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2016 – Breakout Session #6: Auteur Cinema Vs. Post-Modern Producer Cinema

final-destination-3

In our last session we will discuss about how the process of film production has changed after the decline of the New American Cinema.

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108 responses to “2016 – Breakout Session #6: Auteur Cinema Vs. Post-Modern Producer Cinema

  1. Peach ⋅

    “Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex * But Were Afraid to Ask”, directed by the hilariously brilliant Woody Allen, was a true delight to watch. Although we were only shown two segments out of the seven that are originally shown in the film, that was enough to show me just how hilarious this film would be/was. Woody Allen once said himself that in this film, he included “every funny idea I’ve ever had about sex, including several that led to my own divorce”. This one quote from him pretty much sums up the film in its entirety, and also gives viewers who’ve never heard of Woody Allen a pretty good idea of what kind of person he is.

    In the first segment we were shown, we see Gene Wilder fall in love with a sheep. Yes, you didn’t read that wrong. The only film I (sadly) knew of Gene Wilder’s was “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory”, so to see my beloved Willy Wonka portray this wacky and highly disturbing (but 10000% hilarious) character was a pleasant punch to the gut. The cherry on top of this film is how serious the characters in the film are acting out their parts, like it’s completely normal to fall in love with a sheep and perform sexual acts with it to boot! Doesn’t everyone? Or yes, of course men have a whole team of dedicated “sperm-people” controlling their ejaculation. Doesn’t everyone? No, but in the world of Woody Allen, a more appropriate response would be, “Why don’t you?” To see these brilliant actors act out these insane characters and scenario’s is a breath of fresh air compared to the films of my generation, (albeit these past two years 2016/2017, the films have gotten considerably easier to digest I must admit). Considering this was the first Woody Allen film to have a budget, Woody really did work with what he got, and did a fine job of it too. I expected a film with this budget, premise and title to get considerably bad or harsh reviews from critics but actually, upon looking up the reviews for this film, it didn’t do too bad! 89% on Rotten Tomatoes and a 6.8/10 on IMDb. Of course these two sources aren’t the best when wanting to know how critics took a film, but it’s close enough. It’s also interesting to note that Woody Allen actually played several roles in his own film, out of the two segments we watched he only played one of course, a sperm. How he came to the idea of “hey, I should be a part of my own film and you know what, I’ll play the sperm”, I will never know.
    Woody Allen as a director has always, with most of his films, stepped outside the lines. Nowadays, and especially in Woody’s era, it was widely followed by directors and films to “play it safe”. Woody was the exception, among other individuals. “Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex * But Were Afraid to Ask” is a perfect example. Each segment is a “step outside the lines”, even for my generation! I can’t even imagine the public response if this film were released now of all times. Perhaps people would be able to see the humor in it but it’s even more likely that audiences would find any and all reasons to be offended. Films are an escape from reality yet people love to compare films to reality as much as they can for some reason. Then again, I guess this applies to everything, not just film. Many things that may have been acceptable/allowed “back in the day” would send society into outrage if it were presented to us now. Gee, I wonder what changed…
    The second part of this topic is the Final Destination “behind-the-scenes”/”how it was made” clips we were shown in class. The directors and others behind the making of the Final Destination franchise gave us a deeper look into why films like Final Destination and other related “B-Movies” work. How they test a first screening out with a “test-audience” before releasing it to the general public, how they look for what scares work, which don’t work, how an audience reacts to this scene compared to this scene, what should we cut out and what should we add more of etc. To think that a franchise such as Final Destination that ran/is running for more than 11 years now, could hold out for so long with the same plot, some of the same characters, and the exact same ending every time, must have baffled some viewers, and this little behind-the-scenes segment showed us how and why. It reminds me of the “Saw” franchise as well. Even in this year, 2017, we have a new “Saw” film coming out! Why do people enjoy watching repetition? Why do we pay money to watch the same plot over and over again? The truth is, we as a society crave repetition, familiarity, and “feeling safe”. As in, if similar plots are chucked out by Hollywood again and again, year after year, we just feel a little safer. “Oh, Hollywood’s staying in their lane, nothing’s changed, change is scary, let’s watch Final Destination 14 Barbara!” Superhero movies, Rom-com’s, but especially films of the horror genre, follow each other, they’re all followers, rather than leaders, which to be fair, we don’t ask for anyway.
    Another somewhat irrelevant part of “Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex * But Were Afraid to Ask” that I found interesting, was how Woody Allen used the European technique of having actors speaking with their backs to the camera. I thought that this was a major no-no in films, as when I was a part of any theater production (on stage), the number one rule was to never have your back to the audience unless absolutely necessary. This technique works with the film of course, as its shot extremely well and this style of filming is understandably brought into play during the third vignette, a pitch-perfect satire of continental cinema.
    Everything about this film, especially the two segments we were shown (I personally think we were shown the two best segments out of the seven) is “outside of the box”. Which is, in turn, the complete opposite of Final Destination and franchises like it. B movies are mostly always, for lack of a better word, weird! There is the traditional, predictable weird, and that special “weird” that Woody Allen specializes in. It’s kind of funny that we discussed these two polar opposites at the same time, repetition and “inside the box” versus as “outside the box” as you can get and sheep love.

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