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Non-Review Review: The Master

The Master is a boldly ambitious picture, if one that’s occasionally difficult to parse. Is it a character study of the two leads, the broken Freddie and dysfunctional Lancaster Dodd? Is it a commentary on the sudden material success and spiritual emptiness of fifties America, in the wake of the Second World War? Is it a study of the phenomenon and psychology of “cult”, with one particular cult in mind? The Master is all these, and probably a great deal more, and its only real flaw is that it never manages to truly fashion these multiple compelling facets into one fully realised whole. Still, that’s a comparatively minor complaint, when dealing with a movie produced with this level of technical craft.

All at sea…

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Eye See You: How Do We Watch Movies?

The Dynamic Images and Eye Movement (DIEM) Project conduct research into where our eyes focus while watching entertainment. They run an informative blog here which goes into their function in more depth and they also have a vimeo channel here. I happened to catch a recent upload from them, covering six minutes from There Will Be Blood. Various circles on the screen indicate where the viewers’ eyes were focused (and for how long). Most of it seems fairly obvious (generally on movement in the foreground, but occasionally the background), but there were one or two surprises (the focus on a light bulb, for example). Watch it below:

There’s also a rather interesting one covering the opening sequence of The Simpsons. This is perhaps more interesting, as you can literally feel the eyes racing to keep track with everything presented at such speed – there’s a lot of movement in it, rather than the relatively static shots from the above film clip.

Also worth a luck (because there’s quite a lot going on) is the trailer for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. this is another case where the viewer is bombarded with information in quick succession and they are asked to take in a lot in a short time.

I can’t really say that there’s too much here that surprises me, but’s still fascinating to see where the typical viewer’s eye may wander during a given film clip. I wonder if there are directors and cinematographers looking at these clips right now, trying to figure out how to better construct shots.

Either way, it’s a fascinating little look at how we watch those film clips.

My Top 50 Movies of the Decade…

Alright here it is, my top fifty films of the decade. I’ve decided to stop complaining about Donal Clarke’s list in the Irish Times and just let rip myself. There’s more than a few crazy choices down there, but – after a week in the works – I’m happy with it. I doubt that a lot of other people will be.

Like the Oscars, but... you know, better...

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