Author: Bridget Foster Reed

In 1918, a humiliated and haggard war-torn Germany mounted a campaign to reclaim its stake as an international powerhouse. Artists took on the challenge of winning over a now very critical and disapproving rest of the world. From this deficit the German Expressionist movement was born. Artists reincarnated the ideology of Die Brücke which had previously manifested in 1905 in Dresden. Die Brücke (‘The Bridge’) was the theory of using high contrast and abstracted forms to strip away the constraints of modern urban life to access the raw expressions of the human condition. In effect, this art movement attempted to illustrate the most basic human emotions to establish a renewed sense of universality.

If it’s light out, you can’t watch SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS.

New York City is a trusted muse for nearly every significant filmmaker. Woody Allen, for example, based many films in his beloved hometown. Every studio used to have their version of New York City – a set equipped with stereotypical, stylistic trappings, ready to be employed in any quintessential crime and noir film.

Wait a second, I’ve seen that guy before, what movie is he in?

I have likely posed that question hundreds of times when watching films with my father. Luckily, he has a keen penchant for placing character actors in their many unmemorable but important roles. Top billed actors or actresses often overshadow character actors, but character actors have an effective tool at their disposal—anonymity.

June 21, 2013 /


Much like Henry Ford’s innovation of the assembly line revolutionized mass production, the Hollywood studio system reliably churned out hits for the masses during its Golden Age. Desolate acres of California desert were transformed into a conglomeration of studio back lots. Until the late 1950s, studios produced escapism films favored by American audiences as a method of distraction from the looming realities of war. As the mood began to change on the home front, as did the creative process of filmmakers. The reliable Hollywood formula was reconfigured and now consisted of global productions with international casts, on location filming, and ambiguous plots.

 One of Tarantino’s signature nuances is his treatment of actors. Tarantino intentionally leaves ambiguity and the opportunity for improvisation, likely inspired by the French New Wave film movement. In two similarly structured interrogation scenes, the mise-en-scene acts as springboard for the manifestation of character attributes, which each actor can approach differently. The appropriate selection of props is crucial to induce the most meaningful response from Tarantino’s actors and drive the narrative.