5 Centimeters Per Second; A Thoughtful and Complete Film

In life, there is at least one happy or unforgettable moment in which a person never wants to let go, and he or she replays it in their mind so it will not disappear with time. Anime director Makoto Shinkai’s 2007 film, 5 Centimeters Per Second, explores the positives and negatives of clinging onto a moment in time.

As the film opens, the viewers are presented with the significance of the title. It refers to the rate at which a cherry blossom petal falls to the ground.

Tono Takai is a junior high school student in Tokyo. He keeps in touch with his elementary school friend, Akari Shinohara (who moved to a different city after graduating elementary school) via letters. The two formed a great bond with the little time that they had together. In their letters, they express concern that they might not be able to recognize one another if they meet again. After a year of exchanging letters, Tono decides to physically meet with Akari when he learns he too will be moving far away from Tokyo to a different town.

Tono embarks on a journey during a snowy winter night amidst multiple train delays. The pacing in this section of the film works very well because it plays to the audience’s anxiety as they are left to wonder if Tono and Akari’s anticipated meeting will actually occur.

The remaining two sections of the film follow Tono through his high school life and early career life, respectively. Though many life-changing moments are presented to Tono, he often overlooks the people who have the potential to make a difference in his life. Through Tono’s path to adulthood, 5 Centimeters Per Second demonstrates the dangers of placing too much weigh on a single moment in life.

The animation of the film is very crisp. Nearly each frame effectively creates a work of art. The film was made entirely on a computer, showcasing the beautiful visuals capable in the medium. Tenmon, the score’s composer who frequently works on Shinkai’s films, elevates an already beautiful film to something greater with his emotional-charged piano pieces.

With his film, Shinkai asks an essential life question: do moments from the past or moments from the present define your future?

In Response to Super Mario 3D World’s E3 Trailer (A Comparison to Super Mario 64)

In the year 1996, the video game world was taken by storm by the classic game, Super Mario 64. In the year 2013, Nintendo announced the release of a new Mario game, Super Mario 3D World for the Wii U. After viewing the gameplay trailer shown at this year’s E3 conference, I felt betrayed both as a long time Nintendo and Super Mario Brothers fan. After the trailer ended, many thoughts bitterly lingered in my mind; thoughts that made me consider not paying attention to further Mario releases.

Think back to Super Mario 64. Think of the variety of landscapes in the game and the large open worlds.  Think back to the massive scope of actions Mario could perform. He had his signature triple jump, his long jump, the deceptively worthless ability to crawl, the jump dive, and the trip attack, among many other moves and maneuvers. The gameplay was fantastic, especially for its limited cartridge engine.

Think back to some other aspects of Mario 64; some that were actually quite grisly. There were long, drawn out animations of Mario drowning if the player stayed under water too long. Mario could get crushed by a boulder five times his size (when this occurs, he lets out a painful sounding grunt.) Mario could get swallowed by a menacing fish with no hopes of survival. He could get dragged under the earth by fatal quicksand. And certainly the most shocking death of Mario in the game is his suffocation by means of an unidentified poisonous gas in an underground cave.

Mario drowning in Mario 64

Mario drowning in Mario 64

Watching the trailer for Super Mario 3D World, it is obvious that Mario games have lost their edge that made the so accessible to all age groups in the first place. Even though the various ways to die in Mario 64 were rather violent, the platforming classic was no God of War or Resident Evil 4. However, it is shocking to recall how violent Mario 64 actually is by today’s Super Mario standards, considering that one of the main selling points of Super Mario 3D World’s trailer is Mario and his friends’ ability to wear cat costumes and acquire cat-like abilities, such as meowing and climbing walls. Obviously, Mario has changed. Mario has been toned down. The presence of violence was not what made Mario 64 such a universally acclaimed game, but its touch of edginess and atmospheric tension in the game certainly helped make it unique in the Super Mario catalog.

Mario and co. in cat suits

Mario and co. in cat suits in new Super Mario 3D trailer

It seems that the targeted audience of Mario games used to be everyone. However, Super Mario World 3D’s trailer gives the impression that its audience is those eight years old and younger. As many fans have been asking for, I too ask for Nintendo to make a true successor to Mario 64. I am not asking for more grisly Mario death animations, but I am asking for the long awaited true return to form in the Mario series.  Super Mario used to Nintendo’s most innovative and groundbreaking video game series, producing gems on each system, such as Super Mario World for the Super Nintendo, Mario 64 for the Nintendo 64, Gamecube’s Super Mario Sunshine, and the gorgeous Super Mario Galaxy for the Wii. Here I am scratching my head and wondering where the innovation and all-age audience of Mario games has gone. Are a multiplayer story mode and a cat suit the best you have, Nintendo?

Found Footage Horror: Its History and Style

Found Footage Horror Movies: Its History and Style

            One of my main passions in life is movies. I watch any kind of movie in any type of medium or genre. If I were to choose my favorite genre, I would give you a different answer depending on the day or how I feel at the moment. However, the genre that I consistently enjoy watching and usually find myself returning to the most is probably horror movies.

Each movie genre offers something different and is unique. Romantic movies provide the viewer with an escape into the realistic feelings of love, even if they are artificially created onscreen for a movie. Action and adventure movies let the viewer embark on fantastic exploits and experience occurrences that would mostly likely never happen in real life. Comedies give the audience a chance to laugh at the absurdities of life and the mishaps of others, even if we all have experienced such embarrassing situations ourselves. Mystery and thriller films challenge the audience to think about subtle plot details; if even the slightest of these details are missed, then the shocking conclusion of many of these films will truly be shocking. Science fiction films make us wonder about the possibilities of technology and their role in the future. Horror movies scare us.

The horror genre is nearly as old as movies themselves. Over the years, some of cinema’s greatest moments occurred in horror movies; the shower scene in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho and the awakening of the Bride of Frankenstein in The Bride of Frankenstein, only two of many. The horror genre has evolved greatly over its history. In the 1930’s, terrifying visuals were key, and in the 1950’s and 1960’s, fear of the unknown was a popular theme. The slasher film, a sub-genre that places emphasis on graphic images and stylized slayings, reached its peak in popularity in the 1980’s, highlighted with films such as A Nightmare on Elm Street and Halloween. However, a more recent sub-genre of horror, the found footage film, offers completely different aesthetics, cinematography, and terror not seen by other sub-genres of horror. In the found footage horror film, audiences are not passive spectators witnessing horror happening to a film’s characters, but they are active, experiencing the character’s perils along with them. Found footage horror films are unique in the concept that the story being told is not presented as a work of fiction, but it is meant to be real.

Devon Ashby of the website Craveonline.com defines found footage horror films as “horror films that pretend to be real-time documents of actual events” (Ashby). Audience engagement is key in these films. In other types of horror movies, the audience can be described as passive, meaning they play no active role in the film, and are merely watching a story onscreen that is meant to be fictional. Audience members who watch found footage horror films are active. They are spectators of the action and terror taking place on the screen, and the work presented is meant to have actually happened. This effect is achieved by the technical aspect of the filming itself, which makes the film look more realistic than traditional film. The movie is often produced using a shaky camera technique, and the dialogue is written (and sometimes improvised by the actors) to sound less scripted and more natural.

Adding to many found footage film’s sense of realism and audience involvement is the fact that the actors are usually not famous. The actors that audience members see onscreen are common and everyday people who might as well be a friend or someone they know. This is done deliberately to make the audience feel more like they are part of the film. Not many people can image themselves in the same situation as an A-list actor such as Tom Cruise, but it would not be difficult to imagine themselves in a situation with most found footage film actors because they are relatively unknown.

The inception of found footage horror movies can be traced back to the year 1980, with the release of the Italian horror movie Cannibal Holocaust, directed by Ruggero Deodato. The movie is about a young group of filmmakers from New York who travel to Brazil to investigate indigenous rainforest peoples. The film presents itself as a documentary that discusses the filmed images caught by the investigative group in the Brazilian rainforests. The set-up works as a film within a film. In the beginning of the film, a narrator in New York City tells the audience, “Four young and fearless Americans, children of the Space Age, armed with cameras, microphones, and curiosity…. Four youngster that never came back” (Deodato). This sets the stage for the entire movie. At this time in cinema history, the idea of a fictional documentary (known as a mockumentary) was not very common. This mockumnetary movie offers as direct inspiration to later found footage pieces such as The Blair Witch Project.

            At the time of the film’s release, it was highly sensationalized for its unrelenting, grotesque, and inhumane content; the film depicts very realistic torture scenes, graphic violence, and violence against animals. Unlike most films in the history of cinema, Cannibal Holocaust was not shot to look like a standard film. Deodato manipulated the images and the film itself to make the first example of a found footage horror movie. Author Louis Paul wrote, “This clever idea of using faked “found footage” by scathing the negative, adding grain to the image, photographing with amateur 16mm equipment and a slew of scenes featuring numerous zoom lens shots is admirable” (Paul 111). This original technique of filming made the images in the movie seem even more graphic than if they were filmed the standard way, simple because they looked more realistic. Although Deodato’s film contains incredibly shocking images, the Italian director was an important horror film innovator and a key founder in the found footage horror sub-genre.

Because Cannibal Holocaust was the first horror movie to use the found footage technique, many audience members, government officials, and even Deodato’s own film making colleagues were shocked by the startlingly real images in the film; they were not sure if the footage they witnessed in the movie was faked or real. After the film’s premier in Milan, Italy, Deodato and the film crew were arrested for accounts of murder (Summers, 189). Although the depictions of humans being killed in the movie were later proved to only be elaborate special effects, Deodato’s movie still get him in trouble with the law. “For the countless scenes of true animal cruelty, Deodato was taken to the courts by the Italian government and lost his case.” (Paul, 112). Killing real animals to make a movie, and even worse, showing the footage onscreen is generally seen as unacceptable and against the law, and under no circumstances shown be used in a movie.

The found footage genre certainly had dark and sinister origins in Cannibal Holocaust, but thankfully, as the sub-genre progressed over the years, filmmakers learned from Deodato’s mistakes. Directors knew that they were not banned from producing shocking images or graphic events in movies, but everything had to be artificial. The idea of found footage films are based on expanding the horror genre to more than just passive entertainment. The trick to making these films frightening is to present them as close to reality as possible without actually being real. It must look convincing. If not, the entertainment value in found footage horror movies is greatly diminished.

In the year 1992, the BBC aired a program on television called Ghost Watch. It was presented as an investigative news program. This cleverly made found footage horror movie was produced at a time when the sub-genre was not very common and was relatively young, so many people accepted the movie as an actual news report. The fact that the film is shown as an official newscast containing all the elements of late night news shows make it hard not to believe. The people who watched the television program certainly cannot be written off as gullible. In the beginning of the program, the host tells the audience:

Tonight, television is going ghost hunting in an unprecedented scientific experiment          where I hope to show you for the first time irrefutable proof that ghosts really do exist.       I’m joined in the studio with Dr. Lynn Pascal to give her expert technical advice.     Throughout the program, I’ve been taking other expert’s opinion about the supernatural           (Volk).

The presentation by the host and supposed “expert advice” all contribute to making this movie believable. Interestingly, in the quote above, during both instances when the host says the word “experts,” he emphasizes the word by separating it from the rest of his monologue. It sounds like he is giving the audience a hint that the experts he refers to really are not real experts at all, but in fact, people contributing to a mockumnetary.

The last major and impactful found footage horror film before the new millennium was 1999’s The Blair Witch Project, directed by Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez. It marked the beginning of a new and rejuvenated era in the found footage horror film. The movie is about three teenagers who want to make a documentary about the local legend of a witch in a small town in Maryland. The character are Heather, the director of the film, Mike, the cameraman, and Josh, who is Heather’s friend. Like Cannibal Holocaust 20 years before, The Blair Witch Project features amateur and ambitious filmmakers planning to make a documentary, only to meet their end.

Blair Witch Project's Heather

Blair Witch Project’s Heather

Although The Blair Witch Project follows a similar path as Cannibal Holocaust in regards to the basic plot structure (filmmakers hope to catch great footage for a documentary, but end up getting in serious trouble), the presentation is completely different. In Cannibal Holocaust, the scares result from what is seen on camera; in The Blair Witch Project, the scares result from what is not seen on camera. The result is that the latter film is much more tasteful than the former. The Blair Witch Project set a very important standard for found footage horror movies, whose influence can be seen in more recent movies such as Paranormal Activity. Quiet terror and subtle violence can be more effective than visceral and gory violence in found footage films.

Despite the title of the movie, The Blair Witch Project is not a horror movie about a witch, but a horror movie detailing the frightening amount of tension human beings can experience and the surprisingly simple path to human hysteria. Heather, Mike, and Josh journey into the woods hoping to find information on the local legend of a witch. From the moment they enter the woods, the tension among the three characters is apparent. Josh claims that he can’t stay for too many days in the woods because he has an obligation at his job back in his hometown. Heather is too absorbed in her documentary project and her camera to pay complete attention to the needs of her friends. Mike blames Heather when the three get lost, because he believes the map Heather used to find the witch sites was useless. In a very high tension scene, Mike admits that he threw away the map, which they were frantically searching for all day. He says half laughing and half hysterically, “I kicked that [expletive] map into the creek yesterday. It was useless!” (Myrick and Sanchez). Mike’s cruelty leads both Heather and Josh to angrily shout at him and blame him for getting them lost.

One of The Blair Witch Project’s most important assets is its setting. The majority of the film takes place in a large forest in Maryland. Watching the film, it is difficult to feel like you are safely viewing a movie at your leisure. Instead, it feels like part of you is doomed in the woods as the film’s characters are. The setting is put to great use in one scene especially in which the three characters hike for an entire day, hoping to find civilization, only to realize they ended their day of hiking exactly where they started it; at a giant log that fell across the creek. This realization leads the characters to a fit of hopelessness and hysteria. At this point, the idea that they will not escape from the woods because apparent in the character’s attitudes, tone of voice, and lack of effort they show in further escape plans.

The tone of The Blair Witch Project emphasizes the ordinary and not the supernatural and extraordinary. Heather and her friends do not expect to catch any shocking images on their cameras, but they film everything from their jokes, serious conversations, and very heated arguments, just in case they might catch something on film.  What results from their full-time filming is very realistic teenage dialogue. Horror critic John Muir stated his opinion of the film’s style, saying “This movie is all about things that can’t be seen, can’t be quantified, can’t be recorded or processed. It’s about people who record endless footage on their video camera but don’t see anything” (Muir, 603). The film works as a commentary on the difficulty of catching truly memorable events and images on camera; not just throw-away film.

Near the end of The Blair Witch Project, Heather speaks directly to the camera and delivers one of the most powerful verbal representations of true fear in a found footage horror film or any horror film. She speaks with fear while crying:

I was very naïve. I am so, so sorry for everything that has happened… It was my                           project, and I insisted. I insisted we weren’t lost, I insisted that we’d keep going… Everything had to be my way, and this is where we ended up, and it’s all because                          of me that we’re here now. Hungry, and cold, and hunted. (Myrick and Sanchez)

This type of confession would not be nearly as effective if it was not a found footage horror movie. The close up of Heather’s face during this scene is extremely effective and feels very intimate.  Heather is not just a Hollywood actress playing the role of a girl being hunted in a horror movie. She is an innocent, frightened, and doomed girl who followed her ambition to make a documentary. The deconstruction of her mental state in this scene is a fitting climax to the movie. From that point forward, the audience knows that Heather, the group leader, has given up, and there will be no escape for her and her friends.

A Japanese foray into the sub-genre of the found footage horror film is exemplified by the 2005 film, Noroi: The Curse, directed by Koji Shiraishi. The film follows the narrative of a documentary filmmaker named Masifumi Kobiyashi who has a keen interest in the supernatural. The movie chronicles his investigation on a spirit demon that has a connection to a variety of unexplained events in a Japanese town. Despite the fact that this movie was released eight years ago, it remains highly unknown to the general public and has yet to see an American DVD release.

The film’s strength lies not in producing shocking violence as Cannibal Holocaust does or explaining the mental frailty of humanity as The Blair Witch Project does, but Noroi: The Curse can be seen as a piece of found footage horror that lures its audience in and slowly challenges them to try to avoid feeling pure, unrelenting terror. There are not many traditional elements in this movie that can be classified as scary per se, but the slow build-up of every event makes the feeling of this movie very uneasy.

Image from Noroi: The Curse

Image from Noroi: The Curse

Noroi: The Curse is such a strong and unique entry in the found footage genre because of the uneasiness it forces the audience to endure.  For example, Hobiyashi interviews a mother and her child in his neighborhood. He thinks there might be a connection between them and a recent supernatural event in the village because they claimed to have been hearing strange voices in their house. He talks to them, and they seem like normal people. The next day, he goes to their house for a follow up interview, and afterwards, waves goodbye to the mother and her child. Five days later, Hobiyashi finds out that they died in a car accident, leaving the audience to feel uneasy, sad, and sick to their stomachs. Those two happy and innocent people that director introduced in the movie are now dead. Hobayashi explains the incident to the audience: “The car went over the divider into oncoming traffic” (Shiraishi). That is just one of many examples of terror in Norio: The Curse that can send chills up viewers’ spines without presenting anything that would traditionally be considered “scary” in a horror movie.

Noroi: The Curse is very unique and inventive in its overall plot structure. For a found footage movie, it is very complicated and contains nearly 15 important characters that the audience must follow to make complete sense of the plot. There are many seemingly independent events early on in the film that might not seem to fit into the plot, but in fact, everything comes together fittingly in the end. For example, a sequence in the beginning of the film shows footage from a television variety program that features a psychic, Koichi Hirotsu, getting schoolchildren to perform psychic tricks (Shiraishi). This scene might feel unconnected from the rest of the film up to that point, but as the viewer watches more of the movie, it all begins to make sense.

This seemingly unrelated variety show scene is actually very important to the movie. Koichi Hirotsu gives the schoolchildren an empty flask and asks them to try to produce water through telekinesis. One little girl is actually able to accomplish this feat, to Hirotsu and the rest of the children’s amazement. As the movie progresses, the audience finds out that this girl’s psychic ability came from the powers of the demon entity that Hobiyashi is investigating. That level of plot deepness is not present in many other works of found footage.

In the year 2007, Spain took a try at the found footage horror sub-genre. Directors Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza created one of the most frightening found footage movies with REC. The movie is about a local television personality, Angela Videl, and the filming of an episode from her television show, While You’re Asleep. For the current episode that she and her cameraman, Pablo, are making, they interview firemen and get an insight as to what happens during nights at fire stations. Angela and Pablo venture to the fire station and meet the firemen. The firemen give them a tour of the building and brief them on nightly protocol. The light and often playful mood is interrupted by a real call for the firemen. Angela and Pablo join them and excitedly ride on the fire truck to the scene of the call. Angela learns that the call was for a person trapped in their apartment. When they arrive, Angela sees a police car and says, “Maybe it’s more serious than we thought” (Balagueró and Plaza).

Angela’s statement early on in the movie is certainly correct, and the relaxed and carefree mood from the first six minutes abruptly comes to a halt once Angela, Pablo, and the firemen enter the apartment. The investigation unravels, and the audience and Angela find out there is a dangerous and infectious disease in the woman’s apartment who called for help. This specific disease is highly communicable and can be spread through a bite or through contact with blood. In common horror movie terms, this disease is responsible for a zombie outbreak. The police outside the apartment do not let any of the apartment residents, the firemen, Angela, or Pablo out of the building. An American remake of REC was released and titled Quarantine, referring to the forced isolation the people in the zombie infected apartment had to face.

REC's Angela

REC’s Angela

Throughout the movie, Angela regularly talks to Pablo as he is filming what the audience is seeing. Whenever Angela speaks to Pablo and looks into the camera, the audience cannot help be feel that she is speaking to them. Pablo represents the oblivious character who does not do anything heroic or anything to change the course of the movie, but instead, he is there only to capture the horror as a bystander. In essence, Pablo is another member of the audience. Many found footage movies feature the lead characters talking to the person holding the camera, but in REC especially, the fear apparent in both the camera person and the other characters feels very real. Pablo and Angela witness many frightening images and fight for their lives in a quarantined building filled with zombies. These characters are not simply random victims of a disaster; the audience knows them up close and personal. The way the movie is filmed and the way the desperate characters normally refer to the camera, REC masterfully makes the audience feel that they are quarantined in the zombie-infected building along with the film’s characters.

In the year 2007, the found footage sub-genre of horror broke into the mainstream and established itself as one of the front runners in the horror genre. Movies like Cannibal Holocaust and The Blair Witch Project certainly had an impact on the mainstream culture and on the horror movie genre, but it was not until the release Orin Peli’s Paranormal Activity that found footage movies became a staple in the horror genre both financially and stylistically. The movie made 107.9 million dollars (Rottentomatoes.com) with a budget of only $15,000 (IMDB.com). It is important to note that The Blair Witch Project made more money than Paranormal Activity at the box office, making around 140 million dollars (boxofficemojo.com). However, the superior popularity among the mass audience of the Paranormal Activity films can be easily seen by the fact that three financially successful sequels have been released in the past three years. The sequel to The Blair Witch Project, called Book of Shadows, released in 2000, did very poor at the box office, earning around only $26,000 dollars in the United States (IMDB.com).

What makes the Paranormal Activity series so popular in the sub-genre is its unique direction and cinematography. In film critic Roger Ebert’s review of the film, he said, “…silence and waiting can be more entertaining than frantic fast-cutting and berserk f/x. For extended periods here, nothing at all is happening, and believe me, you won’t be bored” (Ebert). Ebert is spot on with his analysis of the camerawork. During the film, the audience will be waiting and waiting for something to happen on screen. When something finally does happen, it is nearly impossible to restrain from jumping out of fright or letting out a scream. Nathan Lee, writer for the Film Comment journal explained another reason for the film’s success. “The Paranormal Activity movies are much less interested in offering pieces of a puzzle for us to assemble than in demanding our absolute attention to the specific, immediate unfolding of events in any given shot.” (Lee, 46) Paranormal Activity knows exactly how to scare its audience and the cinematography in this film expertly exploits the idea of fear in a found footage horror film. Audience members can try to look away from the screen during the night scenes of the film where the paranormal entities appear (or not appear, depending on the scene), but the innate and inquisitive impulse of humans that makes us wonder “What’s going to happen next?” will convince us to keep or eyes glued to the screen. The ending result may leave the audience either screaming or letting out a sigh of relief.

Image from Paranormal Activity

Image from Paranormal Activity

Not only is the story completely original in Paranormal Activity, but the film puts its characters to good use. The main character, Katie, is a believer of the supernatural. Her boyfriend, Micah, does not believe in it; he thinks everything about it is a joke. As the movie progresses, Micah slowly becomes interesting in the supernatural. This leads to conflict between the couple. Katie believes that Micah’s new interest is something evil and very dangerous. This is a conflict that many horror movie fans can relate to; just how deep will you go to experience new kinds of terror? Is there a point where you should stop while you are ahead and appreciate a current frightening state of horror without desiring more? In the film, Micah’s desire to indulge in his new kind of terror leads to his disturbing fate.

Paranormal Activity is the most recent popular and groundbreaking found footage horror movie, along with its three sequels. It easy to see why the series is so important and popular; it is original, exploitative, anxiety inducing, and frightening. The audience is not in their room or in a movie theatre when watching this movie; they are in Micah and Katie’s bedroom, firsthand witnessing paranormal occurrences taking place.

In cinema today, found footage horror films are booming. In the year 2012, there were an abundance of releases, spanning from The Devil Inside, to Chronicle, and to V/H/S. As long as the sub-genre continues to generate box office gains, it is not going to leave. Since found footage movies are relatively new when compared with other horror sub-genres, there is still an incredible potential for innovation and originality. However, it seems that many found footage movies rely on a single simplistic concept and hope that the mere method of filming frightens the audience. For example, Paranormal Activity is about a couple setting up a camera inside their bedroom to catch evil spirits and ghosts on camera, and not much else. Ghost Watch is about a group of people investigating haunted houses in Britain, with no further plot complications. A movie that goes against the idea of a simple found footage film is Noroi: The Curse.

Norio: The Curse, as mentioned before, contains a very complicated and multi-layered plot. There are many side stories in the film that seem independent of each other, but come together at the end. There are also many characters in the film to keep track of in order for the plot to come together. I do not think all found footage horror movies should be complicated as Noroi: The Curse, but director Koji Shiraishi certainly is an innovator in the sub-genre. If more directors experiment with found footage and its uncovered potential, the sub-genre could grow into something even bigger than it already is, but artistically and in popularity. For instance, imagine an animated horror film done in the found footage style. Although that would be very difficult to make and might not attract a large audience, I believe it technically could work as a film and it would be very innovative. There is still so much more that can be done with found footage that has not even been touched yet.

Found footage horror movies are an increasingly important and prolific sub-genre in the horror genre. The idea that the movies are created to seem real, exemplified by Heather’s hauntingly realistic confession near the end of The Blair Witch Project, and Pablo the cameraman’s portrayal as the film capturer in REC make found footage movies unique in the entire realm of cinema. Never before in horror movies have the audience members felt like they are truly in the locations and situations that are being shown on the movie screen. The audience really is right there with the characters.

Works Cited

Ashby, Devon. “Terror Cult: Found Footage”. 14 February 2013. Craveonline.com. Accessed 7 April 2013. Web.

Balaguero, Juame, and Plaza, Paco, dirs. Rec. Fox Searchlight Pictures, 2007. Film.

“Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 (2000)”. IMDB.com. Accessed 11 March 2013. Web.

Deodato, Ruggero, dir. Cannibal Holocaust. United Artists, 1980. Film.

Ebert, Roger. “Paranormal Activity”. 7 October 2009. Rogerebert.suntimes.com. Web. 16 March 2013.

Koiji, Shiraishi, dir. Noroi: The Curse. PMP Entertainment, 2005. Film.

Lee, Nathan. “Ghostframe Killah.” Film Comment  Vol. 49 Issue 1 (Jan/Feb. 2013): pages 45-47. Web.

Muir, John Kenneth. Horror Films of the 1990s. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, Inc., 2011. Print.

Myrick, Daniel, and Sanchez, Eduardo, dirs. The Blair Witch Project. Artisan entertainment, 1999. Film.

“Paranormal Activity, 2007”. Rottentomatoes.com.  Accessed 11 March 2013. Web.

Paul, Louis. Italian Horror Film Directors. Jefferson, NC: McFarland and Company, Inc., 2005. Print.

Shiraishi, Koiji, dir. Noroi: The Curse. PMP Entertainment, 2005. Film.

Summers, Don. Horror Movie Freak. Iola, WI: Krause Publications, 2010. Print.

“The Blair Witch Project”. Boxofficemojo.com. Accessed 11 March 2013. Web.

Volk, Stephen, Creator. Ghost Watch. BBC, 1992. Television.

Studio Ghibli: Not the Ordinary Animated Film (Ghibli-Disney film comparison)

Studio Ghibli: Not the Ordinary Animated Film

                When people think of great animated movies, they will most likely think of Disney or Pixar films. When people name great animated films, they will rattle off names such as Snow White or The Lion King. Those films are fantastic, but why are movies such as Whisper of the Heart or My Neighbor Totoro not mentioned in most people’s lists?  Those two movies are productions of the highly acclaimed Japanese animation company, Studio Ghibli. People may not recognize such animated movies mainly because they do not always follow the expected conventions of what are known as “cartoon movies.” Studio Ghibli films should be recognized by more Americans because they are on par with Disney films and sometimes even greater, due to their cinematic and diverse animated films and their ability to transcend all stereotypes seen in most other animation studios’ productions.

What do most Americans expect to see in an animated film? Heroes with funny sidekicks, a one dimensional bad guy who meets his or her demise at the end, and mostly toned down levels of emotional intensity. There are very few instances of change in the basic plot structure of the “expected” animated movie. However, situations in Studio Ghibli movies always vary in terms of plot and structure, and emotions experienced by the characters never feels forced and can always be related to the human spirit. This is not to say that Studio Ghibli movies have no structure, it is just that they are not rule bound by traditional animation film structure as many Disney and American productions are.

An animated film as epic and nearly as lengthy as a Lord of the Rings movie certainly is not a typical animated film. Studio Ghibli’s Hayao Myazaki directed such a film, called Princess Mononoke, an epic set in 16th century Japan. The main distinction that transcends this film beyond common animation fare is its complex and often ambiguous characters. The film’s main “villain,” Lady Eboshi, is the leader of Iron Town, a fortress that manufactures weapons and other technologies of the time era. Throughout the film, she is seen as the antagonist to the main characters, Ashitaka and San. They strive to protect the forest spirits, while Lady Eboshi wants to desolate the forest for more land and resources. But Lady Eboshi also cares for the town lepers when no one else will.

When comparing her to a Disney villain, such as Ursula from The Little Mermaid, it is clear just how multi-dimensional Lady Eboshi is and just how one-dimensional Ursula is. Ursula looks evil, acts evil, and only cares about herself; Lady Eboshi does not necessarily look evil, and she both acts good and evil, like any normal person would.   Author Susan Napier writes about Lady Eboshi, “…she is not actually evil. Instead, she is coerced into destructive attack by her natural desire to protect a utopia…” (241) Princess Mononoke raises the deep question: who really is evil in this world? Rulers faced with difficult and controversial decisions to protect their people or those who retaliate in violent ways? This film expresses that villains in animated movies don not have to be so clear-cut evil; they, like the protagonists, are normal people.

Lady Eboshi from Miyazaki's Princess Mononoke

Lady Eboshi from Miyazaki’s Princess Mononoke

Ursula from Disney's The Little Mermaid

Ursula from Disney’s The Little Mermaid

In contrast, a film that is incredibly strict to the “animated movie formula” is Disney’s Sleeping Beauty. It is a masterpiece of visual beauty, but lacks any originality in terms of plot and breaks no creative ground, as most Studio Ghibli movies do. The first time the audience sees Prince Phillip, a devilishly handsome suitor with a horse, everyone knows that he will save the very beautiful Princess Aurora by the end of the movie with no exception. Indeed, he rescues her, and indeed, many viewers will be craving for something more; something different.

Even further a departure from traditional animation plotlines and styles is Ghbil co-founder Isao Takahata’s Grave of the Fireflies. The film follows the accounts of 10 year old Seita, and his younger sister, Setsuko, as they struggle to survive during the air bombing attacks in their village during World War Two. This film is not only a war drama, but a commentary on the devastating effects of war on children. British writer Dani Cavallaro describes the mood of the movie perfectly: “Fireflies… does not simply offer signs of grief. There is no coded rhetoric to alleviate the anguish of death” (78). This film does not hold back just because it is animated.

In contrast, Disney’s The Lion King, which is often described as very emotional and at times a depressing movie is nowhere near as emotional as Grave of the Fireflies. Five minutes after the emotionally draining death of Mufasa in The Lion King, there is rapid fire humor to counter-balance the grief felt by Simba and the audience, offered by Timon and Pumba; there has to be. It would be breaking the rules to have too much grief and not enough humor. Takahata’s work does no such thing to hold back, breaking the expected animated movie structure. Many live action war films do not succeed in capturing the feelings of death due to war as this “cartoon” does.

Grave of the Fireflies characters Seita (left) and Setsuko (right).

The Grave of the Fireflies characters Seita (left) and Setsuko (right).

The Lion King's Timon (right) and Pumbaa (left).

The Lion King’s Timon (right) and Pumbaa (left).

Sometimes called the greatest Studio Ghibli movie, My Neighbor Totoro comes closer to an expected animated movie than either Princess Mononoke or Grave of the Fireflies. This perceived distinction, however, is only on the surface. The fact that there is very little action and plot advancement may lead some to wonder what exactly is so deep and incredible about this film. The entirety of the plot revolves around the adventures of 12 year old Satsukie and her five year old sister, Mei, as they explore their rural property and meet friendly bear-like creatures called totoros. They live with their father, while their mother, who suffers from an unidentified illness, stays at a hospital close to their house. Mei and Satsukie’s father regularly visits his wife in the hospital, and reports her condition to his daughters, sometimes lying to them about her condition to hide his own suffering.

My Niegbor Totoro's Mei (left) and Satsukie (right).

My Niegbor Totoro’s Mei (left) and Satsukie (right).

What makes My Neighbor Totoro so emotionally deep and complex is Mei and Satsukie’s disposition; they must try to find a way to cope with their mother’s illness. Satsukie can mask her emotional state of despair while going on adventures with Mei, but when she tries to explain to Mei the grave state that their mother is in, Mei gets angry and does not want to believe Satsuki, refusing to leave her young and unblemished world of totoros and fantasy:

Satsuki: Mei, the hospital said that mommy’s condition isn’t very good. So she isn’t going                              to be coming home just yet.

Mei: But why?

Satsuki: Mei, what can we do? If she came home now, it’d only make it worse.

Mei: It would not!

Satsuki: But, she’ll be able to come home real soon!

Mei: No!

Satsuki: All right, then, be that way! Let’s see if she dies! (Miyazaki)

This film expresses loss of childhood innocence due to life struggles. In the case of Satsukie, the feelings of forgotten childhood are embodied when she realizes that she still has time to be a kid. She must cherish what little time she has remaining in that life stage. This animated movie may looks visually cheery and bright, but it is a deep and complex allegory on the loss of childhood innocence, the rebirth of it, and the methods of childhood coping.

Similar to the loss of childhood innocence theme in My Neighbor Totoro is Disney’s theme of growing up in Peter Pan. Wendy and her brothers deal with the boredoms of their daily lives by going away to Neverland and having adventures. It is implied that once Wendy and her brothers grows up, they will no longer be able visit Neverland, because they will have to deal with hassles and events of adult life. However, My Neighbor Totoro offers a much deeper an emotional theme of growing up. Satsukie can still occasionally visit her childhood life, but she must learn to take a larger role as an emotional supporter for her family as their mother goes through her illness. Peter Pan offers the theme of simply growing up, but My Neighbor Totoro suggests the deeper correlation between growing up and gaining responsibility to look out for loved ones.

Again breaking all animation stereotypes, Studio Ghibli created a movie that is neither traditional in expected animation plot nor visually extraordinary. Instead, one-time Ghibli director Yoshifumi Kondo makes Whisper of the Heart something extraordinary by delivering a simplistic and poetic cinematic experience. The film tells the school day experiences of 14 year old Shizuku as she tries to figure out who the boy is that keeps checking out the same books as her from the library. It turns out the boy is a classmate of hers named Seiji, and the two grow closer based on their curiosity of one another. Many could dismiss this film as just another cliché teenager romance; those people would be sadly mistaken and be missing an animated cinematic masterpiece.

Whisper oft eh Heart's Seiji (left) and Shizuku (right).

Whisper oft eh Heart’s Seiji (left) and Shizuku (right).

The essence of Whisper of the Heart is Shizuku’s emotions, struggles, and endeavors. As she experiences these emotions, the audience does with her. It is quite an accomplishment on Kondo’s part as director that he made a cell drawn picture with simply pencil and ink represent some of the most realistic human emotions ever in a movie, live action or animated. One scene in particular stands out as the emotional centerpiece. In this scene, Shizuku asks Seiji’s grandfather (a wise man and the owner of the town’s antique shop) to read her novel that she spent months and all her time and effort into penning. He agrees, reads it, and after some time, returns it to Shizuku, saying, “It’s rough, unsubtle, and unfinished… You definitely showed me your freshly quarried stone. You did your very best, didn’t you? You’re terrific. There’s nothing to get upset over. Please take your time and do a solid job polishing it” (Kondo). Upon hearing this, Shizuku cries for a long time, expecting to hear that her novel, her heart and soul, is perfect. Seiji’s grandfather is telling her in this scene that talents take time to develop; they do not simply appear and be perfected. Almost everyone who sees this scene can relate to a personal life experience not unlike Shizuku’s, and they too will find it difficult not to cry. Not many animated films offer this type of emotional depth.

Developing and perfecting a talent in many Disney films are shown mainly in montages, and lack any real human emotion. For example, in Hercules, Hercules is strong, but Phil tells him that he has not yet reached his full potential and he needs to become stronger. There are no emotional struggles in the course of his development, but simply a montage of Phil training Hercules. Within minutes, the viewer witnesses how Hercules becomes ten times stronger over the course of the montage. Hercules is then very happy about how strong he has become, and the movie goes to the next scene. Hercules deliberately hides the anguish and pain experienced in developing talents, and in turn, makes the process extremely unrealistic and void of any human emotions. Whisper of the Heart, in contrast, shows the true human struggles and emotions associated with polishing and improving a talent, exemplified by Shizuku’s first draft of her novel. She cries, becomes frustrated, and acts like a human being, not just a character in an animated film.

The “expected” animated film has a certain set of unspoken criteria. Studio Ghibli’s films, unlike Disney films and other American animated films, does not follow this strict structure, and because of this, offers a much more diverse, emotional, and cinematic experience. Movie such as Princess Mononoke, Grave of the Fireflies, My Neighbor Totoro, and Whisper of the Heart are free, not held back by strict rules; that is what makes them and other Studio Ghibli movies such unique animated works of art.

Works Cited

Cavallaro, Dani. The Anime Art of Hayao Miyazaki. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, Inc, 2006. Print.

Kondo, Yoshifumi, dir. Whisper of the Heart. Studio Ghibli, 1995. Film.

Miyazaki, Hayao, dir. My Neighbor Totoro. Studio Ghibli, 1988. Film.

Napier, J Susan. Anime: From Akira to Howl’s Moving Castle. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005. Print.

WSOE extra credit. May 14, 2013

WSOE    May 14, 2013

FOR WSOE 89.3 NEWS, I’M BRETT GUBITOSI.

BARBARA WALTERS, STAR OF ABC’S THE VIEW, ANNOUNCED THAT SHE WILL RETIRE IN 2014. WALTERS, AGE EIGHTY-THREE, HAS BEEN A REPORTER AND TELEVISION PERSONALITY FOR FIFTY YEARS. SHE INTERVIEWED INDIVIDUALS IN HER CAREER RANGING FROM FIDEL CASTRO TO MONICA LEWINSKY. WALTERS IS A KEY FIGURE IN WOMEN’S NEWS. HER PERSONAL NEWSCASTING STYLE WAS VERY INNOVATIVE AND INFLUENTIAL.

PHILADELPHIA ABORTION CLINIC DOCTOR KERMIT GOSNELL HAS BEEN FOUND GUILTY OF MURDER. THE SEVENTY-TWO YEAR OLD DOCTOR RAN WHAT MANY CALLED A HOUSE OF HORRORS. ACCORDING TO THE NEW YORK TIMES, GOSNELL OFTEN INJECTED A DRUG IN UTERO, WHICH RESULTED IN STILLBIRTHS. DAILY BEAST COLUMNIST KIRSTEN POWERS WROTE THAT THE LESSON LEARNED FROM GOSNELL’S CASE IS THAT LATE TERM ABORTIONS ARE INFANTICIDE.

THE 66TH ANNUAL CANNES FILM FESTIVAL BEGINS ON WEDNESDAY IN FRANCE. MANY DIRECTORS AND FILM ENTHUSIASTS ARE HOPING FOR THE CANNES EFFECT THIS YEAR. THIS CAN BE DESCRIBED AS THE PHENOMENON WHEN A MOVIE OPENING AT THE FESTIVAL GOES ON TO RECEIVE MANY WARDS LATER IN THE YEAR. DIRECTORS STEVEN SODERBERGH, THE COEN BROTHERS, AND ALEXANDER PAYNE— ALL BIG NAMES IN DIRECTING, WILL PREMIER THEIR FILMS AT THE FESTIVAL THIS YEAR. THE FESTIVAL CONCLUDES ON MAY 26TH.

THE ROCKINGHAM COUNTY SCHOOL BOARD VOTED 7-3 AGAINST OPENING THEIR MEETINGS WITH PRAYER. THIS CONTREVERSIAL DECISION LED TO BOARD MEMBER LEONARD PRYOR’S RESIGNANTION. VICE CHAIRMAN HAL GRIFFIN DEFENDED THE BOARD’S DECISION, CLAIMING THAT THE NATION’S FOREFATHERS WARNED AGAINST ANY RELIGIOUS AFFILIATION WITH THE GOVERNMENT. HOWEVER, SOME BOARD MEMBERS DID NOT AGREE WITH THE RULING. MEMBER RON PRICE VOTED FOR PRAYER BEFORE MEETINGS, SAYING THAT NOTHING CAN BE ACCOMPLISHED WITHOUT GOD’S BLESSING.

THIS IS BRETT GUBITOSI FOR WSOE NEWS, ELON UNIVERSITY.

Elon, A Liberal Arts University Newscast

Elon: A Liberal Arts University

(Anchor in the Studio)

Is it worth sending your child to a liberal arts university to get a Bachelor of Arts degree? We’ll find out what members of the Elon University community in North Carolina think.

(V/O) (Show Elon campus)

Liberal arts universities offer a wide range of academic disciplines, and strive to educate students into well-rounded citizens. According to USA Today, thirty-eight percent of students attend college in order to get a good job. At Elon University, staff members think their students are preparing well for their future. Elon English professor Dr. Janet Warman shared her thoughts about the value of receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree.

(Warman on Camera)

“I couldn’t have gotten my fist high school teaching job without that English degree. Gotta have that English part in there.”

(Anchor at Elon campus)

Dr. Warman and other professors on campus might agree that Bachelor degrees are vital to finding a desired job, but are parents happy to send their children to a liberal arts university? Matt Monitto, a Junior at Elon, explains why he thinks he made the right choice in attending the university.

(Monitto on Camera)

“I came in not really sure where I wanted to take my life. I have a better idea. It both widened my range and narrowed my vision. I’ve gotten to take a look at different areas and also have a focus in specific areas.”

(Anchor in the Studio)

Although liberal arts universities do carry a high price tag, members of the Elon community believe it is well worth the cost and achieving a bachelor’s degree at Elon is not a waste.

WSOE May 7, 2013 newscast

FOR WSOE 89.3 NEWS, I’M BRETT GUBITOSI.

ON MONDAY, ONLINE RETAILERS ARE COMING CLOSER TO REQURING SALE TAX ON THEIR ITEMS. THE BILL, WHICH ALLOWS STATE SALES TAX ON ONLINE GOODS, HAS YET TO BE PASSED BY THE HOUSE OF REPRESESENTATIVES. IF THE BILL PASSES, STATE GOVERNMENTS COULD COLLECT BILLIONS OF MORE DOLLARS PER YEAR. THE BILL IS KNOWN AS THE MARKETPLACE FAIRNESSS ACT. DAVID FENCH, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE NATIONAL RETAIL FEDERATION, BELIEVES THAT ONLINE MERCHANTS SHOULD NOT BE ALLOWED TO PLAY BY SPECIAL RULES. BIG COPORATIONS SUCH AS WALMART AND AMAZON ARE ALREADY IN FAVOR OF THE TAX BILL.

THE RECENTLY INTRODUCED GOOGLE GLASS, A WEARABLE COMPUTER WORN AS GLASSES, HAS NOT YET BEEN RELEASED TO THE PUBLIC, BUT IS ALREADY CAUSING CONTROVERSY. ACCORDING TO THE NEW YORK TIMES, MANY STATES HAVE BANNED THE DEVICE IN VARIOUS PUBLIC PLACES. A SEATTLE BAR HAS BANNED THE DEVICE, AND WEST VIRGINIA IS TRYING TO MAKE IT ILLEGAL TO WEAR WHILE DRIVING. NOT ONY CAN THE GOOGLE GLASS BE DANGEROUS, IT ALSO CAN POTENTIALLY INVADE SOMEONE’S PRIVACY. HOWEVER, THE USER IS REQUIRED TO SPEAK OR TOUCH THE DEVICE TO ACTIVATE IT. COURTNEY HOHNE, A GOOGLE SPOKESPERSON STATED THAT NEW TECHNOLOGY ALWAYS RAISES NEW ISSUES, AND THEY ARE WORKING HARD TO PERFECT THE DEVICE.

LEADERS AT GUILFORD COUNTY SCHOOLS WANT TO MAKE THEIR SCHOOLS SAFER PLACES FOR THEIR STUDENTS. COMMITTEE MEMBERS WANT TO INVEST FIVE POINT FIVE MILLION DOLLARS IN BUILDING NEW SCHOOL ENTRY POINTS, MAKING ENTRANCES AND EXITS TO THE SCHOOL BUILDINGS MORE ACCESSIBLE. THE BOARD IS ALSO CONSIDERING INVESTING 900 THOUSAND DOLLARS IN CLASSROOM PHONES, DEFIBULATORS, AND RADIO COMMUNICATIONS. NORA CARR, THE DISTRICT’S CHIEF OF STAFF STATED THAT EVEN THOUGH IT IS STILL IN THE EARLY STAGES, THE INVESTMENTS IN SAFEY IN THE SCHOOL SYSTEM ARE PART OF A VERY IMPORTANT CONVERSATION.

THIS IS BRETT GUBITOSI FOR WSOE NEWS, ELON UNIVERSITY.

WSOE April 23, 2013 Radio Broadcast

FOR WSOE 89.3 NEWS, I’M BRETT GUBITOSI.

IT HAS BEEN ONE WEEK SINCE THE BOSTON MARATHON BOMBINGS. IN CLOSER INSPECTION OF THE VIDEO FOOTAGE OF THE INCIDENT, BOMBING SUSPECT JO-HAR SAR-NIV IS SEEM PLACING A KNAPSACK BEHIND A BARRIER ON THE STREET. USA TODAY REPORTS THAT THE MOMENT THE FIRST EXPLOSION OCCURRED, SAR-NIV COULD BE SEEN TALKING CALMLY ON A CELL PHONE. WITH SO MUCH VIDEO FOOTAGE, SAR-NIV MIGHT FACE A POSSIBLE DEATH SENTENCE.

THE AGE TO PURCHASE TOBACCO IN NEW YORK CITY MAY RISE FROM 18 TO 21. HOWEVER, THIS WOULD NOT MAKE SMOKING UNDER THE AGE OF 21 ILLEGAL. THIS PROPOSAL WAS ANNOUNCED BY DR. THOMAS FARLEY, THE CITY’S HEALTH COMMISSIONER, AND CHRISTINE C. QUINN, THE CITY COUNCIL SPEAKER. NEW YORK CITY MAYOR BLOOMBERG DID NOT THINK THIS WAS THE BEST IDEA IN THE PAST. IN A SIMILAR PROPSAL IN 2006 TO LOWER THE TOBACCO PURCHASE AGE, BLOOMBERG ARGUED THAT RAISNG THE AGE WOULD INCOURAGE MORE UNDERAGE SMOKERS. BUT THE CURRENT PROPAL IS VERY CLOSE TO BECOMING A LAW; THE NEW YORK TIMES STATES THAT BLOOMERG SUPPORTS IT THIS TIME AROUND.

A GREENSBORO MAN HAS BEEN FOUND GUILTY OF MURDER AFTER BEING ACCUSED OF KILLING HIS GIRLFRIEND IN MAY OF 2011. DWAYNE ELLIOT BROWN HAS BEEN SENTANCED TO A LIFE IN PRISION. ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY KELLY THOMSON CONCURRED THAT BROWN STABBED HIS GIRLFRIEND TO DEATH. THOMSON ALSO STATED THAT BROWN IS A VERY POSSESSIVE MAN, AND HE BECAME UPSET WHEN HIS GIRLFRIEND LEFT HIM.

FOR TODAY’S WEATHER, EXPECT A HIGH OF 71 AND LOW OF 49. THERE IS A ZERO PERCENT CHANCE OF RAIN TODAY. IT WILL BE CLOUDY IN THE MORNING, BUT EXPECT THE SUN TO BE OUT BY THE LATER AFTERNOON.

THIS IS BRETT GUBITOSI FOR WSOE NEWS, ELON UNIVERSITY.

Always Elon Group Project

Good Fun in the City: Activities in Burlington during the Summertime

By Brett Gubitosi

Part of the media writing magazine project, Always Elon, Dr. Ferrier, Com 110.

Margaret Taylor- (All the Numbers: Summer School at Elon) http://wp.me/p3pPM3-O

Katie Dalton-(The Student Section) http://wp.me/p3q0PA-s

Katie Bowman-(Camp Elon: the ins and outs of a summer at Elon) http://wp.me/p3pzJg-6

Julia Sherertz-(Online Classes V.S. Traditional Classes) http://wp.me/p3pOrN-C

            Students taking courses on Elon’s campus this summer can rest easy; boredom will not always be a factor. During the summer months, there are plenty of events and activities taking place in the city of Burlington.

The Fourth of July fireworks festival is a major event held at City Park in Burlington every summer. Rachael Hawley, the Burlington Public Information Officer, described the high attendance of the event last year. “It [the festival] was a great turn out. The entire lawn was filled with people.” Last year, the festival featured activities such as a water balloon toss event and a performance from a guest musician.

Hawley also mentioned that the city of Burlington sponsors a concert series every Friday over the summer, called Musical Chairs. Country bands such as Gravel Road and Too Far Gone performed in previous years, along with local up and coming bands such as Phoenix Highway. This year’s performances feature bands such as Mercy Creek, a folk rock duo, and The Green Army Men, an alternative rock band, among many more. There is a different band performing every Friday from May 3 to September 27 in the concert series.

Another destination in Burlington City Park is the Dentzel Carousel, one of the oldest operating carousels in the nation. Marquis Graves, an administrative official of City Park and Elon alum, said that the summer is the busiest and most profitable time of the year. He also mentioned that the carousel attracts not only children, but college students as well during the summertime. The Carousel Festival, though late in the summer, attracts over 20,000 visitors. “Some of the country’s biggest country stars come,” said Graves, describing the bands who attend the festival. “We get at least one big act every year. The Dixie Chicks came one year.”

Not every summer activity in Burlington is a large event. Smaller scale destinations also can offer a diversion from summer classes. Emily Sanford, a sophomore at Elon University and a resident of Burlington, said that there is plenty to do in the area over the summer. “There’s always community events that go on at the different parks and clubs. Most people work a summer job or hang out at the country club or pool [if they are members of that pool.]”

Beside community events, the Carousel Cinemas at Alamance Crossings is a popular destination that is open all summer. The movie theater shows all the newest films and summer blockbusters. Carousel Cinemas is only a 15 minute drive by car from Elon University. “One experiences something new each time they go to Carousel Cinemas,” said Max Whelan, an Elon first-year student. “Whether the soda has a unique flavor, or the seating cushions tend to induce sleep, one is always able to have a great time at Carousel Cinemas regardless of the movie they’re seeing.”

Image

Max Whelan, an Elon student and frequent Carousel Cinemas moviegoer.

Elon students taking summer classes have plenty to do in Burlington, so boredom should not be a key issue. Have fun in the Elon summer!

Numbers of Burlington Locations

City Park/ Dentzel Carousel 336-222-5030

Carousel Cinemas 336-538-9900

Maynard Aquatic Center (Burlington Community Pool) 336-222-5043

The Flavor of Foreign Films: Why College Students Should Watch Foreign Movies

The Flavor of Foreign Films: Why College Students Should Watch Foreign Movies

By: Brett Gubitosi

Hollywood produces many fantastic movies every year, but when compared to the total output of all other studios across the world, Hollywood is a drop of water and foreign movies are the ocean. According to the Moving Arts film journal, 50,000 movies are released a year. Statista.com states that only 657 Hollywood films were leased in 2012.

Watching foreign films can provide Americans with new ideas and concepts that they are not used to seeing in American movies. “We think everything comes from America,” said Elon communications professor Dr. Anthony Hatcher. “(Watching foreign films) makes you a more well-rounded, educated person. [You] literally learn from other countries.”

A survey asked college students a few questions about their preference in American films and foreign films. 30 students were involved. All of the college students surveyed stated that they saw at one foreign film during their life. Most of the students agreed that they are more familiar with American movies and they prefer watching them over foreign movies. Movies with unfamiliar themes and cultures are certainly not always a bad thing, though. “The movie[s] of other cultures allows you to be placed in that culture and live something that you don’t normally see,” said Tyler DiLoreto, an Elon first year student.

Although American movies certainly are easier to find on the market and in the movie theaters, Elon Senior Jake Puralewski said, “Foreign films generally offer a very complete artistic experience, but generally you will find a more overly entertaining experience with American films.”

“The movie[s] of other cultures allow you to be placed in that culture…”

-Tyler DiLoreto, Elon First Year Student

The survey results showed that no student preferred foreign movies over American movies. That may be due to a lack of exposure. Since most foreign films are not widely distributed at movie theaters in America, you may be wondering where you can find them.

In the digital information age, an abundance of foreign films are now available for viewing. Netflix has an impressive collection of foreign movies, and Hulu.com has many titles as well. Although your chances are hit or miss if you are looking for a specific movie, you might just be able to find a few on YouTube. Other than online sources, many public libraries have foreign movie collections that are worth a look.

There are so many great foreign films to choose from, it is difficult to figure out where to start. It all depends what genre you are looking for. If you want to see a fantasy film, watch Spain’s Pan’s Labyrinth. For the psychological thriller, pick up a copy of South Korea’s Oldboy. If you want to be scared out of your wits, a good recommendation would be the UK’s The Descent. In a romantic mood? Watch Japan’s Shall We Dance? And for all you action lovers looking for something different than American flicks, Hon Kong makes some extraordinary action movies, highlighted by John Woo’s Hard-Boiled. Of course, this is only the starting point. What you discover beyond the films mentioned is up to you.

447

 

A few examples of some foreign films Belk Library has to offer (The Descent, Grand Illusion, City of God, Pan’s Labyrinth, and Happy Together)

Many foreign movies are remade in America. A few of these remakes became extremely popular in American mainstream culture. For example, the horror movie “The Ring” was based off a Japanese film called “Ringu.” Even students who claim they have never seen a foreign movie might have seen an American remake without even realizing it. Regardless, seeing a remake is certainly not the same as seeing a film from its original country. But the fact that Hollywood remakes foreign movies into their own is evidence that the ideas in those foreign movies must be very good.

In the world we live in today, being informed about other cultures and customs besides our own is becoming more and more essential if one wishes to become a successful global citizen. Watching foreign movies are a great way to learn about a variety of different cultures, be it from Asia, Europe, Africa, or Latin America.

List of Some American Movie Remakes of Foreign Films

The Departed (2006) Original- Infernal Affairs (2002, Hong Kong)

The Vanishing (1993) Original- The Vanishing (1988, The Netherlands)

Quarantine (2008) Original- REC (Spain, 2007)

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011) Original- The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2009, Sweden)

The Magnificent Seven (1960) Original- Seven Samurai (1954, Japan)

Academy Award Winner for Best Foreign Film of the Past 10 Years

2002- Nowhere in Africa (Germany)

2003- The Barbarian Invasions (Canada)

2004- The Sea Inside (Spain)

2005- Tsotsi (South Africa)

2006- The Lives of Others (Germany)

2007- The Counterfeiters (Austria)

2008- Departures (Japan)

2009- The Secret in Their Eyes (Argentina)

2010- Ina Better World (Denmark)

2011- A Separation (Iran)

2012- Amour (Austria)

 

 

Some Countries from Which Students Saw Films

 world map