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Visual elements in film cover everything from special effects to camera angle, so this is a very broad question that can only be answered in part in this format. While I can't write the film review you originally asked for (introduce film and visual elements, give synopsis of film related to visual elements, critique of visual elements, give technical criteria for critique), I can talk about some arresting visual elements in one notable film.
In The Cutting Edge, Doug (D. B. Sweeney) is in danger of being discarded as the fall guy for Kate's (Moira Kelly) error. After the row of a discussion in the great banqueting room, Doug goes out for a walk. Visual elements of the close-up single shot of Doug clear up any lingering doubt of whether Doug had any significant fault in the quarrel with Kate. The angle of the close-up is upward, taken as a low-angle shot with the camera physically positioned lower than the range of the shot. In other words, the camera is held at about the level of D. B. Sweeney's leg, or lower, and angled upward toward his face (the low-angle shot, or low shot, was innovated by Orson Wells in Citizen Kane).
A low shot illustrates one of two things or both together. Low shots illustrate a dominant character's moment of vulnerability and illustrate the heroic certitude of a character. In other words, low shots show when a dominant character has suffered a blow as well as showing that the dominant character is heroic. This is a perfect visual element for Doug at this moment in the story because he has just suffered a blow, yet he is powerful and a dominant hero. The low shot confirms that, though wounded, Doug is the good guy. This gives us a visual clue and hope that he will conquer the gloomy circumstances surrounding him.
Additionally, a technique popularized by German Expressionism, the Dutch tilt-angle shot, is also used in combination with the low-angle shot. The camera is tilted sideways so that Doug is seen tilted and not squarely centered in the frame. This tilted angle emphasizes the gloomy circumstances mentioned before. The combination of these elements--angle elements that naturally move us to the right emotions through some ill-defined innate quality of the effect of angles--is that we feel Doug's sorrow (tilt shot); we admire Doug (low shot); and we have a suspenseful expectant hope for a final resolution (low shot).
Thus these visual elements are positive additions to the film because they heighten the drama of conflict, enhance the characterization of Doug, dramatize his difficulties, and increase the suspense by giving a hint of a reason to hope for a happy ending while nonetheless accentuating his sorrow and the seemingly hopeless situation he is in.
This is a great question. There are so many great movies around and the visual elements certainly add to the movie in profound ways. One of the recent movie that I have seen, though older, is Schindler's List. The movie is a moving portrayal of how one man stood in defiance of the Nazi regime to help Jews during the "final solution."
The film, to my surprise, was filmed in black and white with all the imperfections of black and white film. At first I was a little annoyed with this and to be honest, I thought it would turn to color after the introduction, but it did not.
After a while, I liked the effect of black and white. It gave the appearance and feel of an objective documentary. It seemed that you were watching actually footage from the Holocaust. This added to the realism of the work. In the end, the movie had a form of realism that gripped the audience.
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