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 Gemini, Cinephile, Actressexual. Also loves cats. All material herein is written and copyrighted by him, unless otherwise noted. twitter | facebook | pinterest | tumblr | instagram | letterboxd | deviantart 


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Entries in Cinematography (195)


Belated Thoughts / Wide Eyes: Mad Max Fury Road's "Best Shot"

Nathaniel, reporting, one sleep before TIFF screenings drag me into the darkness and swallow me up...

one of the scariest images ever onscreen. one of the best title card intros, too.

Have you finished reading the previous choices for Mad Max Fury Road's "Best Shot" in the visual index? It's one of most perfect subjects for this series we've ever chosen, in no small part because the movie's gargantuan pleasures stem so specifically from the visual storytelling, rather than from dialogue, performance or sound --though those bring their own pleasures, of course. In fact, there is not a lot of dialogue in the film. Neither is their any exposition for expositions sake. The story is all there in the imagery, a grand adventure which can be enjoyed on multiple levels, provided you're really looking at it. Unlike many fine films we see each year, it's impossible to imagine this one in another form. It's neither a novel with pictures nor possible to conceive of as a stage play; Fury Road is pure cinema. 

For this, we cinephiles, must raise our hands in that pyramid shape the War Boys are so fond of and pay respects. Not to Immortan Joe who claims himself the "Redeemer" who saved his slave-like masses but to director George Miller and his cinematographer John Seale who are saving the action picture. (At least for now. Miller, like fellow rare action genius James Cameron, works too infrequently to actually do permanent rescue.) More... 

Click to read more ...


Visual Index ~ Mad Max: Fury Road "Best Shots"

For this week's edition of Hit Me With Your Best Shot, our last until October, we're looking at George Miller's thrilling return to his signature franchise Mad Max: Fury Road. It's the kind of movie that, as we just discussed on the "best of summer podcast," really goes the extra mile. And we're not talking about Imperator Furiosa's detour to "the green place" though that's well out of her way as drives go. George Miller completely outdid himself with this saturated, explosive, delirious, feminist action film.

One shot won't do of course which is why "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" is a communal experience. We each choose one and hopefully it adds up to a survey of a movie's crucial inspired images. My piece will be up late tomorrow before your host heads out for the Toronto International Film Festival and because this movie totally deserves an extra day. If you meant to participate and forgot, you have 24 more hours to get your choice in. I'll add more entries if they come in...

Directed by George Miller (Mad Max, Lorenzo's Oil). Cinematography by John Seale (The English Patient, Witness). Starring Charlize Theron & Tom Hardy
Click on the 10 images to read the 12 corresponding articles

Miller has made his subtext text in this image...
-The Entertainment Junkie 

 Despite being an intensely colorful film, there are actually just two main colors in the film’s palette...
-Magnificent Obsession 

 I was not prepared to be blown away by the awesomeness...

Given the sprawling vistas and circus craziness that are the film's bread and butter, my pick for best shot is almost idiotically off-book:
-Antagony & Ecstacy 

For all the images incongruous potency and humor, it's also a rich story point, introducing us to "the stuff" that got stolen and humanizing it.
-The Film Experience 

It just hit me so hard in the cinema I legit gasped...
-Cinematic Corner 

Movie Motorbreath - VIDEO ENTRY

Throughout Fury Road, character is defined by action; how we react to it and what we do after.

Anguish never looked so beautiful...
-I Want to Believe


The grand spectacle that Miller created in that vast, unforgiving, and beautiful desert wasteland...
-Sorta That Guy

a palpable sense of the scale of the action...
-Film Actually

The movie is full of scenes that reveal themselves with a remarkable efficiency
-Awards Circuit 

AGAIN. You have 24 more hours to get your "best shot" in before we close out this episode late Tuesday night before TIFF travels begin!


HMWYBS: Angels in America (2003)

What follows is a republishing of a piece I'm proud of from our very first season of Hit Me With Your Best Shot (you can see the index of all six seasons here) when I was somehow far more concise with "Best Shot" despite feeling like I was overdoing it. I've added in notes and links for contributions from other Best Shot participants and I'd like to thank Manuel heartily before we begin for his fascinating contextual work on HBO's long history of LGBT films and series this summer and for sharing this week's HBO LGBT episode with us for our redo episode of this Great Work. Read that piece before you read this. Ready? Let's begin...

Tony Kushner's extraordinary two part stage epic Angels in America centers around two overlapping young couples in the mid 80s, struggling married Mormons, pill popping Harper and her closeted husband Joe and the gay couple Louis and Prior they become connected spiritually (Harper befriends Prior... in her dreams) and physically (Joe becomes Louis's other lover). But it's also about politics, immigration, religion, identity, and evolution and encompasses multiple other characters from Louis's outspoken gay friend Belize, to Joe's mother, to the evil lawyer Roy Cohn, the dead Communist Ethel Rosenberg, and a frequently orgasmic Angel who descends on many of the players. This masterpiece was adapted for the screen in 2003 by Oscar winner Mike Nichols. Along its journey it won 7 Tonys, The Pulitzer, and later 5 Golden Globes and 11 Emmys and here's the thing: it deserved every single prize. If you haven't seen it drop everything (seriously everything) because it is unmissable. I've seen it performed on stage three times in three different states with wildly different budgets and casts and seen the miniseries a few times too... and every single time it's a fascinating prismatic living thing, like it will always be teaching you, entertaining you, and provoking you.

Rather than limit myself to one shot I'm picking one from each of its chapter. This I can manage!

Chapter 1 "Bad News"

Click to read more ...


"Carol" is a tease

Just gorgeous. We'll Yes No Maybe So it with the full trailer but obviously we're all in. It's Todd Haynes. It's actressy. And the cinematography, by Edward Lachman who previously shot Far From Heaven, Mildred Pierce, and I'm Not There for Haynes, is suitably ravishing.

The song, for those who are curious, is Margaret Whiting's rendition of "My Foolish Heart". Add it to your every playlist in anticipation. Whiting was a famous singer in the 40s and 50s and even had her own television series in the 50s with her sister. Margaret provided Susan Hayward's singing voice in Valley of the Dolls (1967) as well.


Working Late



Written and directed by Todd Haynes. Cinematography by Alex Nepomniaschy.
With Julianne Moore, Xander Berkeley, James LeGros, Beth Grant and Peter Friedman.  

Hit Me With Your Best Shot has been running for six years and we've finally braved one of the most fascinating jewels of the 1990s cinema. Todd Haynes's disturbing, sad, confounding, and highly interpretable early masterwork [SAFE]. It's the film that layed the groundwork for the cult of Julianne Moore (on the heels of her well regarded but little-seen performance in Vanya on 42nd Street). Two years later mainstream stardom with frequent eyes on the art house, hit. In 1997, a seismic year, she had her first major role in a blockbuster (Lost World: Jurassic Park), her first instant classic with accompanying Oscar nod (Boogie Nights), and fell in love with her eventual second husband, then freshmen director Bart Freundlich (Myth of Fingerprints). And by then people were starting to discover [SAFE], too. The film's reputation is such now that people forget that not many people knew about it back then. It grossed just $500,000 in theaters and mystified many critics. 

I've never forgotten this line from a Damian Cannon review back in the day

The acting is amazingly flat and inexpressive, the result of a performance by Moore which is either fantastic or abysmal. "

More after the jump including the Best Shot Choices

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Early "Revenant" Chatter: Or, how Grantland kickstarted Oscar Season way early

David Upton on an unexpectedly early Oscar campaign kickoff - Editor

It’s only July, but this stuff starts earlier every year: barrels are loaded and sights are set on Oscar season. No one has started earlier than the team behind The Revenant. The recent buzzy Grantland piece on the film harks back to a kind of promotion that is somewhat out-of-fashion: long form, detailed reporting that really digs into what the movie might be. By sheer existence, the piece becomes part of the hype machine, now rolling towards the end of the year when The Revenant sees a release on 25th December.

This is prestige movie promotion at its most precise; why else, you might wonder, would anyone want to see a film that sounds so utterly depressing on Christmas Day

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