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The Film Experience™ was created by Nathaniel R


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

 

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Entries in Cinematography (157)

Tuesday
Mar182014

Hit Me With Your Best Shot: "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind"

How happy is the blameless vestal’s lot!
The world forgetting, by the world forgot.

I am Joel Barish.

Or I was while rewatching Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. I hadn't seen the film in about 8 years and it rushed at me which such full force it felt like the first time again... or at least like the most vivid Déjà Vu ever. The experience is disorienting in its speed (20 minutes in and you're already portal'ed into Being Joel Barrish, without quite realizing it) moving in performance (career best work from Kate Winslet and Jim Carrey and a pitch-perfect supporting cast) and fascinating in its premise, looping structure and mirrored ideas (Charlie Kauffman's ingenious screenplay justly won the Oscar). But it's in the realm of the visuals where Michel Gondry and DP Ellen Kuras bring it all together with imagination, verve and an entirely bold and unusual use of light and focus.

The "Best Shot" task suddenly seemed unthinkable. "Can I choose 'every'?" I ask myself in a whimper, like Joel begging to keep just this one intimate moment with Clementine in bed. What kind of a sadistic game is this series of ours? I wanted to throw my hands up and cry out... or at least type out in blog form: 

Do you hear me? I want to call it off!"

For anyone who has ever loved and lost painfully, the premise of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is cruelly precise, both tempting and unthinkable. The most literal representation of that is surely the iconic shot of beautiful bright Clementine pulled from the ice beside Joel into inky blackness, forever out of reach. That and the blurry iconic "Meet me in Montauk" closeup which feels exactly like the irreversible imprint that its meant to be, are the two images that I think of immediately whenever my memories flutter back toward the movie.

Neither have lost their power.  

But as a movie that's unfolding before you and not as you remember it, the most powerful shots are those in perpetual motion (see photo above). This is Eternal Sunshine at its most alive and dangerous, as Joel tries to outrun and escape his foolish decision to have Clementine erased from his mind. This image, Joel running  through ever-shifting but somehow circular hallways, pulling his beloved along (she is never as fully visible but for that unmistakable tangerine hair) is repeated twice in the movie. It's broken up with a third variation that is horizontal as a spotlight keeps catching them as they run through Clem's bookstore.  Kuras' choice of bright spotlights which lend each frame both blinding beauty and empty darkness, feels almost like lucid dreaming and definitely like love gone hopelessly wrong; you're experiencing it, you think you can control it, but it's perpetually slippery, sliding at the edges into a nightmare. Which is not unlike the futile experience of trying to avoid grief or pretending the love wasn't there. 

There is no escape from the past. And if there were some soothing ill-advised oblivion to choose instead, gone goes all the beauty with it.

"Okay?" "Okay."

The Collection of 33 Best Shots  from participating cinephiles... Or just click around on these blogs and be surprised: The Examiner, I Want to Believe, Manuel Betancourt, Mario Arratia, Lam Chop ChopStranger than Most, Victim of the Time, Awards Circuit, Entertainment Junkie, Antagony & Ecstasy, (Home) Film Schooled, We Recyle Movies , Martin Fernando, Amiresque , Film Actually, Ben's Talking Pictures, Coco Hits NY, A Blogwork Orange, Best Shot in the Dark, Cinemunch, Intifada , Cinema Romantico, Dancin' Dan on Film, Sorta That Guy, Film Misery, Encore's World, Three Pounds Lost, The Film's The Thing, Musings and Stuff, Cinema Pop, My New Plaid Pants, and... Yours?

Next Tuesday: L.A. Confidential (1997) starring Noah himself, Russell Crowe 

Tuesday
Mar182014

Visual Index ~ Eternal Sunshine's Best Shots

In the "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" series we ask participants (all are welcome) to post a single shot that they think is the chosen movie's best and tell us why. "Best" is open to interpretation of course and often highly personal... and subject to change, just like memories. Memories are the environment and subject of this week's film, Michel Gondry's Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004). The film celebrates its 10th anniversary on March 19th and feels as essential as ever. 

Though we usually list the Hit Me With Your Best Shot collective choices in chronological order, memories aren't linear. Instead we're sharing the best shots in rough reverse chronological order of when we received them. Read them all for the opportunity to see the movie with new eyes: someone else's.

Meet us in Montauk... 33 images after the jump

Click to read more ...

Friday
Feb282014

2 Days Til Oscar. Final Oscar Predictions

This article originally appeared in my column at Towleroad and is reprinted here (albeit slightly altered for the TFE crowd) with their permission

Gravity will win how many Oscars? The most at any rate.

Oscar Weekend is upon us! Those damn Olympics forced it into March so it already feels like its running late and pushing back the local news broadcast yet further into the AM hours. And it hasn't even started yet! But soon Ellen Degeneres will be dancing down the aisles and we'll be on our way. [Before we get there make sure to like TFE on facebook so you don't forget about us during the spring/summer. We hit it all year round!]

I've been an Oscar blogger for over ten years (yikes) and usually predicting the winners in the high profile categories is easy; it's about getting out of your own way since it's easy to overthink it and create scenarios which aren't likely to happen. This year is more volatile than usual, though, with Gravity, 12 Years a Slave, and American Hustle all displaying strength after strength during "precursor season" but meeting plenty of resistance, too, on their awards path. Anything might happen in Best Picture, which is not something you can usually say going into the big night. It'll be a groundbreaking night almost any way it turns out with a first in Best Director (first Hispanic winner or first black winner) and a first in Picture (first sci-fi winner or first film that's totally about black people) 

Oscar never presents the categories in the exact same order from year to year, but let's take these in the order the envelopes opened last year just as an outline on which to hang our predictions after the jump... 

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Feb262014

4 Days Til Oscar. 4 Time Acting Nominees Leo & Julia

If Oscars were given out for consistent box office performance (there's already a prize for that and it's called "money") Julia Roberts would have won her Oscar in the 1990s when everything she churned out was a $100 million slam dunk and Leonardo DiCaprio would have followed suit right about now for a long run of the same incredible trick. Most of Julia's big triumphs were in the popular thriller or romantic comedy genres but Leo seems to be a special case making practically anything (save the dimly lit dim of wit J. Edgar) into a $100 million grosser whether it's a foul-mouthed 3 hour comedy, a mixed review prestigious literary adaptation, or any other genre really. He might be the only mega star who is worth his full asking price given that his marketability doesn't seem to be tied to anything but his beloved creased-brow face. 

Julia and Leo both, who received their first nominations in 1989 and 1993 respectively, both won their fourth nomination for acting this year (One of Leo's five nods is for producing) though their hits far outnumber their Oscar kudos. Let's share our four most favorite performances by each. For me that's like so:

LEO: 1) Gilbert Grape ...followed by a small gap and the rest bunched together... 2) The Departed 3) The Aviator 4) Romeo + Juliet fuzzy memory now but I remember being impressed... does it hold up? Wolf of  & Catch Me would battle it out for fifth but this is a top four. So that battle will remain a draw.
JULIA: 1) Erin Brockovich 2) My Best Friend's Wedding ....followed by a huge gap, then... 3) Pretty Woman 4) Closer

Yours?

Oscar Isaac and Bruno Delbonnel on the set of "Inside Llewyn Davis"

The other 4 time nominee in their field this year is the cinematographer Bruno Delbonnel nominated for Amelie (2001), A Very Long Engagement (2004), Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince (2009), and Inside Llewyn Davis (2013). He recently completed work on Tim Burton's Big Eyes (2014) so maybe he'll be back for a fifth next year? 

Are you rooting for any of these three to win?

Thursday
Feb062014

The Amazing Technicolor Link Blog

Village Voice is Frozen the first Disney movie about girls rather than for them?
The New Yorker asks Richard Brody, film critic, to explain himself. Cute video but omg his desk is cramped
Jezebel somehow I missed this interview where Bryan Singer blamed women for the failure of Superman Returns (2006)... Jezebel, predictably, has words for him.  
The Dissolve has a piece about the toxicity of twitter and its effects on intrafeminist battles. Really interesting and ties into what's been going on with the Dylan Farrow letter I think 
VF George Clooney's advice for posing on the cover of Vanity Fair 
Coming Soon interesting. Dakota Fanning to headline the next film from Miss Bala director Gerardo Naranjo. She'll play a roadie on the way towards self discovery

NY Times Phedon Papamichael, nominated for his cinematography on Nebraska shares his favorite things of the moment from Instagram to the Polish film Ida
Pajiba on the beautiful casting of a new Netflix show: Linda & Kyle & Sissy oh my
Coming Soon got 10 free hours? Amazon Instant Watch debuts 10 new series pilots we've never heard of today but one of them called Mozart in the Jungle has a great team and cast
i09 a movie version of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamboat produced by Elton John, Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber? Sure why not. But they better get a costume designer that's on point

Cinema Blend Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is actually on track towards filming again. Ha. The saga of this movie is probably more exciting than the movie could ever hope to be. Lily Collins will star.
Coming Soon the original Fantastic Four movies were just terrible and I have literally no optimism for the reboot either despite admiring director Josh Trank's Chronicle and virtually all of the actors individually just not the in roles he's considering them for. His casting is too young, too arbitrary, too non-WASPy. I know it's foolish to lament the lack of role opportunities for hot blondes in Hollywood - Hahaha - but if any superhero role ever was meant for a WASPy blonde and a WASPy blonde alone it was Sue Storm. Kate Mara and Emmy Rossum don't fit the bill and isn't Miles Teller way too young and fun-loving for the science genius gravitas of Mr Fantastic? 

Finally
You know how much we love the topic of age and acting here at TFE. Well on this recent HuffPo conversation they discuss the earning power drop for actresses which comes, they say, at 34. With men their power doesn't drop until their mid 50s.

I started the video aggravated that all the panelists seemed clueless about the disparity when it came to the men... I mean it's so obvious since male actors don't even start their reign until their 30s usually (Leonardo DiCaprio is not the norm, he's a rarity. What's far more common is the Channing Tatums and Brad Pitts of the world who kick around for a bit winning some attention and then *BOOM* supernova at about 30)... but I'm glad they ignored the men and discussed the women. It's an interesting conversation and Lisa Rosman is a critic I liked and she's good on the fly discussing this. I would need to read more about this study to believe the results fully though because from where I sit it does seem to me that actress careers are lasting longer, even in terms of lead roles, than they once did. Obviously Sandra Bullock, even more successful than she once was as she approaches 50 -- and she was pretty successful to begin with! --  is a rarity. And yet in general it does seem to me that the major actresses are having longer shelf lives than they once did. They don't seem to just vanish until their mid to late 40s early 50s now (notice the quick fades of Hunter, Allen, Linney, Clarkson, etcetera) rather than the late 30s early 40s it once was.