February, 2010

Term of the Day: Invisible Protective Shield

Posted by Shay on February 13th, 2010 (0 comments)

courtesy of Roger Ebert

What it means
Protects characters during fight scenes. They get hit by fists, chairs, bottles, etc. and thrown through walls, doors, glass, but wear only a small bandage in next scene, and later have no marks, although they should be black and blue for the rest of the movie.

My Explanation
There’s no way in hell anybody could survive the things these action heroes go through. It makes for a much more dramatic, action packed scene if 10,000 arrows are shot at him but his hanes tee and levi jeans protect his flesh. Aw, but his face is unprotected. We’ll paint some blood on his face to show that he isn’t really invincible but just so bad ass that even arrows are scared to penetrate his skin.

Any movie where there are bullets, running, a girl who goes in the burning building only to have the hero save her, or any combination of the above.

Term of the Day: (Heel Face) Mole

Posted by Shay on February 10th, 2010 (0 comments)

The Mole (Fred Savage in Austin Powers)
The Mole (Fred Savage in Austin Powers)

courtesy of TVTropes.org

Heel Face Mole
A villain has finally seen the error of their ways and converts to the side of good… But surprise! They were actually The Mole after all, suckers!


A bad guy who pretends to be a good guy. The audience assumes they are a good guy until the sudden revelation, after which some degree of Ret Con is inevitable. If well-done, catches the audience out. If especially well-done, it can be the climax of a Wham Episode.

My Explanation
These two are the same in my eyes. And there are so many examples out there that I don’t know where to start. Those wrestling fans out there need none, but for those lame ducks a fair example would be in Battlestar Galactica. It happens many times but the main one is Boomer pretending to be good only to kidnap Hera and take her to Cavil .

P.S. I warned you of my inconsistencies with posting.

Term of the Day: Catharsis

Posted by Shay on February 5th, 2010 (1 comments)

courtesy of FilmSite.com

What it means
During a film’s climax, the audience may experience a purging or cleansing of emotional tension, providing relief or therapeutic restoration.

My Explanation
highlight spoiler to view
It’s when the main character, the one the storyteller wants us to relate to, gets the good news or when they finally have the epiphany that draws us in emotionally. We have been on this journey with them over the last 120 minutes and we too need closure. Depending on the genre, we may laugh a belly laugh or cry a river, but we leave the theater cleansed.

My cathartic movie is Imitation of Life with Lana Turner and Juanita Moore. It begins at the end when Mahalia Jackson sings and Sarah Jane runs into the procession and declares that she has killed her mother. I am all tears. If ever I need a good strong cry that will leave my eyes puffy, heart heavy, and my soul cleansed, this is the movie.

Term of the Day: Deus Ex Machina

Posted by Shay on February 5th, 2010 (0 comments)

I’ve been asked to create a Word-A-Day for film and television. Since a lot film and TV terms are comprised of multiple words, I’m going to call it Term of the Day. Each day (Who am I kidding? It’ll probably be more like once a week if you’re lucky) I’ll post a new term or phrase that pertains to the film and/or television industry. Some months or weeks will focus on certain aspects of the process–like January Genres.

This week’s theme is Plot Techniques.

Here’s the first:

Deus Ex Machina
courtesy of wikipedia.com

Literally, in Latin, “god from the machine,” it’s a plot device where a previously intractable problem is suddenly and abruptly solved, usually with the contrived introduction of either characters, abilities, or objects not mentioned before within the storyline. It is generally considered to be a poor storytelling technique because it undermines the story’s internal logic.

My Explanation

It’s like the hand of God reaching down into the on-screen world and righting all the wrongs. A guy needs $2million for an operation? Boom, he finds a lottery ticket worth $2million on the street.

For instance, in Weird Science the guys have this fantastical party that trashes the house and the kitchen is blue. Lisa, with her god-like abilities cleans the house, pacifies the grandparents, avenges Wyatt w/ Chet, and gets rid of the cars–all in time for the parents to walk through the door. Deus Ex Machina.


  • Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, in the final scene, the main protagonist buys the company he competes against by secretly investing into the company prior to the competition. The chest of money is brought to him bearing the label “Deux Ex Machina.”
  • Donnie Darko, in the scene where Gretchen has been run over by the car Frank drove, Donnie says to himself “Deus ex machina.”
  • Beerfest, the deceased character of Phil “Landfill” Krundle is implausibly replaced by his brother Gil, who possesses many of the same qualities as his brother and is given the same “Landfill” nickname. He is also played by the same actor.
  • Prince Caspian, the driads of the woods come alive to save the day at Aslan’s roar.