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Re: [ticket2write] The Notorious Bettie Page (2006)

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  • Milton Trachtenburg
    Hi, James: My overall reaction to this piece as a movie review include issues of it being more a review of the times than of the movie. There is nothing at all
    Message 1 of 2 , May 20, 2013
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      Hi, James:

      My overall reaction to this piece as a movie review include issues of it being more a review of the times than of the movie. There is nothing at all about production values, tempo, tone or that amorphous magic qualities that the best movies can create. You mention only Ms Moll when there was an entire cast that participated in the drama thoguh you do say allof them were perfect. You do nbot say what made them perfect.

      You cover your lack of knowledge of the times with generalities such as "The fifties were definitely a time of changes." What changes? All time is a time of change. When you discuss change, you need two elements: From what and to what?

      Why is it s good topic? When you throw out a judgment, you have to be ready to back it with facts.

      You say the film is mostly in black and white but fail to take advantage of the opportunity to discuss the production value in 2006 of using that technique? How was black and white used in the 1950s? Do you know which other films chose black and white over what then was called Technicolor because that was the patented process used to make color film?

      I am assuming this review was written for a high school class. But,you are submitting it to an adult critiquing group where standards are much more strict and you are judged against the standards of the industry whether you are 17 or 87.

      In journalistic ventures, you are measured against movie reviewers, not other students. If you want to know whether your review is what the teacher wanted, I can't say. You are not in school to learn how to review movies but how to understand history and explain yourself in words that make coherent sentences. Her, you demonstrate that you can write well in the English language but that you did not do any research in depth whether about the history of the times or the way in which movie reviews are constructed. As a former teacher --- from grade school to grad school --- I found you using the kind of subterfuge that students who do not choose to research a topic they do not understand well. Generalize, hypothesize and synthesize  rather than inform, compare and contrast. For instance, you skim over the soundtrack  You say it is good. You do not mention a single choice of song used. You do not mention what recording artists they proferred as their sample of an era. Also, big band is the thirties and forties, not the fifties. By the way, the span of Bettie Page's entertainment life encompassed the era of the forties as well as the fifties. And BIg Band was the sound of the forties. By the fifties, ballads and the entry fo rock and roll were the musical highlights of that decade. The fifties were the era of Bandstand and Elvis, not Bennie Goodman and Tommy Dorsey.

      You went for overkill when you said every actor was perfect. If they had been, it would have been a Hollywood first. You mention that the move would have been different had it had a man directing. How? What would a man's view of that era changed?

      I hope that you are not offended that I took your review apart as I did. In this room you do not get bonus points for being young. You want to write with adults, you have to have your work judges as an adult. All of the issues I brought up are resolved by knowing more about your subject when you write about it. Remember, you are writing about an era that some of your readers lived through and others have a scholarly knowledge of.

      You have the ability to put words together into strong prose but when you are writing about a subject that requires specific knowledge, you need to pay more attention to the plethora of information available out there with one click of a Google button. I did that just to review this article. I read several dozen reviews of the movie to see what elements they dealt with since I had not seen the movie. It took me ten minutes. I wasn't reading for a scholar's depth of knowledge. I was looking for only enough to understand the film in the context of the times. Had you done the same, you would have had a ton of interesting observations you could have made about both the film and its antecedents. 

      I hope you find some of what I said of some help to you as you develop your writing niche and the skills to carry it out based on what parts of the field of writing you choose to work in. When they say know your subject, itmeans that, atleast, you study what you need to know to produce verisimilitude (the appearance of reality in fiction).


      -----Original Message-----
      From: jameskettering <no_reply@yahoogroups.com>
      To: ticket2write <ticket2write@yahoogroups.com>
      Sent: Mon, May 20, 2013 5:12 am
      Subject: [ticket2write] The Notorious Bettie Page (2006)

      The 1950s were definitely a time of change, especially in the entertainment world. Television was becoming the norm, movie studios were losing audiences and the Cold War between the U.S. and the Soviet Union was starting to create tension. One of these changes was adult magazines popping up and creating a controversy over what could be censored. The 2006 film "The Notorious Bettie Page" is a good combination of pornographic images and what the government thinks is "obscene". Though the film could longer, it definitely shows what went on during that time period of the 1950s.

      The plot has Bettie Page (Gretchen Mol) going from the humble life of Nashville, Tennessee, all the way up to New York where she becomes a modeler. As said model, Bettie dresses up in provocative clothing to take photos for some interesting people. Unfortunately, the government tries to shut down the studio that Bettie is working for as the images that are being distributed are effecting the youth of the nation. Is Bettie's work hurting the American public, or is it all for fun?

      "The Notorious Bettie Page" is a good biopic about one of the most leading women in the adult entertainment business. The story mainly sticks with Bettie's career as a model while asking the question: is it safe for everyone? The production team that went into this movie did an amazing job. Mary Harron, the director, was a very good decision on the studio's part, as had this film had been directed by a man, the movie would have been a completely different film. In terms of acting, everyone is perfect, especially Gretchen Mol, who delivered an outstanding performance. The soundtrack is good by bringing in a big band orchestra and early 1950s hits to play over the film to set the mood of the time period. While the subject matter isn't as quite as topical as it is today, it does bring up the notion of what can and can not be shown to the public. But what really sells the film is the cinematography.

      For most of the movie, "The Notorious Bettie Page" is shown in black and white. The reason behind this is because the filmmakers wanted to recapture the entertainment world when it still was working in black and white. Yes, there are moments when the film changes from black and white to color , but for the most part, the movie is in black and white. The way the movie is shot is fantastic as black and white films are beginning to die out of the public media.

      There is one minor problem with the movie, in which it could have gone a bit longer. If there had been an epilogue that showed the significance of Bettie Page, then the movie would have been perfect.

      In conclusion, "The Notorious Bettie Page" is good movie about one of the most prolific women in the adult entertainment industry.

      How could I have improved my writing with this movie review?

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