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Formal Analysis – Kustom Kar Kommandos – The Gaze

Kustom Kar Kommando



Kustom Kar Kommandos was a short clip made by Kenneth Anger with the hopes of raising money for his other movies. The three minute clip was originally supposed to be used in a series of eight, thirty minute movies about jocks or hot-rods (as some critics call them) fromCaliforniathat were obsessed with cars. At first glance this movie may seem awkward, to a male member of the audience such as myself. It portrays a man in tight, light blue pants that continuously caresses his car with a fur ball. It seems that there are hardly any elements of theHollywood”male gaze”, but actually incorporate more elements of the less popularized “female game”.


The “male gaze” is characterized by the objectification of women, and in Kustom Kar Kommandos there is a lack of feminine characters. It can be argued that the man in this video has female characteristics and they can be explained by the historical background that surrounded the era that this video was made in. The age of the “flower children” that hitAmericaduring the late 60’s into the early 70’s explains the attitude that both men and women adapted in regard to being open to the opposite genders’ clothing and behavior. For example, many men grew long hair and dressed in colorful clothing that today would be laughed at if wore on a daily basis. Same goes for women. I would just like to clear up  that the reference to “flower children” refers to the hippies. Now that I’ve given a small background to the time in which the movie was made, I can say that most women enjoyed this age because it was open and gave way to the feeling of love. This may be a little far-fetched to say this, however this may be the time when the whispers of the “female gaze” have been heard, but not by everyone. Even to this day it may be misinterpreted or unseen.


The provocative, flamboyant colors, slow motion caressing of the pink car, and a man with tight clothing are all features that made up a woman’s dream man during that time. On top of these dreamy characteristics, the background is a white to pink color ramp (color spectrum fades from really white at top to pink at bottom) that further emphasizes the flamboyance of the setting. The slow rubbing of the car with a fur ball can be widely interpreted. It can be seen as a sign of caring, something that the “flower children” adored, especially the women, due to the widespread feeling of “love” during this time. The dreamy visual effects and cinematography with the slow camera pans are all well done, but can’t be connected coherently. The music that plays for about two minutes in this entire clip does an excellent job of connecting every single “dreamy” feature in a woman’s mind.


The song “Dream Lover” by the Paris Sisters fits with the excellent cinematography on Kenneth Anger’s part. As the music changes beats, or has stops in it, the camera pans slowly or there are cuts to different shots.


As the music beings to play, the guitar and drums slowly ease in. At the start of this song, the camera slowly moves in the inside of the car and shows the darker shades of the flamboyant shades of red. As the song starts with the words “Every night and day, I hope and pray, that dream lover will come my way…” there is a zoom in on the car engine, and from behind the car the man in tight blue pants emerges. He is fully standing as the words “dream lover” are sang. This is extremely well choreographed, in the sense that the movements are synced with the music, and the zooming in shows Anger’s superior cinematography skills. This whole notion of slowness, to a slow song, and slow movements of the man, create the idea of the female gaze. It is slow, doesn’t gaze directly at the main character on screen, but studies him from many sides. The gaze doesn’t seem to be fast, quick and jerky as the male gaze. It does seem to be just as objectifying as it the male gaze is.


Even though there are no clear definitions for the gaze theories, there are many ways that they can be proven. The gazes differ depending on genre, the camera movement and things that can be contributing factors to either gaze, if argued for correctly.


Overall, the female gaze in Kustom Kar Kommandos is noticed based on the era in which the clip was made in and it’s historical background, in this case, the “flower children”. The feeling of love that emanated from this time contributed well for the argument that this movie actually has a female gaze. The cinematography, choreography and the music all contributed to proving the “silent” female gaze that has eluded cinema because it was not noticed. It is there, however the audience has to zoom out of the main picture and look at the time period that most movies were made in and how it resembles it on screen.












Early Summer

Before I write my thoughts on this movie let me say this. Sitting home and being able to watch this movie is a more pleasurable experience than sitting in a small wooden chair with the lights off.


This movie  was interesting. I am somewhat familiar with Japanese food and the culture and I was able to understand and picture certain things that they were talking about. I was intrigued by the little boy, he seemed like a kid that would do anything just to get what he wanted. There was a scene when the boy’s grandfather asking him if he loves him. When the boy answered that he loves his grandfather very much he received a cookie. This continued about four to five times. The grandfather had a cheerful expression on his face and as the boy left he said he hated the old man two times. The grandpa laughed and didn’t take it personally. The scene with the handing of the cookies was done in a long take. It brought out the relationship of the young child to his older grandfather as the two faced each other, sitting down on the floor as they do in traditional Japanese customs.   I’m not sure if the movie was fake or not. By fake I mean the way the characters portrayed typical households in Japan at that time. The women seemed to congregate in small groups, talking about getting married, who they will marry and poking fun of the girls who weren’t married yet. Comparing this to certain American movies, or actually commercials we see the trend where there is a typical nuclear family arrangement. The woman stays home and cooks, socializes with other neighbors and so on. Even though nuclear families were thought to be a majority in America around the same time that this movie was filmed, it was not the case. They only made up about 40% of the typical family arrangements. Even though Noriko lived in an extended family there is still the question if this is how everyone lived. The reason I bring this point up is because in this movie I noticed this same trend. I am not fully aware of Japanese culture and I’m questioning if this is how all Japanese families lived at that time.


The story in the film seems simple but it open to a lot of interpretations.  Noriko is in love with her boss but does not want to marry him. The match that the boss has proposed does not work out for Noriko as she does not seem to like that man. She ends up marrying the doctor who gives Noriko’s aunt (or perhaps mother, the movie lost me on the relatives) a heart examination because she was drinking too much. The two move away and eventually come back to Noriko’s parents’ place. The symbolism at the end of the movie is interesting. The parents have moved away to the countryside and see a bridge walking down a road. It makes them think about Noriko and the choices that she had made in her, perhaps that getting married at a later age was a better decision.


The story is interesting and seemingly simple. On the outside it is simply about a Japanese family and a girl who needs to get married because she’s getting to the age where she should acc

Film Analysis #1

Citizen Kane Scene Analysis

Time Length of Scene: 00:17:18 – 00:18:54 ( 00:01:36)

Amount of Shots in Scene:  4


Shot 1 – 00:17:18 – 00:17:52

Frame: ES to Long Shot

Placement of Camera: Low Angle to Straight On

Visual: Big Statue of Thatcher

Lighting: Nuetral, there isn’t too much shadow or light on anything.

Camera Movement: The camera moves from the statue to the main characters of the scene (tilt down); zooms at the ending of the shot

Duration: Long Take

Sound: Music as Thatcher’s statue is shown; reverb on everyone’s voice

Transitions: Dissolve


Shot 2 –  00:17:52 – 00:18:34

Frame: LS

Placement of Camera: Straight On

Visual: A big safe, table engulfed in a beam of light from glass on the ceiling, only one chair

Lighting: Low Key

Camera Movement: Dolly in with the characters as they move. As they stop, it stops

Duration: Long Take

Sound: Sound the safe makes as it closes; as door closes there’s a sound that creates the feeling of some eerie going on

Transitions: Dissolve


Shot 3 – 00:18:34 – 00:18:40

Frame: LS

Placement of Camera: Straight On

Visual: One chair, one table, one man; the papers Thompson is reading

Lighting: Low Key

Camera Movement: Dolly in on Thompson. The camera moves in to over-the-shoulder

Duration: Short Take

Sound: A suspenseful flute

Transitions: Dissolve

Shot 4 – 00:18:40  –  00:18:54

Frame: Close up on the book

Camera Placement: Straight On

Visual: Words in the book

Lighting: Seems to be High-Key. The book appears to have clear visibility and is easily read.

Camera Movement:  The camera moves from left to right as the words are revealed on the screen

Duration: Long Take

Sound: A flute plays, later turns into music that brings memories

Transitions: Dissolve



This scene uses a lot of low key lighting, perhaps to signify Charles’ impending descent into madness. Dissolving shots in this scene are also a good choice for transitions between shots. The story has plays really well with time, and the use of dissolving shots helps signify which events are linked together in time. The use of reverb in this scene is well picked. The story is put together by Mr. Thompson, who wants to learn of Charles Foster Kane’s history. The use of reverb can symbolize that there is a narrator behind all the images that appear on the screen. The narrator (Mr. Thompson) is not however an omniscient narrator because as the ending of the movie shows, he does not figure out the meaning of the word Rosebud. The reverb in library scene signifies to me that knowledge cannot grant omnipotence because of the nature of reverb.

This scene signifies that Mr. Thompson will not be able to learn everything about Charles Kane. The placement of the camera on Thatcher’s statue in the first shot overpower the other two characters in the shot. Thompson wants to learn of Kane’s history, but will not be able to fully understand his life through second hand sources. The dollying in on the book in shot 3 with the over-the-shoulder approach was the best technique to be used for that shot. It shows that Thompson is starting to read and trying to understand Kane’s life, but the music that plays in the background creates the feeling that he might not know all of it.

The dollying of the camera proved to be an effective technique in creating suspense and making the audience ask questions as to what will happen next and what won’t. The lighting in this scene was well done and the shots were put together in a masteful way to create the picture that Thompson is really trying to find out why Kane was who he was. The low key lighting in the shots symbolize his struggle to attempt to learn something, while the High Key lighting on the book itself and the dollying in on it shows that he is close to his answers. The reverb of the people’s voices in the library signify that he cannot achieve omnipotence and know exactly why Kane ended up being a mad man, because not all of the information was in the library.



Umberto D

“For those of you who have yet to post ANYTHING, you’ve had lots of fair warning as to the requirements and deadlines. I can only assume that your motivation for taking this class is not grade oriented…”

Who could that be directed towards…?


I’m sure like most of my classmates like myself leave everything for last minute. It’s sad that this is my first post for this entire class except for the welcome post which wasn’t even posted by me. Now that I got that out of the way, I’ll give my late impressions of Umberto D.

Umberto D is the first neorealist movie I’ve seen, or perhaps I have seen some but I didn’t know what the word meant. This movie reflects the hardships that were faced by the people of Europe, particularly Italy as the setting of the movie suggests. The characters are likely to be fake. At the beginning of the movie it is hard to distinguish who is Umberto. There is a crowd of people protesting and all of them seem to have some sort of solidarity against the local government. The purpose of their protest seemed to be the desire to raise pension wages. As the riots clear, it becomes obvious who Umberto D is and what kind of problems he has, debt. The story begins to follow Umberto and the audience is given hints that he is a debtor. The story develops really well. It introduces the antagonist Antonia the landlord to whom Umberto owes rent and who is the source of his problems and later depression. Maria, a servant of Antonia seems to be Umberto’s onlyre friend but she has problems of her own because she’s pregnant, without trying to figure out which of the two soldiers she slept with really knocked her up.

The story continues in the neorealist view, Umberto can’t raise money for his landlord who continues to threaten to kick him out. What a bitch…man. That’s how it is in the true world, people want money and they aren’t nice. The post war period also played a big part on the behavior of many characters, which seemed real and lifelike under stressful living conditions.

Umberto does eventually get kicked out, prostitutes rent out his room along with their clients and Umberto is left without a house. He does go to the local hospital before he gets kicked out to buy himself time. The hospital seemed to be filled with dishonest people who just tried to save money and with Umberto who tried to save money to actually have a place to live.

The ending of the movie was interesting. I expected Umberto and his dog Flick to get ran over by the incoming train. The dog apparently didn’t want to die and ran for his life when the train was coming. Umberto was disappointed, since his only other close companion did not want to die with him.

Anyway, interesting movie. It seems that as the movies  progress from the 1930’s towards the end of our class’ time line, they tend to become more interesting, probably because of new genres or styles of film are coming out. I can definitely see a link between some contemporary movies that have depressive themes, but I cannot name any off the top of my head.

Thoughts on this are welcome. Commenting will only help you for getting one out of the four out of the way and will help me as well. Hope you enjoyed my boring thoughts.




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