Chapter 01: Looking at Movies multiple choice



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ESSAY
1. For what reasons is it important to study and analyze movies as more than mere “entertainment”?

ANS:


Movies shape the way we view the world and our place in that world, tell us a great deal about the artist, society, or industry that created them, and contain meanings often concealed behind an imperceptible cinematic language.

DIF: Medium REF: Pages 2–3 TOP: Looking at Movies

MSC: Understanding
2. Explain some reasons popular cinema came to be dominated by movies devoted to telling fictional stories. What are the specific qualities of the cinematic medium and our cultural traditions that brought about such an emphasis on narrative?

ANS:


The linear quality of movies makes them perfectly suited to develop subject matter in a sequential progression, and when a medium so compatible with narrative is introduced to a culture with an already well-established storytelling tradition, narrative usually becomes central to cinema.

DIF: Difficult REF: Page 3 TOP: What Is a Movie?

MSC: Remembering
3. Define and explain three characteristics of the cinematic medium that set it apart from all other two-dimensional visual art forms.

ANS:


Movies are comprised of a series of still images that when viewed in rapid succession appear to be moving; movies are constructed from individual shots that allow visual elements to rearrange themselves and the viewer’s perspective itself to shift within any composition; movies are constructed of multiple individual shots joined to one another in an extended sequence.

DIF: Medium REF: Page 4 TOP: What Is a Movie?

MSC: Remembering
4. What is cinematic “invisibility”? What are some of the techniques that allow it to function so proficiently, and how do these work?

ANS:


Cinematic invisibility is a film grammar (or language) that draws upon the way we automatically interpret visual information in our “real” lives, thus allowing audiences to absorb movie meaning intuitively and instantly. Fade-outs and fade-ins suggest a passage of time by playing on our understanding of passing time by the rising and setting of the sun; low-angle shots make characters look powerful and imposing by playing on the way we look up at revered figures; cutting on action hides the instantaneous and potentially jarring shift from one camera viewpoint to another.

DIF: Difficult REF: Pages 6–8 TOP: Invisibility and Cinematic Language

MSC: Applying
5. What is “cultural invisibility,” and what are some of the ways filmmakers exploit it for their movies?

ANS:


Cultural invisibility is the filmmakers’ favoring of stories and themes that reinforce viewers’ shared belief systems. Because the reinforcement of deep yearnings and belief occurs on an unconscious level, the casual viewer may be blind to the implied political, cultural, and ideological messages that help make a movie so appealing. Often filmmakers will wittingly or unwittingly subscribe to cultural invisibility in their films to entertain customers by “giving them what they want.”

DIF: Difficult REF: Page 10 TOP: Cultural Invisibility

MSC: Applying
6. Using Juno as an example, explain the difference between explicit and implicit meaning.

ANS:


Explicit meaning is a movie’s surface-level information; implicit meaning is comprised of the associations, connections, or inferences underneath that surface-level information. In Juno, Vanessa wears an Alice in Chains shirt while painting her nursery (explicit meaning), which suggests that she no longer values the things she once liked when she was younger and is moving on to the next phase of her life (implicit meaning).

DIF: Medium REF: Pages 11–12 TOP: Implicit and Explicit Meaning

MSC: Applying
7. Discuss some of the ways viewer expectations are generated by movies.

ANS:


Viewer expectations can be created by the information people learn about movies beforehand in previews, commercials, reviews, interviews, and word of mouth. For example, after hearing one’s friends rave about Juno, one might be underwhelmed upon actually seeing the film; or one might be disappointed by a slow-moving drama that featured an ad campaign promising a fast-moving action film.

DIF: Easy REF: Page 13 TOP: Viewer Expectations

MSC: Applying
8. Explain how expectations specific to a particular performer like Michael Cera inform the way viewers perceive his role in Juno.

ANS:


Fans of Cera’s previous performances as an endearingly awkward adolescent in the film Superbad and television series Arrested Development might watch Juno with a built-in affection for the character he plays in that film, Juno’s sort-of boyfriend. This predetermined fondness does more than help us like the movie; it dramatically changes the way we approach a character type that our expectations might otherwise lead us to distrust.

DIF: Easy REF: Page 13 TOP: Viewer Expectations

MSC: Applying
9. Explain some of the several meanings contained in the opening two shots of Juno, especially in regard to how the film conveys basic storytelling information as well as how it evokes the main character’s state of mind.

ANS:


The opening establishing shot informs the viewer that the setting is contemporary middle-class suburbia at dawn; the composition of the shot—with Juno at the far left of the frame and tiny in relationship to the wide-angle frame—also conveys Juno as overwhelmed and made vulnerable by the prospect of her teenage pregnancy.

DIF: Difficult REF: Page 15 TOP: Formal Analysis

MSC: Applying
10. Explain how certain camera movements, shot selections, and elements of sound design allow viewers to understand what the main character is thinking in the abortion clinic sequence in Juno.

ANS:


Point-of-view shots show that Juno is focusing her attention on the fingernails of other people in the clinic; several tracking shots enlarge Juno within the frame and evoke the sense that she is having a moment of realization; the abnormally loud volume level of drumming fingernails and other fingernail-related noises evokes the sense that these sounds are impinging on Juno’s consciousness. Altogether these elements allow viewers to understand that Juno is having second thoughts about aborting her pregnancy.

DIF: Medium REF: Pages 16–17 TOP: Formal Analysis

MSC: Applying
11. How might an alternative analysis place Juno within the context of director Jason Reitman’s career?

ANS:


Both Juno and another one of Reitman’s movies, Thank You for Smoking, for instance, take provocative political stances, gradually generate empathy for initially unsympathetic characters, and favor fast-paced expositional montages featuring first-person voice-over narration.

DIF: Medium REF: Page 21 TOP: Alternative Approaches to Analysis

MSC: Applying
12. How might one construct an argument that Juno advocates a pro-life message?

ANS:


In contrast to the welcoming suburban settings that dominate the rest of the story, the ironically named Women Now abortion clinic is an unattractive structure in an unattractive setting; Juno is confronted by clearly stated and compelling arguments against abortion via Su-Chin; the sole onscreen representative of the pro-choice alternative is a sneering cynic.

DIF: Medium REF: Page 21 TOP: Alternative Approaches to Analysis

MSC: Applying
13. What formal elements are used to emphasize the disparity between the citizens of District 11 and the representatives from the capitol in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire?

ANS:


The representatives are arranged symmetrically; the workers from District 11 are arranged randomly. The speakers and their armored entourage are veiled in blue shadow close to a flat background. The crowd is rimmed by highlights, which warms their color and adds depth. The Peacekeepers are dehumanized by their face masks and white armored uniforms, and later by having their heads framed out completely.

DIF: Medium REF: Page 27

TOP: Cultural and Formal Analysis in The Hunger Games MSC: Applying
14. In what ways does the Hunger Games series adhere to classical storytelling tradition?

ANS:


Katniss is an ordinary girl suddenly revealed as a sort of chosen one with extraordinary hidden talents and a special destiny; this secret savior is plucked from obscurity, undergoes training, and is tested by a series of increasingly dangerous challenges; in the end, our unlikely heroine defeats a seemingly invincible evil.

DIF: Medium REF: Page 23

TOP: Cultural and Formal Analysis in The Hunger Games MSC: Applying
15. Pick a recent feature film that passes the Bechdel test and explain how it does so.

ANS:


The Bechdel test is passed when a film has at least two named female characters who talk to each other about something other than a man. A strong answer will include specific references including the characters' names and what they discuss. An example at the time of this writing would be Mad Max: Fury Road (George Miller, 2015). Although this film passes the test many times over, one example would be when Furiosa (Charlize Theron) informs the Keeper of the Seeds (Melissa Jaffer) about the death of her mother.

DIF: Difficult REF: Page 23



TOP: Cultural and Formal Analysis in The Hunger Games MSC: Applying

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