“Comedy thrives inside a fixed frame. It’s not an essential element, but as with dancing and magic tricks, it’s always more impressive if the viewer can see the performer’s hands and feet at all times. In Sherlock, Jr, Keaton moves the camera when he has to, during all of the movie’s crazy chases. But even then, the motion is limited: Keaton tracks alongside the actors, or he attaches the camera to the front of one of the moving vehicles so that he can keep all the action inside the rectangle.Sherlock, Jr. is at its funniest, though, when the camera stays still, and the characters move in and out, like figures in a side-scrolling platform videogame. Maybe that’s because the fixed frame emphasizes the characters as characters, arriving into the picture exactly when needed for the plot—and sometimes remaining stuck there, like the projectionist, never confident that he can find a way to break out of the box.”
Noel Murray kicks off our Movie Of The Week discussion of the 1924 classic Sherlock, Jr. with an examination of how Buster Keaton’s physical comedy thrived in a fixed environment of boxes and lines. [Read more…]
In Grand Budapest Hotel we move from the present, more or less, to events in the 1980s, then the 1960s, and eventually the 1930s, which constitute the central episodes.
Anderson has shot the frame stories in different aspect ratios. It’s 1.85 for the near present and the 1980s, when the Author recounts meeting the hotel owner. That meeting, set in the 1960s, is shown in 2.40, the anamorphic aspect ratio. The central story, taking place in the 1930s, is presented in classic 1.37, or 4:3 imagery. With typical Anderson butterfly-collector wit, each era gets a ratio that could have been used in a movie at the time. It’s remarkable that Anderson could persuade Fox Searchlight to let him do this, but it’s also a gift of digital projection: This play with ratios wouldn’t have been possible on film.
I knew something was up, I just couldn’t put my finger on it.
“I get that same queasy, nervous, thrilling feeling every time I go to work. That’s never worn off since I was 12 years-old with my dad’s 8-millimeter movie camera. The thrill hasn’t changed at all. In fact, as I’ve gotten older, it’s actually increased, because now I appreciate the collaboration. When I was a kid, there was no collaboration, it’s you with a camera bossing your friends around. But as an adult, filmmaking is all about appreciating the talents of the people you surround yourself with and knowing you could never have made any of these films by yourself. My job was constantly to keep a movie family going.”
“Shooting a movie is the worst milieu for creative work ever devised by man. It is a noisy, physical apparatus; it is difficult to concentrate—and you have to do it from eight-thirty to six-thirty, five days a week. It’s not an environment an artist would ever choose to work in. The only advantage it has is that you must do it, and you can’t procrastinate…”
Yes, they are some of the most critically acclaimed cinematic romances in decades. Yes, they represent the “little engine that could” in a creative system in which only big-budget popcorn flicks tend to get multiple sequels. Yes, they are an enjoyable departure from the current standard of overly frenetic, quick-cut filmmaking. But they are also the only films that strive — and succeed — to create a detailed and ongoing look at the female experience.
Even at its most obscure, Upstream Color keeps the viewer involved thanks to the aforesaid music score and the flow of its nature-derived imagery – sunlight, water, animals, insects, and birds (see still at top of page) and the archetypal blue flower motif. The consistent beauty of the imagery gives the movie the feel of poetry:
O Rose thou art sick.
The invisible worm,
That flies in the night
In the howling storm: Has found out thy bed
Of crimson joy:
And his dark secret love
Does thy life destroy.
I called around and managed to get a lot of expired stock donated. I also used tungsten-based 35mm slide film to storyboard the movie – this really helped me show the various labs what the final film would look like and thus negotiate prices with them. They are much more likely to give you a discount when they think you’re someone that might be back one day with a bigger budget.
Shane Carruth. Clever! Prepare like a professional, get professional treatment.
From 2009 to 2012 Soderbergh directed seven films, three of which may be called his unofficial trilogy of “body films”: The Girlfriend Experience (2009), Haywire (2011), and Magic Mike (2012). While star-studded, arguably even stunt, casting has always been important to his work—from Jennifer Lopez in Out Of Sight (1998) to the comically high-caliber cast of the Oceans franchise (2001, 2004, 2007)—in these three films, the bodies of the stars were integral to what each film explored. Moreover, each stars’ bodies represented a Hollywood outsider crossing over into the mainstream.
Soderbergh! Out of all his movies I’ve seen, the body trilogy and Out of Sight hold the top four spots.