Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Heroes and Villains #2

"Ghostbusters", Ivan Reitman, 1984.

Despite the violent protestations of the malignant Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, the Ghostbusters heroically join together and form one super-penis to fight evil.

One, two, get her.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Le Deuxième Souffle

Jean-Pierre Melville, 1966.

In the first three shots of the film, Melville sleekly and with great economy presents the protagonists, their motivation, the obstacles, the locale, and their relation to one another in space.

Shot One:
Here are our heros. It is late at night and they are attempting to move unseen. The walls form very clean surfaces and draw the eye in the direction of the first man's gaze.

Shot Two
Here we see what he is looking at. More clean lines, another wall and a spotlight establish they are in a prison—they are about to escape. Our eyes are already trained on the upper right portion of the screen at the spotlight. Now the the corners of the walls draw our eyes downward.

Shot Three
While we are already prepared to look down, the bird's-eye view of the prison guards must be from the point of view of the prisoners. The guards are looking back to the left of the screen, presumably toward the spotlight, which places us in the same location as the prisoners, giving us a clear indication who we are to identify with.

The scene is nearly silent and the efficiency of the camera work and editing are mirrored by the prisoners' quiet exit (or vice versa).

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Killers #8

Jean-Pierre Melville's "Le Deuxième Souffle", 1966.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Haynes Does Fellini

Todd Haynes' brilliant "I'm Not There", 2007.  
Captioned with stills from Fellini's 1963 masterpiece, "".








Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Killers #7

Anthony Mann's "T-Men", 1947.

The hitman emerges slowly from the blackness.  It's the best shot of the film and it happens about two minutes in.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Liz Taylor

A pair from George Stevens' "A Place In the Sun", 1951.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Fish Stays In the Picture

A couple more from Nagisa Oshima's "Empire of Passion", 1978.

Oshima wryly sticks dead animals in the foreground.  Something is rotten in this house.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Empire Of Passion

Nagisa Oshima, 1978

A married woman has an affair with a younger man, the man grows jealous and convinces her to murder her husband, the husband haunts them and things end poorly.  The tired story is not treated particularly originally here but the sets always look great and the colors are vivid and interesting.  Next time I'll watch Taboo instead.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Three Views of a Railing

Nagisa Oshima's "Empire of Passion", 1978.

All the same room, different color schemes.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Boris Karloff

"The Mummy", Karl Freund, 1932.

As far as I can tell, the only reason to see this film.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Hangmen Also Die

Great title.

Fritz Lang, 1943.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Killers #6

From Abraham Polonsky's "Force of Evil", 1949.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Another Neat Dissolve

From Max Ophuls' "The Earrings of Madame de…", 1953

Like Preminger in "River of No Return" , Ophuls uses fire to connect two shots during a dissolve, though without the feeble metaphor.

The sentry is cold.

As the image dissolves we begin to see a fire.

The sentry turns and hunches over as though to warm himself over the General's fire.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Seamless Transition in "The Earrings of Madame de…"

Max Ophuls, 1953

After a long tracking shot of Louise (Danielle Darrieux) and Fabrizio (Vittorio De Sica) dancing at a ball, Ophuls fades to a shot of this painting and more dancing on a later night.  He employs a clever technique to maintain kinesis.

Here, the painting.

Darrieux steps in from the right of the camera, De Sica from the left.

They meet in the center of the frame .

Here they continue twirling as though they had been embracing before the shot began.

The camera resumes tracking along with them.

Had Ophuls faded from a shot of the dancing couple to another shot of dancing the image would have been cluttered.  A tracking shot where the camera met up with the couple to its left or right would have lost some kinetic tension; dancing into a motionless frame from the side would have had the same effect.  Here it is as if the camera moves backward between their heads—they seem to materialize in the center of the frame already in progress.