cinematographer-style-1

Here’s a feature-length documentary on the art of cinematography — one of many such films, but this particular one does feature the participation of dozens of cinematographers. Actually, more than “dozens” — Jon Fauer‘s Cinematographer Style features interviews with over one hundred shooters. They include, but are hardly limited to Roger Deakins, László Kovács, Vittorio Storaro, Gordon Willis, Matthew Libatique, Bill Pope, Newton Thomas Sigel, Dante Spinotti, and John Toll.

A week ago I watched the beginning of the film and was put off — ironically, this film devoted to cinematography is hampered at the beginning by a too-literal and sometimes haphazard edit. But scan forward a bit to where the detailed talk of technique begins, and you’ll find a rich trove of material learned by years of experience on some of the most significant films. For anyone interested in how films are made — and not just how, but why — this is a great feature. Read More »

skyfall-opening-credits

Briefly: Despite the fact that some of the core Skyfall team is returning for the as-yet-untitled Bond 24, one person who won’t return to work at Pinewood is cinematographer Roger Deakins. While it would have been more surprising to find that Deakins was showing up for a Bond sequel, I think many people had hoped that might come to pass, given that his work was utterly intrinsic to the success of Skyfall.

The info comes from Kris Tapley of In Contention, who got it straight from Deakins. We don’t know what the cinematographer’s next film will be; he’s in post on Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken right now and has been working on How to Train Your Dragon 2 as a consultant. Hopefully this means he’ll be free for the next Coen Brothers film. (Though I certainly can’t complain about the work done by Bruno Delbonnel on Inside Llewyn Davis — he came on to shoot the film when Deakins was busy on Skyfall.)

Bond 24 will be written by John Logan and directed by Sam Mendes, with Daniel Craig returning as James Bond. It is scheduled for release on October 23, 2015 in the UK and November 6, 2015 in the US.

unbroken-image-1

Unbroken is the story of Louis Zamperini, an American Olympian who competed in 1936, and a World War II veteran who survived a plane crash at sea during the war only to be picked up by the Japanese Navy and interred in a POW camp.

Angelina Jolie directs the film as her follow-up to In the Land of Blood and Honey, but it’s a few of the other names in the crew roster that might get your attention: Roger Deakins (No Country For Old Men, Skyfall, Prisoners) shot the film, and Joel and Ethan Coen did some work on the script. (Just how much we don’t know, but their involvement is a good bullet point in Universal’s sales pitch if nothing else.)

Here is an unusual “trailer,” written and cut specifically for an Olympic audience, with narration by Tom Brokaw and vintage photos and footage of Zamperini cut into the footage from Jolie’s film along with a recent interview with Zamperini. Read More »

the grandmaster tony leung

For some film fans, the ASC award for achievement in cinematography are among the most important parts of awards season, as they honor the work that too often goes unheralded. This year, a three-way tie in the nominating process means that seven people are nominated instead of five. Given the amount of excellent work done in 2013, that slate of seven nominees means ASC is able to acknowledge more achievements — and yet Hoyte Van Hoytema still didn’t get a nomination for Her.

Those who did score nominations include Roger Deakins, for Prisoners, Philippe Le Sourd, for The Grandmaster, and Bruno Delbonnel, for Inside Llewyn Davis, which breaks a streak of guild awards looking away from the Coen Brothers latest film. Read the full nomination slate below. Read More »

Garrett Hedlund Joins Angelina Jolie’s ‘Unbroken’

Garrett Hedlund

Briefly: Angelina Jolie has impressive talent working with her behind the camera for her second directorial effort, Unbroken. Roger Deakins is shooting the film, and Joel and Ethan Coen are doing a pass on the script that also bears work from William Nicholson and Richard LaGravenese.

The film is based on the book Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand. It tells the story of Lou Zamperini, an Olympian in 1936 and a pilot in WWII. In 1943, his plane crashed in the Pacific, and “he survived without food and water for 47 days, enduring shark attacks, aerial attacks and hunger before washing ashore on a Japanese island behind enemy lines, where he was held as a prisoner of war for two years and tortured by his captors.”

Jack O’Connell (Skins) plays Zemperini, and now Garrett Hedlund, who was hoping to play the central figure himself, has signed on to play another role. We don’t have details on the part he’ll play, but with Deakins and the Coens adding their skills, it might not matter. [Variety]

 

 

prisoners-first-look

The films of Denis Villeneuve stick with people. Movies like Incendies, Polytechnique, and Maelstrom demonstrate a knack for plunging recognizable characters into difficult situations (some based in reality, some purely fictional) and exploring the outcome in ways that most audiences won’t readily forget. His work is strong enough to attract an incredible cast to Prisoners, a drama in which two young girls go missing, shattering the complacent lives of their parents.

Hugh Jackman, Maria Bello, Terrence Howard, Viola Davis, Melissa Leo, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Paul Dano are the core cast, and the film was shot by the stunningly talented Roger Deakins. This first trailer for the movie is very intense, but may also give away more than you’d like to know. (Or it gives that impression, at least; I bet there’s a lot more than we see here.) I stopped watching 2/3 through, but what I saw was enough to confirm the September release as a must-see. Check out the footage below. Read More »

Comparison: See More of ‘Skyfall’ in IMAX

The latest installment of the James Bond series hits theaters this week, and this is one of the movies for which IMAX offers a special enhanced experience. Skyfall was not shot with IMAX film cameras like The Dark Knight and Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol were. In fact, it wan’t even shot on film — Roger Deakins shot most of the movie with the Arri Alexa M digital camera. Deakins and director Sam Mendes shot the entire film framing for not only the 2.35:1 theatrical aspect ratio, but also a 1:90:1 aspect ratio for the IMAX version of the movie. The result is that you see more in the IMAX version of the movie.

IMAX’s presentation of SKYFALL has been specially formatted to feature a larger aspect ratio (the relationship between an image’s width and height) for the entirety of the film. The IMAX team worked with filmmakers in the post-production process to increase the aspect ratio of the film and designed the IMAX presentation of SKYFALL to allow audiences to see up to 26% more of the originally captured image than the conventional release.

IMAX has sent over the comparison chart above to show you the difference. They have also released a pretty standard featurette promoting the IMAX version of the film. Unfortunately the featurette doesn’t go into much depth about the different aspect ratio of the IMAX release (maybe they think that is too technical or boring for general moviegoers?).

Read More »

You’ve probably noticed by now that Sam MendesSkyfall is building some seriously amazing buzz, with ecstatic praise heaped on everything from the cinematography and action choreography to the acting and storytelling. On the plus side, that makes the film’s impending release that much more exciting. On the not-so-plus side, all that hype just makes November 9 (or October 26 for you lucky Brits) seem that much farther away.

For those hankering for an early Bond fix, we have some fun bits of B-roll to share with you today after the jump. The videos show stars Daniel CraigJavier BardemJudi Dench, Naomie Harris, Ralph Fiennes, Albert Finney, Ben Whishaw, and Bérénice Marlohe shooting various key scenes, from quiet conversations to splashy action setpieces. Check them out after the jump.

Read More »

The 23rd film in the James Bond series premiered in the UK on Friday, and we have an early spoiler-free video blog reaction. I recorded my thoughts alongside Alex Billington from FirstShowing, a huge Bond fanatic who balances out my ambivalence to much of the series.

I think the latest entry into the Bond franchise will please both Bond fanatics and casual viewers, striking a great compromise between old Bond feel and contemporary action and seriousness. For me the highlight was Roger Deakins‘ cinematography, beautiful, striking, the best looking Bond film to date. There is one sequence in Shanghai which looks and feels like a contemporary Blade Runner but with the action of the Mission: Impossible series. Watch our complete video blog embedded after the jump to hear more.
Read More »

Cool Posts From Around the Web:

The twenty-third James Bond film, which once again stars Daniel Craig and is directed by Sam Mendes, is called Skyfall. As it turns out, in one sense, the title has a very nearly literal implication. In the culmination of a chase scene that winds through and beneath London, the villain Silva, played by Javier Bardem, causes an explosion in a catacomb chamber underneath a London tube station. As a result, a train crashes down on Bond’s head.

Skyfall has been shooting at the massive Pinewood Studios west of London, and on the tremendous 007 stage at that location the production replicated a large section of tube tunnel and the accompanying platform, and created both the chamber in which Bond and Silva have their confrontation, and the full-size train that crashes into it.

Last week I went to Pinewood to see part of that confrontation being filmed. While Sony and EON Productions are reluctant to give too much away at this point, still six months away from the late October/early November release of the film, we learned more than a few new things about the third outing of our modern James Bond, and I’ll detail them below. Read More »