things in many industries and corporations are equally disrupting not only the way movies or made, distributed, and exhibited. That is because, save for a selected few, no one is actually shooting on film nowadays. Even Kodak and Fujifilm, the traditional manufacturers of film stock, have either shuttered their film divisions or divested their attention away. Indeed, it is increasingly acknowledged that the business of making and selling film stock is just not viable or profitable in the age of digital devices and media technologies. Moreover, while digital systems were cost prohibitive at first, distributors and exhibitors, not to mention production companies, nonetheless realized that it is probably more prudent and wiser to invest in digital platforms. After all, the world is being transformed by newer, faster, and more productive ways of doing things; what more in the film industry.

But digital cinema, if not already, is fast transforming the way movies are thought of and conceptualized within academia. Indeed, if no one is using Film, where even film manufacturers are not even bothering with advancing film-based technologies; where film makers are not even bothering to shoot and edit on film; where distributors and exhibitors are not even distributing and exhibiting on film; where even consumers and viewers are not really watching films with film projectors or even going to film theatres; then it begs the question, as indeed it has prompted Noel Carrol to swap film with moving images; is film dead? Is it dying or has it always been dead?

The short answer to the first question has to be “Yes, film as a technology is dead”. But it only applies to the raw materials (film stock) and to its image acquisition and editing technologies (non-linear editing and coloring software). Eventually, film will go the way of vinyl records or as collector items. There is no ambiguity in terms of its obsolescence in terms of technology. But fortunately, film as an art form will survive.

If anything, the death of film technologies is not only emancipative but it is also productive in the sense that it has allowed for a plethora of filmmakers in the rise of digital cinema.

But this rise in digital cinema has also changed the nature of digital storytelling and films; especially when watching a film is no longer about just the film but also the ability to read about it on news websites, fan sites or even watch analyses of it on YouTube. And to consume it not with other people in a theatre but in one’s own space with a laptop.

Whereas one had to SHARE, now one can CONTROL when, where, and how to use a video, film or clip to suit one’s own convenience, time, and mood.

Digital cinema, and by implication technology, has liberated people from being herded and controlled by filmmakers and/or theatre owners.  Indeed, it has also freed people from the tyrannical hold of understanding a film from filmmakers and film critics and academics, by allowing people to engage with it through blogs, social media, and also allowing viewers of all stripes and colours to evaluate it without the dictates of taste-makers.

Indeed, technological innovation in digital cinema has led to the timely death of Film in the age of digital innovations and disruptions by giving control over to the people and to the individual.

But is that a good thing?

 

The Awesomeness of Avengers: Endgame (2019)

 

The achievement of Marvel Studios in crafting its Infinity Stone saga over the past ten years, without losing its audience, is perhaps one of the greatest cinematic long-form projects in history.

Indeed, Marvel’s superhero films from 2008 to 2019 are not only cinematic milestones but they are also examples of how not to get lost in special effects and big-budget action sequences by focusing on the personal story arcs of each of its characters.

So while many people are turned off by the superhero genre, perhaps because they think it appeals to young children,  they should actually look closely at how the character arcs of the main characters shift and change over the years. And that has to be credited to the love and care of the writers, directors, and producers involved with the project.

So inasmuch as the awesomeness of Avengers is its longevity,  its awesomeness is also because of the intense love and care by the studio in charting and tracking the character arc, psychologically and emotionally, over the years. Thus making the series fresh, interesting, and unpredictable.

So minus its success at the box office, the Marvel films are awesome in terms of not losing its focus on its main characters.  And that is why audiences are not excited about watching the next Marvel film but they are also excited about watching what happens next to their favorite superheroes.

At the same time, they also know that the filmmakers treat the viewer with respect by also treating the characters they love with equal love and respect.

And that is what also makes the Marvel films such a delight and success because the filmmakers do not treat comic book heroes with ridicule or disdain but treat them for what they are and what they could be in terms of expressing heroism, courage, and fortitude under duress.

 

 

 

The Awesomeness of Warrior (2011)

While this film is basically about two brothers fighting each other as MMA fighters, The Central conflict of the film is also something that is rather close to my heart and life story.

It is essentially about two estranged brothers and their relationship with their guilt stricken father.

The reason I like this film, other than the fighting scenes, is the sensitive display of masculinity and machoism.