F is for Fake, D is for Distracted: ‘Distracted’ (James Devereaux, 2018, UK)

9th August 2020

The official trailer is on:

http://jamesdevereaux.com/video-on-demand/

where the film can also be bought or rented.

James Devereaux, actor, in Distracted

Watching ‘Distracted’, with its constant contrasts, gives one the sense of being a child in a cinematic sweet shop, real and surreal, a shop designed by M. C. Escher. The audience is enticed along a hall of mirrors, catching glimpses of Melville, Fellini, Tarantino. We are never quite sure what we see, what sleight of hand is at work, what card is being forced upon us. Unlike ‘Noirish Project,’ viewers are no longer along for the Odyssey, but are watching a detective film in which THEY are the detectives.

As we distill the black and white linguistics from the multi-hued para linguistics, questioning motivation, method and montage, we realise there is simply too much evidence, too many layers to analyse in detail. Therefore, what follows is merely a focus on selected aspects of the film; one could write a monogram on this film that rewards repeated viewings.

I shall give a brief plot outline before offering an objective, then a subjective interpretation, the latter being the movie memories the film evokes. Finally, I shall suggest one possible reading, knowing that it is merely one out of …who knows ? Surely, a different reading(s) from each viewer. D is for duality, the black and white of the film, the intertwining of black and white elements in the characters, their disappointments, disillusions, disgust, deceptions and D is for distraction but who is doing the distracting and whom is being distracted ?

Objective:

Plot & analysis

Notice how the back light shifts, left to right, from pure, innocent white to grainy, jaded grey. Mountjoy (left) meet Baker.

DI Baker is partnered with DC Mountjoy to investigate the murder of a young lady, Zoe. Baker is due to leave the police within days and appears disinterested, while Mountjoy is desperate for a quick resolution, to help save his failing marriage. The pair interview Zoe’s flatmate, then her aunt, learning of Zoe’s sexual proclivities, and of an ex-boyfriend, Tony.

Baker steals some underwear from Zoe’s house, and uses these to receive messages and clues about the case. Baker & Mountjoy arrest Tony and expose him to noise torture. During one session, Baker ‘hears’ a confession, yet it is absent when the recording is played back. Exhausted, and fearing for his sanity, Baker goes home, but is troubled by his ‘visions’. He receives another message and phones Mountjoy.

Baker leaves the job, and Mountjoy thanks him for solving the murder … Tony has confessed … and for giving him a good report. Baker becomes a private investigator, while Mountjoy’s success has come too late. His wife has left him.

The wrath of Baker, the “legendary,” inspector, contemptuous of his Captain, preparing to leave and damn the consequences, Achilles reborn. The obsequiousness of Mountjoy as blind as Achilles’ chronicler, stifled by protocol, obsessively following every rule yet unable to see reality. A detective of intuition, one of procedure, an allusion to Sherlock Holmes, 221B, an ironic play on happiness, both names comprising two syllables. Such is the world we have entered and we should be prepared for conflicts, contradictions and ambiguity, and not forgetting that every Achilles has a heel. What is Baker’s ?

“I’m bored,” Baker proclaims when asked why he is leaving, yet immediately undermines this assertion explaining that he really feels under-appreciated; he does the work, others take the credit. His ego demands recognition, thus his leaving will be an act of revenge.

During the investigation, Baker curtails a conversation with Mountjoy, stating, “I don’t want to talk about it,” before doing exactly that, “I had one of my visions, again.” The ‘vision’ or madness issue is central to our understanding of Baker as he questions, several times, his sanity before his junior partner, displaying a frailty, foregrounding a character fault. “I’m going out out my mind,” is repeated with minor variations, as Baker plays Catch 22 with himself, for Mountjoy’s benefit … just Mountjoys ?

Implication over literalness; we shall encounter more of this, further on, but first a short sketch of Mountjoy, a woefully uxorious pen-pusher who is continually projecting his anxieties onto his report grading. Mountjoy is only comfortable working within rules this does, after all, negate the need for thinking. His marriage is in serious trouble, his wife making (impossible ?) demands of him: a promotion, to loose weight. Their motivations for solving the crime ? Baker’s, to show how indispensable he is, Mountjoy’s, to have personal and professional security. How well they work together is demonstrated when they interview Catherine, Zoe’s flatmate.

The grieving friend, dressed in black but looking like a classic femme fatale or silent film vamp, seems “More than happy,” with the presence of the two men in her room. She refers to herself as a “Traditionalist,” with a certain amount of “Wildness,” a lady who, she carefully enunciates, does not “Sleep around,” (although no one inquired about her private life). She and Zoe were close, “As close as friends can be,” leaving us to infer whether that in- or excluded a sexual relationship. Her whole delivery infuses every comment with a palpable sexual charge, noticeably her insistence that she is “Happy to continue,” with the interview, an invitation that is repeated … and repeated.

Louise Torres-Ryan, John Giles, actor, Distracted

Catherine provokes Baker at one point, mentioning that Zoe adhered to the principle of ‘free love’. The Inspector visibly recoils in disgust and as this is filmed in Close-Up, we know it must be deeply significant. We’ve learnt a little about Zoe, maybe a lot about Baker.

At one point, Baker asks directions for Zoe’s room and, after taking some panties from a drawer and slipping them into his pocket, suggests the interview be terminated. Both Catherine and Mountjoy engage Baker in a polite passive-aggressive farce of staying or leaving, Mountjoy being oblivious to the undertone in Baker’s voice demonstrating how he needs things explained, needs to be told what to do. Did he once act impulsively ? Was Baker betrayed in love, and what are his intentions with the underwear ? We discover the answer to the last point shortly after … or, possibly uncover more questions.

Baker is at home when he suddenly gets pains in his head. We see a very short insert of a mouth, in colour, talking. Baker questions the voice, he cannot hear what it is saying. Then he knows what to do. He puts the panties, procured from Zoe’s house, on his head and is able to ‘hear’ the message … except, the message is from Catherine, not Zoe. We need to retrace our steps.

When Baker excuses himself, to go to Zoe’s room, we have a verbal visual cut that is, Baker asking for directions and then we see him in a room. We assume that it is Zoe’s room, but let’s break down the scene. Baker leaves but the camera stays in the main room, showing Catherine and Mountjoy talking, so some time passes before we see Baker, framed in a Dutch angle [1] entering a room.

Similar to ‘Noirish Project’, the majority of this film is shot with a static camera, therefore any deviation makes a statement: we are entering a different sphere (such as when the film suddenly turns colour and we see Catherine’s mouth). Then we have another effect: the camera fades to black, momentarily, and fades in with Baker standing at a chest of drawers. More time has passed. We presume it is Zoe’s room, but it may well be Catherine’s. No matter how close the flatmates were, it is more reasonable to suppose that the message would come from the owner of the clothes.

Baker’s legendary powers have been revealed. The agony it appears to cause him also gives him the insight to ask the right questions to unlock cases. Elementary ? far from it …

Baker

We have heard the message before, when Catherine was talking to Mountjoy. Baker wasn’t in the room but he may well have overheard the conversation while he was in one of the bedrooms. The audience already has this information. However, this ‘involuntary memory’ triggers another. He phones Mountjoy and mentions a diary he saw on Zoe’s bed. In the bedroom scene, we do see Baker look off-camera but, typically, we do not see the object of the gaze. If it were the diary, then he would have been in Zoe’s room and therefore the panties would logically be Zoe’s. The ‘vision messages’ are in fact nothing more mystical than recalled conversations from his subconscious.

So why does Baker take the underwear ? Is this the Achilles heel, a fetish that stops him from looking at Zoe’s diary, a valuable piece of evidence ? A shop designed by M.C. Escher, indeed. Where is this taking us ? Clearly, as with all great mysteries, we are not going to find out in the first act. What will we encounter along the next hall of mirrors ?

Nadine Hanwell in Distracted
Zoe’s aunt, a provider of donuts, brownies and Battenberg cake.

Subjective:

Czech New Wave & David Lynch

Cineastes are very generous people, enthusiastically sharing new films, and when they become directors, they love to put film references, blatantly or subtly, in their movies. In ‘Distracted’, I noticed several such references, but two seemed to permeate the film: the work of the Czech New Wave, and that of David Lynch [2].

I detect an old Eastern Bloc atmosphere, not throughout the entire film, but certainly in the police station scenes. The rooms are bare, only the most basic furnishings, pipes are exposed and the telephone, rotary dial (as shown in the first still) doesn’t work. Later we will see recordings made on a reel-to-reel, while Baker’s small sports car looks magnificently retro.

The station is predominately white, the darker secrets of the interrogations rooms, the criticisms of the broken system, the shortages and shortcoming whitewashed over. Just look at how shocked Mountjoy is when he hears Baker speak the unspeakable.

Alfie Black, James Devereaux, actor, Distracted
White walls, radiator pipes, plastic chairs …
and the results of cacophony.

Baker knows he will not raise above the rank of DI. Maybe his results are applauded but not his methods. Maybe he is simply not a party member, and he has to take orders from those who are loyal to the State, regardless of ability. Totalitarian states are not known for being meritocracies.

Czechoslovakian filmmakers infused their art with the national characteristics of humour and irreverence, shifting from realism to surrealism, splicing in (seemingly) unrelated images, and mocking the oppression that governed, then dictated their lives. Baker’s “Captain” represents the hierarchy, the government, the system.

Although the Captain is not shown, I imagine him as a character from Miloš Forman’s ‘The Fireman’s Ball’ (1967), bungling and awkward, comically incompetent. However, two other films could help us decode more about the sidekick Mountjoy.

The sudden insertion of colour shots, the striking Close-Ups of Catherine’s mouth, and the contrasting colours of the heretofore unmentioned Battenberg cake remind me of the wildly surreal ‘Daisies’ (1966) by Věry Chytilové while the seemless moves from reality into dream, inner thought or allegory make me think of ‘The Cremator’ (1969) by Juraj Herz. The film uses techniques from these two film to ingeniously relate Mountjoy’s backstory … and tell us more about Baker.

Mountjoy’s backstory

I will define surrealism, for this essay, as the incongruous combination of two everyday items, here, a walk in the woods, and a man selling cakes from a makeshift stall. Mountjoy shows us, symbolically, why his marriage is failing. He is enticed, siren like, to the cake seller, and easily persuaded, so easily tempted to partake of this ‘forbidden fruit.’ His wife has imposed a diet on him but, as the seller points out, “Your wife isn’t here, now.” Having no money, Mountjoy immediately barters his watch, a “Solid gold,” watch, a wedding present, for some transitory sensual pleasure. The symbolism is obvious; Mountjoy had an affair, which his wife discovered.

“What have I done ?” Mountjoy cries, as the cake-seller runs away with the watch, “It was a mistake, just a silly mistake,” but one that can’t be undone. A marriage destroyed, ironically, by a piece of Battenberg, a cake invented, amidst Victorian values (and hypocrisy), to celebrate a wedding [3]. In this sequence, DI Baker helps Mountjoy, returning the watch to him, which could be read as Baker saving Mountjoy’s marriage. At any rate, we are not yet finished with our cake-seller; he shall return.

A final nod to the Czech New Wave is the Cacophony Room, a special area of the police station where Tony is taken and exposed to noise to ‘encourage’ him to be more open about Zoe’s murder. The scene reinforces the earlier similarities to a non-democratic society as Tony has no lawyer, and the police seems to operate without rules or supervision. Reel-to-reel recordings are easy to erase. Furthermore, despite the scene showing a suspect being coerced into confessing, even tortured, pleading “No more cacophony !” the scene is more comic than shocking, especially when the film is speeded up and we see Tony rolling along the floor, covering his ears. Another example of Czech black humour. Now, let’s use the cacophony to lead into a director famous for his innovative use of sound in film, David Lynch [4]

Each man delights in the work that suits him best

The links to ‘Twin Peaks’ are immediately apparent; the murder of a young lady, off-screen, and the subsequent investigation, a diary, a map to a secret place in the country. We encounter a range of idiosyncratic characters, each one appearing to have an interesting story, or two, of their own. As has been frequently mentioned on Twin Peaks posts, we don’t care about Laura Palmer, we only care about who killed her. In ‘Distracted’, we don’t even really care who killed Zoe. Our attention is on Baker and his methodology and, to a lesser extent, Mountjoy’s domestic soap opera.

Additionally we have the main detective receiving messages in dreams or visions while, similar to many Lynch productions, there is an element of surrealism, of ambiguity, of uncertainty. Viewing ‘Mulholland Drive’ (2001), a second time is different to the first due to the information we later have, think we have, might possibly have. Our third has the same effect on our second … and so on [5].

Having said that, the experimental side of ‘Distracted’ is much more restrained. As with the Czech similarities they merely reflect my own feelings and tastes. Allow me one final comparison.

For me, the main Lynchian touch is the use of sound, although with a dramatic difference. Noise, effects, a non-musical soundtrack helped define ‘Eraserhead’ (1977). Conversely, both ‘Distracted’ & ‘Noirish Project’ are notable for their total absence of music, just minimal ambient diagetic sounds so the use of sound, of experimental noise as a torture, is especially germane.

Finally, and again, this is my impression, the cake-seller is not unlike a character from ‘Twin Peaks’, is not physically dissimilar to the Fireman, as like him, he holds clues for the audience … vital clues, so now it’s time for me to deliver my verdict.

Where to Eat the Best Battenberg Cake in Europe? | TasteAtlas

Conclusion

I do not believe that Baker has occult powers, or can receive messages. I base this on the fact that what we hear is merely a repetition of Catherine’s dialogue with Mountjoy. However, Baker does appear to hear something. Let’s go back to our cake-seller. The two meet in the country and have a little banter. Maybe the seller doesn’t just retail but also makes the cakes, he is, in fact … a baker. We have Baker talking to a baker, ergo a man talking to himself.

Baker’s weakness, his Achilles’ heel, is his mental illness. He is leaving the job for this reason, despite the blasting and bombardiering. He mentions this throughout the film, and we can see his ‘trance-like’ states as physical representation of this. Yet, doesn’t Baker mention his disability too often ? In a film so complex, isn’t this answer just a little too convenient ? Our work is not yet complete. Back to our notebooks.

Baker has ‘incidents’. They must be genuine because there is no one else in the room, no one watching, no one that is … except us. All the time, it is the audience that has been distracted. We have been lead up and down this Escher-like narrative, listening to voices that aren’t really there (hence the telephone that rings but has no one respond when picked up). Watching a full-grown man with panties on his head dance around, reciting nonsensical words is, at the very least, liable to attract our attention … to distract us, but distract us from what … the truth ? Baker’s success is down to his method, not his madness. He gets confessions by coercion.

The coda ? Mountjoy receives his watch back from Baker in the country, but this has a different symbolism. Mountjoy is now taking the baton from Baker, he will become disillusioned and cynical, as indicated by our last scene of him … drinking Bells whisky, the same brand Baker drank when they first met.

As for Baker, he moves from catching criminals to catching cheating spouses being too free with their love. A bit of revenge on cheating wives ? He seems a man in pain, so maybe that explains his methods of extracting confessions. But, it’s not really him, and it is certainly not helping, so that is his real reason for leaving. Now, he is free, no tie and no ties. He can choose his working hours, and methods and no one can tell him what to do. He has his book, the sun is shining and he is free. At last, he is free.

The illogical logic of M.C. Escher

MC Escher: An enigma behind an illusion - BBC Culture

[1] The Dutch angle is usually credited to Dziga Vertov’s 1929 ‘Man With A Movie Camera’, but have a look at Teinosuke Kinugasa’s 1926 ‘A Page of Madness’, a silent that, like Murnau’s 1924 ‘The Last Laugh’ does away with inter-titles. All three are amazing films, maybe a subject for a future blog.

A Page Of Madness 1926 狂った一頁 Directed by Teinosuke Kinugasa ...
‘A Page of Madness’ (Dir: Kinugasa, Japan, 1926)

[2] There are even some connections between the two, as Lynch likes experimenting with film, and many Czechoslovakian films were abstract, surreal and experimental. Lynch has also worked with the City of Prague Orchestra, while in ‘Twin Peaks: The Return’, a poster of Franz Kafka prominently hangs in Gordon Cole’s (played by Lynch) office. I don’t attach any significance to these, it just an interesting coincidence for cine buffs.

David Lynch recording soundtrack music in Prague

[3] The cake, from 1884, is generally thought to have been invented for the wedding of Queen Victoria’s granddaughter, Princess Victoria and Prince Louis of Battenberg, though not all historians agree.

[4] James and I share similar tastes in cinema, but occasionally we diverge, and I believe this is such an example. I’m a Lynch fan (with reservations, naturally), but I’m pretty damn sure James is not so impressed by him.

[5] By the same token, watching ‘Distracted’ affected my view on ‘Noirish Project’. It will be very interesting to see the final film in the “triptych.”

Art Cinema: The Cranes Are Flying 1957, USSR. Director : Mikhail Kalatozov

13th June 2020

The Cranes Are Flying | Jerusalem Film Festival
Looking up to see the cranes, flying

First, a thank you to Darrel over at ‘A World Of Films’:

https://aworldoffilm.com/2019/05/11/my-current-favourite-films/

Darrel lists his (current) top ten films, and topping the list was this Soviet film which I hadn’t seen. So I started searching online, and the clips I saw were so mesmerising, so dazzling, the reviews so laudatory, I had to see it. I began with a review:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XCDHExdjO0M&t=6s

This introduction gives context and commentary on the film, as well as placing the film in relation to other noteworthy examples of Russian or Soviet cinema.

Despite only finding short, two-minute excepts with English text, I wasn’t going to be deterred. Instead, I decided to read the synopsis on Wikipedia:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Cranes_Are_Flying

and then watch the original Russian version sans subtitles. I’ve recently been considering how cinema should (could) be told, and how so much exposition text is actually needed, how much text, in fact, is needed. As F.W. Murnau has beautifully shown in ‘The Last Laugh’ (1924), a film, a great film can be told without any need for dialogue or title cards. But that, as they say, is for another blog …

I will briefly relate the plot, then what attracted me to the film.

SPOILER ALERT: in order to highlight the creative camerawork and staging, the plot details need to be mentioned.

Boris and Veronika are young sweethearts, staying out late and risking family censure by sneaking home, trying not to wake their parents.

Film Reviews: The Cranes Are Flying
Happy in love, the sun reflecting off the water, life is a dance

However, when the Germans invade Russia, Boris, along with his close friend Stepan, join up. Boris has to catch a train to get to his battalion and Veronika rushes to say goodbye, but the crowds are so thick, she has no hope of seeing him. In vain, she throws her gift, but it falls and breaks on the ground. This clearly foreshadows the fate of their romance; they will never meet again.

Meanwhile, the War comes to the city, and Veronika’s parents are killed during an air raid. With nowhere else to go, Boris’ family take her in and during another air raid, with the living room symbolically shaken, glass shattered, Boris’ younger brother, Mark, sexually assaults Veronika. Her shame compels her to marry Mark, to the disdain and contempt of the family.

With the German advance, the Russians are moved eastwards. We see both the mounting Russian casualties and the sorry sordid state of the sham marriage.

Veronika is told that Boris is dead and runs frantically, racing a train under which she plans to throw herself … yet a young boy, who we later learn is also called Boris, diverts her attention, and she takes him home.

The film ends with Veronika waiting at the train station for the victorious Soviet soldiers to return. Amidst all the tearful reunions, Veronika meets Stephan; he confirms that Boris is indeed dead. Veronika is again denied any further contact by the sheer force of the crowd, her tears of heartbreak juxtaposed against the tears of happiness. As at the beginning, she looks up and sees, in a V-formation, the cranes flying.

I love the idea of the camera-stylo – the camera being able to move as freely as a pen, the director (and cinematographer, art-director, the whole team) being able to put their personalities on to the film so that by a mere shot or two we can detect a Hitchcock from a Hawks, a Kurosawa from an Ozu, a Godard from a Truffaut. Naturally, this will later clash with Roland Barthes’ essay, ‘The Death of the Author’ (1967) … again, for another blog.

I love the idea of a camera being free, released from the constrains of the studio, allowed to move and as it were, to breathe. From an actor’s point of view, it could be different, with concerns about hitting exact marks at exact times, instead of focusing purely on the performance (yes, another blog), but as a viewer, as a lover of cinema, ‘The Cranes Are Flying’ features some breathe-taking shots and said shots add meaning to the film … they are not mere decoration. Take this shot:

The Cranes Are Flying | Pima County Public Library

Veronika is so close to her goal yet blocked … and she had no where to turn, she is trapped, confined. This next still can’t capture the circular spinning of the camera, whirling up the stairs, as their hearts whirl with love, happiness and hope … none of which will last.

Russian Film Trailer: "The cranes are flying" 1957 - YouTube

Then we have the crowd scenes … and what scenes … the camera is like a character, bustling and elbowing its way through, between people, around vehicles, forcing its way off buses or onto trains.

The Cranes Are Flying - YouTube
The Cranes Are Flying (1957)
Marx and Matryoshka · The Cranes are Flying
Flowers for the lover destined never to return
The Cranes Are Flying: A Free Camera | The Current | The Criterion ...

I hope you enjoy it

Allez, ciao !

quote movie quotes talking jean-luc godard Vivre Sa Vie ...
Vivra Sa Vie – Jean-Luc Godard 1962

Adult Speaking Class, level 3: Short scenarios

10th June 2020

Some more dialogue scenes to practise using grammar, phrasal verbs, idioms and expressions

To practise question words and the past tense.

what / where /why / when / who / which / how

Dialogue: Catching up

How To Talk To Friends And Loved Ones About Health And Weight ...

Jane & Tina are catching up

Jane What did you do last night ? Who did you meet ?

Tina I went out with friends. We saw a movie. How about you ?

Jane I just stayed at home and did chores. Which cinema did you go to ?

Tina At Diamond Plaza. We bought popcorn which we ate before the film began.

Jane You must have been very hungry ! Was the film good ?

Tina Yeah, really exciting. The tickets were incredibly cheap too.

Jane How much were they ?

Tina Only 333 000 VND (three hundred and thirty-three thousand Dong).

Let's go to the cinema | ESOL Nexus

Jane is intrigued and curious about the price

Jane Why so cheap ?

Tina Because my husband won a competition.

Jane Which competition ? Where was it ?

Tina An online one. Do you want to drink coffee tonight ?

Jane Of course ! When ? What time do you knock off work ?

Tina About 10 … we have been very busy, lots of work.

Jane Me too. I worked until midnight last week. I was exhausted.

Tina I saw you. You looked terrible !

Jane Thank you ! 

Knock off = phrasal verb to finish work

Linking words: and / as well as / also / along with

Meeting the new boss

5 ways to win the confidence of the new boss - The Economic Times

Sid What are your plans for this afternoon ?

Viv Well, I need to buy some coffee as well as some milk. How about you ?

Sid Oh, I’ve got to have a meeting with the new director. He seems very strict.

Viv Yeah, I get the impression that he is very serious. However, he is friendly.

Sid Right, he could be an improvement. Having said that, he could be worse.

Viv He seems professional, very neat and tidy. Always a plain white shirt.

Sid Remember the old boss ? Such gaudy ties ! For me, that was unprofessional.

Viv Anyway, is there a convenience store nearby ?

Sid Naturally. Take the second left, then cross over. Can’t miss it.

Viv Brilliant ! You’re an angel.

Dialogue: Talking about Germany

Present perfect, past continuous and questions. Listen for adverbs

Ask Asian Girls: Do Asian Women like Black men? - YouTube

Mary Have you been to Germany ?

Amy No, not yet. Have you ?

Mary Yes, twice. I have (I’ve) visited Berlin and Munich.

Amy Which did you like best ?

Mary Well, Munich is very clean, elegant and stylish, but quite expensive.

Amy And Berlin, the capital ?

Mary I was working there for six months. It was really cool.

How to Solo Travel Berlin like a Boss! - Girl With The Passport

They continue after eating a big piece of pie.

Amy Sounds like you had lots of fun !

Mary Oh, yes ! The food was cheap and the people were incredibly friendly.

Amy How about the weather ? I have heard it can be cold.

Mary It was terrible ! Every day it rained cats and dogs.

Amy You must have been so glad to get back to Vietnam. (glad = happy)

Mary Yes, but I miss the German trains and buses; they were so reliable.

HD wallpaper: people, woman, girl, train, berlin, blonde, commute ...

Adult Speaking Class, Level 2: Cinema … what shall we see ?

9th May 2020

Cinema Choice

A lesson designed to encourage speaking and student interaction, especially useful for upper-intermediates or IELTS students, who are expected to be able to speak for two minutes fluently, with a good range of vocabulary, a knowledge of phrases and expressions, not to mention said speech to be delivered with pacing, rhythm and intonation. Furthermore, as previously demonstrated, long, complex sentences with ideas linked together with discourse markers.

Without further ado … let’s take in a movie

(to take in a movie = to go and see a movie, as opposed to watching a DVD, streaming etc)

Why going to the movies is [occasionally] worth the money | DECU

Vocabulary

I prefer / choice / my taste / not my taste / trailer / concession stand

all-star cast / director / film studio / controversial/ family film / book online

What’s on at the cinema ? What’s playing this week ? Not my cup of tea.

ACTIVITY 1: Use some of the words or expressions to talk about these photos:

Example

Types of camera shot

Alfred Hitchcock, a famous director from London, is demonstrating to the cameraman what shot he wants. Hitchcock was born near my house in east London and went on to work in Hollywood with all-star casts. However, I prefer his early films made in the UK although the famous or infamous film ‘Psycho’ is one of my favourites despite being extremely controversial.

Now … your turn

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Review | Our Kids
regal concessions - Akali
Cinema Program – July 2014 - Arts Margaret River
How to buy movie tickets with Siri on your iPhone and iPad | iMore
20th Century Fox Logo | 3D Warehouse

Activity 2: What types of film can you name ?

Movie Genres Vector Art & Graphics | freevector.com

Horror // Action Stories // Sci-fi // Drama // Thriller // Romance // Biopic // Comedy // Western // Animation (Anime) // Musical // Documentary // War //

Stories about people’s lives and emotions // Space films, or films set in the future // Films about fighting and soldiers // Stories about real famous people // Loud, exciting films with explosions and fast cars // A cartoon, illustrated film // True stories with real people, not actors // Stories about police or spies or crime // Scary films about ghosts or monsters // A film about cowboys, set in USA // Love stories // Funny films // with singing and dancing

Which genres are these ?

Which do you prefer ?

Bande-annonce - Paprika - YouTube
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An American in Paris – Variety
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Prefer– to like one thing more than something else

I prefer drinking coffee to tea

He prefers living in Sai Gon rather than Hanoi

The students prefer the small room

Activity 3:

Look at an up-to-date cinema listing. Discuss what is on this week. Which films (if any) appeal to you ?

Phim Chiếu Rạp | Lotte Cinema Cộng Hòa

Which do you prefer ?

Going to the cinema, watching a DVD or streaming a film online ?

What are the advantages or disadvantages to each one ?

Must or have to ? Revision

The new Spider Man film may be sold out. We ______ buy tickets NOW !

I hate comedies ! Do I _____ to go ?

You _______ eat too much popcorn; it’s bad for you.

You ________to be over 18 to see this film

You don’t ____ to bring your passport to get intoa cinema in Viet Nam.

Adult Speaking Class, Level 2, Part 4

19th January 2020

Contents

Dialogue: cinema tickets / afternoon plans

Free speaking exercises

Grammar: adverbs of degree

Idioms and expressions

Sentence building

Theme: coffee in Vietnam / photography

Vocabulary booster

Sentence building

Let’s look at these recent words:

shocked / frustrated / overwhelmed / surprised / confused 

I was surprised. It was surprising.

Image result for surprised Asain girl
She was surprised to be on my blog. It was surprising for her.

Use these in sentences e.g.

I was shocked by the prices in Family Mart. In Family Mart, the prices are shocking.

Tony was frustrated …..(by /with/ at)

Janet was overwhelmed by …

However, these adjectives are different:

delighted- it is delightful. I was delighted to receive your email. It was delightful.

lonely – lonely. I was lonely at home last night. It was lonely.

relieved – it was a relief. She was so relieved to find her keys. It was a relief.

Vocabulary booster

remember to link words together.

I live in a …

Image result for suburban street

quiet, residential street. Peaceful at night.

lively and busy commercial area, many shops

dirty and dusty industrial part of town. Very noisy.

My home is a / an …

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apartment and I live alone

rented room which share with friends

house and I live with my family

pros and cons advantages = positives / disadvantages = negatives 

What are the pros and cons of living alone ? Or about sharing with friends or family ?

adverbs of degree

very, extremely, incredibly, remarkably, unbelievably, rather, somewhat, quite 

I travel to work by …

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motorbike. It’s quite / rather far and extremely stressful.

using Grabbike. It’s very convenient albeit rather expensive.

bus. Although it’s incredibly cheap, it’s not very pleasant.

Idioms and expressions

At work I / I’m …

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find myself doing the same thing day in day out. It’s tedious.

up to eyes ! I’m always busy, attending meetings or writing reports.

have a variety of different jobs, I’m a jack of all trades; I don’t have time to get bored !

Notice the collocations

In my free time I …

enjoy watching films and playing sports. I am competitive !

adore hanging out with my friends and family.

love shopping. I can spot a bargain and I hate being ripped off !

Learning English

is, for me, easy, a piece of cake. It’s very important and fun at the same time.

in my opinion, is vital for the future. It’s imperative we learn.

is a necessary task. It’s awkward and frustrating, but I need it.

is highly enjoyable and relaxing. I love to improve my mind.

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Idioms

Match the idiom with the meaning:

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It’s raining cats and dogs // working very hard

Kick the bucket // no problem, very easy

working like a dog // to die

It costs an arm and a leg // very heavy rain

piece of cake // very expensive

FREE SPEAKING EXERCISE

ENGLISH – Why are you learning English ?

Do you enjoy learning – if so, why / if not, why not ?

What are the benefits ? Give examples.

Do you have problems with learning a language ?

Is it fair that you have to learn a second language in your own country ?

Does this open up career opportunities for you or your children ?

What, in your opinion, is the best way to learn a language ?

Interaction, free speech and a sharing of ideas

Useful expressions:

I’d like to share with you my passion which is / One of my major interests is

As you know, we (students / engineers) don’t have much free time, so when I have time to myself there’s nothing I like more than …

I have many hobbies such as … and … but tonight, I’d like to talk about …

Responses

Could you explain in more detail …. When did you start this hobby ?

How did you get into … ? Ah, that sounds interesting.

What does your girlfriend think about this ? Oh, you have no girlfriend.

Hhmmm, it’s not really my cup of tea, but I can see why you like it.

Does it take up much of your time ? Are you part of a club ?

I’m not sure I follow … (I don’t understand)

Dos and Don’ts

We have ‘free speech’ but this is tempered by social rules of politeness:

DO – appear interested and respond positively.

appropriate body language.

encourage the speaker to elucidate and expand.

ask question at a ‘turn-taking’ moment.

DON’T – say ‘I am bored because this isn’t interesting,’ or ‘I don’t care.’ 

start talking to your neighbour when someone else is speaking

sleep or yawn loudly

click your pen, kick your chair, make noises.

EXAMPLE: JAZZ MUSIC

I love all types of music, but one of my favourites is Jazz. It can be exciting, or slow, but it’s always different.

Unlike other types of music, Jazz is spontaneous. This means that you never hear the same song the same way; each performance is different.

Jazz started in New Orleans but moved up to Chicago, New York and even west to California. The first records were made in 1917 and the first true Jazz genius was Louis Armstrong. If you want to hear jazz, you should listen to his records from the 1920s.

You may know some famous Jazz artists such as Miles Davis, John Coltrane or Charlie Parker. I can recommend these musicians to you as first-rate examples of Jazz.

I hope this has made you curious about Jazz, and that you go online to listen for yourself. Who knows, maybe you too will learn to love Jazz.

Image result for jazz lp covers
Some great Jazz record covers

One student spoke about his mother’s home-cooking:

My mother has a secret recipe; firstly, she boils the beef in water and then slices it finely. Along with this, she cooks vegetables and the aromais simply wonderful, after which she mixes them together. It is mouth-watering. The rice has to be pan-fried, that is to say, no oil, just dry. The next stage is to pound the rice and finally, she puts the rice on a dish and … bon apetite ! (French for good appetite, eat well)

Extra expressions: one student told us about breaking up with his girlfriend. Initially, he said that he dumped her, but the truth was she gave him the elbow !

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Vocabulary:

Try to use these regularly:

obviously, typically, on the other hand, initially, that is to say 

and these adverbs:

somewhat / quite / extremely / incredibly / increasingly / highly

Theme: coffee in Sai Gon

There are so many choices in Sai Gon. Tran Nguyen has the best quality but is very expensive. On the other hand, Milano is very cheap and very convenient however, many people smoke there. Highlands is really popular. Having said that, it is not cheap. Street coffee is extremely cheap but terrible quality ! Maybe fake coffee, just chemicals.

What are your favourite coffee shops ? Why ? What factors are important ?

Theme: photographs

Asking questions

what / who / where / when / why

1 _When/Where_ was it taken?

2 _____________ are they?

3 _____________ took the picture?

4 _____________ do you keep the photo?

5____________ kind of camera have you got?

6 _____________ are they doing?

My friend Pete

One of my favourite photos is of my friend Pete, who lives in Birmingham, England.

His wife took the photo last March. Pete is playing bass guitar in a studio. It looks like he is having fun. He plays in a band called ‘The Deep Six’.

I keep this photo on my computer in a file called ‘Music in Birmingham’.

What is the name of my friend ?

Where does he live ?

What guitar does he play ?

What is the name of his band ?

Where do I keep this photo ?

Vocabulary:

This is a photograph of my friend Pete. This photo is of my friend Pete.

I think he is (he’s) having fun. It looks like he’s having fun.

He takes a photo (present tense). He took a photo (past tense).

He is (he’s) in a band. He plays in a band.

Dialogue

To practise question words and the past tense.

what / where / why / when / who / which / how

Jan & Tina are catching up

Jan What did you do last night ? Who did you meet ?

Tina I went out with friends. We saw a movie, then drank some coffee. How about you ?

Jan I just stayed at home and played computer games. Which cinema did you go to ?

Tina At Diamond Plaza. We bought popcorn which we ate before the film began.

Jan You were very hungry ! Was the film good ?

Tina Yeah, really exciting. The tickets were incredibly cheap too.

Jan How much were they ?

Tina Only 333 000 VND (three hundred and thirty-three thousand Dong).

Speaking practice: afternoon plans

Sid What are your plans for this afternoon ?

Viv Well, I need to buy some coffee as well as some bread and milk. How about you ?

Sid Oh, I’ve got to have a meeting with the new director. He seems very strict.

Viv Yeah, I get the impression that he is very serious. However, he is professional.

Sid Right, he doesn’t appear to be a barrel of laughs. Having said that, he’s honest.

Viv Honest and fair along with being very neat and tidy. Always a plain white shirt.

Sid Remember the old boss ? Such gaudy ties ! For me, that was unprofessional.

Viv Anyway, where can I get my groceries ? Is there a convenience store nearby ?

Sid Naturally. Take the second left, go as far as the bank, then cross over. Can’t miss it.

Viv Brilliant ! You’re an angel.

Image result for man with gaudy tie
A very gaudy tie