A breif look at lenses

In this little clip Joe Dunton, BSC, GBCT introduces a few of the lenses Stanley Kubrick utilised during his career. It’s great to visually see the technology used in films, as well as, gain an understanding of the differences of lenses. Perhaps to gain a greater understanding of editing and approaching different scenes visually and for what reason.

arriflex35iicpasoliniarriflex35iiclucas              arriflex35iickubrick2

The three filmmakers: Pier Paolo Pasolini, George Lucas and a young Stanley Kubrick.

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Christopher Nolan posters

Just with the release of Dunkirk I just wanted to do a little renaissance of the history of Christopher Nolan releases, mainly to go back to those two first mainstream releases of his that broadly put him on the map to bring us to the modern big releases (and usually with a stream of posters in the the marketing) of his. I just wanted to flip through them chronologically and was wanting to get the first impression images that would’ve appeared in cinema foyers and what first would interest us in his films.

2000                                           2002                                          2005
mementoinsomniabatman begins2
2006                                           2008                                          2010
prestigedark_knightinception
2012                                            2014                                           2017
dark_knight_risesinterstellardunkirk

When a filmmaker’s oeuvre starts a big following the filmmaker’s stardom can overlook some of the earlier original releases, hence, losing the original marketing aspects that were employed at the beginning. This has happened with movies such as the original Alien during some box set DVD releases.

It’s important to see what was there from the beginning in comparison to the motifs that now have become the standard way to release the new products. Despite Memento all the releases have a common vertical line moving through the poster. Untypically with Insomnia which, almost by accident, created this vertical streak with the three images of Pacino, Williams and the silhouette. The subsequent movies strictly seem to employ a character solely being the centrepiece of the poster. What is now becoming a common motif (and one that people seem to exploit in fanart) is that of character with his back to the intended audience.

Since the motif of the sole character being the centrepiece of Nolan releases I really wanted to go back to Memento as it was a film so unique and original upon its release (which some may argue but I believe this has to be determined by the time of its making and release). According to fan art, and to obnibus and collective work releases (Hitchcock) it seems some people would like to have released the poster suiting the more recent Nolan. For me, the original still remains the best marketing for the movie. I think the poster catches the essence of the movie and it would have helped propel it to the success it had, thus, to Nolan’s success as well.

Having catapulted himself into the spectacular realm of being perhaps one of the most astounding storytellers currently active it seems certain that with his next releases he will employ this similar modern Nolan. That of the sole, vertical character and the bold lettering. I am totally looking forward to seeing Dunkirk and will potentially cross cities or even countries to watch some form of 70mm release of it. After its release and when there comes yet another Nolan movie I still believe he will knock something entirely new and incredible out of the park and that the poster for that release will be spectacular in comparison to his previous releases, and yet, thoroughly different and perhaps unilaterally building upon these. Maybe with a colour shift in tone.

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Come and See (1985)

Director: Elem Klimov

 

come and see2

Now I am only posting this because if you have absolutely no access to this movie and you think you want to watch it and have no other way to gain access to it, then here it is. I myself watched it for the first time here because it was a film I had wanted to seek out for a long time and was literally not available to me.

This film has a resonance that stays with you. It is a powerful film from an age of filmmaking which doesn’t exist anymore. It’s from the Soviet Union. If I were to open my own cinema I would definately have this film make an appearance every year or so.

This film is divided into two parts, so there is an interval halfway. It’s powerful but try and watch it out. Devote your time to watching it. The cinema stands the test of time. There’s something about Soviet filmmakers that is unrelenting and awesome. The use of the lens is fantastic. It may be only one or two lenses. One of the first films to be almost entirely shot using the steadicam. A technique that would be employed by many ‘great’ filmmakers even up to modern filmmaking. A true piece of cinema. A film that is not about nothing.

come and see

Part I:

Part II:

come and see3

I’m sorry the film is only in a lower quality but that is all I could source out. The fact it is split into two halves reminds me of another Soviet film, Dersu Uzala by Akira Kurosawa. It must have been a common narrative device for the cinema in those days. A useful tool for stories of such dramatic quality and length.

I would like to just add that the performances of the leading boy, and the girl astonish me.

Enjoy. “Well…”, as Garth Marenghi puts it, “I say, enjoy…”

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Y Tu Mamá También (2001)

It has just occured to me that there is a range of brilliant films available to you for free as long as you’ve got a computer and internet. This makes those films that may be hard to seek out, DVD’s you can’t just afford just yet, films that cinemas just don’t play, anything that you may be interested in almost available to you now. It’s not the same as the cinema experience, but maybe, it could bring you that one step closer to that place where all the films you want to see in the world are playing in that magical cinema that doesn’t exist.

The first film I stumbled across was Alfonso Cuarón’s 2001 classic film Y Tu Mamá También. A road trip film, a coming-of-age social commentry, whatever it is, it is both fused with energy, sexual excitement and drama that plays out before your eyes like a comedy of realism. Check this out if you haven’t seen it before. Turn the lights down, turn the music up and enjoy in the comforts of your home.

Ps. Sometimes watching a movie with your laptop on your bed is a great way to watch a film (albeit, far strung from going into a cinema), however, there are opportunities of plugging your device into a television if that is your prefered viewing designation. Just search how to do it on the internet. Happy travels!

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The Year of Living Dangerously and The Life of Pi

The last two films I saw over the last weekend (Kafka was in there too) and I guess I didn’t really do much this weekend. That’s not a bad thing and I’m glad if I’m going to spend a lot of time watching movies, for whatever reason, it’s a bonus when they fill you with something – I don’t know what – maybe some sort of comradery.

yearoflivingdangerouslyI guess the reason I liked The Year of Living Dangerously (1982) was the setting. The ambition of the film. A period drama set against a politically unstable background. That sounds a little cliche’d but cliche’s are sometimes what draws me to films. I had wanted to see this film for awhile. It always shouted adventure, romance on foreign exotic soil. Same reason I guess I liked Phillip Noyce’s The Quiet American when I first saw it. There’s something about the East that is mysterious and I remember sitting in a cafe in Siem Reap, Cambodia, that there is something mysterious about the East.

I don’t know why all the countries in Southeast Asia always seem to get mashed into one thing, though I guess its the region, the climate, the natural life spawning from the earth there, the animals all help to assimilate them. There is vastness but you have to identify it over some sort of greeting to the place – through the culture, attitudes or something like that. So anyway, if a film is going to make something adventurous of a type of situation, a foreigner in the foreign country, a reporter covering a government indifferent or different from where they are from, the relationships that reporter goes through in his situation, I guess it has to pay its respects in the end, and forever remain indifferent in his place.

I thought the film did it well. It’s great for once to see a film not hold back within its limits. The filmmakers fared really well. Respect, Peter Weir, Mel Gibson, Sigourney Weaver, Linda Hunt, Russell Boyd (even John Seale was 2nd unit) and Maurice Jarre and all the other filmmakers who made the most of the opportunity. I think they got it right. Sure, they are dealing with a political situation here though from this film’s point of view it stays with the character of Guy Hamilton – the young Sydney reporter played my Gibson – and especially Billy Kwan – the Indoesian guide / translator who carts Hamilton around and pretty much stands up for the right reasons played by Linda Hunt – and these are the two vessels that carry across the unstable understandings the media can make for situations that cannot be fully understood to some degree.

The film kind of paved the way, on a Sunday with nothing much else to do, for me to go and see Life of Pi (which came out November last year) in 3D. Ok, the 3D, for me, is getting less and less neccessary. The drawcard was the music and of course, the lovely tale and if you’ve read the book its already affected you to some degree.

life-of-piCouple of things – I saw it in 3D  so when the visuals were as wonderful as they were I can’t comment on whether this is enhanced by the 3D but having been a watcher of films for a long time I don’t think it matters. What’s the point of changing something that hasn’t been broke. These filmmakers all fell in love with cinema from a young age, the same reason someone falls in love with a painting from Millet, even if they only see it on a computer screen. Does that mean seeing the real thing you are going to feel any different. I haven’t even seen an actual Millet painting, still love some of his paintings.

I remember some of the music from the Year of Living Dangerously, and there are a couple of instruments that stick in mind, that have a greater power to them, and a cymbal / bell used in the Life of Pi score does the same. Brings up images just from its sound. Brings up images and emotions. Pretty sure they utilised this instrument in both movies – its an Asian cymbal, but that’s just a personal taste that appealed to me. Also, the way its used, for me helped with the emotion of the story in the certain scenes.

Anyways, I kind of like to go off onto random tangents, so here’s another one. I read the book over a month and a half of travels through Vietnam and Laos and when I finished it it really affected me. Really, was alone in the four thousand islands, couldn’t think properly. It must have been a mixture of being alone and in a foreign country. Made the book really harsh. Well, I am alone and in a foreign country now too, but somehow the film didn’t have the same force behind it. I suppose the imagination doesn’t work as well with film as it does with words. In some ways you can sit back in awe at the splendid images (there’s quite a few previews of just how wonderful they are in the trailer if you happened to have avoided them by living under a rock which isn’t a bad thing) and I guess that’s why this film is, in Ang Lee’s sort of words, disguised ‘as a adventure story’. Can’t really elaborate on my point, hope you get it.

Anyways, both films grasp to me, a spirit of adventure. One is more emotional than the other. One is more profound in its teachings. I guess one if, in essence, an adventure slash romance, where the other is a spiritual journey, but as films, these journey’s can only be displayed to you, and I guess you can follow them through on it and take something away, but there is definately something there that tears at the inside of you to follow through on something as profound.

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Two Michael Haneke Films – Caché (2005) & La pianiste (2001)

It was Cache that I had been wanting to come across for a long time. I used to project this film at an old twin cinema I used to work at. It was the job in which I learnt how to project. It was the best job I ever had. I had since gotten two projection jobs since that cinema. That was 2006. It’s now 2011 and I’m watching this on a terrible out of date DVD screener of the film. Alas, cinema projection on 35mm will eventually see its end, and here is a film about video’s shot on high definition.

I never noticed when I projected the film but it did raise my eyebrows. I remember staring through the port-glass window and I just couldn’t place my finger on what was wrong with the image – the exact image one has been used to over the last 21 years (that was how old I was at the time). Sure, one could see the print film, but you couldn’t disguise the flat, sterile, screened video presented behind that image. Now finally watching the complete movie one can see Haneke is a master of his craft. You could call it filmmaking, probably wouldn’t call it storytelling, maybe commentry, or maybe a strange twisted philosophy on society. I’m not one to comment because I was startled by the film and could not draw my eyes away.

There are comments made about this perplexing piece as a puzzle – clues hidden throughout the piece – but I wouldn’t buy into them. Michael Haneke obviously has a strong background in France. I’m not sure where in Germany he comes from but they are neighbours. I know that he studied philosophy and I do believe he has very strong ideas to present. This film, after seeing others of his (Benny’s Video was my first, followed directly in a double feature with Funny Games, then years later I purchased Time of the Wolf on DVD, finally watching The White Ribbon in its Australian premiere season at the German Film Festival). This is by far his most accessible of those and I found it his most puzzling, interesting and somewhat thrilling. He is in almost a genre mode in this film and isn’t holding up any barriers. However, he is smartly hiding them within the narrative, and rather then forcing them upon you, asks you to seek them out this time. Relaxing of him? Maybe on this outing, and a little cynical. I am no expert on his work but I took the time to seek out another of his works right away the next day.

The Piano Teacher is a completely different type of gem. It’s based on a novel and delves into the perverse and the idea of love. It’s another one of his French language pictures. The film won the Grand Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival as well as Best Actress and Best Actor awards (the Son’s Room won the Palme D’or). It’s a little too old for me to remember what the release was like at that time. From memory I can remember only decent releases for Hidden and The White Ribbon of his films in recent years in Australia.

From experience all of his films have touched on completely different subjects as if he wants to make his particular statement only once and let the medium of cinema carry that message on so why repeat oneself. The words violence, media and Michael Haneke seem to find themselves in similar sentences and paragraphs although from what I’ve seen (apart from Funny Games and maybe thats due to the press and attraction these two particular films have garnered). The more Haneke films I see, and I do intend to get through a couple more in my lifetime, I seem completely surprised by what unfolds throughout each one (apart from Time of the Wolf). The Piano Teacher was about repression, it was about culture, but I don’t necessary think it was about violence as so much as love and passion. Maybe if his films are all about violence in some way then I could see sexual repression and passionate violence as a link. Still, a wonderful film about violence and justice is still The White Ribbon, and that film did win the Palme D’or (Isabelle Huppert was the Jury President).

I would just like to add the performances in this film. Isabelle Huppert is amazing in this film. I don’t know why I see films and can relate characters to people. It makes no sense and there is no cultural link at all. In fact, I don’t think there is any link apart from my own warped view of the world and cinema and its my wishful thinking to bring the two worlds clashing together. Besides that point, she is thrilling and attractive to watch – attractive in the sense that she physically has always been alluring in not your classical traditional way except that she radiates. The other mention of course is Benoît Magimel who I have only seen in one other film, The Girl Cut In Two. I believe he did this film first and is spectacular in it. The only thing is The Girl Cut In Two could almost be a sequel to this. Not really, but he has transcended roles, somehow, maybe its a class thing.

Anyways, I don’t want to present standard reviews about performances and cinematography. I would like to voice my thoughts on the current state of cinema. If I were to quote Godard I would say that cinema is dead. If I were to quote Langois, I would say the cinema lives on though screenings. Since I saw both of these films on DVD I wouldn’t have much of a chance here in Sydney to see them on the big screen. Culturally I believe these films firmly belong in France. Cinematically I believe these films belong in the theatre’s of the world, especially here in Australia, where they should be praised, discussed with delicacy and never thrown out with labels and buzz words either damning or categorising them. They are intelligent pictures with something delicate to say. Watch them with patience.

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Pictures I’ve seen over the last week

I never got to mention the Women on the Sixth Floor, or Special Treatment, which I saw at the end of the French Film Festival which is what we had here in Sydney a couple of weeks ago. However, these treasures are what I got to see the week past.

The only one I saw at the cinema was Never Let Me Go. It was a wonderful film and I’m glad I got a chance to see it. I was never a fan of One Hour Photo but this film is on another level. The performances in this subtle science fiction drama are one for the books. It’s no wonder Andrew Garfield made it to Hollywood to star in one of the best films of last year – The Social Network – when you can see his perfomances in this and The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnasses. His body of work is looking stronger and stronger his each role.

The Lives of Others was a great film and Silent Light was slow and unfortunately the beautiful images, compositions, camera movements portraying the gentle story of adultered desires couldn’t keep me from however I was feeling that morning – which was tired – a small problem with the medium of home viewing. Its a shame I couldn’t have the patience of the home viewing experience of Carlos Reygadas’ work – perhaps I was too comfortable.

The outstanding film that affects me above all previously mentioned was Chaotic Ana. Right up until the very ending I thought it was an incredibly intelligent how it totally immerses you in the character of Ana. Its really amazing how the film manages to capture the essence of who she is and what she is going through. Then you realise the director has made the film for his sister and in fact all the artwork in the film is hers. It just solidifies it as a masterful piece about a one woman’s soul and idolises her – creating the model of pain all good people go through.

Chaotic Ana (2007) directed by Julio Medem
Silent Light (2007) directed by Carlos ReygadasNever Let Me Go (2010) directed by Mark RomanekThe Lives of Others (2006) directed by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck

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