Mr. Patterson's Blog

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Romeo and Juliet Review

Hey Nerds,

So last time we ended up watching 2 versions of Romeo and Juliet. One from 1968 and  another from 1996. While most of you seemed to agree the older one was ok but nothing special, you were VERY divided on the 2nd versions. I thought I might be fun to see the critical reaction to that second version.

If right before bedtime one were to watch rock videos, read Shakespeare and eat some really bad food, the ensuing nightmare might be exactly like “William Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet,” a monumental disaster.

The picture, which opens today, was directed by Baz Luhrmann (“Strictly Ballroom”) and updates the play by placing it in a stylized modern setting and giving it a loud, rock ‘n’ roll soundtrack. The result is embarrassing: quick cuts and shaky, hand- held camera work, bad acting and lots of attitude.

-San Francisco Chronicle

Skinheads, drag queens, and leather-boy desperadoes. Silver designer pistols that look as if they were engraved at a Rodeo Drive boutique. Gunfights and brawls edited with such whiplash abandon the images might have been cut together by a straight razor … William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet is a slick blast of ”decadence,” the kind of violent swank-trash music video that may make you feel like reaching for the remote control. 

-Entertainment Weekly

Baz Luhrmanntripped the light funtastic with “Strictly Ballroom,” a fluid, freewheeling Australian comedy about ballroom dancing. But with “William Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet,” he puts Shakespeare’s greatest romance in a choke-hold and takes it slam-dancing.

The movie, a frenetic, explosive experience full of car crashes and gun battles, is original and exhilarating. But more often, it’s so overwhelming, it’ll make you want to watch “Die Hard With a Vengeance” for peace and quiet.

-Washington Post

Luhrmann’s gleefully cinematic version of the play is so relentlessly inventive and innovative, it takes 20 minutes to get a grasp on how appropriate is his approach to the material.

-Time Out New York

Luhrmann bombards us with startling images, audacious camera tricks and breathtaking action … [in order to recreate] the overwhelming experience of adolescent love.

-Movie Talk

It’s a rotten shame there is no Oscar for Audacity, because filmmaker Baz Luhrmann would win it in a walk.The Australian director-producer-co-writer of Strictly Ballroom has chucked all manner of timeworn Shakespearean conventions in his sexy, explosive, magical new version of Romeo and Juliet. At the same time, despite liberal cuts, he uses the Bard’s poetry with respect.This film is an amazing feat of ambition and imagination.

-Chicago Triubune





Romeo and Juliet: Film Analysis

Hi Gang,

We’re now four scenes into Romeo and Juliet. I think that’s a good place for us to stop and look back a bit. Today we’re going to look at two film adaptations of Romeo and Juliet: Franco Zefferelli’s 1968 version and Baz Luhrmann’s 1996 version.

After we finished, I put the following questions to you:


  • What was cut from both versions?
  • Which had more cuts?
  • Were they sensible ones?


  • Which was the best performance in each film?
  • Which was the worst?
  • Which film had the superior R & J?

Classic Vs. Modern

  • Did you prefer the classic or modern setting?
  • Explain your reasoning.

Hamlet: Where we is at

Hey Punks,

I just wanted to make sure that everyone is literally on the same page with Hamlet. For anyone who missed Wednesday/Thursday’s class because they were away or were physically there but mentally mentally checked out, make sure you read up until the end of Act I, Scene 4.

Next class we’ll watch a little of what we’ve read and take a look a the following scene where the ghost finally gets to say more than ‘boo’.


Thoughts on Directors

Hey Nerds,

This unit is going to build to a seminar presentation where you pick a director, learn about their history and analyse their work. It’s the largest section of this unit so I want you to pick a director whose films you care about.

I thought I’d use this time to talk a bit about directors and what they have to offer.

We started with a PowerPoint presentation that covered multiple directors and styles. Here it is again, in case you want to look at it for inspiration:

Director Suggestions

After that I looked at a few unconventional ways of researching your director (i.e. Not just Wikipedia)

Early Work

You can also consider the early work of a director. Find directors who work outside the film medium to augment your understanding.

Music Videos are one place you can find a directors early influence.


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Before “The Green Hornet”, “Be Kind, Rewind” and “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”, Michel Gondry was one of the biggest names in music video direction. Artist like Bjork, The Chemical Brothers and The White Stripes have all teamed up with Gondry to bring their music to life. He has also made a name for himself in TV commercials.

A couple of Gondry Commercials

Gondry Films




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Another director who got his start in videos, working with artists like The Beastie Boys, Weezer, Kanye West and Fat Boy Slim.


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J. J. Abrams and Dan Trachtenberg

Quentin Tarantino

Ron Howard

Bobcat Goldthwait

Robert Rodriguez

San Raimi

Peter Farrelly

Kevin Smith


Oliver Stone

Judd Apatow

Mel Brooks

The Wachowskis

J. J. Abrams solo

WTF with Marc Maron

Danny Boyle

Michael Moore

Duplass Brothers

The Director’s Guild of America Podcast

Movie Challenge

Today you were given the first a 3 assignments that will put your newfound understanding of shot composition to the test. Using the techniques we’ve studied in class, you are to make a short film showing off your understanding of technique.

The specifics of the assignment can be found here:

Movie Challenge

I’ve been doing this in a slightly different capacity for the last few years (2 giants groups, dividing the class in two) so the quality and demands of the assignment are not exactly the same. Still, looking at a few examples from the past should be very helpful.


And here are some examples of storyboards, if you plan to go that route. I don’t have a really example that shows everything I’m looking for but there are elements from each of these examples:

EXAMPLE 1:  This one shows you how to indicate movement of characters in the scene using arrows. 

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EXAMPLE 2:  This one shows you how to write dialogue at the bottom 


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EXAMPLE 3:  This one shows you how can also indicate camera movement at the bottom 

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Prompt #5: Shifting Perspective

Hey Punkyaloids,

Last class we looked at a bunch of story techniques that you might consider unconventional. Today I thought I’d give you a shot at writing with one of them. I thought we could look at something kind of fun which is re-imaging pre-existing stories from other perspectives.

Before we write, let’s look at a few examples.

We looked at a few examples…

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead tell the story of Hamlet from the point of view of his doomed friends.

Mary Riley was the story of Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde told though his assistants eyes

The Hank Scorpio episode of the Simpsons has Homer working for a James Bond villain

Wicked was the story of The Wizard of Oz from the perspective of the witch


Here was the prompt:

Pick a story you already know (kids story, novel, movie, etc) and write a short story form the perspective of somebody other than the protagonist/narrator.


Star Wars from the perspective of Storm Trooper on the Death Star

Snow White from the perspective of one of the seven dwarfs

Finding Nemo from the perspective of that stupid ass turtle


Chose a story and retell it in a different style


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Shakespeare Begins (Insert collective WHOOP of enthusiasm here)

Today we take our first baby steps into the wonderful world of Shakespeare, a world I know you all just love to death.  This year we will be reading Hamlet, one of Shakespeare’s most famous (and difficult) plays.

Before we start into the text proper, I want to spend some time talking about what it means to understand Shakespeare. Today in class we watched scenes from some of his other plays and talked about the challenges (and pleasures) of deciphering his text.

Once completed, you were given a small homework assignment (which I gave you ample class time to finish).  I asked you to read a few passages from other plays and try to translate the text without aid of notes, context or (gasp) the internet.

Shakespeare Translation

Henry V

Richard III

Much Ado about Nothing

The Tempest

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Adaptation in story/character only

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