Friday, October 18, 2019

Clint Eastwood

Clint Eastwood (born 1930) first became famous as an actor in the American TV cowboy series "Rawhide" (1959-1966) and in various spaghetti westerns. His violent police series "Dirty Harry" established him as a popular anti-hero of violent crime movies.

His first turn at directing was for the psychological thriller, "Play Misty for Me" (1971), in which he also starred. While the movie is not considered one of his greatest, it was highly praised and showed Eastwood's directing potential.

In recent years, Eastwood continues to act, but he gets the most attention for his movie directing. Several of the movies he directed have received the highest praise and awards. For the western movie "Unforgiven" (1992), Eastwood both starred and directed. This movie won the Academy Award for Best Picture and Eastwood received the award for Best Director. This movie was remade as a Japanese jidaigeki in 2013 (but not by Eastwood).

Eastwood again won Academy Awards for Best Picture and Best Director with his boxing movie, "Million Dollar Baby" (2004), in which he also starred. Other excellent and critically acclaimed movies directed by Clint Eastwood are "The Bridges of Madison County" (1995), "Mystic River" (2003), "Flags of Our Fathers" (2006), "Letters from Iwo Jima" (2006), "Changeling" (2008), "Gran Torino" (2008), and "Invictus" (2009). A musical directed by Eastwood, "Jersey Boys" (based on the Broadway musical), came out in 2014, followed by "American Sniper" in the same year. In 2016, we saw "Sully" (2016), starring Tom Hanks. It was based on the true story of an emergency plane landing on the Hudson River, which happened in 2009.

* Despite Eastwood's long acting career, he has never won an Academy Award for his acting, although he has been nominated twice (Unforgiven, 1992; Million Dollar Baby, 2004). He has been nominated for Best Director by the Academy Awards four times, winning twice.
* Eastwood was mayor of the town of Carmel, California, from 1986-1988.
* Eastwood is also an accomplished musician. He composed much of the music for the soundtracks to many of his movies.
* "Letters from Iwo Jma" (硫黄島からの手紙, 2006), is almost entirely in Japanese. It shows the battle for a strategic island in the Pacific during World War II from the point of view of the Japanese. Another movie, "Flags of Our Fathers" (2006), shows the same battle from the point of view of the Americans.

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

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

Clint Eastwood Biographies:

My Bag clip, from 'Million Dollar Baby' listening exercise for handout.

Links to trailers & clips from some of Clint Eastwood's movies:
Play Misty for Me (1971) - psychological thriller; trailer
Pale Rider (1985) - western; axe handle fight scene
Mystic River (2003) - drama; trailer
Million Dollar Baby (2004) - boxing drama; trailer; also short boxing clip
Flags of Our Fathers (2006) - war; trailer
Letters from Iwo Jima (2006) - war; trailer; starring Ken Watanabe & Kazunari Ninomiya
Changeling (2008) - true historical drama; trailer; starring Angelina Jolie
Gran Torino (2008) - drama; trailer
Scene from Gran Torino (2008)
Invictus (2009) - true drama; South African history; trailer; starring Morgan Freeman & Matt Damon
J. Edgar (2011) - true biopic of J. Edgar Hoover, former FBI director; starring DiCaprio; trailer
Jersey Boys (2014) - musical about the American band, The Four Seasons; trailer
American Sniper (2014) - war movie about a soldier in Iraq; based on a true story; trailer
Sully (2016) - trailer; starring Tom Hanks
The 15:17 to Paris (2018) - trailer
The Mule (2018) - trailer
Richard Jewell - trailer; based on a true story! Coming soon!

Gran Torino (2008)

Two versions of "Unforgiven" (Japanese version not directed by Clint Eastwood)
Unforgiven (1992) - western; directed by Clint Eastwood
Unforgiven [許されざる者] (2013) - jidaigeki; Japanese remake; directed by Lee Sang-il

Morgan Freeman has starred in 3 movies directed by Clint Eastwood, and they all appear in this list of Top 10 Morgan Freeman Performances.

Watch one or more of the Clint Eastwood trailers or clips above and write a comment in the comment box below.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Grades - Homework #1, Quiz #1B

Homework #1 - Hitchcock
5 pts. - 3 people
4.5 pts. - 2 people
4 pts. - 10 people
3.5 pts. - 1 person
3 pts. - 4 people
.5 pts. - 4 people
0 pts. - 2 people
Not submitted - 7 people

Quiz #1B - 4 Directors
7.5 pts. - 2 people
7 pts. - 2 people
5 pts. - 1 person
4 pts. - 1 person
3 pts. - 2 people
2 pts. - 3 people
1.5 pts. - 1 person
1 pt. - 1 person
.5 pts. - 4 people
0 pts. - 10 people

Friday, October 11, 2019

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 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. His most recent movie is the widely acclaimed Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019), in theaters now.

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] Q1B

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
Pulp Fiction (1994) - dance scene
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
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019) - 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!).

Looper: Every Quentin Tarantino movie ranked worst to first
** Note: This video was made before Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019) came out.

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 4, 2019

Christopher Nolan

Christopher 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.

* Christopher 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)
Coming in 2020! Tenet - fan made trailer

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
Quiz Practice 1
Quiz Practice 2

Friday, September 27, 2019

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

EdPuzzle - Lolita clip

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

Friday, September 20, 2019

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 Golden Age of Hollywood: 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!

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

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.