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Entries in Cinematography (270)

Friday
Sep022016

Quickie Reviews: The Light Between Oceans and The Jungle Book

by Nathaniel R

Apologies that there's no big review this weekend but I do hope you'll check out the Fassbender & Vikander flick. Here are two quick takes on movie options this weekend.

IN THEATERS

The Light Between Oceans (Derek Cianfrance)
Story: A war veteran (Michael Fassbender) takes a position as a lighthouse keeper where he falls in love with a local girl (Alicia Vikander). Their lives change irrevocably when they discover an orphaned baby in a boat.
Review: A pop quiz. Which is more ravishing?

  • Real life romantic chemistry that translates intact to movie screens.
  • Romantic dramas that don't stop at sexy but get across how comforting and life-changing love and companionship can be.
  • Picturesque rocky islands and lighthouses softened at their edges by grassy tenderness and the windswept beauty of two definitely cinematic brunettes.

Trick question -- they're all super ravishing! I've heard the complaints that The Light Between Oceans is "dull" or "has no edge" and it's definitely soggier and lacking in the instantaneously memorable moments of Cianfrance's previous outings Blue Valentine and The Place Beyond the Pines. But I kind of loved it while I was watching it. At least the first half. It loses its way a little in the third act as the tragedy stretches out and the film shifts to Rachel Weisz but it's uncommonly gorgeous to gaze upon and cry through. 
Grade: B+ (maybe B towards the end)
Oscar Chances: Perhaps it's not potent enough to hold on for months to win acting nominations -- though Fassbender & Vikander are both excellent -- but I'm crossing my fingers for Best Cinematography. Take a bow, Adam Arkapaw. (His previous credits include Macbeth, Lore, and Animal Kingdom). It also feels like a possibility for Score (Alexandre Desplat) though that's a little overbearing. 

JUST OUT ON DVD / BLURAY

The Jungle Book (Jon Favreau)
Story: You know this one already. A boy is raised by animals in the jungle. No, not that white one with the apes. The little Indian boy raised by wolves and panthers and bears, oh my. The problem: a tiger wants him dead.
Review: Can you believe we never reviewed this? Though it's somewhat ravishing to look at as a technical achievement, in truth I was not particularly fond of it and found it difficult to write about. The problem was that it doesn't have an identity of its own to discuss. Favreau trusts that fond memories of the Disney animated classic it apes (pun not intended) will win your love. He and his team trust in this so completely that they even graft on two and a half highly uncomfortable musical numbers despite the fact that this Jungle Book definitely does not self-identify as a musical, it's one characteristic that immediately sets its apart from the original. Until it doesn't.  Great voice work by Idris Elba as Shere Khan. 
Oscar Chances: Most definitely. At least a visual effects nomination. Perhaps sound as well?
Grade: C/C+   

P.S. If you liked it more, I'd love to hear why. Its long legs at the box office indicate that it wasn't just brand recognition but actual audience love that made it an enormous hit.

Tuesday
Aug302016

Making a "Splash"

I'll be doing that tomorrow as I've been under the weather today. But don't despair if you needed a fix of Ron Howard's best movie (you heard me), the charming fish out of water comedy Splash from 1984. Here are seven articles from Best Shot participants to enjoy. Click on the photos to dive into their takes on this romantic winner about a man and his mermaid. 

Scopophiliac at the Cinema

Antagony & Ecstasy

Rachel's Reviews

Sorta That Guy

Dancin Dan on Film

Christian Bonamusa

Allison Tooey

Wednesday
Aug242016

Review: Hell or High Water

by Eric Blume

With their new film, director David Mackenzie (Young Adam, Starred Up) and screenwriter Taylor Sheridan (Sicario) make one thing abundantly clear: they really, really hate banks.  Hell or High Water is a sort of southwest answer to The Big Short, a tale of rural Texas poor on a Robin Hood mission. 

Sheridan’s script was the winner of the 2012 Black List prize for best unproduced screenplay, a fact which feels surprising during the cliché friendly first half hour.  Brothers Toby and Tanner Howard are characters we’ve seen many times before, with a sibling dynamic that’s not new either.  Tanner (Ben Foster) is the wild bro released from prison, complete with a violent streak and true-blue redneck energy.  Toby (Chris Pine) is the tender brother, a taciturn and emotionally bruised man trying to make things right.  Together, they start robbing small Texas banks to secure money to save the family farm.  As Counterpoint we have two Texas rangers on their case:  Marcus Hamilton (Jeff Bridges), for whom this is the last big one before retirement(!), and partner Alberto (Gil Birmingham), the sage Native American sidekick. 

For about the first thirty minutes, you sit in fear that this is all the film will be, a simple chase to the inevitable populated with stock characters. The only hope it has is to somehow deepen.  Fortunately, it does...

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Aug232016

Hit Me With Your Best Shot: "The Get Down"

We cannot catch a break here at TFE Headquarters this week (honesty this summer. Uff) so this one will be brief. If you haven't yet seen Baz Luhrmann's latest, the first half of a first season of a show about the birth of hiphop called "The Get Down" have at it. Due to time constraints we've only watched the first episode but it delivered on the Baz-ness that we have so desperately missed.

Here's my choice for best shot with commentary after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Aug212016

"Best Shot" Finale

IMPORTANT NOTICE: Apologies that last week's episode was  delayed one week but real life got in the way. So this Tuesday I'll be discussing Baz Luhrmann's The Get Down and Splash will serve as our season (series?) finale of Hit Me With Your Best Shot next week. It'll also double as the wrap up of our Year of the Month (1984) just after the Smackdown.

And then it's on to fall film season, festivals, and Oscar build-up! 

This Tuesday Evening, August 23rd
THE GET DOWN (2016) 

Pick one shot from the first episode of Baz Luhrmann's Netflix series described as "a mythic saga of how New York at the brink of bankruptcy gave birth to hip-hop, punk and disco"... though from more intricate descriptions it sounds like it's mostly hip-hop we're talking about.  Can he bring that Moulin Rouge! magic? Was it worth the insane investment with a budget of $10 million per episode? (The first half of the first season -- six of twelve episodes -- began streaming on August 12th) 

SEASON FINALE  - Tuesday Evening, August 30th
SPLASH (1984)
With 1984 being our "year of the month" and a rumored gender flipped remake coming, we'll look back at the best live-action mermaid movie that I was obsessed with as a kid. Daryl Hannah's Crimped Hair forever!

 

Wednesday
Aug102016

Best Shot/Best Costume: "Les Girls"

For this week's episode of our cinematography series Hit Me With Your Best Shot we wanted a slight curveball as a way to celebrate the release of the Costume Design documentary Women He's Undressed. It's now available to rent on iTunes or purchase on other digital platforms. (Jose's interview with the director here). The film is about the legendary Orry-Kelly, who designed a truckload of classic Hollywood features and stars, and won three Oscars in the 1950s for An American in Paris, Les Girls  and Some Like It Hot.  So those playing "Best Shot" this week could choose any of those three. I watched Les Girls since it gets the least attention and they even use its image for the documentary's poster (left).

Les Girls  (George Cukor, 1957) is not well remembered today but curiously it reminds us yet again that mainstream Hollywood in the 50s and 60s paid a lot of attention to foreign auteurs and absorbed (or ripped off - you be the judge) their styles and conceits. The semi-musical (a few dance numbers mainly) concerns a libel lawsuit involving a former showbiz act "Barry Nichols and Les Girls" and in the courtroom we hear three different versions of the group's break up in Paris. In each of the stories Barry Nichols (Gene Kelly) gets mixed up romantically with a different girl (America's Mitzi Gaynor, Britain's Kay Kendall, and Finland's Taina Elg) and their musical act eventually implodes. It's clearly modelled on Akira Kurosawa's Rashômon (1950) which had taken an Honorary Oscar from the Academy earlier that decade.

Taina Elg quits dancing in Les Girls (1957)

So let's choose a best shot and a best costume after the jump. Happily my three favorite shots come from each of the film's three acts...

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Aug092016

A First Glimpse of Villeneuve's 'Arrival'

Chris here with a first look at one of the fall's big Oscar question marks. Last year, Denis Villeneuve's Sicario did quite well by Oscar standards if you consider its punishing bleakness and divisiveness even if it missed the major races. This year he's returning with the sci-fi Arrival, and we've been patiently waiting to see if this will raise his Oscar cache.

To go with the building buzz, here are our first looks...

Click to read more ...