He’s Just Not That Into You

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As a theater major, movies have been kind of ruined for me for a long time now.  Friends hate that I can alway figure out “who done it” or basically how a movie is going to end.  I’ve been taught a basic structure, and even if I don’t remember the exact way it was taught to me, I know that by the time the first 15 minutes of a film has passed a problem will present itself.  Subsequently, roughly about 45 minutes is spent solving the problem, and another 10-15 minutes is spent forming the “happy ending” or pulling together any looseends.  The minutes may not be exactly right, but it’s that timing and clues that I’ve learned to pick up on in classes based on directing and writing that help me figure out the ending.  Clues like, if something like a gun is on stage, you know that gun should be used by the end of the show, and someone is likely going to be killed.  It usually works that way in film as well.  For instance, in one of my favorite movies, “He’s Just Not That Into You” cigarettes are mentioned in passing when a wife, Janine, confronts her husband, Ben, if he’s been smoking.  She says he smells funny, possibly noticing that he may have been with another woman, then diverts the situation by telling him that he knows smoking is a big deal to her because her father died of lung cancer.  This already foreshadows that the issue of cigarettes is going to come up again, and almost trumps a further issue of him inevitably cheating on her.  That is exactly what happens at the end of the film.  He confesses to cheating on her, and she says she want to work it out, BUT, when she finds that his hidden cigarettes she completely looses it and decides to leave him.  It was great to have this sort of touched upon on the book and how editing sort of leads us into focusing these things.  While I know about hidden clues, and I knew editing plays a huge part in how we see things, I didn’t know it was basically down to a science. 

What I mean about not knowing that it was basically down to a science, I mean that I knew fading in and fading out was used to show passage in time, but I never really thought about the fact that we just know that because I boiled it down to being a convention of movies that people just know.  I never would’ve figured out on my own that it’s related to the sun rising and setting and that we subconsciously then know that time has passed.  The same goes for low angle shots showing characters in a more powerful light, as mentioned in the text-book.  I don’t have this “cinematic language” mentioned in the book and I find it cool and interesting to learn.

It was also actually fun for me to learn about Implicit meaning and Explicit meaning in movies.  There are so many things you look over that make up these movies and as a performer it’s amazing to me to see how well-developed and in-depth these characters are formed with simple use of things like what they wear.  You don’t realize how much that forms a character and a perception in one’s mind until you dissect it.  For example, the same couple mentioned earlier Ben and Janine are clearly not happy.  To be more specific Ben seems bored with Janine so he cheats on her with a woman who appears to be all around more fun and less serious.  Janine is a writer for a magazine who publishes articles on things like nutmeg while the other woman, Anna, is a yoga instructor.  In a scene where, Ben and Anna are interrupted in the middle having sex there is a clear juxtaposition on this implicitly.  All the things mentioned earlier are explicit.  If you take a look at their costumes, both woman were attempting to have sex with Ben.  However, Janine shows up business clothes with lingerie on underneath that is just black and beige and looks generic.  It’s still sexy, but it looks generic.  She’s also very awkward and uncomfortable showing that the act of having sex in an office is out of the ordinary for her.  Anna, on the other had, has on bright red lingerie that looks like she could’ve gotten from Victoria Secret and is completely comfortable having sex in an office.  First off, the color red on its own sort of subconsciously puts a target on Anna’s back as being scandalous and wrong, which she is because she is the other woman.  It also makes her more vibrant and alluring compared to Janine who is in mostly black. subconsciously you see why Ben is like a fly to a flytrap to the other woman and betrays his wife.

I can go on and on about this movie and how this first chapter relates to it which just further excites me for further chapters.  While I said in the beginning, classes like these have sort of ruined movies for me, I actually find it fun to dissect them.  Yes, it makes it hard to get out of my head, and not over analyze, BUT it makes me feel like a detective trying to figure out what will happen next and why certain things were done a certain way.

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