Movie Analysis on Cashback

SM1008 Art of Moving Image Cashback Director: Sean Ellis Actors: Sean Biggerstaff (Ben Willis, an art student), Emila Fox (Sharon, a checkout girl in the supermarket), Shaun Evans (Sean, best friend of Ben), Michelle Ryan (Suzy, the ex-girlfriend of Ben) Genre: Comedy, Drama and Romance Release Date: 31 May 2007 Introduction Have you ever think about freezing the time? What will you do in the extra time if you suffer from insomnia? These are the situation that Ben Willis in. In Cashback, time is a very important element. Therefore, I will write about (1) the speed of motion in the cinematography.
Also, a voice-over of Ben is appeared throughout the whole movie. I will write about (2) the narrator and (3) causality of the narrative form. Finally, I would like to write about (4) the music in some specific scenes. Storyline When Ben goes through a painful break-up with Suzy, he develops insomnia. To kill time, he starts working the late night shift at the supermarket. There he meets a colorful cast of characters, all of whom have their own ‘art’ to deal with the boredom of eight-hour shift. Ben’s art is that imagining the time is frozen. He can appreciate the beauty of the frozen world and the eople, especially Sharon, who may hold the answer for Ben. (1) Speed of motion In Cashback, large amount of scenes change the speed of motion, including slow motion and the extreme case, time lapse. According to Bordwell and Thompson (p. 172), there are two functions of using slow motion that are being used in Cashback, (i) emphasis, becoming a way of dwelling on a moment of spectacle or high drama and (ii) actions take place in dream or fantasy or to convey enormous power. I think there is also (iii) other reason of using the slow motion in this film. (i) Emphasis, a moment of spectacle or high drama a)In the football match scene, the team of Ben is falling behind without any score. They discuss about the strategy and they have determination to score one point. The whole process of Ben controlling the football and his boss shooting the goal is in slow motion. It emphasizes the morale of the whole team. After the failure of shooting the goal, you can see the ball flying over the boss slowly and the disappointing facial expression of the boss. It gives a moment of high drama. Then, the speed of motion becomes normal. Ben’s boss is hurt by the football, which is shooting by the teammate nd brings the match to the end. (b) In the kissing scene, Ben is second time kissed by Sharon. The kiss breaks the spell. Ben can finally fall in asleep after the kiss. It is an important scene so it changes the normal speed to slow motion in order to emphasize the importance since Ben is suffered from insomnia and the pain of break up for a few months. (ii) In dream or fantasy or to convey enormous power (a) Ben and Sean go to find the stripper for the performance in the boss’s birthday party. Ben imagines that Sharon has a strip dancing for him when the stripper is praising the quality of nother stripper. The imagined strip-dancing scene is in slow motion because it is only a fantasy in Ben’s mind. (b) At the opening scene, Suzy is arguing with Ben after he suggests breaking up. The voice-over of Ben said that it is first real break up in front of him and he never thought it was going to be similar to a car crush. Although it is Ben’s suggestion, the voice-over confesses this is a great impact to Ben. Therefore, it uses slow motion. The same thing is done again in the arguing scene between Sharon and Ben. (c) After the break up, the image of Suzy always appears in Ben’s mind.
He always thinks of the time being with Suzy. All these memories again appear in slow motion, as it is a great deal and the reason of Ben’s insomnia. He cannot forget these happy memories. (d) In Cashback, a lot of experiences of Ben in childhood is introduced to the audience. One of them is the first time of seeing a nude woman body(a Swedish student lived in his house), which is an impressive memory to Ben. Slow motion is used when the Swedish girl walking upstairs. Because of this experience, Ben knows the beauty of women’s body and believes it is the most eautiful thing in the world. This may be the reason why he likes to draw picture of nude women. According to Bordwell and Thompson (p. 173), time-lapse cinematography shows us some natural phenomenon or street scenes (that continue in a long period of time) in a second or a minute. Time-lapse cinematography is used a lot in Cashback. It gives a sense of time flies in a busy city from day to night. Although time is passed away so quick, in Ben’s eye, days wear on like years. Like the still of left hand corner, the surveillance camera shows that only Ben stands still in the iddle and many customers are passing by in a time-lapse cinematography. The contradiction between them shows that the feeling of Ben more obviously. (2) The narrator According to Bordwell and Thompson (p. 100), narration can use a narrator, some specific agent who purports to be telling us the story. The narrator can be a character in the story. In Cashback, Ben Willis is the narrator throughout the whole film. His narration shifts between restricted and unrestricted knowledge and varying degrees of objectivity and subjectivity. A part of Ben’s narration is talking about him and the events that he involves.

It is highly subjective. When he is having the arguments with Sharon and Suzy respectively, the voice of them is muted but only Ben’s voice-over is saying the feelings of him. It shows his inner world to the audiences. In the scene of the first day working in the supermarket, Ben’s voice over is saying something that is showing his character traits, he knows and likes observing the beauty of still object. Also, there are several scenes that Ben is confessing his childhood as a narrator. These all are very personal and subjective. It is the point of view of Ben.
The narration is not only events about Ben himself, but also about the childhood and love stories of Sean, which are the events that Ben did not witness. Ben’s narration gives a wide range of information to the audiences. It becomes an important part of the narrative form in Cashback. (3) Causality In Cashback, Ben Willis is the character that mainly encounters all the cause-and-effect. Basically, all the events are from Ben’s point of view. He is a very sentimental art student. He has the unique method to deal with the extra time during the period of suffering from insomnia.
He imagines the time is frozen. As he is obsessed with the beauty of women, he can draw pictures with naked women’s body in the frozen world. Because he can appreciate different women in the frozen world, he finds out Sharon is the most beautiful one among them. Her eyes, pale milky skin and delicate frame attract him. He finally falls in love with Sharon. He draws her over and over. This is a cause of an important event afterwards. He argues with Sharon because she saw his ex- girlfriend kissing him in the party. Later, he has an opportunity to achieve his dream (has his own rt exhibition) because of a joke by his colleagues. He shows all the pieces of Sharon in the exhibition and invite Sharon to see. Finally Sharon forgives him because of all these drawings. (4) Power of music in the movie Music is an important element in a movie. It can strengthen the mood or atmosphere of some particular scene. In Cashback, a soundtrack called Casta Diva is used twice. It is from an opera, Noma. It is used in both scenes of Ben arguing with Sharon and Suzy. The voice of the protagonists are muted and Casta Diva is played as a background music.
The surge of this soundtrack raises the agitated mood in the argument. It is better than only showing the content of the argument because what they are arguing is not important anymore. The importance is showing the similarities between two argument and feelings of Ben because Ben’s narration stated that it seems to have met before. The football match scene that I mentioned before also uses a background music to raise the mood. The music gives the intense feeling to that scene, as it is a decisive moment that determine they can break their zero record.
Combining the slow motion and the music, the mood is increased to the climax, so that the audiences can experience the emotion of the character inside the football match. The introduction of a character, Barry Brickman, uses a classical music, Bolero. It is ballet music composed by Ravel. It is music with brisk rhythm and graceful melody. Barry is riding on his scooter and shuttling between the shelves in supermarket. I think it can show the character traits of Barry. He is a spry and funny person who likes riding scooter a lot. He thinks that he is a very talented stuntman.
This trait is clearly shown in the other scenes afterwards. It is also an important trait to the causality. It is because he tries to do a stunt in the boss’s birthday party. He rides on a paper box to slide down the staircase. This action let Sharon see the kissing scene between Ben and Suzy. It drives her mad and ignores Ben. Therefore, it contributes to the causality. Conclusion Cashback is a very special movie to me. I have not seen a movie using so much techniques of changing the speed of the scenes. It makes me understand the function of slow motion and time- apse much clearer. I think it can be an example to talk about the speed of motion. On the other hand, the narrator and the music contribute to the film a lot too. It helps us to understand more about the story and also provide information to us. Word Count: 1668 Cited Work Bordwell & Thompson <<Film Art>>, 9th Edition Cashback (2006) Plot Summary http://www. imdb. com/title/tt0460740/plotsummary Cashback (2006) Sountrack http://www. imdb. com/title/tt0460740/soundtrack Bolero – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Bolero

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