About jamesbaldassano

Im 18 years old, a freshman at Macaulay Honors College in Csi. I love basketball, follow the Knicks religiously. I play a lot of instruments, I'm a band geek. Contact me if you want to know more.

James Baldassano 12/9/12 On The Waterfront

James Baldassano

On the Waterfront



No color? No problem. At least not for the cinematic experience of watching the film, “On the Water Front”, anyway. This black and white film was one of the most intriguing and interesting films ever. I’ve always been a sucker for gangster movies, and this one did not fail.

Unlike  “Manhattan”, the Woody Allen film, I feel this movie would have been better if filmed in color, but it was created at a much earlier time, so color was probably much more rare in films. Maybe there was a bigger reason that went over my head, but I feel the color would have expanded the feeling of the film. The camera zooming, however, stayed true to the times. In older films, the camera seems to focus on both people in a conversation, and staying until neither is speaker, while in newer films, it will flash back and forth between the two. This occurs especially in the famous scene with Charlie and Terry Malloy in the backseat of the car. The camera stays focused not too close, but enough to have them both be the center of attention, for the duration of their conversation. The background music, by famous American Composer Leonard Bernstein, was vital, especially in the opening scene.

The speech in this film, although it took place in Hoboken, New Jersey, was almost indescribably similar to that of Brooklyn. All of the heavy, old school Italian accents really brought it out. Maybe to me, but that’s just my opinion. The vocabulary that these “ayyye fuhhgeddabout” accents used though was nothing like modern vocabulary. The characters, which were predominantly adults, barely cursed or swore. Although there were a few choice words thrown in here and there (which I am told was already extremely edgy), the words were mostly censored. Don’t get me wrong, it was definitely not elegant, but it wasn’t like a modern film, where people would be saying much more explicit things.

There was an interesting use of slang, with words such as “Cheese-eater”. This would probably be equivalent to a modern day, “bum”, or “scum” (no rhyme scheme intended!).  It was also quite common to be compared to an animal, especially birds. One of the most common was to be called a canary, which meant you were a “squeal”, or you couldn’t keep your mouth shut. I imagine it is because canaries are famous for their singing, and the singing was a metaphorical equivalent to “blabbing”, or squealing.

Not to skip around, but if we take a little return to the scene between Terry and Charlie, for a little more in-depth analysis, we can truly go in to why it was one of the most famous and memorable moments from this movie. Lets start off with the line “I coulda been a contenda’”, said by Terry. It clearly is a reference to his fighting days, when he was forced to lose so his brother and Johnny Friendly’s crew could win a bet. It killed him inside, and this line was said in this scene, for Charlie was telling him that Johnny Friendly and his crew were forcing him to do something against his will again. This time, they wanted him to lie in court.  You could see the discomfort in Terry Malloy’s face, and the urgency in Charlie’s. The acting was so realistic, especially when Charlie pulled his gun on Terry. It was so obvious that Charlie did not want to be doing so, and the way Terry gently shoved it away was just so realistic. They portrayed the scene as a very intimate moment between two brothers.

On to the topic of being drunk. Only kidding, but I am going to discuss the concept of alcohol in this film. Whiskey and beer primarily. I felt they represented a surrender of suspicions and tensions, as in the scene between Terry and Edie, when he first takes her out. As she drinks, she becomes less and less suspicious and wary of Terry, and more open and affectionate towards him. Then, they start discussing her philosophy, in comparison to Terry’s. Her mindset consisted of “Everybody cares for one another”, in comparison to his “Do it to him before he can do it to you.” It really shows the extremes of these characters, brought about by the alcohol

There really is no way to end a paper on this film that does it justice. With all the little details, intricate character development, interesting symbolism, and just fantastic plot, it truly was one of my favorite movies I have ever seen. This black and white romantic mobster movie intertwined the two aspects of the tough guy with a rough past, and the beautiful lass with a heart of gold, with immaculate precision.

James Baldassano November 28th, 2012

In our seminar session on Wednesday, we had our final guest speaker of the semester. We were paid a visit by Professor Diaz, a film and cinema professor. We were given a lot of information on the production of movies. There were any interesting things she taught us!

One thing that I really found interesting was that the films are actually a series of photos all edited into a sort of flipbook motion, which creates the appearance of a video. They go at a rate of 24 frames per second, or a frame every 4.17 milliseconds. Now when I watch movies, I’m going to try and focus on that, even though it is probably untraceable to the naked human eye.

We also learned about different aspects of the frame itself. There were different angles and different levels of how close or far the camera shoots. It creates a different atmosphere or opinion of the viewer. It could make the viewer feel like a part of a conversation as another character, or a sky view, to create a different feel.

The lighting also has a major impact on a scene. Dim lighting could imply the focus is supposed to be on the dialogue, while brighter lighting could imply that the scenery is meant to be the focal point of the viewer’s attention.

One final aspect I will talk about is the music portion of movies. Background music is a vital essence to the emotional appeal, or to the focal point. Silent background music could make you focus on the dialogue (like dim lighting) while emotional music could augment the feelings radiated from a scene.

All in all, there were many things I learned from this guest appearance. I had never realized how much had gone into the making of a film, how every little aspect of a film, was meant to be the way it is.

November 26th, 2012 James Baldassano

November 26th, 2012 James Baldassano

In seminar on Monday, November 26th, 2012,  we were given our assignment for Catcher in the Rye. Since I first read this book in my junior year of high school, it has been one of my favorite books. I was always disappointed that it was forbidden to create a movie for it, but I feel that a movie would take away from the imaginative image given to Holden Caulfield and his adventure.

This is one of my favorite books for it has such an interesting main character. Holden is a one of a kind character, who’s traits personify his true being. Contradictory. He is all about the preservation of innocence, yet he curses, drinks, lies, and even hires a prostitute named Sunny at one point.

The reason I am excited about receiving this assignment is because it gives me the chance to modernize what is one of my favorite books. Holden always uses such strange word choice when speaking (“It really killed me”, etc) and since he is so open with people, especially strangers, it intrigues me how his persona would be perceived in modern society. Even though it is my own mind coming up with the situation, it is really going to allow me to expand on this topic. I feel today, people’s language is more colorful and abrasive.

We also discussed the music from “Manhattan”, and how it was used to create a somewhat romantic feel to it. It allowed to viewers today to feel like they could really connect with the loving, happy feel of the scene.

November 21st, 2012 James Baldassano

November 21st, 2012 James Baldassano

In our seminar class on Wednesday, we watched “Manhattan” by Woody Allen. It was a black and white movie made in 1979. “Manhattan” was an interesting movie, for it was made in a time where color had already been incorporated into films, yet Woody decided that this film should be in black and white. It was an interesting blend of satirical comedy, intimate relationships, and a fat paced lifestyle which is customary for someone who lives in New York City.

The camera function in this movie was primarily on the characters who were speaking, but not a close up. It was a general view which included the scenery as well as the characters.

When filming, the camera followed the other people like another person. It was like a silent, ever-present character who was involved with the conversation that was occurring in the scene.

The black and white color was interesting, for as I stated, the movie was made in 1979, long after colored movies were introduced into mainstream cinema. It creates a more romantic feel, like a sort of “Casablanca”, and really makes me feel like its a love story. It is often contradicted, however, with Woody’s many sarcastic comments.

The clips in this movie have a varied length, some as short as 30 seconds, other up to 3 minutes.

Woody Allen’s character was involved in pretty much every scene, and he was mostly witty, and very sarcastic. His speech was interpreted by characters as condescending, but I felt he was just overly sarcastic.

The wardrobes in this film were very stereotypical for middle class New Yorkers, but hey really accentuated the lifestyle we lead in this city.

The music was another varying part of the film, for in the beginning it was very loud and crazy, while also dramatic. This to me represented the narrator’s inability to describe New York without getting angry and insulting it. Most of the movie has no background music, but certain parts do, and those parts have very sentimental music. I recognized one of the songs “Someone to Watch Over Me”.

Manhattan is the perfect place for this movie, for it was a big mashup of relationships, all moving very fast paced, with bumps and turns. The city that never sleeps seemed fitting for it.

Monday November 19th 2012 James Baldassano

November 19th 2012, James Baldassano

In today’s seminar, we finished up our recitations of our poems for most of the class. The poems I listened to today were such a wide variety, varying from depressing morbid poems with a sing song feel, to upbeat poems about couples enjoying the night life of New York City. These two poems were coupled up and recited by Swathi, and performed very nicely. They were almost like a juxtaposition to one another, for they were different parts (3 & 4) to the same poem, yet were polar opposites in nature.

After our performances had concluded, we talked a little bit about the selection for who got which poem and why. Some were a shot in the dark, in order to find out more about the person, while others were casted. I found out my poem was casted, and I feel there is a reason to why. My poem, when first read, is giving a sarcastic tone, while using jibberish such as Ing Grish, Ing Gwish, etc. But there is a much deeper meaning to it. This poem accurately depicts a representation of me. For the most part, I am not a serious guy on the surface, I’m more laid back and sarcastic (very sarcastic), but deep down, I possess a more serious instinct of realism, rather than my comedic, sarcastic view of things. Other people received their poems for different reasons, but similar reasoning.

I was actually pleased with the poem recitations, because it allowed me to view a different side to my classmates. Whether they changed with the eyes of a teacher scrutinizing them, or whether they acted the same as they do when we are in a regular conversation was an interesting quality I took notice of.

November 7th, 2012 James Baldassano

November 7th, 2012 James Baldassano

In our seminar session on November 7th, we continued our recitations of poetry, while the snow pounded down in a white flurry just outside the window. The weather seemed a fitting scene for a class of poetry, for I feel as if snow is a form of natural beauty, corresponding to poetry which is a human made form of beauty.

Of all the performances today, the one I enjoyed most was Christian’s poem (The Cab Driver’s Smile). His poem made me reflect on a large amount of people that I encounter regularly, but have no more than a generic, stereotypical feeling towards. It was about a cab driver who usually isolates himself from his passengers, with little interaction other than business. He was questioned by his passenger on several aspects, and the emotional barrier slowly came down, and revealed that he was a normal human like everyone else. This made me think, for I usually think of bus driver’s as merely bus drivers, waiters as merely waiters, or any other service-type job as nothing more. After hearing this poem, however, I think of them on a deeper scale, as a fellow human being with a lifetime of thoughts to share.

I enjoy these presentations, for it allows me to see how other people perform in front of an audience. Usually, I am very outgoing and talkative, so public speaking is not as traumatic to me as it is to others. But I enjoy seeing how other people who I would not expect to be good public speakers come up and do a fine job.

November 5, 2012 James Baldassano

James Baldassano, 11/5/2012

In today’s seminar, we had poem recitals. Poetry is a way of expressing emotions to some people, a way of self-representation in words. It is similar to the way I like to express myself through writing and performing music. It can tell a story, express an opinion, and above all, it can make people think. Poetry, in addition to expressing emotion, inflicts emotion and radiates it upon its listeners and readers. It can augment a feeling of happiness, sadness, loneliness, or even anger. These are all feelings I saw in our seminar session. Each person had their own style, and their own way of getting their poem across.

I was especially impressed by Amber’s performance, where she actually became a part of the poem. It was apparent she had practiced, for each step coordinated with each line. Her vocal tone coordinated with her movements. For example, where the poem needed a little sass, she gave it it. I am yet to present my poem, but when I do, my poem requires a lot of expression, so I will learn from Amber’s performance and incorporate it into my own. My poem requires a sort of sarcastic tone, with a little edge, and remorseful.

All in all, our poems have all had something individual and interesting. I hope to keep the tradition of good performances up when I go!

October 24th, 2012 James Baldassano

James Baldassano, October 24th 2012

In today’s seminar session, we discussed a few things. We started out by taking a look at works of literature from the 1800s, such as Jane Eyre. It was a novel by Charlotte Bronte, about a female character going through her life. I had never actually read it, but after a quick overview, it seemed like it would be an enthralling experience to do so.

But what interested me most was when we received our poems. I received a poem entitled “Ing Grish” by an asian poet named John Yau. At first glance, it appeared to be nothing but a bunch of jibberish conglomerated into stanzas. With words such as ‘jigaboo’ and “dungaree” and ‘Scumglish’ it seemed hardly to be doing the English language any justice. After reading it a little, however, and divulging myself into the poem, I had come across a whole new meaning to it.

To me, it was a poem about the poet and his life style in America. He grew up as a typical American child, but did not consider himself an expert in his asian heritage. He sarcastically mocks the ignorant way we view asian culture, as we do when we make fun of how they speak with accents. However, at the end, he states his mother’s discontent with how he never bothered to learn the Chinese language. In his line “”I do not know Chinese…. and that was one of the greatest sorrows of her life, the other being the birth of my brother”, I feel he finishes a serious line with a somewhat light hearted line.

All in all, I look forward to performing this poem in class, hopefully sooner rather than later!

October 23rd, 2012 James Baldassano

10/23/12 James Baldassano

For today’s blog post, instead of posting about the class, we were asked to analyze the famous poem, “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry”. It was a long poem, but it had a lot to offer in both symbolic terms, as well as beautiful poetry. It is essentially about a man on the ferry, coming home from work. Simple enough, right? It talks about the people he sees, how they amuse him, and wondering what they are thinking about.

As the poem progresses into its further stanzas, a deeper more philosophical meaning becomes unveiled. He starts speaking about a more general crowd of people around him, of people that will be taking this ferry in the next 50 or 100 years. Eventually, he makes his way to his relation to all  them, to every person in the world. “Just as any of you have been part of a living crowd, I too have been part of a crowd.” or “I too lived, Brooklyn of ample hills was mine, I too walk’d the streets of Manhattan…” are both lines that exemplify his thoughts that all humans are connected, intertwined by some degree of destiny that links the life of one to every other. All these ordinary things he has done, are done by an extreme amount of people today (the poem’s view of ‘today’), and will be done by millions after. It is an experience shared by him that connects him to every other ordinary person who has ever existed. But it also gives a sense of individualism, for although he has this invisible bond with all these people, he is his own person, whom has intimate, personal thoughts.

I find this poem rather interesting, for it discusses a curious part of the human race. Although it was written a while back, its principle still applies to many today. Our thoughts, our actions, our lives, are all things that are curiously interlace with one another’s.

Wednesday, October 17th 2012 James Baldassano

Wednesday, October 17th, 2012 James Baldassano

In today’s seminar class, we had another one of our privileged opportunities to see a professional production in the city. Instead of an opera, however, this time we got to see a broadway productions of “The Heiress”, which is basically a version of “Washington Square”.

The actual production was very interesting. Being that I have attended many broadway shows, I knew what to expect, and that was excellence. I liked the way that they portrayed the characters with exaggerated characteristics, such as the dullness of Catherine Sloper, or the romantic side of Aunt Penniman, or perhaps even the bluntness of Austin when speaking of Catherine. Another factor that I enjoyed was the comedy thrown into the play. It wasn’t enough comedy to take over the story line and say that the plot was meant to be funny, but it was enough silly little jokes, and side gags to leave the audience satisfied.

What really got my attention was the twist ending, which differed from the book. When Catherine led on Morris after he returned, only to return the favor to him, it was a much more satisfying ending, with a case of poetic justice. Morris got was was coming to him rather than as in the book, in which case Catherine is no more than a hollow shell that does nothing other than deny Morris. This ending was more emotionally satisfying to me.

All in all, I much prefer to see the Broadway production, or any live production, than read the book, for reasons other than laziness. They allow me to visualize what is happening and how things are meant to look, and usually it is easy to infer what is going on in a characters mind based on his/her movements or actions.