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Entries in Cinematography (228)

Tuesday
Mar082016

Stay-Puft, Sigourney, and the "Ghostbusters"

This is Nathaniel's entry into this week's Hit Me With Your Best Shot topic, Ghostbusters (1984). Tonight, we'll see what others chose!

This may shock readers of a certain (young) age but would be blockbusters used to open directly against each other rather than giving each other wide berths to accumulate loot. No really, they did! Ghostbusters and Gremlins, courting the same demographic, opened simultaneously on my birthday weekend in 1984. I chose Gremlins (which little me loved) and caught Ghostbusters a few days later with school friends. Ghostbusters emerged as the clear champ with the public but little me thought Gremlins ran circles around the supernatural comedy: scarier, funnier, cuter monsters, better-paced... only faililng in its lack of SigWeavieness. They were both big hits, of course, but Ghostbusters was HUGE -- Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man walking amongst skyscrapers huge. And it stayed ahead in pop culture, too, netting Oscar nominations (Original Song & Visual FX) and endless sequel or revival talk thereafter.

Cut to 2016: With the gender reversed reboot on the way, it was a topical choice for Hit Me With Your Best Shot. Plus I figured I'd finally see what charms eluded me way back then...

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Thursday
Feb252016

YNMS: The Light Between Oceans

Lynn here, offering a little break from the frenzy of this year’s Oscars homestretch to ponder a possible future awards contender…

Fall, it seems so far away!  But it’s never too early to start thinking of the potential Oscars slate for next season, especially when you’ve got an adaptation of a popular book that features two mega-hot rising stars coming off fresh Oscar nominations and one Oscar winner who’s a bona fide screen goddess.  That would be The Light Between Oceans, which just dropped its first trailer yesterday.  Based on the bestselling novel by M.L. Stedman, it’s directed by Derek Cianfrance (Blue Valentine, The Place Beyond the Pines) and stars Michael Fassbender, Alicia Vikander, and Rachel Weisz.

Let’s break down the trailer, YNMS-style after the jump...

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Tuesday
Feb232016

5 Days til Oscar. "5" being the Sacrosanct Number.

OSCAR VOTING CLOSES TODAY! CEREMONY THIS SUNDAY.

The Film Experience had quite a scare earlier this season when it was suggested that the Academy might change the number of nominees per category (ostensibly to promote diversity though it would send a terrible message of "now, you might be worthy with more slots. might not" We still don't know if they'll spring this ghastly proposition on us and whether it will ruin every chart and stat for the future. The varying number of nominees in Best Picture already makes for messy comparisons from year to year which used to be half the fun.

The sacrosanct number is 5 and it should not ever change. Any deviation from 5 feels blasphemous as in those years when Original Song or Short Films kept changing the number or the continued satanic tradition of denying the Makeup and Hairstylist branch two of their deserved nominations each year - the only category with 3.

So here's to five, the best number. Five forever. FIVE BY FIVE. Never change the number, Academy! Never.

Just for fun here are the 5 categories this year with the highest across-the-board quality

 

  1. Best Actress - All wonderful. And from mostly great films, too! 
  2. Original Score - When the worst nominee is __ you've got playlist heaven
  3. Adapted Screenplay - Mostly wonderful and filled with films about women: Brooklyn, Carol, Room. And the two most deserving screenplays are written by women, too: Phyllis Nagy & Emma Donoghue
  4. Cinematography - Don't quite understand what Robert Richardson is doing here again but he's no slouch in general and otherwise this is a list for the all time list of great lists in this particular category. 
  5. Visual Effects - It was a toss up for this fifth slot but it's worth including to point out that for once they didn't go "Most" and actually included two films with very convincing effects (Ex Machina & The Revenant) that would work without those visual effects, too. Worthy Best Supporting Visual Effects is a nice change of pace here.

5 of my favorite Oscar nominee interviews this season in case you missed any: Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl), Deniz Gamze Ergüven (Mustang), Phyllis Nagy (Carol), Sandy Powell (Carol), and Jack Fisk (The Revenant)

 

Monday
Feb222016

Beauty Break: Douglas Slocombe, Cinematographer

Douglas Slocombe (1913-2016)Sad news to report. The former "oldest living Oscar nominee" cinematographer Douglas Slocombe died today just two weeks after his 103rd birthday. (If you're curious that makes the goddess Olivia de Havilland, who turns 100 this July, the oldest living Oscar nominee or winner)

Imagine shooting the boulder-roll opening sequence of Raiders of the Lost Ark or lighting its snake pit scene with torches! Douglas Slocombe did it. His other two nominations sprang from far more feminine pictures, the Jane Fonda Best Picture nominee Julia (1977. Also: Meryl Streep's film debut!) and the Maggie Smith vehicle Travels With My Aunt (1972).

More on his iimpressive career and some images from key films after the jump...

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Sunday
Feb212016

Interview: Ciro Guerra on the Must-See Oscar Nominee "Embrace of the Serpent"

Embrace of the Serpent, Colombia's great Foreign Language Film Oscar nominee took so long to arrive in theaters it may have well have arrived by rickety wooden boat after its grueling journey on the Amazon. But it's finally in theaters in select cities and just in time for the Oscars. Do NOT miss it.

I had the pleasure of speaking with the director Ciro Guerra about this cinematic triumph ... which I'm guessing was harder to make than The Revenant.

NATHANIEL: This is an extremely ambitious effort for a filmmaker as new as yourself. It's only your third film. How long have you been working on this?

CIRO GUERRA: I worked on it for about four years before we started shooting. I had done just two very personal films that were close to my experience, and my past, and my culture. So I wanted to go the opposite way, and take a journey into the unknown.

NATHANIEL: You did. It's hypnotically strange.

CIRO GUERRA: For us Colombians, the Amazon is the most unknown thing. It’s half of the country, but clearly we don’t know much about it. So, I had always been intrigued and fascinated and it had been a lifelong dream to do a film in the Amazon, and you know, these are the kind of films you can only do while you’re young. [More...]

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Saturday
Feb202016

Undersung Works by the Oscar Nominated Cinematographers 

Jose here. The five gentlemen nominated for the Best Cinematography Oscar have amassed a more than respectable amount of accolades, they boast a collected 37 Oscar nominations between the 5 of them, with Edward Lachman being the least nominated having only two (both for his previous collaborations with Todd Haynes) and Roger Deakins being the perpetual bridesmaid with 13 career nominations and no wins (not that he needs them anyway, he has 3 BAFTAS and 3 ASC Awards to console him).

Even if these folks get nominated for awards all the time, some of their work has been received coolly by awards bodies. Unbelievable, I know. So, here are 5 “undersung” achievements by this year’s nominees...  

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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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