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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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Only Five Episodes Left - HIT ME WITH YOUR BEST SHOT

❝I don't want to be presumptuous, but could this (UNDER THE SKIN) be the best collection of visuals from this series?❞ -Andrew E.

❝Very cool line-up! Glad you're splitting GONE WITH THE WIND even in two parts it will be hard to pick just one shot each.❞ -Joel6

THE MATRIX is actually an unexpectedly awesome choice for this series❞ -Mark

 

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Entries in Cinematography (131)

Tuesday
Apr012014

Visual Index ~ Can't Stop the Music's Best Shot(s)

April Fools! I needed an infamous 'bad movie we love' for today's edition of Hit Me With Your Best Shot a crowd source visual party, where anyone with a love for movies can watch the pre-assigned film and chime in on the one moment that makes it or defines it or reflects it. In other words, whatever "best" means to you.

The Village People musical Can't Stop the Music (1980) starring Valerie Perrine (of Lenny & Superman fame), Olympian Bruce Jenner (long before the Kardashian days) and Steve Guttenberg early on in his career, came through. And how. You can barely believe this movie while you're watching it but you can't exactly look away either. (Credit where it's due, the lightbulb for this week's selection came to mia via an e-mail from Awards Watch, about their new series pairing Razzie winners with Oscar winners.) 

This musical, the very first Razzie Worst Picture winner is awful, sure, but it's also adorable in its own glittery misguided 'let's put on a show' kind of way. The Razzies, which are also crowd sourced, have a long history of homophobia (they're no fans of camp or gay icons of any kind) so it's no surprise that it all started here with this super gay film that's weirdly caught between "Liberation" and the closet and the cusp of the decades it straddling. But more on that in these fine fun articles.

Can't Stop the Music's Best Shots
click on the photos for the corresponding article 

Its massively ineffective attempt to split the difference between the look and mood of the 1970s versus the 1980s...
-Tim Brayton, Antagony & Ecstasy 

The movie it might have been in another time. NOT THAT IT WOULD HAVE EXISTED IN ANOTHER TIME....
-Nathaniel R, The Film Experience


The kind of joyous, “ZOMG out of ★★★★” masterpiece that I would place in the same company as Battlefield Earth and Showgirls... 
-Robert Hamer, Awards Circuit 

Presented as a dream sequence with lyrics that veer quite close to an imagined rape sequence...
-Manuel Betancourt 

a wacko comedic origin story with occasional music-video interludes...
- Jake D, Minnesota Gneiss 


Half trying to phone it in, half trying to get out...
-Lam Chop Chop 


This is the '80s, darling. You're going to see a lot of things you've never seen before...
 - (Home) Film Schooled 

The Rosetta Stone to understanding the pleasures of Can't Stop the Music...
-Coco Hits NY 

I chose the reaction shot because I imagine he’s thinking what I’m thinking...
-Drink Your Juice, Shelby pt 1 and pt 2


It’s such a ludicrously mounted production that it thrills me to no end that it was a hit in Australia and nowhere else...
-Glenn Dunks 

I adore this shot for SO many reasons... let me list them for you"
-Nathaniel R, The Film Experience 


Following the film's gonzo logic, this sequence does nothing to advance the plot...
- Jason Henson, The Entertainment Junkie 


Guys! Wait! This can’t be The Gayest because LOOK AT THIS PRETTY STRAIGHT LADY!
- Anne Marie & Margaret, We Recycle Movies 

You can hang out with all the boys...
-Shane Slater, Film Actually 


a product of its time...
-abstew - The Film's The Thing

 

literally shooting out rainbows...
-Sorta That Guy 

These 15 articles are so fun, people. Please do enjoy them in all their jaw-dropped glory.

Previously on "Hit Me"
Eternal Sunshine & L.A. Confidential

Next time on "Hit Me"Bette Davis in the Best Picture noir nominee THE LETTER (1940). Choose and post your 'Best Shot' by 9 PM Tuesday April 15th to be included in the visual roundup.

 

Tuesday
Mar252014

Visual Index ~ L.A. Confidential's Best Shot(s)

It's Tuesday night, time for another Hit Me With Your Best Shot. This week we're looking at Curtis Hanson's 1997 Best Picture nominee L.A. Confidential, which was nominated for 9 Oscars including Best Picture and Best Cinematography (Dante Spinotti) both of which it lost to the 52,000 ton Titanic. But it's a lot of people's idea of a modern masterpiece so I was fascinated to read what others had to say about the movie.

See it through multiple sets of eyeballs, in this case 17 of them by clicking on any of the thirteen shots selected ... and please do comment if you like something you read. The series only works properly when people participate. 

BEST SHOT(s)
Arranged in rough chronological order

Making news just like they make movies...
-Coco Hits NY 

Opened up and unnervingly close at one and the same time...
-Timothy Brayton, Antagony & Ecstasy

At its heart, Curtis Hanson's stylish exercise in film noir tropes is a reflection on manhood and masculinity...
-RJ, Home Film Schooled 

A clever tip of the hand, although not an overly obvious one...
-Allison Tooey 


A turning point for the character...
- Andy Hall, Three Pounds Lost 


The birth of Shotgun Ed reveals a confident directorial eye...
-CineMunch 

Just as I became disillusioned, my shot would reflect the disillusionment of Ed Exley...
-abstew, The Film's The Thing 

Is it possible to pinpoint the exact moment when a performance wins an Oscar?...
-Michael Cusumano, Serious Film 


Despite the cool dusky warmth, Bud still walks in haunted noir shadows... 
-Nathaniel R, The Film Experience


One of my favorite moments in Kevin Spacey’s career...
 - Robert Hamer, Awards Circuit 


The rain pours as Bud’s hard-boiled mask crumbles... 
-Derreck Johnson 

That's how you die when you're in close-up...
-Cal Roth 


I'm just the guy they bring in..."
-Intifada 


A live wire, always ready to brawl when necessary...
-Shane Slater, Film Actually 


At any given point, any of them could be on either side...
-Jason Henson, The Entertainment Junkie

After all his moralizing, Exley has rolled in the dirt...
-Margaret, We Recycle Movies 


One of the reasons I love this shot is that it really fleshes out the character of Bud White...
-A Fistful of Films 

 

 

NEXT THREE FILMS - THE SCHEDULE

Tuesday
Mar252014

Hit Me With Your Best Shot: "L.A. Confidential"

When L.A. Confidential premiered in 1997 I was one of the few cinephiles that wasn't overcome with passion for it. I thought it too warm, actually. The happy(ish) ending threw me since most of the noir I was familiar with (not a wide sample I'm afraid) was much more nihilistic, rarely leaving the compromised heroes alive or free. It was the clear critical favorite in its year, though, so I've long wanted to reassess it and spend more time with it. I'm happy to report that I underestimated it the first time around. The screenplay with its hardboiled broad strokes dialogue and characterizations made more sense now that I'm more familiar with its tropes. But above all else it's a "wow" in execution from every department (but yes we're here to talk cinematography).

My clearest memories of the film were three: the smarmy gossip opening "on the QT and very hush hush", that I was enamored of both Russell Crowe and Kevin Spacey's performances, and the (literal) head-turning introduction of Lynn Bracken (Kim Basinger in her Oscar winning role) though it should surprise virtually no one who reads the Film Experience that the subplot of the Fleur de Lis girls "whores cut to look like movie stars" was the storyline I was initially most drawn to.  

Whatever you desire.

More after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Mar202014

Oswald Morris (1915-2014)

We just celebrated the career of cinematographer Oswald Morris this past November on his birthday with a visual tribute. I regret to inform that the fine DP has passed away at 98 on St. Patrick's Day.

Director John Huston (left) and Oswald Morris (right) size up a scene

I first became a fan of his, without knowing I was (you know how that is at the beginning of cinephilia) when I saw the puppet classic The Dark Crystal (1982) which was his last film. That film was so technically ambitious at the time and a visual triumph in many ways. I've been meaning to watch it again just to feel the presence of actual objects with weight and shadow in the time of CGI. 

In the obit at The Telegraph he tells a good story about one of his true breakthroughs: Moulin Rouge (1952):

In 1952, Morris “broke every rule in the book” while shooting Huston’s Moulin Rouge. On being interviewed for the job at the Dorchester Hotel Morris asked Huston how he envisaged the completed film would look. “I would like it to look as though Toulouse-Lautrec had directed it himself,” replied Huston. Morris shot using strong, light-scattering filters on the camera, which had never been used before. “We also filmed every set full of smoke so that the actors always stood out from the background,” he recalled. “The Technicolor people hated it.” Their tune changed, however, on the film’s positive reception. “The head of Technicolor in America wrote to Technicolor in London congratulating them on the wonderful colours in the film. No mention of me.”

Curiously, though he shot several famous films other than Moulin Rouge like Lolita, Equus, The Taming of the ShrewThe Pumpkin Eater and won three consecutive BAFTAs in the 60s for black and white pictures, he was only ever Oscar-nominated for his colorful work on musicals: The Wiz, Oliver!, and Fiddler on the Roof, winning for the latter. 

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 

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