Friday, February 17, 2017

In-depth Movie Analysis from Three YouTube Channels

  It’s easy to examine movies as a thing to be criticized, to take each one and try to find something wrong with it.  While there is a place for that, film criticism can also look at films as an art form.  To look at fantastic films and sometimes not-so-fantastic, and take a critical look at the techniques used, showing how the writing/ cinematography/acting/editing can work for the movie (or sometimes against it).  Here are three YouTube that has in-depth movie analysis.  
   The channel Lessons from the Screenplay is from Michael Tucker.  He examines screenplays from well-known movies, both celebrated critical hits and Hollywood blockbusters.  For example, in one of the two-part American Beauty videos, Tucker tells us that one of the strengths of American Beauty is the fact that all of the characters desire the same thing: seeking their true self, instead of each desiring different things, which is a great way “to show the theme of your movie to the audience”.  The next video is about The Dark Knight, and focused on creating the Ultimate Antagonist, who for example is “exceptionally good at attacking the Hero’s greatest weakness.”  The Joker specifically wants Batman to kill him because he knows Batman’s one moral code is that he doesn’t kill people.  Also, the Joker forces Bruce Wayne/Batman to make difficult choices to reveal who or what he cares about when pressured.  In these ways, the Joker is the Ultimate Antagonist for Batman.  Other videos look at how Wes Anderson’s story meets style, examining the anatomy of the obsessed artist by comparing Black Swan to Whiplash, and focusing on how Ex Machina controls information.  The Lessons from the Screenplay series does so well focusing on the completed movie as well as the script itself.  In this way, the series examines how best to use screenplays to tell effective stories.  
    Every Frame a Painting, made by Tony Zhou, primarily examines movie making from more camera techniques and movies as a visual medium.  An early video focuses on the Spielberg Oner, that is long one-shots in movies.  However, unlike long takes from other directors, which are extremely long and call attention to themselves (example: the entering the restaurant scene from Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas).  However, in each of Spielberg’s films, his Oner instead is shorter but instead, delivers enough information in one shot that three or four shots could have done showing are efficiency as director.  Another video (taking inspiration from the documentary Los Angeles Plays Itself) is called Vancouver Never Plays Itself, and examines the exact ways filmmakers have used Vancouver to be any city the movie deems it to be and since he is a native of Vancouver, laments that there few films which celebrate the uniqueness of his own city.  Other videos include: how Robin Williams moves in movies, the evolution of the artistry of animator Chuck Jones, and an examination of chairs and their significance for movies and the characters in those movies, and even a video on the distinct camera style of Michael Bay (yes that Transformers director).  No matter what the subject, Zhou approaches each video with a love for the artistry and technique of movies.  
  Chez Lindsay, made by Lindsay Ellis, originally started out as the counterpart to the Nostalgia Critic and was called the Nostalgia Chick.  Based out of New York City, her original Nostalgia Chick reviews had many similarities in the format with the Nostalgia Critic reviews, though obviously with Ellis’ distinct style.  However, towards the end of her run with the Nostalgia Critic’s parent company Channel Awesome, she began to evolve and create different content and ultimately branch out on her own channel, Chez Lindsay.  The first is a fascinating series called Loose Canon, which examines all of the ways one character, thing or event is portrayed in media.  Subjects previously covered include Phantom of the Opera, Queen Elizabeth II, Marilyn Monroe, 9/11, Hilary Clinton, Jack the Ripper and Santa Claus.  Ellis has also released in-depth looks at three movies (Hercules, Joel Schumacher's Phantom of the Opera and Rent), movies which were well made but ultimately failed, and the reasons why they failed, including their history of production.  She also created a fantastic analysis of the Three Act Structure in movies (“And Why They Work”), a look into how Aliens have been portrayed in the movies (similar to her Loose Canon series) and a study of planting and payoff done right with Mad Max: Fury Road used as the example.  Chez Lindsay’s approaches to movie analysis are informative, fascinating and frequently hilarious.  
   Each of these YouTube channels makes their content based primarily on the love of the art form of movies, and each of them is creating content on their own.  They each have Patreon, a site where you can support them monetarily as an artist if you enjoy their content.  Check out each of these wonderful YouTube channels with excellent In-Depth looks at movies as an art form. 

Lessons From a Screenplay:
Every Frame a Painting:

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