The Motion Picture

November 14, 2011 § Leave a comment

Motion Picture:  a series of still or moving images.

Film, movie, motion picture, feature film, cinematic adventure – call it what you will, but it is all the same: a series of still or moving images. Movies used to be silent, you know. That’s right – no dialogue. Just actors, well, acting. Too often we forget to actually look at the movie – it’s all about the story and how does it make me feel. Let’s forget about the story, just for a moment. Look at the camera angle, listen to the music, see the lighting – the shadows, the highlights, look at the expression on the actors’ faces. How does that make you feel? I want to focus on a handful of movies not because their stories are heartwarming or inspiring, but because their cinematography is. Looking at the art of a movie with a theme rather than a plot, just streams of beautiful images – the motion picture:

1. New York, I Love You

This movie follows the love in New York, hence the title. Starring every celebrity and their famous neighbor, you can consider this a series of moving tableaus (is that an oxymoron?) showing every kind of love you can find in the city. Simply adorable and fun – you won’t find much character development here, but who cares, right?

2. The Tree of Life

I wanted so much more out of this movie. But we are not here to discuss that. We are here to melt over the heart-stopping pictures paired with the kind of music that makes you forget how to breathe. A gorgeous depiction of who knows what, I adored how this was filmed. The lighting, the music, the poetic narrative – just perfect to look at. The plot, the meaning, the length – not ideal.

3. A Single Man

This movie contains the most plotline. However, the picture trumps the story. My favorite part is the lighting and coloring. Under the direction of Tom Ford, I would expect nothing except a fashionable piece of art describing losing a loved one. It’s like looking at a series of paintings. Absolutely stunning, but the symbolism is a bit too much for me to enjoy the story.


Top Opening Sequences

April 10, 2011 § Leave a comment

Credit first goes to a good friend of mine who blogs here, sorry if I stole some of the movies you posted about… but they’re just excellent choices!

I went to the movies with a friend of mine once (I can’t for the life of me remember what we were seeing) and the opening credits were starting. There were two women behind us chatting away like they were sitting in the food court at the mall. I politely turned around and asked if they could be quite for the movie. Their reply? “We’ll be quiet once the movie starts.” Excuse me?! The movie starts as soon as the first credit appears on the screen! Appalled by such a comment I’ve decided to show you why you must pay attention to the opening credits: because they are awesome.

I hated this movie. Like really hated it. But the first 5 minutes and 22 seconds were just glorious. If the entire movie was like that I probably would’ve enjoyed it. Not to mention Bob Dylan is the man.

Let’s go a little old school. Some interesting typography. One of my fave horror films

Thank You for Smoking
Nice little vintage opening here, great song to go along with. Great flick as well.

Casino Royale
You gotta have a James Bond movie in here. And I’m sure many will argue this isn’t the best one but I do think it’s my favorite James Bond movie: 1) Daniel Craig is super hot 2) He never breaks out into a 5 minutes monologue before he kills somebody. He just shoots them. The way it should be.

The Graduate
Ridiculously simple, but I love it. Maybe it’s because it captures perfectly the tone and emotion of the entire movie in just 3 minutes. Or maybe it’s because I can’t get enough of Simon and Garfunkel’s stunning harmonies.

Catch Me If You Can
I just love this.

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
Again, I just love this.

When I do list posts I do a lot of research on other blogs, articles, etc. Among the top best opening credits also included (but are not listed here) Snatch, Reservoir Dogs, Saturday Night Fever (Tyler, if you’re reading this I know you’re thinking the same thing I am), Vertigo, and Charade.

If I ran the Oscars…

February 27, 2011 § 2 Comments

Big news, people! Academy Awards are tomorrow evening on ABC at 8pm. As I’m sure you’re quite aware I could not be more excited. Anne Hathaway and James Franco are hosting so we certainly are all in for a great show.

Let’s talk about how they are calling the awards “Oscar”. Not a big fan. Let’s just keep it “The Oscars”, please. This is also the second year they doubled the amount of best picture nominations from. In my opinion, ten nominees is just way too many. How is anyone supposed to choose a single movie out of that entire list? It’s nice to have a wide selection of different movies, but when you have to narrow it down to a single film to represent the year’s “best” – a smaller list of choices would be better. In addition to the long list of nominees, the criteria for the winner should be more objective and consistent. Often times, films win due to the politics of the Hollywood world. The Hurtlocker winning because it wasn’t Avatar, in my opinion – maybe in a spiteful sense. (Not so hot now, James Cameron, huh? – your ex-wife just ripped two academy awards out of your hands). There needs to be a more objective criteria. Let’s take a look:

The components to a “Best Picture” winner:
1. The Story. Obviously you need a good storyline to produce a good movie. You can’t write about a geeky kid getting the hot girl and expect to get an academy award nomination. Make it real, relateable, moving, inspiring, controversial (and no, geeks with hot girls is not controversy).

2. The Acting. Sure you can have a stupendous story but if you’re hiring Nicholas Cage and Mariah Carey playing the protagonists in your epic movie you can kiss your Oscar goodbye – you know, you can go ahead and kiss your invitation to the Oscars goodbye as well.

3. The Writing. No CSI: Miami one-liners, please. Smooth, intelligent, relevant writing is incredibly important to a great movie – If what the characters is saying is dull and uninventive no one will want to listen. Hire Aaron Sorkin. Problem solved.

4. The Cinematography. Make your movie pretty!! Stop using straight on shots and panning sunsets; switch it up a little, be creative with the scenes you’ve got.

5. The Music. “To me, movies and music go hand in hand. When I’m writing a script, one of the first things I do is find the music I’m going to play for the opening sequence.” – Quentin Tarantino. If anyone knows the importance of music in movies it’s him. The kind of music used in a scene can make or break it. Something completely joyous can appear horrific or something absolutely frightening can look like the feel good movie of the year without the proper music.

To end today’s blog I’d like to post my predictions for tomorrow night’s winners. Yes, these “predictions” will be full of bias and hopes, but I will do my best to make this as unbiased as possible:

Best Picture: Black Swan, The Fighter, Inception, The Kids Are Alright, The Social Network, The King’s Speech, Toy Story 3, Winter’s Bone, True Grit, 127 Hours
Actor in Lead Role: Javier Bardem, Jeff Bridges, Jesse Eisenberg, Colin Ferth, James Franco
Actor in Supporting Role: Christian Bale, John Hawkes, Jeremy Renner, Mark Ruffalo, Geoffrey Rush
Actress in Lead Role: Annette Benning, Nicole Kidman, Jennifer Lawerence, Natalie Portman, Michelle Williams
Actress in Supporting Role: Amy Adams, Helena Bonham Carter, Melissa Leo, Hailee Steinfeld, Jacki Weaver
Animated Feature Film: The Illusionist, Toy Story 3, How to Train Your Dragon
Directing: Darren Aronofsky, David O. Russell, Tom Hooper, David Fincher, Joel and Ethan Cohen

We’ll keep it a short list today. Tune in tomorrow night to see how my winner’s compare with the academy’s.

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