Friday, October 12, 2018

Quentin Tarantino

Quentin Tarantino has not made as many movies as some of the directors we've studied. However, he has become one of the most influential people in the movie business. He is mainly praised for his creative screenwriting, especially his knack for clever dialog. He first became known when he wrote and directed the independent movie, Reservoir Dogs (1992), now a cult favorite. His masterpiece, Pulp Fiction, which he also wrote and directed, came out in 1994, and it was a huge critical hit. It was nominated for 7 Academy Awards, winning one, for 'Best Original Screenplay.' It established Uma Thurman as a movie star, boosted the career of Samuel L. Jackson, and was a big comeback movie for actor John Travolta. In the years following, Tarantino wrote and directed Jackie Brown (1997), Kill Bill (2003/2004), Inglourious Basterds (2009), Django Unchained (2012) and most recently, The Hateful Eight (2016). Quentin Tarantinos movies are known for their homage to directors and B-movies from the past, especially Kung Fu movies and Blaxploitation films, which have inspired Tarantino's use of over-the-top violence. His movies always have great pop music soundtracks.

Many of Tarantino's movies are available in the Tsurumi University Library. 

[My personal thoughts and recollections about Quentin Tarantino and his movies were supplemented with details, dates and numbers from Wikipedia. - Kevin]

Quentin Tarantino Biographies:

Before you watch the Pulp Fiction (Big Kahuna Burger) scene, please read:

Scenes from Pulp Fiction for handout to be done in class (the two links are for one scene):
1) Pulp Fiction - Big Kahuna Burger
2) Pulp Fiction 1994 Best Scene
Turn volume up; the clips are difficult to hear.

Links to trailers and clips from some of Quentin Tarantino's movies
Reservoir Dogs (1992) - trailer
Pulp Fiction (1994) - trailer
Jackie Brown (1997) - trailer
Kill Bill (2003, 2004) - Gogo Yubari weapons scene (with Chiaki Kuriyama)
Inglourious Basterds (2009) - trailer
Django Unchained (2012) - trailer
Django Unchained (2012) - The Brittle Brothers scene
The Hateful Eight (2016) - trailer

Samuel L. Jackson appears in two of Quentin Tarantino's movies in this clip of the "Top 10 Samuel L. Jackson Performances" (also one from Spielberg!).

Click on one of the links above and watch at least two trailers or scenes, then write a comment in the comment box below. You need blogging points to pass this course!

Friday, October 5, 2018

Christopher Nolan

Christpher Nolan (born 1970) is mainly known for writing and directing the highly successful Batman trilogy, starring Christian Bale, and for producing the recent Superman series (Man of Steel; Batman vs Superman-Dawn of Justice). However, previous to these films, his 2000 movie Memento, a fascinating and creative story that was told backwards, caught the attention of movie goers everywhere. Inception, a very successful sci-fi movie from 2010, solidified his reputation. Interstellar, a 2014 science-fiction movie about space and time travel was nominated for many awards. Lastly, Nolan's World War II action movie, Dunkirk, appeared in the summer of 2017. Christopher Nolan is in the top tier of movie directors. He is an artist, a writer, a producer and director. Many of his movies are available in the Tsurumi University Library. Learn more about him by clicking the links below.

* Christpher Nolan says he was greatly influenced by directors Stanley Kubrick and Ridley Scott, two directors we will learn more about this semester.
* Japanese actor, Ken Watanabe, has appeared in two of Nolan's movies (Batman Begins & Inception).

Christopher Nolan Biographies:

Links to trailers for movies by Christopher Nolan:
Memento (2000)
Batman Begins (2005)
The Prestige (2006)
The Dark Knight (2008)
Inception (2010)
The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
Interstellar (2014)
Dunkirk (2017)

9 Christopher Nolan movies ranked (from Worst to First)

Blog Comments
* Please write your name in romaji after your comment! It's difficult for me to read your name in kanji.
* You will lose many grade points in this class if you do not make blog comments.

Comment on one or two of the trailers above.
* If you have seen a Christopher Nolan movie (in the theater or on DVD), please make a comment about it.

Four Directors Quiz Practice (Sorry! Too late! Study the blog posts for each director!)
Quiz Practice 1
Quiz Practice 2

Friday, September 28, 2018

Stanley Kubrick

Stanley Kubrick (1928-1999) is considered one of the greatest movie directors ever. Many scenes from his movies are classic scenes that are referenced by other film makers in their movies, TV shows and animations. "The Simpsons" for example, imitated many scenes from Kubrick's movies. His scenes were sometimes violent and shocking.

Kubrick was above all an artist who imagined scenes that looked like paintings or beautiful photographs. He had a unique sense for interior decor and costumes. It is said that Lady Gaga has used his movie themes as inspiration for her costumes. Kubrick was also famous for using classical music, such as Beethoven, as background music for scenes, including violent ones, such as in "A Clockwork Orange." Great actors often wanted to work in his films because they recognized his genius. However, some actors hated working with him, as he was very difficult and demanding.

Film directors Christopher Nolan and Steven Spielberg both say they were inspired by Stanley Kubrick.

Most of Stanley Kubrick's movies are available in the Tsurumi University Library.

Stanley Kubrick Biographies:

Iconic images from Stanley Kubrick movies:
Lolita poster


2001: A Space Odyssey

2001: A Space Odyssey

A Clockwork Orange
A Clockwork Orange

A Clockwork Orange

The Shining

The Shining

The Shining
The Shining


The Shining

Links to compilations and clips of a few of Stanley Kubrick's movies:
Top 10 Stanley Kubrick Movies
2001: A Space Odyssey theme
Famous scenes from The Shining (1980)
The Shining (1980): Staircase Scene
A Clockwork Orange (1971): Marina Scene
Full Metal Jacket (1987): Boot Camp Scene
2001: HAL (the computer) disobeys Dave
Barry Lyndon (1975) - Recital Scene
Top 10 Stanley Kubrick Trivia
The Simpsons tribute to Kubrick & Hitchcock (sorry, dubbed in Spanish)

Kubrick movie parody scenes in The Simpsons

Pen floating in space to
'Blue Danube' music; from
2001: A Space Odyssey
Potato chips floating in space
to 'Blue Danube' music
The Shining: wife finds crazy
husband's typed message
The Shining parody: Marge finds
Homer's crazy typed message
Alex in
A Clockwork Orange
Maggie Simpson as Alex
Alex being forced to
watch violence in scene from
A Clockwork Orange
The Simpson's dog in parody of Alex

Danny on tricycle clip from The Shining (1980)
Come play with us, Danny - clip from The Shining (1980)
IKEA tribute advertisement ('Shining' parody for Halloween)
Got milk? - The Shining parody

Check out at least two Kubrick videos from the above links and comment in the comment box below.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Alfred Hitchcock

Alfred Hitchcock (1899-1980) is perhaps the most famous and most recognizable movie director of all time. He is known as the "master of suspense." He directed more than 50 movies, and many of them can be found on critics' lists of the best movies ever made. He influenced countless directors that followed him, and his techniques were copied by many. His movies may seem a little old-fashioned to people used to computer graphics and modern film editing, but if you give his movies a chance, you'll never fail to be fascinated.

When you watch Hitchcock movies, watch for these trademarks:
  • famous, recognizable locations from around the world
  • fake backdrops
  • blonde leading ladies
  • people running away from someone
  • characters with psychological issues
  • dark humor about death
  • effectively scary or thrilling soundtracks
  • cameo appearances by Hitchcock himself, usually early in the film

Alfred Hitchcock Biographies

Most of Hitchcock's famous movies are available in the Tsurumi University Library. Check them out!

Today's activities:

a.    Watch all of the Alfred Hitchcock trailers below
b.    Do “Rebecca” in textbook: Unit 3, p. 18-20; 23 
c.     "The Life and Career of Alfred Hitchcock"; link below; do handout
d.     Blog comment; in class or at home re. Hitchcock

Links to trailers and clips of a few Hitchcock movies:
Rear Window (1954) - classic trailer
The Trouble with Harry (1955) - trailer
Vertigo (1958) - official trailer
North by Northwest (1959) - official trailer
Psycho (1960) - official trailer
The Birds (1963) - birthday party scene
Frenzy (1972) - official trailer
Every Alfred Hitchcock Cameo - short clips from movies

The Life and Career of Alfred Hitchcock (
Watch the clip and do Kevin's handout. Please watch the whole video, but the handout starts at the 2:15 minute mark. 

In class or at home:
Choose one of the Hitchcock trailers or scenes above and write a comment about it in the comment box below. Write at least 3 sentences!

Optional ...
Rebecca (1940) - complete movie online!

Top 10 Alfred Hitchcock Movies (WatchMojo)

Optional Trailer
Rope (1948) - trailer: This Hitchcock movie is unusual in many ways. It's based on a true story of a murder committed by two college students who wanted to see if they could get away with it. In the movie, there are no cuts; the story goes from start to finish with no breaks in the action; amazing! The movie is mostly dialog and has very little action, so it may be difficult to understand, but it's a fascinating movie, and it stars one of Hitchcock's (and the world's) favorite actors, Jimmy Stewart!

Homework #1B - Alfred Hitchcock

Part I.
Read the Alfred Hitchcock Bio on Simple Wikipedia.
Part II.
Do the Rear Window Classic Trailer handout. Kevin will give it to you in class.
Next, do these 30 questions and click Submit: You will only get points (up to 5 pts) if you do the online questions!

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

What does a movie director do?

The movie director ...
1. ... has a vision of what a film will look like and tries to create it.
2. ... must work with producers, script writers, artists and CGI people to create the movie.
3. ... must work with camera & lighting technicians, set designers, costume designers, makeup people, actors, location people, etc. to complete the film as imagined.
4. ... must advise actors how to play their parts.
5. ... supervises the filming, lighting, camera angles, etc. and decides how many times a scene must be shot.
6. ... works with film editors in post-production to put together the best movie from the film shot.

* A film director must be an artist, a leader, a communicator, a teacher, a photographer, a videographer, and a person who is proficient in all aspects of film-making.
* He or she must have a good working relationship with actors and producers, and the success or failure of a film may determine whether he or she will work again. It can be a very stressful job.
* It is not uncommon for a movie director to work 20 hours a day while filming.

Steven Spielberg

Steven Spielberg (born in 1946) is the most famous and successful movie director alive today. Almost everyone has seen some of Spielberg's famous movies. He pioneered the "blockbuster" movie, a movie that breaks box office records while also creating a market for massive amounts of spinoff goods. His movies "Jaws", "E.T." and "Jurassic Park" were all blockbusters. He has won the Academy Award for Best Director twice, for "Schindler's List" (1993) and "Saving Private Ryan" (1998). These two movies also won Academy Awards for Best Picture. Steven Spielberg is a co-founder of the DreamWorks movie studio.

* Spielberg's movies are famous for product placement, or embedded marketing. For example, "Jurassic Park" marketed Ford cars, and "E.T." famously marketed Reese's Pieces (a peanut butter candy) when M&Ms (Mars Inc.) turned Spielberg down as a sponsor. Hershey, the makers of Reese's Pieces, paid Spielberg $1 million to use their product. The decision was a good one, as the movie and the candy became a big hit. Spielberg was named twice in the Cracked article, "The 10 Most Shameless Product Placements in Movie History."

* Spielberg was an English Major in college, as his university didn't have a film department.

* Spielberg says that when he was a kid, he saw the old classic movie King Kong. The movie was an inspiration for him to make "Jurassic Park," which is a kind of modern day King Kong or Godzilla movie.

[My personal thoughts and recollections about Steven Spielberg and his movies were supplemented with details, dates and numbers from Wikipedia. - Kevin] 

Steven Spielberg Biographies:

Jurassic Park (1993) brachiosaur scene for Kevin's listening handout
Schindler's List (1993) hinges scene for Kevin's listening handout

Links to trailers and clips of some of Steven Spielberg's movies:
Top 10 Steven Spielberg Movies
Jaws (1975) - trailer
"Jaws" theme song
Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) - trailer
E.T. the Extra Terrestrial (1982) - trailer
Reese's Pieces product placement in "E.T. the Extra Terrestrial" (1982)
Hook (1991) - fan-made trailer; stars Robin Williams (R.I.P. Aug. 11, 2014)
Jurassic Park (1993) - trailer; stars Richard Attenborough (R.I.P. Aug. 24, 2014)
Schindler's List (1993) - trailer
Saving Private Ryan (1998) - trailer
Scenes from "A.I. Artificial Intelligence" (2001)
Minority Report (2002) - trailer
Catch Me If You Can (2002) - trailer
War of the Worlds (2004) - trailer
Munich (2005) - trailer
The Adventures of Tintin (2011) - trailer
War Horse (2011) - trailer
Lincoln (2012) - trailer
Bridge of Spies (2015) - trailer
The BFG (2016) - trailer
Ready Player One (2018) - trailer

Watch three or more clips of Steven Spielberg's movies (or watch a whole movie in the library!) and write a blog comment in the comment box below.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Fall Schedule - Screen English B

Screen English B Fall Schedule

1. Sept. 19    How was your summer?       Directors;  Steven Spielberg
2. Sept. 26    Alfred Hitchcock             Homework #1b; Homework #4b
3. Oct. 3       Stanley Kubrick             Homework #1b due ↩
4. Oct. 10     Christopher Nolan            
5. Oct. 17     Quentin Tarantino        Quiz #1b (8 pts)
6. Oct. 24     Clint Eastwood            
7. Oct. 31     Up-and-coming Directors; TBA    Homework #2b
8. Nov. 7      Martin Scorsese            Homework #2b due ↩
9. Nov. 14    The Coen Brothers        
10. Nov. 21  Woody Allen             Homework #3b
11. Nov. 28  Francis Ford Coppola        Homework #3b due ↩
12. Dec. 5    Hayao Miyazaki & Peter Jackson   
13. Dec. 12  Tim Burton             Quiz #2b (8 pts)
14. Dec. 19   Ridley Scott & James Cameron
✪ Winter Break – Dec. 26 (no class; 補講日) & Jan. 2; You’re free! Watch a movie!
15. Jan. 9    Coming Soon! TBA        Homework #4b due ↩

        ↩ = homework due; 5 absences = FAIL; 3-4 absences = probably FAIL

Kevin Miller