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Entries in Cinematography (278)

Thursday
Feb182016

Interview: Ed Lachman on the Exquisite "Carol" and Dancing with Todd Haynes

It's our last Carol interview, he announced with a catch in his throat, attempting to let the best film of 2015 go for awhile. Our subject today is one of the great cinematographers, Edward Lachman. His filmography is loaded with essential mavericks of independent cinema like Sofia Coppola, Robert Altman, Steve Soderbergh, Todd Solondz and European auteurs, too. But his most fruitful collaboration has been with Todd Haynes. Carol marks their fourth and arguably best collaboration and brough him his long overdue second Oscar nomination for Best Cinematography.   

The New Jersey native started in Studio Arts like painting and art history and viewed them as more creative outlet than profession. Eventually he found he could earn a living as a cinematographer and a rich succession of images have flooded out of him ever since -- think of the golden ragged warmth of Erin Brockovich, the supremely stylized Sirkian homage of Far From Heaven, and the hazy mystery of The Virgin Suicides. And that's just three titles.

I was eager to get on the phone with the man behind so many beautiful films and share a personal way his work affected me at the beginning of my cinephilia. But first I had to gush over Carol and how much it rewards repeat viewings. He joked that Carol obsessives have seen the movie more times than he has... and he shot it!

 

NATHANIEL: I began all my Carol interviews this season with "Why are you such a genius?

ED LACHMAN: Someone once wrote that I'm a 'near genius'. I feel like more of a near genius.

NATHANIEL: [Laughs] Stop qualifying. The movie is exquisitely beautiful

LACHMAN: Thank you. A lot of it has to do with our director Todd Haynes. I'm a conduit to his vision. I interpret it through the images but what's so beautiful about Todd is how he references his stories through conceptual ideas. For me, images aren't just about the aesthetics but the gravity of the content and what the images represent.

More after the jump

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Monday
Feb152016

ASC and BAFTA Go Cuckoo for Chivo 


Jose here. In what turned out to be a surprise to absolutely no one, Emmanuel Lubezki managed a historical threepeat from the American Society of Cinematographers who gave him yet another award for his use of natural light in The Revenant (he also won his third straight BAFTA).

Chivo is now the ASC’s biggest winner having earned five awards (out of six nominations) since 1999 (he has only lost for Sleepy Hollow) Somewhere Roger Deakins must be thrilled Lubezki didn’t have any movies out in 2012 (technically To the Wonder came out, but it sadly went by dismissed by most groups), since that year he won his third award for Skyfall and “prevented” Chivo from winning the award every year since 2011 (the Oscar-less Deakins more than doubles Chivo’s ASC nods though, having earned 14, the highest for any ASC member).

Considering Chivo is now the hands on favorite for the Oscar (in what will be yet another rare consecutive threepeat) it might be fruitless to point out that other than for the last two years, ASC and Oscar have had quite some disagreements; since the year 2000, ASC has awarded eight cinematographers their top prize while Oscar has gone a different route. All of those winners were also nominated for the Oscar though, so it’s unlikely we’ll see a Robert Richardson upset this year since ASC went for Janusz Kaminski’s work in Bridge of Spies instead. As The Revenant keeps steamrolling its competition, I can’t help but wish for a glamorous spread of Judy the Bear in Vanity Fair or Vogue sometime soon. Photographed by Chivo of course.  

 

Thursday
Feb112016

Interview: Chivo on The Revenant, Great Auteurs, and Instagram Spying

For a man who's won two consecutive Oscars and could well make history with a third in as many years, Emmanuel Lubezki is a surprisingly humble fellow. The Mexican cinematographer, better known these days as "Chivo" since everyone is familiar with extraordinary gift and using his nickname now, shakes off my initial gushing as we meet. He is quick to cite assistants and crew members and focus pullers for the magic. But I press on. I really want to know hear how it feels for him to be a legend in his field, a two time Oscar winner and someone who's name is spoken with a certain reverence. He shakes this off, too, adamantly but graciously "I don't know what you're talking about! I don't feel that at all. But thank you!"

Some of his innocence about the kind of reviews he regularly receives could be chalked up to how completely immersed he gets in each picture. His work isn't over when a film wraps since post production can also be lengthy with different prints for IMAX and such. He's been inside The Revenant for a year. 

 I'm just coming out of the cave where I've been, I'm just starting to come back to life. 

Our interview is after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Feb102016

Silence of the Lambs Pt 3: Quid Pro Quo

image via FangoriaTeam Experience is revisiting 1991's Best Picture, Silence of the Lambs for its 25th anniversary.

In Pt 1 We met Clarice and Hannibal and heard about the horrifying Buffalo Bill case.
In Pt 2 The FBI's investigation picked up steam with the discovery of another victim and The Death's Head Moth. Finally, we met Buffalo Bill and his latest victim Catherine, now "the girl in the pit." When we left her she was a disembodied voice shouting for help. Why won't you answer me please?

Answers are coming but not without a price. 

Pt 3 by Nathaniel R

00:49:50 A smartly judged sharp cut takes us from the dark abyss of Bill's pit to the brightly lit FBI training facility. It's like blinking from too much sun when you leave a movie theater in the middle of the day. Though Silence of the Lambs deals with gruesomely complex psychology its binaries of good and evil are the lifeline for mass appeal I think. (Craig McKay was nominated for Best Film Editing, losing to JFK's collage and barrage of characters and information)

The students. Demme never gets any credit for his multi-ethnic casting but he was doing it long before people were hating on Hollywood for *not* doing it.

00:51:34 A news broadcast about Buffalo Bill at the training center attracts a large group of students. Turns out the Girl in the Pit is actually a US Senator's daughter so there's yet more pressure to get this case solved. Ardelia whispers to Clarice that it's so smart what the Senator is doing, repeating Catherine's name so often; get her would be killer to see her as human and maybe he'll show mercy.

00:51:35 Another jarring cut and we're back at the asylum. Chilton has had it with Clarice's secrecy. Jodie Foster's performance is so sharp in this movie. You can see our heroine getting bolder and more confident each time she steps out; her body language is more confrontational, too. [More after the jump...]

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Thursday
Jan282016

Personal Ballots Cont'd: Best Cinematography & Production Design

We're almost done with the Oscar Correlative categories in the Film Bitch Awards. Then it's on to the silly & fun but still seriously chosen "extra" categories. Here are my choices for the best men behind the camera (always men. sigh) and the men and women designing and decorating those sets and the film's overall visual palette for your eye-candy pleasure. 

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
The big Oscar question this year is "Can Emmanuel Lubezki" win a third consecutive Oscar for The Revenant. He's dominated the category the past two years with Gravity (2013) and Birdman (2014). It won't be the longest consecutive winning streak ever -- that belongs to Walt Disney who won consistently in short film categories for seemingly ever in the early days of Oscar -- but it will be the single longest streak in modern history if he pulls it off. But the category already has something for the record books: With his 13th nomination Roger Deakins Sicario moves into a tie for 5th place for All Time Most Celebrated Cinematographer. He's now sharing the honor with George J. Folsey (Meet Me in St. Louis) who also never won an Oscar. Everyone higher on the list won the Oscar once or multiple times, all four of them; It's rarified air they're breathing. 

Deakins makes my own personal ballot this year but Lubezki just barely misses (I was more impressed with his work on The New World which also went all natural light on the frontier) because I had to make room for the emotionally expressive and flexible light of Phoenix (courtesy of Hans Fromm) and the jaw-dropping 'how'd they do that?' camerawork on Germany's Victoria. On the latter film the director was so impressed he gave DP Sturla Brandth Grølven billing above his own! 

Oscar Charts (now with trivia & predictions) & Nathaniel's Ballot  


BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN
We've already discussed the stupendous achievements in this category by Ethan Tobman on Room and Judy Becker on Carol so no need to rehash other than 'what is with Oscar sometimes. How could they ignore them?' Oscar voters have an anything goes choice in this category, though. If they don't just check off Mad Max Fury Road in most of the craft categories it's easy to imagine any of the films as winners, don'cha think?

Finally I wanted to give a shout out briefly to Thomas E Sanders work on Crimson Peak which the Academy also passed on. The movie has a lot of problems -- Guillermo del Toro can't seem to stay out of his own way with so much gilding of every gothic lily -- but Allerdale Hall is wonderfully decayed and oppressively decorative and all around drafty and decadent. And those vats in the basement! 

Oscar Charts (now with trivia & predictions) & Nathaniel's Ballot  

Sunday
Jan172016

Podcast: Which way will Best Picture & Best Director go? 

Joe, Nick, Katey and Nathaniel gather themselves for their first post-Oscar nomination discussion of the new year. Today, directors, pictures, and a discussion of Oscar's diversity problem. Please join in the conversation in the comments.

40 minutes 
00:01 Intro & Phoenix (for no apparent reason)
02:25 Bridge of Spies and Oscar tastes
04:30 Straight Outta Compton, Creed and Oscar's Diversification Initiatives
18:00 Cinematography and insular Oscar clubs
25:00 Mad Max vs The Martian vs The Revenant... is that good news for Spotlight?  
30;00 The Big Short, Screenplays, Precursors and Early Signs
33:00 Ridley Scott. Who gets Best Director now?

Related Reading For Context:
Joe's 20 Actors of Color List
Nathaniel's #OscarsSoWhite Article
Ridley Scott on "Little Gold Men"
The Revenant's Production Design & Costume Design 
Best Picture Chart 

You can listen to the podcast here at the bottom of the post or download from iTunes soon

Oscar Nomination Reactions - Picture/Director

Wednesday
Jan062016

ASC Nominations for Best Cinematography & Adjacent Oscar Histories

John Seale and George Miller on the set of Mad Max Fury Road. Two 70somethings showing everyone how its done. The American Society of Cinemotagraphers have voted on the best of 2015's theatrical features. It's a year that can only be described as a filthy rich in terms of this artform. One only has to peruse the work of lower profile contenders that didn't make it to feel staggered by the abundance of worthy creative work being done in the field. 

But the rising talents -- and even some of the older giants -- in this arguable new golden age of the artform will have to wait another year for ASC and possibly Oscar honors. The guild went with a murderer's row of international legends this year. The ASC Nominees hail from five different countries (UK, Poland, Mexico, their average age is 62½  and between them they've amassed 31 Oscar nominations, 5 Oscar statues, 8 BAFTAs, and 5 Spirit Awards. That's a whole lotta statuary honoring their influential careers. 

Cinematography history and more on the nominees after the jump...  

Click to read more ...