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Talking and Writing. Part 1. General Overview

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Unit 2 Cinema

Part 1. General Overview

Lead-in

"Imagine their delightful surprise when I read them the script of Love and Death with its plot that went from war to political assassination, ending with the death of its hero caused by a cruel trick of God. Never having witnessed eight film executives go into cardiac arrest simultaneously, I was quite amused."

Woody Allen, Esquire, 1975

1 How much art is there in your life? Below you see a diagram with things which generally come under the heading of "the arts". Number the genres in the order of their importance to you, that is, how much they are represented in your life. Share a few comments about where you come across each of them.

             
novels drama     dance cinema theatre
short stories LITERATURE   THE ARTS   PERFORMING ARTS ballet
biographies poetry       opera concerts
             
    painting FINE ARTS sculpture    
    architecture   ceramics    
             

 

2 Coming closer to the topic of films, you are requested to specify your interest in TV. Which of the following programme types appeal to you most and what is wrong about those you don't like?

documentaries soap operas drama sports programmes game shows
news broadcasts quizzes chat shows weather forecasts variety shows
current affairs programmes sitcoms feature films music programmes commercials

3 Finally, talk about the last feature film that you saw. Say how much you enjoyed it, which aspects you liked most and where the movie failed. The vocabulary below may be helpful.

 

ON THE PLUS SIDE ON THE MINUS SIDE
a an a lot of plenty of a number of absorbing film insight into plot acting photography direction moments climax costumes soundtrack sets score a an a few some a lot of plenty of a number of exceptionally tedious film look at life story-line performance by camerawork direction script dialogue quality shots characters
fascinating agonisingly slow
well thought-out boring
brilliant chaotic
superb exceedingly poor
delicate amateurish
dazzling awful
powerful heavy-handed
thoroughly enjoyable embarrassingly weak
memorable horribly unnatural
gorgeous absurd
grandiose laughable
ravishing worthless
totally satisfying totally disappointing

4 You are about to listen to a few viewers' comments on the film American Beauty. People's attitudes vary, and so do the criteria the film is assessed upon. As you listen, mark those aspects that the viewers point out. Put a plus (+) if that is viewed as a strong point and a minus (-) if the film underrates upon that particular criterion. To sum up, conclude what turned out to be the film's most appreciated points and what was left basically unnoticed or was absent, based exclusively on what you hear.

Contributors Real characters, with real world problems Ingenuity of the Story Humour Cast & Performances Direction Work on Many Levels Blend of genres Work on Emotions Film's Message Gives Role Models for Youth & Recipes Characters Quality of Script & Dialogue Memorable Scenes Symbolism Other
#1                              
#2                              
#3                              
#4                              
#5                              
#6                              
#7                              
#8                              
#9                              

5 Remember a film of your choice and say if it meets the above criteria. Consider the vocabulary tips from the listening exercise.



the script is too far-fetched a totally disarming film
attempt at psychological profile presented as a documentary
you leave with bittersweet taste is more cartoon than genuine
the deadpan humour cast does very fine jobs
I can't remember a more satisfying film passages are thick and rich on symbolism
Everything about this movie oozes class has original cinematic spark
strikingly original comes up with new angles and answers
has this strange effect on you it revolves around
I felt a million different emotions in the vein of
combines tragedy with comedy characters are as deep as cereal bowls
moment that might make film history characters are one-dimensional
opens our eyes a film for my Oscar choice

 

Chosen Film Real characters, with real world problems Ingenuity of the Story Humour Cast & Performances Direction Work on Many Levels Blend of genres Work on Emotions Film's Message Gives Role Models for Youth & Recipes Characters Quality of Script & Dialogue Memorable Scenes Symbolism Other (Special effects, Based on Real Events, Historical Background)
                             

 

Reading

6 Below is a piece of journalism, which looks into our taste in movies. The author shares her opinions and hardly leaves us wondering about where the truth is. Read through the text and, in the gaps, mark your attitude to the expressed ideas. Use the patterns from the chart (acronyms are invented for convenience).

Загрузка...
revolutionary (put: R) speaks my mind (SM) novel (N) frivolous (F) subjective matter of opinion (SMO)
common knowledge (CKn) hypercritical (HC) unreasoned (UR) true to fact (TF)
far-fetched (FF) opinionated (O) food for thought (FTh) confusing ( C)

We generally become interested in movies because we enjoy them and what we enjoy about them has little to do with what we think of as art. (_____ ) The movies we re­spond to, even in childhood, don't have the same values as the official culture supported by school and in the middle-class home. At the movies, we get low life and high life, while the moral­istic reviewers chastise us for not pa­tronising what they think we should, "realistic" movies that would be good for us.

Movie audiences will take a lot of garbage, but it's pretty hard to make us queue up for pedagogy. ( _____ ) At the movies we want a different kind of truth, something that surprises us and registers with us as funny or ac­curate or maybe amazing, maybe even amazingly beautiful. ( _____ ) We get lit­tle things even in mediocre and ter­rible movies. And it's the human material we react to most and remember longest. The art of the performers stays fresh for us, their beauty as beautiful as ever. ( _____ )

Do we need to lie and shift things to false terms - like those who have to say Sophia Loren is a great actress as if her acting had made her a star? Wouldn't we rather watch her than better actresses be­cause she's so incredibly charming and because she's probably the great­est model the world has ever known? ( _____ ) And there are absurdly right little moments - in Saratoga Trunk when Curt Bois says to Ingrid Bergman, "You're very beautiful," and she says, "Yes, isn't it lucky?" And those things have closer relationships to art than what the teachers told us was true and beautiful. ( _____ ) Not that the works we studied in school weren't often great (as we discovered later) but that what the teachers told us to admire them for was generally so false and prettified and moralistic that what might have been moments of pleasure in them, and what might have been cleansing in them, and subversive, too, had been coated over. ( _____ )

Because of the photographic na­ture of the medium and the cheap ad­mission prices, movies took their im­petus not from imita­tion of European high culture, but from the peep show, the wild west show, the music hall, the comic strip - from what was coarse and common. ( _____ ) The early Chaplin two-reelers still look surprisingly lewd, with bathroom jokes and drunkenness and hatred of work and proprieties. And the west­ern shoot-'em-ups certainly weren't the teachers' notions of art and which over the years have progressed through nice stories to "good taste" and "excellence".

All week we longed for Saturday afternoon and sanctuary - the anonymity and impersonality of sit­ting in a cinema, just enjoying our­selves, not having to be responsible, not having to be "good". Maybe you just want to look at people on the screen and know they're not looking back at you, that they're not going to turn on you and criticise you. ( _____ ) Far from supervision and official culture, in the darkness at the movies where nothing is asked of us and we are left alone, the liberation from duty and constraint allows us to develop our own aesthetic responses. Unsupervised enjoyment is probably not the only kind there is but it may feel like the only kind. Irresponsibility is part of the pleasure of all art; it is the part the schools cannot recognise. ( _____ )

… It's the feeling of freedom from respectability we have always enjoyed at the movies that is carried to an ex­treme by American International Pictures and Clint Eastwood Italian westerns. However, they are stripped of cul­tural values. (_____ ) We may want more from movies than this negative virtue but we know the feeling from childhood moviegoing when we loved the gam­blers and pimps. The appeal of movies was in the details of crime and high living and wicked cities and in the language of toughs and urchins. What draws us to movies in the first place, the opening into other, forbidden or surprising kinds of ex­perience, and the vitality and cor­ruption and irreverence of that expe­rience are so direct and immediate and have so little connection with what we have been taught is art that many people feel more secure, feel that their tastes are becoming more cultivated when they begin to appre­ciate foreign films[1]. (_____ )

One executive told me that he was quite upset that his teenagers had chosen to go to Bonnie and Clyde rather than with him to Closely Observed Trains. He took it as a sign of lack of maturity. I think his kids made an honest choice, and not only because Bonnie and Clyde is a good movie, but because it is closer to us, it has some of the qualities of indirect involvement that made us care about movies. ( _____ )

Art is still what teachers and ladies and foundations believe in, it's civilised and refined, cultivated and serious, cul­tural, beautiful, European, Oriental: it's what America isn't, and it's espe­cially what American movies are not. ( _____ ) If we don't go to movies for excitement, if we accept the cultural standards of refined adults, if we have so little drive that we accept "good taste", then we will probably never really begin to care about movies at all. We will be­come like those people who "may go to American movies sometimes to "relax", but when they want "a little more" from a movie, are delighted by how colour­ful and artistic Franco Zeffirelli’s The Taming of the Shrew is, just as a couple of decades ago they were impressed by The Red Shoes, made by Powell and Pressburger, the Zeffirellis of their day.

 

 

Exercises

7 The text contains a few words whose pronunciation could pose difficulty. Transcribe the following words to avoid possible mispronunciation and miscommunication.

mediocre, cleansing, im­petus, lewd, sanctuary

8 Explain the meanings and give examples of usage of the following words from the text above. Use the chart below.

# Word Meaning(s) Example of usage other than in the text

chastise, constraint, cultivate, im­petus, mediocre, medium, pa­tronise, prettify, proprieties, sanctuary, virtue

9 Fill in the chart with the words' other parts of speech.

Noun Verb Adjective
  pa­tronise  
  -------- mediocre
  prettified  
    subversive
sanctuary    
constraint    
cor­ruption    
irreverence --------  
    cultivated

10 Translate the sentences below, drawing on the vocabulary of the two previous exercises.

1. Режисера розносили за бідність сюжету. 2. Більшість критиків та журналістів до провідних акторів ставляться поблажливо. 3. Якщо казати відверто, сценарій його останнього фільму явно посередній. 4. Старі хатки, що в заключній сцені, причепурили, щоб надати їм вигляду дач. 5. Комерційне телебачення – ефективний засіб розповсюдження реклами. 6. Усе, що цей актор потребує, це – новий поштовх. 7. Дотримання правил поведінки є таким же необхідним, як і свіжа білизна. 8. І знову, театр став їй єдиною святинею. 9. Ми не накладаємо жодних обмежень на ваш вибір теми ессе. 10. Подивишся, чи можна буде притиснути продюсера, щоб той оголосив точну дату виходу фільму на екран. 11. Режисер повернув обмежений бюджет на користь фільму. 12. Вам треба тримати знайомства з людьми, які зможуть вам допомогти у проекті.

11 Match the words in the left and right columns to restore the collocations from the text. Give the context where they are used.

e. g. "respond to movies". It says in the article that the movies we re­spond to don't always have the same values for us as those the official culture supports.

1. re­spond to their im­petus a.   1. progressed cul­tural values a.
2. moral­istic movies b.   2. anonymity tastes b.
3. queue up of the medium c.   3. develop of lack of maturity c.
4. registers with prices d.   4. stripped of of sit­ting in a cinema d.
5. shift things jokes e.   5. cultivate own aesthetic responses e.
6. photographic na­ture reviewers f.   6. sign the cultural standards f.
7. ad­mission for pedagogy g.   7. qualities to "good taste" g.
8. took to false terms h.   8. accept of indirect involvement h.
9. bathroom us as funny i.          

12 Although cinema has not been introduced much into the school curricula in Ukraine, comment on your markings in the spaces throughout the text. Where do you stand on the points the author touches upon?

13 Are you on the same wavelength with the author of the article? Reduce your comments to "Agree" and "Don't agree" and give an extended opinion how much the article responds to your aesthetic tastes.

 

Talking and Writing

14 The text above contains a lamentation about the negative experience of teaching through the medium of cinema. Is it at all possible to make movies a handy means of education.

Tips for consideration:

ü Cinema has become cross-cultural and ruins traditional values and patterns of behaviour.

ü Feature films represent virtual reality, which is at odds with real circumstances, and they are misleading.

ü Films are too successful in manipulating the young's conscience and have to be avoided.

ü Films are indivisible into small episodes, which makes it difficult to discuss things analytically.

ü Whole generations have been brought up on films one way or another.

ü Values are not communicated to the viewer explicitly.

ü The "Alf" TV series was hugely successful among youngsters.

ü Most films cater for the general public with its varied tastes.

ü Most films do have a positive message, but you have to put up with additional story-lines.


15 At home, write a summarising argumentative article based on the class discussion. See the format of argumentative story writing below.

· An argumentative article is a piece of formal writing. There are quite a few types of argumentative articles such as: outlining advantages and disadvantages of the question under discussion, expressing the writer's personal opinion with supporting arguments, expressing for and against arguments and discursive essays.

· You should use a different paragraph for each point you make. Begin each paragraph with a key sentence which sums up the point you are going to make. Give examples to support your point of view.

· Study the chart with sample plans below and express your opinion in writing.

 

Type 1 Type 2 Type 3 Type 4
Advantages / Disadvantages Expressing opinions / providing solutions For and against Discursive essays
1. State topic 1. State opinion/problem 1. State topic 1. State topic
2. Advantages 2. Point 1 / Suggestion 1 2. Arguments for 2. One point of view (e.g. scientific)
3. Disadvantages 3. Point 2 / Suggestion 2 3. Arguments against 3. Another point of view (e.g. moral)
      4. A third point of view (e.g. social)
4. Balanced consideration/ opinion 4. Restate opinion/best option and reason 4. Balanced consideration 5. Give own opinion

 

Role-play

16 In the course of cinema-related discussions you recall your old school and decide that incorporation of movies into the school curricula has become topical. You are convinced that both teachers and schoolchildren are starving for an expressive education medium and feature films would be the best answer. Every school must have a mini-cinema. Through films school would get through to every child and would be benefited in many other ways. There are scores of donors who could finance such project. However, the first step must be reaching an understanding and coming to terms with your ex-school's head teacher (nothing personal – a mere language exercise). From the start the head teacher is constructively opposed. Now it is your job to convince the PRINCIPAL of the benefits of having that project in place and break his/her misconceptions.

Your Avant-garde Ideas School Master's Prejudice
☺ Children will learn best examples of Virtue and Dedication. ☻ Kids will be exposed to low life and will make idols of villains.
☺ Feature films will support teachers' notions of "right and wrong". ☻ Films glorify most notorious characters.
☺ Undubbed films will give a huge boost to foreign language learning. ☻ Children will pick up even more dirty language.
☺ A good film includes indirect references to a lot of subjects at a time. ☻ Feature films are chaotic from school's point of view.
☺ Films make up good common ground for mutual understanding between teachers, schoolchildren and parents. ☻ A child's day is booked up with homework and other commitments. Films will encroach on this precious time.
☺ Films carry vast amount of knowledge and will ease introduction of most ingenious optional subjects on the curriculum (tailoring, design, career guidance, etc.) and familiarise with a number of jobs and industries. ☻ Films represent fake reality; tell far-fetched plots about non-existent characters.
☺ Through the school cinema the school will become a genuine community centre. ☻ This cinema will only add problems. The school will be confronted with having to handle a lot of extra folk.
☺ The project will give the school good publicity and open new opportunities for both the school and pupils. ☻ Beaten road is the safest.
Etc. Etc.

17 You've heard favourable reviews of a film (choose one specific picture). You would like to go to that film and tempt a friend to pay you company. You decide to convince him/her and point out the film's brightest features (e. g. plot, performances, camerawork, etc.). In his/her turn, the friend might value the same or other aspects in a movie. This seems to be like a jigsaw game. Will the shapes fit and you will find company, or will you be disappointed? In the notebooks each of you privately mark the points you will either mention in convincing, or expect to hear (see below). After this you start the conversation.

Real Characters, with Real World Problems Ingenuity of the Story-line Humour Cast Direction
Work on Many Levels Blend of Genres Work on Emotions Film's Message Gives Role Models & Recipes for Youth
Characters Quality of Script & Dialogue Memorable Scenes Symbolism Score
Camerawork Costumes Performances Hollywood Film Domestic Film
Special Effects Action Romance Technology Based on Real Events

 

Optional: Mould the idea of a "school-cinema as a breakthrough into new opportunities and instrument of education" into the project format in writing. See the template in Unit 1 Part 4.

 


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